Created Dec. 10, 1999 - Updated
There are quite a number of ways to accomplish birth control or prevention. But is it moral from the Bible's standpoint. I say yes! So I wrote this article. There are physical ways of preventing conception to some degree such as the timing method, early withdrawal or a condom. Condoms have been around since ancient times as well (not latex ones, of course). In disputing physical methods of birth control, some use the example in the Bible (in Genesis 38:6-10) of a man named Onan, a son of Judah, who was a son of Jacob/Israel, a notable personage in the Bible; the founder of the nation of Israel.
Onan was supposed to perform the "brother-in-law marriage" in which he was to take his deceased brother's wife as his own and have children with her in his brother's name. He was allowed to take another wife to have children in his own name, too, if he wished. But he would not honor his duty as given in the law covenant of Moses and proceeded to let his semen drop on the ground in what we call early withdrawal. God, therefore, put him to death.
(RSV) 38:8 ""Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's
wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up
offspring for your brother."
9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother's wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and he slew him also.""
The "sin" was not the wasted semen but the fact that he would not honor the obligation of brother-in-law marriage. After impregnating her and fathering an offspring in his brother's behalf, he would be free to waste all the semen he wanted; his duty would have been performed.
Certainly no man sins if he chooses to refrain from sex with his wife altogether, does he? No! He may have sex as little (even not at all) or as often as he likes as long as it is acceptable to his wife. He is not forced to have sex. Because one chooses sex does not mean one has to choose pregnancy. This is what I intend to prove, anyway. Very simple actions such as timing when you have sex could frustrate the chances of pregnancy. In order for this to be wrong, one would have to show why this is wrong in a moral sense. One perhaps might have to show that the purpose of sex is only for reproduction and nothing else. This is exactly where the problem is to be found. And I will show that sex is not just for reproduction. But not just yet!
Birth control is also related to alcohol and drug use for it is drugs that are often used as a means of birth control and even abortion. (See "Prohibition Was and Is - Wrong" for more on alcohol and drug use) We have this stigma about drugs but it should be known that there are numerous plants and herbs used for increasing fertility and for decreasing fertility by enabling birth control or abortion. It has been practiced from early recorded history onward throughout the whole world. Such plants were very popular in ancient Roman times as birth control substances. Silphium, the most popular and effective of birth control plants was harvested into extinction by the Romans in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. They then turned to asafoetida to prevent pregnancy.
Among plants used in classical times as contraceptives or abortifacients were pennyroyal, artemisia, myrrh and rue. The seeds of Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot) have been used by different peoples to prevent and terminate pregnancy. It is reported that even willow, date palm, and pomegranate were used for birth control. Studies in the 1930's showed that all three of these plants /fruits stimulated the production of female sex hormones like phyto-estrogens and others which reduce fertility the same way that taking birth control pills, made up of estrogen, the female hormone, does.
So while we may scoff and vilify drugs, what about plants, herbs, and even fruits. We are what we eat. Note what is said in the Bible in Genesis 1:29 - "And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant seeding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree seeding seed - it shall be food for you."
If one could argue that physical methods of birth control were allowable such as abstinence (seldom employed), timing or early withdrawal then there would be little point to arguing against plants (maybe even drugs, heaven forbid) as yet another way of accomplishing birth control. The plants give us the ability to control our bodies, to heal them and to regulate them. Eating too much of one specific kind of food could cause an imbalance in a number of ways both physically, health wise, and mentally/emotionally, too. We could experience bad health or an imbalance of brain chemicals just by narrowing our food spectrum and only eating certain things. That is why a balanced diet is important. Controlling what we eat gives us control of our entire being. That is good not bad. It was God's intention, I'm sure.
It is important, actually, for couples to be able to regulate and control the timing of each birth. For each child to get the right care and attention, it may, as many psychologists suggest, be best to space kids 2 to 4 years apart as well as maintain a reasonably sized family of 2 to 4 children. Perhaps there is a better time length between children but whatever it may be, being able to regulate and control whether pregnancy occurs could be very helpful and beneficial.
Breast feeding till the age of 3 or 4 was common in Bible times and is now known to act as a form of birth control, delaying the ability to get pregnant until the breast feeding stops. Breast feeding stimulates hormones like estrogen that inhibit pregnancy. So feeding and nurturing a child would naturally aid the timing of children. A good design, wouldn't you say?
