Are we really Pro-Life?

Posted By on February 1, 2011

An excellent, thought-provoking piece from Valerie at In Faith and Purity:

Let’s be clear and make no confusion about my heart on this. I am not saying at all that if you use birth control of any kind, you are pro-abortion. I know many different families with many different views on children, and I know how much each one of them loves the Lord. I try and support all my friends in their personal decision that are between them, their husbands, and God.

But I cannot get away from the hypocrisy of it all when it comes to the pro-life movement in general.

Some of the women I knew, who I KNOW are pro-life, were so horrified when they found out my husband and I were getting a reversal and decided to let God bless us with more children. As many as He wanted actually. They were absolutely disgusted. How can I translate that with their STAUNCH pro-life stance? I just can’t.

I volunteered as a counselor/client advocate at a crisis pregnancy resource center and all the while, my hope was that I could encourage, love on, and bring hope in the name of Christ to some of these hurting women. Not all women who came in wanted abortions, some just wanted a free pregnancy test. But some, whom I will never forget, where hurting, and scared, and desperately wanted to keep the baby, but didn’t know how to make it work. They reminded me so much of myself at nineteen, pregnant, unmarried and scared to death , when I too had to walk in to a crisis pregnancy center because I couldn’t even afford the ten dollar test. I remember the feelings of fear, hurt, and joy that you experience all at the same time when you find out your are expecting a VERY unplanned ill-timed pregnancy.

Read the entire piece here.

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About The Author

Jennie is the wife of Matthew and mother of ten children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.

Comments

13 Responses to “Are we really Pro-Life?”

  1. Amber says:

    What a wonderful piece! We’ve recently let go of trying to control the amount of children we have in the future, and I can’t even express how freeing that has been! Sure it scares me to think about having 10 or 15 or …, BUT I don’t have to think about that right now… I just have to take one (or two or three, God willing) at a time. But I have never thought about the pro-life thing! It is so true. I believe that taking control of our wombs is disobedient but I just never thought so far into how many women truly aren’t as “pro-life” as they say. I’m really wanting to share this on Facebook, but a little worried about the backlash. I don’t think many people appreciate my views on things so far :).

  2. Lydia says:

    But how do we get young women to listen, to the older women? I hate for so many to be deceived, about the “pill”. When will children truly be valued in our churches?

  3. heatherly says:

    Hey there,

    I am 24, married, and don’t have any children yet…but boy to I want them! The thing is, though, I have been married for 4 years and don’t have children by choice. I am completely against the pill, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure using other forms of contraception necessarily means that you don’t trust God. Isn’t that like saying that you don’t trust God if you wear a seat belt? Or if you wear a helmet? “It is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” If you are irresponsible and get pregnant out of wedlock, then yeah, keep the baby and God will provide for you because He has mercy despite your mistake. Don’t add to your sins by adding murder to the list. However, what if you are married, but poor as dirt and still in the process of setting up your life for you and your future children? God gave us the ability to reason. He gave us the ability to plan safely so that we don’t bring too many children too soon into a life that isn’t ready for them yet. I trust God completely to help me with whatever comes my way, but I might be a little presumptuous to say, “hey, lets operate without a safety net, God will pick up the pieces.” I think of my future children when I use a condom because I know that life for them would be that much harder if I let myself get pregnant before my husband and I have a means to support them. We are living in campus housing right now, unemployed (desperately trying to remedy that), and putting all our trust in God to provide for us. It would be completely unfair to the child to bring him/her into that. In my personal situation, I might even go so far as to say it would be reckless.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Heatherly. I think it really boils down to our view of children. If God called children “accidents” or “mistakes,” then we would be justified in trying to avoid having them (or at least having them when we felt they wouldn’t cause too much damage). But God never compares children to accidents, head injuries, or anything remotely close. He calls them blessings from the beginning of His Word to the end. In fact, in Deuteronomy 28, when He listed the blessings He would shower on Israel if they were faithful to Him, He placed children (blessings of the womb) before material things (blessings of the fruit of the ground). Nowhere does God tell us to make sure we are well-off before we accept the blessing of children; children are, in fact, wealth.

