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Churches pushing contraceptives on their singles? Yikes! I picture condom vending machines in church restrooms, or a young adult rite of passage in which purity rings are exchanged for NuvaRings. I was part of the Q panel on reducing abortion; folks working in higher education (that would be me), research, crisis pregnancy support, and adoption offered many ideas for reducing abortion. One was that churches take a both-and approach to abortion reduction: both uphold premarital chastity as the biblical ideal, and encourage and educate unmarried singles about the effective use of contraception. Encouraging, not pushing. Educating, not affirming.

This may sound like a compromise (it certainly does to me), but consider where years of abstinence absolutism have left us. The National Association of Evangelical's Generation Forum presents data that says 4 out of 5 Christians aged 18-29 have had sex, many within the last year. About 1 in 3 unplanned pregnancies among evangelicals end in abortion. People aren't "just not doing it," and the consequences are severe. There are many ways to reduce abortion; a few obvious ones come to mind immediately: promote abstinence and earlier marriage, and cultivate church and para-church supports for crisis pregnancies. Encouraging contraception is hardly the first, best, or only way to respond to premarital sex that may lead to unintended pregnancy, but it is a valuable tool in the abortion reduction toolkit.

Now, if I were an unmarried Christian considering sex in my intimate relationship, church would not be my go-to place for contraceptive consultation. Information is readily available online, from peers, a doctor, or a local drugstore. By presenting young adults with choices that shut down ...

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April 2012

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