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Catholic Birth Control? An Answer to Harrison Butker

Natural Womanhood
May 24, 2024

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, May 24, 2024 /Christian Newswire/ -- Following his viral Benedictine College graduation address earlier this month, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has faced widespread criticism. However, a key remark that slipped under the radar was Butker's comment that "there is nothing natural about 'Catholic birth control.'"

While mainstream media missed it, the Catholic community has been buzzing with interpretations of Butker's statement. The consensus is that he referred to Natural Family Planning (NFP), also known as Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM), which is the only family planning method permitted by the Catholic Church.

Butker's view is shared by a subset of Catholics who see NFP as equally sinful as artificial contraception, despite Church teachings. This perspective, as Catholic writer Emily Stimpson Chapman has noted elsewhere, "imposes unnecessary burdens on couples that the Church does not ask them to bear." Furthermore, misunderstanding NFP as "Catholic birth control" overlooks its broader benefits for many women and couples, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

Statistics show that only about 20% of Catholics have used NFP, with many opting for contraception. As an organization committed to promoting fertility awareness, NFP, and body literacy, Natural Womanhood asserts that NFP is not only permitted by the Church but also beneficial to couples. This article aims to highlight these benefits using Church documents, research, and insights from Catholic writer Emily Stimpson Chapman, who has written and spoken extensively on St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

  1. The Catholic Church's Position: NFP is Legitimate

    NFP involves tracking a woman's fertility cycles to determine the best times for achieving or avoiding pregnancy. This decision-making process should be prayerful and personal. Some Catholics, like Butker, fear NFP might lead to a "contraceptive mentality," but the Church clearly distinguishes NFP from artificial contraception.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2370) states: "Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom…"

    The Catechism draws from St. Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae, and St. Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, which both reaffirm that artificial contraception contradicts God's design for marital love, while NFP allows couples to responsibly plan their families.
  2. How NFP/FAM Benefit Couples

    Research supports NFP's benefits. A 2021 analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth showed that couples using NFP were less likely to divorce than those using contraception. Natural Womanhood's own qualitative study found five key benefits of NFP:

    1. Insight into Fertility: Couples gain a deeper understanding of their unique fertility patterns, fostering mutual respect and awareness.

    2. Women's Health: NFP helps diagnose and address cycle issues, benefiting couples trying to conceive.
    3. Deeper Understanding: Men gain empathy and understanding of their wives, enhancing marital support and intimacy.
    4. Enhanced Communication: NFP requires humble and vulnerable communication, fostering unity and trust.
    5. Freedom and Virtue: NFP builds self-control and aligns couples with their marital and familial goals.
  3. How to Live NFP Practically
    In an episode of The Natural Womanhood podcast from 2023, Catholic writer Emily Stimpson Chapman emphasized the freedom and responsibility given to couples in discerning family size. She described NFP as a journey that cultivates virtue and strengthens faith, aiding couples in becoming mature disciples of Christ.


Butker's assertion that "there's nothing 'natural' about Catholic birth control" is correct, in that Catholic "birth control" doesn't exist. NFP allows couples to responsibly plan their families according to God's natural rhythms. We commend Butker's faith and invite him and all Catholics to explore the Church's teachings on love, marriage, and sexuality, particularly through St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

NFP offers a practical way for couples to appreciate the beauty and power of their bodies, fostering health, peace, and freedom in marriages and society.

SOURCE Natural Womanhood

CONTACT: Grace Emily Stark, 512-845-5537