Random thoughts on birth control

Posted by  | Wednesday, October 19, 2011  at 4:29 PM  
Disclaimer: the big Finnlings woke up with a stomach bug this morning that laid them OUT and so my grand plans for putting together a more 'formal' blog post before they woke up didn't happen. I really should plan ahead more! Meg and Christina have already given us so much to think about, pray about, and discuss with our husbands in regards to birth control. I am grateful for Christina reminding us of this article on Desiring God's website: Does the Bible permit birth control?. After reading over it, I had to pull a few quotes that stood out to me:

The Bible nowhere forbids birth control, either explicitly or implicitly, and we should not add universal rules that are not in Scripture (cf. Psalm 119:19 on the sufficiency of Scripture). What is important is our attitude in using it. Any attitude which fails to see that children are a good gift from the Lord is wrong.
Just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it. It is wrong to reason that since A is good and a gift from the Lord, then we must pursue as much of A as possible. God has made this a world in which tradeoffs have to be made and we cannot do everything to the fullest extent... And for kingdom purposes, it might be wise to regulate the size of one's family and to regulate when the new additions to the family will likely arrive. As Wayne Grudem has said, "it is okay to place less emphasis on some good activities in order to focus on other good activities."
Although it is true that "blessed is the man whose quiver is full of [children]," we need to realize that God has not given everyone the same size quiver.
God is just as much in control of whether you have children when you use birth control as when you don't. The hands of the almighty are not tied by birth control! ...The "trust God, therefore don't use birth control" thinking is based upon the incorrect assumption that what happens "naturally" reflects "God's best" for our lives, but that what happens through human means does not.
I will be honest and tell you that Nathan and I do not have a concrete decision about the number of children we want to have. I love how as soon as one child is born people start asking if you are "done" or if you  want to have more. That is not a flip decision, people:-) These things must be weighed, and prayed over (and over and over) and discussed. I am grateful that the article above reminds us God is the one in control of all matters.

A couple of other random things to point out (some very important, some not so much):
*Birth control, according to Wikipedia, is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or interrupt pregnancy. So though our brains automatically jump to "you must be talking about the birth control pill", a discussion about birth control means all methods including natural family planning.
*A decision about birth control is not essential to your salvation. Having children (be it 1 or 20) WILL NOT save you. And deciding to prevent or delay childbearing WILL NOT condemn you. We are already condemned because of our sin nature and sinful actions. We are saved through the life-giving blood of Jesus Christ that he offered for us on the cross. We do not deserve it, and can do nothing to earn our salvation--it is because of God's grace that we are saved. Remember that when engaging in discussions with friends, family members, co-workers, your spouse!
*Two negative side effects of a hormonal birth control pill that are not discussed before you start taking it: weight gain, and loss of your sex drive. Though each pill affects people differently, after talking with several of my friends, I was surprised to hear that many women gained a little bit of weight when they went on the pill--only to lose it when they came off. I was on the pill for 3 years, and the month I came off the pill I dropped 5 lbs (I am not big, and it was very noticeable when I gained it and lost it!). The biggest side effect of the pill that I did NOT know was happening was a reduction of my sex drive. Because the pill regulates your hormones, it often suppresses your natural sex drive. Trust me, you don't want this to happen! I was shocked and pleased at the difference in my desires once I came off the pill (honest truth: so was my husband :-).

These are a few of my random, unorganized thoughts about birth control. Thank you as always for reading. Please feel free to 'chime in' with any thoughts, concerns, opinions, or stories. We love to hear from you! You can see past blog posts on Birth Control under that label on the right-hand menu. And don't forget:

Would anyone like to write a guest post about what they chose as far as permanent birth control? Or why you did not choose this option? Please email us if you would like to share.


Carie Marie said...

Well Said!!!

becomingmorewithless said...

How people interpret the Bible's word on birth control is so controversial. I'm glad to see a healthy perspective added to the discussion.
I used birth control for 9 years and fully intended to keep using it, when I felt the issue being pressed on my heart. Children were still in our "distant" plans but we switched to the sympto-thermo method after much research and prayer. We were fence sitters though. We didn't fully trust a natural method so we used back up. The first thing we noticed was that both of our sex drives improved (a man's hormones can be swayed by a woman's, just like women can sway each other's to match cycles and so on). Our marriage got a big boost from the intimacy we were experiencing! That alone convinced me I would never turn back. Well, our experiment with natural family planning got a little confusing when my period didn't show up. We hadn't wanted a child but when faced with the possibility, we started to see ourselves as parents. We even started praying that we were! When my period finally showed up, it was a huge disappointment. We knew right then that it was time to follow our hearts and let God make the final decision. 2 weeks later we were pregnant! Thanks to the sympto-thermo method I knew in 3 weeks! For us this has been a huge blessing, but I know that God does not always work this way. I seriously can not believe that my mother getting pregnant with me in her early teens as a run-away drug addict was God's timing. Having a child so young made her life harder than it already was. I think God used her situation, when she was ready, to bring her back to Him and re-write it for his own purpose.
I think God has given us great power, and though he can give or take it away, I think it is a mistake to believe he controls it. It's really very sad...the women who have died believing he does.

