Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Birth Control

Where Do You Stand?

As a mom of many, I always appreciate posts like this one by Jess:

Some Subtle Effects of the Birth Control Culture

Lately, I've been noticing some trends that I think are directly attributable to the rise-- indeed the expectancy-- of birth control use in our culture. I'd like to talk through them one by one so it's clear what I'm getting at. I believe that there are consequences that are a direct result of our culture's embracing of the birth control mindset as normative, and here are a few.

#1: Young couples are thought irresponsible when they get pregnant right away......because, the implication is, any "wise" couple would wait and follow the oft-given advice (even by pastors) that you should "take a few years to get to know each other" first.
This basic assumption overlooks the fact that even with birth control usage, regular intercourse often leads to a pregnancy. Indeed, that is the general plan of God's design for marital intimacy.It also overlooks the fact that children are a part of God's design for sanctification of parents, and that the continuation of a self-focused lifestyle has not served America's "Christian" marriages well.

#2- "Was it planned?" is no longer deemed a rude and quite personal question, but in fact, is seen as a natural question......because, the way our culture sees it, it is up to us to "plan" when life will begin
according to our own time tables and goals. The abortion-on-demand mindset tells us that we can control when life ends, so why not believe that we have full control of when it begins as well?

#3- Children are often seen, and even referred to, as an "accident".
Perhaps you've been fortunate enough to not ever have actually heard someone call their child by such an insulting description (an "oops baby", or "our little accident")... but it's all too common. Linked to the idea above, this whole notion is a natural attitude when we believe that we are the ones in control of life.

#4- Large families are often seen as incredible (and thus, put on an undeserved pedestal) or insane (and thus, sneered at behind their backs)......because once you can control how many "little buggars" you get, someone who has more than the two (or maybe three, if your first two are of the same gender) MUST be either Mother Teresa, or one step away from the loony bin.

#5- Anyone who has clearly NOT bought into the birth control culture at any point is seen as fair game for jokes, criticism, or invasive questions, because (it is assumed) they "chose" something different......because now, the "norm" is obvious: it is assumed that you WILL limit your own family size, shape, and timing according to your own will. The family that has two children 14 months apart gets jokes ("Haven't you figured out how that happens?" hardee-har-har) and eyerolls at their (implied) stupidity. The couple that has struggled with infertility now feels obligated to share that very personal information, because others imply or outright state that they are intentionally avoiding children, calling them selfish or scared. (Talk about adding insult to injury!) And of course, there's the classic
large family comments.

#6- By extension, because they "chose" their family size, the larger-than-average family is often expected to never lack, to never struggle with discipline, to never be tired, etc.... even by Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Don't believe me? Think again.If a two-year-old in a family of seven children has tantrums or is wearing mismatched clothes, it's because "the mom is spread too thin". But if that same child is the only child of two doting parents, it's because "bless his heart; he's a normal two-year-old" and because independent little two-year-olds love to pick out their own clothes.If a mother of three children is exhausted as she's pregnant with her fourth, it's likely to be met with an "I told you so" attitude from those who have already inappropriately shared their thoughts about family size. And she rarely gets sympathy. More likely, she'll get a "you made your bed, now lie in it" perspective from most of the people around her. But a first time mother struggling with morning sickness gets sympathetic comments and offers for how others can help.And lest you think I'm just whining as a mom of four, I'm really not... I'm just stating things the way I've plainly seen them. And these are things I hear from many of you, my friends and readers.

#7- A young professional women is "throwing her career away" if she opts to stay home with her new baby.... ...because she could have controlled that for another 10 years, and really DONE something with her life, don't ya know?

#8- Couples are often shocked and dismayed when they struggle with infertility... ...because the whole issue is so framed by an "in control" attitude. It seems so easy to NOT have children, and thus, it should be easy TO have them, right? Sadly, many modern couples either aren't even marrying until less fertile ages, and then may find themselves desperate to have children... or they have followed the common advice to take some time for themselves, only to find that once they finally get off the pill, they struggle to get pregnant at all.Even the couple who would love to have children and hasn't put it off or waited gets rude comments from family and friends because our culture has such an "if you want it, you can get it" attitude about everything, including children. And underlying all of it is the cultural idea of "rights"... that we have the right to have children or not have them, whenever we so desire.

