Sunday, February 18, 2007

A request for advice (bumped)

As the cowboys say every spring, "It's nut-cutting time." Time to get down to business.

This is where the rubber meets the road. This is going to be a tough Pill to swallow, but it's time to tie up loose tubes ends. Time to sit up straight and tall and use that diaphragm, so as to be heard clearly. You can't just soak up information like a sponge. It would be wrong to pull out before bringing this discussion to a climax.

Enough bad puns. I have been gathering all these links and sifting through all these perspectives because I face a serious decision. This isn't a hypothetical discussion for me.

I'm sympathetic to the arguments against birth control, but if I followed them to their logical conclusion, they would put me in a serious, and to my mind, unresolvable moral dilemma.

I ask those Christian bloggers who have written passionately against contraception -- the Bayly brothers, Peter Fournier of Domestic-Church.com, Dawn Eden and her commenters, and the people at No Room for Contraception and Lutherans and Contraception, Deb (one of my few commenters), and anyone else who cares to weigh in -- to read what follows, consider my dilemma and tell me, given your belief that contraception is a grave offense against God, what would you do in my situation?

Even though I've used contraception in the past and am still not totally persuaded of the arguments against all contraception, I can see that those who argue against it are serious believing Christians who seek to submit to Christ's lordship in every aspect of life. So I take what they say on this issue very seriously. I'm not going to dismiss it out of hand, particularly when I'm considering an irrevocable decision.

As I said in my introductory entry, I am a married father of three children. The youngest isn't walking yet. My wife and I are both in our mid-40s.

A couple of years after our second child was born, my wife, just about to turn 40, asked me to consider getting a vasectomy. Her arguments were almost identical to those of the hypothetical husband in Tim Bayly's post about faith and contraception. She was looking forward to our then-youngest being in school full time, so that she could re-enter the work force at least part time, for the sake of our finances and her own mental health. She had had two C-sections and didn't want to go through another one. And after our second child she went through what I believe was post-partum depression, exacerbated by problems with nursing, although she never sought help for it. To her thinking, having another child would be a "disaster."

I didn't share her fear of having another child. While I didn't have any qualms about contraception, which we used to time the births of our two children, I didn't have a controlling attitude about it. If the children didn't arrive according to plan, or we wound up with more than we planned, it was OK. A pregnancy within marriage is never a crisis pregnancy, never a "disaster," as I saw it. Therefore, achieving 0% probability of conception wasn't a concern of mine. I wasn't insistent on more kids, but if God should send more our way, that was OK. Our first two were both intelligent and beautiful and gifted with musical ability and a sense of humor. We made good babies, and it wouldn't be a bad thing if we made more, but I was content with the two we had.

At first, after our second child was born, we used condoms. I even made a special trip into Canada, when I was nearby on business, to buy spermicidal sponges, which were available again after several years off the market.

Alas, my wife did not deem me spongeworthy. She decided to restrict our lovemaking to one day a month, the day after her period ended, the day she felt most confident that she wouldn't be fertile. Because of that confidence, she didn't insist on using any other means of contraception on those days. Even when we were using barrier methods, that was the one "free" day when she'd let us make love without a condom. But by now, she didn't want to risk pregnancy at all. 1% was too great a chance to take.

If we happened to be too busy or tired on that one day a month, we'd just miss sex until the next cycle.

One night, just moments after concluding our monthly roll in the hay, she snuggled up to me and said in a cheery voice, "Just think, when you get your vasectomy, we can do this every night!" I rolled away from her, offended at the timing of her sales pitch.

She began to "accidentally" fall asleep on the couch most nights. She told me later she didn't want to risk getting turned on and having sex. Even cuddling and caressing were severely restricted, for the same reason.

Then one afternoon she came to me in my home office in tears. She told me that she had missed her period and her home pregnancy test was positive. Evidently that one day a month wasn't as infertile as she thought.

She was devastated. Her hopes for getting out of the home and back to work were dashed. She projected her own dismay on our oldest child, predicting that he would be angry about having to compete for attention with another child, and on her own mother, predicting that she would scold her for her irresponsibility. She was fearful of the greater chance of Down Syndrome or some other birth defect that becomes more common in pregnancies of older women.

She found out just days before going for a consultation about a tubal ligation; she had given up on me consenting to a vasectomy.

As the pregnancy progressed, her attitude improved. Her fears about the reaction of our older children and her mother were not realized. The kids were very excited about having a baby in the house. Our extended families were very supportive.

One woman in our church who had a surprise pregnancy at age 47 was especially supportive, reaching out to encourage my wife. Her doctor had advised her to abort, but she carried to term, and her daughter grew up to be a healthy, beautiful, and intelligent young woman.

My wife had an amniocentesis, at her insistence, so that if there were signs of genetic problems, we could begin educating ourselves and preparing for the adjustments we'd need to make. Everything looked good on the test and the ultrasound, which lifted a great weight of concern off of her. I want to emphasize that despite my wife's distress at becoming pregnant, there was never any consideration of abortion on her part or mine, even if the amnio had indicated a problem.

The baby came on schedule -- a big, beautiful fellow. He seems to be as smart as his older siblings, who dote on him. We are all happy to have a little one around the house again.

But my wife doesn't want any more, and I can't blame her. This was necessarily another C-section delivery, and the recovery period was slower than the first two. Several years older than the previous two C-sections, she doesn't heal as fast. If she were to get pregnant again, she'd be having a fourth C-section in her mid-to-late 40s, with an increased danger of uterine rupture. Even in a successful delivery, recovery would be even longer and more painful than before.

So she has laid down the law: No sex until I get a vasectomy. Period.

I made an appointment for a vasectomy. When I went in for my initial consult, the urologist asked me why I wanted to get a vasectomy. I said, "Because my wife wants me to." He told me that was the wrong reason.

I rescheduled my appointment for the actual surgery a couple of times for various reasons. At this point, I have no appointment.

So it has now been 15 months since we have had sex or even done much in the way of snuggling. It's not that we don't want sex. She has said several times that she didn't sign up for a sexless marriage. But even more than she wants sex, she doesn't want another pregnancy, another delivery, and resetting the clock for being a stay-at-home mom.

The lack of sex has been a wedge between us. The chemical thing that happens to your brain during sex to boost the emotional bond between a couple -- that's supposed to help sustain a couple in through the stresses of living together, but it's not available to us.

Here is the dilemma I face:

If I get a vasectomy, we'll be sinning if we have sex, and unlike using a condom, the sin will be permanent (or extremely expensive if not impossible to reverse). Practically speaking, there's no repentance if indeed contracepted sex is a sin.

But if I don't get a vasectomy, and we have to abstain until my wife reaches menopause, we'll be sinning by not having sex. Couples are only supposed to abstain briefly but to come back together to avoid temptation (see I Corinthians 7). And it seems that the NFPers and the Quiverfull folks would agree that abstaining for the purpose of avoiding children is also a sin.

Beyond the concern about offending God, if I opt for abstinence over a vasectomy, our marriage will suffer. Love will diminish because we'll be avoiding physical affection and because my wife will be offended that I am not complying with her wishes.

This is not a trick question, this is not a hypothetical, this is not a rhetorical trap. This is a real-life dilemma. I have a real-life decision to make.

What would you do if you were in my shoes?

87 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why can't your wife get her tubes tied? Does she have moral objections to doing that?

Mackenzie said...

So it's ok for her to use contraception and go to hell, but not you?

I hope she reads this blog, realizes what a selfish dick you are, and divorces you. Leaving you with the kids -- just so you finally understand what a thankless, depressing chore being the primary caregiver in this society is.

Anonymous said...

Tubal ligation is more invasive, dangerous, and expensive than a vasectomy.

Also, after your wife's three C-sections, don't you think it's time that YOU took one for the team?

Perhaps it's true that sex after a vasectomy would be a sin. I think, though, that the larger sin would be to disregard your wife's distress.

I suggest that you and your wife find yourself a marriage counselor, whether clergy or not, to talk through this issue.

Let's put it more clearly. What if, hypothetically, another pregnancy would kill your wife? In that case, would permanent contraception be acceptable? If your answer is yes, you need to think about when the vasectomy "sin" is outweighed by the issues on the other side.

Anonymous said...

I got here through a feminist blog link, so I know I'm a stranger here. I will say, though, please read the Bible carefully. I grew up a strict Southern Baptist, and all of the churches I was in had no problem with birth control, especially the kinds that keep any fertilization from happening (such as sterilization).
My husband and I went through something very similar - I am very fertile, and I got pregnant the very first time we had sex after our first child was born, while I was nursing and on hormonal birth control besides. Needless to say it was a surprise, and it set off three years of absolute terror in me that it would happen again. Three years of terror, three years of not being able to have sex at all, or even accept a touch for the fear of it leading to another pregnancy. It was only when I finally got on a semi-permanent method of birth control that I trusted that we were even able to start being intimate again. Please take this seriously. Take her concerns seriously, take the loss of intimacy seriously. It could ruin your marriage, over something that the Bible doesn't even talk about, much less proscribe.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the most revealing part of this post:

'To her thinking, having another child would be a "disaster."

