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An Evangelical Woman's Liberation from the Pill

An Evangelical Woman's Liberation from the Pill

By Chelsen Vicari
JUICY ECUMENISM
https://juicyecumenism.com/2015/11/11/an-evangelical-womans-liberation-from-the-pill/
November 11, 2015

In 1971, a Southern Baptist Convention resolution encouraging congregants to "work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother." This sentiment wasn't isolated to Baptists.

Today, faithful Evangelicals humbly admit we got abortion wrong back then. So, is it far-fetched to consider we are getting contraception wrong too?

Evangelicals often get a bad rap for not thinking through tough theological disputes deeply enough. Perhaps it's time to prove the stereotype wrong and commit to thoughtfully reconsidering our contraception mentality.

Contraception is a touchy subject that many Evangelicals find extremely difficult to discuss. Growing up within an Evangelical Protestant denomination, I assumed that when I married I would take the Pill and control the number of children my husband and I planned. Never once did I stop to consider how this mindset conflicted with my convictions. Never was this mindset questioned, at least not out loud, by the women in my family, the women in my church, or the ministry leaders I knew. It was almost as if Protestants were sworn to secrecy when it came to discussions about chemical and hormonal contraception.

In 2011, I began to question why all the secrecy. Through a course of experiences I'll explain in a bit,I started to wonder why a disconnect lay between Protestants and Catholics on such an important ethical, physical, and spiritual matter. The closer I ventured to marriage, the more I sought an answer to these question.

After a bit of research I was surprised to learn that up until 1930, Catholics and Protestants shared the same concerns over contraception. Then during the 1930 Council of Lambeth, the Anglican Church passed a resolution permitting married couples in grave danger to use contraception upon necessity. However, something seems to have gotten lost in translation because Protestants eventually swallowed this "hook, line, and sinker" acceptance of a contraception -- especially the Pill -- mindset. I humbly submit that it is time for serious reexamination by Evangelicals.

I hope that my contribution will offer you a glimpse into the ingrained mindset of an Evangelical young woman and what messages helped me to recognize the social, spiritual and physical consequences of the Pill.

Catholic friends, perhaps by sharing my story you will be encouraged and equipped to guide your Evangelical neighbors toward thinking deeply and getting to the spiritual, social and physical roots of contraception's problems.

Evangelicals must not simply reject the issue as "Catholic" but consider what the Bible, social science and medical science have to say. And then, as a Protestant friend advised me, we must be consistent in our approach.

Contraception mentalities are not easily altered, even with all the data available to us. But please don't give up on us. Evangelical Protestants need our Catholic brothers' and sisters' guidance when it comes to re-examining our use of chemical contraception (a.k.a., the Pill).

While I was still in the early stages of questioning chemical contraception, I attended a pro-life gathering of Evangelical leaders in Washington D.C. I was blessed to attend and so I took the opportunity to raise the ethical and spiritual issues with oral contraception. I asked the host, a prominent Evangelical leader, if Evangelicals' contraception mentality is a contributor to the abortion mentality.

"In other words, should Evangelicals reconsider our contraception mentality," I asked. Sadly, the Evangelical leader's answer motioned around "not conflating issues;" -- meaning, "We're talking about abortion so don't bring up contraception, Chelsen."

But in the realm of pro-life matters, this related and essential question matters to millions of Christian women and their spouses. To be fair, maybe during a one-on-one conversation this respected Evangelical leader would directly address my concerns. Perhaps he simply hesitated to make an off-the-cuff statement on contraception in public. But therein lies the problem.

Unfortunately, this Evangelical leader's attitude towards contraception tends to represent the overall consensus among Evangelicals. Just don't talk about it.

But praise God, what some younger Evangelicals (and many secular women and men) are slowly starting to recognize, is that the so-called "benefits" of birth control do not outweigh the enormous risks involved -- including spiritual, health safety and social risks.

There are three Ss which helped remove the scales from my eyes, when it came to the Pill. And I'd like to briefly go over the reality surrounding the Pill's spiritual, safety, and social impacts.

Safety

Many Evangelical women just do not know that some methods of artificial contraception can be harmful.

Health safety is a key issue of concern that we all share. We know how important it is to eat right, exercise routinely, and prevent toxins from entering our body. Writer Chrissy Wing in her article for Ethika Politika comically points out that many of us obsess over our health, yet aren't concerned over chemical contraception's impact on our health. She writes:

It is possibly the most common paradox I have seen. Eat the meat of a cow that has consumed synthetic hormones? No! Take them yourself via a highly concentrated white pill? Yes, please, but I can only wash them down with organic juice. Chemical free...The recent storm against GMOs are enough to make me think that if birth control didn't fall within the boundaries of 'women's reproductive rights,' it would have been banned long ago.

While in graduate school at Regent University, I first realized how many of my single Evangelical girlfriends were on the Pill. Over dinner at a Buffalo Wild Wings, several of girlfriends spoke candidly of the different brands available and which ones made them feel sick or emotionally ill. I was especially struck by how each young 22-23 year old woman casually acknowledged all the physical side-effects with the various brands they tried and how they skipped over to the next brand until they found one that didn't cause as many problems.

One of my friends would casually say, oh that brand made me sick to my stomach and gave me migraines. Another would say, while taking this brand she felt depressed and had serious mood swings. She didn't like the woman she was while taking chemical contraception. But each young woman was determined to continue bouncing from brand to brand searching for "the right Pill for them." It was that moment that a lightbulb went off in my head, and I knew something was off.

The medical and pharmaceutical communities aren't helping. They make light of chemical contraception's serious side effects and pressure young girls as young as 12-years-old to take birth control with lame excuses like acne clear-ups.

In reality, feeding the Pill to young girls before their bodies have fully developed is known to cause breast cancer. This fact alone should send a chill through every Evangelical.

