Sunday, March 23, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
As a result of the last two post some really great questions have been raised! We are loving all the responses and questions, although most of them have not been commented on the blog, but in phone calls, conversations and emails. Phyllis has responded to the question that has come up the most... "How do you determine that the fertilized egg is a baby at the time of fertilization as opposed to after it implants in the uterus (or sometime later)?"
This question is key to understanding the moral issues with certain birth control methods. We fully understand that there are ALOT of people who do not believe the way we do about this issue so we thought it would best if we "Cleared the Air" on how we come to these conclusions. We would LOVE to hear yours so please feel free to comment!
Again this is just a clip of what Phyllis wrote...please please please stop in and read the rest!
"Regarding the issue of fertilization vs. implantation as the point of imparted personhood, I don't think we need a ton of medical statistics to think wisely and correctly about this issue. Thank goodness! However, in order to come to a right conclusion, I think we do need to have a basic understanding of the process of human reproduction. So here goes... You start with "the act" (quoting the grandmother of one of our good friends). The sperm travel from the man, through the vagina, through the cervix, through the uterus, and into the fallopian tubes. There is generally one egg sitting in one fallopian tube. Some of the sperm make it through the treacherous obstacle course, get all the way to the egg, and attempt to break through the wall of the egg. One gets in, and the two cells (egg and sperm) mesh all their information and become one cell. Their DNA links pair up to form the complete chromosomal make-up of the baby.
The new cell immediately starts multiplying as one unit. It's a life with all the information necessary to develop throughout pregnancy, childhood, adulthood, and right up through death. The group of cells continues to multiply as it moves out of the fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it finds a nice place to implant and acquire necessary nutrients for continued growth (FYI--the placenta grows as an organ of the baby--with the baby's genetic makeup and not the mother's--and begins to function on its own over the course of the next two weeks).
The implantation into the uterus prompts the mother's body to produce a hormone called hCG, which basically tells the mother's brain to continue producing progesterone and estrogen in proportions that will not prompt the sluffing off of the uterine lining (and the baby). So you have a blessed 9 months without periods (or if you're like me, more like 21 months if you include the post-birth period-free time)!
These are all amazing functions of implantation in the uterus, but neither the nourishment nor the signal to the mother's hormones do anything to change the make-up of the "group of cells" that already existed. That, to me, is the profound truth that we need to understand. Basically, the cells implant in order to be nourished to keep growing and developing. They are not changed in any way. They were already living, completely-human cells and a sole entity before they implanted. The uterus imparts no humanity on the group of cells since they are completely-human cells on their own before they get to the uterus.
One way to look at it is this... I can make it a while without food and water, but if I go more than a few days with no nourishment or hydration at all, I will die. Once the egg is fertilized by the sperm, the two mesh together to form the complete genetic make-up of a human being, the "cell group" begins to multiply, and then travels through the fallopian tube into the uterus, it's just fresh out of juice! It needs nourishment, or else it will die. This is a common problem for humans at all stages, and it begins at fertilization.
The egg and sperm combo is a developing life right from the very beginning. It is a complete unit that simply needs nourishment to keep going. If we do things to alter the lining of the uterus so as to prevent implantation, all we are doing is preventing the nourishment of the already-existing life... so it dies. This is why we see any process, procedure, device, or chemical that contributes to the death of this life as abortifacient. It's either directly causing the already-living, completely and fully human life to die or removing its provision for survival. When we consider born humans, we see that there are ways to directly extinguish them (pushing them out of moving cars, shooting, etc.), and there are ways to prevent the provision of sustaining nutrition for them, so they end up dying on their own (i.e. locking them in a room without food and water). Either way, the end result is that the person is not alive anymore."Next up....Part four: The What If's. I am working up a post about all the what if's that come up in regard to Birth Control and Family Planning like: What if my husband is not on board with my convictions regarding Birth Control? What if I am on the Pill for medical reasons (endometriosis or mood swings)? etc....DON'T MISS IT!
This is SOOO FUN thanks for joining us!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I mentioned in a previous blog that I would be having a "guest blogger" as a part of this series. But after Phyllis and I talked about it, I decided that we are really doing this series together. My sister-in-law, Phyllis is very educated on the topic of Birth Control and Family Planning. She and her husband, Chet have taken courses, read books, listen to many teachers, read articles and met with people like Dr. and Mrs. Molher (the president of Southern Seminary) regarding these issues. She is posting my blogs and I will be posting hers as this series unfolds. I encourage you to stop by her blog and comment as well.
