Building Holy Families the Natural Way

By Cindy Omlin

Contact Cindy Omlin at

Communities, churches, even legislatures, are struggling to figure out the best ways to restore family integrity. Everyone is alarmed with the rapid decay of family stability and respect for human life. Some view the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade as the instigator of decline while others believe divorce is the primary culprit. Many work for a political end to abortion. Others are focusing on the adoption of Community Marriage Covenant Agreements to reduce the incidence of divorce (participating pastors agree to require premarital counseling before marrying a couple). These efforts will surely help. But, to fully remedy the family ill's, we must be willing to hear the Great Physician's complete diagnosis—and implement His cure. Searching the Word of God and history, a compelling case can be made that the family’s and civilization’s current woes can be traced to widespread approval of artificial contraception.

Before 1930, all of Christendom taught that contraception was evil. It was seen as a willful violation of God's natural law--that sex was for the procreation of children. Christians considered sexual pleasure an added blessing to strengthen the bond of intimacy, respect, and love between spouses in order to establish a stable and loving environment for raising children.

In 1930 the Anglican Church became the first-ever Christian church to abandon the historic teaching against contraception. Bowing to cultural pressures, other churches soon followed--even while admitting that "serious evils, such as extramarital sex relations, may be increased by general knowledge of contraceptives." (United States National Council of Churches, 1931)

In 1968 Pope Paul VI warned in his widely ridiculed encyclical, "Humanae Vitae" (Of Human Life), that separating the sexual aspects of love and life from each other had dangerous social ramifications beyond just the "private act" between a couple. He warned that contraception would lead to increased promiscuity, abortion, adultery, domestic violence, pornography, and divorce. Thirty years later, the Pope's warnings have come true. Thirty five million American babies have died from legal surgical abortion. Violence, promiscuity, and pornography abound. Divorce statistics also dramatically confirm his prophecy. The divorce rate among couples who use Natural Family Planning (NFP) is under five percent{1} while the divorce rate among couples who use contraception is well over 50 percent.

Paul VI also predicted that widespread acceptance of contraception would place a "dangerous weapon" in the hands of immoral government officials. Current examples include China's one-child-per-family policy. When unauthorized pregnancies are detected by the government (women are forced to have pelvic exams if pregnancy is suspected), the babies are aborted regardless of their stage of development. (Drowning or smothering of newborns occurs in rural areas.) Sterilization of couples with two or more children is mandatory. Here in the United States, the House just voted to require federal health insurers to pay for birth control pills which cause chemical abortions.

The final warning was that contraception would lead man to think that he had unlimited dominion over his own body--hence the fact that human sterilization is the world's most prevalent contraceptive. This desire for control has also led to "test-tube babies" and the manufacture of frozen embryos who are experimented on, sold, used for spare parts, and thrown away.

Cloning is the latest example of the quest for domination over humanity. Last winter, Illinois physicist Richard Seed crassly announced that he plans to clone humans for profit. We are startled, but should not be surprised, that the wealthy and technologically powerful will turn people into mere property--a modern form of slavery--if we condone willful breaking of natural law.

Many Christian churches and their members resisted birth control's insidious assault on the family. Methodist Bishop Warren Chandler stated, "the whole disgusting (birth control) movement rests on the assumption of man's sameness with the brutes." Unfortunately, after the 1930 Lambeth Conference, church after church abandoned its sacred tradition on conjugal love.

Today, however, there is a resurgence among young evangelical Protestant couples who seek to recapture a holy vision of marriage that is not possible with contraception.{2} They are excitedly embracing the integrated view of human worth, sexuality, and reproduction held by key Protestant Reformers such as Luther, Calvin and Wesley—a view that holds that human life carries the spark of divine life, not just in the spiritual realm, but in the physical and biological realm as well. Protestant writer Charles Provan's 1989 book, "The Bible and Birth Control," is helping to raise awareness that artificial birth control contradicts the Bible. Consequently, growing numbers of couples are embracing Natural Family Planning (NFP) as the way to naturally and faithfully build Christian families.

Natural Family Planning IS NOT THE FORMER RHYTHM METHOD. The rhythm method relied on forecasting a woman's ovulation based on her past menstrual cycles. But, because many women have irregular cycles or their cycles are affected by stress, the calculations for predicting when ovulation would occur were often wrong--resulting in unexpected pregnancy. Natural Family Planning is a scientifically validated family planning method which uses no artificial means such as chemicals, barriers or surgery to control fertility. Natural Family Planning costs nothing to use. Repeated studies show 98-99% effectiveness in avoiding or spacing pregnancies when accurately taught and applied.{3}

A man is potentially always fertile (unless he has a physical problem), but a woman is not. She has both infertile and fertile periods in her cycle. Additional scientific research now allows couples to accurately identify their fertile and infertile period by means of three physiological signs: changes in cervical mucus (the primary sign) and if needed, additional signs of waking temperature and/or changes in the cervix. Natural Family Planning allows a couple to know their fertility status on a daily basis. No other family planning method can tell a couple when the woman is fertile--not the condom, not the pill, nor anything else. With NFP, all body processes remain undisturbed. In addition, NFP can be used in all types of cycles and reproductive circumstances, including throughout breastfeeding and premenopause.

