Birth Control Options for Christians

Jay Dee

Birth Control Options for Christians

Mar 12, 2014

We’ve been talking about birth control for about the last month.  First we discussed non-procreative sex, then permanent birth control measures, and now we’re going to discuss birth control itself.  Birth control is a messy topic for Christians. We have to combine our beliefs on

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Birth Control Options for ChristiansWe’ve been talking about birth control for about the last month.  First we discussed non-procreative sex, then permanent birth control measures, and now we’re going to discuss birth control itself.  Birth control is a messy topic for Christians. We have to combine our beliefs on when life begins, the sovereignty of God in our lives, and considerations that our body is a temple of God, that we are stewards of it, and are responsible for anything we put in or on it. I’ve been asked to share my views on birth control and Christian marriage. I’m going to do by best to explain my reasoning and back up the things I say with scripture, but to be clear, these are my views. Each person should be convicted of their own beliefs and be able to reason them, and not to rely on someone else to do it for them. God will hold us all accountable. I believe He is forgiving of errors, but I’m not so sure He’s forgiving of third-partying your relationship with Him. So, study, read the scriptures, pray, and belief what you will, but don’t just go “Oh, I believe what this guy believes”, that won’t help you.  I’m going to be as reasoning and logical as I can during this, because that’s how I think about these things.  No doubt some will think it makes me cold and calculating.  I’m hoping my wife (in purple) can add some balance to the discussion.

When does life begin?

This is a difficult subject for Christians, for two reasons: One, the Bible doesn’t explicitly state “Life begins at” and then give us a nice clear definitive answer. We have to contrast the Creation story (where life began with breath) with God stating He knew us in our mother’s womb.

Now, the two ends of the spectrum are:

  1. Life begins at conception. Any fertilized egg is life. Thus, any birth control method that has the potential of terminating a fertilized egg is considered murder, and thus morally unacceptable.
  2. Life begins at birth. Thus, anything up to birth itself is fair game, any form of birth control, even late-term abortions have no moral consequences as it is no different than removing an appendix. It is just another part of the potentially mother’s body.

Most people fall somewhere on that spectrum, and a lot of people can’t really define where they fall, or why they believe it. At some nondescript time, this “thing”, this fertilized egg becomes a “person”, a soul. I’m curious how many abortions would stop if we forced ultrasound machines to be present and running at the time of the abortion. I suspect many people find themselves closer to the “life begins at conception” side of the spectrum. Something about seeing a baby move in utero makes it clear that it is alive. It moves independently, responds to stimuli, seems to have a mind of its own. It seems clear it is a soul. For me, I don’t understand how someone could call them not a living being, but only an extension of the “host” body.  I have heard of some clinics showing the clients a recorded procedure before they actually do it, and many people changed their minds. I also can not understand how someone can go through with it either.

So, this begs the question of “When is the transition”. When does it become a soul. This is further complicated by the mythology that is prevalent in Christianity that people “have” souls, instead of are souls. Because it brings the question of when does God “create” or “deliver” said soul (depending on your doctrine). Now, my argument is that people are souls, they do not have souls.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

– Genesis 2:7

I know some people are going to argue with that, and I could write a whole post on it, and will one day at www.jaydeeblogs.com, but I haven’t had much time to write on theology lately. This blog is my primary ministry.

But, using this theology of a body being a soul, the theology simplifies a bit. I don’t have to worry about some mystical soul being created or delivered at some indeterminate time. 

Now, the only verse my wife and I have been able to find in the Bible to clarify when life begins is in Leviticus:

For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.” – Leviticus 17:14

We see blood as being of huge importance all through the Bible. It is the primary symbol of life. It seems that life, in the context of a living being, cannot exist without blood.   Now, sperm does not have blood, neither does an egg, fertilized or not. At about weeks 4-5, the heart starts beating and blood begins to flow.  So, that sort of gives me a timeline. To me, life begins at about weeks 4-5, as best as I can find out from the Bible.

I remember having a discussion with some friends about when life begins and what type of birth control they used and why etc, and I always felt uneasy about the whole “life begins at conception” thing, it didn’t really make sense to me, it has huge potential at that point to become life, but it’s missing it’s source to live. so after doing a lot of digging about life in the Bible I found the above verse that makes it really clear. But if you look at the theme of blood in the Bible and it’s always about life. So this makes it clear to me and Jay that life begins when blood is infused into the embryo.

Sovereignty of God

So, the other major issue is how you believe God’s will is acted out in your life.  Some Christians (and by “some”, I mean “some”, as in a subset, not “some” as a method of distancing myself, though I don’t hold this view.  Sorry, had to explain that, had an issue with words like this before), as I was saying some Christians believe that “God’s will be done” means that God will do whatever He wants and we shouldn’t do anything to get in His way.  Others believe that God will do whatever He wants, regardless of whatever we want.  And some (like myself) are in the middle and believe God gave us intellect and reason and choice and we should choose to act in the best interest of furthering His Kingdom.  Again, I don’t want to get into big theology debate here about the sovereignty of God and His will in our lives.  But the point is that that some of that first subset believes that all contraception is wrong based on the simple fact that we may be interfering with God’s plan for pregnancy.  Catholics, I believe, are the most prevalent of this group, but certainly not the only ones.  Others call themselves “quiverful”, and I’m sure there are others who don’t self-associate with either group.  I myself have a hard time holding this view, but I’ll just say that this is not my belief, and I won’t address it any further, because I’m not going to say at every option “Oh, and the first subset, again, thinks this method is immoral”.  Consider this my blanket statement covering your theology.

So, how about I list some birth control options, explain how they work, and how my theology affects my decision about whether or not to use them. I’ll try to explain how the other viewpoints would see this as well.

Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal birth control methods work by “tricking” the body into thinking it’s already pregnant by releasing some of the same hormones your body would release if it was pregnant. These can include oral contraceptives (like “The Pill”), subcutaneous implants (under the skin), injections, patches, some IUDs (intrauterine devices) and vaginal rings.

There are two basic kinds of oral contraceptives (pills): There is a combined oral contraceptive and a progesterone only pill. Both pills basically work the same way, the progesterone only pill doesn’t contain estrogen, which some women have trouble with, so prefer a pill that opts out of that component. It is slightly less effective though (see the chart).

As far as I can tell from my research (and I’m no expert), hormonal birth controls all work basically the same way.  They release estrogen and/or progesterone into the body.  The “defense” against pregnancy is threefold:

  1. They try to stop sperm by thickening cervical mucus, making it more difficult for them to reach the uterus, and thus a potential egg.
  2. They try to stop eggs from being released by making the body think it is already pregnant.
  3. They make the uterine lining inhospitable to a fertilized egg.

Now, in discussions with women on this topic, most know about #2, some know about #1, few know about #3.  And it’s important depending on your beliefs.  Because if you believe a fertilized egg is life, then #3 is murder, and thus the pill has the potential of killing your unborn potential child.

Now, for me, each of these stages are well before 4-5 weeks after implantation, so I have no issues the specific methods of “controlling” birth.  However, I have a serious issue with some other side effects.