She started by sharing her story and it is well worth reading. Like mine, it is pretty long, but PLEASE take time to read it...it is so good. For this post, I am just going to copy and paste a couple of exerts so as to entice you to make it over to her blog for the rest....it is so worth it!
"I had graduated from college and was gainfully employed. Chet, however, was raising support to pay his salary as a part-time associate pastor at a church plant in town. He had two other jobs in addition. Oh, and he was part of a band that traveled quite often, especially on the weekends. We were busy, didn't really have "all that much money", and were working to pay off Chet's undergrad student loans. So we still weren't ready to start "trying" to have kids. Our mindset was that, if we're not ready to start trying, then we're preventing and there's no reason to go off the pill. We didn't discuss it much. It was just part of the normal routine, and if I forgot to take it one day, we just made sure we were careful. Pretty simple.
At this time, I was hanging out a lot with a good friend of mine named Angie. We would walk at a nearby park after work quite frequently. She too was on the pill and hadn't thought twice about it, especially since her cycles were strange (this is why it was initially prescribed to her). Her husband heard some stuff about how it was possible that the pill could be an abortifacient (it could cause abortions of fertilized eggs... aka babies). So he started researching. He came to the conclusion that Angie should stop taking the pill immediately. She nearly freaked out! They still weren't ready to have kids because of some circumstances in their lives, so they enrolled in a Natural Family Planning class at the local Catholic church. I basically watched Angie walk through all of this, but I was still a little bit skeptical of what her husband was saying.
That's when I started researching for myself. Any of you who know me well are aware of the fact that I love to learn, and if there's something I don't know much about, it kind of (or REALLY) bothers me. Realizing that this could possibly be a moral issue, I researched with gusto. Angie shared some things with me that they had come across. I forgot to mention that, in the process of all the aforementioned stuff in their lives, they were converting from Protestantism to Catholicism. As a result of this and the fact that they took the class at the Catholic church, most of the resources were produced by the Catholic church. In my mind, there was no inherent problem with the Catholic church producing useful resources that I could learn from even though I wasn't Catholic. The problem I was running into is that, in the things I was reading, most of the reasons why a person shouldn't use the pill were based on what the Pope said and not on what the Bible said.
I continued my research. I basically got online and typed "Oral Contraceptives as Abortifacient" in my search engine window. Immediately, all kinds of articles popped up, and many of them were written by Protestant authors. Wow! Can I just say that this whole time I never knew this was even a question I should be asking! It was just something everyone did. I had NEVER heard this discussion brought up in any of the Protestant churches I had been part of (and for that matter, I had never even heard it as a discussion among my Catholic friends, who were admittedly nominal Catholics, but still... shouldn't I have heard this SOMEWHERE?).
Actually, it was this shocking moment 5 years ago that has prompted countless hours of research, interviewing, praying, thinking, etc. and that has produced in me a great desire to make it known that there is indeed a moral aspect of decisions regarding family planning and birth control methods, and people need to be able to make INFORMED decisions. Further, there have been many people who have come to us asking us to discuss our journey and our findings in the past, and we assume that there are many others that would ask about if they knew it was something to be discussed. Hence the blog series.
Okay, back to my story. I researched a lot. I read the articles from both sides. I read the Physician's Desk Reference listings for all the types of hormonal birth control that were on the market as well as devices like the IUD. After HOURS of reading from both sides of the issue and tossing these things around in my mind throughout a lot of sleepless nights, and after a lot of talking and praying with Chet, we came to a conclusion... finally. We determined that because it seemed very clear that there is at least a possibility that the birth control pill (of any kind) renders the uterine lining so hostile that it could make it impossible for the already-fertilized egg to implant (thereby aborting the baby), we could not in good conscience continue taking the pill. We recognized the IUD as abortifacient right away because one of its main functions is to irritate and thicken the lining of the uterus to "sluff off" the fertilized egg (which is a baby because it's already fertilized even if it's not implanted). That meant that the IUD and other such devices were also out of the question. So what would we do? Barrier methods don't always have the best track record."
Phyll's story goes on and she recounts life and family planning decisions after baby number one, Ladan came by C-section and then baby number two, Gabe did as well. What do they do facing continued C-sections and the effects on her body....seriously dont miss it.