Megan said...

This is such a tough topic, and I've been on just about every side of the debate at some point in my life. :) But, when we moved overseas with two small babies, we had to re-evaluate our position of "letting God decide about our family." Feeling he had definitely lead us to a life overseas, facing the reality of no help, no babysitters, no mothers' day out, and having to both learn a new language, culture, and way of life, we simply could NOT handle another baby for awhile. We re-studied Scripture, and came to the same conclusion, Leah. That there are many things considered blessings, and we have the freedom to steward them. Persecution, though difficult, is considered a blessing for the church as it grows and strengthens it. But in Jesus' ministry and Paul's, there were times they both intentionally ran away from persecution because they knew it wasn't time for it in their work. This gave us the confidence to use the incredible understanding God has given us into the ways our bodies work and how children are conceived to implement some measures (we did NFP) to prevent another child for a time. Our heart was always to have more children, and we did. : ) Three years later! Now we are about to add our fourth through adoption, and I would encourage EVERYONE to do that. :)

Brandy said...

Another great article.


Leah F said...

Thanks for the link to the Kevin DeYoung article, Brandy! I always appreciate his thoughtful, gospel-centered approach.

Rachael Davis said...

Leah, this is another reason I love you. Thank you for your openness, and for pointing us all back to the gospel, even (and especially) in this. It's so divisive when issues that are NOT gospel issues are made of first importance. I applaud you for putting this discussion in its rightful place - important to think about, to be sure, but certainly not of first importance.

Christina said...

oooh Brandy - thanks for posting that! I read that back when it was first posted, but forgot! I think I'm going to post this so others don't miss it in the comments.

The Watczaks said...

I just wanted to add our story. Every family is different and I LOVE that you have pointed out that Scripture does not forbid BC and that we all need to get behind where GOD is calling us to be, but I just wanted to share where we are.
Our second child, Emma, has some very intense special needs. She's tube-fed, hard of hearing, developmentally delayed, etc. We 'planned' to have her, but we certainly didn't plan on life looking like this!!
We had always said that we wanted two kids, and that, especially if we got "one of each," we would be DONE after that.
But God gave us Emma and we are so blessed by the new perspective that His plans are SO different from ours.
So when Emma was about six months old, we got to talking about whether or not we wanted another. We have LONG lists of reasons to NOT have anymore. (like OH MY GOODNESS life is hectic enough as it is! Emma has had 7 surgeries so far and she's not 3 yet!) But we also have a LONG list of reasons to try for another (among those reasons is the fact that I'd like my son to have a typical sibling, for now and for the future; Emma will need life-long care)
So listing the 'pros and cons' just got too overwhelming. We prayed a lot but recieved no clear answer. But the big lesson God has taught us through Emma's life is that our plans are not His plans and that we need to trust Him.
So we have not prevented pregnancy in over two years. In that time, we've had one miscarriage, but that was some time ago now, so with GOD as our only birth control, we haven't gotten pregnant in over a year and a half.
I guess I wanted to share my story because so often people assume that 'no birth control - just trust God' means you'll have 17 kids! If you feel God calling you to just trust Him ... I don't know, maybe God doesn't want us to have any other children and this is just a discipline for me to let go of my false sense of control in my life ... but believe me, we know 'what causes babies'! And actually, while I'm sharing ... Scripture is NOT silent regarding a woman's duty to her husband ... so for me, I do my best to never say no to him ... the last thing I want to do is send him out into the world unsatisfied (not that Taking Charge of your Fertility, etc, means that you are leaving your man unsatisfied, please don't think I'm criticizing!) I feel confident that, if God wanted us to have another child right now, we've ... um ... given Him ample opportunity! :)
But we pray every month that God's will be done. On about day 26, I start talking with God, saying that I know it's up to Him. And sometimes, if Emma has a radiology procedure that month or something, I'll ask Him if He would please wait on that blessing if He wants to give it to us. I truly feel like God has, for a season, closed my womb, and if He wants to open it again, He will. Which makes a HUGE decision much easier - we've left it up to someone WAY smarter than either of us! :)
Thanks for a great blog!

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