#9- OTHER EFFECTS I won't even go into the rise in casual sex (a.k.a. fornication), affairs (a.k.a. adultery), and abortion (a.k.a. murder) due to the ease of birth control procurement and use.SO WHAT'S THE SOLUTION???The answer isn't that we bang down the doors of the courts and seek to legislate birth control usage. That ship has sailed.In my view, the answer IS that Christian couples should seek God's face and become that peculiar people-- a people that stands out as set apart and different from the world around us-- in this area of how we view children. A people who see children as blessings. A people who
discipline our children in the Lord, so that we aren't so bowled over by our disobedient, bratty children that we can't STAND the thought of more. A people who aren't afraid to live as strangers in this world that kills and throws away imperfect children, medicates children instead of offering loving discipline, and that acts and thinks as though we are the ones in control of life. Heaven help us!

If you're a part of a big family, I'm sure you can relate to this. If not, what are your thoughts or perspective? Have you been guilty of some of these thoughts? Please chime in.........

HT: Granny


  1. I definitely agree that people are way too nosy when it comes to these things. I remember the interlude between Andrew and Melia. Someone from my MOPS group said "I thought you all wanted a lot of kids". I had to graciously respond that yes, we did, but it just hadn't happened for us yet. She felt bad since it was clear that I was not pregnant because God had not granted us another child. But that shows how much we think our fertility is in our own hands.

    Which brings me to another awkward question. After 9 months of not getting pregnant, how do you respond when someone asks you if your pregnancy was planned? Yes? No?

  2. I want more babies! Hope to get pregnant in the next year or right after the move...
    God has put you Candace and others in my path I believe to help me see that children are a Blessing/Heritage and to just ignore people that have rude comments : )

  3. Anonymous10:10 AM

    I have to say, even as the (Christian!) mother of six-soon-to-be-seven, when I see very young Christian couples with four and five children under the age of four or five who have only been married four or five years, I do struggle with thoughts of "oh my word..." and not always in the most positive way. Is this right or fair of me? No, but it's my honest reaction, as un-Christian and un-charitable as it is.

    I am not sure why I think this way - I guess part of it has to do with exactly the opposite of what you described in your post. So many Christian couples I see are inordinately bent on having as many children as they possibly can in order to prove to their Christian communities that they are indeed open to God's will in dictating their family size. In my mind, this is just as destructive spiritually as trying to tightly control one's fertility. Being open to children is a double-sided coin: even as a couple may not prevent conception (whether by natural or artificial means), it doesn't mean that you go above and beyond TRYING to conceive obsessively. You just let God be God and see where it goes.

    My two cents... :-) In any case, my explanation is not meant to excuse my horribly un-Christian thoughts. I'm so obviously a sinner, in more ways than this!

  4. I was actually expecting more (rude) comments than I actually got when I told people I was pregnant with number 6. I have got the "You know what causes that right?" comment. My come back is "Yes, and it IS my favorite hobby so if you can think of a better one I am open to suggestions." Men all seem to have the same reaction...raise their eyebrows, get a glint in their eyes, and nod with a slight smile...and agree!;)

    I have had SEVERAL older couples tell me they wish they had had more children. The nighbor across the street from me has told me everytime he finds out we are having another that if he had known that all three of his children were going to grow up and move away they would have had more. But, I have NEVER had a couple tell me they wish they would not have had child number 2,4,6,or even child number 10.

  5. Kim, to your question: how do you respond when someone asks you if your pregnancy was planned? Yes? No?

    I would probably say, "No, but very much welcomed!" Or, "Yes, we "planned" to receive any children God will entrust us with."

    Amanda, thank you for your honest opinion. I don't so much have a problem with couples "trying" to have many, as God is in contol of that. But I can see where this would be a heart issue. What are the motives: To "appear" more godly? (which is laughable...I feel less godly some days! lol)Pride in the number? Or simply just receiving them out of prayer and conviction? I think we also have to be sensitive to those couples who desire more children but for whatever reason, can't. We should be humbled by the blessing of our children. Shame on the mother who makes anyone feel less for not having as many as she!

    Thanks again, I definitely agree that either side of the coin could be destructive.