So quite possibly, God provided various plants that would aid a woman in regulating her body so that optimal timing could be employed in getting pregnant and giving birth. A couple could then enjoy plenty of healthy sexual activity and yet still keep the birth process under their control. They would not have to let it overwhelm them with a big family where attention to each child has to be spread too thin and care for their physical needs becomes too overwhelming with perhaps not enough resources or wealth to maintain the large family. God provided plenty of different options to help couples plan their families just right and maintain a good relationship with each other, too. In short, He gave us plenty of control over the process.
Now we can't judge others as to what they eat nor do we have the authority from the scriptures to speculate or judge as to why someone eats what they eat (Romans 14). So if a woman might consume something for the purpose of birth control, how would we know? We can't judge! She might just as well be taking it to help her health or to effect weight loss or some other reason. Or maybe it just plain tastes good and she is eating it for pleasure. Within limits and reason, she has that right. She may do what she wants and will answer only to God for her behavior, good or bad. It is not our concern, or at least, it shouldn't be.
I am going to repeat myself here from another essay (See "Prohibition Was and Is - Wrong" for more on drugs). What about pure concentrated drugs? I personally have no problem with them. They are often, for the most part, substances derived or refined from plants. If one can eat any plant of their choice then why not parts of a plant. One has to be cautious that a concentrated substance is not overused or presenting danger for being too powerful in concentrated form.
Also, some drugs are not from plants in themselves but are what are called analogs; related synthetic concoctions that could have side effects. But it should also be said that concentrated or isolated substances from plants can actually be healthier in many instances as they eliminate the other substances in plants that are not so good in large amounts. I feel you are free to do as you like though wisdom dictates caution in all things, and especially when it comes to birth control and pregnancy.
For sure, as in the other issues discussed previously, this issue may still not seem clear cut to some. In my opinion, I have argued favorably in behalf of birth control. The proper course for a true Christian on this matter as in the others is let each one do what he/she deems to be right and leave others to do the same.
Birth control is not nearly as contested as abortion, but if one could justify using plants to cause an abortion and control a woman's reproductive powers, then it just further erodes their stand against abortions. It's food for thought.
Check out the subject of abortion here if you like.
Part of the problem is our own guilt, which I believe was greatly magnified by the Catholic church and so called Saint Augustine. Augustine declared that sex was strictly for procreation only and that potential reproduction should never be hindered or prevented when engaging in sexual relations. Married people engaging in sex should always do everything in their power to make sure that pregnancy can occur. The only problem is, it is pure speculation. It can't be found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the Bible is rather silent about birth control and birth prevention. But there are things established in the Bible that can help us gain a sense of God's plan and view. I will address this after a few more points.
Now along Augustine and the Church there were no small numbers of people who speculated that perhaps the forbidden knowledge of good and bad in the Garden of Eden was possibly Adam and Eve engaging in sex. Only problem with that idea is that it contradicts God who commanded them to have sex before they even sinned. Is it a sin if God commands it? Is it a sin to obey God? How could that possibly be? It can't! It is ridiculous to even suggest it. On top of that, in Genesis 9, God repeated the same commands to Noah, to multiply and fill the earth with offspring. God was quite clear about what He wanted.
But between this and the idea that procreation must always be allowed to occur no doubt influenced people to feel somewhat guilty about having sex simply for pleasure and the fun of it. Suddenly, they now had to justify it by trying to get pregnant. And of course, if you had more mouths than you could feed already, or had trouble caring and giving enough attention to each child, then trying to have more would create serious conflict in one's mind. You might have the desire but know you can't afford to have another kid. You are torn between what you want and crave and what you can handle. It was no doubt responsible for tremendous amounts of conflict, guilt, and repression. This in turn could lead to frustration and even anger. This could end up affecting relationships as the anger could easily be taken out on each other and on the kids.
So sexual desires were seen as wrong and sinful if they did not allow pregnancy to occur. So in order to avoid excessively large families, one might assume that desiring too much sex was a sin. In fact, desiring sex for anything other than procreation was seen as sin. These feelings of guilt and repression built and grew over the centuries until we saw sex as nothing but carnal, lustful, sinful desires that were wrong and horribly evil. So parents inflicted this view on their children, causing the children to be plagued with tremendous amount of guilt which contributed to complexes about sex and sexual identity. Excessive guilt can be very destructive to forming a healthy psychological identity, especially the sexual aspects. And it is contrary to human nature, which naturally craves and seeks out sexual pleasure purely for its own sake.
