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    Birth Control as an Idea {Part IV}

    February 4, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    The very name of “Birth Control” is a piece of pure humbug. It is one of those blatant euphemisms used in the headlines of the Trust Press. It is like “Tariff Reform.” It is like “Free Labour.” It is meant to mean nothing, that it may mean anything, and especially some thing totally different from what it says.” {G.K. Chesterton, 1927, courtesy of Rahime}

    Perhaps if we renamed contraceptives “Pregnancy Avoidance Devices,” “Race Reducers,” or “Life Preventors,” we would have a different feeling about them. And this is probably the major point I want to get across today, here in what I would say is my final analysis {or as final as it can be, considering I shall be always learning more in the future}.

    What we call something, the words and titles that we use for things and situations, not only reflect how we think about things, but reinforce how we think about things. So we should be doubly careful to analyze the language we choose to use, no matter how forcefully the culture presents its preferences to us.

    I very much doubt that marriage, family, pregnancy or the raising of children were talked about formerly the way they are talked about presently. For instance, I would say that my son E. was an “unplanned” baby, while my daughter A. was a “planned” baby. Within a perfectly functioning Biblical worldview, I would never speak of my son in such a negative way {we all know that “unplanned v. planned” tends to mentally translate into “wanted less v. wanted more”}.

    And might one justly suspect that the use of the word “planned” itself is a reflection of Planned Parenthood’s influence on the culture? The organization specializes in dealing with the crisis of the unplanned, therefore unwanted child. The attitude surrounding an “unplanned” child is born of the embrace of contraception.

    I had considered reiterating some of my previous micro-conclusions and expanding on them {for instance, the idea that our country’s birth control legalization was never voted on by the people, but rather legislated from the bench, which opened the door for more legislation from the bench}. But I think that most of them, simple thoughts though they may be, really speak for themselves. I never claimed to be an expert, after all.

    So let me stick to my mostly unsupported extrapolations.

    Ideas have consequences. When marriages began to accept contraception into their beds, the result was a mental separation between the marital act, and the conception of children. When we separate sex from children, an interesting dynamic follows: the separation of marriage from sex. In fact, we cannot rightly discuss the marital act with the words “marital act” because more than half the people involved in it are not married. {Hence the need for the more descriptive term.}

    I think it’s no secret that Margaret Sanger would qualify as a “loose woman.” And perhaps some of her motivation for pressing the contraception issue was a desire to remove the consequences of her own actions. Married twice, and an affair with the greatly esteemed H.G. Wells somewhere in there (the short list, I’m sure), marriage and sex, though not necessarily mutually exclusive, weren’t fundamentally intertwined either. We, as Chesterton once put, “escape from the nature of things.”

    And then we see the progression continue. As I mentioned a couple days ago, contraception does not prevent pregnancy 100% of the time. The result, then, was that some women found themselves unmarried and pregnant. {I am not so naive as to believe that this never occurred before contraception, but we all know the unwed mothers statistics skyrocketed after the Griswold and Roe decisions.}

    Unmarried and pregnant women who do not marry do one of two things: have an abortion, or have a baby. If they have a baby, they become a single mommy. Or the daddy can have the mommy declared unfit, and be a single daddy. One then feels compelled to extend the definition of family a bit more than previously because one doesn’t know what else to call the single parent/little baby relationship.

    Enter initial breakdown of family.

    Fast forward a bit more, and soon there are scores of career women who have used birth control up until the point of natural infertility.

    Enter major breakthroughs in fertility treatments.

    Fast forward to today {actually, two days ago on the front page of MSN.com, but I can’t find the article any more}, and a man is no longer necessary to have a baby. I told you the feminist movement was rooted in contraceptive freedom! It’s true!

    Enter the Baby-as-Purse mentality.

    You see, with all this talk of control and the nonmarital/marital act, the baby is left behind in the dust. If the baby is not the natural {or adopted!} result of a love-filled marriage the majority of the time, then the baby necessarily becomes an accessory, not unlike a purse.

    You’ve all seen the Baby Purse, probably without realizing it. You’ve seen the mommy {not necessarily married–it’s a toss-up!} in her perfect suit with her perfect nails and perfect hair. She’s at Target picking up some supplies with her designer baby, who has been at daycare for the last 10 hours. Baby looks perfect, too, in her pretty-pink-dress-with-matching-everything. Baby needs to be extra cute, because baby is a purse.

    And that mommy will go home, play with Baby Purse a bit, and then put Baby Purse to bed so that she is well rested for her “Care Provider” the next day.

    Don’t believe me? In 1927, G.K. Chesterton also wrote this: “Given an attempt to escape from the nature of things, and I can well believe that it might lead at last to something like ‘the nursery school for our children staffed by other mothers and single women of expert training.'”

    Enter the loss of the essential nature of the word “family.”