I didn't share her fear of having another child.'

It's interesting that your wife's physical trauma and emotional distress don't even register on your radar. If you love your wife and another child means that she has to give up her desire to work as well as put her body at serious risk of permanent damage - *that should scare you.* It should also be enough to inspire you to do your share and end her imprisonment.

evil_fizz said...

Beyond the concern about offending God, if I opt for abstinence over a vasectomy, our marriage will suffer. Love will diminish because we'll be avoiding physical affection and because my wife will be offended that I am not complying with her wishes.

I think it's fairly clear from your post that your marriage is already suffering and that the level of communication between you and your wife is, well, lacking.

And neither of these problems seems likely to get any better absent a mutual agreement on using contraception.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the dilemma.

You say at the beginning of your post that you don't believe that contraception is a sin, so why are you asking people who do believe that for advice on your situation?

This seems to be a very longwinded way of saying "I don't want surgery".

Anonymous said...

If I were you, I'd get the vasectomy. God asks us to do a lot of different things, and sometimes it's just not possible to do them all at the same time.

Anonymous said...

A vasectomy is not that big a deal, honestly. It's way below root canal in terms of pain and inconvenience and completely safe and effective if done right - and they can check to make sure it was done right.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you take over as stay-at-home parent? There would still be concerns about pregnancy, but at least she could have a job.

Bruce Godfrey said...

You have accepted the "Bible" as your guide, but where the Bible has internal contradictions you (or the tradition that you follow) have implicitly made choices as to how to resolve such contradictions. Whether through a bright-line rule, exegetical jurisprudence or ordinary human prudence, you must decide and you have implicitly already decided.

If, after applying those rules, you cannot decide this matter, then you must either write additional such rules, strike or modify such rules or recognize that your system of rules cannot resolve this question. How deeply you choose to challenge your system of rules in the last of those cases is up to you (and your wife.)

One human being to another, my heart goes out to you. But intellectual courage may lead you out of this cage; you built its walls, its bars and its doors and the key is in your pocket.

If what I am writing sounds scary, perhaps it should. The logical result of applying a consistent method of identifying the truth could lead you far from your current belief system. Those who have made the journey have found new strength and moral courage, to stand as moral men and women, fully responsible, but without the existential fear and dread that so many Christians suffer.

mythago said...

Frankly, it sounds as though you have sabotaged getting a vasectomy. Telling the urologist "Because my wife wants me to," rather than explaining the entire situation, was guaranteed to get you turned away. And for 'various reasons' you haven't had one? That is not being honest with your wife.

If you would feel guilty about a vasectomy now, imagine how you would feel if your wife died in pregnancy or childbirth because you didn't want to inconvenience yourself.

I really recommend you seek a spiritual adviser and find out exactly what contraceptive methods are appropriate for the two of you to use. The one you are using right now is "Ignore the physical and emotional trauma pregnancy will inflict on my wife and futz around about a vasectomy I'll never actually get." While that would tend to convince most women not to have sex with you, it's not the best for your marriage.

Anonymous said...

Why did you marry her? Her child-bearing hips and milk-giving mammaries? Or did you marry her because you love her?

What makes marriage sacred is love, not children. If you truly love her, you'll risk burning in hell for her. But I tell you: God sees the sacrifice you're making for love, and He will reward you.

Jesus said the two most important commandments are to love God and to love eachother, not be fruitful and multiply. God told ALL of us to love. He only told Adam and Eve to multiply.

Mighty Ponygirl said...

Hi...

You're overthinking this. Birth control is not another version of Pascal's Wager -- it's a gift to a marriage.

God wants married couples to get it on. He doesn't want married couples to enter into the marital bed scared or worried. He wants parents to love their children--not resent or regert them. Most importantly, He believes that children are entitled to both loving parents. And if we were all angelic and independantly wealthy pumping out babies wouldn't be a problem (not to mentioned myriad other environmental issues that you might not want to gamble your kids' lives on). But we don't live in that world.

In Psalms, you are exhorted to honor and protect your wife. Three C-sections is not protecting her. Exposing her to future risky pregnancies is not protecting her. Pregnancy is much more dangerous than we like to pretend -- get the vasectomy. It will take a few months to "take," and a bag of frozen peas will be your best friend for a couple of days, but think about all of the carefree, wonderful sex you'll have afterward. It's awesome. Dollars to donuts she'll have an easier time reaching climax when she can enter into the marital bed without pregnancy looming over her.

The other options is to continue abstaining, which as you've admitted has put a massive strain on your marriage. Do you think God is more OK with divorce than he is with birth control? What about the children you have together already? Are you willing to make them suffer watching their parents grow cold and distant to one another in the name of being better Christians?

Don't listen to the Quiverfuls and the fundamentalists -- they are selling you a bill of goods. God is infintely more complex, infinitely more loving, and infinitely more forgiving than our feeble human brains could possibly comprehend. He loves you, He wants you to be happy, and He wants you to care for those for whom you are responsible. In this case, that means getting the vasectomy.

Shinobi said...

I don't know if I believe in God. But, if did believe in a God it wouldn't be one who would punish someone for protecting his wife from a painful situation.

Now we can go look a the catholic chatachism and see if it tells me that I am wrong, or look at the bible and see if it tells me taht I am wrong. But in the end, what they say doesn't matter. It is our belief in those documents, written by the hands of man, that give them power.

In this day in age when the world is overpopulated and the health system overpriced and strained, it would surprise me if God would say the same thing he did back when we were strugglign to survive. Would he say "Be Fruitful and multiply" so that we could continue to multiply until there was no more room on this earth and we had used up the precious gift he gave us? Or would he say "Use the tools that I have given you through medical science to protect your family."

The fact is, these documents that so many people base their faith on are horribly out of date. It is as if I took an encyclopedia from 1982 and looked up information about Russia before I travelled there. Uhm, not exactly valid anymore is it? That doesn't mean it wasn't once, but the world has changed and we humans must change with it, even if our books don't.

Shaista said...

It is a difficult thing to do, to sacrifice some part of yourself for your partner. Your wife has done it for years, three landmark decisions at a current total.
What's more difficult, is to understand your partner's needs and make your decisions based on them with full personal ownership of them.
Your urologist was right. Getting snipped "because your wife wants you to" is just one hateful argument away from emotional trauma. Getting snipped because your job as a responsible adult is to keep your family safe, that's better. Ultimately, the hope here is that you will try to understand the situation, and see that your partner's suffering is worse than your inconvenience and personal qualms, and get snipped because your thinking process has progressed to responsibility and selflessness.

Anonymous said...

Like other posters, I followed a link from a feminist website. From your description of events, you and your wife are very fertile. Friends of mine have solved this problem by using condoms. All the time. No matter what day her cycle is on.

After going through three C-sections, your wife may be unwilling to leave everything up to condom integrity. Quite frankly, her experiences sound horrific, and I can't blame her for wanting to be as certain as possible she won't become pregnant again. Is your wife still open to the idea of a tubal ligation?

If at least one of you had the relevant surgery, and you used condoms every single time, that may save your marriage and family. Yes, this may involve a certain amount of sin according to your belief system. You haven't mentioned what flavor of evangelical you are, not that I'm really familiar with evangelical beliefs.

So, what's worse: You never again have sex with your wife, which most likely causes you both more suffering, and eventually ends your marriage.

Or, you both take your chances, and your wife winds up crippled/dead from the next pregnancy, which may/may not also leave you w/ another baby, who might also be seriously damaged from being born to a mother w/ a severely overtaxed reproductive system.

Or, you and your wife could choose to go the surgery and condom route, most likely saving your marriage, and allowing your three kids to grow up in a happy, loving home. Yes, there's a certain amount of sin there. But shouldn't it be considerably less of a sin than risking your marriage/wife/potential future offspring?

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself what Jesus would want you to do: not in an ideal world, not if you were living 2000 years ago -- but right now, in the current situation that is yours and your family's. What would Jesus want you to do? If there's one thing I remember from my christian education, it's that Jesus told us that love is the way to God.

In this case, loving your wife and children means taking care of their needs, and maybe putting your own fears aside for their well-being. Your wife doesn't want to -- CANNOT (physically, emotionally, and mentally) have any more children. Your three children need a loving home and parents who are physically, mentally, and emotionally available to cater to their needs. Your marriage and family need for you and your wife to be able to express your love for each other and share intimacy.

What would most offend God? A vasectomy? Or your failure to love and protect your wife and children?

