We were newly engaged and overwhelmed by all the details of a wedding…the dress, the guest list, the location…the honeymoon. I’m not going to lie, the honeymoon meant sex. And sex meant babies. And babies meant we would become those crazy people who got pregnant immediately after the wedding.
So, I did the only logical thing an engaged woman could do a month before we said our vows…and the thing everyone else did…I got birth control. Sure we talked it over, but was there really a choice? It was practical. Responsible. We weren’t ready. We wanted to enjoy one another, figure each other out before we added a child to the mix. I got the fancy hormonal insurance and, even if we didn’t fully understand the decision we had just made, we were set. (I had a host of medical issues and many doctors told me I would basically die if I got pregnant…so there was some outside pressure there…but that story is for another day.)
I know there are a lot of couples like us…Christian couples who (in their mission to abstain from sex before marriage) never learned how to think critically about birth control. So we all just go ahead and choose the easiest option, the one that’s most “effective” or the one that everyone else is using. And then we forget about it.
However, birth control matters more than we think. It matters because our whole selves (including our bodies) matter to God. God created us male and female intentionally (Genesis 1:26-28). Our bodies reflect God because He made us in His own image, and marriage is a picture of how God relates to His people (Ephesians 5). What we do with or put into our bodies is important. I realized that my underlying assumptions about birth control, even my ignorance of the subject, has effected what I continue to do and why I do what I do.
I am assuming that we all know that God designed sex for pleasure and procreation. To deny that married sex is about pleasure for husbands and wives is to rob us of something inherent and profound…something that’s apparent even in the Scriptures (uh…Song of Solomon). Sex is healthy for couples, and it’s good when we enjoy our spouse in this way. We should never feel guilty about that. (You should read “Sacred Sex”…it might change the way you view sex.)
Instead of acknowledging God’s two-fold design for sex, our culture tends to put the procreation half on the shelf because we have the modern scientific luxury to wait or never have kids. The idea of “birth control” use to be a laughable and irrelevant phrase (unless you count the ineffective makeshift linen condoms…ouch). Birth, like death, was not something we were able to control…it was a part of the natural rhythm of marriage (barring health complications).
From what I understand, our views shifted about 50 years ago with the invention of “the pill”. This specific contraception was intended to liberate women from the oppression of unwanted pregnancies. Women could now wriggle their way out from under the tyranny of men’s sexual dominance and enjoy the same career opportunities or sexual promiscuity as their male counterparts.
Women (for the first time in history) were empowered to control their fickle fertility…but we have to ask ourselves “is it truly feminine empowerment when we stifle a part of us that makes us women in God’s image and we allow science to dictate our bodily rhythms”? This is a question (among many) that I am struggling with right now…eight years after I plunged whole-heartedly into the pool of contraceptive use.
I keep asking myself “how do I respect my body and the two purposes of sex, while making wise decisions about contraceptives”? We are called to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). I’m pretty sure this specific passage of Scripture is not saying we should be bad stewards of our bodies and our resources, or that we should throw caution into the wind when it comes to getting pregnant.
However, hostility or ambivalence to life (in thinking or in practice) is sketchy, unbiblical and often more subtle than I think. For example, it’s not that I was ever “hostile” toward life, but there was a time I was consumed with fear of getting pregnant (for my own health’s sake and for many other reasons). I couldn’t trust God to care for me.
Putting ourselves into God’s hands is frightening…it is a fragile place to be. However, it’s often where we experience profound freedom. And under this mindset, Christians can vary in their opinions on birth control (especially when we get to the topic of “when does life actually start”.)
I am beginning to taste this freedom as my husband and I are praying about other birth control options. I am really having a rough time with the one I’m currently using (my emotions are incredibly heightened…and we are not going to mention weight gain because I might cry). Not everyone experiences this, but there were enough side effects that both Aaron and I knew that I needed something different!!!
Choosing birth control is difficult, but maybe it should be until God gives us peace. We should wrestle with issues of our sexuality, life, gender and marriage. It’s also important to remember that once we choose, we don’t have to stick with that method forever. Marriage ebbs and flows, and so can our choices about birth control.
All I know is that life belongs to God, and that’s vital to remember in any method we choose. No form is foolproof. Am I open to life if God chooses to bless us with it? The possibility might always scare us, but maybe that’s okay, too. Life is a dangerous, mysterious, wonderful thing…kind of like the God who gives it.
So…what form of birth control do you use? Why do you use it? Also, when do you think life happens? Does this effect what form of birth control you use?