  1. It can dampen, reduce, or completely remove the desire for sex, arousal or sexual responsiveness.  For some women, it takes years for their brain to return back to “normal”.  My wife’s drive is about back to normal recently.  It’s been 8 years. (and 4 babies)  Some women never recover.  Sadly, the FDA doesn’t consider sexual arousal problems or low desire in women to be a serious side effect, so doctors aren’t required to warn patients. I am pretty sure it is listed as a side affect on the packaging. Just no one takes it seriously or if it does happen to them, they don’t think it’s the pill.
  2. It can drastically change moods or behavior.  In our case, it was like I was married to a completely different person.  I’m not kidding.  I often felt like Jacob who was tricked and got Leah instead of Rachel. I had no idea how miserable I was. I think women should go through some kind phsyc evaluation while on the pill.
  3. It can remove the ability in women to detect less compatible genetics in potential mates.  This isn’t an issue if you go on birth control after you are married, but if you start before you get married, you could increase the risk of health issues in your children by being paired with an undesirable match.  This likelihood is fairly low.  What seems more likely is that when you go off birth control in order to get pregnant, you may suddenly feel repulsed (in varying degrees) by your husband because your body is recoiling from a bad genetic match. I think also since it messes with then natural hormones once you get off, your body has to adjust to doing its own thing again, and that could make it hard for a woman to realize she does love this man.  Interesting note: I’ve been watching a lot of lectures from marriage counselors lately, and many of them have said that a major complaint of wives who are clients is that their husbands “smell bad” all of a sudden, and it impedes their desire.  It doesn’t seem to have been an issue before, only later on.
Chance of pregnancy during first year of use:Wikipedia
MethodTypical usePerfect use
No birth control85%85%
Combination pill9%0.3%
Progestin-only pill13%1.1%
Sterilization (female)0.5%0.5%
Sterilization (male)0.15%0.10%
Condom (female)21%5%
Condom (male)18%2%
Copper IUD0.8%0.6%
Hormonal IUD0.2%0.2%
Patch9%0.3%
Vaginal ring9%0.3%
Depo Provera6%0.2%
Implant0.05%0.05%
Diaphragm and spermicide12%6%
Fertility awareness24%0.4–5%
Withdrawal22%4%
Lactational amenorrhea method
(6 months failure rate)
0-7.5%<2%

So, those are my reasons for avoiding the pill like the plague.  Many people don’t have any symptoms at all, but if you are on it, and your husband is complaining that you seem like a different person…might want to get that checked out.  And going off of The Pill for a month may not be a long enough test…it may take years to reset or even see improvement.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods are exactly as they sound.  They create a barrier that stops sperm.  Examples are condoms, diaphragms, spermicide/sponges, and cervical caps.  There’s not much to say about them.  Except for the previously mentioned subset (see Sovereignty of God above), I don’t believe any other Christians have issue with this method.

Typically the biggest complaint is that is that you have to do something about it during sex, or that it isn’t sexy, or they don’t feel natural.  Oh, and if you are allergic to latex, you have to be careful to buy non-latex products.

Intrauterine Devices

There are two types that I know of.  One is the hormonal type, which falls into the category above, the other is copper.  The copper devices are very effective (see chart), seem to be the safest, and their effects are immediately reversible on removal of the device.  They can also be inserted immediately after delivery without compromising breastfeeding, and they can be left in for 5-10 years (I’m not sure why the large span, perhaps case by case).

Some side-effects can include increased menstrual bleeding and more painful cramps, which doesn’t sound like fun.

Basically, the copper IUD releases minute amounts of copper into the uterus which prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing a potential egg.  If the egg does manage to get fertilized, it severely hampers it’s ability to implant, this stopping pregnancy.

So, same moral issues as the hormonal birth control options.

We’re considering this option.  Actually, my wife is considering this option.  I’m already considered and am OK either way.  I completely understand if she doesn’t want to, and I’m supportive if she does.  But, I wouldn’t tell her to go do it, just as she wouldn’t tell me to go get a vasectomyI already have fairly heavy cycles, and the side effect of heavier and more painful menstruation does not appeal to me at all. But it sure would be nice to not have to worry about it at all. I am not sure if the trade of is worth it.

Abortion

Most people wouldn’t list abortion as “birth control”, but I don’t see why not.  In short, you are still trying to “control birth”, whether it be prior to sex, during sex, after sex, or well after sex.  Same effect, though I’d argue the timing does matter.

In short, abortion is “the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo before viability” (Wikipedia).  In plain English: you had sex, you have something from a fertilized egg to a near grown human that you now will ensure doesn’t survive.

Now, I’ve already stated that I believe life starts at 4-5 weeks after fertilization.  So, do I think it’s OK to have an abortion up until that time? No. Why not? For the simple reason that far too often people don’t know when they got pregnant, and I’ve personally seen my wife beat an ultrasound device and experienced technician’s measurements and calculations based solely on her memory of when she ovulated, so I don’t really trust the technology either. What if you are off by a week and abort a “living being”, a “soul”. Not worth the risk if you ask me.

I am not even sure what to say here. It makes me sad to think of women that put themselves and their unborn child through this.

Behavioral

Behavioral methods are anything that uses timing to avoid pregnancy: Fertility awareness is about finding your most fertile days and avoiding sex during those days, withdrawal is essentially “pulling out” prior to ejaculation, abstinence is avoiding sex all together, and breastfeeding can impede pregnancy (much less likely to ovulate or have cycles when lactating).

At the moment, this is our current method of birth control.  More specifically, fertility awareness + withdrawal/avoiding vaginal intercourse during fertile days.  For the first year and a bit breastfeeding kept my fertility at bay, my cycles came back 15 months after I had my youngest so I watched for my first fertile day while breastfeeding to know when my cycles would start. Once they started obviously breastfeeding was no longer effective in birth control as my cycles were pretty regular right off the bat.

Now, some medical professionals will say this isn’t birth control at all, and, in one sense, I agree.  You should not use these methods if you are not “OK” with becoming pregnant “accidentally”.  But, I’d argue you shouldn’t be having sex at all if you aren’t “OK” with becoming pregnant “accidentally”, because none of them are 100% fail-safe except abstinence, but then I’d argue you don’t have a marriage.

If you were to use this type of method, it is effective and you can let your body be natural, there is nothing messing with your hormones, and that is a good feeling; knowing I’m treating my body the way I believe God intended. I have very clear signs on when I am fertile, and I use an app on my phone to watch how long my cycles are as well. So we have a good idea of when to avoid certain activities. I will admit there have been a few months where we were a little close to my fertile time and I got a little nervous, but it was all OK in the end, we used prayer to ask God’s will but also letting Him know we didn’t feel ready. I guess He thought we weren’t ready either, or we weren’t as close as I thought. Either way, it’s working for us for now.

Of course, this again prevents fertilization, and thus doesn’t come close to my moral boundaries on birth control.

Your Turn

So, those are my thoughts on birth control.  What are yours? What have you had success with?

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106 thoughts on “Birth Control Options for Christians”

  1. emmarie says:

    I am interested to know your thoughts on IUD’s as far as if you do accidentally become pregnant while on them. I am of a similar view as you as far as when life begins and we practice behavioral methods of birth control. I have many friends on IUD’s. However, my biggest issue with IUD’s (regardless of the type) is that if you become pregnant and the fertilized egg does implant, there is a big risk of the baby aborting due to complications from the IUD or IUD removal. I know 2 people who had an IUD, didn’t realize they were pregnant right away, found out they were 5-7 weeks along and the baby didn’t survive the IUD removal or they miscarried before the IUD removal. That is my biggest issue with IUD’s. No other method seems as damaging to the baby’s “home” or poses such immediate danger as an IUD (aside from abortion!) since it is literally right there and can puncture/kill the baby as the pregnancy progresses. I just wanted to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m going to look into this more, and I’ll try to remember to respond here when I do.

  2. LatterDay Marriage says:

    The question of when the spirit enters the body is to my mind completely irrelevant. The body is the home of the spirit, and if somebody was having a house built for them and I come tear it down before they move in, how is that significantly different than tearing it down after they move in? You can argue that in the latter case you run the risk of hurting the people that live there, but you can’t disagree that both are wrong. Also, at the moment of conception that single cell has it’s own unique, human DNA, and it is alive. Trying to split hairs over when after that some kind of transformation takes place that makes it a human being is dwelling on distinctions that don’t make a difference. Preventing conception I’m OK with, but birth control that acts post conception I can’t see as being justified except in a case of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.

    1. Butterflywings says:

      Totally agree LDM except it’s not justified in the case of rape or incest. If incest is not rape, then there is not even an argument for it (yes there is a higher risk of genetic disability, but then the argument is disability not incest), and if it is rape, then it just comes under the rape argument. But in the case of rape, if the woman has so much anger or pain that she wants to kill a human being, allow her to kill the rapist not an innocent child. And as for the mother’s life, I wouldn’t even put that in the category of abortion – when the mother’s life is genuinely in danger, it is no different from any other case where a doctor is in a triage situation where the doctor only has the resources to save one life and so chooses the one that actually has a chance of making it.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        I don’t think it’s fair to cast all women who choose to abort a child conceived in rape as being motivated by hate and anger. I don’t feel a woman in that situation is obligated to God or anybody else to carry the child, she did not get a choice in the matter so it is not her responsibility unless she chooses to make it so after the fact. It’s heroic if she does but it should be her own choice and not something she is pressured into doing. I respect that others don’t take that view but that’s how I see it.