L. said...

Interesting. I`m in exactly the same situation, but without any religious overtones whatsoever. It is not any hypothetical baby I am afraid of -- in fact, I often joke that God can go right ahead and leave one on my doorstep in a bushel basket, and I would lovingly raise it. It`s the pregnancy, c-section and post-partum months I dread.

After 3 c-sections (and 3 bouts of PPD of varying degrees), I am now in my 40`s and have declared my uterus retired. I am Catholic but not devout, and have long dissented on the point of contraception. I personally believe contraception is like sex itself, in that it can be used for good or evil, depending on the intentions of the participants and what is in their hearts.

My husband is not a Christian at all, loves children, and could keep on having them ad infinitum. He doesn`t want to have a vasectomy because he doesn`t like the idea of closing himself off forever from the possibility of children, and wants us to continue using contraception instead. We use multiple barrier methods (condom and diaphragm), which if used correctly and together are supposed to be highly effective; plus, I`ve studied NFP to understand my fertility better -- but even that tiny chance of conception haunts me. My pregnancy fears are definitely hurting our sex life, and are certainly not good for our marriage.

Our (overseas) insurance does not cover tubal ligations, but I am thinking of having one, anyway. However, unlike vasectomies, tubals have a failure rate, and I am now mulling whether I want to endure the risks and expense of surgery only to retain my fears of conception.

In other words -- I feel your wife`s pain.

One question, though: abstinence within a marriage is not always healthy (your case in point), but is it an actual sin? I disagree with the interpretation that it is -- I think it can be a practical solution to a physical problem. There is also the Catholic concept of a "Josephite marriage" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_marriage), though both parties must consent to be in one, so your situation doesn`t apply.

glendenb said...

Contra,

I found your blog through a discussion on feministing.

The situation you've described sounds to me more layered than simply a question of using contraception or not. As a Christian I have no problems with using contraception and I feel most arguments against it seem to rest in a combination of anti-sex attitudes and wishful thinking rather than science and psychology.

It feels to me unfair for one partner to withhold intimacy and demand another partner undergo a medical procedure when non-surgical options are readily available. Having said that, contraception is not failsafe and vasectomy is relatively quick and safe and reversible. But, lack of sex and vasectomy are the extreme answers. There are many midway points between those two which are satisfying and readily available.

I am a sexuality educator in my UCC congregation and I recommend individuals educate themselves about the many options - male and female condoms, contraceptive jellies, and the wide variety of hormonal methods of birth control. For a couple in the position you've described, I would recommend exploring two methods of birth control - for instance you're wife could use NuvaRing and you could use condoms. Learning to use contraception consistently and correctly can be very empowering for both partners - it should probably include visting a doctor together and discussing the otpions available to you. Your community may not have a Planned Parenthood office but if they do, the folks at PP are amazing at helping people understand their options and make the choices appropriate for themselves. It is also an opportunity talk about sexuality and one's sexual needs and desires in a positive context.

There's a second issue I hope you and your wife explore - sexual intimacy does not require intercourse. There are many wonderful resources available for learning mutual massage, for exploring physical closeness separate from intercourse. Intimacy can include intercourse, but does not need to. From your description, I believe you and your wife have sacrificed a great deal of intimacy - sharing a bed for instance - out of fear of pregnancy. Physical intimacy can include showering and bathing together and mutual massage. These activities carry extremely minimal risk of pregnancy but can be deeply sexually satisfying.

Finally, from your description, it sounds as if you and your wife have experienced a breakdown in communication on matters of sexuality. For many people who are Christian and who were raised in evangelical households, the messages about sexuality and physicallity they received were excessively negative and sexuality is surrounded with taboo and shame. As a result, many couples have learned to see their sexuality in very limted terms - intercourse only, massage, touch, oral sex, are shameful and taboo. Many women avoid using contraception out of shame discussing it with their doctors and partners, others strictly limit sexual activity for fear of unplanned pregnancy. Traditional Christian theology has stigmatized female desire and sexuality to such an extent that simply feeling desire creates intense shame for many women.

In my experience, many people of faith simply lack the language with which to discuss their sexuality. I've met adult women who literally cannot say "vagina" - adult men who cannot say "penis." Learning an honest and accurate language for sexuality is incredibly empowering for individuals. I hope you and your wife are able to explore intimacy in your relationship and to communicate more fully and have your relationship grow richer and stronger as a result. Whatever you decide, should come as a result of negotiating with one another and meeting one another's needs. Over a decade ago, my father (now in his late sixties) got a vasectomy and was so ashamed he didn't talk about it with anyone in the family. When he finally opened up and talked, he was so relieved to be able to share that he almost wept. He had been taught that discussing anything having to do with sexuality was shameful. After nearly 40 years of marriage he and my mother are finally being honest about sexuality. I feel bad at the opportunities they missed as a result of that silence.

Entomologista said...

As a biologist, I'm completely in awe of your inability to deal with sex. You either love you wife or you don't. It's time to man up and do what's best for her. Frankly, if your god is spiteful enough to damn you for trying to do what is best for your marriage and your wife, he's not worth worshipping anyway.

Unaiza said...

"A pregnancy within marriage is never a crisis pregnancy, never a "disaster," as I saw it."

I beg to differ. A pregnancy can be a crisis or a disaster for some people. Maybe the woman is not healthy enough? Maybe they are not financially stable? Or emotionally?

Anyways. Sounds like your marriage is already broken. She doesn't want any more children but you don't want to use any form of contraception to prevent another pregnancy?

Have you ever thought that maybe she doesn't want to stay cooped up in the house all day taking care of the children?

Like someone else said, take one for the team. If you love your wife, you'd understand that she doesn't want any more kids.

Pregnancy, child birth, and taking care of a kid takes a toll on the woman's health. She obviously does not want to go through with it again. And now that she's getting older, things will be more complicated in terms of physical health.

It is not advised for older women to go through the pregnancy.

How about you stop being selfish and think about what she's feeling.

sealjoy said...

Sir,

A little background before I address your request for advice.

I am a Christian, I am a mother of 2. My husband is also a Christian.

First, I would remind you that the marriage bed according to the Bible is not defiled as long as both partners agree and there are no other partners entered into it.

Example: I you want to, but she doesn't, and you force her, the marriage bed is defiled and vice versa if she forces you. If you both agree on something to do together such as oral sex, then the marriage bed is NOT defiled.

The point is that in a marriage two become one.

If she doesn't want more, and you are not sure, then by no means should either of you cut out the option forever.

But I have looked into the birth control methods that do not produce spontaneous abortions or abortion like results. The IUD I have found is the best birth control option. First (I hate to admit it, but for your sake I will) I used an IUD during my time before Christ and before marriage. It worked perfectly. I am using it again now after my back to back pregnancies.

I believe God will never give you more than you can handle, and He forgives all. There are only two commandments in the New Testament that we are required to follow. 'Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, mind, body and soul.'

'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

I do not believe that birth control, abstaining in marriage or sex with birth control or a vasectomy is a sin. BUT, if the HOLY SPIRIT has convicted you BOTH (as in a marriage He will have Unity) that contraception is WRONG, then it will be a sin if you use it.

Example:

Painting houses red is technically not a sin.

Molly has tempting memories to commit a sinful act when she paint a house red (example only).

Sherry does not.

The Holy spirit convicts Molly not to paint a house red.

Molly paints a house red, she commits a sin.

Sherry paints a house red, she commits NO sin.

But if Sherry knows of the conviction on Molly and still paints a house red in Molly's presence, or asks her to join, then she commits a sin.

These examples should help you determine where contraception stands on a sin level for you.

Remember that God wants unity in all marriages, I would as advice tell you to instead of trying to create intimacy with sex during this time, seek God, pray together for HIS purpose and will. God knows better than you what HE wants in your life. If he wants you to have more children, He will reveal that to BOTH your hearts IN HIS TIME and in HIS way.

There is only one sin that is unforgivable: 'that of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit' Remember that, and remember that if you truly LOVE your wife, you will seek GOD's will for the both of you and not your will or her will. if you or your wife want to talk more you can email me at info at sealjoy dot com.

Adam Lee said...

I have some advice for you, Contraskeptic. I hope you'll accept it not as a personal attack, for I intend no such thing, but rather in the spirit of sincere concern in which I offer it.

You, sir, are being selfish and uncompassionate, and the fact that this behavior is motivated by your religious beliefs doesn't excuse that. Your wife has already suffered through more, and borne greater burdens, than she or anyone else should have to bear. After all she's been through in the name of her marriage and her family, what she needs is a husband who can love her, who can comfort her, and who can give her the intimacy and emotional closeness she deserves. You are the only one in the world who can give her that, but you are holding back, you say, out of fear of offending God. Do you believe in a god who wants you, your wife and your children all to suffer in a loveless, disconnected marriage? Do you believe in a god who wants your wife to assume almost all the serious risks both physical and emotional associated with sex and pregnancy while you assume next to none of them? Those are both unconscionable options. You have the power to bring about a far better one.