    Ideas have consequences. And those of us who are Christians can have new ideas, with new, life-giving consequences. A few years ago, we had some dear friends {much older than us} whose lives first whispered to us that God’s view of children and family was much different than that to which we were used. I remember the husband’s reflections on his children as his legacy and the joy of bringing them up. This couple was unable to have children. But you could still see the power of that idea, because by the time we had met them, they had adopted not 2.1 children, but 6.

    Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
    Who walks in His ways.
    When you eat the labor of your hands,
    You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
    Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
    In the very heart of your house,
    Your children like olive plants
    All around your table.
    Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    Who fears the Lord.

    {Psalm 128:1-4, NKJV}

    Now that’s a different idea altogether.

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    4 Comments

  • Reply Comedyken February 11, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    I believe we should also analyze this is the context of Sanger who felt that birth control and abortion would mean only children who are wanted, are born.

    We only have to look at statistics to see that child abuse is rampant, and crack babies are increasing, to see her premise was wrong. In fact, because birth control works best when the user is responsible, i.e. takes pllls as prescribed, uses some form of birth control everytime. Today babies are most often born to those who are least responsible. Over time the most reproductive people are the most irresponsible and maybe even the least productive people, creating the world Sanger was trying to prevent. Her theory was wrong but that would never change a liberals mind. It is the motive that counts not the evidence.

    (Your parents must not only be proud of you but they must be geniuses.)

  • Reply Rahime February 7, 2006 at 11:00 pm

    Thanks for clarifying. If that is the case, I think it’s a much more compelling question than the common Christian rejection of hormonal BC (not to discredit that, because there are some good reasons people chose not to use the pill or something like that). But the question of the the idea of BC must include all forms since regardless of their effectiveness or means, the intent is the same–to avoid pregnancy.

    Its great to see someone thinking about these types of issues, and I’ve been thinking about your series quite a bit over the past week or so, but haven’t had much time to respond other than sending you the Chesterton stuff.

    I honestly consider this is an issue of personal conviction in which there is room for interpretation. As such, I wouldn’t expect it to have a dramatic bearing on our friendship. I think there would be problems if God convicts you not to use BC and you go ahead an do it anyways… that’s direct disobedience.

    Personally, I haven’t been convicted about using it or not, but I think that there’s always room for God to make a course-correction regarding any matter, which is why have given a lot of thought to the issue.

    I know many women whom God has called to be mothers, and I honestly consider it one of the most important callings/responsibilities ever. There are some things that I think God wants me to do which would be almost impossible if I had children right now…I’m not complaining about that, partly because the thought terrifies me to some extent. But God can direct me towards that at any time and I would follow Him (despite my fear).

    Anyways, I’m enjoying your blog, it’s fun to hear about some of the things you’re thinking.

  • Reply Brandy February 7, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    Rahime–yes, I was trying to discuss all forms of Birth Control (in a really broad way, of course). I think I mentioned this mainly in Part II, where I learned that the Birth Control Margaret Sanger fought for was nonhormonal.

    What I really wanted to reveal was how the entire embrace of Birth Control, whether it be hormonal or nonhormonal, has affected our population and our culture and our thinking.

    To be fair, I actually know a small handful of couples who have chosen not to use any form of birth control.

    My goal with this discussion (other than learning more, because I was literally learning along the way) was to encourage myself (and my unfortunate readers) to get outside my personal world when I make decisions about Birth Control (or really anything).

    I think that for a long time I asked the wrong questions when I approached the idea. I asked whether the device was an abortifacient rather than, “What does using this mean I believe about marriage, children, God’s sovereignty, etc.?” And I learned that asking the latter question is a lot more convicting than the former.

    Ps. I hope that this whole series didn’t come across as some sort of wild opposition where if you use BC and I don’t, then we can’t be friends because I would condemn you or something. That was never my intent. In fact, I have long considered birth control a convenience (though I have used it for medical purposes in the past, too), and I was sorry to see the evidence was so convincing. I think I was hoping for different answers!

  • Reply Rahime February 7, 2006 at 8:38 am

    Brandy, I might have missed this somewhere earlier in your series, but are you considering methods like NFP and other non-abortifacients as BC?

    It seems like if you’re talking about Birth Control “as an idea” you would be including all forms of it, but I’m not sure. I assume Chesterton must have been primarily refering to those since hormonal BC had not yet been invented…his essay also is discussing it as an idea.
    If that’s the case, I can’t honestly say I know anyone now who doesn’t use some form of BC (that I know of…and of course it’s not something you discuss with just anyone in the course of a normal chat).

    I know many people who are opposed to abortifacients, but from what I understand of your opposition to BC (that it’s attempting to control God and not allow Him complete sovereignty in a person’s life…making children a choice… etc.), that’s a whole different idea.
    Sorry if you’ve already discussed this.

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