Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Debating Birth Control, Part 1

Ashleigh wrote,

I'm not a fan of hormonal birth control options, however is there a place for other types of birth control, aside from natural family planning? Are there exceptions where birth control is useful and a viable option?

For example, what about nursing mothers who have a small infant? They aren't ready to be pregnant again, but aren't having a cycle yet so they can't really do natural family planning? And, while many say that nursing is a form of birth, it's not guaranteed.

Or, what about young married couples that are overseas as missionaries. They want kids, but they are just getting acclimated to their new surroundings and want to take one big life change at a time?

Anyway, I'm wondering if there are exceptions when it comes to the issue of birth control -- if it's for a limited amount of time and not used as a way of being intentionally childless as a lifestyle.

I'll start with her first example: the nursing mother with a near-toddler. I know the anxiety that scenario produces from first hand experience. I also know the misery of morning sickness (morning-noon-and-night in my case).

In that circumstance, it's tempting to depend on a barrier method of contraception to put your mind at ease. That said, I think it's equally important to recognize that the failure rate of condoms is quite high (15%) while the failure rate of NFP is the lowest of all tested methods (2%). I also know that serious NFPers would argue that ecological breastfeeding does prevent conception (though not every woman is physiologically able to nurse).

To depend on condoms or any other method of artificial contraception is to put our trust in the untrustworthy. Again, I understand the temptation, but we must be honest about what we're trusting so as not to be disappointed if we're let down.

God is perfectly trustworthy. His failure rate is zero. Though I don't always act on that knowledge, I want to. And I'm praying for the maturity to act on it.

It's funny, I was so concerned about conceiving too soon after baby number two arrived — for the reasons Ashleigh mentioned — that we did go to extra measures to try and prevent another conception.

When we finally decided we were ready to have another baby, we found we couldn't conceive. It took two and a half years of trying to get pregnant again. And I thought I had everything under control. I'm so thankful God blessed us with another pregnancy and am reminded that ultimately, my fertility is in His hands.

Next up: the missionary couple example.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger Orchard Grove said...

Candice, thanks for the response. I appreciate you taking the time to address my question. But, after reading your answer, I have more questions. :-)

Let's see...

I'm aware that condoms have a failure rate, so the use of them isn't necessarily trusting in them. I personally believe that no birth control is absolutely effective -- so there's always the chance that pregnancy may occur. In the case of a nursing mother, they are simply a procaution because NFP can't be used during nursing. And, I know stories where nursing mothers who trusted in nursing as birth control and they found themselves pregnant mere months after their baby was born. So, here's the question #1:

Why is trusting in nursing or NFP as birth control different than using a barrier method? I understand that one is considered "artificial" while the other considered "natural." However, I don't understand why NFP is an acceptable method and others aren't. It's still an effort to control whether one has children. And, if the couple using an "artificial" method have the same mindset as those using NFP (that children are a blessing and if pregnancy occurs it is welcomed), why is the method chosen such a big deal?

Okay, question #2:

1 Corinthians 7:5: "Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may
devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." This verse seems to indicate that abstaining is only acceptable for prayer. So what does this mean about NFP?

I guess I'm just confused and have a lot of questions about why NFP is considered acceptable and biblical while other methods such as condoms are not. It really is an issue I'm struggling with right now ...

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Jessica said...


Thank you, Ashleigh, for being so gracious in response to my comment on the other thread! It's rare to find someone who can discuss differences in issues such as this and not become offended due to those differences...I really appreciate that!

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

Jessica, even though it's not always easy to hear different views on a subject and to be challenged in my own thinking, it's good. It makes me step back and examine my own point of view. So thanks for giving me an opportunity to continue examining my heart on this issue! :-)

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

My husband and I were talking about this missionary couple example that I gave, and he really challenged my thinking in regard to it. I had originally thought, "It seems like an okay reason to delay having children." However, it came up during our discussion how being pregnant and having kids may have been more of a benefit to their ministry and acclimation.

He pointed out how people are naturally drawn to kids (and it seems to pregnant women) so having kids -- and not trying to delay it -- may have made getting to know people and ministering easier. So I'm thinking that it isn't an "exception" after all.

Also, I was thinking about a friend of mine who when her and her husband got married they agreed to wait 5 years before having kids. I'm don't remember the reasoning. But, then it took her 3 years before she could get pregnant and she was relatively young too -- like 23 or 24 when the did start trying. So I was thinking about this whole concept of purposely trying to avoid children and how it isn't right to do for selfish reasons.

Yet, at the same time, I was thinking about my mom. She almost died when having my youngest sister. In fact, the doctors weren't sure why she didn't die. So even though she wanted six kids, my parents stopped after four. She wasn't going to risk having another baby because it may have left the four kids she already had without a mom.

Anyway, lots to think about.


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