NFP Questions My Kids Asked (or Should Have)

by Gary Schuberg
Fall 2023

Over the 40 years of our marriage, NFP has been a natural(!) part of family conversation, over meals and at gatherings. As seven of our children have gone off to start their own families, those questions have moved from the theoretical to the practical. Many of these questions would require full chapter responses, if not book length ones, but I offer here some pithy responses from the perspective of a Dad in the trenches, fully aware of my incompetence in theological matters.

Dad, when did you and Mom decide the Catholic Church was right on this?

We got married in the Catholic Church and knew this meant we must try to live out her teachings, even though our appreciation and practice was lacking. To my eternal shame, when my good friend (and, as it turned out, soon to be wife) asked me when I was going to get my act together on the practice of my Faith, I responded: “When I get married.” Her ironic response? “Who would want to marry you?!”

Several years earlier, for a brief time, the influence of a clever “Catholic” college philosophy professor armed me with arguments against the teachings of Humanae Vitae. Your Grandma and Grandpa quickly shot those down during dinner conversations on holiday time home from campus. In my college years and beyond, working in pro-life pregnancy centers, I was surrounded by holy, wise, selfless Catholic women. They confirmed me in those life affirming beliefs. But only living them has moved these teachings from my mind to my heart and soul. Your mom and I went from being shocked at the sacrifices our neighbors were making to raise their three young children to embracing the reality that God sends children to us with abundant grace to appreciate each of them as unique gifts and thereby lightening the burden. For us that meant, to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, “to three, and beyond!

Dad, what was the most challenging time for you in living out these teachings?

Navigating some medical issues your Mom had that may have resulted in your brother’s early birth and then death {Samuel Francis was born after a placental abruption and went to our Lord eight months later} and the miscarriages that followed. The doctor had thought Sam’s early arrival was an anomaly. CANFP then led us to NAPRO doctors, who started your Mom on hormone therapy. The regularizing of your Mom’s hormonal balance led to Henry, George, Ted and Molly. But those months of wondering what was wrong and using NFP, as we did not think it God’s will to continue having miscarriages, was a difficult time of discernment, navigated with much prayer and consultation with a good priest.

Dad, did you ever feel a particular time that God blessed you in living this teaching?

We were getting older. Mom’s Jewish doctor, her OB/GYN throughout all her pregnancies, did not necessarily endorse our way of life. However, he appreciated our authenticity in trying to act on those beliefs. At that time he continued to say there were no medical obstacles to having another child. We had not really been trying to achieve or avoid after Ted {#9}, but had an earnest, prayerful conversation about whether or not God was calling us to be open. We decided He was. A week later your Mom found out she was already pregnant with Molly. God prepares the way!

This final question came, almost simultaneously, from two of my kids, after I solicited questions from them:

Dad, where do you stand on the spectrum, from the providentialist position (summarized here as an utter reliance on God to determine the size of our family and only complete abstinence if there would be a very grave reason for avoiding pregnancy) and those who consider a broader use of NFP licit for, say, spacing?

Actually, the more choleric child, George, posed it not so much as a question but as a treatise on why he has not taken the providentialist position. Relying on his study of Humanae Vitae while at Christendom College, he noted the term used there for licit use of NFP. is: ‘iusta causa’, literally translated as “just reason”. I am with George. God has provided us with these signs and wonders to be prudentially and prayerfully used, with spiritual advice from a good priest, to consider what may be just cause for delaying pregnancy.

I thank God for my wife and these wonderful children, who keep us both on our toes!

Beth with Molly, George, Henry and Ted
Beth, with their youngest children, Molly, George, Henry and Ted (now all grown).
Gary and Beth
Gary Schuberg, shown here with his wife Beth, at their home in the Los Angeles region. Beth and Gary just celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary.

About The Author

Gary Schuberg
Vice President of the Executive Board, is a native Southern Californian, born in Santa Monica, and residing now in Carpinteria with his wife Beth and their children.A longtime supporter and member of CANFP, Gary brings not only his Southern California perspective (from his surfboard vantage point!), but also his professional experience in business management, and a lifetime of active involvement in prolife advocacy. Gary has served in many capacities, from counseling to board leadership, with Life Centers, and International Life Services, and is excited about the potential his service on the CANFP Board brings to be a bridge between these natural allies—pregnancy counseling centers and CANFP— in healing so many lives he has seen broken by this culture’s failure to adequately and properly appreciate God’s gift of human sexuality. Gary brings a sense of humor and can do attitude to his commitment to the work of CANFP, work he describes as brave, bold, and beautiful! He has served on the Board since 2016, and as Vice President since 2018
Beth with Molly, George, Henry and Ted
Beth, with their youngest children, Molly, George, Henry and Ted (now all grown).
Gary and Beth
Gary Schuberg, shown here with his wife Beth, at their home in the Los Angeles region. Beth and Gary just celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary.

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