The Birth Control Issue – Part 2

Posted on September 1, 2013 by


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Yesterday, I shared my story – what my views about birth control were early in our marriage, how my views changed after having children and paying more attention to the package inserts on birth control pills, our ultimate decision to have surgical sterilization due to severe health risks for me to attempt another pregnancy, my understanding of where my earlier views on birth control actually originated…

TODAY, WE WILL ADDRESS THE HISTORY OF BIRTH CONTROL FROM A SECULAR AND CHRISTIAN STANDPOINT AND SEE A PERSPECTIVE THAT MAY BE ONE WE HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE:

  • Here is a history of the birth control pill from PBS – if you are considering using The Pill – please be sure to read about its history and notice the very gradual progression of acceptance.
  • This is a brief history of birth control from ancient times through modern times from Wikepedia.
  • Here is a history of “Christian Views on Contraception” from Wikepedia (please note, the Mormon church is included in this piece, but Mormonism is not part of the Christian church)
  • This is a history of the church’s dramatic change in ideology about contraception from a Christian perspective. (I read this document and the about page.  I have not read anything else on the site – please compare ANYTHING that any human says to scripture – including anything I write!  There are many sad statements that go against God’s Word all throughout the history of the church’s handling of the contraception issue.  This article shows some skewed theology and ideology at times in the history of the church.)

Another issue to consider – I believe that rampant materialism has distorted our view as believers of what standard of living is necessary and has colored our view about what we “need” to have for our children and for ourselves in terms of possessions.  But materialism, the American Dream and greed (which is idolatry) – is a post that will have to wait for another day.  However, I do want us to consider that materialism and consumerism are closely tied to our belief that children are a “burden.”

What does God’s Word say (about marriage, sex and having children)?

  • “Be fruitful and multiply” (The command given to Adam and Eve in the Garden) Genesis 1:28
  • Men and women are both made in the image of God, they both bear His image and have great worth and value in His sight (Genesis 2)
  • Husband and wife are not to withhold sex from one another except for a mutually agreed upon time for prayer.  Their bodies belong to one another once they are married. (I Corinthians 7:1-7)
  • He who finds a wife finds what is good. Proverbs 18:22
  • A husband is to rejoice in the wife of his youth – and her body is to always satisfy him.  Proverbs 5:18
  • A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown.  Proverbs 12:4
  • A noble wife is worth far more than rubies.  Proverbs 31 (a description of a godly wife)
  • Older women are to teach the younger women in the church what is good: to affectionately love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God.  Titus 2:2-5
  • God hates divorce.   Why? Because He desires godly offspring.  Malachi 2:14
  • Parents are to teach and train their children to know and love God and His Word. Deut 6
  • A husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, the wife is to respect her husband and honor his God-given leadership.  Ephesians 5:22-33
  • Husbands… be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.  I Peter 3:7
  • “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:5 (God’s call to Jeremiah)
  • “For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    that I know very well.
    15     My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
    In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.”  Psalm 139
  • God has compassion on the barren wives who call out to Him – He blessed many in Scripture with babies as a result of their faith in Him and their prayers for children.  Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Elizabeth (New Testament).
  • “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3

The only time I really see anything that looks like “birth control” in the Bible is when a man in the Old Testament used the “withdrawal method” to keep himself from fathering a child with his dead brother’s widow – whom he was required to take as a wife when his brother died.  Most of us are not in this kind of position in our marriages today.  Does God always reject the withdrawal method?  I don’t know for sure.  He doesn’t mention anything else about this issue anywhere in Scripture to my knowledge:

  • But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and theLord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.” But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother.10 What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and He put him to death also.

THE CATHOLIC POSITION ON BIRTH CONTROL TODAY

The Catholic church is almost the only one at the current time that still teaches that birth control is a sin.  There are some Old Order Amish who do as well, and I am sure there are some smaller segments of Christians who teach this, too.   I think there are some interesting reasons why the Catholic church holds to its position – and that we may do well to listen and prayerfully consider what they are saying.  Do you know that no Christian church sanctioned birth control until during the past 70 years?  Many denominations beliefs on birth control and contraception have completely taken a 180 degree turn.  It’s important to examine why.  This is too critical of an issue for us to ignore or gloss over.  And, unfortunately – this is a part of history most of us have never studied.

(Please keep in mind that in the eyes of Jesus – he has ONE church.  He does not observe all of the different denominations that we do.  Divisions are a man-made thing.)

Here is an interesting perspective from a disciple of Christ who is Catholic, whom I respect greatly, Thomas Haffner.   He was raised Catholic, left the Catholic church as an adult, accepted Christ as Savior and Lord and was planning to become a Protestant Minister of the gospel.  Then he felt that God called him back to the Catholic church.  He is a marriage counseler  and, in my view, has much wisdom to offer to believers in Christ.

This is going to be a perspective you may never have heard before.  I am not saying you must agree with him – I only humbly ask that we consider what he has to say and pray about it.

A few comments from Thomas that he has posted on http://www.peacefulwife.com in response to some of my readers:

  • There is an important point that must be addressed, particularly in the sex life of the Christian: If either the wife or the husband is using artificial birth control in order to prevent pregnancy, she and/or he is withholding a part of the sexual self. Hence, the “one flesh” design of God is not being realized in that relationship. It has been turned into something less.

