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Let's Talk About (Protected) Sex

Jan 15 2014
The overblown notion that evangelicals are obsessed with birth control.

If you follow religion news, particularly on blogs and Twitter, it'd be easy to assume that evangelicals are obsessed with birth control. In 2013, we saw them condemn the expanded availability of the morning-after pill, call for religious exceptions to contraception coverage, and debate whether oral contraceptives can cause abortion.

But that's the news, the policy level. When it comes to our churches, youth groups, and marriage-prep courses, birth-control methods don't get top billing. In fact, it seems they rarely get mentioned—good or bad.

Take this from a married, churchgoing 25-year-old with two wonderful but unplanned children.

In the contraceptive debate, the Catholic Church's stance rings loud and clear, but evangelicals have a far less direct approach. The Catholic Church relies primarily upon the Humanae Vitae, a document that outlines doctrine on marriage, parenthood, and the rejection of most forms of birth control. With no such consensus, the evangelical church remains disunified and without a clear voice on these subjects. The Pill? Condoms? Natural family planning?

Our lack of discussion on this topic doesn't sit well with the next generation of husbands, wives, and parents. After all, millennials want to know how faith influences the more basic, practical aspects of their lives. "One of the specific criticisms young adults frequently make about Christianity is that it does not offer deep, thoughtful, or challenging answers to life in a complex culture," says Barna Research's David Kinnaman.

My husband and I grew up in an age where a plethora of contraceptive options were available to us, but when we decided to forgo birth-control pills for health reasons, we didn't know what to try next.

Religious and secular 20-somethings alike are in a similar predicament. A recent survey at Duke University documented that almost a third of women between the ages of 15 and 24 have relied on the withdrawal method as their primary birth control. In response to the study, New York Magazine published an article entitled, "No Pill? No Prob. Meet the Pullout Generation," which details the disillusionment of the millennial generation with the Pill.

We spent the week of our honeymoon raiding the aisles of CVS for every barrier method. We considered these the "safer" route in terms of both our theological convictions and my health issues. After long discussions on our theology of sex, we felt that barrier methods provided assurance that birth control wasn't being used as an abortificient.

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