Birth control is a touchy subject that Evangelicals find extremely difficult to discuss. But as the President’s health care mandate officially launches and its oppressive contraception enforcements are questioned, some Evangelicals are reconsidering their embrace of oral contraception, or what is commonly referred to as the Pill.
Evangelical leaders like Dr. Albert Mohler who question the morality of contraception are garnering criticism from the Religious Left. Hurling accusations of sexism and selfishness, Georgetown student and Jim Wallis’ teacher’s assistant, Jacob Lupfer, penned The Washington Post op-ed “The Evangelical Unease Over Contraception.” His article claims that Evangelical leaders are denouncing contraception for purely biased theological and political ends. The problem with his argument is that it leaves Evangelical women with a disingenuous, if not intentionally deceptive, portrayal of the Pill’s moral, social, and physical costs.
To start, Lupfer does exactly what he criticizes his white male “fundamentalist” counterparts of doing. He, a white man, gallops to the forefront of a woman’s issue without regard for the overall welfare of women. Lupfer rebuts his conservative counterparts by writing, “contraception has had profound consequences. But safe, effective contraception has given thoughtful, faithful people the liberty and autonomy to ensure that their children are welcome, wanted and able to be cared for.”
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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But these “profound consequences” glossed over by the author are exactly what have some Evangelical leaders rethinking their promotion of the Pill.
Church leaders have to confront the morality of the Pill because they have to deal with human sexuality. We cannot condemn the gay lifestyle, adultery, premarital sex or pornography based on their sinful implications and yet ignore the equally dangerous effects of contraception. To do so is hypocritical.
Renowned pro-life advocate and Vice President for Government Relations at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Wendy Wright, expressed, “Evangelicals need to be consistent—and think deeply—regarding abortion, birth control and children. To do what Catholics have done, get to the spiritual root, not simplistically reject the issue as ‘Catholic’ but instead consider what the Bible as well as science have to say.”
Evangelical leaders who chastise the Pill do not do so in a selfish pursuit to fill their pews with future congregants, as Lupfer asserts. Instead, they are recognizing how abuse of the Pill directly conflicts with God’s very first commandment given to man: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).
The principle behind this passage declares family a vital part of humanity. Yet, we see the priority of family dissipating as society tells women that her value is based upon her job title, paycheck, and body image. Evangelical women and men need to think critically before embracing contraception for the sake of a carefree lifestyle. This is what Evangelical leader Dr. Mohler acknowledged when he wrote, “We must start with a rejection of the contraceptive mentality that sees pregnancy and children as impositions…. This contraceptive mentality is an insidious attack upon God’s glory in creation, and the Creator’s gift of procreation to the married couple.”
Religious Leftists like Lupfer are reminiscent of second-wave feminists. Like secular feminists, who are bent on “liberating” women from their supposed oppressive roles of mother and wife, those on the Religious Left also refuse to acknowledge the consequences the Pill has on women’s status, health and safety.
The Pill is responsible for birthing the sexual revolution, which altered society’s moral standards and diminished women’s value by men. Mary Eberstadt, author of Adam and Eve After the Pill, explained that the sexual “revolution” destigmatized and demystified birth control, making it easier for money-hungry businessmen to objectify women’s once-cherished sexuality. Soon our photo-shopped bodies were plastered on the front pages of Cosmopolitan and Hustler, pornography became a $10 billion-dollar industry, emergency contraception became a sex trafficker’s best friend and out the door went men’s accountability. If this is liberation, then no thank you.
Liberation theologians and feminists should be furious over the implications of the Pill, and yet they continue to rally for it, even when women’s physical health is jeopardized.
Most recently 150 women filed complaints against Essure birth control, reported ABC News. One woman shared her reaction to the drug stating, “Every time I would sit down, I would feel like something was poking my stomach. I would feel horrible, horrible pain.” Additionally, the National Cancer Institute acknowledged the Pill increases women’s chances of breast, cervical, and liver cancer. YAZ, one of the most popular oral contraceptives used by women, has a long list of harmful side-effects including gallbladder disease, vaginal infections, abdominal cramps, headache, nervousness, and irregular vaginal bleeding.
More and more Evangelical leaders will start to reexamine the Pill’s moral, societal and physical effects, as Lupfer predicts. But to do so by thinking critically and employing God-given common sense is neither sexist nor selfish. Such a quest by Evangelical leaders would demonstrate a heart-felt concern for truth, social justice, women’s health, equality, and most importantly, obedience to God’s Word.
Editor’s note: This column first appeared January 8, 2014 in The Christian Post and is reprinted with permission.