“In the hours of conception every aspect of the genetic inheritance for a new individual will be determined once and for all: to be a boy or girl, with brown, or with blue eyes, fair or dark, tall or short; all the rich detail of physical attributes from head to toes… The new genetic program is achieved when the two parent pronuclei come to lie side by side within the egg for perhaps a day, as their contents combine in the ultimate biological union of male and female. In the instant when the union is consummated, the whole egg substance divides into two entirely new cells, identical to one another. These are the first two cells of the baby-to-be. So begins the first day of the first nine months of life.”
From Beginning Life by Geraldine Lux Flanagan, 1996
Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura states, “The attack on the innocent and defenseless life of the unborn, for example, has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act.” The story of Tobit in the Catholic Bible along with the story of Onan in Genesis 38:6-10, are the basis for the Catholic Church’s teaching on the sinfulness of contraception within marriage. In the Catholic Bible, the Archangel Raphael explains to Tobit that people who don’t want to have children out of selfishness are controlled by Satan. Tobit 6:16-17 says “Then the angel Raphael said to him: Listen to me, and I will show you who the devil can control. For those who get married, and as to shut God out from themselves, and from their mind, and to give in to their physical lust, like a horse and a mule, which have no understanding, it is these who the devil can control.” The angel Raphael compares couples who engage in sex out of selfishness, with no intention of having children, to a horse and mule, because these two animals usually can’t have any babies. The angel continues saying, “And when the third night is past, you are to take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for physical lust, so that in the seed of Abraham you may be blessed with children.” Then in Tobit 8:9 Tobit, after listening to the angel, humbly prayed to God, “And now, Lord, You know, that not for fleshly lust do I take my wife, but only for the love of children, in which Your name may be blessed for ever and ever.” The passage in Genesis states, “After some time, Judah arranged for his firstborn son, Er, to marry a young woman named Tamar. But Yahweh saw that Er was an evil man, and took his life. Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and marry your brother’s wife Tamar, and give your brother an heir.” But Onan wasn’t willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had sex with his brother’s wife, he withdrew from her and let the semen go on the ground, to keep her from having a child who would belong to his brother. But Yahweh wasn’t pleased with Onan and took his life, too.”
Pro-lifers have argued repeatedly that contraception results in more risky and more frequent sexual activity and because contraception regularly fails, in more unplanned pregnancies, which in turn, leads to more abortions. There are about one million unplanned pregnancies every year in US due to contraceptive failure, mostly the poor, the young, or couples who live together outside of marriage, with about half of these ending in abortion. About 54% of women who have an abortion were using contraception when they got pregnant, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The truth is people are participating in more risky and more frequent sexual acts, while depending on birth-control measures that fail a certain percentage of the time. Though many Christians today, don’t believe all forms of contraception are evil, the use of birth control often leads to a state of mind in some who use them, which believes sexual activity has nothing to do with babies. Babies are seen as “accidents,” and a burden, instead of a blessing from God. But Psalm 127:3-5 states, “See, children are the inheritance of Yahweh, and the child in the womb is God’s gift. As a strong hunter powerfully handles weapons; so the children of their youth are their strength. Those who have lots of children will be happily rewarded; and they won’t be publicly shamed, but will have an answer to their enemies’ accusations.” Christian couples should view children as a blessing and not as a burden. While most Christian families today strictly limit the number of children they have just like their secular counterparts, some chose to let God have more control of the number of children they have. If they use contraception at all, they use more natural forms or methods, such as natural family planning, and always with God’s guidance on when to use it. If they get pregnant unexpectedly, they are usually not devastated and view the coming child as an unexpected blessing. Due to the unselfishness of these couples, the divorce rate is usually much lower than when couples choose other forms of contraception for birth-control, who simply want more things and have less children to get them.
Many forms of man-made birth-control, and what is now called contraception (before conception) are, in fact, abortifacient (after conception), that is, they destroy a life which has already been conceived and begun to develop. If the contraceptive action of the pill or other hormonal method or the IUD fails, for example, the drug or device then acts by killing the early developing embryo during its first few days of life before implantation of the baby in the womb. These kinds of contraception are clearly abortifacient. Some argue that these forms of birth-control aren’t abortifacient in nature, because though they destroy the new embryo after conception, it is killed before implantation. They use the medical and legal definition of pregnancy, which is not from the point of conception as most Christians believe, but from the point of implantation, when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus. But Jeremiah 1:5 states,“Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you…”
While most hormonal forms of birth-control are in fact, abortifacient, natural family planning, which is a more natural, biological method of birth-control, is becoming more and more popular in the wider Christian community, not just among Roman Catholics. Natural family planning is a method of birth-control, which I have used in my reproductive years to detect ovulation and to prevent pregnancy. I was taught this method by a young Catholic woman, but I was a Southern Baptist, so I got a lot of criticism about it at the time. Most of my friends and acquaintances had no qualms about using hormonal birth-control methods, but I knew that they sometimes caused early abortions and chose not to use them. I spoke out about my convictions on birth-control methods, even when no one else was listening, because I felt so strongly about protecting the life of an unborn child. And God has blessed me with eight wonderful children over the years. So In an effort to spread the word to the larger Christian community, I would like to teach you some of the things I learned about natural family planning over the years. If you too are convicted about hormonal and man-made forms of birth-control, not to mention the dangers of taking them, then read on to find out more on this natural method.