This attitude of sex only for procreation reached its zenith with the Victorian Era. For them, it was sex only for pregnancy. When the last child was born, either because of nearing the end of fertility or because they could not afford to care for anymore, then sex ended completely. All those desires were suppressed but not without complications, I am sure. They were going against their nature.
Now many people today do not have any problems with birth control. Most people to day do not believe that sex is only for procreation. Far from it! But they still carry the burden of guilt about sex thanks to the thinking of the Victorians and Catholics. This in addition to the fear that parents have about kids getting pregnant. I will talk more of this later.
It is not wrong to have desire. But that desire must be fulfilled in a way that is acceptable to God. And that way is by getting married. If one is married, then one is entitled to sexual pleasure in any amount that is acceptable to both partners. Sex is only wrong when it is outside the marital relationship. But if we deny that sex can be purely for pleasure and only allow for sex that enables pregnancy, then we would have to curb that natural God given desire for that sort of intimate pleasure.
Right at the start in Genesis 1 we see where God created man and woman, commanded them to multiply and fill the Earth. And God looked at everything He had created (and commanded) and saw that it was good. So Adam and Eve were designed to have sex and reproduce, and commanded to do so. How much more clear could it be?
With this should go the understanding that Adam and Eve were given a healthy desire and appetite for sexual relations that would ensure that procreation did, in fact, take place. It also insured that men and women would seek each other out and want to pair up with each other. So what I am saying is that it was and is the destiny of all descendants to develop and have a sexual identity and sexual desires. That was all part of God's plan. It is not wrong and it is not something to be ashamed of, hide, or deny. But it begs the question, why such negative attitudes toward attraction to the opposite sex and sexual desire, given that it was a part of God's plan and created by Him?
Now since we have this strong urge to hook up with someone of the opposite sex, particularly since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, we often find ourselves tempted to engage in sex without entering into a marital contract. Typically called fornication in the Bible. Fornication is no longer a stigma or a big deal in our world anymore. People do it all the time. As a consequence, people who love and honor God and His laws could find themselves immersed in temptation all around them. It was not so different in the days of the Apostle Paul in areas of the Roman empire. So Paul instructed them in this way:
(RSV) 1 Corinthians 7:2 "But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control."
So marriage here is not just something for human reproduction. It is also an outlet to protect us from temptation. We have desires as God seems to understand and by getting married, we become entitled to sexual relations legitimately, in a way that is acceptable to God. That way we will have less reason to be tempted by the loose sexual climate in which we live. It is also in this passage in 1 Corinthians that Paul makes it clear that there are certain marital obligations that a husband and wife share. They are obligated to accommodate each others needs and desires for sexual relations. Only by mutual consent can they abstain from sex. If one does not like these rules then one should not get married.
God is the one who created the marital relationship and He has a right to define and regulate that relationship and has done so. He made the rules for it that we have to live by. No one is forced to marry. But one is not entitled to sexual relations except by getting married. Call it a dilemma.
All marriages will bring a certain amount of conflict and turmoil. How could they not do so? You try to take two different people and get them to live harmoniously together when every person is born with a certain amount of oddness and imperfection as well as an independent will of their own. That is a tall task in the best of circumstances. And if they have to endure some trying times like tough finances or whatever, then you could really have some problems. These things tend to interfere with each other's desire to engage in sex with each other.
What can make matters worse is if someone has endured sexual abuse as a child. This could scar them for life and make it difficult to enjoy normal healthy sexual relations. But we need to understand that it would be unfair to enter into a marriage if one was in doubt that they were going to be able to fulfill their sexual obligations to their partner. One would not enter into a business contract to supply perhaps a product or service, and then not fulfill it, would they? They would end up in court and have a judgment against them. Jesus said let your yes mean yes and your no mean no (Matthew 5:37). To do anything else is to make yourself a liar and in league with the devil. The problem is that some do not understand their obligations upon getting married. But Christians should know their obligations or be willing to comply with them when they find them out.
So if one is in doubt about their ability to fulfill certain obligations, those should be openly and clearly discussed with their prospective mate. Therapy may or may not also help, too. And I need to point out that some of the problems with sexual function and participation are the result of unfair and unreasonable guilt we had ingrained in us from our parents who did not understand such things properly. Let us resolve not to make the same mistakes and harm our children with unreasonable guilt over attraction to and interest in the opposite sex and prevent them from enjoying a healthy sexual relationship when they are mature enough.
