Can Christians Use Birth Control?
- Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Such folly is often done falsely in the name of headship, which I actually adhere to in its biblical form, by narrow-minded, impish men who fail in their duties while having a hard time settling into a church that meets their legalistic expectations and telling their wives to suffer in the name of submission until the weaker vessel invariably breaks. One group of women I know, suffering under this kind of husband, actually talk openly about their nervous breakdowns, as if such breakdowns are simply part of being a Christian mom. Assuming that the right hand of fellowship has now found the jaw of my blockheaded brothers, we will proceed to consider various categories of birth control for Christians.
Level 2: Natural Birth Control
Natural methods include any kind of contraception through which pregnancy is prevented by abstaining from vaginal sexual intercourse on days when the wife is likely to be fertile. The most popular natural method is the calendar-based rhythm method, which has been replaced by more effective methods such as the symptothermal method and the standard-days method. Fertility computers are a new development in contraceptive technology that make these natural methods easier to use by telling a couple when sex will or won’t result in pregnancy. The Roman Catholic Church approves the use of natural methods. One common myth is that a mother cannot become pregnant while nursing, which, while true for some women, is not true for all women.48
Abstaining from sexual intercourse does not necessarily require abstaining from all sexual activity. Some married couples enjoy such things as oral sex or a helping hand of manual stimulation from one another, depending upon what their conscience permits, during the wife’s fertile days.
Natural birth control methods have many benefits, including the involvement of both husband and wife, as well as the fact that such methods are free, safe, and reversible. Additionally, these methods require no surgery, chemicals, devices, or drugs. Natural methods can also be used with other methods, such as a condom, during fertile times. One of the potential difficulties is that natural methods require discipline and planning, which not everyone is equally faithful to ensure. In conclusion, natural birth control is permissible for a Christian couple.
Level 3: Non-abortive Birth Control
Like the natural methods, non-abortive birth control methods also seek to influence the timing of conception but do so by taking either temporary or permanent additional measures. This method of birth control has quite a long history.
Temporary non-abortive birth control methods are generally barrier methods. Barrier methods of contraception include all methods that permit intercourse but prevent the sperm and egg from coming together. Perhaps the most common is the male condom, which was invented three thousand years ago by an Egyptian couple using a linen pouch.49
As many as five thousand years ago, sea sponges were soaked in diluted lemon juice and then inserted into the vagina to absorb semen.50 Women also tried soaking sea sponges in olive oil, vinegar, and brandy.51 More than three thousand years ago, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans inserted combinations of herbs, tree resins, and honey oil into their vaginas.52 Some African women used hollowed-out okra pods as a vaginal pouch that was in some ways like the modern female condom. 53 Roman women used goat bladders in a similar manner.54 Male condoms in the seventeenth century were made from animal intestines and were actually somewhat successful.55 In the second half of the nineteenth century, the rubber condom came into use.56 Regarding effectiveness, there is a reported 3 to 12 percent pregnancy rate per year with typical use.57 Using only a condom but doing so correctly means that a couple has a 3 percent chance of becoming pregnant in a one-year period.58
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