Generation Cedar

“Finally, many evangelicals are joining the discussion about birth control and its meaning.”

This line made my heart leap.  Late, indeed to the discussion, but arriving nonetheless.  “Think I’ll Skip the Party” @ The Line summarizes Albert Mohler’s recent commentary on Time’s cover story by Nancy Gibbs discussing “the anniversary of the Pill”, in a serious and succinct call for God’s people to think and connect the dots.

Consider Gibbs’ observation: 

“It was the first medicine ever designed to be taken regularly by people who were not sick.”

It reminds me of the simple truth I haven’t been able to escape since my first investigations of the subject of birth control:  choices have consequences.

Mohler writes:

“The idea that sex would be severed from childbearing is a very modern concept — and a concept made meaningful only by the development of the Pill and its successor birth control technologies. The severing of this relationship represents a quantum change in human life and relationships, not to mention morality….The Pill turned pregnancy — and thus children — into elective choices, rather than natural gifts of the marital union.

I’m glad to see that more Christians recognize the need to consider the implications of our lifestyle choices.

Spread the love

47 Responses

  1. Yes! I read Mohler’s post also and wrote him an email in response. (I’m an alum of SBTS under him.) My hope is for the reunion of childbearing and committed marital relations within the evangelical Protestant circle, especially at the Seminary where many young couples put off bearing children while the men are studying theology full-time.

  2. While I’ve never used chemical or medicinal birth control methods, I used to use natural family planning. After the births of our oldest two children, then having a miscarriage, we decided to leave our family size up to the Lord. While I love (dearly!) all my children, I have to say that when we left this in the Lord’s hands he blessed us in a miraculous way. You can read about it here if you have the time.

  3. We couldn’t use chemical birth control and not violate our consciences. However, after very shaky 5th and 6th pregnancies which resulted in early inductions,and scary labors, we chose a vasectomy. It was a VERY hard decision to make. I felt that a tubal could result in a miscarriage, and birth control the same. Our conclusion was that if the vasectomy failed, we would just have more children…and we kind of hoped it would. So far, it has worked…we go back and forth on our feelings about it, but we also know that we came to the conclusion after much prayer and soul searching.

  4. I’m in such a bind with this right now. I quit taking the pill and had my first two children, considered getting an iud before, thankfull, someone told me the truth about how it works, we started NFP and now my whole attitude towards children has blossomed into a desire to recieve whatever God’s blessing is for my womb. Then our 3rd pregnancy was twins Surprise! Well, we’ve hit the wall. We had to purchase a van that we couldn’t afford, then my husband lost his night job, and there is nothing else in this economy. I feel like such a leech now because we’ve had to get food stamps because our grocery bills are crazy, and medicaid because we can’t afford the opays and deductables for our insurance. We’re thankful to have affordable housing, however we’ve got 4 kids in a 2 bedroom. We live as modestly as we can, yet even with the government assistance we still need help from my parents paying the utility bills sometimes. I opened my heart and my womb up and now we’re suffering. I sometimes think I should be working, but staying home and homeschooling is important to us. What am I supposed to do with 4 kids under 5? What makes it worse is that I am having crazy baby fever. I am against hormonal birth control and I wouldn’t trade my 4 for anything and I know I want more, but I can’t shake a nagging feeling that we’ve been irresponsible, and as much as my hormones and my heart cry out for more babies, I just know it can’t happen right now.

  5. Regina,

    First, I would encourage you to shake off feelings of irresponsibility. Taking a step back and gaining some perspective may help…

    First, you said, “I opened my heart and my womb up and now we’re suffering.”

    I am prone to think that your financial distress is not primarily because you have 4 children, and would be just as stressful if you had two. I say this because in our home funds are often very tight as well, but when I really want to get our grocery bill down I can–probably below an average family of 4.

    Also, it helps me to remember that God promises to provide our food and clothing. It is the American expectation of so much more that makes us anxious, I think. (Not to say housing isn’t a very important need, just reflecting on biblical truth).

    I would encourage you to get more creative…could your husband pick up extra work doing odd jobs? Pizza delivery? Lawn maintenance?