Although I'm an atheist, I won't bother to argue that you should become one as well. However, I ask you not to let your religion overcome your humanity. Even if such a being as God did exist, he would need nothing from us, nor could anything we do harm or diminish him in any way. On the other hand, your wife and children can be harmed by your actions, and they do need something for you: for you to be there for them, to give them the love they need, and if necessary, to make a sacrifice for the well-being of your family. There can be no motive more impeccable than that. If you fear that God will punish you for doing it anyway, then I suggest that your own moral sense is superior to that of the being you claim to worship, and I invite you to consider whether such an arbitrary and cruel set of commandments deserves to be followed.

Anonymous said...

Your experience sounds familiar in a number of points. I didn't sleep on the couch, though, when we weren't using birth control - I started fights so we wouldn't feel like making love (and I had to make sure we wouldn't really make up either!).

We also have three wonderful, gifted children.

However, I had increasingly worse post-partum depression each time. The third time I ended up seriously suicidal. For two years. Medicine only made it worse.

I was concerned that if I had another child, I would not be able to resist the temptation to do away with myself. I've got pretty strong will-power, but the third post-partum depression pushed me right to the edge of it.

I'm more patient with others now that I've found my own limits.

As much as I love my husband, I was quite ready to be celibate until menopause. As enjoyable as it is to make love, the brief pleasure would not be worth another struggle with suicidal feelings - one I couldn't be totally sure I'd win.

My husband didn't want me to go through that either - he likes to see me smile. He likes to see me. He had a vasectomy.

Unlike your situation, I would have loved to have had another child. We also had to go against the teachings of the Catholic church - and I still don't know the right answer - except that my children have all had birthdays in the last month, and it's right for me to be here, loving them and taking care of them.

It's often difficult to look at our own situation objectively. If you had a daughter in your wife's situation, what would you advise her husband?

My apologies for posting anonymously, but my mother does not know that I was suicidal so I don't want anything linking this post to my blog (she worries enough as it is).

Side of a Hill said...

My church teaches that contraception is a blessing, so I can't answer you there.

Have you studied the history of C-sections?

In the old days-- before 200 years ago-- a C-section always meant death for the mother. She was going to die anyways, but at least the baby could be saved and then live through a wetnurse. (think about what it means that we have a word for wetnurse.)

Back then, the 'natural' death rate for pregnancy was 1/200. C-sections killed. So did eclamsia, and ectopic pregnancies. We in modern times have no memories of that, of all our lost g-g-greataunts. 1 in 200.

Even today and even in the most medically connected societies, C-sections have a much higher death rate than vb. That's just the reality of it, the numbers.

After 3 c-sections, your wife's risk are higher than that rate.

So I have to ask, how could anyone have sex given that risk of death? It would be like playing with suicide. She has herself, you, and 3 living children to take care of.

I think my church would say that she's doing the right thing, until you get a vasectomy or she a tubal ligation. But a tubal ligation is major surgery, and vasectomy just an incision.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to both you and your wife.

I was raised in a strict fundamentalist Christian evironment and I know how difficult, and guilt-inducing, it can be to try to figure out what is "the lesser of two evils" , as they say.

I have come to believe that God truly is love, and that as such He surely cannot require the fear and guilt and tip-toeing around that is characteristic of some extreme forms of Christianity.

I think the answer to your problem is simply this:

Love your family, and do what is best for them.

And when it comes to the end, stand tall knowing you did the best you could, and let the chips fall where they may.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been able to get you out of my head all day. I'm one of the commenters from earlier, who has been in a similar situation. If you don't do something to ensure that your wife doesn't have more children, then you will lose her. She might not physically leave you, but your marriage will become a hollow shell if she can't trust you to help with the enormity of this issue that is so central to you both. The more I think about it, the more I can't believe that you even consider this to be a dilemma. If you love her, if you love your family, you will do what's right for them. The Bible says nothing about contraception, and nothing about vasectomies. Do you trust people like Quiverfull advocates, or do you trust your wife?

Anonymous said...

What a frightening world you live in...

Orange said...

I would encourage your wife to consider an IUD.

I have health reasons to avoid pregnancy, and for various reasons I don't wish to get a tubal ligation or Essure non-surgical tubal blocking. Nor do I want my husband to get a vasectomy—if I dropped dead tonight, I'd like him to be able to father more children in a subsequent relationship (after a suitable mourning period, of course).

So I've opted for the Mirena IUD. It lasts for five years, often lightens the period, and is nearly 100% effective. Despite the physical dangers of pregnancy for me, the IUD keeps me feeling safe from pregnancy.

(Of course, real men aren't afraid of a vasectomy.)

Anonymous said...

Where are all the anti-contraception religious people on this thread? Are they all celebrating Presidents Day or something?

Anonymous said...

The Bible was written well before we had the advances in science and medicine that allow us to control our reproductive lives. In Biblical times, death during childbirth, and the death of babies and young children were commonplace; sad, but one of those things that just happened.

We don't have to live like that anymore, and I don't believe God would want us to. God gave us the capacity to think and decide for ourselves, and it is the single biggest gift he Gave us. You have before you the chance to choose - you can use contraceptives and protect your wife from the chance of serious injury or death in childbirth, and save her and your children from the pain of post-partum depression (which can be lethal itself). On the other hand, you can choose to live as though we don't have modern medicine, and either endure a sexless marriage until one of you leaves, or completely ignore our wife's feelings and personhood.

It really doesn't seem like a hard choice to me. Yes I am Christian. I'm part way through seminary myself - and I'd counsel a couple in your situation to use contraception (surgical or no), and find a good, secular marriage counselor.

I also would feel remiss if I didn't comment on the tone of this entry: it really does sound like you have run out of compassion for your wife. You say you are not afraid of another pregnancy - are you afraid of losing your wife, or of seeing your wife live in pain? Why not?

Andy said...

"So she has laid down the law: No sex until I get a vasectomy. Period."

I'm sorry, but your wife is being the unreasonable one here. She is asking you to choose between your fertility and your marriage. Don't listen to commenters ripping you for not wanting to do it.

What she has been through is painful and dangerous. Another pregnancy would be dangerous. Most would consider that a "grave reason" to avoid another pregnancy, which is fine. Consider NFP and discuss it with your wife.

Clearly, the "anonymous" commenter does not even have a clear definition of sin or morality. I've read your other considerations, and I think you have a good grasp on it. Stop making excuses and talk with your wife.

Kevin said...

Like some of the others, I was linked here from a Feminist site. I went through a similar decision process you did. My wife and I had 3 children in less than 2 1/2 years (one set of twins). We were both terrified of more pregnancies since my wife had to have c-sections both times, with difficult recovery periods.

Maybe I'm reading something here that isn't there but it sounds to me like you're scared. Scared of the loss of fertility, that you're giving up part of your youth, etc. I also was scared but got the vasectomy because it was the right thing to do.

Your wife has undergone major surgery 3 times. She put her physical and mental well being on the line 3 times for your family. Are you going to let fear stand in the way of stepping up and doing your part?

Your religious arguements are smokescreen, stop the bullshit, grow up and do right by your wife and family. Your reward will be years of uninhibited nooky and a healthier maraige.

L. said...

Andy, I have also said to my husband, "no sex unless you get a vasectomy" (or unless I spend our own money to get a tubal our insurance won`t cover). I fail to see how that`s so "unreasonable," given what is at stake. My husband is not the one who would have to get his stomach cut open, or suffer through PPD, if we conceive again.

I am fully prepared to sacrifice my marriage, because I believe that marriage to a man who would put my life at risk and put me in a situation where I would have to undergo major surgery again when it could be avoided -- well, I love my husband a lot, but if that`s really his attitude, then I am truly better off without him. I am essentially asking him to choose between me and his fertility, and if he picks the latter, then so be it.

I don`t think this blogger`s wife is being "unreasonable" at all -- if NFP or contraception fails, it`s her belly that would go under the knife again.

Justin said...

Contra -

You don't seem at all sensitive to the fact that your wife shoulders a considerable burden to her health - and even the risk of death. I would suggest that you pray about that.

As for your situation, why would God want your marriage to be a stumbling block? God isn't some lawyer who's going to go down the list and say "hrm, loving father to three kids, faithful husband who loved his wife - oops! You took advantage of medical science to contracept! I guess you did it out of love, and to save your marriage, but a rule's a rule."

That's not God. The only reason your situation appears intractable is because you say it's possible that God thinks that contraception, no matter for what reason, is a sin. You don't even think it is! But you're concerned God does.

Do you think God punishes people for the things they do out of love? The things they do because they care for each other? That's not any kind of God I've ever heard of.

