When I was pregnant with Jathan, the doctor I was seeing asked me if I planned on having a tubal ligation since I would have both a girl and a boy. I was kind of taken aback by his question because I felt so young and had always pictured having a big family. I got the feeling from the doctor, however, that this was pretty commonplace. After all, who wouldn’t want the boy-girl set—part of the American dream, right?
When I became pregnant with our fourth child, people became more forthright in their questions about our sex life. I was surprised at the number of people who actually asked me, “Was it a surprise?” (Thank goodness no one said ACCIDENT!) In my mind, no, she was not a surprise because God had her planned since the beginning of time! Equally disturbing were people’s seemingly light-hearted question usually directed at Jackie, “Don’t you know how THAT happens?” I’ve always wanted to respond, “Why, yes, we do. I see that you’ve only managed to have one child…do you need some pointers?”
I wish it weren’t so but many times I’ve allowed other people to get me down. I try to think, instead, about how God views children. When speaking of children, the Bible uses words like “blessing” and “reward” and “glory.” People in Bible times desperately hoped for children sometimes so much so that they were willing to do immoral things to obtain them. Think of Abraham and Sarah--Sarah put her handmaid directly into her loving, godly (but all too willing!) husband’s arms. Think of Tamar who went so far as to disguise herself as a prostitute to have her children. Think about Hannah and how distraught she must have been over being barren that she appeared drunk. Yes, there was a time when children were highly prized! What happened?! Now over a million abortions are performed each year in the United States alone. The CDC reports that “98% of women who had ever had sexual intercourse had used at least one method of birth control” and that about 11.6 million women use the birth control pill in the U.S.
Our culture has changed, yes. But do you think God’s views have?
I confess that when Jackie and I first married, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I got on birth control and we waited until we had been married for a couple of years before trying to conceive. At that time I tried to choose the easiest form of birth control for me which was the Mirena IUD. I loved that I never had to think about it. I didn’t have to take a pill every day. I didn’t have to stop and do anything that might kill the mood. And halleluiah—it completely stopped my periods! It was the form of birth control that I choose after Jathan was born as well. Sadly, I didn’t research it very much either time. And truth be told, I never truly wanted to be on birth control. I spent a lot of time kind of hoping it would fail. Just ask Jackie, I’ve driven him crazy wanting babies! I’ve longed for children and enjoy being pregnant. How’s that for counter-cultural?!
I can’t exactly remember what led me to research how Mirena works but when I did I was surprised to learn that it has abortifacient properties meaning it didn’t always work by preventing a pregnancy but by causing a fertilized egg to be expelled from my body (which fits the definition of abortion—the termination of a pregnancy—to me!).
I was all too happy to have my IUD removed and was overjoyed to find that I was expecting Ryland. While I was still pregnant with him, Jackie and I began looking into other forms of birth control that wouldn’t interfere with our ethics because, you know that’s what married couples do: They use birth control! But the more and more I researched birth control the more troubled I became. Not only did their websites contain long lists of the potential side effects—everything from weight gain to DEATH—I found that every form of hormonal birth control has the capacity to prevent a fertilized egg from being able to implant successfully and continue to live. On each official website it was stated that that method caused changed in the lining of a woman’s uterus thereby making it an inhospitable environment for a newly fertilized egg. Every one—the Mirena IUD, the ParaGuard IUD, the pill (ortho tri-cyclen lo), the patch (Ortho Evra), the shot (Depo-Provera), and the implant (Implanon)—all say that part of how they are so effective is by thinning the lining of a woman’s uterus to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Now personally we believe in the sanctity of life and consider life to begin at conception (although I think it begins BEFORE that in God’s eyes since according to Jeremiah 1:5 He knows us BEFORE we are even formed in our mother’s womb.) so I just couldn’t live with taking a pill or shot or putting on a patch and just hoping that it didn’t work that way. I don’t want to play Russian roulette even when the gun is pointed at someone else. Why, I wonder, do so many Christians pitch a FIT over Plan B, the morning after pill, when their birth control method works THE EXACT SAME WAY?! I hope to goodness it boils down to a simple lack of information and it’s not a true reflection of what lengths we are truly comfortable going to to have life conform to our plans. That’s really all birth control ever is—a matter of convenience so that children don’t get in the way of what we want to do with our lives. Isn’t that a dangerous thing in itself since the Bible says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” (Philippians 2:3)
I’m not saying that having children is easy (worthwhile things seldom are) and I’m not saying that other forms of birth control (barrier methods or sterilization) that actually prevent conception are necessarily immoral (although I’m still prayerful on that subject). What I really want to convey is that children, all children, are STILL 100% blessings from God and they deserve us to value them in such a way that we are not so concerned with making our lives easier that we are willing to accept an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude when it comes to literally disposing of them.