Friday, February 22, 2013

should Christians use birth control? my story.



Today I was going to post about a raw carrot cake recipe, and nothing went right. And then somehow I ended up writing about our birth control story today. Yeah.

I know that birth control, contraception, and artificial reproductive technologies can be big dividing issues for many Christians today. But I really believe they are issues we can't afford to overlook as followers of Jesus in this culture. 

But before we go there, I want to tell you my story. :)

I was engaged at 18 and married at 19. We were young and happy and had lots of plans that didn't include any little people for a very long time. A dog, definitely, but no little people. I took birth control pills to make sure of that.

But my world and my opinions about birth control drastically changed within a few months of us getting married {over 10 years ago now!}. The more I read the Bible and grew closer to God, the more convicted I felt that we were disregarding God's blessing of children in seeking after our own desires by taking birth control pills.

I was 20 and in my last semester of college and I wanted a career, money, and a red Jeep Liberty {seriously}. And I didn't want to have children until I was 28, if at all. {Why I gave myself a random 8 years, I have no idea}. In fact, we had often joked about being DINKS when we got out of college- double income, no kids.

Slowly I started to feel the conviction that we were meant to bear children, but then God completely wrecked me when I read on my own package of birth control pills and saw that it had three ways of keeping me from getting pregnant: by preventing ovulation {which I thought was the only way}, and then two more: to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg, and the third one was the real shocker: to prevent the egg from implanting in the uterus by changing the thick lining of the wall of the uterus and making it reject the egg.

No one had ever told me I could possibly be making my body reject a fertilized egg. As a Christian, I strongly believed that life begins at fertilization, and this was too much for me to take. It meant I could be aborting our babies. 

And oh, I prayed and prayed about it all. Hormonal birth control just seemed so wrong once I understood what it could do. And I won't even mention how witchy it made me feel all the time. Witchy and newly married is not a good combo, by the way.

So I brought all the facts to my new husband and he agreed with me right away. We decided not to use hormones anymore, and to welcome any children God would give us then. Within two weeks, we were pregnant with our first baby, Elijah.

I honestly wish I could say I never looked back and could leave this part out, but after having Noah 27 months after that first decision, I bought into fear and my own selfishness again, and took a lower-dose pill for a couple of months that didn't have that wording in the package. 

And I became a hormonal mess again thanks to those tiny blue pills. I regretted taking them within a couple weeks, because I was afraid of the truth of what could happen inside of me, and I knew how instantly my personality had changed when I started taking them. 

At the time, I was in full-time nursing school and working part-time every weekend with two babies and a young husband, but God didn't let go of me and leave me to myself. He changed my heart again, and gave me mercy and changed my path completely within a few months. 

I still regret those foolish two months today. It's even worse to me than the first time I took them. But God gives grace and forgiveness, and I ask for His mercy when I feel that guilt weighing on me.

finding out the facts

Now I realize that some of you know a ton about the mechanisms of birth control pills and IUD's, but some Christians do not have any idea what they can actually do in your body. And there's so much deception in our culture about these topics, which is not terribly surprising when we take a step back to see the truth about the blessings of children we find in the Bible.  

It's important to remember, that "in the absence of biblical conviction, people will go the way of culture."{Sally Clarkson}. The same is true here. We will go the way everyone else does unless we know the truth of God's Word.

I'm certainly no expert on the topic, but I think it's important to search out the facts as stewards of these lives God has given us. I can also testify that God has changed my life in a wonderful way because I chose to leave those hormones behind. I believe my marriage is so much happier than it would have been on those hormones that make you act and feel differently. And having children has changed me for good, and brought me even closer to God.

Everyone's story will be different of course, and there is much to consider in each situation that is between the Lord and the couple themselves when it comes to contraception. Every person should consider and pray about what God desires with their spouse, looking to the Bible for truth and the Holy Spirit for guidance, as well as examining their own hearts for their true motives. We both agree ours had been very selfish. 

I can't tell you what to do when it comes to contraceptives; I can only tell you my story, and point to what resources we have to help navigate this hard topic. I really and truly believe that issue of birth control is a huge one we need to bring to light in the Christian community, and I'm so, so glad that a large body of believers has addressed it in a very specific manner. 

a helpful resource

The Village Church, part of the Acts 29 network {like the church I'm in}, has prayerfully put together a very thorough but loving and un-legalistic view on contraception and artificial reproductive technologies. It's totally worth the time to read. It is saturated with the Gospel, but at the same time doesn't neglect the truth of the harmful sides of using some types of contraception.

Not everyone will agree with them or all of what they say, of course, but I think they do a very good job of addressing these issues with grace.

Here are a few excerpts:
Discussions about contraception and reproduction must also take into account the biblical blessing of offspring. Children are to be cherished as good gifts from a gracious God. Problems arise whenever this truth is forgotten or neglected. Some fail to embrace the goodness of the gift of children, instead viewing them as inconvenient. Others fail to remember that children are undeserved blessings that we are not entitled to. Neither disposition of the heart is healthy or right. Where children are neglected, disregarded, abused, idolized or demanded, God’s intention is compromised. As sons and daughters of a good and generous Father, we are called to possess humble and glad hearts that embrace the gifts that He has given and trust Him with those He has not.
......
In light of this reality, convenience, comfort and covetousness are not the lenses through which we are to evaluate medicine and science. Rather, our charge is to assess the use of contraceptive and reproductive technologies on the basis of the preservation and protection of human life. Forms that truly uphold and honor the sanctity of life for the glory of God are acceptable, while those that do not are not. Our God is good, and He has given us life in both creation and redemption. Let us be wise and faithful stewards of the gifts that He gives and trust Him even when inconvenient, uncomfortable and painful.

Here's the link again.

living for Jesus

I think it's so important that we remember that we have been given this life for the glory of God. It's not for ourselves. That's the hard part to remember for me.

The world tells you to do whatever makes you happy in this life. But Jesus says, love me with everything, and die to yourselves to find true life.

The world tells you to make money and much of yourself with your possessions and your abilities. But our Lord tells us not to worry about money, and to give up your possessions and abilities for the sake of Him and others.

The world tells you to forget about the person that hurt you. But Jesus tells us to forgive the person that hurt you, and love them.

Everywhere we turn, we are called to do the opposite of what the world tells us to do.

So with that in mind, I want to leave you with this question:

How closely does your opinion of children resemble the rest of the world's? And how closely do your actions reflect the same? 

Where else do you find yourself leaning into the way of the culture in this life?

Oh, I know we are never going to be perfect in this life, but it's so important that we give Jesus everything. All of us. All of our desires, everything we love to hold close to us. He is so worthy of every part of us, sweet friend. Ask Him for guidance in every single part of your life. He is so good. He will not lead you astray. You can give Him every part of your life, and put all of your trust in Him.

Oh, that we would love Him with all of us.



How has birth control affected your life? Do you have a story like mine? 
How have you seen God change your life with these topics? 

{and if you do comment or reply, please, please do so in love and with respect for your fellow believers. Unkindness will be deleted. :) }
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