Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Should Christians Use Birth Control?

I recently got a social media question via Facebook from Robert, he said, “Studies have shown that a birth control pill can cause an abortion, that the pill makes the uterus inhospitable to a pre-born infant. It seems that protests against abortion should also be against the pill. This potential side effect seems to me to make the pill off limits if indeed you’re a strong pro-life advocate. With this in mind, here’s my question, Should Christians use birth control?”

My answer would be that with recent advances in biotechnology it is crucial to consider the issue of birth control through the lens of a biblical worldview.

While there is much debate among Christians on the question of whether birth control is appropriate in any form, there is no question that birth control methods designed to destroy or prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg or embryo should be avoided at all costs. Here’s why: from a biblical worldview we hold that from the moment of conception, an embryo is a living, growing person made in the image of God. Thus the “abortion pill” (RU486) must never be used! In similar fashion, the “morning after pill” and birth control pills should not be used, not only because they are designed to prevent fertilization but also because their designed to prevent implantation if fertilization should occur.


Boris said...

Christians should simply abstain from sex. They might reproduce.

Stewart said...

ha ha Boris...good one...except Christians aren't born that way! Hank: birth control pills prevent fertization AND the attachment of the mean there are lots of preborns that never attached?...scary thought.

Laura Davis said...

Birth control pills have been a blessing to many women Christian or not. Good grief, if you followed this line of thinking hysterectomies (some life saving) wouldn't be allowed either.

Anonymous said...

Hank, Thank you for taking the bold stand to say what most pastors won't say. The use of hormonal birth control is incompatible with a biblical pro-life mindset. Why won't more Christians take this stand? The debate over other forms of contraception for the Christian is complicated. Not so with the birth control pill. It should not be used by Christians, period!

sarah said...

If a hysterectomy is needed for NON birth control reasons(my uterus ruptured while pregnant with my last child, and that often necessitates a hysterectomy although in my case it did not) then I can't imagine that HH would have a problem with that.

When you do something to purposefully prevent a fertilized egg/embryo from implantation, it is abortion TO SOME PEOPLE. Some believe that life begins at fertilization, others at implantation. Either way, BC pills can and do kill babies post implantation. 'False positives' are common when taking a pregnancy test while taking BC pills. You will not likely get a positive pregnancy test until post implantation, so I propose that these are NOT 'false positives' but early miscarriages. That is abortion and that is sin. My sister took BC pills while pregnant and discontinued use when she found out (at about 10 weeks.) Her baby died at 12 weeks. She went into labor and gave birth to a very tiny baby who was killed by long term BC use. Unfortunately she continued to take BC pills and got pregnant again the next year (this time, according to her dr, there were MANY women who got pregnant on that same series of BC pills and it was declared a "bad lot." )

Some, like my grandfather, believe that life does not begin until the first breath is taken. For those, abortion at any stage, even partial birth abortion, is fine. I firmly believe that life begins at fertilization and that BC pills are abortive and sin. But if the uterus is damaged and needs to be removed, I do not believe that to be the same situation at all.

Laura Davis said...

Anonymous - you're a man aren't you?

Sarah, BC pills also prevent hemorrhaging. I know of some women who have to take BC twice a day otherwise they would hemorrhage. Some BC pills also prevent cervical cancer.

Also, I'm sure you are aware that a woman's monthly period is the result of an unfertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized it breaks apart and the body naturally expels it along with the uterine lining that was thickening to prepare for implantation. If you don't consider a women's monthly flux as abortion, then how can you consider BC pills as abortion? The egg is still not fertilized, in fact by taking the pill it is never created. BC pills inhibit the monthly release of an egg by the ovaries. How can it be considered abortion if it is never there to begin with?

Rebecca said...

Different birth control pills use different combinations of the synthetic versions of the hormones progesterone and estrogen. There are progestin-only pills as well - the "mini=pill". These combinations are intended to do three things:
1) prevent ovulation
2) thicken the mucus in the cervix to try to prevent sperm from reaching the egg
3) thin the lining of the uterus so that if 1 & 2 don't work, then the fertilized egg can't implant and therefore is destroyed.
The difference between the hormone levels in the pills may mean that one such pill is going to work better at preventing ovulation, but the majority of birth control pills were meant to use this 3 step prevention process. Some may insist the chances of this happening are very slim, but how much do we want to play with statistics when it comes to a child's life? Can the science behind the pill guarantee that ovulation is never taking place? No, many women still ovulate while on the pill. We have all heard of women becoming pregnant while on the pill. So, we can't safely say that there are no eggs being released if someone is on the pill.

If you don't take my word for it, the science behind the birth control pill is readily available with a quick Internet search. Please research the pill before insisting that it's not as abortive as it was actually designed to be.

sarah said...

Laura, please go back and read what I wrote. I spoke SPECIFICALLY of FERTILIZED eggs. In no way was I implying that the natural dying of unfertilized eggs is wrong (any more so then the death of the thousands of sperm that never reach eggs.)

