I read with sad fascination this article which addressed the current debate of whether or not the church should help reduce abortions by encouraging its singles to use contraception.
The article reports the following disturbing news:
In a breathtaking moment of unity, however, conference attendees affirmed that churches should advocate for contraceptives for the single people in their midst. After a panel discussion on the best ways to reduce abortions in the church (tacit answer: contraception), an instant poll put the question to attendees: “Do you believe churches should advocate contraception for their single twentysomethings?” The question is ambiguously worded (Advocate how? From the pulpit? Which twentysomethings? All of them?). But even so, 70 percent of respondents understood enough to say “yes.”
Spiritual leaders in this nation actually affirmed the idea that a way to combat abortion in the church was to encourage sexually active singles to use contraception. This is doubly disturbing because:
- Sexual activity among singles in a church should not be an issue we condone by telling those engaging in it now to minimize the “consequences.”
- Most hormonal forms of contraception is actually abortive (we addressed that in this blog; please click here for more information).
The article itself from Christianity Today also disagrees with the results and points out the same inherent flaws I’m addressing here, but what concerns me is that the “unity” among those in leadership. Q isn’t a fringe conference for some denominations that support abortion rights; rather, it is a large gathering of many evangelicals.
Touted as a meeting place for “cultural leaders” the Q conference isn’t the problem, the ideology of a majority of its attendees is. Sin doesn’t suddenly cease to become less sinful because people commit more of it. The attitude of these leaders seems to be “well, they’re going to do it anyway.” In fact, I read several comments in regards to this use that declared that in our current culture, people are getting married later and it’s an unreasonable expectation to tell church members to remain celibate.
I am well past the age that women tend to get married even in today’s culture. I have never been married, and I practice celibacy. Dating isn’t something I consider doing for “fun” because the point of dating is marriage. Therefore, I practice a lifestyle that avoids the situations that could tempt me to sin. Even if I didn’t, telling me to compound my sin by making it easier and then possibly using abortifacients is an appalling “solution.”
This article from the Huffington Post reports on Q, as well as a conference on sexuality between Mercer University (Baptist) and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Noting that the National Association of Evangelicals reports 80% of evangelicals have participated in premarital sex, the reports cites the Q conference, then notes:
A “Sexuality and Covenant” conference this week (April 19-21) co-sponsored by Mercer University and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship includes on its agenda the statement that “marital sexual relationships” are not available for many Christians. (See session 5 in this link)
This last comment intrigues me. A marital sexual relationship is not “available” to me, so I don’t have sex. The phrasing of that statement makes it sound like there is a shortage of a need so we need to compensate for it.
This entire discussion framed around Q and the later sexuality conference seems designed to take the easiest route out of the battlefield and embrace the cultural norm for preventing pregnancy: birth control to reduce abortion.
Combating abortion in the church isn’t going to happen by endorsing abortifacient birth control with a weak justification that since singles might sin anyway, we should help “prevent” the problem. Acknowledging a sinful lifestyle is just “how it is now” is agreeing with the kingdom of darkness that sin can be relative to situations. Further, by trying to reduce the problem, we send a message that a baby is only a blessing if it’s a desired baby that comes through marriage and a couple’s want. Psalm 127:3 reminds us
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Our attempts to circumvent babies as a problem to be managed by birth control, whether inside or outside of marriage, really says that we don’t trust the Lord to plan our futures—and that He probably didn’t account for cultural shifts when that old Bible was written so we need to take it into our own hands.
David Gushee, director of Mercer’s Center for Theology and Public Life, told the Huffington Post:
“Maybe there is a trend, realizing that ‘just say no’ and True Love Waits is not enough, that we need a more thorough, more comprehensive and more realistic conversation that goes ahead and deals with the realities that we face in our time,” he said, “while attempting to ask what does the Lord require of us in this area.”
The issue I have with this question is that we don’t need to ask the Lord what he requires of us in this area because He’s already told us. If the “don’t have sex until you’re married” messages aren’t hitting home in our churches, it may be that the legalistic no-no’s aren’t connecting anyone to the heart of a loving Father and bridegroom who designed sex as an expression of a covenant flowing out of His love for us. The key is not preaching the no-no’s but embracing the yes of God and His over flowing heart and emotions toward His creation.
It’s not often churches preach on abortion these days, other than in passing. I heard my first ever sermon on abortion in the context of a local church this year (I’ve been in church most of my life). So perhaps before we endorse abortifacients and condone sexual activity outside of marriage, we should begin addressing the core issues, such as God’s heart toward the shedding of innocent blood, the reality of what hormonal birth control does , and above all, the deep love of a Father who created us and knows a whole lot more about what’s good for us than we do without Him. This discussion is in relation to church culture. It seems in that case, our time would be better spent teaching the truth about abortion, contraception and, above all, what true intimacy with the Lord means. When we have a pure love for Jesus, the question of how much we can sin becomes a moot point.
And so should endorsing birth control for singles within the church.