    One year we sold sweet potato pies door to door. This year we’re going to pick blueberries and sell them. That in addition to being very careful with utilities (turning off our hot water heater at night and through the next day, etc.) are some of the ways we are helping hubby with the income.

    Have you looked into Samaritan’s ministry sharing program instead of medicaid? It’s a biblical approach to health care that is FAR more affordable than insurance. In all honesty, many people go without insurance. Not saying it’s good or bad, just that it’s an option and not necessarily a guarantee.

    I feel for you. But rest assured many families are struggling right now regardless of the number of children they have.

  6. I scrolled through the comments after the link and they were a bit more caustic than I cared to read this time of the morning, so I came back to a gentler place.

    I will be 47 in June, have never used the pill, even before a deeper relationship with the Lord that began to develop in my late teens, I had some common sense suspicions against tinkering with hormones.

    My cycles have been quite punctual with only a very rare hiccup, so when I got to day 44 recently, I alternated between being elated about a baby and wondering what it would be like to give birth to my own grandchild. I asked the Lord if He was giving us a daughter to care for us in our old age (DH is 56, we have sons). I was prepared to speak with my 22-year-old son about naming him legal guardian should something happen…so many thoughts crossed my mind, but glory to God alone, abortion was never among them. My husband admitted being scared and overwhelmed about starting completely over, but he, a cradle Catholic is staunchly pro-life, so again, praise be to God, had there been a little late-blooming life, it would have been welcomed with love.

    When I had to put on reading glasses to interpret the pregnancy test results (negative) I got tickled and thought that this must be an indicator of perimenopause, and evidently it is.

    Just thought I would inject a little humor in this issue, but in all reality, I am waiting for some honesty from someone somewhere–to quit sitting on what I believe to be true–chemical birth control (and abortion) is largely responsible for the breast cancer epidemic. Some brave souls will produce evidence from medical research, then feminazis and troops dispute it.

    It seems by refusing so many lives, we may inadvertently be killing ourselves.

  7. Very Modern concept? Not hardly. Birth control methods date before Christ. The first condoms were made out of animal hide 5,000 years ago in Egypt. Over 2,000 years ago, people took Silphion as an oral contraceptive. So many people took it that the herb became extinct.

  8. Thank you for responding, Kelly. I know it’s hard for alot of people right now, but when the twins came we ould no longer fit in the car and truck we had, so we had to purchase a van. It was used but still takes a hunk out of our pay each month. Also, the twins came early and were in the NICU for two weeks, and the copays and dedutibles wiped out our savings. So it does seem that our situation took a turn for the worse when they came. Then when my husband lost his night job, we just haven’t been able to recover. He does do some small engine repair on the side and that work is staring to pick up now that it’s almost summer. I so wish I was able to bring in some extra income, but I struggle with managing my duties at home right now. We do live cheaply- no cell phones, cable, eating out. I have hope for better days. And I have Faith that God can provide. I can also thank God for our struggle, as it refines my faith and forces me to keep my eyes off of the material world and concentrate on the most important things.

  9. Ashley,

    I propose that Mr. Mohler is talking more about the church than society at large. The church was adamantly opposed to the birth control pill when it surfaced around the 60’s. Though true, there have always been people who tried to prevent pregnancy, the majority of Christians have embraced the natural idea that children are a result from the marital union until fairly recently.

    I would also propose that even though people have tried to prevent children for millennia, the vast majority still held that it was “normal” for marriage to be prolific making Mohler’s statement accurate.

  10. Regina,

    “I can also thank God for our struggle, as it refines my faith and forces me to keep my eyes off of the material world and concentrate on the most important things.”

    This has proven SO true in our lives….the world seems to act as if “hard times” are some evidence of our disobedience (or irresponsibility) and I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve referred to Paul as a comparison; God called him to preach and as soon as he really got going he was thrown in jail and his very life threatened. Paul never questioned whether he was following the Lord’s will; he became content, even in the direst of circumstances, knowing that God was doing something bigger than he could see.

    Trusting the Lord is something we Americans are rarely forced into doing; we have considered some of our hardest financial times to be some of the sweetest.