    When we ask ourselves if we can “afford” children, I think we tend to ask from a very Western perspective. My family lives in Kenya among some of the poorest people on earth. In talking with women living in Kibera slum and in other places with some of the worst levels of poverty, I have been struck over and over again by how proud they are of their children and how thankful they are to have them. In a long conversation with a Kenyan pastor who ministers to the neediest here, he mentioned that mothers in the slum ask for better pre-natal and maternal care–never birth control or abortion. They see children as their wealth, their hope, and their future. So he built a medical clinic in the heart of the slum after digging out 2 acres of garbage 12 meters deep. It took him five years just to get to the ground so he could start building. He now has created three schools for impoverished children in the slum as well as the medical clinic, which provides women with excellent pre-natal care and obstetric services–but no birth control. The women do not want it. And it’s not because they are ignorant about the problems of bringing children up in poverty. Most of them were raised in poverty themselves. But their children are now building on the foundation they’ve received from the efforts of Kenyan Christians in the slum and moving on so they can better their own situations and care for their parents. In short, these children are blessing their parents.

    The world would love to convince us that children are unbelievably expensive, difficult to raise, and costly in just about every way. But that’s not God’s perspective. And it’s really a matter of worldview. Many more articulate writers have discussed this here and elsewhere, breaking down the financial myths surrounding children. Kelly Crawford has these posts on her own blog:


    We Don’t Love Children, We Love Drywall

    Can I Afford More Children?

    Stacy McDonald has these:

    Planned Barren-hood
    Just Another Mouth to Feed

    Please understand: in sharing these, I am not accusing you of wrongdoing or condemning you. I only hope to encourage you to examine your thinking through the lens of Scripture rather than through the world’s so-called “wisdom.” My own parents stopped having children after their third, because a doctor filled them with fears about my mother’s health (which, it turned out, was just fine) and about how they’d be able to provide for any more on my father’s self-employment wages. When I was 13, my parents sat my brother, sister, and me down and wept tears of anguish that they had listened to such counsel. They read through the Scriptures with us and encouraged us to know that we were all blessings to them and that they were sorry for turning down further blessings from God. Dad reminded us that God provides for His people and that we must always trust in Him–not in money, just as Proverbs 23:4-5 reminds us: “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” That afternoon had a profound impact on my life. My husband and I could have spent five years laying up a nest egg before having children–only to have that wealth go up in smoke with the stock market crash. Money is no guarantee of security or stability. Never will be. God’s promises, however, are rock-solid guarantees. So I’d encourage you to dig deeply in the Word and ask God how He views children…and what the prerequisites are to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are not what the world would have us believe! There are many, many miserable wealthy children in this world and many, many happy impoverished children. Money is no guarantee of happiness or success. Does it help? Indeed. But it’s only a tool–not a goal. May the Lord help us all to keep our eyes on Him and remember that His blessings truly satisfy.

    The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. ~ Proverbs 10:22

  5. Candice says:

    Thank you Jennie for your sweet and gentle response to Heatherly’s post. I so deeply appreciate the wise counsel I receive from this site and various other resources connected through you all here. Your hearts are not full of judgement and condemnation but simply a desire to share with ladies like me what the Lord has placed on your hearts and how you live out your obedience to His word. Thank you for the example. Such a difficult subject to speak on but so necessary in our world today because of the worldly influence that has clouded the judgement of many believers, myself included. Having resources like LAF is a huge blessing to me because of the lack of Titus 2 type philosophies in the church today. Thank you again, and please keep gently and sweetly bringing us back to the word and the joy and peace we find in it through true trust in his perfect will.

  6. Heatherly,

    Though Jennie has already done a beautiful job addressing your concerns, I wanted to add a thought or two, as your comment reminds me very much of my thoughts about children not too many years ago.

    Even from Scripture, it’s interesting to note that at one point the Lord urged His people, the children of Israel, specifically to have more children. It was when they were smack in the middle of their worst circumstances–in poverty, slavery and bondage to the Egyptians. If there were ever a time, from a human standpoint, to NOT bring children into the world, that probably would have seemed it.

    But children are one way which the Lord uses to remedy our circumstances, instead of make them worse, as we often think they will.

    For us, remembering God’s promises has proven enough. “Why do you worry about what you will eat or what you will wear? Don’t you know that I know you have need of these things?” Where we are tempted to say it’s “reckless” to receive the heritage God wishes to give us, He says, “Oh ye of little faith! I know how to care for My own.”

    I think God would do bigger and bigger things for us if we would look to Him and trust in His provisions instead of trying to circumvent the blessing of life based on our very limited sight.

    Be encouraged!

