Sorting Things Out: This Christian’s Thoughts on Birth Control

Image courtesy of BrandonSigma / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of BrandonSigma / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday I scheduled an appointment to have a tubal ligation, and I’m not sure how I feel about the idea. I’ve been repeatedly told by my doctors not to get pregnant again because of my history with blood clots. In this post, I talked about how my nurse practitioner had basically lied to me by omission by placing an implant in my arm that she knew was an abortifacient, despite the fact that I’m pro-life. I had it removed a few weeks ago after I discovered the truth, and I was basically told you shouldn’t get pregnant again because you could die. You need to do something.

After many, many prayers, I decided to go ahead with the doctor’s recommendation, and schedule the surgery, which brings me to today.

I’m still not thrilled about this idea, and I keep going back and forth between two things: God’s sovereignty and the fact that God gave man the intelligence to intercede in situations like this. There tends to be two camps among Christians- the nothing beyond natural family planning faction and the birth control is okay as long as it is not an abortifacient faction. Of course, I have to be difficult and jump back and forth.

Here’s what I think:

Most of the people who are completely against man-made birth control believe that trust in God’s will trumps all, and I completely agree with that. But, what if…

We were created in God’s own image. Not only did He give us the intelligence to manufacture these products, but He also gave us all the resources we would need. Think about it. Plastic is considered to be a man-made product, but it is still made from products naturally found here on Earth. All man-made products are. What if He gave us this technology for a reason?

Now on to my bigger point- the NFP faction is probably reading this post, open-mouthed and wondering what I’m thinking. But I’ve got some honest questions for those people, and please keep in mind that I am alluding to the use of birth control as a life-saving medication/surgery, not to actually control the amount of children I’m blessed with. (That should be obvious. I’ve got eleven kids.)

– When you have a headache, do you take ibuprofin?
– If a family member would fall seriously ill, such as a heart attack, would you allow surgery?
– When your child has a fever, do you give him/her Tylenol?

Do you see what I’m getting at? Most people who are against birth control would probably admit that, yes, in those circumstances, they would use those medications/procedures. Those are man-made, aren’t they? I don’t understand what the difference is between using birth control because of valid health issues and getting an angioplasty for a heart attack. Why is one okay while the other is not? I’m on blood-thinners for a DVT I had over the summer. Am I failing to trust God by taking these everyday? No, I am trusting that He knew what He was doing when He gave man the intellectual capacity to create these things. Are they all good? Of course not, but that’s why we have to exercise discernment when choosing to use them.

Now on to the other side of the argument. God is sovereign and omniscient. He knows what’s going to happen already. He also has a plan for me and my children. What if He has a plan for a child I haven’t had yet? And, as a good friend pointed out to me- God already knows when your time is up. Regardless of what you choose to do, He will take you when it’s your time. Period.

And now I’m back to where I started from. I may have scheduled the appointment, but I’m far from sure that I’ll go through with it. I’ve got three weeks to decide.

Have any of you been through this? I really need to get this sorted out.

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Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

47 thoughts on “Sorting Things Out: This Christian’s Thoughts on Birth Control”

  1. What a tough decision! I will be keeping you in my prayers. These things are tricky to know exactly what is God’s will.

    But sometime’s He lets us decide from one of more than one good choice. It’s not like you are considering this because you are anti-babies..hehe.

    If this IS God’s will for you…He will help you feel peace with your choice. You said that you have had “many, many prayers” and that is what made you “decide to go ahead with the doctor’s recommendation” to have the surgery.

    Trust God. Trust yourself. Keeping you in my prayers..❤

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  2. I am against birth control, not for any religious reasons, but simply I have yet to find anything outside of condoms that doesn’t come with side effects, sometimes dire. So I don’t have any thing to offer on the philosophical side other than you have 11 children who need a Mother.

    Would God ask you to risk your children not having a Mother?!?

    As a woman who did the research when I wanted to ensure I would not have more children we opted for vasectomy over tubal ligation. Vasectomy was cheaper, less invasive, required only regional anesthetic and came with very little risk of long term issues, as apposed to tubal ligation. Just something to consider. It is, however, not as immediately effective as tubal ligation. I believe it was 5 years before it was as effective as tubal ligation will be almost immediately.

    Whatever you choose, I think religious reasoning should be put aside, if it goes against what is best for your family. It doesn’t sound like having another child would be best for your family. Ok, maybe I did have an opinion, but you did ask.

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      1. And another thing that I didn’t mention is that I’m also hesitant because the surgery could increase my risk of getting another DVT, although the risk would be higher if I got pregnant.