    Hang in there…tell yourself daily: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

  11. Kelly, I agree–I think Dr. Mohler’s “very modern concept” refers to the acceptance of sterlized sex in marriage by people of faith. Contraception is indeed as old as time (pretty much, remember Onan?) but God’s people accepting it as a norm (or worse, propagandizing it as “the responsible thing to do”) *is* new. Within the last century or so. And the total divorce of children from marriage is more recent than that.

  12. Regina- Many of us have been there. Have you talked to your church about assistance? Many times the help we recieve is a blessing to those who can provide it. I have been on the recieving and the giving side of help, and both have taught me lessons on God’s grace and love for His people. God’s word also teaches that He is willing to entrust us with more when we have proven we can use it according to His will. If we are doubting His provision for us (possibly by not trusting Him fully with our reproductive lives) then we are not showing that we can be good sterards of what He wants to give us. God doesn’t prioritize money over children, He just promises us He will provide. In fact, I’m not sure that He ever calls finances a blessing, but He certainly does children! And my deepest desire is for His blessing in my life.

  13. My family has been blessed by the use of the Angel Food Service. They offer packages of quality, healthy food each month for great prices as a ministry between Christian food providers and consumers. I know it is national – you might see if you can find it near you.

  14. “Finally, many evangelicals are joining the discussion about birth control and its meaning.”

    Well, Kelly, that line may have made your heart leap, but a brief perusal of the comments under the Boundless piece would show that overall, birth control is seen as a practical solution to the perceived problems inherent in having a large family in today’s world.

    What was very telling was the comments from a couple of the young men who stated that while they do want children, they would flatly refuse to marry a woman who felt it wrong to limit their family size.

    Again, that speaks to the heart of the matter. For as much as we discuss this among ourselves as women, and as heartening as it may be to see women reconsidering the birth control issue, it is all moot when husbands are not on board.

    And whether we think it right or wrong for them to do so, it is only to be expected that young men are going to consider the financial responsibility that will rest on their shoulders when structuring their families.

  15. Regina,

    We are in the same boat. Hang in there. God is good.
    We have four children also. Husband has always worked for himself with occasional employment here and there. This past winter was tough! We do without the typical “needs” the rest of society has. But I know it still hurts.
    What hurts the most is family and friends that assume we are bad with our money, irresponsible, foolish for having so many kids, etc.
    One area that I go back and forth on is accepting government help. People who wouldn’t dream of accepting foodstamps are willing to collect unemployment. Really what is the difference. (Not that I want either one!) But because my husband has always worked for himself, is not elligible for unemployment. So do we accept foodstamps as a replecement or not? What would God have us do? I do not want to be the man on the roof during a flood refusing help from people because he is waiting for God to help, only to be told by God “I sent help and you did not accept it.” Can God provide by using the government? Perhaps. He certainly can, doesn’t mean he does. I don’t want to be Sarah using Hagar to solve the problem either. Pray, pray, pray. God will answer all these questions and more. We just have to be willing to ask and wait patiently for an answer.

    Praying for you,

  16. Terry,

    I would fully expect that the gradual acceptance of divorcing children from the marital union (the current scene ripened by propaganda older than 50 years) would take at least as much time to undo. And since the article introduces the “beginning of discussions”, it’s likely to be a slow turning of hearts and minds.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

    Also, your comment about the young men got my brain whirling in an interesting direction, especially after a recent article I read (stay tuned–it will post) about what institutionalized schooling has done to boys.

    In a nutshell version of my “brain whirl”, we have spent a good many years pressing down the conquering spirit that God gives to young men; through medication, through insult, through brainwashing–the feminist movement succeeded with a new breed of “safe” and docile men.

    Thinking about your comment and the fears men face in shouldering responsibilities (not that there aren’t real fears, don’t misunderstand me), could this docility be a factor? Men have lost drive, even survival instincts, and so they are more easily given to fear and defeat (or apathy), instead of their once-fierce determination to provide and protect.

