Birth Control for Happy Holidays

00a80fa44b60da78489df6bcdd377b18d50fc019b34025dc5b7b522f9631f429I have a friend who is dreading going home for the holidays because her very Catholic family always gives her a hard time about being on birth control. She and her husband are nondenominational Protestant Christians, and they use non-abortive birth control as a preventative method as a part of their family planning – a practice condemned especially by her very outspoken Catholic sister.

Setting aside for a moment the very intrusive, unloving nature of the sister’s attacks on my friend’s private sex life with her husband, what is the place of birth control in a Christian’s life? Is it okay to use birth control? What does the bible have to say?

First of all, the bible is clear that sex was created to be enjoyed within the context of marriage between a man and a woman. I’m not going to discuss premarital sex or homosexuality here, because that is not the purpose of this post. So bear in mind that the context of my discourse is whether or not it is okay for a married husband and wife to use birth control.

The Catholic church holds to the belief that sex was created primarily for procreation and not for pleasure. On catholic.com, the Catholic church argues, “The natural law purpose of sex is procreation…  but sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex, which is procreation.”

Okay, Catholics. If the basic purpose of sex is procreation and not pleasure, what do you do with these steamy bible verses?

“How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit.” -Song of S. 7:6-8

“Rejoice in the wife of your youth… Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” -Prov. 5:18-19

“While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance.” -Song of S. 1:12

“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband… Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time.” -1 Cor. 7:3-5

“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved…let us go out early to the vineyards and see whether the…blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love.” -Song of S. 7:10-12

I cannot find any scripture to support the Catholic church’s claim that “sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes [procreation].” In fact, I would say quite the opposite is true. God created sex. Sex was GOD’S IDEA. He made it pleasurable as a gift to us and a way for us to build intimacy within our marriages.

The closest the bible comes to condemning birth control is in Genesis 38 in the story of Onan and Tamar. A young woman named Tamar was married to Er, the son of Judah, but Er died before Tamar bore any children. Tamar was then given in marriage to Er’s brother, Onan, but Onan did not want to split his inheritance with any child he might produce on his brother’s behalf (in accordance with the law of levirate marriage in Deut. 25:5-6), so he used the oldest form of birth control: withdrawal. God put Onan to death for his wickedness, but the wickedness described was not the use of contraception; it was Onan’s selfish motivation in using Tamar for pleasure without performing his legal duty of producing an heir for his deceased brother.

Ultimately, what we learn from Genesis 38 is not whether contraception is right or wrong but that it is the motivation behind the use of birth control that determines if it is right or wrong. Gotquestions.org states (and I agree), “Married couples use contraception for a variety of reasons. Some feel called to put off childbearing until they are in a better position to care for children. Some, such as missionary couples, may feel their service to God overrides the desire for children at a particular point in time. Some may be convinced that God has a different plan for them. Ultimately, a couple’s motives for delaying childbearing, using contraception, or even having numerous children, are between them and God.”

Authentically Aurora

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5 thoughts on “Birth Control for Happy Holidays

  1. Interesting post and very well written. You sound very passionate about this. Don’t be surprised if you start to get a lot of hate mail from the Catholics, but it sounds like you have a solid foundation of biblical truth to support your stance.

    My own opinion is this, what a married couple does in the privacy of their own bedroom is between them and God. Who are we to condemn and judge?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Procreation is the best method for a religion – any religion – to spread, grow, or just to continue existing. Simply because childhood indoctrination is the best method to make people take any particular religious claims at face value. Perhaps it is no coincidence, that the Catholic church is the most widespread and biggest organization among thousands of Christian denominations? Look at what happened to the Shakers.

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    • Hi Rautakyy, thanks for stopping by! I can agree with you that, on the surface, procreation can seem to be the best method for any religion to spread and grow. However, most kids who grow up in the Catholic church leave the church soon after heading to college and even those who continue going to Mass tend not to actually understand the bible or live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I hold to the belief that everyone eventually has to make up their own mind what they believe; “childhood indoctrination” only goes so far before kids become adults and realize they need to either make their faith their own or abandon it altogether.

      Regardless… that wasn’t the point of this post. My purpose in writing was to look at what the bible has to say about birth control. My purpose was not to examine whether or not procreation is the best way to spread religion. 🙂

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      • I am sorry, if I somehow stepped out of your topic. And I do agree with your point about what the Bible says about birth control. Unlike most Christians (Catholic or otherwise) who claim all sorts of demands by your god to humanity on the alledged authority of the Bible, I have read the entire book. In my experience good willing people find good morals from their respective religions – what ever those religions are, and how ever well, or poorly they know these – and similarly selfish people find excuses for bad behaviour from the very same religions. However, when people accept religious doctrine at face value, they do not even question wether it is in the actual tenets of their religion originally, nor do they examine why it has changed so much.

        I was merely trying to point out why a particular long standing branch of a particular religion has adopted these “un-Biblical” views as part of the doctrine. Childhood indoctrination has a very grand scale effect on what sort of suggestions people are ready to take at face value without or even regardless of evidence and for what sort of world view they are ready to come up with excuses for. Even if some people may come to examine why they believe what they believe “after heading to college”, in Catholic countries and from Catholic families people still ponder on the suggestions of Christianity and in Sunnite countries people still ponder on the suggestions of Islam, like wise Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoans, Zoroasterians, Mandians, and what have you, are most often limited in pondering what their own cultural heritage says about the supernatural, if they ever come to suspect any of it at all.

        I might pop over a nother time. Your blog – as far as I have read it so far – is a nice and delightfull way to learn about a culture totally alien to my own. 🙂

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        • Hahahaha, glad to be able to offer an alien perspective (and hear one in return)!

          You’ve made a fair point about some people finding good morals from their religions and others finding excuses for bad behavior from the very same religions. Since you’ve read the bible, you will of course recognize Jesus’s frequent displeasure with the latter, often found among the Pharisees of his day. I hold to the belief that false Christians (people who claim Christ but don’t really know Him) are one of the top reasons for atheism today!

          Really glad you stopped by!

          Like

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