  7. heatherly says:

    In the spirit of humility, I checked out a couple of the websites you mentioned and I have to say that the arguments are very well articulated. Although I still stand behind the decision to wait at least until my husband graduates (one-ish year from now), I will say that I have always believed that children are a blessing and I’m opening up more to the idea of a larger family (I used to say three would be my limit). I actually think my husband would be happy about that too. When we first married, he said something along the lines of, “Let’s have four and then just see what happens. If we have more, we have more!” I laughed it off at the time, but I’m warming up to the idea.
    I really love this website and I keep coming back to it. I am a firm believer that the Bible is THE source of truth and that everything else is supplemental and you all seem to really get that in a way that not a lot of people do. Thank you, and I’ll let you know if any little pun’kins come my way!

  8. Wow, I am really struck by this article! I have always been “on the fence” about birth control. I do not like the Pill or any hormonal BC, and would go so far as to say that these are wrong. Part of me believes that I should leave this in God’s hands and not try to “control” this. I have only been married for about four months though.

    Before we got married, my husband and I loosely decided to start having children a year after the wedding…we use a barrier method, but every time we’d use it, I’d feel a little sad…not necessarily because I wanted a baby at the time, but it also feels unnatural, and that is important to me that we live according to the nature God puts in us.

    So, we haven’t been very strict with the barrier method lately, and it is possible that I got pregnant this month…and can I just say that this excites me more than anything?

    Now I can’t imagine waiting a year to “plan” a family. I want it to just happen naturally and in God’s time. Now if I am not pregnant, I will be disappointed!

    And we are young newly weds–not a lot of money, a small apartment, so having a baby may be hard and a little inconvenient–but I believe that God provides for us and things happen for a reason–babies aren’t mistakes or accidents!

  9. aly75 says:

    First, I would like to admit that I do not subscribe to the beliefs of this group and am reading this to gain perspective of other views. However, I have no intentions of disputing anyone’s beliefs in any way, I simply want to present some facts that are relevant to the discussion.

    For one thing, Jennie, I have no inside knowledge of this myself, but I agree that it is unlikely any woman in a third world country would complain much about having many children or wait for economic security to have them. However, there is a major difference in the way third world countries and post-industrialized nations operate. Namely, in a third world country, having many children is an economic advantage. These children work and contribute to the money and food the family has. In a post-industrial society, such as our own, children rarely make any such contributions, instead costing families thousands upon thousands of dollars for at least 14 years (until they are allowed to legally work), and generally for the duration of the time in which they live at home. Thus, while a completely valid statement, it is not the best argument against waiting for economic security before having children.

    Also, while I agree that there are many children who are living in poverty who are happy, it seems cruel to me to intentionally subject a child to a life of potential homelessness and starvation. That is probably an exaggeration of circumstances for most people, but if there is literally no way you can support children without someone having to give up food, or without facing foreclosure or eviction, I don’t see how you can justify putting your entire family in jeopardy. There is, of course, the argument that God won’t give you more than you can handle. It’s one thing for you to say that if you have a kid, it’s because God wanted you to have a kid, but one could also say that if God wants you to have a kid, you will, whether you use birth control or not.

    At that point I begin to question whether that ideology renders using birth control completely pointless, or if it’s fair to argue that perhaps God would approve of people considering their ability to be good parents, with the acknowledgment that he can do whatever he wants regardless. There is evidence to support that we are meant to take matters into our own hands in some situations, such as the parable of the talents, where the man who just takes what is given to him is punished. (I’m not saying that is directly comparable, but it is the only example that comes to mind at the moment. There are others, I am almost positive.) I personally feel that it is better to be responsible and ensure that your children will have the best possible life, not just monetarily (which does not in any way mean you have to be rich, but you have to be able to make sure they can be healthy and cared for) but also in the amount of time and energy you are capable of putting in. If you have a chronic illness, for example, that saps your energy at a much faster rate than normal, it would be extremely detrimental to your children (and yourself) to have more than a couple kids, because you would be perpetually worn down and never be able to give them the attention they need and deserve.

    Ultimately, my question is this: do you really believe God would rather you have 12 unhealthy, hungry children who barely get any attention, or would he rather you have three healthy children who receive plenty of attention?

  10. Heather A says:

    I recently read a piece written by Daniel Defoe (The one who wrote Treasure Island). In it he said, “when a man makes his wife use birth control, he is using her as a whore”. Those are strong words. The article was long but I agree with what he said… A man who uses his wife to pleasure himself with no thought as to what would please God, is using his wife like a, well a harlot. The same goes for a woman. Does no one think what might please God? What is it then, do “we” think that He doesn’t care about us enough to meet our needs, or do we think he isn’t able? My husband and I no longer use birth control at all. As far as unmarried sexually active folks, I think they just find it easier to practice birth control than self control.