        1. LatterDay Marriage says:

          To continue the house metaphor, if somebody goes onto your land and starts building a house there without your consent, you have the right to tear it down.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            That’s the problem with metaphors, if you start building your argument based on the metaphor, instead of using the metaphor to explain the argument…

          2. Lindsay Harold says:

            Yes, but houses don’t have inalienable rights. They aren’t people.

    2. Jay Dee says:

      Yes, the LDS have a VERY different interpretation of the soul (pre-existing having been conceived by God the Father and the unnamed (as far as I know) spirit mother, correct?)

      I can understand your stand based on that theology, though I disagree with the base theology myself.

      I don’t see how rape or incest has to do with it. Decisions have consequences, even when they aren’t our decisions. We don’t get to decide our morality based on other peoples. It’s not OK to say “he sinned, so I can too”. I know that’s very black & white, but that’s how my mind works.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        You are correct that we believe the spirit of each person existed since before the world was and Heavenly Father is the father of our spirit, but there is nothing revealed about how how God created our spirit. There are places in the Bible we see as discussing our pre-existence and while it is not official doctrine in any orthodox Christian faith I’m aware of, the idea is still not all that uncommon among all Christians and shows up in Christian literature now and then.

        We don’t see rape as a case of ‘he sinned, so I can too’, we don’t see abortion as a sin in that circumstances. The church doesn’t encourage or recommend abortion even when the mother’s life is at risk, it will tell the woman to take it very seriously and pray to find God’s will and follow that. It is between her and God and if she chooses to abort it won’t affect her standing in the church (If she was reckless and got pregnant and aborted she would face some form of consequence from the church, same as if a man encouraged or paid for one) Eventually she will have to account to God for all her choices.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          I would love to know those verses on pre-existence. I’d like to study them. Are you willing to send them to me (email or here in the comments)?

          1. LatterDay Marriage says:

            I sent you an email, I didn’t mean to kind of pull things off topic and don’t want to make it worse.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              Thanks, I appreciate it.

    3. Lindsay Harold says:

      I agree that life begins at conception. That’s scientific fact. However, the rape and incest “exceptions” sound an awful lot like it’s okay to kill people who, through no fault of their own, were conceived in less than ideal situations. I’m not okay with that. Children conceived in rape or incest are just as human as those conceived any other way. And they aren’t to blame for the circumstances of their creation. Thus, there is no justification for killing them.

      The life of the mother issue is one case where there may be justification for abortion. In such a case, the death of the child is not the intended result, but is a sad by-product of saving the mother. After all, if the mother dies, the child will die too. So if pregnancy is threatening the mother’s life, you have only a choice of one death or two – and you save the one who can be saved. It’s a triage situation, not premeditated murder. However, it is not necessary or acceptable to do a traditional abortion in such cases. Abortion procedures are designed to kill an unborn child and then remove his dead body. That isn’t necessary if the goal is simply to save the mother’s life. In such a case, you deliver the child and let God handle whether or not he survives.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        Could you explain how it is scientific fact that life begins at conception?

        1. onewomanman says:

          Can you explain that it is not scientific fact? I would think it’s obvious. But since you asked, I’ll refer you to the medical literature. Here is someone at Princeton University that lists numerous secular publications:

          http://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html

          1. Jay Dee says:

            Thank you, I’ll read it. I’m not so good with “obvious”.

  3. Butterflywings says:

    I can’t say I agree with you on this one Jay Dee. Life begins at conception. Basing when “life” begins on when blood begins flowing is an opinion that I can’t agree with and unfortunately paves the way for christians to use it as an excuse to experiment on embryos.

    “four week” embryo is actually 6 weeks on the pregnancy. I was lucky enough to see my baby on ultrasound a few days before this stage (5 weeks and 4 days into the pregnancy) – before a heartbeat was present – and having seen that, there is no way you or anyone can tell me that my precious baby was not alive then.

    I wish I had the link (but I don’t unfortunately) but I’ve read some recent research that shows that the pill actually DOESN’T stop a fertilised egg from implanting. That the original research “showing” this was actually a misinterpretation of the findings – that while the pill changes the lining of the uterus, that this doesn’t in fact make the uterus more “hostile”. It was only one study (although a well run one), but it’s definitely something that needs further investigation. This would pave the way for christians who believe that life begins at conception to be ok with birth control pills.

    Just wondering if you could add more on depo provera and implanon. Particularly wondering how one uses depo provera “wrong” unless it’s people who wait too long between injections. Even though most doctors will say fertility rarely returns before 6 months and can take up to 2 years, it is only “guaranteed” for 12 weeks. It’s interesting that in the last few years they’ve admitted it’s not guaranteed at all (0.2% failure rate).

    To be honest, I wonder if the lactation method is a misguided statistic. I’d be more inclined to believe that the lack of pregnancy is probably due to lack of sex after birth. I had my first period 5 weeks after birth, first ovulation 3.5 weeks after birth. Everyone knows sex is nearly always much less after birth and even those who aren’t having any sex wouldn’t count it as abstinence, rather counting as a “short break”.

    For Jay Dee’s wife (do you have a name we can call you by?) your comment about the copper IUD is exactly why I ruled it out. I get agonising periods as it is and is why I had the implanon for years while not married (ie while not having sex) – to not get periods. Yes hormonal birth control has side effects, but for some people those side effects can be good things not bad. I know quite a number of virgins who are on hormonal birth control to treat medical conditions. I never had any sexual or mood side effects, but sure had problem with weight gain (10kg every time I took a different form of birth control, and 10kg x2 when I got a new implanon rod in). Where as pregnancy led to severe problems with both sexual and mood side effects.

    If I get an IUD, I’m going to try for the hormonal one as apparently it doesn’t have any of the side of effects of other forms of hormonal birth control because it acts on the reproductive system only. But at this stage, I’m still not sure I’ll go with it. I haven’t found enough conclusive evidence if it prevents implantation (obviously it doesn’t totally as people have still fallen pregnant with it) and if it does, I’m not ok with it.

    But with a minimum 6 month wait to get into a gynocologist, I’ve got plenty of time to research it.

    1. Larry B of larrysmusings.com says:

      Butterflywings,

      If you go to the very websites of the companies who manufacture and market IUDs, like the Mirena coil (hormonal), and the Paragard (copper IUD) you can find that they admit that one of the actions of the device is to prevent implantation should conception occur. I researched this thoroughly in late July, 2012 for an essay on my blog. At that time, I found those admissions on the sites that I visited.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        Thanks for that Larry. Hard to argue with it, when the companies that make the thing are claiming this is what we intended for it to do.

    2. Jay Dee says:

      Hey BW,
      Well, we often don’t agree, so that’s OK.
      I’m finding the “life begins are conception” arguments in the comments today seem to be lacking any actual…argument. Just a blanket statement and then move on.

      Oh, and my wife’s name is Christina. I’ll try to get her to comment.

  4. Shelly says:

    This is really timely for me because I just had my implanon removed because I found out that it can prevent implantation. However, it is also extremely dangerous for me to get pregnant again as I already have 11 kids and have had 2 DVTs. My doctor is strongly urging a tubal ligation, but I’m hesitant because it can increase the chance of blood clots (and I’m already on blood thinners), and there is a risk of puncturing another organ and infection. My father died from an infection after gastric bypass because his stomach leaked, so I’m terrified to have this done, but I’m also terrified of getting pregnant. I honestly don’t know what to do.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hey Shelly,
      Wow, that sounds complicated. One option would be Natural Family Planning in combination with barrier methods (condoms for example). Talk to your doctor about it, but I think it should yield a fairly high success rate. If you want to know more about NFP, how to track and such, my wife has a few years experience now and can help you out with that. Just let us know, we have your email from the comment form.