Chemical contraception's link to breast cancer isn't the only physical side effect. Add to the list:
• Increased risk of heart attack
• Strokes
• More susceptible to growths, cysts and malignancies including:
o Ovarian cancer
o Liver cancer
o Skin cancer
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Urinary tract infections
• Epilepsy
• Asthma
• Pleurisy
• Arthritis
• Eczema
• Urticarial
• Chloasma
• Ulcers
Believe it or not, that's not the end of the list. "Regular" side effects include:
• Depression
• Nausea
• Fatigue
• Skin rashes
• Inflammation of the gums
• Breast tenderness
• Irregular menstruation complications
• Migraine headaches

There do exist some women with medical conditions requiring them to take the Pill in order to survive. For example, my friend Lisa would hemorrhage to death if she did not take the Pill. However, Lisa will tell you her condition is extremely rare. She is the exception, not the rule.
What's frustrating for me is how the medical community pressures young women to take birth control when totally unnecessary.
When I visited a gynecologist for the first time last year, during the initial consultation my new doctor asked me:

"Are you sexually active?" No.

"Do you have a boyfriend?" I told her I did not. She gave me a very distrustful look and then asked, "Are you on birth control?"

Really? I just expressed to this medical professional that I am not sexually active. Surely she understand by that logic, surely she can deduce that I do not need birth control. But alas she didn't get it. So I told her "No."

She told me, "Don't you think you should consider your options?

I told her, "No, thank you."

Society

Have you heard of Tinder? Or how about the more unheard of hook-up apps like Bleep, the forthcoming "Thrinder," which is the "Tinder for threesomes," and "Pure" which is described as the "Uber of dating apps." Blame the Pill.

Devout Anglican C.S. Lewis wrote, "Contraceptives have made sexual indulgences far less costly within marriage and far softer outside it than ever before, and public opinion is less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than it has been since pagan times."

Lewis makes a great point. Champions of the Pill aren't progressive. They are moving backwards, leading society back towards Pagan times.

The author of Grand Illusions, George Grant, wrote that early feminist heroine Margaret Sanger was on the ground floor of modern chemical contraception formulations during the 20s and 30s, she helped to fund a number of research projects. In 1950 she met a biologist named Gregory Pincus and Margaret invested over 2 million dollars over ten years into his work. By 1960 the Pill was given pharmaceutical approval by the FDA, after of course, "unprecedented media blitz and political lobbying campaign."

What's important to know about Margaret Sanger is that her priority was not women's health or reproductive "justice." Sanger was an admitted racist eugenicists. She founded Planned Parenthood in 1922 in order to regulate the reproduction of minorities, or what she called, "benign imbeciles who encourage the defective and diseased elements of humanity in their reckless and irresponsible swarming and spawning."

Fast-forward to today, and the Pill still presents a harmful social agenda. Responsible for birthing the sexual revolution, chemical contraception altered society's moral standards and diminished women's value by men. Mary Eberstadt, author of Adam and Eve After the Pill, explained that the sexual revolution "destigmatized and demystified" birth control, making it easier for money-hungry businessmen to objectify women's once-cherished sexuality.

Soon our photo-shopped bodies were plastered on the front pages of Cosmopolitan and Hustler, pornography became a $10-billion-dollar industry, and emergency contraception became a sex trafficker's best friend and out the door went men's accountability.

After reading Eberstadt's book, denouncing the Pill became a social justice issue for me. What Evangelical wants to adopt something that perpetuates the objectification or sex trafficking of women? Not this one.

Spiritual

By hook-line-and-sinker swallowing the Pill, Evangelical women and men are buying the lie that children are a nuisance, something to be avoided and that women's value is based on her job title, paycheck, and body image and the Pill can help her achieve all this. But the Pill directly conflicts with God's very first commandment given to man: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1:28)

The principle behind the Genesis passage declares family a vital part of humanity.

Southern Baptist leader Dr. Albert Mohler acknowledged this truth when he wrote, "We must start with a rejection of the contraception mentality that sees pregnancy and children as impositions...this contraceptive mentality is an insidious attack upon God's glory in creation, and the Creator's gift of procreation to married couples."

Here's what Evangelicals have missed: a strongly pushed, top-down effort among Evangelical church leaders to tell all pastors that they have an absolute moral duty to inform all couples to whom they give pre-marital counseling that they have a moral obligation to do their research, to avoid abortifacient birth control methods, seriously consider Natural Family Planning or Fertility Awareness Monitoring, and to also (down the road) avoid embryo-destructive fertility treatments like IVF -- and that for any Christian couple to do anything else would be unacceptably sinful. But I'd bet that at least 90 percent of pre-marital counseling by Evangelical pastors really drops that ball by never mentioning NFP as an option.

NFP is an option that many Evangelicals do not understand and some have never even heard about it. In fact, I was 25-years-old before a Catholic friend told me about this alternative to contraception.

Here is ground on which we can truly build an Evangelical-Catholic partnership, because if more married couples understood the benefits to natural family planning, then their uninhibited acceptance of chemical contraception might be reconsidered.

I'm not alone. Some younger Evangelicals are realizing key problems with contraception that we overlooked in the past. What I hope you, my dear Catholic neighbors, realize is that now is not the time to dismiss your Evangelical brothers and sisters as sold-out supporters of the Pill. We are learning, have more to learn, and it is you who can help teach us.

I have presented the common ground. Now, with continued research, discussion, and advocacy, together Evangelicals alongside Catholics can shed light on a contraception mentality that is damaging the lives of men, women and children everywhere.

Thank you.

These remarks were made by Chelsen Vicari November 7, 2015 at the Springtime of Faith Foundation Summit in Rome, Italy.

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