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  3. “Regardless of what you choose to do, He will take you when it’s your time. Period.”

    Yes, but you don’t let your children play on a busy street, you take them to the doctor when their sick, get well exams, take vitamins. Taking precautions to stop preventable death is not the same thing, in my opinion.

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  4. What a difficult decision for you! Although I’ve not been in this particular situation (I had the opposite problem!) I did have trouble becoming pregnant with a second child due to a lack of ovulation. After a several years of trying and lots of prayer, I decided to take try a fertility medication. My husband was hesitant about this at first and had stated that if God had wanted us to have another child I would have already been pregnant by then. And maybe that was true. However, my argument was that if I had cancer would my husband want me to do medical treatments or would he put his faith in God alone to heal me? And don’t get me wrong, I know that God has the power to heal without medical intervention. I know some people would go with option two, no medical intervention. And that is completely fine! But my personal opinion is that God has given people the knowledge and ability to become aware of medical issues and find responsible ways to correct them. I don’t know if that came out right but that’s the best I’ve got! I hope you find peace with whatever choice you make. Good luck!

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      1. If you’ve already received peace from God about your decision, then maybe you should just cling to the memory of that and not let satan and the tumult of the world interfere. (Easier said than done, I know! Lol)
        Good luck! I’ve been in your shoes – but with only 6 kids… Lol
        I will pray that you can find that peace again.

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  5. Is strict NFP possible with condoms as a backup—I know that now that I am…older…bleh ;)…my cycles are trickier. That combined with breastfeeding mean a lot of abstaining. I am Catholic, so when it comes down to it my husband and I just can’t go against Church teaching.

    As an RN, the first questions that popped into my mind were about the birth control they implanted in your arm. Wasn’t it acting hormonally to prevent pregnancy? If so, blood clots were most likely a significant risk from that form of birth control. Why is that safer than a pregnancy? I am not asking you these questions, but more asking the medical community who seems to think I am nuts for having 9 kids. That was just some rambling thinking I had.

    I have personally had 2 very severe almost allergic type reactions to Rhogam shots. I used to get them at 28 weeks pregnant and then right after delivery. I no longer get them, and thank God have still not made antibodies against rh+ blood, so I am still safe to have a baby. Doctors really freak out that I decline the Rhogam, which was a big factor in my last 3 births being at home with a midwife. My husband and I have talked about what we would do if I ever did make antibodies. Would we be very, very strict about NFP and trust God if I did become pregnant that my body wouldn’t attack the baby’s blood system? Would we consider a tubal or a vasectomy? Ugh, hard stuff. Catholics believe St. Joseph was called to celibacy with Mary. Would we have that strength? I don’t know. I know God can get us through anything. We did sort of come to the conclusion that if we had to make a permanent decision—not sure if we could—we would choose vasectomy over a tubal. With tubal, there is a risk of tubal pregnancies in the future and it would make me really sad to think my tubal ligation caused a baby to implant wrong and not be able to live.😦 If the vasectomy didn’t work, all we would have is another baby.

    I also know God is merciful and loving and knows how hard you are trying to make the right decision. I will pray for you. God bless.

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      1. I didn’t feel judged at all. I appreciate your thoughts. The implant in my arm did not use estrogen, so supposedly it would not increase the risk of clots. However, I got another DVT two months after having it implanted, and I recently found out that a rare side effect of this method is, indeed, blood clots.

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  6. Hey there! As someone in the NFP camp here are my thoughts. Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc are to fix problems. Fertility is not, and neve is a problem/ abnormality. My question is, what is the source of these blood clots?!? What can we do about those? I am so sorry you are suffering from this medical condition, but the answer is to get to the bottom of it. That being said, if you at having a procedure for an illness and a side effect is infertility, there is nothing wrong with that. The point is that you are not purposely trying to render yourself infertile to avoid having children, which potentially would interfere with Gods plan, does that make sense? In regards to the man made birth control, I agree with so one above who talks about horrific Side effects, plus the whole Gods sovereignty thing. Men make many things that should not be used, like nuclear bombs. God has graced us with the gift of science, which allows us to practice the sympto thermal method of nfp, which in many published studies boasts a success rate higher or as high as artificial birth control. Anyways, those are my thoughts, God bless you! Praying for you and your health!

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    1. They’re really not sure why I get them because I don’t have a clotting disorder. It’s possibly from the elevated hormones during pregnancy and some varicose veins that I have.

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  7. I can see how this must be such a challenging situation.