    2. Narda Mock says:

      I would urge your husband to have a vasectomy. My son-in-law had one recently. It was an easy 20 minute office procedure. He had it done on a Friday, sat around home with an ice bag all weekend and went back to work on Monday.

  5. FarAboveRubies says:

    I believe that life starts at conception. I’m a science geek by trade. Looking at the moment the sperm penetrates the egg and starts to divide. That tells me when things begin. My Catholic background encouraged me to look into NFP. I did that during the first year of marriage. We have done barrier method ever since. During my time of the month, he gets “freebies”. That’s what we call no method at all. It happens after my first day of onset and lasts for 4 days.
    I was keenly aware that early withdrawal is not, repeat is NOT, birth control. If you walk away from one thing here, please remember that early withdrawal (removing the penis before ejaculation) does not work. All you need is one sperm to swim upstream. Do you know how many sperm are in one little tiny drop of fluid? Okay, my point is that men do release some fluid before they actually ejaculate. It does happen. This is NOT a form of birth control.
    With that being said, it took us 27 months (over 2 years) to get pregnant. This was where we purposely had unprotected sex non-stop during those years. I’m a 28 day cycle gal so we could not figure out why we weren’t getting pg. It turns out that you can actually try too hard, too many times during ovulation. Doc told us to withhold from intercourse to bring up his sperm count. That’s what we did and whamo, we got pg.
    Good article.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks FAR.

  6. onewomanman says:

    I, like others couldn’t disagree more with you on when life begins. First, Lev 17:14 is talking about the human consumption of animal meat. To apply this to human conception is, in my mind a gross abuse of Scripture and taking it out of context. Also, clearly animals have blood, but no Christian would argue that they have a soul or enjoy the same benefits and protections as humans. God clearly says it’s OK to eat animals (but not humans). To suggest that prior to 4 weeks, it’s okay to abort a pregnancy simply because the heart is not pushing blood through the arteries, well, that’s an extremely slippery slope. And are you suggesting that something “magic” happens that God’s breath miraculously appears in utero at 4-6 weeks with the blood that lends worthiness to the fetus? Yes, it is very clear that life begins at conception, and yes, the medical community does agree with it. It is probably the single-most damaging logic that Christians have used to justify abortion. To terminate life simply because it is too small, too undeveloped, too invisible should be intolerable to all who profess Christ as Lord. I wonder, did Mary have 4-6 weeks to terminate once the Angel announced to her she was pregnant?? I really hope that you pray, study, and reconsider this position.

    Now as for the other BC methods, well that is open to debate and opinion to which this thread is well suited.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m OK that you disagree, and I’m fine that you don’t believe my view on scripture, but if you are going to argue scripture, I’d prefer you back your argument with scripture. And one point I’d like to note: I would never say animals have a soul, just as I’d never say humans have a soul.

      So, as you suggested, let’s take a look at scripture and it’s views on blood. As you said, there are many verses dealing with the blood of animals, more than one saying it is their life. Now, I’d argue that while humans and animals are different, our physiology is very similar. Now, some would argue that is proof of evolution. I’d argue it’s proof of intelligent design. Because when you look at human designers, (be it architecture, software, whatever), we use the same pieces over and over again. As we are made in God’s image, it’s no wonder He did the same. So, one argument is that if life is in the blood of animals, it should come as no surprise that life is in the blood of humans. But, that’s a logical argument, not a scriptural one.

      So, let’s take a look at Genesis 4:10. Here God says

      “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”

      Now, this seems to be a strong indication that blood and life are strongly connected. So much so that God claims to hear the blood crying out.
      In Revelation 6:10 we see

      “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

      Again, focus on the blood that was spilled. This seems again to be the sticking point on when life ends.
      And then, in the chapter (Genesis 9) where God first proclaims that animals are safe to eat (after the flood), he mentions that blood will be required for blood. It seems that blood is synonymous with life again.
      Then, most interesting, I find, in John 6, Jesus says

      “Truly, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

      Now, I find this interesting, because Jesus had a habit of extending earthly truths into heavenly ones. For example, at the well, He related the need for earthly water to life with the need for the water of life in John 4. In Matthew 4, he parallels needing earthly bread and life with the bread of life and eternal life. And now, in John 6, he parallels blood as life with Christ’s blood and eternal life.

      I’m going to continue studying, thank you for the suggestion, but I’m afraid you have strengthened my faith in this…not the intended result you were looking for I’m afraid. I look forward to hearing your Bible verses on the life begins at conception front so that I may learn your reasons for believing what you believe.

      1. onewomanman says:

        Nor have you convinced me. All you’ve shown is the Bible makes clear the role of blood in atonement. Not in the life of an unborn child. And scientifically, all the programming and design is present for blood life in the baby from the moment of conception and it doesn’t magically appear at week 4. It only becomes visible to us then. But it was present all along.
        Yes, we disagree, and to me its greatly disappointing that even Christians who worship the same God can’t agree on such a fundamental moral issue as human life. It’s not like we’re debating favorite flavors of lube or the best sex position or the best toy for orgasms. The right or wrong decision on this issue has profound moral and social consequences. I for one will err on the side protecting the unborn. Life starts at conception. Just as it did in Jesus case and every other human being that ever existed. Its a pretty straightforward reading of Gods created order. And the burden of proof otherwise should fall on your side which is unconvincing.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          That’s OK, I didn’t set out to convince anyone, just to share my views, as was asked.

          Unfortunately, this is a trend I’m seeing in Christianity, lots of beliefs, but no one knows where they got them from, or why they believe them. Regrettably (I was looking forward to learning), you haven’t been able to share any scripture, though you say “it’s pretty straightforward reading God’s created order”. Where are you reading this order? Please, I’d really like to know.

          We have so many beliefs now in Christianity with no biblical foundation, and many more where the rationale was added after the belief was adopted from outside influences in order to rationalize a behavior rather than behavior coming from study of scripture.

          Psalm 119:105 says “You word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” But sadly often God’s word is being used to trample a new path, rather than find the straight and narrow one. I’m not saying I am correct, but what I am saying, is that I’m doing my best to let scripture guide my beliefs, rather than the other way around.

          Anyways, it’s been enjoyable discussing it with you, and if you have any bible verses to share, I’d love to see them.

  7. Larry B of larrysmusings.com says:

    In the essay, you write: “We see blood as being of huge importance all through the Bible. It is the primary symbol of life. It seems that life, in the context of a living being, cannot exist without blood. Now, sperm does not have blood, neither does an egg, fertilized or not. At about weeks 4-5, the heart starts beating and blood begins to flow. So, that sort of gives me a timeline. To me, life begins at about weeks 4-5, as best as I can find out from the Bible.”

    Can science add to this discussion? Or, are we to rely solely on the Bible and our, perhaps faulty, interpretation of it?

    When does life begin? I would say at conception because there really is no other point at which it can start. A conceptus or zygote, call it what you will, is the earliest stage of development of a human being. It does not grow to become anything other than a human baby.

    The difficulty that I have with the 2 extremes in this debate is that both extremes tend to ignore or trivialize conception which is the critical event. Prior to conception, you do not have a human being, there are only human sex cells and these are not quasi human beings. After conception, you have a newly created human being, and thus methods or devices (such as the IUD, whether copper or the Mirena coil) that prevent implantation in the womb, do destroy human life.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Wow, never heard one of my posts called an “essay” before. Not sure what to make of that.

      If science can add to the discussion, sure, go ahead.

  8. Dan says:

    It is both enlightening and disturbing to be reading now about the emotional and physical side-effects that hormonal methods have on some women. It explains a lot about desire issues created in women when the pill was supposed to be so sexually freeing for them and would allow them a more fulfilled sexual experience without being inhibited by a potential pregnancy. It also increased the pleasure of men to not be desensitized by condom use. I wonder if had we be so aware, men would have got behind discouraging use of the pill or been tolerant of its use because of the increased pleasure. Just wondering; not condemning.

