This post was written prior to my pregnancy and the birth of our daughter, Adeline. We continue to use the methods described in this post.
Mr. M and I are at the tail end of 16 month financial journey. Since I plan to stay home once we have children, having a baby immediately would definitely slow down our debt payoff process. (Update: We paid off $30,000 in loans in 17 months. Click here to read how we did it).
Despite the fact Mr. M and I knew we wanted to wait to have children until the loans were paid off, during our engagement we made two financial plans: one without children, and one in the event I got pregnant. In both plans we designed our budget in such a way to buffer ourselves in case a baby appeared on the scene. Why?
Because we wanted to embrace an unexpected child as God’s gift, not as an interruption to our plans.
With this plan in place, we then discussed birth control. I researched extensively and talked to many other wives before coming to my conclusions. The rest of this post is pulled from my other post, Birth Control in a World of Extremes.
Since being married, I’ve been asked by several readers to share my views on birth control. Before anybody gets up in arms, fingers hovering over keyboards to angrily share ‘their side of the story’ – I’ve heard all the sides, inside out and upside down. I am not here to legislate the birth control of women across America. Here is what I am going to talk about in this post:
- ALL the options available for birth control (it seems only Cosmo talks about this)
- Why I PERSONALLY chose not to use the Pill
- Five factors to consider when choosing your OWN birth control option
This is an issue that requires prayer and thoughtful consideration, as well as discussion with your fiance or husband. However, it’s also a topic on which few resources are provided from a Christian perspective. As an engaged woman, I found only two extremes: those who believe in no birth control whatsoever and those who pop a pill, no questions asked.
So what options are available? There are actually quite a few.
Birth Control Options:
The Pill, Rings, Shots and Patches
- All of these are hormone-based. Here is a descriptionfromWebMD:
“These hormones work to inhibit the body’s natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy is prevented by a combination of factors. The hormonal contraceptive usually stops the body from ovulating. Hormonal contraceptives also change the cervical mucus to make it difficult for the sperm to go through the cervix and find an egg. Hormonal contraceptives can also prevent pregnancy by changing the lining of the womb so it’s unlikely the fertilized egg will be implanted.”
- A blockade method used by the husband (although female condoms are manufactured). Here is a link with some other articles linked for descriptions.
Diaphragm and Spermicide
- The diaphragm, like the condom, is a blockade method used by the wife instead of the husband, negating the need for a condom. Spermicide is used in conjunction with it to prevent fertilization.
- Described here (I didn’t want to articulate that myself! LOL!)
Family Planning/Calendar Method
- This method is based on an ovulation calendar, a woman with a regular cycle and sometimes body temperature used to gauge when it is ‘safe’ to be intimate. This method is often used by families opposed to other forms of birth control. Here is a short description.
Why I Personally Don’t Use the Pill:
I have always had issues with my feminine health. I have long cycles, usually 8-14 day long periods, and cramps so bad I can feel them in my toes. Every doctor I’ve seen has tried to put me on the pill for acne, cramping, and regulating cycles. The truth is that the pill does not resolve these issues; it simply covers them up. In many cases, taking hormonally based birth control pills will exacerbate a hormonal imbalance, causing further health issues (and even infertility) down the road. Don’t believe me? Read the book WomanCode.
Pumping additional hormones into my body for an indeterminate amount of time is not appealing to me. Of my married friends, fifteen of them are now off the pill for the following reasons: migraines, weight gain, weight loss, mood swings, lack of libido, pain during sex, and inability to have sex. All of those are risks I don’t want to take.
I’ll talk about this more in a bit, but when I sat down with Mr. M to discuss this topic we looked to the Word for our guidance. Everywhere in Scripture that family or children are mentioned, it is clear that children are close to God’s heart. He continually tells His people to ‘be fruitful and multiply’, while also promising to provide for their ‘children’s children’ and be faithful to them ‘generation after generation’. We prayed about our decision, and came to the conclusion that hormonally altering my body was contrary to God’s design for the family, marriage, and his design of my body as a woman. We want to be ready to accept a baby at any time, but we also have financial obligations at this time. So with prayer, we decided that a combination of condoms, diaphragm, withdrawal AND family planning would work for us. We change it up depending on the calendar, and have been at peace with that decision.
Josh and I went into marriage planning for children. We arrange our lives around the possibility of children, because we never want to view them as an interruption to our ‘plan’. Our finances are arranged to be stable (thanks to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace) and we are half finished paying off our student loans in only 11 months! Finances are the biggest excuse to avoid children; and we get the reasoning behind that. But by putting God’s plan first, our finances are set up in a way that if kids happened, it wouldn’t be a problem.
“Is it true that birth control pills have an abortive back up?” I asked my friend, who is an registered nurse.
She looked at me seriously and nodded. “Yes. 90-95%. They won’t tell you that though.”
Even if the pill I were to use doesn’t have that ‘back up’, the hormones thin the uterine lining. What does this mean?
If I believe that life begins at conception – as most Christians do – a fertilized egg could travel to my uterus, attempt to implant, but starve to death because the uterine lining is too thin. It could take up to 10 days for the egg to finally die off. Sure, it’s ‘just an egg’. But as a Christian, I take issue with abortion because I believe life begins at conception. How then can I rationalize even the possibility of a starved, beginning-baby in my own body? Yes, it can happen by accident. But if I knowingly ingest a pill that causes my body to foster such a circumstance, I am responsible for the consequences.
These are my reasons for not taking the pill. Now I am going to offer five factors to consider as you make your own choices about birth control:
God’s View and Vision for Children
Our God loves children (Psalm 127:3-5). Jesus loved children (Matt. 19:14). But our culture, and even our churches, tells us that children are either interruptions or little idols. We put them off as long as possible, only to worship them when they arrive.