    Prayer. Prayer. Prayer.

    I sincerely believe God opens and closes doors for us. He is good and gives us free will but if we are connected to Him, his will and plans for us becomes a bit clearer. Sometimes we have to act on what we think we must do but we need to ask Him to correct us if it is not what His plans or intentions are for us.

    I will be praying that you find the clarity you need in this decision and that God will provide you the grace to go forward with any decision you make.

    Blessings and love.
    xoxo

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  8. Wow. I love the promises of the Bible that don’t leave any room for confusion. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and He will give liberally to any who will ask” (In James somewhere…)
    I had a TL when I was 25 because I stood the chance of having a very deformed child because of a genetic condition I got from my mom. I made that decision very early–turns out I would have ended up with kids from a horrible marriage too. Was God sovereign then? Could He have protected me from having a child who would suffer on this planet? Did I take any of that out of His hands? Hmmm…I don’t think it is that simple, I really don’t. This has to be a personal thing for you. And, when all else fails, find a Biblical precedence for making your decision. It is YOUR decision. We weigh in because we can see what you may not be able to see. I think the sovereignty of God would be very difficult to explain to 11 children who could lose their mom–we, and all of our decisions–are sometimes the only God some people will ever see. When people see Christians with real life struggles and live them out in front of the real world, God will show up, I promise you that.
    Praying for you!

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  9. God is sovereign: he’s told you clearly that as long as you’re fertile, your life is in danger. And you can save it, just like if you were told to get an angioplasty for your heart. Pray, then act. I think the peace you had after you made the appointment is HUGE. Phillipians 4…the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus and all that🙂

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  10. It sounds as though you have gotten some excellent wisdom in the comments above. I concur with the belief that God gives us choices and resources, and expects us to use the common sense and good judgement He’s given us to navigate the messy waters of this imperfect life.

    I had a TL quite young as I had medical conditions that made it unwise in health terms to get pregnant. Doing so has allowed me to maintain my health, be the best possible wife, and be a blessing to the children of friends & family. I have never regretted that decision. I firmly believe that while those in the NFP-only-at-all-costs camp mean well, their arguments largely cease to be applicable to those with medical conditions that take them beyond simply preventing pregnancy for convenience’s sake.

    God has given you eleven children and a husband – I pray that you will embrace His peace in knowing that through this choice you are doing the very best you can with what you have to be a good steward of those blessings and a good servant where He has placed you. After all, He is God! If he wants you to have another child, He can bring one to you regardless of your choices, biologically, through adoption, or otherwise! 🙂

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  11. I have a slightly different take. My husband had a vasectomy immediately after the birth of our third child. We had three babies under four years old! I was *done*– and part of that exhaustion came from very high risk, very scary pregnancies requiring bed rest from 27 weeks onward, plus medication to keep the babies inside. They were not beautiful, peaceful pregnancies AT ALL, and I was advised to stop getting pregnant. We agreed, the vasectomy happened, and we moved on.

    Several years later, when my heart was in a different place, I began to mourn and second guess. What I always came back to, however, was the doctor’s recommendations. There was no “better” “easier” way for me to “do” pregnancy, so we made the right choice. Except– both my husband and I longed for more.

    Praying and believing this was from The Lord, we adopted. After all, there’s more than one way to grow your family!

    Then, we found out that medical science had finally caught up with my body.🙂 A protocol now exists that makes it possible for me to carry babies to term with no more complications than your relatively “average” woman. So guess what? We did the reversal, walked another long journey (to much to tell here) and finally have given birth to two additional biological children.

    SO– all of this to say… God IS sovereign. He DOES have a plan. And a “no” now may someday turn into something else all together. When I read your post, I was reminded, “See, I am doing a new thing.” Maybe this is your “new thing” in Christ. I believe that He will make it clear for you, and I am honored to pray alongside you!

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  12. You are in the exact same place I was in 13 years ago. We had never used birth control. We had 8 children. Bethany had just come home from 2 months of brain cancer treatment. We still didn’t know if she would live. My father had just passed away, and my mother had just had a stroke and was living with us. I became terrified that if I got pregnant I would have to choose between leaving a new born at home or leave Beth dying in a hospital. I was literally having a nervous breakdown. After agonizing over it like you are now, we decided to use birth control. It didn’t work! Jeremiah was born and we are so thankful now. But my husband decided to get a vasectomy after that. I am so glad that he did because eventually my spine issues got so much worse. I would have potentially had 4 or 5 more pregnancies and be totally disabled and unable to care for any babies. God will understand whatever you choose to do. He will never leave you or forsake you- tubal ligation or not!