  11. aly75, I’d highly encourage you to check into the homeschooling and family entrepreneurship movement (all over the world), which is once again embracing the notion that children are a financial blessing–not just a spiritual one. Even those of us not born into agrarian cultures are training our children from a young age to be producers and enjoy work. Check out http://christianhomeindustry.com for just one lone example (be sure to read their blog, which covers this revival of family economics in detail–http://christianhomeindustry.com/blog). My parents trained my siblings and me to put our skills to good use from an early age. We made crafts to sell at fairs for many years. My mother and I had a soft-sculpture doll business while I was a teenager. We also did upholstery and other sewing for others. I thank Mom constantly for teaching us the value of putting our talents to good use and making money rather than just spending it. Because of her investment in me, I was able to start my own successful home business as a newlywed (http://sensibility.com). We have friends who run a dairy with their nine children and produce gourmet cheeses. We have other friends who started a curriculum publishing business. Their children are so brilliant they have written books on logic that have become bestsellers. I’ve personally mentored over 50 young women in clothing design and pattern drafting, seeing about 20 of them move on to start their own home-based businesses while teenagers. It can be done, and it is being done all over the United States. Attending a homeschool convention or a financial/entrepreneurial conference (like the one taking place this weekend–info at http://www.conference2011.com) is absolutely inspiring and motivational. This is the wave of the future in our “post-industrial” world as more and more families discover the joy of working together. The model of children-as-consumers didn’t work in the West. Long-term, I think it will be a blip on the radar screen of history. Americans live in the wealthiest nation on earth, but a lot of that wealth is vanishing because of unwise and unethical business practices in both the private sector and in government. More and more families are finding out what potential is waiting to be discovered in their own children and encouraging them to develop their talents at an early age. One of our goals here in Kenya is to train families to follow this model and become more economically stable as a family.

    Scripture promises over and over again that God takes care of His people and provides for their needs. If they are willing to follow His ways (which includes His economic principles), they will not want. We have seen this play out over and over again in real life. It’s not just pie-in-the-sky. And, again this doesn’t meant all Christians everywhere live in McMansions and have two cars and three television sets. We’re not using the “American Dream” as the definition of “fulfillment” or the lack of it as the definition of “want.” Living in East Africa, we see families with five, six, or seven kids thriving even in circumstances most Americans would consider “extreme poverty.” But that’s only by comparison. Families here are learning sustainable farming on small plots of land. My husband’s organization just sent a self-irrigating greenhouse kit up to a remote region of Southern Sudan where a missionary friend of ours has been teaching the people to farm using more efficient and sustainable methods. They are producing so much food that their neighbors are sitting up and taking notice and asking how they can get on board. With good teaching and patience, the people are learning that it’s wiser to invest in the land, working alongside their children, than to just overgraze land and move on once all the foliage is gone.

    The point is that people do not have to be “intentionally subject to a life of potential homelessness and starvation.” We can come alongside them and teach them how to produce enough to sustain themselves and build a future. The difference between our worldviews is that yours says the best way to end poverty is to prevent children from being born into poverty. Our worldview teaches us that the best way to end poverty is to invest in people so they can provide for their children. Sure, we could “end poverty” by preventing the birth of millions of poor people, but that’s like saying the best way to prevent auto accidents is to ban cars. There are absolutely hundreds of Christian organizations of all denominations over here working toward the same goal–to reach out to those in poverty with the love of Christ and hands-on training to help them rise up out of poverty and build for the future. This gives them an incredible sense of self-worth and dignity when they see what they are able to produce with their own hands. Telling them to prevent children cannot do that. In fact, two women who speak on this very issue all over Africa talk about the arrogance of Western “family planning” organizations who disparage children. To them, this smacks of racism, as they wonder why their children are targets for elimination. I understand that many in the contraception movement have good intentions, but they do not see how their actions are perceived by the very people they are trying to reach–and they have not tried to see if there’s another approach that can help women without eliminating their children.

    As far as the “attention” issue goes, that’s a very Western concept–and a very new one. What is meant by “attention?” Is it buying that child the latest toys and video games? Is it taking him to amusement parks or out to eat? Is it lavishing him with the latest clothing? Making sure he gets an Ivy League education? It’s all very subjective, and the list could go on and on. Who defines what constitutes enough “attention” for each child? My parents had only three children, but they taught us from an early age that we were not the center of the universe. One of my grandmothers thought this was appalling and would do her best to spoil us rotten when we visited (Coke and candy, trips to mini-golf, go-carting, etc.). And we got the message loud and clear: After one all-day outing to an amusement park, when she told us it was time to go home, we all pitched a fit and complained about how we wanted to stay longer. My parents were with us, and they were totally floored by our treatment of our grandmother. I will never, ever forget the talk our father gave us that night. My grandmother’s heart was broken. She couldn’t believe how ugly we’d been to her. We apologized to her the next day, and we never forgot the lesson. But my father also had to speak to my grandmother and explain to her the reason we weren’t indulged at home–my parents didn’t want us growing up viewing our parents and grandparents as moneybags there to simply give us whatever we wanted when we wanted it. My grandmother never forgot the lesson, either, and began to reinforce our parents’ lessons of gratitude and other-centeredness. Doesn’t mean we were angels ever after, but it does mean we grew up seeing ourselves as servants rather than little princes and princesses. ;)