    1. onewomanman says:

      Let me add to your disturbing observation. God’s has designed and programmed mankind to be fruitful and to multiply (e.g. women have natural hormonal cycles, penis in vagina sex yields fertilized egg, fertilized egg grows into a human being). JD, this is what I mean by God’s created order. And mankind in his God-usurping sinful tendency has begun to tinker with God’s created order (eg. bc pills mess with womens hormones, in-vitro/testtubes now yield fertilized eggs, IUDs and other abortion drugs terminate fertilized eggs,, etc.). Need we be surprised that bad things start to happen and negative side effects are observed, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Now I’m no luddite who would deny that man has great power to preserve and honor life that God has given. Indeed He granted man dominion over the Earth. And man’s technical and scientific know how can yield great blessings. The science of medicine has done wonders to protect life and make things previously impossible now possible. But with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why I believe it is so crucial that we get this right. Life begins at conception, regardless how that comes to be.

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  11. everydayMommy says:

    I really appreciate this post, especially explaining your perspective on the beginning of life and then going on to include another perspective (which happens to be mine) in your analysis of the different methods. Just wanted to recommend Toni Weschler’s book Taking Charge of Your Fertility for those wanting to pursue the Fertility Awareness Method. It makes me a bit nervous when I hear people talking about “paying attention” to their signs of fertility and just avoiding sex during “those times.” FAM, to be practised effectively, requires some specific calculations, and taking your basal temp is a must. I should know, I used it strictly and successfully for five years at the beginning of my marriage, and then after having kids thought I could kind of “wing it” (motherhood didn’t allow for regular sleep patterns to take my basal temperature) and had an unplanned pregnancy as a result! That baby is the sweetest one yet, though, so it turned out okay on the end! 😉

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yes, we agree, FAM/NFP requires some homework. Christina has done the whole temping and charting thing for years now. Thanks for mentioning that.

  12. onewomanman says:

    This is really the kind of conversation that should happen over a cup of coffee or in a public (face-to-face) forum. Time and space simply isn’t adequate here to cover it all. So I will leave this discussion with the following reference.

    “Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?” http://www.epm.org/store/product/birth-control-pill-book/. You can download the entire booklet FREE online at this link. He covers not just the pill but also includes discussion on IUDs, norplant, depot-proverb and RU486 and backs it up with Scripture and Science. Many brilliant Christians have wrestled with this issue and can do a much better job presenting the facts that you say you are interested in reading.

    Let me adjourn with one short reference I found in this booklet. David says, “Surely I was sinful at birth; sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). David through God’s inspiration, recognized life in the womb, all the way back to conception. And there are countless other Scripture referenced as well. Unless you are suggesting conception doesn’t really happen until blood is visible at week 4, I don’t see how you can conclude that we are free to terminate a fertilized egg.

    Likewise Jay Dee (and Christina!). I enjoy the discussion, difficult as it may be within this forum. Indeed, I’ve lost many hours of sleep wrestling over it this week. Not that I am unsure of my position. On that I think Scripture (and Science) are quite clear. But how to communicate this to others. One of the things I really enjoy about you and this blog is your willingness to bring Scripture to life and live life by the Word, not conform the Word to your life. This is all too rare these days, even among Christians. Take care and I’ll definitely be praying for us all that read these words, that the Lord of all life will destroy the strongholds the Deceiver has on all believers in this important area. This is more that just an individual “choice” but a spiritual battle for eternity.

  13. Paul H. Byerly says:

    Unfortunately many Christian sources do bad science in this area. Some is outdated (since shown to be wrong) some is sloppy, some ignores conflicting evidence, and some is misstated.

    The following is from John Guillebaud, Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health at University College London, and a dedicated Christian.

    However, the conscientiously taken low dose combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), Cerazette (a particular POP), the Depo-Provera injection and implant Implanon are all such effective anovulants (preventing ovulation and therefore fertilisation) that it is scientifically justifiable to conclude that they operate prior to fertilisation. The fact that they are capable of blocking implantation does not mean that they ever have to use this back-up mechanism.

    Source: When do contraceptives work? http://bit.ly/1oXFcCM

    1. onewomanman says:

      I’m not saying they HAVE to terminated a fertilized egg. But the fact is THEY CAN and DO! Depo- IUDs and such, as many BC methods, are not fool-proof. Which means you COULD be terminating your baby, you just don’t know it. Simply because that child is too small, too undeveloped, out of sight, out of mind, that does not make it OK. And That’s not a risk I’m willing to take. And you’re absolutely right. Most Christians are mis-informed (aka. Planned Parenthood) and ignorant of the nature of these methods. I’m all for full-disclosure and education.

      If your actions COULD result in the unjust termination of human life, would you still do it? We have prohibited use of lead paint because it COULD case brain damage in young children. We put our children in car seats and make them wear helmets because they COULD get into an accident. Yet in all these cases, the actual probability is quite low. Why then, since IUDs, depo- and others COULD destroy a life, why are we still willing to ride that bike without a helmet.? The FDA outlaws food and drugs all the time because they COULD cause serious harm and loss of life. They have just conveniently categorized a human embryo differently and can do whatever they want with it.

      There are plenty of BC methods out there that both allow for family planning and also fulfill Gods dominion mandate without violating his pro-life stance.

      1. Paul H. Byerly says:

        I’ve offered the science from a Christian who knows far more about it than I ever will, and will leave it at that.

  14. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

    Wow, Jay I actually agree with every single thing you said (although putting a specific time frame of 4-5 weeks is something I probably would not have done). I think it may be the first time ever! I would say I am surprised at all the negative backlash but I can’t say that I am. People will forever have their “foundational” views on BC that are impossible to change. Most denominations believe that BC is not a sin. There is no Scriptural evidence to back that up. In fact, there is mention of the consumption of pomegranate, a fruit often used to prevent conception in ancient times, in Song of Solomon. Coincidence? Maybe not.

    I have the hormonal IUD and it has been a Godsend. I don’t have to remember it, I don’t have any side effects, I don’t have a period at all. It’s amazing. The only problem is that sometimes my husband can feel it in certain positions. But he said that usually does not happen. One thing you didn’t mention was the Plan B emergency contraception. My guess is that you would not see it as a sin considering it’s effects take place before the egg implants into the uterus. Thoughts?

    1. Paul H. Byerly says:

      Bonnie – There is good, solid science showing plan B does not prevent implantation, so I see it as acceptable even though I think life starts at fertilisation. But you say some have foundational ideas that cannot be changed, and I will get some flack for this! 😉

      1. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

        The info I read said it prevents release of an egg but may prevent implantation if fertilization has occurred. Either way, it does not cause an abortion, so I find it acceptable. I actually used it one time when I was 16 right after I lost my virginity. I don’t know if it was needed or not (that’s kind of the point) but MAN am I glad I don’t have a baby with that man.

        1. onewomanman says:

          How do you conclude that it does not cause abortion?!

          Here is what my dictionary says (and I believe God opposes all of these by the way):
          Unjust termination of human life (outside womb) : murder
          Self-termination of human life: suicide
          Termination of human life (inside womb): abortion.

          So, what part of terminating a fertilized egg with all the DNA and God-designed programming to become your baby does not constitute an abortion? If you did absolutely nothing, that fertilized egg would be born your next child. But instead, you took a little pill, which terminated the normal processing of that child and you call that BC?! This is true only if your definition of life does not begin with conception. Sorry if I come across a little….fundamentalist, but we worship the same God and read the same Bible (presumably) I am shocked sometimes how two so very different conclusions can be reached.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            OK, I’m curious what dictionary you own. I’ve never known dictionaries to be so biased or to take a moral stand on anything. This is what dictionary.reference.com says:

            a·bor·tion (noun)
            1. Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.
            2. any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.
            3. Also called spontaneous abortion. miscarriage
            4. an immature and nonviable fetus.
            5. abortus

            1. onewomanman says:

              OK. JayDee. You got me. By dictionary I’m referring to my personal understanding of the word definitions. My definition of “life” is apparently different than yours. My definition of “abortion” may be different than yours, and apparently is different that Bonnies. So in order to have meaningful conversation, or at least in stating my assertion, we must be sure we’re speaking the same language, or at least understanding the definitions. “My” dictionary is as stated. I see I need to adjust mine a bit, I forgot about miscarriages.