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  13. I am so interested in this, because my situation is similar. I have Factor V Lieden mutation, which makes me more likely to suffer a blood clot. I have never had a blood clot, however. I do have varicosities, which have gotten a lot worse during my last two pregnancies. I have also had frightening experiences during labour and delivery — in my first, I hemorrhaged and needed blood transfusions, and in my fourth, I did not deliver the placenta and it had to be manually removed. And I have arthritis, which seems to get much worse in each pregnancy, and doesn’t really go away after. On the other hand, if God has more babies for me, I would hate to not have them. So I am in a similar position to yours.

    I am dead set against abortificants, as are you, but I am also against TL. It seems so definite a move against having children — is it a mutilation of the body against God’s design? Right now, we are using withdrawal and breastfeeding, even though we both know it is by no means a certainty. By the time I wean the baby, we would like to have come to a real decision about what we are going to do. The choice for us comes to whether we should do nothing at all, NFP, or condoms.

    I hope you don’t feel I am judging you at all with respect to the TL. That is certainly not my intent. The Bible doesn’t specifically speak on this issue, so it is a matter of personal conviction. If you are praying for God’s will on the issue, and willing to follow His leading, I am sure that you will do what is best for you and your family. It’s not an easy decision at all, and I will be praying for wisdom for you as I pray for wisdom for myself on this issue.

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  14. I had a tubal after my second child was born. I had no health issues that would endanger my life or that of another child. After praying about it, my husband & I felt at peace that two children were enough for us. I suppose this would put me in the “convenience” category. I choose to refer to it as the “common sense” category in that I wanted to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom & still be able to afford to raise my children without depending on an income from me or on handouts. I know a lot of churches teach against birth control, but personally, after reading & studying the Bible for years, I’ve never seen anything that fully backs the teaching. Maybe someone could enlighten me. At any rate, I believe the choice we made was the right one for us. Yes, as a woman who loves being a mother, I sometimes think I would like to have had more. But do I feel guilty or that I’ve somehow misaligned myself in God’s plan for my life by having a tubal? No. Would I feel that way from using any form of birth control outside of abortion, i.e. abstaining, withdrawing, using condoms, strategically planning intercourse around ovulation dates, etc. No. What if I had married and begun reproducing a year earlier/later? What if I hadn’t told my husband that ONE particular time that I just really wasn’t in the mood? Any minute change on our paths to this point could’ve changed where we are now. God gave us common sense & HIS Word to guide us. Saying a prayer for you to maintain peace with what I think you already know is God’s will for you.

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  15. Shelly,

    You wrote this post some days ago so maybe you have already made your decision. It’s a tough decision. I admire you for being so open.

    I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, when our youngest child was about 2 years old. I ended up in an emergency situation. When I was stable, I had surgery and then I needed a blood transfusion. I was weak for many weeks afterwards. I was told another pregnancy would probably end the same way and could be life threatening. It’s a scary situation to be in, isn’t it? Yes, our children need a mother. Our husbands need wives. My husband and I talked everything over. We decided to use NFP to avoid another pregnancy. If in doubt we abstained. I think this was good for our relationship. We care enough about each other to hold back when we have to. Quite a a few years down the track, I am glad we made that decision. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my experience.

    Praying will help you make the best decision, I’m sure. I shall pray for you!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Sue. I’m so glad it’s worked out for you, and I’m sorry for your loss. I think the thing holding me back from NFP is that it seems so complicated and time consuming with all the charting and everything. Maybe I should research it some more.

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  16. Have you talked with your pastor? There is a wide range of perspectives represented here, but to have true peace, you need the security of Scripture. A pastor or skilled Biblical counselor can help you see the principles and promises involved. I have always been sad for friends who make these decisions without any input. You are doing the right thing, asking for counsel! And God does give wisdom. I can see this very situation as Him asking you to rest in Him, even when everything seems confusing.

    I will pray for you. And I have to say, if you can homeschool, you can do NFP charting! There are even some free apps that you can use, if you are the smartphone/tablet type. It does take some research and learning, but not nearly as much as some people seem to claim.

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    1. I have talked to my pastor’s wife. I’ve gotten excellent advice from so many people and prayed some more. I’m much more at peace, even though I still haven’t decided 100%. Thank you so much for your support!

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  17. Hi, I had a tubal ligation in 2008, one of the worst decision I have ever made. It has many side effects for some women. My hubby blogged about our decisions with birth control. I also have a blog about my tubal ligation experience.

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