  6. I have seen some people who believe that even breastfeeding to naturally space children is wrong. These are usually the people who seem to think there is something more righteous in the number of children they have.

  7. Wow, lots of food for though for a young Mother of 2. I have absolutely no problem with large families, in fact, it's heart warming to me! I suppose I'm guilty of putting you wonderful women with many children on a pedestal, as SuperMoms. I often wonder how I would handle a large number, but God gives us grace sufficient for each day, right? I suppose whether you're a Mom of 2 or Mom of 9, you still need God's grace to get through each day! Right?! ;o)

    So, Candace, without being rude, may I ask if there was a change of heart between the time of your two older girls and the rest of your children, or did you always hope to have many kids? I genuinely hope that I'm not being nosey, so please feel free to ignore the question if it's too personal. It's just a topic I've been working through as of late, and would love to hear your perspective. If you'd like you can e-mail me at janellemccann@gmail.com. Thanks!

    Much love!

  8. Janelle,

    Great question! And no, not too personal at all.....I'd love to share!

    I began writing this comment and realized that it would make a better blog post rather than a very long comment. The short answer is yes, I did have a change of heart, but I'd like to share the whole journey. I'll try to post it tomorrow. Thanks for asking!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. OK, trying this comment again...(blogger drives me bananas!)

    I think that #9 should be #1 on the list...meaning that the biggest problem conventional birth control has had on our culture is demoralizing women to become instruments of pleasure. Yes, there is casual sex run rampant in our culture. Why? Because there are no checks and balances - so to speak. People can have casual sex without worrying about the "consequences". Men and women both have become guilty of forgetting the reverence due a woman and her body. All other things on the list become peripheral issues and natural consequences of this core problem.
    Neal has a poignant post on his blog here http://nealjudisch.blogspot.com/2008/08/humanae-vitae-in-hindsight_2531.html if anyone wants to check it out. It has to do with the position of the Catholic Church on this exact issue and one which most of our protestant friends are in complete agreement with.

    As far as answering nosy questions...I have become more bold. I figure, if they are going to be bold in their questioning, then I can be bold in my answers. As a bartender pregnant with #4, I got every comment immaginable...and some not immaginable. At first, I just played it safe, nodding and smiling, but I guess I just got tired of it. So, when people would ask if "I figured out what causes it yet". I would reply, "Of course, do you think my husband and I are stupid because we love our children and want a large family?" When I am questioned on the "gap" between our children being because we "wisened up". I answer, "We very tragically lost a baby between the last two, and I almost died as well." I don't think there is a problem letting people know that they are being nosy or rude. I don't think they always consider that they are being that way, so someone should let them know.

    Another answer for "was it planned" that many of my friends use is "Yes, every baby is planned by God."


  11. Candace,
    This has had me thinking today and I wanted to search to find scripture where this is spoken about. I hope this is correct, but I see in Genesis that the Lord commands Adam and Eve to bring forth children.

    On here it says in not bearing children in a sense we are being disobedient. I have never seen it that way...
    I don't think this means we must have 1, 2, or even 12 children, but I found it interesting as I know many who have gotten "fixed" to have NO children...

  12. Jeanie,

    Yes, scripture does command us to "Be fruitful and multipy". There are many scriptures that tell us that children are a blessing and a heritage. No where in scripture have I found anyone praying against having children or limiting them. Does this mean I believe ALL Christian couples should have many children? No. Do I think that many Christians have adopted the worldview of children, therefore limiting them? Yes! Do I "wish" more Christians would have more children? Absolutely! Call me simple minded, but am I correct in assuming that if Christians made MORE Christians, then indeed, there WOULD be more Christians? Right?

    I know, simple minded! I just think too often we think of the here and now as opposed to the future.....the heritage, the legacy, the multigernerational faithfulness. If Christians keep on our current path of child rearing, in time, we won't even have enough children to replace us. We're right on the heels of France. Their economy is feeling the effects of their population decline so they're paying couples to have more children.