Now this might be a good place to discuss some of the reasons behind why God designed things as He did. It is primarily speculative but worth engaging in or I wouldn't do it. First, some may wonder, did God have to make the urges so strong and the sensations so very pleasurable and exciting? Well, they are strong but some of that could be due to the fact that Adam's sin caused all of our nature to become out of control and part of our nature is those desires. They may be a little strong or they may not. It is possible and likely so that God foresaw what Adam and Eve would likely do and so He made sure the desires were really strong so that procreation would still take place, despite the conflict and turmoil of marriage. I suspect that it is just sin that made things go out of control. But it certainly encouraged males and females to seek each other out and mate. It insured the procreation process.
Secondly, the sexes relating to each other in such an intimate and pleasurable way enhances (in theory, anyway) their bonding to each other and their relating to each other. It would encourage them to work things out so as to be able to maintain these very pleasurable and desirable sexual relations with each other.
Third and most important, God just plain loved his creations, his off-spring. He wanted them to be happy and enjoy life so he created a special gift for them, sensual pleasure. God does love humans. 1 John 4:8 states that "God is love." Yes, sex can be just for pleasure and nothing else. One does not need to feel guilty about doing it for fun and enjoying it. It is supposed to be enjoyed - as often as you like as long as you are married and it's with your wife. God did create sex with the purpose of marriage and reproduction in mind.
Let's consider more how the desire for sex certainly does draw people together. When one considers the enormous conflicts that come about in marriage, just about any marriage, it is a wonder that anyone gets married. But God's law can not be ignored if one wants to please God. Marriage is a must if one would like to have sex. So people put up with what almost certainly is going to be a rocky, rough ride. So those strong desires seem to have accomplished the impossible.
Having children is also a full time job if one wants to do it right. So when people elect to have children, it is my opinion that you narrow the future options of your life. The Bible mandates that children be well loved and cared for. They must be instructed about God and taught to obey Him. So a parent has their hands full. Careers and all other concerns take 2nd place to the concerns of the children. Having children is basically a lifetime goal. It will occupy 20 years anyway. We are near to old age or well into it by that point. Chances for career moves might be harder to start at that point.
A problem with a marriage that does not want to have children is finding a goal that involves both partners and keeps the marriage together. Sex will not be enough. But what sex will be for both types of marriages is an incentive to work through their problems so as to keep their sex life healthy and vigorous. To not work problems out is to risk that sexual harmony that I assume is so important to them. But in today's world, it is too easy to just say: I will find someone else. But eventually we have problems with the next partners, too, as problems are inevitable when you join any 2 people together. There is no such thing as a perfect fit. It's a lie. No such thing! God forbids divorce except in the case of adultery (Matthew 5:32).
God does not allow us an easy way out. Any lack of harmony is the result of at least one if not both partners not trying to be reasonable, fair, and loving. Either we come to grips with our personal defects or our sexual comfort could be threatened. Imagine if everyone everywhere refused to have sex with someone already married to someone. There would be no alternative. They would have to work things out or go without, right? Part of the problem in our society is that too many people are willing to take up with a married person. God will not allow such things in His kingdom.
Now why is it so important that 2 people have to remain together forever till death parts them? I suspect that it is more for the children than any other factor. Children are scarred for life when a divorce occurs. Some may do all right after a divorce but most will struggle with it for the rest of their lives. So God made adultery punishable by death and forbid a divorce for any reason other than adultery. First, because adultery can be a devastating blow to the mate who is cheated on and 2nd, because it could lead to a divorce which can be devastating to children. So God forbid it at all cost.
These forbidding laws, coupled with the wonderful pleasure of sex, were enough measure to reasonably assure proper behavior for the most part. The key word I mentioned was "reasonably." Humans are not known for being reasonable. So despite God's best efforts, things can and do go wrong because too many people have no respect for God's law.
But staying together can have other rewards besides sex. Humans also crave comfort, familiarity, and security. A wife or a husband has the potential to be a tremendous source of security and comfort. When you can rely on no one else, you can often rely on your mate. Familiarity, while sometimes boring, can also be good. Some people can strike up a sexual contact almost immediately (a one-night stand). But anyone who is trying for a relationship beyond just a sexual one, knows that it can take time and 2nd guessing to know where you might stand with someone and how familiar you can or can't be with them. And you learn over time how to deal with them and what to expect of them and they of you.
