Massacre of The Innocents: Contraceptives (for married couples and those contemplating marriage)

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Dear Young People,

Children are always a gift from God. Some children are born in a planned way. Children are sometimes conceived unexpectedly. Whichever way they come, they are all gifts. No child is a ‘mistake.’

This article is written in the hope that it will help young couples in our assembly who want to plan their babies carefully to do so without inadvertently harming a child in the womb. Contraceptives are useful for planning, but some of the contraceptives available today actually kill the child shortly after conception.

In the first part of the article, Massacre of The Innocents, we studied the subject of abortion. This part on contraceptives forms the concluding part of the same article Massacre of The Innocents because some contraceptives, instead of preventing conception, actually kill newly conceived babies. So as Christians who value human life, we must arm ourselves with this information.

Before we discuss the subject of contraceptives, let us ensure that you are familiar with some basic scientific information from a Christian perspective

What happens in the womb

For about 10 days, every month, the womb prepares for the new baby and the uterine wall gets a rich blood supply. After this period, an egg is released into the womb. This process is called ovulation. This human egg waits for 12 to 24 hours in readiness for a human sperm to fertilize it. The woman’s body is now ready to accept and nourish a baby. Although ovulation happens about 300 times in a woman’s life time, except on a few occasions, the egg never meets a sperm. (So after a few days, the egg along with the blood-filled layer of the uterine wall, is released out of the body.)

But if the woman has had sexual intercourse in the two or three days prior to the release of the egg, or within the next two days, by the providence of God, one of hundreds of sperms usually succeeds in fertilizing the egg.

Let us be clear that if and when this happens, a human being, a person, has been conceived. Science calls this little microscopic being by impersonal names such as ‘zygote’ and ‘fertillized egg’ and ‘foetus’, but we must remember that this little group of cells is also a person who will one day go to school and who we need to nurture in the fear of the Lord.

This little person now seeks to implant himself or herself in the wall of the womb. This wall, as we have seen waits in readiness for the child, who from that point on grows inside the womb, till the point of birth about ten months later.

Planning a family and contraceptives

Are children given by God or are they planned by parents?
Obviously parents have a say in the conception of their children. But in the final analysis, it is God who decides whether to bless parents with children or not. As in other matters, God’s usual way of working is to go by the rules that He set up in nature. We refer to God’s working through nature and normal circumstances as providence. God’s working through providence is as wonderful as God’s working through miracles.

Miraculously or providentially, God can open or close the womb. Parents can plan as much as they wish, but unless God wills it, they will not succeed in having a baby.

Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” (Gen 17:15,16)

Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD.” (1 Sam 1:19-20)

Parents have a choice, but the final choice belongs to God.

Is it good to consciously plan the family?
Some Christians believe that it is wrong to use contraceptives in planning the family. I do not personally feel that it is wrong to carefully space out the children and limit their number. But I am not an inspired writer as the Bible writers were, and I am prone to making mistakes. However, this is what I have felt so far about this matter.

I believe it is wrong to use any form of contraceptive that has the possibility of harming a child after conception.
This rules out the use of the following:

  • The ‘morning after’ pill
  • Contraceptive pills in general (unless we have a strong assurance that they do not have a secondary mechanism of action whereby, should the pill fail to prevent conception, they prevent the child from implanting or otherwise harm the child)
  • Intra-uterine devices, such as Copper-T have been known to have a secondary mechanism of action, harming the child in those rare cases when pregnancy is not prevented

In my opinion the best course of action is to study the fertillity cycle and use a combination of abstinance and condoms until you have completed your family. After that, either the husband or the wife may go in for a sterilization procedure.

What is a contraceptive?
A contraceptive is a device, method, or pill that prevents conception; it is something that contradicts conception.

Conception is the coming together of a human sperm and a human egg to form a human embryo. The sperm and the egg are human products. The embryo is a human being. A contraceptive prevents the human embryo from forming.

However, be aware that the word ‘contraceptive’ is used in a loose way and includes even those methods that kill the child after conception.

What is abstinence?
Abstinence is refraining from all sexual activity. This is the only foolproof method of preventing conception. Christians practice continuous abstinence before marriage. Some who decide not to marry practice abstinence all through their life.