    Anyway, just rambling thoughts 😉

  17. I’m past childbearing age now, but I trusted God for the size of my family, often even begging him for more children (believe it or not.) I now see His wisdom in not answering my prayer for more children, but I know that it was His plan, not my own. I always felt, “How can I possible know or have the wisdom to figure out how many children I should have, and when? Surely only God knows what’s best, and what His plan is, and why.” For me, that thinking showed me how much more sense it made to trust God rather than myself with those life-altering (and not only my life, either) decisions.
    And then there’s the health aspect of the dangers of meddling with your body, taking hormones day after day, month after month, year after year. I wonder how many women’s cancers might be at least partially caused by so many artificial substances ingested for such a long period of time?
    That said, I do not believe it’s my place to criticize anyone else’s decisions along these lines. (That’s not meant to be a backhanded hint to anyone here, either; just wanted to make that clear.)

  18. We have always considered birth control to be wrong. I took it once when I was a teen because the doctor prescribed it for other reasons. But that didn’t last very long as I suffered depression and several other side affects.

    So now, I have three living children and a little one in heaven. I’m under 30 years old. But I’m facing the possibility of a full hysterectomy due to serious medical issues. I guess what I’m trying to say is that not everyone who believes in leaving family planning up to God is going to have a large family. From what I am going through it looks like I ought to be very thankful that I’ve got the three that I have.

    And when I say serious medical issues, we are taking the big stuff like cancer etc.

  19. I have an interesting twist to this subject. I was on birth control pills when my husband and I first got married. 🙁 I had to have an emergency surgery when we were married only 8 months for 2 large cysts on my ovaries. They upped my dosage of the pill saying this would help. It did not. I had to have surgery again. I’ve aqctually had six surgeries for cysts on my ovaries (last one they got 2 liters of fluid out) whether I was on the pill or not. I have not taken the pill since about 1995, but have always wondered if the pill had anything to do with this problem. The doctors are baffled that I get these. We know it has something to do wiwth hormones, but they can’t figure out why the pill doesn’t solve the problem. As a side note, I do not get a cyst while I am pregnant! 🙂 We are blessed with 5 children here and one with Jesus and have recently decided that it is up to God how many children we have. The doctors wanted to take my ovaries after 3 children and even had one of them be very condescending because I did not choose that route. Thank God I didn’t! I can’t imagine life without all of our blessings!

    Sorry for such a long, newsy post, but thought I’d like to see what any of you thought about this different side of the birth control pill.

    Kelly, love your blog. Keep it up. It is so encouraging and thought-provoking. God bless!

  20. Anon,

    “what I’m trying to say is that not everyone who believes in leaving family planning up to God is going to have a large family”

    You are absolutely right. Despite occasional suggestions otherwise, I’ve always tried to be clear that God’s sovereignty over the womb may just as well mean childless, and has nothing to do with numbers of children.

    I pray the Lord would give you grace in your physical trials.

  21. It is very true that “no bc” does not equal massive families all the time (or even most of the time).

    In 8 years, all in my 20’s, we have never deliberately prevented conception. Before I married, I would have thought that would mean a good 5-7 kiddos, and I was thrilled about that.

    I have three. And God is good. And I am blessed. He just didn’t have mega-family in mind for me. And the great part is, I didn’t have to spend money on pills or wrestle with barrier methods or have a monthly freak-out fest about whether I was pregnant or not. He just did it. 🙂

    For anonymous–we live in a fallen world, with fallen bodies. I do not think it is inconsistent with being “QF” or open to children to treat or removed diseased body parts, even when a secondary effect of treatment is infertility. It’s just life as a human being.

    My big, huge issues, I have with attitudes, not with physical realities. I think that’s the thrust of most anti-birth control writing too. As far as I know, Dr. Mohler isn’t against medical care or even NFP. (Heck, even the Catholic church isn’t against NFP for serious reasons.) He’s addressing anti-child attitudes in our culture, and the slow slide of the church into those attitudes as well.

  22. Yes, Kelly, I agree with you that it will take at least as much time to undo this as it took to get to this point. Probably more time, actually. It’s always harder to reverse a bad trend than it was to start it. Any woman who has struggled with her weight van attest to that!

    We have 6 daughters, and I often contemplate the subject that you will be tackling soon: What kind of men will be suitable husbands when our culture, from education to the media, and everything in between, has systematically emasculated 2 entire generations of men?

    Looking forward to your thoughts because the simple fact of the matter is that unless men become men again, the outlook is bleak.