Imagine having to do this over and over again. Wouldn't it be nice to only have to do it once? Why are familiarity and predictability thought to be so bad or boring? Well, part of it could be that when we first fall in love, it is incredibly exciting. It was designed and intended to be that way. Think about it! When you first get hitched, how much do you know and understand about each other? Less than you will at any further time in your relationship. You know the least at the beginning so that is the time when God made the attraction the most powerful so that it would draw people together and could overcome those potential rough spots that come from people not knowing and understanding each other enough.
But we do not see that and after a while when the initial spark disappears and the newness wears off, we think maybe the relationship has gone sour or gotten dull. And if we haven't worked at our selves and our relationship, then the rough spots will not have gotten smoothed out and they will feel even rougher after the honeymoon wears off. So we need to work hard on a relationship with our partners.
But some just say, "I think I will get a new partner," so they can experience that new excitement again. But God forbids such a thing. That was not His purpose in making a newly formed relationship exciting and intoxicating. His purpose was for it to get you over the hump and really make an imprint on each other's hearts. Misuse what He created and He will likely misuse you in time. Actually, in most respects, you misuse yourself as your actions, and the actions of others like you, all pile up until society collapses.
So, yes, every new and different sexual encounter is unquestionably exciting, deliriously intoxicating, as good if not better that any drug. But it is a misuse of God's creation and will bring consequences. But there is another reason why routine sex with the same partner can become dull. First, to compare it to a new encounter is not fair as we have discussed. The new is always going to have that excitement. Isn't it always exciting to first drive a new car? How long does that last? Too often, we do not work at a relationship and we take our partners for granted. Some take the attitude that the partner has to do this or that because they are married to me. Bad attitude!!! And it is not just a problem of marriages. It is a problem in every part of our lives.
Think about this. Don't we take everyone for granted? Do you say thank you whenever anyone holds a door open for you? You should. If you don't, maybe you don't appreciate their kindness. You might say, opening a door was unnecessary. I can do that myself. Yes, you can, but isn't it nice to know that someone was thinking of you and cared enough to hold the door instead of making you expend that little extra energy to open it, yourself. They cared enough to want to extend a small kindness to you. That, in itself, should cause you to be grateful. They actually cared a little and that is or should be important to anyone. We have become far too careless a society and people. We don't appreciate when someone offers a small kindness. That is the first step in a series of steps that leads to hate and murder.
We need to take the time to do the little things for people that show we care and that they matter. In order to create a good world or a perfect world, we need to pursue as much kindness and politeness as possible. If we only do the least amount necessary, then we will eventually degrade into a carelessness and hatred that lead a collapse of our world. We usually fall short of our targets and goals, anyway, so we need to aim as high as possible so that if we fall short, maybe we will still be very high and that will be enough to make life bearable.
It is the same with a marriage. If we try to be as polite, caring, understanding, and tolerant as possible with our partner, it may not make them be like us but it will very likely keep them from getting worse. That is the least that can happen. But what often happens is that they will respond in the same way, trying to be thoughtful of you. It is hard not to love and appreciate someone who constantly tries to make you happy. Appreciative people will not let such efforts go unrewarded. When you let someone know and show someone that you really care, it is bound to overcome all sorts of problems. You'll both feel much more inclined to jump into bed.
Now some will say that their partner does not respond to good deeds and displays of affection. This does happen. I won't lie to you. There are some people who are very abusive, unfair, unreasonable, and disgusting human beings who don't deserve what they have. At that point, you can divorce, providing you do not marry again, or you can put up with it. Those are the only options God gives.
If you divorce without the partner being unfaithful, then you have no right to remarry. But if they remarry after you divorce, you still have no right to remarry. That may sound too restrictive. But one could easily say, oh, my husband is just so bad that I must leave him. And you might have a very legitimate circumstance. He may be beating you or is very verbally and psychologically abusive. But one could decide that nearly any friction at all was intolerable and abusive. God does not accept that. And He has chosen to be firm here. So unless adultery in involved before the divorce, remarrying is not an option.
