In a previous post, I discussed how Republicans aren’t absolutely pro-life. The reason pertains to their use of contraception when it comes to limiting pregnancies (or what many would call unwanted pregnancies). There wasn’t enough space, however, to get into why contraception opposes the pro-life agenda, why contraception is a contradiction of the pro-life agenda, and why it is that so many Christians can see the abominable nature of abortion but don’t see the problem with contraception.
So this post is devoted to the idea that the pro-life agenda and contraception are contradictions, and that those who hold to both are contradictory — though they may not know it.
why being pro-life and using contraception is contradictory
Why is it contradictory to be pro-life, yet use contraception? The answer is simple. Contraception means “against conception” and works to block the reproductive processes that lead to conception. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “contraception” as the “deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation.” The phrase “deliberate prevention” implies that a person has made a conscious choice to block pregnancy. This is the case for men, who wear condoms; for women, who use birth control pills and patches; for men who take advantage of the new male birth control pill; and women who use intra-uterine devices, or IUDs, to block unwanted pregnancy. Anything men and women use to block pregnancy and prevent conception is deliberate. It is a planned effort to prevent the consequences of sexual intercourse.
Evangelical Christians say they’re pro-life. They tell Democrats that, “if God is the Giver of Life, only God is the taker of life.” But if God is the only one who can give and take life, then isn’t God the only one who can block life or prevent conception, too? So if God is the only one who has the power over life and pregnancy, why is it that Christians attempt to usurp God’s power and sovereignty over pregnancy by deliberately attempting to block it? Isn’t this rebellion against God’s will?
Yes, it is rebellion against God. For what reason? It is rebellion because God has designed the body’s biological processes in such a way that, when the egg of a female and the sperm of a male meet, it could potentially produce a life (in its initial stage, a zygote). When Christian men and women use contraception to prevent pregnancy, they are, in effect, going against nature. They are doing something “against nature,” as Romans 1 says when it refers to “their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature” (Romans 1:26, NKJV).
We read in Romans 1:27 that the men “leaving the natural use of the woman,” that is, the sexual use, went to having sex with other males in same-sex sexual relationships. These are statements that evangelical Christians affirm as the Word of God. Many evangelical Christians would say that the idea of two men or two women having sexual intercourse, even if in a homosexual marriage, is “unnatural,” against nature. Yet, what about contraception? Since it is against conception, is it not against nature, unnatural, too?
Any time you do something that is “against nature,” against the way God made things, you are acting against God, in rebellion against God. So birth control, condoms, IUDs, pills and patches of various kinds that block conception and pregnancy are thus, unnatural and opposed to the divine will.
Onan dies for practicing contraconception (Genesis 38:8-10)
Onan, the second son of Judah and Shua, was next in line to take the wife of his brother Er. Er died because of wickedness (Genesis 38:7), and Onan was supposed to marry Er’s wife, Tamar, and go in to her and conceive a child. The child, however, would belong to Er in name, even though Er was a wicked man whom God killed and Onan would be the child’s biological father. Scripture says that “But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother” (Genesis 38:9, NKJV). He decided to let his sperm spill on the ground during sexual intercourse, rather than take a chance that he would impregnate Tamar. Onan didn’t want to not conceive a child; he simply wanted the child to be his. The child would be Er’s, his brother’s, because of the law of God. It was God’s law he rebelled against when he let his sperm fall to the ground. For his rebellion and “contraception” efforts, the Lord killed him (Genesis 38:10).
Now, we know that Onan is one case where God kills someone for trying to block pregnancy. But we also know that the Lord has designed the body to produce children. It was an unfortunate thing (it still is today, in the eyes of many) to be barren and unable to conceive children. God told Adam and Eve in Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), so we know that God designed marriage for the purpose of sexual intercourse and procreation. But, as we can see from Onan, the Lord was “displeased” that Onan would just have sex without thinking about procreation, reproduction.
Sexual intimacy was not for the purpose of mere pleasure. That seems to be what Onan was after. He didn’t want to produce a child with Tamar if it meant he wouldn’t receive credit for the child. Perhaps he thought it unfair, but God thought it wrong for Onan to not raise up seed to Er. Keep in mind that Er was a wicked man, yet the Lord still demanded that Onan “do the right thing” by his brother. Though Er was wicked, God made no exceptions in the law regarding brothers and fatherhood in Israel.
Onan decided to prevent conception with Tamar if he couldn’t have things on his terms. Christians who use contraception today do so under the same motive: they want pregnancy on their terms, and if they don’t want pregnancy, then they prevent it altogether. But Onan’s attempt displeased the Lord and he died for it. Christians don’t die for this today, but contraception is still opposed to the divine design. God made male and female bodies for the purpose of procreation; when humans come together in sexual intercourse, the divine purpose for it is realized and they can produce a child.
Some would say, “contraception serves a good purpose: it keeps the state from taking care of unwanted children, it prevents abortions from skyrocketing.” These things are true. Contraception, including birth control, has a social and societal benefit. It keeps families from struggling to take care of children they are unable to take care of. And yet, the ends (social benefit, aid to unwanting families) do not justify the means (contraception). Contraception stands or falls on its own, apart from the benefits or drawbacks. We don’t sin so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1), and thus we don’t sin by contraception to be socially responsible. And since contraception blocks God-designed biological processes, it is rebellious against God, opposed to the divine design and will, and is thus, anti-life. And Republican-voting Christians can’t be pro-life on one hand and anti-life (pro-contraception) on the other. To do so is to believe and live a contradiction.