NFP, the Theology of the Body, and Our Marriage

Note: Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is a national educational campaign. This year is celebrated July 24-30. The following testimony was originally published by the Natural Family Planning Program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at

Michael and Alysha Chambers

Many will tell you that the responsibility of being permanently faithful to one person
is too great and that being open to life is too much of a burden. They say contraception
brings with it freedom and life; however, we have found that it is in openness to God, to
each other, and to new life that true freedom is obtained. This is what living Natural
Family Planning (NFP) can help couples to experience.

Alysha was in college when she first heard NFP mentioned. All she knew then was
that it existed and the Catholic Church considered it a good thing. Michael, a convert to
Catholicism, grew up believing that contraception was good and that all couples should
use it. Our first real understanding of what NFP is, and what the Church teaches came
during our marriage preparation program. We learned that NFP at its core is simply
knowledge of the physical changes one can observe in the woman’s fertility cycle. It
gives couples a way to measure and chart their fertility signs. We also learned how
responsible parenthood is and the virtuous application of this fertility knowledge.

One unexpected aspect of NFP that impressed us was how it fosters communication
between spouses. Couples practicing NFP discuss the future of their family with every
cycle. Knowing how to discuss such important matters has proven a great blessing to
many marriages. Michael decided that blessing, by itself, was enough of a reason to learn

God’s love is a total gift of self.

God’s love is life-giving.

As husband and wife one way we

love like God is through our sexuality.

Another theme we discussed in marriage preparation was the Theology of the Body.
It helped us understand who we are and how God created us. It is through our bodies that
we express who we are spiritually. Also, because we were made in the image and
likeness of God, our bodies are supposed to reflect who God is which means we are to act
as He acts. How does God act? He loves. God’s love is a total gift of self. God’s love is
life-giving. As husband and wife one way we love like God is through our sexuality. If
NFP is studied in this context, our appreciation of each other as man and woman
increases because the uniqueness and dignity that God has imprinted in our bodies is
revealed. It was at this point that Michael realized NFP was not moral birth control;
rather, it is a complete way of life honoring one’s spouse’s sexuality and fertility. It is
loving naturally – the way God designed it.

In studying NFP in the context of the Theology of the Body, both of us have become
more open to each other, to God, and to children. We truly believe that “children are the
crown of marriage” and we pray that God will bless us with children someday. Until
then, we will “make our plans but hold them lightly.” For us, that means planning to use
NFP both when we are attempting or delaying pregnancy, all the while striving to hear
and do God’s will!

Michael and Alysha Chambers, Diocese of Arlington, Va., were married on September 24, 2005. This article first appeared in the Couple to Couple League’s Family Foundations (Jan/Feb. 2006). It has been edited to fit this publication and is printed with permission. Microsoft Word – Witness-Chambers.doc (

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