  23. After four children, my husband had a vasectomy 4 years ago. Our decision was based on finances and my horrible morning sickness. We had double the kids of almost all of our Christian friends and even with my husband working 4 jobs (yes 4!) we were always very tight financially. We truly believed we were being good stewards of what God had given us by not increasing our family size. It was absolutely the worst decision we have ever made.

    Thankfully, we “discovered” Dr. Voddie Baucham’s teachings on this and have since realized that we were rejecting blessings from God! My husband had his vasectomy reversed in July (he traveled several states away to find an affordable surgeon) and I am now 5 months pregnant. That itself is a miracle, but considering that I am 36, it is especially so.

    Our finances haven’t changed, they have actually gotten even more tight and my husband picked up a 5th job over a year ago. (FYI, one is a full time professional position, three are seasonal part time and one is a 6-day a week, year around part time job.) I spent a long time on my knees this morning tearfully begging God to provide a very pressing need we are facing right now. Would our financial situation be as difficult if we had only 2 children? Absolutely! Will this 5th child be a burden to our family? No!! Our children are well aware that they have less “stuff” than others and are still happy about a new sibling. Our four year old daughter told me this morning that she’s so excited about this baby that she just wants to tell everyone.

    This is longer than I intended, but I have been on both sides of this issue and I can clearly see, from a biblical perspective, how wrong I was before. I am also probably feeling a bit zealous because my dad was VERY angry when he found out were having another baby. He just can’t get past the (false) idea that large families=poverty.

  24. Wow, Erin, that is so exciting! You’re right…there will be those even reading this comment rolling their eyes and shaking their heads.

    Of all the families we know who have one or two children struggling with finances, I haven’t heard anyone tsk them for unwise spending behavior, too new a car, too big a house, too many pets, etc.

    Additionally, like you said, when we struggle financially, I don’t believe for a minute it is because of the number of our children. We eat $4-$6 meals most nights, my children are beautifully dressed by generous hand-me-downs from friends (so many closets are overflowing), we just purchased our first pack of diapers for my almost 10 months old baby (and we have bought nothing else for her…including food). I could go on and on.

    Financial struggles happen all by themselves. Children are just easy targets to blame most of the time.

    Interesting too, about your other children’s reaction. Most children never associate another baby with “burden”, even if they understand the financial challenges.


  25. I’ll second Kelly and say “Congrats Erin”!!!!!!

    I am just a little jealous 🙂 but in a good way – I think. I really wish I’d had a house full.

  26. Erin,I am so happy for oldest son once over heard someone telling me our kids could have more if we didn’t have so many kids.He replied with a sweet polite smile that he could also be self centered and materialistic.The poor woman didn’t know what to say.He did not get that out spoken attitude from his father or myself we are both shy to a fault.I do belive he will do great things with his life.

  27. Erin, Congratulations!! My eyes filled with tears reading your comment. I praise God for you!!

    Thank you for this post Kelly. Excellent!

    Children aren’t expensive, lifestyles are. We wouldn’t be any ‘better off’ financially if we didn’t have our three children (gasp! in three years, are we crazy? NO!). My dad has actually told me that I’ll be “living in a dump with a lap full of kids wearing rags” because we are letting God plan our family size. And my husband’s mom has told me I will be the next Andrea Yates and that if we don’t both commit suicide then we will grow old and poor because children “drive you insane and sap you dry”. So sad that everyone cannot view children as the Bible does. Praying God blesses with another 😉

  28. Oh yuck. That Andrea Yates case seems to pop up a lot. Someone told me I’d better not have as many children as I hoped for, “You don’t want to become like that Andrea Yates do you?” 🙁

  29. Charity – your husband’s MOM said that!? Your poor husband to have that said by his own mother – about her own child and grandchildren. Sick, just sick. I’m so sorry.

  30. Not sure if any of you have seen the documentary “Demographic Winter,” but I suggest it. Among other things it discusses how we do not have enough “new” people to support the older generations and all of our social programs, etc.

  31. Lori, Yes my husband’s mom said that (and much worse things that I won’t repeat). She says if she could go back she wouldn’t have had children. I can’t imagine feeling that way. It just doesn’t seem natural.