Yes, it is true that the hormonal birth control pills (as well as IUD with or without hormones) do prevent fertilized eggs to not implant. It is also true that many women do get pregnant while using the pill, and it's impossible to know how many times women do get pregnant and have a very early POST IMPLANTATION miscarriage caused by their birth control Method.

I just read Rebecca's reply. Thank you!

While I empathize with those who use the pills for medical reasons, I feel that they should use a barrier method as well if they want to prevent abortions. NO BC pills prevent cervical cancer, I don't know where you've heard that. In fact, there's an increased risk to cervical cancer and breast cancer while using these pills.

Because they do cause infertility if used long term, women need to hear more about this negative side effect as well. I know several women who have now reached the magic 5 year term in their marriage when they planned to have their first child and now have discovered that their bodies are so messed up they have been unable to get pregnant.

Laura Davis said...

Sarah, my mistake I should have read that. As for BC pills that prevent cervical cancer I heard that from a doctor and it was one specific pill and I can't remember the name of it right now.

Rebecca, I did do my research, but I guess I should have stated that the pill is not perfect. I will concede that in that case it would definitely be wrong for a Christian to take the pill. HH said that no Christian should take BC pills and I still feel that is too broad a statement. That would mean a woman who gets her tubes tied or anyone using a condom or men getting vasectomies are all disobeying God. There is a fine line here, especially when some women are at risk to have children at all.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

First, where does the Bible say that a newly fertilized zygote is a human being, and that killing it would be murder? It certainly isn't in the Old Testament, because under Jewish law (ask the most conservative Orthodox rabbi) abortion is bloodshed, but not murder, because while the fetus is life, the nefesh chayyim (roughly, "living soul") does not attach until birth. Also, under Jewish law, if the fetus is threatening the life of the mother, then abortion is mandatory. And I don't recall much at all about abortion in the New Testament.

So, a Christian may conclude, from their own individual reading of the Bible, that abortion is wrong, or that birth control is wrong, but there is no Biblical mandate.

I personally do not see any reason to consider a zygote, a blastocyst, or an embryo, a human being. Why is nobody concerned with the tremendous number of eggs flushed out of the womb without being fertilized? Why isn't every woman from puberty on REQUIRED to get each of those eggs fertilized? I believe that if the new life growing within a woman can be safely removed, and can live outside the womb, without life support, then removal is a delivery, not an abortion.

As long as the fetus must reside within the mother in order to survive, nobody except the mother has the right to choose that she shall carry the pregnancy to term. Only she can make that choice. Should a Christian woman make that choice and no other? Not always, but even if I believe an abortion is justified, in certain circumstances, nobody has the right to require a woman to have one, or to take birth control. It is her choice.

Someday some government will try to MANDATE abortion in some circumstances, and the Christian legal foundations which rush to court to obtain an injunction against such a law will find that their most solid legal foundation is Roe v. Wade.

Anonymous said...

Dear Laura,
I'm actually a blessed wife and mother of six children.

Reading through the comments I can see that your main concern is against the blanket statements regarding Christians and birth control. I personally know very devout believers who use contraception and others who do not believe in using any form of it. Hank's post was specifically about the birth control pill and its back-up mechanism of causing a fertilized egg not to implant. You CAN recognize the harm of birth control pills without giving up all forms of contraception. I appreciate your last comment, excepting that possibility.

btw.... my gender should have nothing to do with my views on birth control unless as a woman it is assumed that I must be a liberal feminist which I certainly am not!

As I sister in Christ I appreciate the debate. We should be "iron sharpening iron" with God's word as our plumb line. Blessings to you Laura, Whitney in Ca.

Laura Davis said...

Whitney in CA, I appreciate your comments and apologize for thinking you were a man. Lol! I guess my type of humour didn't come off very well in print, did it?

Blessings to you!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

There is a limited extent to which the sex of a person commenting on abortion is relevant. All men don't think one way, and all women don't think another way. But, if a man says, you must abort, I don't want that child, that man does not experience the emotional stress that the woman who is pregnant does. Even if she chooses to abort, there is emotional stress and doubt and pain (or so I accept, since I haven't experienced it either, and I have heard few women say otherwise). On the other hand, if a man says, you must carry that pregnancy to term, he does not experience the morning sickness, and all the other pains which the woman experiences. I believe a man who says "that's my baby too" should shut up until the baby is delivered, or should courteously offer his advice and opinion, but, he should have first right to raise the baby if the mother wants to give it up for adoption. But until there is a safe, painless procedure to transfer the fetus to his womb, he can't make the decision for the mother. If that is important to a man, he should be more careful about sowing his seed without entering into a covenant relationship with the woman concerned. You know why only women can have babies? God knew that men couldn't handle the pain.

sarah said...

I have a hard time believing that anyone who has been pregnant could think that a baby has no soul until it is born. Having been pregnant with 10 babies (some of them multiples and only 4 born living and one currently in the womb) I can definitely attest to their distinct personalities preborn. They most certainly have souls.

