Jump directly to the content
Tied Up in Our Own Preferencesdeovolenti / Flickr

Tied Up in Our Own Preferences


Jun 19 2014
How fear, not prayer, led us to choose sterilization… and regret it.

While the contemporary ability to determine one's family size is heralded as a mark of Western progress, that freedom carries with it moral and spiritual responsibility. Some branches of Christendom (most notably, the Catholic Church) have well-documented doctrinal positions about issues of reproductive technology and artificial means of birth control, many in the evangelical world default to silence on the issue of permanent sterilization.

When Hobby Lobby and others made headlines for seeking exemption from the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds, most of the coverage and conversation focused on birth control pills and abortion, though some businesses also opposed the sterilizaton requirements. Vasectomies and tubal ligations were an afterthought, if they were mentioned at all.

As an antidote to evangelicals' silence on the issue, I am not in any way advocating that church leaders direct couples about the number and spacing of their children. Instead, I see the value in coming alongside couples in search of godly wisdom in sharing stories and being willing to explore in prayer what God may be asking of them.

As Susanne Burden suggested in the recent Her.meneutics post When We Close Our Wombs, churches should "offer safe spaces for individuals to discuss the theological and personal reasons for ending our reproductive years." I wish my husband and I could have been a part of such a conversation when we were considering permanent sterilization decades ago.

At age 27, just hours after I gave birth to our third child, I had a tubal ligation. What most would call a wise and responsible choice on our part was actually a decision based primarily on our unprocessed, unvoiced fears. As a result, it left deep sorrow and regret in our lives. Our fears about the future led us to stumble toward a permanent decision based on our temporary circumstances. Fear is a crummy decision-making partner.

After discovering that baby No. 3 was on the way, my husband Bill and I commented that we were so exhausted from our day-to-day lives we couldn't even remember when or how the child could have been conceived. We had a two-year-old toddler and a five-month-old baby crammed in our tiny apartment. Bill was in school full-time and working full-time. I was babysitting for a neighbor's children in addition to caring for our own. We affirmed that children were a gift from God, but both felt that we'd reached our max capacity to receive any more gifts, no matter how wonderful they were. (When I expressed how overwhelmed I was by this unexpected pregnancy to my father, an unbeliever, he suggested we could "see someone to take care of the problem" since we were about to exceed the American ideal of two children per household. I told him flatly abortion wasn't an option.)

From: June 2014
Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
I Forgave My Teen Daughter’s Killer

I Forgave My Teen Daughter’s Killer

The gospel taught me that forgiveness is not a pardon.
Why We Want to Return to Stars Hollow

Why We Want to Return to Stars Hollow

The weirdest part of the Gilmore Girls hometown? How they did community right.
My Toddler Survived Brain Cancer—Here’s What I Learned

My Toddler Survived Brain Cancer—Here’s What I Learned

7 things you should know, from a mom who’s been there
Don’t Just Pray Alone

Don’t Just Pray Alone

The world is desperate for people to pray with.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

My Son’s Autism Changed Everything—Even Our Church

I came to see special needs families as an unreached people group.

Twitter

  • A message for the "IDK Not Trump Tho" crowd https://t.co/SCmztqnzpw
  • RT @thedalo: Why We Really Put Our Kids in Sports https://t.co/ZXMFzkLw9J
  • RT @spulliam: If you read that terrible "MEternity" piece, check out this hilarious response https://t.co/ywrhQekoLH via @loreferguson
  • Forgiving my daughter's killer: How restorative justice and Christian faith shaped one mom's perspective on tragedy https://t.co/1KwxDEunCd
  • @Tish_H_Warren I long to forgive as instinct, as way of life, not because I know it's the "Christian thing to do." What a story.


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Tied Up in Our Own Preferences