Christianity Today’s women’s blog Her.meneutics (cute, isn’t it? :)) ran an article by Amy Becker on contraception yesterday, particularly the contraceptive pill. This issue has been on my mind since I read Wendy’s post and the links in the comments and encountered the ProWomenProLife bloggers. Contraception is a much bigger question than whether your method is abortifacient.
We thought a lot about contraception when we got married, partly because we came from families with two different views on the subject. We did a stack of research and ended up deciding to go with the pill. Two of the reasons we chose the pill was because it gave us the least chance of getting pregnant and gave me better quality of life with more control of my body than other methods. Why didn’t we want to get pregnant straight away? Well, I was only 23 so there was no urgency – plenty of childbearing years ahead! But the main reason was probably that I was the breadwinner. Then we were on a ministry trajectory. I can’t count the number of older women who strongly advised me to finish my theological study before having children. Many of them didn’t and, while they don’t regret having children, do regret the lost opportunities of theological study.
Becker acknowledges the complexities of stewardship, using time and resources wisely as we “fill the earth”. This is what I find so difficult to comes to terms with. Part of me thinks life would be easier if I saw a woman’s role in life as entirely domestic. The lines would be clear cut: no contraception, just devote your life to home and family. But even then, for ministry couples (and there are countless other situations this is relevant in too), might the best way to serve your family be to support your husband’s study by working, or to be theologically equipped yourself? The latter is obviously the issue for me. Partly it’s because I want to be a good partner to my husband but partly it’s just stewarding the gifts that God has also given to me. It’s not that I want to ‘have it all’: it’s that there are so many things that I feel would be good and God-glorifying to do.
Perhaps then it’s a question of when to do these good things, the timing of it all? Becker suggests that contraception gives us the illusion that we, not God are in control of our lives and our bodies. We can use ‘timing’ as a baptised way of saying, “I’ll do it when I feel like it.” I hear that and suspect I’ve been guilty of it. Yet the solution to this cannot be to make no decisions about when to do things: that would be irresponsible stewardship. One suggestion is to use contraception, but be willing to have children, acknowledging that rarely is there a ‘convenient’ time to do so and that God is the giver of life. But it’s such a fine line! Motivations are such slippery little things!
So, ladies, what do you reckon? How do you come to terms with this issue? I suspect that those currently using contraception; single women who want to have a family; married women who have struggled to conceive; and women who’ve conceived unexpectedly will all have different perspectives to offer.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.