Life doesn’t ‘end’ when you have kids. You can take a baby almost everywhere you can go as a married couple (no skydiving) – it just requires more patience, more luggage, and maybe some late nights – as well as the good financial planning every married couple SHOULD be doing from the get-go. I remember clearly the effort my parents took to cart six children in a Suburban from the top of Michigan to the southern end of Florida and back. But they did it, because they didn’t let life end when they had kids. They took us along for the ride.
So when choosing birth control, cultivate the same level of appreciation for children that God does. He understands that you may want to have a year with just you and your husband; and you can tell Him that. But do not despise that which God loves.
A few verses to consider:
- As Christians we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1
- Children are a reward from the Lord. Psalm 127.3
- God is able to open and close the womb. Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:5
- God knows us before we are even born. Jeremiah 1:5; Hebrews 7:10
What About Judah and Tamar?
The account of Genesis 38, between Judah and Tamar is truly the only reference to birth ‘control’ in all of Scripture; this is because the culture in which Scripture was written (both Old and New Testaments) was very different from ours. Children were a legacy and a blessing, not something to avoid. The more children, the stronger the family.
In the Genesis 38 account, the issue was not that Tamar’s brothers-in-law used the pull-out method. The issue was that they were disobeying God’s law, stated in Deuteronomy 25:5-7 “When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” By denying Tamar a son, they were not fulfilling their responsibility according to Mosaic Law.
As Christians, we are no longer bound to Mosaic Law (See Romans 5-7). Our brothers do not marry the wives of their deceased brethren. However, the principle at play here – the issue of taking responsibility for your family – still stands. The Old Testament provides context for New Testament commands, but it is the New Testament (new covenant) to which we are bound. Paul states this in 1 Tim. 5:8 when he says, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Thus, Gen. 38 is not about birth control, but familial responsibility – another reason we should be considering our finances early on in preparation for children – whether or not we have them right away.
God’s View and Vision for Finances
Phil. 4:19 says, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” It is illogical to assume that Paul is only talking about spiritual provision here; for like Jesus says in Matthew 7:10 “Which one of you… if [your son] asks for a fish, would you give him a stone?… If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11) God supplies our every need – but not always our every want.
We are an entitled generation. We think we deserve the life our parents have now, when they didn’t start out that way! My parents started out in a trailer park with a car and a dream, and made a beautiful life out almost nothing. My husband and I both have great jobs, a beautiful apartment and a nice vehicle, all at 24 years old. We have been given everything we both need and want. This in mind, it is our responsibility to steward God’s gifts with the future in mind – and that includes children.
Financial responsibility is a biblical principle. Proverbs 21:20 says, “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” In other words – he spends everything he earns, with no eye to the future.
Proverbs 22:3 states: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Mr. M and I have asked ourselves: are we a prudent couple? Are we prudent parents now, before we have kids? Those habits don’t just happen! They must be cultivated from the beginning. We used Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University while we were dating, and it has been fantastic.
Birth Control is a Mutual Decision
If you are a Christian woman, this is not a ‘my body, my choice’ decision. If that’s your view, Planned Parenthood would applaud you.
This is a decision between you and God and between you and your husband. You are God’s designed woman; the crowning glory of creation! And you will be your husband’s wife, who will be the father of your future children. He has a say in this decision, so truly consult and pray together as you navigate these choices.
Your Personal Health and Well-being
What is best for your body? Your gynecologist gets paid for every prescription she writes, so research what she is trying to give you. Look into the side effects, and don’t just take it because she says it will work.
Keep in mind that you are the one who calls the shots on your body; not the doctor. Come into the office informed so you can determine what you are looking for (the gynecologist can prescribe the diaphragm, by the way, which is my favorite method that we use).
Also remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and only choose options that allow you to live that out with freedom and vitality.
Faith Cannot Be Short-cut
I can’t count how many times Mr. M and I have made plans, only to have God change them last minute. Right now, our plan is to have school loans paid off by a certain date, after which we plan to try for children. It seems so ‘under control’, doesn’t it?
That plan could change at any moment. I could get pregnant, we could move, or the economy could flip on its head again. This is the journey of faith.
Children require a lot of faith: faith for provision, faith for health, faith for strength, faith for wisdom. Children can bring uncertainty, yes – but uncertainty requires dependency on God, and that’s exactly what He wants of us. No more of this ‘I can do it myself’, ‘Ew, kids! Never ever!’ ingratitude our culture propagates and even the church embraces. Faith is required of us. We can expect it, embrace it, and build our lives around it.
All of God’s gospel story, and all of God’s laws, are an A + B + C progression: I have faith in God’s provision, protection, wisdom and strength; therefore, I steward my finances as gifts from Him; I expect Him to give me all I need; I seek Him for wisdom in all that I do; I trust Him to give me the strength I need for whatever comes. Will it be hard? Possibly. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) and Peter repeated it: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…”(1 Peter 4:12)
But in those same verses, we hear Jesus saying, “… But take heart; I have overcome the world.” And Peter echoes this, saying: “but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.…
You can pop a pill, despise the thought of children, and plan your life away – but you cannot shortcut faith. There will come a day when your plans are shattered and faith will be forced upon you. Don’t let it make you resent your children. Don’t let them be the interruptions to your ‘life’.
I want my children to feel wanted. I want them to know, that if He were to see fit, I was glad to ‘take the risk’ and ‘miss out’ on three years of newlywed-ness because God chose to give my children to me.
For us, our decision is the middle road of birth control: not telling God what’s what, but not seeking a child at this present time. My hands are open to accept what God gives, but I’m not asking for a child right now. With this attitude, we are walking in faith, trust, and gratitude while stewarding the responsibilities God has given us in this present time.
In the Confessions of a Newlywed Series:
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