Couples who study the fertility cycles of the wife can quite easily determine the days in the month when a baby is most likely to be conceived. They can plan their family by practicing abstinence on those days. This method of contraception is, by and large, simple, dependable, and safe.

Can Christians use contraceptives
The Bible does not speak for or against contraceptives. Contraceptives have been used for thousands of years. But some of these ancient contraceptives, as also many of the modern ones, kill the human embryo by preventing it from implanting in the womb. Christians must not use such contraceptives.

Scripture does not prohibit the use of contraceptives that prevent conception. However, it is sin, in fact it is murder, to use ‘contraceptives’ that kill the foetus or prevent it from implanting.

What does the pill do?
The pill is supposed to prevent a child from getting conceived. I have several concerns about using the pill.

  • The ‘morning after’ pill must not be used because it kills the baby shortly after it is conceived.
  • The other pills do not allow conception to occur, but as a ‘precaution’ ensure that any child conceived ‘by mistake’ does not survive. One way of doing this is by making the uterine wall hostile to the baby and preventing implanting.

The fact that these pills may do this is usually in fine print that even many doctors do not pay attention to.
Also, the pill has been known to have side effects for the mother.

Can we go to a gynaecologist or doctor for information about this?

It is not a bad idea. However, the truth is that many gynaecologists may not be as convinced as you are about the horror of killing such a young child (just a few hours old) in the womb. But if you do your own reading and keep your own counsel, a good doctor’s advise and knowledge can be very helpful.

Are condoms safe to use?

Male condoms have a safety rate of about 80-90 percent. So if you simply cannot manage a baby at this stage, do not solely rely on condoms. Condoms may be used in combination with abstinence after studying the fertility cycle.

(Other barrier methods of contraception exist, but the male condom is the most popular)

What is meant by fertility cycle?
The period of time from the first day of the woman’s period to the next is known as the fertility cycle. The fertility cycle includes the events described under the heading ‘What happens in the womb?’ on top of this page.

How can the fertility cycle be used for birth control?
Studying the fertility cycle will show you which are ‘very safe’ days, ’safe days’, ‘not so safe’ days, and ‘fertile’ days. Abstaining from sexual intercourse on the ‘fertile’ days and using condoms during ‘not so safe’ days and even on some of the ’safe’ days will give you a satisfactory birth control plan.

Does using the fertility cycle have any disadvantages?
Some could find the constant record keeping a disadvantage.

How is the fertility cycle calculated?
Step 1: You must study your cycle for some months to know how long your cycle is.

Step 2: Identify the probable ovulation day.
If you have a 28-day cycle, the ovulation day probably happens on the 14th day.
This is a list of numbers showing cycle length and probable ovulation day: 25-11, 26-12, 27-13, 28-14, 29-15, 30-16, 31-17, 32-18, 33-19, 34-20, 35-21.
Stress and illness can delay the ovulation date. So this list is not a foolproof one. Some use the temperature method (temperature rises during ovulation) and mucous method (cervical mucus becomes wetter and more profuse during ovulation) in addition to the list of numbers given above. It is upto you.

Step 3: Prepare the Fertility-cycle chart.

  1. In a chart with about 35 columns, number each column as Day 1, Day 2 and so on.
  2. In the Day 1 column enter the date of the first day of your period.
  3. Enter the dates consecutively for the rest of the row.
  4. Mark the ovulation day as per the list of numbers given in Step 2.
  5. Mark the fertile period as 3 days before ovulation day till 2 days after, 6 days in all. The (Contraceptive method advised for this period: Abstinence)
  6. Mark two days before and two days after the fertile period as ‘not so safe’ days. If you want to be even more careful, make this three days before and after. (Contraceptive method advised for this period: Abstinence or condom)

Disclaimer: Other than abstinence, no method has a 100 percent success rate.

What are some good sites on the Internet about this subject?
The following pages have some useful information. Please remember that I do not necessarily subscribe to other information in these sites.
Free ovulation calculator
EngenderHealth: Secular site about women’s health issues

(Nahomi Dhinakar; Prepared for Youth Column of Dhyanamlar March 2007) Click here for other Youth Column articles

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