Can Christians Use Birth Control?
- Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Male condoms are the best method for preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, if the husband or wife is infected. Complaints about male condoms include the unromantic need to stop in the moment of passion to put one on, diminished pleasure sensation for the husband, and the physical barrier between a husband and wife in their moment of greatest intimacy.
Male condoms are the only barrier method available for husbands, with the possible exception of a guy with one eyebrow who refuses to use breath mints because they are not mentioned in the Bible and wears shirts bought only from an auto parts store or a beer company and scratches himself a lot and wants his wife to play “pull my finger” before bedtime. In that instance, he is his own barrier method.
Female barrier methods include the diaphragm, contraceptive sponge, cervical cap, and female condom. Spermicides are also considered barrier methods because they kill sperm before they can reach a waiting egg, thus preventing fertilization. Also effective as a barrier is constant nagging, which keeps a husband far away.
The factors to consider with these methods are many. Sponges can be dangerous if left in too long, even causing infection or toxic shock. Female condoms are less effective than male condoms but can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse, thereby enabling greater spontaneity than male condoms.59 Most spermicides (including sponges with spermicides) use nonoxynol-9, which can create infection in some women but is helpful alongside other methods, such as a condom, because it kills sperm. However, the use of spermicides has been linked to a higher-than-normal incidence of severe birth defects—twice the rate of nonusers.60 The cervical cap has been a favorite contraceptive method in Europe since the mid-1800s and today is considered 60 to 80 percent effective. It can be inserted more than a day before intercourse so as to allow greater spontaneity.61 The reported failure rate of the diaphragm is anywhere from 2 to 20 percent.62
Permanent non-abortive birth control methods are often chosen by couples who have decided not to enlarge their family. (For the purposes of this chapter I am referring to voluntary versus involuntary sterilization.) Such preventatives can be achieved by either female sterilization, also called tubal ligation, or by vasectomy for men. Both of these methods require minor surgery and should be considered permanent, although it is theoretically possible, but difficult, to undergo a reversal. One of the elder candidates at our church had a vasectomy when he was a young non-Christian. After meeting Jesus and growing in his understanding of marriage and family, he actually underwent a vasectomy reversal before becoming a pastor in our church in order to set a good example. He reported that the entire process was painful and complicated.
The first vasectomy clinic in the United States opened in 1969.63 Some men reportedly experience depression after the surgery because they feel they have lost something of their masculinity. Others who become divorced or widowed can later regret their decision when they remarry and desire to have children with their new wife.
The first tubal ligation was performed on women during the nineteenth century.64 Some women reportedly experience depression after the surgery because they feel they have lost something of their femininity. Others who become divorced or widowed regret doing something so permanent when they remarry and desire to have children with their new husband.
Three things need to be mentioned regarding permanent nonabortive birth control methods. First, the heart needs to be examined regarding motive on this issue; this method should never be used to completely abandon the blessing of children, as Tom Leykis suggests. He is the most popular radio show host for young men in the nation and encourages young men (i.e., in their early twenties) to have a vasectomy so that they will never have to worry about getting their girlfriend pregnant or being stuck with paying child support to their ex-wife, should they ever get married and then divorced.
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