              Intentional termination of human life within the womb = abortion.
              Unintentional natural termination of human life within the womb = miscarriage

              Biased? Moral claims? You don’t think abortion terminates human life? You don’t think murder terminates human life? I’m not sure what moral claims you refer to in these definitions.

              1. Jay Dee says:

                Ohh. I did not pick up on that, my mistake. Thank you for clarifying.
                Well, claiming something is right or wrong is a moral claim. All I was saying is that dictionaries tend to stay far are from any sort of moral judgement. They are about word definitions, not morality. That is all. I misunderstood that you meant your personal definition of the word. I thought you mean a proper “dictionary”, as in a published accepted lexicon. No offense intended.

          2. Emily says:

            Long time reader, first time commenter 🙂 Jay Dee, I really enjoy your blog and the way you approach topics. God is using you in mighty ways, many of which you may never know this side of heaven.

            With that said, I do not agree with your assertion on abortion. Yes, scientifically, a fetus may not have blood, that we can see or detect, until a few weeks in, but once an egg is fertilized, it contains its very own unique human DNA. So, from the personhood standpoint, the fertilized egg is a unique life, separate from the mother. So, how then do you reconcile Jeremiah 1:5 with your assertion that life begins when blood is present? “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” I personally cling to Isaiah 55: 8-9 on any issue that is very hard for our human minds to wrap around. He is God, we are not…

            I think this article (the link is below) from the New York Times, is pretty insightful and I recommend you read it (not that you haven’t already considered this information). This quote sums up the abortion debate for both my husband and I:
            “The basic problem is that, once we give up the claim that a fertilized egg is a human person (has full moral standing), there is no plausible basis for claiming that all further stages of development are human persons. The DNA criterion seems to be the only criterion of being human that applies at every stage from conception to birth. If we agree that it does not apply at the earliest stages of gestation, there is no basis for claiming that every abortion is the killing of an innocent human person.”
            http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/on-abortion-and-defining-a-person/

            1. Jay Dee says:

              Hi Emily!
              Welcome to the battle! It’s not usually so … animated … around here. But, I welcome all the discussion.
              As for Jeremiah 1:5, well, I would consider that more God talking about His existing outside of the construct of space-time. I mean, He knew us back then, and even further back. I would argue He knew us when Adam was created (but not in the LDS fashion, sorry Latter-Day-Marriage, not that we pre-existed), that God is both at all places and all times. But, that’s a much larger discussion. Anyways, my point is, I don’t think this verse has anything to do with when life begins.
              I agree, Isaiah 55:8-9 is a great verse. I also like Isaiah 1:18 where God invites us to come reason with him.
              I will definitely put that link on my reading list and let you know what I think.
              But from your short clip, I would argue that the blood argument is another claim, so that sort of invalidates the argument saying there is no other possible point of reference…they may disagree with it, but to claim one doesn’t exist, that doesn’t seem factual.

          3. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

            Ok, clearly I’ve missed a lot of this conversation. For starters, you say “If you did absolutely nothing, that fertilized egg would be born your next child. But instead, you took a little pill, which terminated the normal processing of that child and you call that BC?!” Um, you realize Plan B is taken 24-72 hours after intercourse, and therefore, you do not know if there was a child there at all, right? In addition, I am anovulatory due to PCOS (didn’t know that at the time) so it is highly unlikely that there was even an egg to fertilize at all.
            I think it is dangerous when we call our own opinions a “dictionary”. It has great potential to lead others astray when they are not allowed to interpret the Scriptures themselves. It also makes Christians come across as ignorant. I’m not making accusations, just explaining how it looks to non-Christians or even other Christians.
            In any case, Plan B works by preventing an egg from being released, with the potential of preventing implantation if an egg is released. If you look at the literature (the actual literature, not my opinion) you will see that the BC pill does the same thing. It is almost never the case, but it happens. Every time we make a decision regarding our health, there is the potential for a negative outcome. You can’t accuse a parent of murder if they choose a surgery to try to help their child and the surgery, in turn, causes the child to die. But saying that a parent is murdering a fetus when a medication fails to do what it was originally intended to is essentially the same thing.
            And do understand that I am just as passionate about abortion. I have participated in the March for Life in Washington and have volunteered countless times at the local crisis pregnancy center, including raising money to donate to the fight against abortion. It is important to understand the facts regarding various BC methods and to not make assumptions. It is also important to understand that some interpret Scriptures differently, and your opinion is not gospel. Even when I have disagreed with others’ interpretation, I do not say that their interpretations are “wrong”. We all have to make our own decisions…remember our relationships with Jesus are personal.

            1. onewomanman says:

              So if you don’t know that you are terminating a fertilized egg, then Plan B is OK? If we don’t know that another human life is at risk for termination then we’re free to choose whatever method suits us? I’ve never been comfortable making decisions out of ignorance either.

              1. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

                No, only that the likelihood of terminating a fertilization is much, much less than the likelihood of preventing ovulation in the first place.

      2. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

        Oh, and I think we are all gonna get flack now. Thanks a lot JD for bringing it up and making us look like heretics! 😉

        1. Paul H. Byerly says:

          Not that I have ever needed help in that!

        2. onewomanman says:

          PS. Bonnie. I saw your blog for the first time and I’m really glad to see some of the issues you tackle regarding sexuality from a Christians perspective. I agree with you in large part and I think we need more of these kinds of dialogue. I pray someday my wife and I could be as educated as you in that area, but that’s a different story. Thanks for what you do! :D.

          …now back to the fight! 🙂 …

          1. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

            Thank you. 🙂 I appreciate your support! No one said we have to agree on everything. Just glad the dialogue is happening to begin with!

  15. onewomanman says:

    JayDee. I really don’t want to hijack your site here. I feel like I’ve said enough already. You all know my position. I’m about as passionate in the pro-Life sense as you are towards sex. And there’s a very very VERY close connection between the two. As a last thought I simply want to say that we Christians MUST think very carefully and deliberately about life issues. I think many are guilty of simply accepting what Planned Parenthood or pill literature or their pro-abort Doctor’s office may say about “choice” and that we can simply and easily divorce the responsibility/consequences of sex from the act of sex.. Indeed, this is exactly what the sexual “liberation” movement and the “pill” has ultimately accomplished. God created sex to create life (among other things). Sure, we can control the when and how many with choices that do not violate God’s command “thou shall not kill”. I’ll stop with that and hold my tongue after this. It’s been good to toss this ball back and forth. I do hope all true Believers who read here will carefully, and prayerfully, examine those choices they make regarding their own BC choices. Ultimately we are accountable to Him alone and in the end, all our deeds will be judged. Praise God we have a redeemer and regardless these decisions, past or present, nothing can separate us, whom Christ has redeemed, from the LORD.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      No problem, I’m always open to discussion. I didn’t feel you were hijacking the site at all. I hope my next post you can be on my side.
      Just want to say, I’ve never spoken to my doctor about fertility, pregnancy, or anything like that. I don’t really know much, if anything, about Planned Parenthood (I thought they dealt with adoption?), and I’m not sure what pill literature is…My beliefs, so far as I know, come from what I’ve read in the Bible. One day we will know the Truth, whatever that is. Until then, as you said, we can only continue to study and pray for enlightenment, do as we are convicted, and thank God for grace in times of ignorance (be it that I’m ignorant, or you are, or both of us, either way, same grace).

      I’m sorry for any stress I have caused.

      1. onewomanman says:

        Wowser! You’re not familiar with Planned Parenthood?! I forget sometimes, you’re in Canada right? Well, they are only the single-most largest abortion provider in the States cleverly disguised as a “women’s health” organization. http://www.humanlife.org/Planned-Parenthood.php

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Thanks for the clarification.

  16. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

    I just wanted to note before I got the IUD that I used the Nuva Ring for many MANY years and it was very effective with few side effects after the first month or two. Cleared up any breakouts and I had very light periods and very few PMS symptoms. Plus only had to remember it once per month. Just for those who are looking for BC options.