    Sorry, long answer to a short question! ;-)

  13. Okay I found you off another blog and just had to respond to this post! My husband and I are both born again Christians, BUT we weren't raised that way (we were both older when we got saved). I have the wonderful pleasure of having a now saved family but my husband doesn't. I have been on and off of birth control for our entire married life.. I never even realized what I was doing as this was the norm (as I thought).. it wasn't until recently I began to read a book called "Be Fruitfull and Multiply" that the Lord started to show me some things.. I mean we already have 5 children, but something just didn't seem right to me.

    I began to do some research and so did my husband. I found so many things out about the birth control that made me cringe!! I began to pray and my husband began to pray as God was showing each of us different things..

    My husband then came to me and said I don't want you to take those pills anymore.. If we can trust the Lord with every aspect of our lives from our finances down to the little things WHY can't we trust Him with our children and how many we have.. I can tell you this it surprised me and made me happy and scared all at once! I mean I have always been raised with the 1.5 kids thing in my head, we already have surpased that number, but still what will people think? Even my family that is now saved (we haven't told them yet by the way)

    Our children now know what God has layed on our hearts as they no longer see momma taking those "pills" so she won't have anymore babies.. My heart ached when I realized what I had been telling my children by taking those pills. Just this morning they told me momma we have been praying that God would give us another baby. It's only been 3 weeks mind you.

    Do I know where the money will come from to take care of an even larger family? No but what I do know is that the Lord has alwasys supplied our needs and always taken care of us.

    As for the response to those around us.. I already have that problem with the "are they all yours" or "do you know what causes that" or when we had our son which was our 4th "you gonna stop now that you have a boy" we used to just smile it off but I got more bold when we had our 5th last year. I told them yes they were all mine, and sure we knew how it happened and we liked doing it (you should see there faces then) We aren't too sure how our families will react once they know we are no longer on the pill.

    Okay that is just my little tidbit, I will get off my soapbox now.

  14. I'm enjoying all these comments, and I can't wait to read your next post, Candace, on your "change of heart!" Thanks for being willing to share.

    <3 Janelle

  15. I like that the writer addresses infertility. Some people have no compunction about making judgments when someone isn't pregnant after 3 or 6 years of marriage. Maybe they don't want to broadcast that they're infertile!

    Wonderful article! Thanks for posting. I look forward to reading about your change of heart, too, Candace! (Clever girl, you had your teenagers first, haha!)

  16. Candace,

    I enjoyed the article, lots of food for thought. Like others, I am glad that there was mention of infertility. Stephen and I have lost 4 babies to miscarriage and were only able to have Hope through the aid of copious medications. If we want another one, I will have to go through all of that again, so we are waiting and praying about when God wants us to have another child. However, after a second child, we feel very convicted that we are done. In our opinion, we feel that it does more damage to our family and my body to go through miscarriage after miscarriage. And I can't be on all of those medications for the rest of my life because of what it does to my body. I really wish my body worked normally, but it just doesn't, and I have to come to grips with that. So again, I am glad that the writer of the article addresses those that just CAN'T have many children b/c of infertility, messed up hormones, etc. God has taught me so much through our situation and I know I will continue to learn through the circumstances He has put us in! Though it's hard sometimes, I know He is sovereign!!

  17. The Coopers,

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony.....I always love to hear how God is working in the lives of His children!


    Thank you for your encouraging words! And I promise, I'll get the almost finished story out. I ended up taking off to San Angelo to see a friend, but now I'm back!

    Annie and Paige,

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your stories also! It's stories like yours that remind us that indeed, God is in control and has a different plan for each of us! I, too, was very glad the article mentions infertility because I know many couples who desire more children, but can't. Yet, they're "judged" in a sense for not having "more". Thank you again ladies.....I really appreciate your thoughts and perspectives!

  18. Interesting discussion going on over here. :) Glad to see the varied responses here too... this post got more comments/hits than virtually any other I've ever written-- I think many women identify with not having the "typical" 1 boy, 1 girl, perfectly spaced 3-4 years apart family structure.

    Thanks for the link and for encouraging more dialogue. I love hearing women talk about these issues!

  19. Wonderful post on birth control. I would love to see this presented in every church. I don't "get" why they don't give this message in pre-marital counselling. Children are a blessing--how many actually believe that? Yes, it is very hard to have a big family. But it is SO worth it.

    I enjoyed your post on your journey to quiverfull, too! Thanks for sharing your heart. It is encouraging.


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