  32. about the cyst…
    I was told years ago by my doctor that I could not take the pill or any hormonal contraception because I had a cyst and the hormones would make it grow. Sounds opposite of what they were doing for you. Praise God for them telling me that though because it protected me from being on the pill and now we wouldnt want it even if I could use it. WHEW.

  33. I am expecting #4. This pregnancy has been scary, though, because of a blood clot I developed in my leg, and I am now on blood thinners etc. It makes me not want to have any more children, not because I wouldn’t necessarily like more, but because I would like to be around for the ones I’ve got!! Perhaps this is a lack of faith, but if a procedure is one that doesn’t have abortion as a side effect, why couldn’t it be an option?? Without feeling guilty about our faith levels and our family?? One girl I talked to went into renal failure every time she got pregnant and almost died–they had a permanent procedure done, and i can’t say I blame her…
    No birth control of any kind seems fine to those who never have complications, but to those who do, it’s a little harder. And nowadays, unless you know other families who live this way,it’s hard to ask for help, because people’s responses are like,” Well, why did you have all those kids if you can’t handle them? You didn’t have to have them!”
    Not trying to be divisive, just honest…and trying to make up my own mind and struggling…

  34. Just discovered this amazing blog so I’m jumping in a little late….

    I myself want a large family. I only have 2 little girls now, but we are hoping to be expecting soon with #3. I would love some insight on my situation. I had to have a c-section with my 1st daughter. Was not my choice & I fought it all day until it was dangerous for the baby & the dr. made the decision. At the hospital where my 2nd daughter was born, you have to have a repeat c-section as they don’t do VBACs. So the dr.s say that more than 3 is dangerous, but more than 4, they strongly advise against. I know this is hypothetical as the Lord may not bless me with more than that, but I’m at a loss at to whether or not we would be irresponsible to have more than 4 considering the risks.

  35. E.R.,

    While I don’t want to tell you what you should do, I can share what I know regarding C-sections. I have a number of friends who have had multiple c-sections–one of them has had 7, I’ve heard of 9. I’ve not heard of anyone dying from it (not to say it doesn’t happen, but women die from normal births as well).

    It is my personal opinion that doctors are conditioned to encourage women to stop having children every chance they get (that’s a general statement, not meant to include all drs.) and I think most of them truly believe, because they’ve been taught, that c-sections are more dangerous than they are. Again, that’s not meant to dismiss the real risks involved, but given the numerous successful stories, there has to be some unwarranted fear tactics involved somewhere.

    By the way, my friend who had 7 c-sections was told by her doctor that her body looked perfectly healthy and saw no danger in more.

  36. Eek. I’d discourage C-sections as much as possible from what I know, or at least heed doctors who do so. Vaginal birth can be very dangerous too, yes, especially if it occurs against doctor’s orders or without any medical assistance, but at least it’s natural. Stomach muscles are never the same after C-sections and the pain is just awful for moms for days afterwards. A friend of our family had to have all four of her kids this way and my own mom had all three of us this way (it was my fault. As the first baby I had my feet first and ruined the whole natural thing for everyone else :S Funny how even back then I was digging my heels in).

  37. I love to see the serious searching of Scripture for God’s plan for children. I am the mother of one amazing 6 year old girl and 3 in heaven I pray. I got married late at 33, was blessed with one after practicing NFP for 2 years as my husband was scared to have children. We had our daughter and realized too late the gifts we had been avoiding! God convicted us and we searched His word for what he said on children. I pray women don’t work away their fertility as I did and have empty bedrooms and seats at their table. God is sovereign in the giving and taking away! He is always good and love! The result of our 5 year trials with loss and infertility is a film you may want to check out made for the Christian church:
    A second film will go into medical information as their is much evidence for the pill causing breast cancer! A new book has been edited and published this week on Anthony Comstock who kept abortion illegal in USA for 100 years. His life is amazing! Check it out and blessings to all of you whether you are for or against BC — we all as Christians need to understand the history and how we got here!

  38. I like your style, the fact that your site is a little bit different makes it so interesting, I get fed up of seeing same-old-same-old all of the time. Ive just stumbled this page for you

  39. 174319 1541Good V I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs as well as related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. 966070

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *