Monday, January 28, 2008

Family Planning among Christians

I found a blog post from last year titled "providentialism, NFP, and contraception" in which the author discusses "the attitudes towards family planning and married sexuality" among Christians, which fall into three basic groups - giving the post its title. She makes several good points, and I would like to hear your thoughts!


JB said...

Great find AB!

The post is very well-written and certainly brings an intriguing perspective into family planning discussions. It would be interesting to know the approaches to religion and politics which each of these groups stereotypically take.

If I had to make broad and general guesses, I think the first group leans more fundamentalist in their approach and probably overemphasize faith over reason.
While the second group is more secular in approach, emphasizing reason over faith, and feeling a stronger sense of belonging to country rather than creed.
The third group (maybe I am biased here!) seems truly Catholic in approach, finding a balance between faith and reason.

Whatcha think?

AB said...

As far as stereotypes go, I think you are generally correct. The descriptions I am about to give are based on previous research and experience.

The "providentialists" are necessarily fundamentalists in the sense that they take the command to "be fruitful and multiply" to the extreme, that is, without prudence or responsibility. God does not call human persons to multiply like rabbits; in fact, he designed us such that we cannot do so. Providentialists put the "responsibility" in God's hands, not seeming to understand that we are given free will and God respects our decisions without necessarily approving of them. As Alicia says in her post, Providentialists take the attitude that "I will do as I choose and you [God] have to take care of the consequences."

The majority of Christians use contraception. I agree with you that they are more secular in their approach, but this can be in two ways. First, there are nominal Christians that either don't know contraception is wrong (some who were never taught that it's wrong and others who were taught that it's not wrong) or just deny that it is wrong. Second, there are Christians who take their faith seriously but deny that contraception is wrong, usually citing the "responsibility" argument, which I think stems from "secularization." They are definitely Christian in what they believe about Christ, but they have been assimilated into the society that preaches "responsible parenthood" and "reproductive rights" and the like - which are code words for having the right to contraception and abortion. For some Christians, the responsibility they cite seems to come from prosperity theology - that is, I prosper and have wealth because God is rewarding me for my faith. Maintaining wealth is important, kids suck away wealth, so kids are only logical when I can also maintain my wealth.

Natural Family Planning or temporary abstinence (as one commenter pointed out on Alicia's post) are truly responsible, truly CHRISTIAN approaches to family planning.