Couples needing to avoid or space pregnancies exercise restraint and wait for the fertile days to pass. This helps preserve the specialness of the sexual relationship and assists couples in developing other aspects of their relationship--emotional, spiritual, psychological. It fosters a closeness between the couple that results from increased communication, mutual responsibility, and mutual decision-making for their combined fertility. Natural Family Planning cooperates with the natural law and teaches that fertility is to be treasured, not feared.

Natural Family Planning is also ending the heartache of infertility for many couples. NFP not only identifies the fertile time of a woman's cycle, it also identifies her most fertile days within the fertile time. This knowledge has proven to be a primary factor in maximizing the chances of conception.{4} {5}

The Body of Christ is yearning for pastors to courageously preach the fullness of truth in an age that mocks truth. We need pastors who will remind us, as Adam Cardinal Maida does, that "we are not masters of our own life but rather ministers of God's designs." Ministers who are docile to the Word of God exercise true charity when they preach the truth whether it is popular or not: "I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this task, whether convenient or inconvenient—correcting, reproving, appealing—constantly teaching and never losing patience." (2 Tim. 4:2). As Physician’s Assistants, pastors have a responsibility not to merely bless those who suffer from disease but to treat the disease. "A physician is unskilled who handles the swelling folds of wounds with a sparing hand, and increases the poison enclosed within the deep recesses of the vital organs as he cares for it. The wound must be opened and cut and treated by a sterner remedy, by cutting out the corrupting parts. Although the sick man, impatient by reason of his pain, cries out, shrieks, and complains, he will give thanks afterwards, when he has experienced good health."{6}

If Christians hear the Word and respond, we can reverse the family's demise by restoring physical, spiritual, and moral integrity to marriage. When husbands and wives cooperate with their bodies' natural physiology to reunite love and life, their marriage embraces holiness in one of the most profound acts of love God created. Pope John Paul II states, "In the act that expresses their love, spouses are called to make a reciprocal gift of themselves to each other in the totality of their person: nothing that is part of their being can be excluded from this gift. This is the reason for the intrinsic unlawfulness of contraception: it introduces a substantial limitation into this reciprocal giving, breaking that ‘inseparable connection’ between the two meanings of the conjugal act, the unitive and the procreative, which, as Pope Paul VI pointed out, are written by God himself into the nature of the human being."{7}

Excluding natural fertility from marital love can change sex from the sacred communication which "binds two into one" into mere physical activity. If we view our bodies as mere biological material, I fear we will continue to degenerate into "a product of the evolutionary chain . . . just another animal to be bred, aborted, neutered, or 'put to sleep' for the general good of society." But, by giving ourselves totally to one another, Christian spouses can transform our marriages, our families, and our culture into communities of life and love suitable to persons who are created in the image and likeness of God.

© Cindy Omlin, 4815 E. Pineglen Lane, Mead, WA 99021 ( (509) 466-5349

August, 1998

For more information on Natural Family Planning and for help finding local NFP teachers, the following resources may be beneficial:


{1}Couple to Couple League International estimates based on its own studies and those completed by Nona Aguilar for her book, No-Pill No-Risk Birth Control (Rawson Wade).

{2}Immediately after Dr. James Dobson’s 1992 Focus on the Family radio interview about Natural Family Planning with Mercedes Wilson, President of Family of the Americas, her organization received over 3,000 requests for materials—all from Protestants.

{3}Hanna Klaus, MD, "Natural Family Planning: A Review," Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, Vol. 37, No. 2, 1982, pp. 128-150.

{4}John J. Billings, MD, The Ovulation Method – Natural Family Planning, 5th American Edition, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1984.

{5}Evelyn L. Billings, MD, The Billings Method – Controlling Fertility Without Drugs or Devices, Random House, New York, New York, 1980.

{6}Cyprian, third century bishop and martyr, "The Lapsed," circa 250 A.D.

{7}Pope John Paul II, "Marital Act Must Be Total Gift of Person," Address to the Center for Natural Fertility Regulation on February 27, 1998, in which the Pope cautions against using NFP for selfish reasons.