It is tough if you happen to have married a real loser and didn't see it before the marriage. And it happens more than any would like it to. It is a very tough pill to swallow. It is also a good reason why marriage needs to be taken more seriously and be more thoroughly investigated before getting married. I have always thought that as some get an AIDS test before marriage, all should get a psychological testing before marriage and maybe draw up a contract of expectations as well. There are those who would say that this is not very romantic. To that I would say, how romantic is it to get stuck with a loser who will force you to remain unmarried for the rest of your life? Romance is often filled with fairy tales, myths, and illusions that would be better discarded.
Marriage could be forever if you live past Judgement day (Armageddon) and remain on Earth. But even without that consideration, spending a life time with one person is a considerable commitment, both to the other person and to God. Given what is at stake, you can't be too careful. A lifetime could be a long time if you live to 80 or more. Make sure you do it right.
I will now address what I left off earlier. Many parents live in a near constant panic that their kids nearing or into their teen years will become interested in the opposite sex. Why the fear? Pregnancy, no doubt! So in order to theoretically prevent pregnancy, they make their children feel guilty about interest in the opposite sex and sex in itself. The Parents discourage fraternizing with the opposite sex. Only problem is, the drive for sex is very intense in the teen years and the initial onset of puberty. The sex drive will never be stronger than at this time.
There was a time in history when girls married quite young. That is how it has usually been throughout all cultures for most of history. Delaying marriage became yet another fashionable plague of the Victorians. Before the Victorians, girls of about 13 to 17 would be married off to guys in their 20's or 30's. The guys were established as farmers or hunters and could provide for the young women when they got pregnant. In many of the less industrial or less affluent societies today, girls marrying young is still the norm.
Marrying young eliminated much of the worry about pregnancy since the girls were married off as soon as they began to develop an interest in the opposite sex. By marrying them off to grown men, there was no worry about the girls being provided for. This would be a large concern today for a girl impregnated by a boy her own age, 13 to 17. Most boys don't even have a job or any maturity at that point.
Another problem today is that people no longer hunt in tribes or farm the land. Today we all go into the work force making very little. Over time we gain enough annual salary to support a wife and kids - maybe. But in their early years of employment, people are not immediately productive enough to earn an income that would allow them to provide for a wife. In fact, many people will never be able to be 1 income families. Both will have to work as well as raise kids. This is quite harmful in my mind. If one were to wait until they were earning enough to support a 1 income family, they would never be able to get married. So poverty or lack of time for the family becomes a common circumstance for those brave enough to want to have kids.
I know that most people will have a fit that I suggest that young women marry at 13 to 17. But even more ridiculous in my mind is suggesting that they delay marriage until they are in good financial shape or at least until they have a college education. So a girl might start puberty at 14 and develop an interest in men. But she is expected to wait until at least 22 if not maybe till 30 when she is earning a good income and can exist independently in the event of divorce. Now who wants to wait until they are 22 or 28 to get married and have sex? Not me! I have never met anyone who wanted that.
Both young men and young women are in their prime and their desire is at its strongest from puberty till their late 20's. And it is at this time that we expect them to be single and non-sexual. Insane! They need an outlet. They need to be able to get married. So we need to make jobs pay enough to allow that. The best compromise is that young women marry men in their 20's who are earning enough. Just one problem!
It is forbidden by law! We now think it is terrible for girls to marry at such young ages even though it has been a common thing for most of mankind's existence. Further, we pay so poorly, that girls would have to marry men in their 30's and 40's, at least, before they would be earning enough income if they ever earn enough income. Our whole society is all screwed up if we want to please God and have people married before the have sex. So we take the ridiculous route and recommend a period of abstinence that is totally unrealistic for all parties concerned. So the kids break down in their teens or early 20's and engage in non-marital sex and experimentation. Good choice unless you are a Christian.
I should also point out for those who want to define females from 13 to 17 as "little girls" rather than young women, this is not the Bible's standard. For one, Jews in the first century typically married females of the teen years. Did Jesus ever condemn this? Not once! It had always been done this way, not only by the Hebrews/Jews but all the world around them, too. The Bible called them virgins or young women. Rebecca, who became the wife of Isaac, is said by the Jewish Talmud, to have been about 10 when married. The Bible's description certainly allows for such a young age such as that claimed by the Talmud. Even though she was married off at that age, it does not mean that sex began at that age. Isaac may have waited until her body was more capable of engaging is sexual activity.
