Culture At Large

Should Christians Use Birth Control?


In the November issue of Christianity Today, Agnieszka Tennant writes about her experience with oral contraceptives and birth control in general. Tennant was on the pill for four years before reconsidering her attitudes toward pregnancy and children. She relates her conversation with Amy Laura Hall as a turning point in her views on birth control:

[Hall] gave a lecture on the eugenics-rooted assumptions that have led Western Christians like me to view children—and even the possibility of their arrival—as an inconvenient interruption. Why, she asked, do we feel the need to perfectly time and fit children into our busy schedules? Is this a Christian instinct?


Consistent life ethicist that she is, Hall taught me that being pro-life isn't only about opposing surgical abortion. It's about opening ourselves to the risk and mess and uncertainty that accompany any God-sent guest we allow into our lives. The least we can do is leave our doors unlocked. Like Rahab did for the spies. Like Mary did for Jesus.

Tennant's new openness to parenthood is not absolute, however. She explains that she and her husband plan to use condoms and/or natural family planning (NFP) for the time being.

Her argument raises some interesting points but seems a little fuzzy in places - is she rejecting all birth control or just the pill? Are condoms and NFP somehow a less, well, controlling method of birth control? It would seem to me that, while they may be considered less effective methods of preventing pregnancy, condoms and NFP aren't any more open to conceiving babies than alternate contraceptive methods. But her points about our societal attitudes toward children are good ones and she suggests that an openness toward children should extend beyond their conception and gestation in the womb.

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