I can assure you that when a couple gets rid of their artificial birth control, their relationship changes. Their entire paradigm of God and marriage will shift. A whole, new level of communication, commitment, sacrifice, love and intimacy is required. This, I believe, is partly what people are afraid of.

  • When we have sex with our spouses, but have put in place a chemical or physical barrier to “protect” us from the ultimate possible outcome of that godly action (i.e. new life), we have twarted God’s design and created an idol of sex. The “freedom” provided by artificial birth control is one of the biggest lies that Christians have bought into. The lie of artificial birth control has probably done the most damage to the intimacy between husband, wife and God, as well as the concept of marriage in general.  It is Christ that has authority over the body of any Christian man or woman. Artificial birth control places the authority squarely back onto the man or the woman (or both). It also temporarily or permantently sterilizes one or both partners, robbing them of their true, God-given masculinity or femininity. This does not have positive results on authentic, marital, godly intimacy.  If there are intimacy issues in your marriage, this will be an important area for self reflection, although it is denied or overlooked as critical by most Christian couples and ministers. Most people have accepted the lie as just a normal thing that people should do because it provides “freedom.” The cost of this “freedom,” however, has been the very intimacy that people yearn for and search for in marriage. This goes beyond being an issue for “old fashioned, out-of-touch Catholics.” It cuts to the very heart of the Christian message of creating and embracing new life and the making of disciples. The contraceptive mentality is directly connected to the issue of abortion and the whole culture of death. We need to take this seriously.  Recommended reading: “Sex Au Naturel: What It Is and Why It’s Good For Your Marriage” by Patrick Coffin.  I also am speaking as one who has contracepted in the past. Fear is key. Perfect love casts out fear. It is that perfect love of God that gives us the heroic virtue necessary to go against the flow of culture. Yes, I am asking for prayerful consideration.
  • Prior to 1930, EVERY Christian denomination taught that artificial birth control was immoral. Today, there is only one Church left that officially teaches this. We need to prayerfully ask ourselves, “How does that which is deemed immoral suddenly become moral and normal?”
  • And I can also testify that

A man’s perception of his wife can change (whether he realizes it or not) when he knows she is intentionally blocking fertility. She becomes more of a sex object available at his whim. She risks being more of a sexual plaything to him instead of a friend and a lover.

I’m not advocating wreckless baby-making. I’m advocating increased intimacy in marriage by way of God’s TOTAL design. Many of the problems presented in this blog post (on http://www.peacefulwife.com) have deep roots within the contraceptive mentality and all of its “promises.”

Yes, one of the most common critiques of NFP is that it is nothing more than “Catholic contraception,” and many arguments are presented along those lines, even by many Catholics. I believe the key distinction that needs to be understood is the means by which the same end is achieved.

Having sex during an infertile period is not likely to result in a pregnancy (although it certainly could). But notice: no chemical or physical barrier has been introduced into the natural order of God’s design. In other words, God designed women to have times of infertility. The couple has not “tinkered with” God’s design. And, they are still remaining open to the possibility that God may produce a child even during that period. They are still “open to life” according to God’s design.

The Catholic Church teaches that the end does not justify the means. It is the means that are in question. Having said that, it is also important to realize that when couples are married in the Catholic Church, they are specifically asked if they will lovingly accept children from God. If they refuse, there can be no marriage. NFP is not supposed to be used as a way of coasting through your marriage without children. It can be used with wrong intentions. Ideally, it is to be used as a natural, God-designed method of responsibly spacing births when necessary. It’s not a free pass to enjoy sex without producing any children. Additionally, it requires a higher degree of self control, intimacy and communication from both partners.

Catholicism is not against using advances in science. But we look at what the science is being used for and how it is being used according to God’s design. Catholicism is not about wreckless baby-making. It is about love and new life.

  • One of the differences between us is that I used to hold to your (a reader who had commented) views and practice them quite vehemently. I don’t believe you have ever held mine, however.

 I have lived both lifestyles and experienced the effects in myself, in my wife, and in my relationship with God.  This is why I ask Christians (including Catholics) to prayerfully consider this issue. I don’t want to convince you. I want the Holy Spirit to do that, if it is His will. I’m just sowing seeds.

A POST FROM THOMAS on HIS SITE ABOUT SEX IN MARRIAGE:

http://reflectiverevert.com/2013/07/31/if-it-aint-broke-dont-fix-it/

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

Ultimately, I believe each husband and wife must carefully and diligently search scripture and spend significant time in prayer about the issue of birth control and having children, raising children and how to live out godly masculinity, femininity and marriage for God’s greatest glory.  It is not my desire to force my opinion on anyone.  No one answers to me about this issue.  And no one answers to other people about this issue.  We answer to God – and we will stand accountable before Him one day.  My desire is for us to learn to question what we learn in the world and take every issue to God, seeking His will alone and His glory.   The generations before us “dropped the ball” in so many important areas of our faith and belief in Christ as Christians.  We are seeing the ramifications all around us today, as you well know.  How I long for Him to find us all faithful in His eyes.