I think if you look deep inside, and pray about it - or whatever mode of introspection and reflection suits you - you'll see that the reason this situation appears intractable to you isn't because you think God is going to getcha'; it's because you're being asked, for possibly the first time ever, to take the consequences of sex upon your own body - a burden your wife has always carried.

But I think if you think about it you'll see that taking on each other's burdens is a part of marriage. It sounds like you've been deficient in taking on her burdens when she needs you to do that - in many ways beyond simply this issue - and I think that's something you need to think about.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being anonymous, I'm not an established blogger, just a lurker.

This is a really sad situation. It's pretty clear that Catholic dogma does not respect a woman's precarious relationship with her own fertility: the risks involved, the unique pain, the sacrifices. And so, you are mirroring that dogma by also not respecting her position.

It's up to you to decide what's moral, but I don't see how anyone can see such human suffering and just ignore it under the guise of morality. This goes for you and your church.

Maybe reading Frances Kissling would help you reconcile your dilemma between your wife and your religion. Maybe not, I don't know.

Like others said, it seems unfair to me to have your wife carry the burden of yet another major surgery when you can have an insured and non-invasive procedure that will not affect your hormones in the way it would your wife's. If her procedure were easier on her body and less expensive, I would argue that she get it, especially since she's the one who wants it, but the fact is that it's not.

I hope you find a way to address your wife's concerns in a way that doesn't harm your relationship with God, and I wish your family the best.

- a feminist

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being anonymous, I'm not an established blogger, just a lurker.

This is a really sad situation. It's pretty clear that Catholic dogma does not respect a woman's precarious relationship with her own fertility: the risks involved, the unique pain, the sacrifices. And so, you are mirroring that dogma by also not respecting her position.

It's up to you to decide what's moral, but I don't see how anyone can see such human suffering and just ignore it under the guise of morality. This goes for you and your church.

Maybe reading Frances Kissling would help you reconcile your dilemma between your wife and your religion. Maybe not, I don't know.

Like others said, it seems unfair to me to have your wife carry the burden of yet another major surgery when you can have an insured and non-invasive procedure that will not affect your hormones in the way it would your wife's. If her procedure were easier on her body and less expensive, I would argue that she get it, especially since she's the one who wants it, but the fact is that it's not.

I hope you find a way to address your wife's concerns in a way that doesn't harm your relationship with God, and I wish your family the best.

- a feminist

Anonymous said...

Another anonymous poster here.

I would like to think that I have a good idea as to what sin is.

a) One of the seven deadlies
b) something that harms someone else
c) anything that breaks the ten commandments

Not getting a vasectomy counts as harming your wife, because neither of you are happy without sex and it isn't good for your marriage. You both have a pretty good idea about the harm (physically and mentally) another pregnancy would cause. You are both aware that a vasectomy is safe and effective, as well as less invasive than a tubal ligation. As an added bonus, six months later, there's a safe and accurate test to determine if the surgery has been effective. As far as I know, the only such test to see if the tubal ligation is completely effective is waiting to see if you get pregnant. Not much of a comparison, really.


Birth control isn't about lust. It isn't about closing yourself to God, or about closing yourself to God's blessings. Sins are based on intent. If you intend to protect your wife from physical and mental harm, and protect a loving marriage from breakdown, I don't see how it could be a sin. Most religions have a balanced view of birth control, seeing it as harmful in some cases, but helpful in spacing children and limiting family size. If NFP didn't work before,

Try to remember what Jesus thought about people who took their religion in a legalistic manner. And remember that the greatest commandment he gave us was to love one another.

I can see how other posters believe you are being selfish for not getting a vasectomy. She is suffering from a lack of affection as much as you are, but her motivation is much more pure: her health and sanity, her commitment to the children she already has. You seem to be pondering a number of contradictory views, while ignoring the most important thing.

She is your wife. You are supposed to love, protect and cherish her. To honor her, you are supposed to have a degree of empathy and sympathy for her. I'm sure you made a promise about all of the above to God, seeing as you are married. Remember your wedding day?

In refusing to empathize, in refusing to safeguard your wife's health and take on the burden of a minor surgery, you are breaking your vow to God. It is something to feel very ashamed of. Like adultery, only worse, because this is a sin of the heart.

In my view, not keeping your wedding vows is more of an offense to God then deciding not to have any more children in the face of long term physical and emotional pain.

es said...

Love will diminish because...my wife will be offended that I am not complying with her wishes.

This is pretty damning on you. It shows how little you value your wife's health and sanity and how little you understand the extreme physical ordeal that pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding are for a woman, however much we love our children.

Shame on you for putting a higher value on your "virility" than on your marriage, family and wife.

Did Jesus condemn contraception or divorce? Why do you listen so much to false prophets and so little to your Savior?

es said...

Love will diminish because...my wife will be offended that I am not complying with her wishes.

This is pretty damning on you. It shows how little you value your wife's health and sanity and how little you understand the extreme physical ordeal that pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding are for a woman, however much we love our children.

Shame on you for putting a higher value on your "virility" than on your marriage, family and wife.

Did Jesus condemn contraception or divorce? Why do you listen so much to false prophets and so little to your Savior?

Anotherplayaguy said...

Were I in your shoes, I would follow the Bible and take a concubine. And my wife would gladly, as Sarah, yield up to me her favorite slave upon which I could beget further offspring.

Trust in the Scripture to steer you right.

nowoo said...

I had my vasectomy 14 years ago, right after I got married (we abstained for religious reasons before). Getting a vasectomy was the best decision of my life. I highly recommend it.

mrieder said...

I recommend that you figure out exactly why you think that contraception is a sin. The only relevant bible verse that i can think of is the story of the brother who "spilled his seed" and was punished for it. His situation was vastly different than yours. Furthermore, a vasectomy is vastly different than "spilling the seed".

Truly, I see no scriptural basis against vasectomy.

Consider whether God wants you to continue down this path. Jesus said all the law and the prohets are summed up in "love God and love you neighbor". Jesus focuses on the spirit of love.

Plainly put, I feel completely confident in telling you that God does not abhor contraception. I know you must decide this for yourself, but please consider the impact this is having on your family. God created you for love not anguish. I am praying for you.

God bless you,

M.R.

Anonymous said...

another anon.poster:

Saw the "Brief Response". This jumped out at me:

As I've detailed in previous entries, many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, believe that God also forbids contraception. Contraception, they say, is a refusal of God's blessing of children, a withholding of one's self from one's spouse, a perversion of the marital bed. They say that contraception has spiritual and emotional consequences as well, such as estrangement and divorce.

The important question is, do YOU believe God forbids contraception, and if so, why? It isn't in the Bible. No, it really isn't. So why?

As for the rest, you've already accepted three blessings; you're already withholding yourself from your spouse, as she is from you; and you're already heading down the road to estrangement and divorce. I just think it's really sad and ironic that you're worrying so about the side affects of contraception, when they're already coming to pass because you won't get snipped.

You've gotten lots of good advice, but judging by your "brief response", clearly it wasn't what you wanted to hear. I'll be praying that you wake up before you lose it all.

Anonymous said...

Choices and resposabilities.
Thats our burden, the burden of the free will.
You think that contraception and vasectomy are bad.
I am confident that you think that doing this to your wife and your children is bad.
There is no "lesser bad", no simple rule, no simple bible statement that can solve your problem.
Its all up to you.

And ditto:
God created you for love not anguish.

Anonymous said...

I'd've preferred to reply to this in the post it came from, but since people like me (Christian, of a sort, and fully convinced God invented contraception as a Good Thing so as to even out the unnatural and unGodly imbalance between God's daughters and sons, and to protect those daughters from unnecessary harm) have been asked to stick to this thread, so here I am. And here's my thoughts:

How do I protect my wife from a dangerous pregnancy while avoiding the sin of abstinence and the sin of contraception?

Short answer---you don't. Through blind adherence to mortal (and shakily supported) doctrine, you've backed yourself into a corner where you ARE going to sin, no matter what you do. You have my pity that you've created this unsolvable mess for yourself and your family, but that doesn't change the fact that you got yourself into it, and you're going to have to take on the burden (sin, if you prefer) of getting yourself out.

The thing that strikes me as horrible, though, is that you seem to truly believe that a loving, merciful and compassionate God would deliberately put you in a position where you HAVE to commit a sin, no matter what you do. I don't believe in that God. I do believe you're confusing Mortal Man's interfering and power-hungry nature (the "Mrs. Grundy" phenomenon) with God's Will. Here's a hint for determining the difference: whichever increases love is of God, and whichever decreases it is of Mrs. Grundy.

The circle you're trying to square, the corner you've painted yourself into, is made up almost entirely of "Mrs. Grundy's" disapproval. God has already provided you with a good way out of this mess, one that will protect your wife, preserve your family and increase love. You already know what it is, you just don't want to take it, and are looking for excuses to deny its validity. So ask yourself, who do you trust, God or Mrs. Grundy? Which do you love, your wife or your dick?

