I’m really excited today to introduce the Engaged Marriage community to a wonderful online resource that is helping to educate and support the practice of natural forms of family planning. As you may know, Bethany and I are quite passionate about Natural Family Planning and all the goodness it’s brought to our marriage.
Well, Stephanie Berman is the creator of an awesome resource called Christian Family Planning Network. At her site, you can become part of a community to learn and practice either NFP or the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). FAM is essentially similar to NFP in that it involves the tracking of a woman’s fertility cycle. Very basically, the difference is that us NFP users abstain from sex during the fertile times, while FAM users (often Protestant Christians who have no moral objections to contraceptives) use barrier contraceptives during those times and continue to have sex.
I think you’ll learn a lot about this important topic by reading Stephanie’s guest post today, and I encourage you to go check out the Christian Family Planning Network. Thanks Stephanie for accepting my invitation to share your good work with our community!
Thank you Dustin, for allowing me this opportunity to introduce your readers to the Christian Family Planning Network (CFPN)! I know that a few of the readers here have already benefited from it, and I trust that many more will in the years to come.
First, a little bit of the history of the CFPN and why it came to be. When my husband and I got married in 2007, he suggested using “natural family planning”. (His words, not necessarily meaning CCL’s NFP). I was hesitant at first, as I have irregular cycles, and I was unsure we’d be able to discern when I had ovulated.
However, I agreed that working with my body, rather than against it, was a good way to go. So, we started researching. Through another website, I was introduced to the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Because my husband and I do not have moral objections to barriers, we felt that if we were both okay with using them, that Fertility Awareness was our answer.
As we began our journey with FAM, I realized that there was not a lot of support for Protestant women who didn’t want to use hormonal birth control. After months of praying about it, I joined with a few online friends who were also interested in FAM and NFP, and in January 2009 we started a website where Christians of any denomination can come and learn about all their options.
What is the Christian Family Planning Network All About?
The Christian Family Planning Network’s purpose is to educate engaged and married Christians about their options for birth control beyond artificial or hormonal contraceptives.
We hope to overturn the common misconception that all natural birth control methods are the Rhythm Method of decades past (note from Dustin: this misconception is one of the biggest causes of stress and anger in my life. It’s SO wrong! ). In supporting this purpose, we offer a message board and an online course in charting your fertility cycle.
The message board is a vibrant community where women from all walks of life, and all theological perspectives, can come together and support each other in their decision to not use hormonal birth control. Some of our members join the community while still on the Pill, or the Shot, or the Ring. In situations like this, members of the community who have been in their shoes will come alongside and support them, answer their questions, and encourage them that they are doing a good thing!
Many of the women on our “Avoiding Pregnancy” forum have been using natural methods their entire marriage. Some of our long-term members have avoided pregnancy for up to four years, before deciding to try to conceive their first child. Now some of those members have given birth to their first child and are avoiding again with FAM or NFP postpartum!
In addition to supporting women who are avoiding pregnancy, we also have forums and buddy groups for women who are trying to conceive, are dealing with infertility, are pregnant, or parenting. We encourage all of our new members to join a buddy group and to plug into the community where they need support.
Is This an NFP or FAM Site?
Because we are a diverse community, both NFP and the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) are represented. The leadership team actively encourages each group to learn from and encourage the other in their convictions, and we celebrate the common ground that we share in wanting to encourage women to use natural birth control methods, without dwelling on our differences.
Here is what one of Dustin’s (Catholic) readers had to say when asked how she feels about the community:
As a Catholic and NFP instructor joining the Christian Family Planning Network …I wasn’t sure if my belief in abstinence during fertile times would be accepted by the community or if I would be challenged and judged. However, since the day I first logged on, I have encountered nothing but acceptance and support by the diverse variety of women on the CFPN.
Time and time again I have been impressed with the respectful dialog that occurs while discussing topics with varying viewpoints and varying beliefs. I have found an incredible amount of support in our journey to use NFP during some challenging postpartum times, while TTA and now as we begin to TTC.
The online course is a great place to start if you’re looking for information on natural methods of pregnancy avoidance. Because our ministry caters to NFP users and FAM users, it does not discourage the use of barriers, nor does it dwell on their use.
Abstinence is presented as a great option for pregnancy avoidance and the study questions in that unit help the students to think of ways to show love and affection beyond intercourse during the fertile phase. We do provide statistics of barrier failure rates, but the choice of barriers or abstinence is left up to each couple to make based on their own beliefs and conscience.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from another Catholic member.
Being able to share with other Christians about your journey through life with this fertility choice is extremely positive. I know the other forum I found back when I was first charting and had lots of questions was very secular and made me uncomfortable on more than one occasion. This is a much more friendly place to air your questions and get answers from Christian perspectives.
If you’ve been looking for a place of support during your journey with natural birth control, please come take a look at our site! We’d love to have you join us.
A final note from Dustin: While Bethany and I practice NFP, I share Stephanie’s enthusiasm for finding common ground with supporters of all natural forms of family planning. I encourage you to check out CFPN and support their ministry in any way that you feel called, including membership or a simple donation.