Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reader Question: Birth Control

Here is a question from a blog reader:

"As a soon-to-be married Christian woman, I was wondering if you have any advice or recommended resources regarding the use of birth control. The internet has tons of scientific info, but I'd love to get my hands on a few quality books by other thoughtful Christians about how they came to a decision on this life-shaping topic."

You know, that's a great topic and one I haven't thought to address so far. First, let me say that we've read a lot of marriage books. Both secular and spiritual. I really haven't seen any Christian books address birth control...and not many other ones as well. One book called, "Guide to Getting It On" by Paul Joannides, has a chapter about birth control that's ok. *Note- This book is in our top three books on sex, but it addresses many things that Christians might find offensive. We love the detailed information it gives and ignore the sections we don't agree with morally. I wish I had more resources to cite. If anyone knows of a good book on the topic of birth control...please post it in the comments section below.

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to birth control. What method, if you believe in birth control, how long till you want to have kids, and so forth.

I would advise you to talk to your gynecologist about all the different options. Most gynecologists will advocate for the pill or an inserted device, but I know many people who decided they were more comfortable with condoms. Condoms have a higher risk for pregnancy...but if you use them correctly, they work very well. Lambskin condoms are great if your husband doesn't like normal ones. They're more expensive but feel much more "normal" if you catch my drift. Don't let your gyno try to scare you, as they sometimes do. Mine literally told me I was crazy for going off the pill. Ask them for the facts and then base your decision off what makes the most sense for you. They have to accept whatever you decide.

Some people also don't believe in birth control. They feel that God made our bodies to procreate and we should just let nature take it's course. If that's something you believe in, we can respect that. However, God did also give us brains and the wisdom to use them. If you feel uncomfortable with birth control it's wise to talk through with your spouse how you and he/she plan on supporting a number of children. It's irresponsible to just keep on having children when you can't support them and science allows us to have a choice in the matter.

I think the key is to know the facts, pray, and be in agreement with your spouse. Jake and I don't make big life decisions without both of us being on the same page. So my advice is to do whatever you both feel most comfortable with and agree upon.

-Melissa

6 comments:

  1. You've forgotten to mention a key form of birth control: natural family planning or fertility awareness method. You don't have to choose between artificial contraceptives, condoms, and tons of kids. There is another option out there!!

    If you're completely unfamiliar with NFP or FAM, your first thought is likely to be one of the following: "Isn't NFP just for Catholics?" AND/OR be "But NFP doesn't work! You're still going to have tons of kids if you choose that method!"

    But NFP totally is'nt just for Catholics (I'm a Protestant), and it is in fact just as effective as any other birth control if used properly. Yes, you heard me right -- 98-99% effective! That's just as good as condoms or the Pill.

    I would highly recommend doing some research on this form of birth control before marriage. I went on the Pill immediately upon marriage and stayed on it for 4 years, and now regret it. I wish I had known about NFP back then! But no one ever told me about it.

    A couple of things: please note that NFP is NOT the rhythm method (where you count the days of your cycle), which is indeed highly ineffective. Also, that you can combine it with the use condoms if you feel OK with that and if you don't want to abstain for 10 days every month. Lastly, my main reason for rejecting the Pill is simply because it's unhealthy, unnatural, expensive, and disrespectful to a woman's sexuality. I don't think God condemns it or anything.

    Here's a blog post to get you started if you're interested (I interviewed someone on my blog when I was first learning about it a year ago...hope that's OK: http://bit.ly/g3DKkP ). I also wrote this: http://bit.ly/h8bmFG . They might help you get started.

    It's great that you're asking these questions. Blessings to you as you seek to honour God through your sexuality and marriage.

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  2. I'm in the same situation as the reader who posted the question. I'll be getting married in July and just met with my GYN and decided to use the pill for now.

    The website Bedsider (http://bedsider.org/) helped me understand my options and provided some great information. I recommend it to anyone feeling overwhelmed by all of the choices available. (Note: Bedsider does not cover natural family planning.)

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  3. To Kathleen above: LOVE it. You know what's hysterical? Last night, I read the post here on Holymess, before you commented. I was put off by the post (no offense, Melissa! I do love your blog!) but couldn't find the right words to respond. This morning, I was chatting with a friend about NFP and she sent me the link to your interview with Dustin Riechmann. Just now, I came back to the blog -- I was going to post the very same link to your interview with Dustin because when I read that today, I knew they were the right words with which to respond! lol. So, you beat me to it. Excellent interview.

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  4. Kathleen (and Arleen), thanks so much for providing a deeper glimpse into another option. Family planning is so important and the biggest thing we wanted to get across in our post is that there are a lot of options out there so don't make a quick decision. Talk, pray and do your research!

    I had a bit of an issue with the bit links opening properly so here are the full links just in case someone else is having the same issue:

    http://projectmonline.com/2009/12/09/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-natural-family-planning/

    http://projectmonline.com/2010/04/05/why-i-have-become-anti-pill-and-pro-fam/

    Courtney, thanks for the website suggestion as well.

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  5. Hi.

    I'm a follower of your blog and have linked your blog to mine. I'm 25 years old, from the Philippines.

    I was kind of wondering: Aren't Christians supposed to teach the unmarried and the married not to use any kind of artificial contraceptive because a woman's body is already programmed to bear children, and that is the design God created for our bodies?

    I'm Catholic, and recently, I really tried to make my faith stronger by praying, going to Church and participating in theological discussions, and I have to say that even though I'm not married (I hope to be, someday), I think that instead of using the Pill or condoms, why not just use Natural Family Planning? You don't have to use anything, just patience and self-control in abstaining from sex on days when you are most likely going to be pregnant.

    Isn't it supposed to be in our Christian ethics to practice self-control? So, why not do that?

    My beloved boyfriend has been giving me links to read and videos to watch from priests, theologians and Christian speakers such as Father Robert Barron, Peter Kreeft, Christopher West, John Piper, etc and I think every married or unmarried couple whose center is in Jesus ought to stuff themselves with Christian ethics.

    While I am respectful to those who use contraceptives, I am hoping that my fellow Christians would not use them.

    Anyway, here is a link to Janet Smith's speech in audio entitled, "Contraception: Why not?" She's really convincing, I promise! And she also makes the audience laugh. :)

    http://catholicipod.stblogs.com/2008/03/05/contraception-why-not-janet-smith-mp3s-audio/

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  6. Another shout-out for FAM - I went through four different brands of birth control pills before I found one that didn't make me crazy. But now that I'm off and trying to get pregnant, I've noticed all of the ways that even the best pill still did things to my hormones that I'd rather not do again.

    So between babies, we'll definitely be using FAM in the future (which, as Kathleen pointed out, is NOT the rhythm method, to which I owe a nephew).

    A birth-control method that allows my husband and I to connect and love each other through intercourse is top priority. Sex releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, keeping a husband and wife emotionally attached to each other.

    Sex is also cheaper than marriage counseling.

    Yes, a woman's body is designed to bear children. We are all called to different journeys and lives - single, single with adopted children, married and childless, married with children. Different ministries suit different people. Just as not everyone is called to be married, I don't think everyone's called to have children, or called to have many children.

    I think at this point, we can consider that the Earth has been multiplied upon :-)

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Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.