I know it's harsh to hear, but seriously, you---not God---have put yourself in this untenable position and you---not God---are going to have to get yourself out of it. I truly do pity you, and will pray that you hear God's love and mercy and forgiveness over the false roar of Mrs. Grundy's stern and unloving disapproval.

"Freedom begins when men tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite."---Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

GreyLadyBast

Equus Pallidus said...

People from Feminista giving you religous advice, what a joke. All of them are liars and most of them hate God to begin with. I can't sop lauphing at some their posts. Calling you a dick and hoping your wife divorces you. Yeah these are the right people.

Sorry man you were their fodder for a day.

Check out Vox Days blog to learn a little more about these people.

voxday.blogspot.com

Joshua said...

Seriously, man, get the vasectomy. This is destroying you and your wife, and if you keep going on the course you're on, it will destroy your family.

You have the power to end this now, and I sincerely hope you do.

Marcy said...

I am a born-again Christian who desires to please God. In this case, have you thought about Luke 14:5? "And He said to them, 'Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?'" Jesus spent a lot of time criticizing contemporary religious teachings -- things that focused on technicalities rather than the big picture of love. I think his point with the ox was that when you have an emergency, something that threatens your life or your family, it is OK to deviate from the rules in order to do what is right. I think your ox is in the ditch, and you should get the vascectomy -- that's my feeling and advice. God bless you and your family, and I pray that God will lead you to do the right thing. Be sure you are listening to your heart -- be still and quiet -- and be open to His guidance. If you have a strong instinct on this, even if it goes against others' opinions or things you've been taught, it may be God's way of leading you.

B said...

It sounds like you don't have a problem with contraception, so I don't see why you would have a problem with a vasectomy? Are you planning on leaving your wife soon and making babies with someone else? You can freeze your sperm if you are really paranoid about it. It's obvious your wife doesn't want any more children. Aren't the ones you already have enough? If you can't get past this, your marriage is over because you won't be able to survive the lack of intimacy much longer (I'm surprised you have survived this long). Vasectomies are cheap and easy. Mine is the best thing I've ever done. Your sex life will improve tenfold because your wife will be able to enjoy it again without the worry. Better make that appointment soon. It's either the urologist or a divorce attorney.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried non-procreative sex?

Cunnilingus and fellatio if you don't consider them sinful. Masturbating each other if you don't consider that sinful. As long as semen doesn't get anywhere near the vagina, pregnancy is impossible.

Having that much sex and not having intercourse requires solid willpower, but the cuddling and touching and orgasms and so forth *do* release the brain chemicals which cement your emotional bond. Some couples have been happy for decades or more with that much sex. It might or might not work for you and your wife; it might be worth trying though.

I suggest this mainly because a startling number of people don't even think of the possibility of sexual intimacy without intercourse. I doubt the anti-contraception folks have thought about it either.

It's obvious that the greatest sin is leaving your wife in distress. Any solution which allows you to have the sexual intimacy she needs and 100% certainty that she won't get pregnant is better than any alternative.

Anonymous said...

I am a hardcore, militant fundamentalist Evangelical Christian and I say you should get the vasectomy. You and your wife have already had three children, at the possible risk of killing your wife. I think God would say "OK my child, you have been fruitful and multiplied. You may stop now and live a happy life with your wife and wonderful children."

God said...

For My sake, get the vasectomy! I do not ask more of you in terms of having children. You have served Me well enough by having three. Go forth and reconnect with your wife.

James said...

Reading through your previous posts is extremely sad. Sad to think that so many people believe in such a vindictive God.

It seems to me that you need to decide what kind of God you believe in: A Pharisaical God, who sends people to everlasting Hell for not conforming to the letter of His laws - whether or not His intent was clear? or a loving God, who knows that you strive always, every day, to serve Him in everything you do?

You know in your heart already what is the right and loving thing to do for your family. Fear not, for God knows what is in your heart and will judge you accordingly.

Anonymous said...

As a former Catholic I was concerned about legitimate reasons for using NFP. There are many extreme people online who led me to believe that using NFP was okay only in extreme circumstances such as threat to the life of the mother.

I sought out a CONSERVATIVE Catholic priest, a professor of moral theology. He told me that it would be fine to have ~2 children and then to use NFP to avoid more children and focus on career.

I don't know to what extent that helps you, but NFP can be very successful when used correctly.


Furthermore, in Catholic teaching while it is a sin to get a vascectomy it is NOT a sin to have sex after you got it.


Do what needs to be done for your family, don't let this destroy your marriage.

Anonymous said...

God bless you for honestly seeking answers. It's just my opinion, but I feel that since you've been given this wonderful wife and these wonderful children, and you need to do what's best for them and protect them. You can protect your wife from bodily harm, and protect your children from growing up motherless, with that vasectomy.

Although it's given you pause, considering the nature of sin, I think it's not a sin to put the needs of others above yourself. I hope your family finds the right answer, and that you and your wife can get back to doing God's work- loving one another, communicating, sharing, and growing in love.

Bruce said...

Here's my response (from the Atheist/Humanist perspective): Religion Never Hurt No One.

In short, you're hurting your wife and killing your marriage. But if that's what you think your God wants you to do, more power to you. Just be sure that God also wants you to be divorced or live in a loveless marriage with a wife that resents you.

Anonymous said...

Under Catholicism, I am told it is acceptable to dissent on particular beliefs. Of course, this is a safeguard so people who disagree on just a few points may still count as good Catholics.

I don't quite remember the requirements, but I think they included: researching the issue, asking the priest for advice, seeing if this is a common problem for others, etc.

If there is any belief to dissent about, it is the one about contraception.

Contraskeptic said...

Marcy, thanks for your comment. That's a very interesting point.

wgydlpe said...

I'm posting on this thread out of respect for Contraskeptic's request
that comments to his "A brief response" post be reserved for "those
Christians who believe that contraception is a sin"

Reading his postings has generated in me a mixture of sadness, humor
and relief.

Sadness that an obviously intelligent person would come to this point.
He is ready to risk his future - his marriage, his happiness, the
upbringing of his children, over a minor doctrinal point. An issue
that is certainly not clear-cut, no matter which of the thousands of
biblical interpretations you choose to believe.

Humor in that his evangelical buddies have abandoned him in his time
of need – only one, Layla, has given him the permission he wants:

"This must be a terribly trying experience for you. I can only
imagine how painful it must be to have one's spouse demand that one
undergo surgery to "correct" something that doesn't need correction."

You go girl – it's his wife's fault – she needs to shut up and submit
to Gods will (which is what ever her husband decides it is…)

And relief because I could be the one in this situation. I was raised
in an extreme christian fundamentalist / evangelical sect., with all
the trappings and psychological baggage demonstrated here. I left it
all behind at age 18 – family, friends, church – and started a new
life as an atheist. 30 years later, it's still the best and most
important decision of my life.

Finally – has anyone wondered what Contraskeptic's wife has to say
about this blog? I wonder if she knows that the most personal aspects
of her life are being discussed here.

Anonymous said...

there is a book i hightly recommend to anyone who is seeking to honestly follow Christ in today's world. It's called Kingdom Ethics by Glen Stassen and David Gushee. My husband is in seminary and had to ready it for his Christian ethics class and i decided to read it too, it's excellent. I think maybe you're asking the wrong questions. I agree that children are a huge blessing, i have a two year old daughter. But i think that as Christians we need to think about a lot of things when it comes to this issue. First, i think even the Roman Catholic church has come to recognize that sex isn't just for procreational purposes. like you said, it's also for bonding and the health of the marriage. Like someone else said, please read your Bible carefully,the command was to go forth and mutiply and fill the earth, which humanity has definitely done with no problem, it's full! in fact, it's getting overfull and i think we need to seriously consider the ethical consequences of everyone having lots of children at this time in history. it means a lot of things, and i dont' know if we're being good stewards of creation if we all have ten kids. also there are a lot of kids out there without homes and with overpopoulation being such a huge problem i think people could consider adopting if they want large families, just as God has adopted us. after all we're commanded to care for orphans. (i realize adoption is expensive and not possible for everyone, but there are christian organizations out there that will help finance it) Maybe your wife is being selfish or maybe she just realizes that the gifts God has given her aren't suited for being a full time mom forever. Maybe there is other kingdom work she should be doing and is more gifted for. I agree once you have kids you need to be raising them yourself, but not everyone is gifted to do keep having kids and do that forever. It sounds like that isn't the main problem anyway, because it sounds like you don't really especially want more kids either. personlly i just think you need to find another doctor. I think getting a vasectomy (if you don't want more kids) because your wife wants you to, is a valid reason. you are loving her like you are commanded to in scripture, laying down your life for her sake. vasectomies are cheaper and safer and require less recovery time than tubal ligation and I think as long as you agree that you're done having kids then it is a fine reason. Please understand that God isn't out to get you, and you are not sinning by getting a vasectomy. it's not treating children as an inconveneience, it's recognizing the limits of our world and the different situation we are in than humanity was when the command to multiply was given. we have multiplied, more than enough. Also what do those people who oppose all birth control think about people who stay single for the sake of the Kingdom (like the apostle Paul) are they sinning by not multiplying? I think a couple has a responsibility to also consider what is best for the kingdom of God and have the same freedom to make the decision to not have anymore kids for the same reason. also Ummm...can you explain to me why you didn't want to get a vasectomy? was it just the sin thing? my husband feels the same way, ( it's not because he thinks it's a sin) we had an argument last night and i just want to understand why he feels that way, he won't talk about it.