I can only say that once a female body develops the secondary physical/sexual characteristics such as breasts and pubic hair and sufficient emotional maturity (not defined), I can see no reason to delay marriage any longer. Nature has spoken! Some people never develop maturity so claiming that a lot of emotional maturity is very important could be disputed.
I have also seen that most people never prepare for marriage until they are in one. So delayed marriage for growth and development never happens. People never learn how to raise kids until they have them. Then they try and learn. It is the same with anything. We only start after the fact. So there is no reason for delay there, either. This idea of marrying young, of course, is not likely to be well received by any one. People would prefer that kids continue to violate God's laws and engage in pre-marital sex. Its your choice, of course. I'm just trying to be practical.
Further, people have become less stable, less mature, and less prepared for life and relationships than ever before. So the divorce rate has sky rocketed and births out of wedlock are common now. This has caused women to be insecure about marriage and depending on a man for financial support and justly so. So they want to gain economic and financial independence before marrying. This further delays sexual gratification unless they resort to non-marital sex better know in Bible terms as fornication. Not good for Christians.
I would say, however, that our whole system of labor, salary, and compensation needs a radical overhaul in order for it to be fair, decent, and humane. People should not have to wait until middle age or more (if ever) in order to make a decent living. Neither should both parents have to work out of necessity. I would say that it is wicked that way things currently are, but then again, that is just my opinion, based on my Bible exposure.
I would also say that parents have done a terrible job of preparing kids for life and relationships. In fact, they have often done no job at all. So the kids do not go on to become good wives and husbands that can whether differences and have reasonable expectations of what to expect from life and marriage. This, too, needs to change if we are going to improve our children's chances of living a life in harmony with God's commands.
Another big problem is that most of our society is very mobile. We all move a lot. Our neighbors are constantly changing. It is hard to get to know someone if they aren't there very long. And if you do get to know them, they move, and you lose touch. So the people we might be attracted to and want to marry are people we hardly know. That, too, is very bad. Sort of like buying a used care. You don't know what you might be getting. When people lived off the land farming, you grew up with all the same people and know everyone real well. There wouldn't be too many surprises if you chose to marry someone you grew up with.
But the situation being what it is, I would think it good that since marriage is such a serious commitment, we should give it no less attention than we would any other important contract or business merger. Many people now get an AIDS test before marrying. Why not a psychological exam, too. And why not have a third party or parties give a potential couple a chance to ask some serious questions and draw up a written list of expectations or whatever. The third party would be there to ask some serious questions and be more objective, as lovers often might go easy on themselves. And the third party could mediate negotiations and keep things reasonable.
Now there was a time when parents, the community, or the pastor might have done some of this. But we aren't doing it anymore and now it is without the benefit of growing up with each other. I know there are romantics out there who will object to this saying it is not very romantic. Romance is a false illusion created by Hollywood and wishful thinkers. Reality is that the divorce rate is 50%. How romantic is it to end up with kids and alimony and perhaps bitterness as well. And there are many who never even get married but end up with kids and break up. So relationships definitely need help. The statistics could not be more clear. We don't give enough attention to how to be in relationships and work them out or how to even get into the right one.
It was necessary to discuss marriage at some length as it does relate to birth control in many ways. Our attitudes toward marriage and sex helped influence our beliefs about whether birth control is right or wrong. Having a good sexual relationship requires that the rest of the relationship be good, too. And being guilt burdened or guilt free is often a big part of the struggle behind sexual dysfunction in a marriage. I hope I was able to show that some of that guilt results from how parents treat and train children in regards to sex.
Part of the burden of guilt resulted from only being able to have sex that allowed for pregnancy and disallowing birth control. The Victorians only amplified this.
Another part of the problem results from our world being dysfunctional and unreasonable in its expectations in regards to sexual behavior. Society is totally screwed up. We no longer do things God's way and we have no regard for providing the right kind of world for humans to live in reasonably. So they turn to fornication to relieve sexual desires and abandon God's ways. The break down of the family contributes to the break down of individuals and society. Inevitably, our whole world will collapse as a result of ignoring God's ways.
Birth control is an excellent means for couples to control and regulate the reproductive process so that they are not overly burdened with trying to provide for too many mouths and stomachs or trying to attend to the emotional needs of too many children. Reproduction can be over done just as one can over eat or over drink (alcohol). Everything should be done in moderation. It seems to me that any method of birth control (birth regulation) is acceptable and very beneficial.
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