I know this is a catholic thing and that I don't need to understand. It's probably none of my business, but I'm really confused by this. If the church advocates this NFP system, why do you feel guilty about having a "contraceptive mindset"? Doesn't the name of the system imply that you are meant to use it to plan your family? I don't understand why the system is in place at all if you aren't supposed to have a "contraceptive mindset." Why not just ignore all your biological signs, go about your business, and have babies as they come? If the church says NFP is okay, why do you feel conflicted about planning your family? Feel free to ignore this inquiry. Again, I know I don't need to grasp this. I guess I'm just curious.
It's a good question and deserving of an answer. I'm going to borrow very heavily from Christopher West, a Catholic theologian who basically takes John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body and writes the "For Dummies" version. He states:
Pope Paul VI stated clearly that those are considered “to exercise responsible parenthood who prudently and generously decide to have a large family, or who, for serious reasons and with due respect to the moral law, choose to have no more children for the time being or even for an indeterminate period” (HV 10). Notice that large families should result from prudent reflection, not “chance.” Notice too that couples must have “serious reasons” to avoid pregnancy and must respect the moral law.
...The Church has always recognized that the only method of “birth control” that respects the language of divine love is “self-control.”
...Contraception, by definition, is the choice to engage in an act of intercourse, but then do something else to render it sterile...
Couples who use natural family planning (NFP) when they have a just reason to avoid pregnancy never render their sexual acts sterile; they never contracept...
To some people this seems like splitting hairs. “What’s the big difference,” they ask, “between rendering the union sterile yourself and just waiting until it’s naturally infertile? The end result is the same: both couples avoid children.” To which I respond, what’s the big difference between killing Grandma and just waiting until she dies naturally? End result’s the same thing: dead Grandma. Yes, but one is a serious sin called murder, and the other is an act of God.
So hopefully that will explain the Catholic perspective of NFP a little better.
And now to the "contraceptive mentality" bit. Some people have a very good reason to not get pregnant and to use NFP to not do so. For example, after I miscarried I was told to wait a few cycles before we tried again. We wanted to get pregnant but we also knew that for my health and for the health of the next baby we should wait. So we were "open to life" and would have rejoiced at a pregnancy, but we felt like it was very important to wait. You can also have good reasons involving money, housing, schooling, health, depression, etc. In these circumstances you are not wanting the act to be sterile - you are not trying to change sex.
But - and this is where my struggle comes in - to engage in the marital act and to not be open to life, to not want there to be any chance of a baby, this is having a "contraceptive mentality." This is the line I have to discern every time Travis and I consummate our marriage.
Maybe I've just muddied the water even more. You can read the entire Christopher West article here. Also, if my fellow Catholics feel I got it wrong, please correct me! I would love to be shown the Truth!