Please visit her blog for the rest...it is SO good!
She ends by linking an excellent article by Dr. Al Mohler that we both think is a MUST READ!
Can Christians Use Birth Control by Dr. Albert Mohler
In his conclusion he writes, ""For evangelicals, much work remains to be done. We must build and nurture a new tradition of moral theology, drawn from Holy Scripture and enriched by the theological heritage of the church. Until we do, many evangelical couples will not even know where to begin the process of thinking about birth control in a fully Christian frame. It is high time evangelicals answered this call."
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
From A Chemical Decision to a Morality Issue.
As of lately, I have had so many people interested in talking to me about Birth Control and why our family chooses to do things the way we do. I have been wanting to write this series of blogs for a long while now, but have waited for the right timing...it tends to be such a sensitive subject. I love talking about this issue because of the incredible impact that it has made on our life and marriage, but I do realize it is not the easiest thing to discuss. It has taken us on a five year journey with the Lord that has lead us to a much deeper love and trust in Him.
A couple months before Vernon and I got married, I went to my very first OBGYN appointment. At this, I got prescribed 'the pill' so as to regulate my cycle before our wedding day. This was totally not thought through or anything. I just went in because I thought that is "just what you do." For two months I had these episodes of crashing blood-sugar and light headedness. I would go through surges of emotions and just crash into sleep....it was crazy and completely not like me. The second month I went a week with no problems....and then it dawned on me that that was the week I was taking the placebo pill. So I noted that in my mind and continued taking the pill as directed. The next week it got so much worse that I was crashing HARD, virtually passing out...but conscience. One night this episode happened at my aunts house and Vernon came running into the room, I was crying in the midst of my semi-conscieness and somehow I muttered to him that I thought the Pill was causing this. Vernon decided that we should figure out another way of birth control and I agreed. This was only a month away from our wedding night, so this was not far out to be deciding on our future! What we walked through together that last month brought us so close to each other but even more importantly it built our Love and Trust in the Lord. We were faced with the Truth of His word and had to decide if we REALLY believed it. Did we really believe that God had numbered our days and therefore numbered our children's days? Did we believe that God would not give us more than we could handle? Did we believe that He was our ultimate satisfaction, not time with each other before children? Did I really believe that the Scripture calls children an reward/ blessing of the Lord? Did we believe that He was Sovereign over the affairs of man? Or were all of these truths and many more just ideologies we claimed when it made us feel better.
So at that point we concluded that God gave us wisdom and abilities to make decisions but ultimately it was His Sovereign hand that fashioned and formed our family. Now this did not mean just haphazardly going about our intimate life and not paying attention to the situation we were in financially or just assuming we were mature enough for children. It did mean however, that we relinquished control over the size and timing of our family. It meant we asked the Lord to reveal to us His good timing, in whatever way He liked.
So this issue for us started as a chemical issue and then made its way to a Trust issue and a Control issue.
After the Trust issue was resolved I began looking into alternative ways of contraceptive and what I found was astounding. I had no idea that birth control was in anyway a morality issue. I had not idea that OBGYNs are divided across the board on certain birth controls being abortive. Being extremely pro-life and in complete fear of facing the Lord and Him saying we had had a fertilized egg that was not able to implant in the womb because of a chemical I ingested, I immediately began to read anything and listen to anything I could get my hands on....I wanted to know both sides and what each side said in full. And basically my conclusion was to opt to side on the safe side and avoid any potentially abortive birth control methods.
Yes, we did get pregnant three months into our marriage, but it was not a surprise to us, we knew we were probably going to be. Many people who do not do "natural family planning" give it a hard time and tease about how many kids NFP people have. But to them I will say, we are just now pregnant after 3 1/2 years of an awesome intimate marriage...and we knew about this one too. So there are ways to control that are not potentially hazardous to you or your babies....but in the end, God has numbered the days of your sweet children, they are a reward from Him and He will give you the grace to carry them! amen.
My favorite sermon so far that i have heard on this topic is by Marc Driscoll and here is the link for that
The first link is my over all favorite article but the rest are great as well:
The wedding was Amazing! We are are all experiencing the aftermath...so sorry about lack of posting! Here are some of her bridals I took....she was so easy to photograph! Love you Alli!
Stay tuned....I am working up a series on the use of Birth Control. I will be having a guest blogger...its going to be fun!