Anonymous said...

According to the BBC, a new German study says that the symptothermal method of natural family planning can be as 'effective' as the contraceptive pill.
Click here for the article

Anonymous said...

Oh, and all the best with your moral dilemma.

It seems that you are willing to do what the young man was not in Matthew 19:19.

Anonymous said...

The problem with NFP (including using temperature and other fertility indicators), is that it isn't 100% effective, and is not acceptable to Conraskeptic's wife.

I have not seen the original research article mentioned above because my university's online subscription won't give access until the article is 6 months old. The news media has reported on how effective the method is with prefect use, but has not to my knowledge published any information as to how the women were selected.
Age may play role in how effective this method is. I think it is also important to note that NFP is not recommended to teens (not for moral implications or compliance issues) because their fertility cycles are often irregular. In this case, the wife is heading into her mid 40's, and possibly toward menopause. Would premenopausal hormonal shifts affect the efficacy of the method? Probably. How was the third child concieved? By having sex the day after her period. I'm no expert on NFP (and the wife wasn't taking her basal temperature to monitor ovlutation either), but that doesn't seem like a typical cycle or typical ovulation, unless her period lasts 7 days, she ovulated before day 14, and/or her husband (age 40) has sperm that survived in the fallopian tubes for 7 days.

Here's a thought: they probably didn't select women in their forties. Looking online at several other NFP studies, the cutoff age for participants was 42. Some studies of NFP have a cutoff of age 40, or younger.

Pubmed is wonderful, isn't it?

(a)Efficacy of Cervical Mucus Observations Plus Electronic Hormonal Fertility Monitoring as a Method of Natural Family Planning
Richard J. Fehring, Mary Schneider, Kathleen Raviele, Mary Lee Barron
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing

b)Fertility and Sterility
Volume 72, Issue 5 , November 1999, Pages 900-904

c)European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Volume 125, Issue 1 , 1 March 2006, Pages 72-78

d) Contraception
Volume 72, Issue 2 , August 2005, Pages 85-90

The last citation summarizes 3 previous NFP trials (different from above citations) and the age criteria for the studies.
(18-40, 18-39, 20-39)


So saying the method is as effective as the pill isn't quite true.

It was found to be as effective as the pill, when used perfectly, in some population of women, who probably were between the ages of 18-42.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should read:

not only for moral implications or compliance issues

Anonymous said...

I admire contraskeptic for going to the great lengths that he is. I don't think I've ever met any Christian willing to follow his faith no matter what. He could so easily take the easy way out and go along with whatever his own denomination says, and if it didn't say what he liked, he could join another. I linked the article because it surprised me a week ago and I thought it was relevant.

I was conceived as a result of contraceptive failure, so, unless you're willing to get sterilised or have an abortion, there's usually at least some risk of having another kid.

I'm not sure, and contraskeptic probably knows better than I do, but I think the RCC would say that you are not sinning if you do not abstain while the other partner is contracepting, though the other partner obviously is. I'm not certain, but under official RC teaching, it seems, however, that any artificial birth control would involve sin on the part of one partner. It seems to leave only two viable options - NFP for "grave" reasons, while remaining "open to life," or abstinence. If long-term abstinence is the only option, it is not a sin. Catholics can either choose to obey or disobey, and most choose the latter for no reason. But in a situation such as Contraskeptic's, there appears to be a legitimate reason to disobey, though I'd expect orthodox Catholics to contend that the ends do not justify the means and that the only moral way to avoid the risk of pregnancy 100% would be to abstain 100%, but long-term abstinence would probably only be justifiable for "grave" reasons and as a last resort. However, if his wife refuses to have sex unless he commits a sin, abstinence would not be a sin on his part. For him to sin, it has to be him himself who makes the choice to disobey God's law. One cannot be held accountable for something which one didn't choose.

I don't know how an Evangelical would go about working these things out, though. Contraskeptic has to figure out what the Bible teaching actually is, and then he has to decide whether to obey or disobey. But he's already decided to obey AND he is faced with a personal situation so difficult that I can't even comprehend how hard this must be for him.

I wish him all the best.

Anonymous said...

Contraskeptic,
What has happened since March? What decisions hawe been made, and what have been their implications?
Your readers are concerned and interested.

bruno said...

"So it's ok for her to use contraception and go to hell, but not you?

I hope she reads this blog, realizes what a selfish dick you are, and divorces you. Leaving you with the kids -- just so you finally understand what a thankless, depressing chore being the primary caregiver in this society is."

This is exactly what I came in here to say. You're being so immensely selfish and uncaring, it pains me. Try to put yourself in your wife's shoes for once.

A male vasectomy is quicker, cheaper, less risky, and more reversible than a tubal ligation. If you truly care for your wife, then you will get the vasectomy.

ChainBlue said...

Dude, you are a real f-tard. Quit being a poosy and take care of your marriage. Quit using your "religion" as an excuse.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe what i'm reading. Your marrage is suffering, your wife is suffering, and you're refusing to use all the wonderful advances in contraceptive science in order to save them. And why? In case you offend a big unprovable thing in the sky?

There is no sin. There are only choices. You can either have safe sex, you'll both be happy, and your marrage will be great. Or, you can refuse to use a simple peice of rubber, and doom your entire family.

Which do you think would be the real sin?

Anonymous said...

It seems that you aren’t really seeking a debate or discussion in that you are specifically asking “Christian bloggers who have written passionately against contraception” for their opinions. It appears much more likely that you are merely looking for ideas to support your argument to your wife. When one seeks opinions that agree with their own, they tend to find them, but I’m surprised how few of your target audience have chosen to respond. Their silence should truly ring in your ears.

"A pregnancy within marriage is never a crisis pregnancy, never a "disaster," as I saw it."

The fact is that your family IS in crisis without the hypothetical fourth pregnancy. One honors God by honoring your wife and family and looking out for their well being. How much clearer must she be? So many marriages have a dismal record for communication and here you have a wife who very specifically tells you that she still desires you physically and asks you to undergo an extremely simple procedure to help ensure her physical as well as mental health. How is it that you have used birth control so often in the past but you balk at the vasectomy? Choosing to guarantee no future children with your wife is the responsible thing to do to ensure you can effectively care for the ones you have. Honoring your family in the here and now does honor God.

I agree with an earlier post that said that you sabotaged your vasectomy appointment. You purposefully said the one phrase that would cast doubt in the doctor’s mind to give yourself an excuse to get out of it. At minimum, you withheld information such as the very real possibility of threats to your wife's health should she become pregnant again. Lies of omission are still lies and frankly it was a cowardly tactic. You’ve chosen other methods to “prevent conception” in the past. This is no different. What is the real reason against a permanent solution to your problem if not fear? Maybe, in contrast to your post, you aren’t so ambivalent and you do want more children deep down. There is no harm in being honest about that even though it is in stark contradiction to your wife’s wishes. If true, that conflict could be causing your problem. You may not want to surrender to the idea that your existing children are all you’ll ever have. Maybe you are in love with having an infant in the house. They can be intoxicating in a way and I have known many women in my life who make poor decisions to “accidentally” have another baby to satisfy that “addiction” but their families have unilaterally suffered as a result. I am merely speculating and positing scenarios to hopefully help you divine what the real reasons for your stance may be. Please, don’t let either an irrational belief nor or an understandable longing damage your marriage further. And make no mistake…digging your heels in as you have has, in fact, damaged your marriage. Nor irreparably, I hope, but it certainly has taken a toll.
Best of luck...to your wife and yourself. BR

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Ron F said...

Let me start off by saying I am a Christian, non-Catholic, 26, and not married.

What strikes me about this thread is the venom and hatred in the majority of the comments posted here. At the risk of sounding condescending, most of what I have read here does NOT reflect a Christian viewpoint; in fact it sounds more like people who hate Christians. What a sad world we live in when people hate righteousness.

