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The Contraceptive Misnomer: Why Evangelicals Need to Re-evaluate Their Stance on Birth Control

The Contraceptive Misnomer: Why Evangelicals Need to Re-evaluate Their Stance on Birth Control

With all the furor generated lately concerning contraception and abortion, it would be very difficult for anyone who is even paying the slightest attention to not at least minimally reflect on these hot button issues. As Christ followers, it is not an unhealthy exercise to evaluate our own views on these topics.

Although the Catholic Church has traditionally viewed both abortion and most forms of contraception with the same disdain, most Protestants, including many evangelicals, have attempted and, to the most degree, succeeded in conveniently separating the two into two very distinct categories. There is, however, more overlap than most are aware.

Most Bible-believing, evangelical Christians would agree that the act of abortion is wrong and in essence equates to murder. Likewise, this same group would generally agree that the use of true contraception (meaning the actual prevention of conception) is not in and of itself wrong or sinful. Contraception has grown in scope as well as cultural acceptance over the span of the 20th and early 21st century. And while there is some disagreement amongst evangelicals concerning its appropriate (or inappropriate) use, the general consensus is that if conception does not take place, no harm was necessarily done.

Conception occurs when the sperm fuses with the ovum to create a fertilized egg, an independent genetically complete living entity. A contraceptive is anything that prevents the sperm from being introduced to the egg. There are many different physical and chemical types of contraceptives. The chemical contraceptive can be delivered by intramuscular injection, implantation, intrauterine device (IUD), topical patch, intravaginal ring, or most commonly an oral tablet.

Estrogen and/or progestin containing types usually prevent pregnancy by one of three different ways. The first and main way is by preventing ovulation, which in essence means no egg will be available to be fertilized by sperm. However, there are a few other ways in which they may work to achieve their goal. Cervical mucus may be changed which in turn increases the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus. And finally, the one Christians need to take note of, these agents may alter (or thin) the endometrium of the uterus, which in turn may prevent implantation of the fertilized egg. This occurs after the actual conception has already taken place. Hence the term contraceptive is not entirely accurate in each and every circumstance.

What was intended to be a contraceptive has now indirectly become an abortifacient. Although this may be a review for many, there is no doubt a majority that is completely oblivious to how this type of birth control works in its entirety and its potential ramifications. The emergency contraceptive Plan B has earned itself a negative reputation amongst the Catholic Church as well as many in the protestant faith as it's been deemed an equivalent to the abortion pill RU-486. However, Plan B works almost exactly the same as the contraceptives just discussed. Therefore, the two cannot logically be separated. Either the individual needs to accept both as morally acceptable or both as equivocally unacceptable. So do we as Christ followers accept a chemical technology that is more often than not used for the sheer convenience of "family planning," yet has the blatant blemish of potentially taking innocent life?

Concerning these types of contraceptives, the question is not one of probability. The probability lies with the prevention of ovulation and hence true contraception. Rather the issue is one of possibility. Although the probability may not be high, the possibility that innocent life is lost is a chance that we as Christ followers have no right to take. We are called to a much higher standard.


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