Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The Church and Reproductive Choices
While the contemporary ability to determine one's family size is heralded as a mark of Western progress, that freedom carries with it moral and spiritual responsibility. Some branches of Christendom (most notably, the Catholic Church) have well-documented doctrinal positions about issues of reproductive technology and artificial means of birth control, many in the evangelical world default to silence on the issue of permanent sterilization.Much of Evangelicalism has simply walked away from these questions. That has pretty extensive ramifications apart from just the questions confronting an immediate couple. It is a short step from punting on these questions to punting on questions of sexuality generally and we all know where that leads.
When Hobby Lobby and others made headlines for seeking exemption from the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds, most of the coverage and conversation focused on birth control pills and abortion, though some businesses also opposed the sterilizaton requirements. Vasectomies and tubal ligations were an afterthought, if they were mentioned at all.
As an antidote to evangelicals' silence on the issue, I am not in any way advocating that church leaders direct couples about the number and spacing of their children. Instead, I see the value in coming alongside couples in search of godly wisdom in sharing stories and being willing to explore in prayer what God may be asking of them.
I thin it needs to be more than "moving alongside" and prayer. It needs to be guidance. It is acceptable for the church to have an opinion in the matter and to express it. It does not have to be in the command-and-control style of the Catholic Church, but these questions are not simply questions to be resolved individually. There are right and wrong answers. We may never have 100% assurance that we have it "right," but that does not mean we give up on the effort to achieve it. There are times in our dotage where my wife and I wonder if we made the right decision in this department. It is important to reason about these things.
But most important is the perspective that says, "We are not God." These are very god-like choices and it is vitally important that we understand that in making them, we do not become God. hat is the bootom line on why the church must have a position. We love those that disagree, but having a position is a way of saying that, "This is not your decision. It is God's."