Tuesday, March 12, 2013
This is a touchy subject, and I really didn't know if I wanted to put myself out there like this. But, I've read several Christian women's posts about the topic and I often see the same things said over and over again, and I think "well, my story is a little different", so maybe I do have something to add. I actually typed this up originally as a response to someone else's blog about birth control, but it was rejected because it was too long (story of my life LOL). And indeed, it probably is better suited to my own blog, since it's so personal. My husband and I married at the ages of 21 and 19 respectively, and the moment the ink was dry on that marriage license I knew I wanted to have a baby (I'm not kidding - I pestered James about it during our entire honeymoon in Hawaii, just ask him and he'll groan in remembrance [when I want something, I'm like a dog with a bone - I'm doing better about that as I get older, but it's tough]). Our first came two months after our first wedding anniversary. Over the course of 11 years of pregnancy and child-bearing we had 6 children (including the last three all within 38 months). Neither James nor I have ever decided against having children because we want more material things. Indeed, wanting a big family has come naturally to us, and we'd rather be pregnant or have a nursling than not. But, as I dealt with three back-to-back-to-back pregnancies that resulted in some serious health issues for me (including a very long, very tough battle with PPD/pregnancy depression for two full years) and we were faced with economic hardships, we had to stop relying on the Cultural Christian way of thinking (that birth control is bad, and that people who use it do not have strong enough faith in God, etc), and instead look into God's Word and get with him in prayer. As we studied, God filled our hearts with peace - we felt called to be good stewards of the gift of fertility that he bestowed upon us. We are often instructed, in the Bible, to be good stewards of all of God's blessings. We realized that having children that we couldn't afford, and that we would have to rely on outside assistance to care for, and that would endanger my health and my ability to nurture and fully engage with the six children I already had been blessed with wasn't being a good steward. Just having a child does not bring glory to God (obviously, since non-Christians have children every day) - raising them up in God's holy ways is what is honoring to the Lord. If having another child interfered with our ability to do that with our current six, then we were not honoring him with our bodies and our resources. Feeling God's urging for us to be good stewards of our fertility, we next tackled the issue of just HOW we should go about planning our family. We never considered hormonal birth control, because I will not use artificial hormones. I don't like them, and I don't want them in my body. Next we considered natural family planning/barrier methods. I love this method for most couples, alas it is not a very effective method for us (I don't want to get into particulars, but we've tried it and my unpredictability makes it useful to know when to go out and get a pregnancy test, but that's about it). We strongly considered the vasectomy - in fact we were leaning towards it pretty certainly, but God put an immediate NO sign up for both of us when we brought it to him in prayer. Our economic situation, and my health concerns, are not permanent problems that would indicate that we should forever close the door on that chapter in our lives. Instead, it became clear that the non-hormonal IUD was the right choice for us as a couple. It works most effectively by preventing sperm from breaching the cervix, but there is a chance that it can work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. So, we were diligently back into the scriptures, trying to find out what God really says about fertility, the womb, and life. We were shocked to find out that there is no biblical source for calling conception the beginning of life. It seems to be accepted, amongst most Christians, that that is a biblical truism. But it's not. The Bible talks instead about God knowing people in the womb (with the exception of Jeremiah - whom God knew and called to the role of prophet even BEFORE he was in the womb - how mind-blowing is that?! but not really helpful in terms of the birth control discussion because that would mean that any type of preventing, even just timely abstinence, would be sinful). This was a convicting moment for us - we absolutely agree that life starts somewhere in the womb, we just don't think that it's necessarily at egg fertilization. Fertilization is one step in a multi-step procedure (instituted, of course, by God), ALL of which are necessary for a potential life to become a realized life. So, we felt that using the non-hormonal IUD, with a heart oriented towards submission to God and His word and at being the best stewards of his blessings that we could possibly be, was no different than a couple abstaining from sex during a fertile window, or using a condom, or opting for sterilization. Our family has been so blessed in all ways these last two years, and we've felt little but his peace about our decision. The most exciting part is that our financial and physical burdens are starting to ease greatly, and we feel like God is prompting us to pray again about our future and we're keeping our ears pricked towards Him to know what he intends for our family. At any rate, no matter what God has convicted any of us of in the area of family planning and birth control, personally, isn't it a splendorous thing indeed to rest in God's perfect peace?