  17. Kim Crawford says:

    Jeremiah 1:4
    “Then the word of the Lord came to me saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;”

    By scientific definition something must meet four criteria to be life:
    1. All life contains DNA
    2. All life takes energy from its surroundings and converts it to energy.
    3. All life can sense changes in their surroundings(mother’s hormones) and respond to those changes.
    4. All life forms reproduce(from the moment of conception, the single cell begins to reproduce).

    Why is it that if scientists found a single cell on Mars, we would call it life? but we find a single cell in a mother’s womb, it is not life?

    Determining life happens at 4-5 weeks is a slippery slope. It allows/provides justification for the destruction of a living being in the early stages of pregnancy. If that were the case, then married women should just have a handy supply of “morning after pills” in order to be sure to catch the embryo before it “becomes a life”.

    Finally, The text you used to prove that life begins with the introduction of blood into the body is not referring to the life of man. It is referring to the life of an animal. The context is not eating the blood of a recently killed creature. Before using a text to make a point, be sure that the context allows the point that is being made. Otherwise, you are twisting scripture to say what you want it to say.

    Thoughts to consider.

    1. Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex says:

      “If that were the case, then married women should just have a handy supply of “morning after pills” in order to be sure to catch the embryo before it “becomes a life”.”
      Actually no. That would be neither logical or cost-effective.

  18. Lisa says:

    I just want to say thank you for writing such a thoughtful post. Regardless of whether or not people agree with your definition of when life starts or what you think about birth control for Christians, I think we can all see that it is something you do not take lightly and that you’ve sought God in your decision. As a Christian who is currently going through IVF, I’ve read my share of posts on birth control and conception that are full of blanket-statements and judgment for those who disagree with the author. In this post I only see prayerful reflections and decisions. Blessings to you.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Wow, thank you Lisa. That’s what I was hoping people would see, as you said, whether or not they agree. I understand it is a difficult topic, and emotions run high when young life is involved, and I’m glad for the discussion, instead of people just closing their browsers in disgust.

      I wish you all the best in your IVF efforts.

  19. monica says:

    Hi jay dee I have been reading your blog for a while but have never left a comment. I love your blog and usually agree with you. I am not tryying to convince you of anythingg and believe you have prayerfully and scripturely come to your conclusions. I am ok with you believing what you believe. I believe life begins at conception. I am coming at. this from a science back ground. I did not read all of. the comments there are so many so I hope this is not redundant. Here goes there are some ythings that all living things have in common on a cellular level some of these things are respiration on a cellular level. at conception cellular respiration begins day 1. Movement on a cellular level.that begins day 1. growth on a cellular level on day one cells begin to grow and devide. metabolism on day one the cells begin metabolism . This how science defines life when they want to know whether. or not something is a live they ask them selves these. questions does have respiration on a cellular level? Does it grow on a cellullar level? Does it have movement on cellular level.? Is it carrying out metabolism on a cellular level? This is absolutely how science defines. wheether or not someething is alive. by this defintion bacteria are alive and viruses are not. on embryo is a aluve on day one. now we kill bacteria every day. along with a whole lot of other living things. we believe human beings are speacial because they were created in the image and likeness of God. So the next question is is it human? Well we know it is what else could it be? well thankfully to science. we also know from its 46 chromosomes DNA. that it is absolutely human. Now as to why its different from having your gall bladder or tonsels removed because they are alive on the cellular level. and the DNA tells you it is human. well there area few things one is every cell in your wifes body has her DNA. same in body but an embryo does not have th same DNA it is at conception distinctly different from its mother and its father. it is alive human and distinctly different from any other human being. another thing is when some one removes one of these things she foes not die some of her cells do some of our cells die every day but thewhole organism does not your wife does not cease to be when we destroy or destroy the chance of survival for a fertilized egg we are completely wiping out a living, human, that is distinctivly different human being. now science absolutely says yes it is alive yes it is human and yes. it is different from the mother immediately after conception that is what I believe. now I have found no scripture that says when human beings get a soul but I believe if its aliveand human it is probably a safe bet that was created in the imageand likeness of. God. I know that this. is long and because I typed it on my phone it is probably full of errors. please over look tthat blessings to you and your family Monica
    ps I hope this doesn’t. come across the wrong way because I have tremendous respect for you and appreciate your blog very much.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hi Monica,

      No, you came across very respectfully. I hope I do as well of a job.
      The reason you can’t find a verse on when the body gets a soul, is because biblically, it doesn’t happen. The concept of people having souls is from Greek/Roman mythology. What the Bible teaches is that people ARE souls. According to Genesis 2:7

      And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

      Now, God made us out of “the dust of the ground”, but every element in our body is found on the Earth. So, it seems to me that he created a “blank” human, DNA and everything. Yet, it wasn’t considered a soul (a living being) until God breathed life into him. We don’t exactly know what that means.

      Anyways, just wanted to share why you can’t find a verse on us having souls. We don’t. We are souls. And when we die, we won’t be souls. And when we are resurrected, we will become souls again. The concept of an immortal soul is also from Greek/Roman mythology, and doesn’t exist in the Bible until after Resurrection/Judgement Day when we, as souls, will “take on immortality” (1 Cor 15:54). Until that point, Bible verses keep reminding us that the dead know not, they don’t even praise God, they are not aware or conscious in any way (Ecc 9:5, Ps 115:17 and 64 other verses). My point is, the whole concept of souls has been severely infected by pagan beliefs to the point that the church is continuing to teach these concepts without actually studying them to find the truth.

  20. R James says:

    Hi JD,
    I have read your blog & others intermittently for several months, and have really enjoyed it. Decided to comment for the first time because I am convicted to address you thoughts on when life begins. My purpose is not to berate you at all, but point out the substantial weaknesses in your argument. The Bible seems pretty clear that life begins at conception. Here are some examples. Please pardon my terse writing.
    Conception & birth. Gen 16 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.
    The interpretation of blood is novel, but there is a logical fallacy in play here, You say we have to prove you wrong, but I say you have to prove you are correct. The context of your proof verse has NOTHING to do with conception or birth or anything related to coming into being. It has been yanked out of context, as others have pointed out also. [Plus , It is not addressing the BEGINNING of life, just that life is in the blood – Very weak argument]. The burden is upon you to make a Biblical application/ transference of sacrificial blood being life to conception of life. What you have put forth simply is not there. It’s a reach, trying to justify your interpretation.
    Now using the NIV [1979 ver, not the worthless 2011 NirV/New NIV], Conceive, Conceives, or Conceived is found 32 times. Approx 25 of them are talking about literal, physical conception & the following birth. The other times are metaphors, referring back to biological conception [ie James 1v15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
    Biologically, a female is pregnant when her egg is fertilized by a sperm. Now there is some period of time where the exchange of DNA takes place [minutes, maybe an hour of 2?] But the female IS pregnant. She probably doesn’t know it, but she is. Now there may be a physical problem and the blastocyst / embryo may die [ie spontaneous abortion]. But that does not mean she was not pregnant at all, but that she was pregnant and then the pregnancy ended prematurely due to some abnormality. In other words, the embryo is ALIVE, therefore life,human life, has begun.
    I hope this makes it perfectly clear from the Bible that conception means from the very beginning.
    From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conceive transitive verb
    1
    a : to become pregnant with (young)
    b : to cause to begin : originate
    The concept is not that difficult, don’t try & over think it. When I was 17 years old [over 30 years ago] it was clear to me then that human life began at conception. Nothing in science has proven it any different since then, In fact just the opposite. All the amazing photos & sonograms are SHOWING that life begins at conception.
    I really hope you will seriously consider this, because sex and conception are so intricately related, that I believe they are foundational. It is simpler to read the Bible about conception, and believe that a soul is created at that point.
    Thanks again for your blog, I do believe strongly that the Christian body needs to take back sex from the world and it’s distorted view. I hope & pray you will see my point of disagreement, but that I was not disagreeable in the process.

    Oh, one last thought, would it not be better to err on the side of including all life potentials? [If you want to phrase it that way]. Expanding life to include conception is the better way. It comes down to seeking the best for others [specifically the unborn child], even at a cost to ourselves, such as time, energy, job, hobbys, TV watching, sports, etc.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hi,
      Glad you felt comfortable enough to comment! Personally, I see no proof here either, but thank you for sharing. Perhaps it will help someone who is searching.