Of course killing a preborn child is murder. The fact that they cannot live on their own is beside the point- a child can not care for themselves post birth either. In some ways they are even more dependent as their feedings and oxygen were automatic. Now the caregiver must purposefully feed and care for the child. Are they not living humans until they can feed themselves and wipe their own butts?

As far as RvW protecting womens rights, it has and hasn't. For instance, a woman shot herself in the stomach when she was in labor. The baby died and she was not jailed for it. The baby was full term and most certainly could have lived outside the womb. She was protected.

But there are other women who have been forced to have c-sections for the baby OR for the mother's safety. Where was her choice? If it was her body why was held down and cut open? So what if the baby's life was in danger? Two recent cases in the news the babies were born vaginally (and were just fine) after a judge insisted a c-section would be performed (oops, too late.)But then the parents were investigated primarily based on the concern of her refusal of a cesarean!

So no, I do not believe that RvW will protect women's rights should they try to force abortions.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Sarah, you can believe whatever you want, but I have read every word of Roe v. Wade, I know how it was reasoned, and I know how lawyers, even Liberty Counsel and Pacific Legal Foundation, craft their arguments. Roe v. Wade will be all they have to go to court with, and it will work wonderfully.

Likewise, you can say "of course it is murder," but that doesn't make it so. As a man who has not experienced pregnancy, I will not vote to impose your view on every other woman, nor my own. There is a difference between being able to live and breathe outside the womb, where any adult will do to feed and clean and cuddle the baby, and being able to live only inside the womb, where only the woman whose womb it is can sustain it. Also, it is simply not as developed at the beginning as at the end. Thomas Aquinas said the soul attaches forty days after conception. Some others said at quickening. I'm sure you have the right to choose to act on your beliefs, but I'm not sure enough of what is The Truth to impose it on anyone else.

sarah said...

OK, Mr Jenkins,since we are talking about RvW and not the pill at the moment.

From the argument that we don't really know the absolute truth of the matter and may not feel comfortable imposing our own beliefs on others:

What if these ARE sentient beings with souls who do feel the horror of an abortion? And because of our own reluctance to impose our beliefs on others, we allow these babies to be brutally murdered.

Which is worse? To force a woman to carry to term a baby she does not want and find a new home for the child, or to allow her to have the child burned to death, torn limb from limb, ect? While I understand that currently the preborn do not have the same 'rights' as the mother, just ASSUMING that these MIGHT BE children with souls, tiny humans with thoughts and feelings of their own, how can we allow them to be treated this way?

There are many children out there who are victims of 'failed' abortions. My mom worked with one today. She's a teacher in a special needs highschool lifeskills class. His foster parents were told he wouldn't live more then a few days. A few week, a few months, and a few years have gone by. What may have been a healthy robust basketball player or first chair in the school orchestra is now a severely disabled 15 year old. According to the drs, all his disabilities are related to the abortion.

Now, if some would have their way (and some DO,) after the child is discovered to be alive it is simply discarded. Surely you must admit that these ARE babies at this point. My aunt used to work for an abortion clinic at the front desk. One day they were short staffed in the back and being an RN she was asked to assist an abortion. She did so and the baby was born crying. The dr tossed it into a vat of solution that killed it quickly. She ran out and never went back.

I can't reconcile allowing the POSSIBILITY of a living soul treated in this way (before OR after birth) just because some don't know FOR SURE that it is a baby and not an organic shell waiting to be filled with a soul/spirit at some point (which is months post birth in some cultures.)

Shouldn't we error on the side of caution, and stand for the protection of these potentially aware babies?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Well, you are right they we have strayed off topic a bit, but Hank did begin by saying that certain forms of birth control are morally indistinguishable from abortion.

I will freely grant that IF the life growing in a mother, post conception, IS a human life, entitled to all the protection of any human life at any age, then indeed to destroy it is murder.

The real question is, since we do not have a broad consensus in our community on that point, what level of ENFORCEMENT are we going to engage in? History shows that when 95% of the community tries to suppress criminal behavior by 5%, it works all right, especially since that 5% have some sense they are doing wrong. But when 52% try to impose their will on 48%, or 38% on 62%, it does not have beneficial results.

So, I firmly support your right to advocate that abortion is murder, my right to advocate that there are some circumstances when it is justified, and the right of the individual woman who is doing all the work to choose which of us she will listen to. Its not perfect, but its about all we can expect from the blunt instrument of government. Otherwise we get some real horror from the attempt to be righteous. E.g.
I don't think either of us wants murder of adults by frenzied mobs determined to "save the babies."

sarah said...

I've enjoyed our debate. :) I'm sure you would agree that such debates challenge us to thoroughly consider all issues and hammer out what we believe and why and how to express that belief. :)

Well, I seem to be miscarrying. (I have only 4 living children out of ten.)My husband also just found out today that he has stage 4 cancer. So we have a long road ahead of us.

Have a great weekend,

Siarlys Jenkins said...

A very gracious closing Sarah. I wish your husband the best, both in his medical treatment, and what God alone can add in the way of comfort, healing, and perhaps miracles.

sarah said...

Thank you.