Jesus was extremely consistent that we as Christians should love one another and support our brothers even when they are going through hard times or moral difficulties. In fact, those are the times when we are to be most loving. So I can confidently say that you should ignore those commenters who dismiss your issue out of hand or throw insults at you. They don't really care about you or your wife any more than they need to in order to make a poster child of you for their feminist agendas.

Now I should say that I don't agree with the Catholic teaching about contraception being a sin. I have read the often-cited scriptures on the matter, and I believe that the Catholic perspective is a misreading of what actually occurred in Genesis 38.

The problem is that Catholicism teaches that the church as an entity itself is as equally important as the Word in guiding our Christian lives. A striking parallel could be drawn to the Pharisees of biblical times. If you believe that doctrine, you have to believe that God didn't give you a complete instruction manual for living in the Bible, and that his Holy Spirit is not sufficient for a Christian who studies the word for him or herself to receive revelation in the practical application of Biblical principles. In essence, don't just trust God and his divine word, but trust man too. Doesn't that directly contradict what the Bible says?

I realize that my "attack" on RC may not be what you were looking for any more than the others who call you a selfish bastard for even asking for help on this issue. But as a follower of Christ and one who seeks to show love to everyone, I hope I can show you that the decision is not as one-dimensional as the RC church would have you believe, and yet it doesn't require you to sacrifice your faith either. If you earnestly seek God, through prayer and scripture, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I believe he will show you an answer that brings both you and your wife closer to him. And I suspect you may find in the process that it is God himself, and not the Vatican, who is the arbiter of truth.

I will say that in your shoes, based on my best estimation of the situation you describe, I would have the procedure. I believe that action would be most consistent with the principles of love that Jesus taught, and that absent any direct commandments from God to the contrary, legalistic arguments about the sinfulness of contraception are just that - legalism much like Jesus ascribed to the Pharisees (whom he said were not righteous enough to make it to heaven, though they were astute scholars of the scriptures!) I wish you and your wife the best in your difficult decision, and love you both as brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Anonymous said...

Yeah, well what no-one talks about is that when one of the spouses is not ready for this, and it is forced on them. The marriage is doomed. As someone who has been with his wife since 16, I can tell you that since my wife pushed me into going along with the essure procedure (for women,new,easier than vasectomy) I feel that she divorced me that day. I cannot have sex with her anymore. I was doing a fine job of protecting her with condoms for 15 years and I liked being in control of that. I think it is instinct during sex for the man to feel a sense of power and domination (during sex I said! Dont start with the politically correct B.S.!) Now when we are together, I know that nothing "could" result of it. It is pointless masturbation, and I feel emasculated and sex is humiliating to me. I am overcome with sadness and depression, even after a year, that I will never, NEVER, have a child with my wife again. I am seriously considering divorce. I love her but how could she possibly love me and push me into this? Love is a two way street! She wanted to be in control, she wants to be the man- fine she gets it. I am in my late 30's and have lost everything -even this. I have to start over, perhaps I will start over in all ways. I can still have children! Thank God I am not one of those wimps that let their wifes force vasectomy on them when they dont want it. My point is -YOU BETTER CONSIDER WHAT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES WILL BE IF YOU ARE NOT READY! I never, ever, thought I would be this close to giving up. Leaving her will be like tearing myself in half. But I am PISSED!!!!!!!!!!!

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Kate said...

Firstly, I won't pretend I have any form of expertise in this area at all. I'm fifteen, thus unmarried and not sexually active, and i was brought up as a Catholic although i consider myself agnostic. For the last three years I have been part of a government-funded project, travelling around the world, studying religion and theology.

Firstly,I can understand you not wanting to get a vasectomy, it may damage your male pride, you're worried about the pain, and you're worried from a religious point of view. BUT, this is an option for you to realise which is more important to you - your wife's happiness and your marriage, or the afore mentioned?

The reason the Church objects to contraception is because they believe it encourages promiscuity and therefore unwanted pregnancies and broken homes. It seems to me that that is already happening to you and your wife. God want's families to be happy, loving and honest with each other, and it appears that whilst you are not lying to your wife about anything, that you have not fully explained your feelings and reasoning to her.

Secondly, The Bible (Bibles) was written 2000 years ago, far before contraception such as condoms or vasectomy's were invented. Without being dismissive of your faith, has it occured to you, that the Bible cannot be consulted for every single matter that we have in the present day? The Bible is contradictory and cannot apply to all situation! It's simply not practical!

Thirdly, not all Christians are against contraception. In fact, ALL Protestant Churches encourage the use of contraception, and it has been accepted that it is exactly the same God for all branches of Christianity. If he allows it for Protestants, there is no reason that he would not allow it for you. Besides, this is the God of forgiveness and love, right? Then he will see that you are doing it for the right, selfless reasons, should you choose to get a vasectomy.

Finally, (Yes i'm nearly done) the Church teaches, that there are six things a Christian must Listen to and follow throughout their lives. These are the Bible, the 10 commandments, Jesus, The Church, Agape and your concscience. The Church believes that your conscience should mean more than all of the others, as it is our own inner voice, and cannot be silenced with meaningless action or words. Talk this over fully with your wife, then together talk to a doctor and counseller. Follow your concsience and do the right thing, whatever you decide that may be.

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Anonymous said...

Marriage is a vocation.....and being your wife and the mother of your children is your wife's vocation. What were the vows that you said during your wedding? I am assuming you are not Catholic. In the Catholic union the couple takes a vow before God to be open to as many children as He seems fit to give. The Church allows married couple to practice NFP in the cases of illness or severe poverty.

So here is your dilemma- do you understand the main purpose of your marriage? Its goal is for you and your wife to help one another to live a life pleasing to God so that in the end you will be in union with Him for all eternity.

Think about this are you really surrendering your life to God to fulfill the goals He has for your marriage. When God first put man and woman together He gives them a command - be fruitful and multiply- in the wedding vows again the Priests asks us will you be open to ALL the children in which God seems fit to send you...we answer yes to go on with the ceremony but how often the perverse thought of the world drags so many couples into mortal sin where we should be open to the WILL of God and the BLESSING of more children.

Your wife is not thinking of your best interest if she is asking you to get a vasectomy. Read the scriptures- do you remember Gods punishment for the man who spilt his seed? He was cursed. Contraception in the EYES of God is a sin because in our pride we do not allow Him Kingship over our bodies and our union with our spouses. You would be committing mortal sin if you cut the greatest gift God has given to you....the ability to be co-creator with HIm of new life. THink long and hard about what you are deciding. its is a grave sin and as your wife she should be protecting you not leading you to Hell. As her husband you should encourage her to look at her life as her vocation as wife and mother to be the most important job that she could excel at. and anything that leads her away from that is going to lead her away from God. Good luck and I hope God has mercy on you and her and send you His wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your wife has a trust issue. God is the One Who opens and closes the womb. So she actually thinks that He doesn't know best. Children are a blessing not a burden! Society is so backwards and wrong on this issue. Mothers are made to believe that fullness of life exists outside the home in career and sucess, when in all actuality fullness of life and success exists inside the home raising the gifts they have been given. Why is it that we can pick and choose what areas we choose to trust the Creator of all in and what areas we think we can control and handle without Him. I think that as a God appointed spiritual leader of your home should help bring your wife to understand the importance of trusting in the Lord (in all areas) and be at peace in knowing that He knows what's best.

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Anonymous said...

Not all Protestant churches encourage contraception. I am Orthodox Lutheran & my church forbids it (Martin Luther called spilling seed "Sodomic sin" & repeatedly referred to contraception, including sterilization, evil & the like, as did many Church Fathers), also at least the Old Order of the Amish do. Several other denominations, which are not quite as old-fashioned but still fairly conservative discourage it, such as the Lutheran Missouri Synod, which my family recently left, for many reasons, but denying the teachings of Luther, including on the problem of contraception, was a major one.

Also, IUDs do not always prevent conception. Sometimes they cause abortion by preventing the implantation of the embryo, & sometimes they allow it to implant & the pregnancy continues, dangerously because a foreign object is in the way.

I'm sorry I can't offer you any happy solution. I think about how it used to be that childbearing was the fairly dangerous burden of nearly all women, & fighting wars, defending their families from attackers, & things like letting women & children have the lifeboats were the fairly dangerous burdens of nearly all men. Now we've largely avoided & insulated ourselves from these things, & we take our safety for granted. I have had one Cesarean section & know God may bless me with more children, or may not, & I may require further operations, but if I have them, they will be saving my life, as the previous one probably did, or if I do not make it through one, it should still save the life of the baby. I am grateful for all the blessings I have had in my life & am ready to face death at any moment God wills it. I put my trust entirely in Him.

I will pray for God to indicate the right path to you & your wife & to preserve the life & health of both of you.

Anonymous said...

Your wife is furious with you. Please do the ethical, manly thing and prtect her health and life- get the vasectomy.

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