Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


NFP Is Part Of Family Life Office Ministry

By SUZANNE HAUGH, Special To The Bulletin | Published April 3, 2008

It’s never too late for couples to learn Natural Family Planning, according to Lynn Crutchfield, NFP program coordinator for the Family Life Office of the Atlanta Archdiocese.

NFP is not the rhythm method of old. Methods used today allow couples to effectively determine the time of ovulation and then to seek or to postpone conception through the observable signs and symptoms of a woman’s fertile and infertile phases.

According to the archdiocesan Web site, three methods of NFP are used effectively across the nation: the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Ovulation Method, and the Multi-Index Method. All teach couples to identify natural body signs related to fertility and infertility. These methods are taught in both English and Spanish through the archdiocesan Natural Family Planning program. An ongoing schedule of classes is available on the archdiocesan Web site, as well as contact information for teachers that teach by appointment.

When Crutchfield and her husband, Larry, were married over 35 years ago, they used artificial birth control. Then they began helping engaged couples prepare for marriage and learned about NFP. They were attracted to many aspects of this approach.

“With artificial birth control I felt like it was just me” making decisions and taking responsibility, said Crutchfield, who is the mother of three grown children. “With NFP I felt like it was us. We had more understanding of me as a person—emotionally, physically—the whole package. It’s helped us in so many ways.”

Using NFP increased the Crutchfields’ appreciation for the power of sexual intimacy and encouraged communication in their relationship. She noted the need for couples to develop their ability to communicate sexually and non-sexually as they will need to maneuver through life’s ups and downs together. NFP fosters both.

“The whole natural aspect is a plus, too,” she said. “A lot of people do appreciate that. People now think twice about what they put in their bodies, like they think about the food they eat.”

She challenged couples to look at NFP “with a different lens—not like something you have to do but, as if to say, ‘Yeah, there are a lot of benefits to it.’”

Crutchfield admitted that it can be a difficult topic for couples but said NFP classes are offered in a nonjudgmental atmosphere.

“I think we do a good job here approaching NFP. We don’t shake our finger if you haven’t been using it. We just want to share the good it’s done for relationships.”

Msgr. Bill Hoffman, parochial vicar at St. Patrick Church in Norcross, is an enthusiastic supporter of NFP and is also well versed in its methodology. Evidence of his commitment to NFP includes orchestrating the translation of educational materials into Spanish in the 1980s and educating Peruvian campesinos he ministered to there when serving as a missionary priest.

He noted that the church’s opposition to artificial contraception is not new and dates back to Roman times when “(the Romans) had their own concoctions and were looking for ways to have sex without conceiving.”

He called attention to how by design the male and female bodies naturally “fit together” and the fact that God provides for married couples discerning not to seek conception.

“Study why God made females fertile only part of the time,” he said, adding that the fertile period of a woman’s cycle is short, leaving “a big window of opportunity for sex when she’s infertile.”

He is unafraid to rhetorically ask married couples, “Have you had perfect sex lately?”

“Perfect sex is when fertility is being shared,” he explained, adding later, “Wives, when they’re fertile, are most interested in sexual relationships. … God also gave (women and men) brains to recognize that and to act accordingly.”

Reminding married couples that they are “a believing people,” he challenged them, saying, “As I’ve said all of that, why don’t you just love each other and leave children in God’s hands.”

For more information on Natural Family Planning, visit or

For information on classes in the archdiocese of Atlanta, visit the Family Life Web site at or call Lynn Crutchfield at (404) 885-7450.