During the menstrual cycle, several changes happen in a woman’s body, and by noting these changes, couples can plan when and when not to have sexual intercourse, depending on whether they want to get pregnant or not. During each menstrual cycle, a woman’s ovaries releases an egg cell, which is called ovulation. An egg can usually live from 12-24 hours, but it is usually best to not have sex for at least 48 hours before and after ovulation takes place. If the woman has sex during this time, she may become pregnant. If she doesn’t have sex and the egg isn’t fertilized by a sperm cell, it will die and flow out during the menstrual period. If a woman wants to conceive, she is most likely to become pregnant if sexual intercourse takes place within 24 hours before or after ovulation. There are two basic methods of natural family planning, which takes notice of these changes in a woman’s body.
The first is the mucus method, in which the woman’s cervical mucus is observed around the time of ovulation. A woman is most likely ovulating when the cervical mucus is clear and sticky like an egg white. If the mucus is placed between the thumb and forefinger, it will stretch somewhat. The second method is called the symptothermal method. In this method, the woman takes her temperature each day with a basal body temperature thermometer and records it on a calendar or chart. A woman’s temperature will rise about .9°F when ovulation takes place. The woman may also observe her mucus like with the mucus method. She may also take note of other changes, such as cramp-like pain near the ovaries and breast tenderness. In both methods, couples use a chart or calendar to keep track of the changes. These methods of birth-control can help a couple decide when and when not to have a child if they follow these steps carefully. Both methods can be from 90% to 98% effective if practiced correctly and consistently. If a couple doesn’t follow the steps correctly or consistently, these methods won’t be very effective for birth-control.
The rhythm method is another method of natural family planning, mainly based on calendar days recorded from earlier menstrual cycles. The rhythm method alone isn’t as reliable as the mucus method or the symptothermal method and is generally not recommended to those who have health risks where pregnancy is concerned. This method doesn’t allow for great changes in the menstrual cycle. Many women have menstrual cycles that are irregular, being longer or shorter than the 28 day cycle. A woman who has only mildly irregular menstrual cycles may still be able to tell when she is ovulating by watching for the changes in her body, as in the methods described above. Women who have regular menstrual cycles with approximately the same number of days each month can use the rhythm method to help them know when they are ovulating, usually 10-14 days after the first day of their period. If you want to get pregnant, you should have sex during this time, but if you don’t want to get pregnant, you should not have sex during this time or use some other form of birth-control. Most couples who don’t have fertility problems will become pregnant if they have sexual intercourse when the cervical mucus is most clear and stretchy.
These methods of birth-control can also be used for mothers who are breastfeeding their babies and are not yet having their monthly periods. In the last few years, lactation specialists have clearly denoted and named the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) of family planning. Their research shows that LAM’s effectiveness in preventing pregnancy is about 98 %. According to LAM, a mother can depend on breastfeeding for pregnancy prevention if her menstrual periods have not returned, and her baby is not yet six months old. If she is breastfeeding only and not giving bottles, breastfeeding at least every three hours during the day and six hours at night, then it is reliable to use this method while breastfeeding. Studies have shown that most mothers who are only breastfeeding and not supplementing with bottles are usually infertile for at least six months. Ovulation and menstruation usually returns only when the baby starts to eat solid food and nurses less often, when prolactin levels drop.
To delay ovulation a mother should breastfeed on demand without using a schedule. Nursing a baby six to eight times in a day will usually stop the process of ovulation. Mothers should nurse their babies at night, as the milk-making hormones that stop ovulation are highest at night. Co-sleeping with the baby helps mothers to breast-feed at night. Babies should not use any bottles or pacifiers, but should do all their sucking at the breast. Solid foods should not be part of the diet until the baby is six months old. The most important way to use breastfeeding as a way to delay fertility is to breastfeed often. Frequent feedings are necessary to keep prolactin levels high enough in the bloodstream to delay the return of ovulation. As the baby nurses less and less, prolactin levels drop and a mother becomes fertile again. Most mothers menstrual periods will return by six months, but some won’t for a year or two. Most don’t get pregnant before their first period, but about 5 % of women do ovulate before having their first period, so it’s possible for mothers to become pregnant while breastfeeding, even if they aren’t menstruating. Once periods return, mothers should take precautions if they don’t want to have another child at that time. Other natural family planning methods can be used at this time or mothers may decide to use another form of birth control.