    The best attention parents can give any child is in wholeheartedly and lovingly training him into adulthood. This means walking and talking with that child (and all others) on a daily basis, investing in his life with words of wisdom, instruction, and praise. This works whether you have one child or 12. I have nine. They work well together (not perfectly!), and we speak into each of their lives–not treating them as a collective. Is this hard work? You bet. But it can be done, and it is being done by a growing number of families who have come to understand how parents and children can work and live together with a shared vision. It also means I have nine individuals who are learning to invest in the lives of others here in East Africa. They have seen Kibera slum first-hand. They have met and talked with orphans. They have begun to see what a great deal of work they can do even at a young age to help those in need. That, in a nutshell, is our goal. Will they have a “happy childhood?” I think so. It’s the same childhood I had, and I loved it and thanked my parents for it. But the more important question is whether they will learn to think of others before themselves and have a love for people rather than seeing people as problems.

    God has given us these children. They are healthy. They have never gone hungry. We’ve gone through times of need, but we have never been forsaken or hungry. That’s all to the glory of God, Who keeps His promises when we simply trust in His ways and obey Him.

  12. hope4u says:

    I think I can say that I have the ability to see the view of those who choose not to have some children and those who choose to not to use any prevention methods at all. My mom and Dad actually had a reversal when I was a teen :-). They encouraged us growing up that children were a blessing from the Lord and shouldn’t be prevented. Sadly, my mother only had one pregnancy after there choice and it resulted in a miscarriage. Mom never again got pregnant. Mom has been diagnosed with several conditions that can never be cured that play a large part in this. I saw the heartbreak of both my mom and dad in them not having anymore children but I know that God is in control.
    I always wanted about seven children. When I got married my husband Thought a large family would be a good thing but he also knew that it was a distinct possibility that it might not happen the way WE wanted it especially since my mother’s conditions can be genetic. We didn’t prevent our first child who is now three years old. We have chosen not to have any more at this time because I have been pretty sick. Up until about 5-6 months ago i could barely get up off the couch. There would have been no way that I could have taken care of a new baby a year or two ago. I physically couldn’t do it. Does that mean I regret having my son? No. Does it mean that I think that more children is not an option? No, I would love to have more, but at this point we need to stablize my health more. What has made me very sad is when the conservative Christians with their large families have looked at my little family almost as if I am doing some awful sin (please understand that some have been very gracious.). It saddens me that they make assumtions when they don’t know all that was going on and that they were assuming that we didn’t want more kids… sigh
    I believe that God used this time in my life to allow me to be more gracious to those who don’t have a lot of kids. Maybe there is more to it than appears. I have to disagree with the statement about the husband using the wife as a whore if he makes her use birth control (I don’t know what they are defining that as) . After we had our son my husband thought that we should try not to get pregnant because he knew I physically couldn’t handle another child at that point. I have NEVER felt used EVER by my husband only that he was cherishing me. If the husband is making his wife feel used there are problems on one side or the other that need to be worked through. The marriage bed is a fun, contented place to be;-) Mom and Dad are truely the family, children are just additional blessings.

  13. hope4u, thanks for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear you’ve felt criticized or condemned by some large families. Here at LAF, we aren’t in the “you-must-get-pregnant-at-all-costs” camp at all. In fact, we believe Scripture clearly teaches that a husband is to “nourish and cherish” his wife just as he would his own body. That means “in sickness” as well as in health. There are some times the marriage bed is “paused” for a long time to deal with illness. This isn’t sin–it’s the loving way a husband tenderly cares for his wife as he cares for his own body. Martin Luther actually wrote quite a bit on this issue when a man approached him to ask if it was okay to use a prostitute while his wife was ill and bedridden for many years (!!!). Luther strongly condemned that position and said that God could use the wife’s illness to teach that husband patience, continence, and care for his sick wife. This, too, illustrates the love of Christ for His Bride.

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