      And yes, if you are in doubt, of course, err on the side of caution.

  21. Lindsay Harold says:

    I can defend a scientific argument for life at conception. That is straightforward fact. However, if you’re interested in a Biblical argument that life begins at conception, I can give you that too.

    To start with, Psalm 51:5 says “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” This implies that conception is where the soul is endowed since it was “me” that was conceived here. Not just a biological entity that became me, but “me.”

    Job 3:3 says “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.” Again, notice that the conceived is not referred to as anything other than a person, in this case a “man child.”

    Matthew 1:20 makes, perhaps, the strongest case for life at conception. “…for that which is conceived in her [Mary] is of the Holy Ghost.” This verse makes it clear that it was Jesus that was conceived. It wasn’t just that Jesus was born of Mary, but he was conceived in Mary. It wasn’t Jesus added to an embryo or an embryo that became Jesus, but it was Jesus from conception onward.

    A case can even be made from creation. In the beginning, God created them male and female. Being male or being female is a part of our human identity. Well, biologically, a human being is either male or female from conception. That isn’t an identity that is added later. We are who we are from the minute the sperm fuses with the egg.

    There are plenty of other verses that indicate that the life in the womb is a person, but many of these have already been brought up. The point is that both science and Scripture make it clear that a new human life begins at fertilization.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Personally, I don’t see any of these as proof, but perhaps someone else will.
      Thanks for commenting Lindsay!

      1. Lindsay Harold says:

        I’d say it’s at least as convincing as the “life is in the blood” argument. I never saw that passage as being anything other than a way to show that blood is a symbol of life and set apart for God. After all, one isn’t actually eating a live animal simply because the blood wasn’t drained out of the meat. The idea is that God hasn’t given man permission to eat blood because blood is a symbol of life. It’s to tell us that life is sacred. If having a little blood in meat doesn’t mean it’s actually alive, then an unborn child that doesn’t yet have blood isn’t necessarily non-living. It’s a wisdom statement – that blood and life go together – not an absolute maxim.

        I can admit that the verses I gave aren’t 100% clear, merely suggestive. But in the absence of a rock solid Biblical case one way or the other, I see science as good illumination. And, if there is still doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution so as not to commit murder of a real human being.

  22. Darby Dugger says:

    I have sat upon my response for some time and pray that it is communicated with grace. I fall on the “life begins at conception” side of this simply because I believe Scripture to point to that (several of the verses behind this are listed in other comments above) and as a daughter of an OBGYN and the wife of a doctor, medically and scientifically… it is taught that life begins at conception.

    Your verse above supporting life beings when the heart begins beating actually doesn’t hold a lot of weight. Your wife writes, “I remember having a discussion with some friends about when life begins and what type of birth control they used and why etc, and I always felt uneasy about the whole “life begins at conception” thing, it didn’t really make sense to me, it has huge potential at that point to become life, but it’s missing it’s source to live.” — well, if that is your definition, the source to live is oxygen. A 4-5 week old baby would not be viable outside of the womb even with it’s blood and beating heart. It is such a slippery slope and one that involves a human life that I would urge that it is better to side on protecting and defending even the youngest of lives than saying “you can abort a baby up until a certain time.” Even non-Christians can’t decide if partial birth abortion is acceptable or not… because unless you stand for life begins at conception you can keep justifying your reasons to terminate/end a pregnancy… even if your means of termination is supposed to be a preventative measure. There is actually a lot of medical research on this!

    Also, as a woman who has miscarried babies — some before the 4-5 week mark, I can tell you that I grieved those children as much as I did the ones I lost later in pregnancy… they were a life created by God for a purpose, even if its life was very short. To say that the baby didn’t have life because it was so early in the pregnancy can be taken as a horrible insult to a grieving mama.

    You seem set in your ways about your interoperation of Scripture, but for people who might be interested in birth control options from a “life begins at conception” standpoint, feel free to check out the article I (a Protestant/non-Quiverfull woman) wrote a couple of months ago. It includes links to medical and Spiritual writings on this matter. http://darbydugger.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-pro-life

    Thanks… and again, I hope this was received in grace just as it was written.

    1. Lindsay Harold says:

      Interesting post. I noticed in your post that you referenced Job 10:10 (among others). I hadn’t seen that particular verse used to support life at conception, although the following verse obviously refers to embryonic development. But I found verse 10 to be rather interesting. It says “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me as cheese?” I’m curious what that could mean. After all, the preceding and following verses are all about God making Job. In verse 9 it refers to clay and dust, meaning the making of a man as God made Adam from the dirt. In verse 11, it’s referring to bone and skin formation. But in between we have verse 10 using language of milk and curdling. That’s quite curious.

      On possible interpretation that occurred to me is the dividing of the first cells of the young embryo. Fertilization produces a zygote, which is a single cell, which then quickly divides into several cells. Watching this on camera, it does somewhat resemble the curdling of milk. It goes from one smooth single cell to a cluster of cells that resembles curds of cheese. I can’t say for sure that’s what Job is talking about, but it’s an interesting possibility. And if that were the case, it’s a very good argument for life at conception in the Bible.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        There seems to be a trend that because a stage gets mentioned in the Bible, therefore it must be an argument that life starts there. But that’s not the case.

        For example. Adam was formed from the dirt/clay. He was fully formed, as a human being, but he was not considered alive yet, until God breathed into him.

        Just because a stage is mentioned, does not mean that is where life begins.

        1. Lindsay Harold says:

          Yes, but these stages are referred to as “me” – a person. Since people are souls, that seems to indicate that these stages have souls.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            Adam is referred to by the same word (name) before and after he becomes a living soul. Does that indicate that the concept of a person can exist prior to their life?

            Jeremiah 1:5 seems to indicate God knows us even prior to conception.
            Again, Psalm 139:16 seems to indicate the same.

            Now, the LDS church uses this as an argument for preexistence, but I think it is more easily explained by God’s existence outside of space-time.

            Either way, if you use the argument that a sense of a self exists at conception, and thus it is life, then you must also argue that life begins prior to conception (because a sense of a self exists prior to conception), and so then you are in the realm of preexistence, or that all potential life has the value of life, and thus any birth control methods are immoral.

            1. Lindsay Harold says:

              My argument isn’t that a “sense of self” exists at conception. My argument is that an actual human being exists at conception (scientific fact) which has actually been created by God (as per numerous scriptures) and which is synonymous with a person (per numerous scriptures).

              While the Bible does say that God knows us before we were formed, it also says that Jesus was crucified from the foundation of the earth. Both of these are references to God being outside of time and do not tell us about the existence of something before it exists within time.

              There is no indication in scripture that the physical human body ever exists prior to the imparting of a soul (with the exception of Adam, which is unusual because it is the initial creation of mankind). In general, all human bodies have souls. Your position would indicate that not all living human organisms have souls. That’s a dangerous direction to go in.

              Since the most obvious and logical position is that all human bodies have souls and since human embryonic development is always referred to as God forming a person, it is fairly straightforward to conclude that life begins at fertilization when a new human body is formed and when development starts.
              When someone rejects this straightforward interpretation, they ought to be able to show some conclusive evidence that this is not the case. I have yet to see such a case for souls being endowed after fertilization or for some human bodies not having souls. One wonders why there is such a resistance to the most straightforward view that easily fits with all Biblical passages AND is consistent with well-established science.

              1. Jay Dee says:

                I’m confused. There is an inconsistency in your writing. First you say human beings are souls (which I agree with), second, you say they have souls. One is biblical, the other is not.

                And I think it is only as straightforward as you think if you have grown up believing so. To me, the Biblical passages agree with my belief. To you they agree with yours. It is a matter of perspective. As I said, my purpose is not to proof my belief, however you seem to be trying to convince me, thus, the burden of proof is on your shoulders.

                1. Lindsay Harold says:

                  Humans are souls. Human bodies have souls associated with them. A human on the earth is an embodied soul. Not just a soul, as if the body were irrelevant, but an embodied soul. Both the body and the soul are part of our selves when we are on earth, but the soul lives on, even without the body. Once the soul departs, the body is dead. Living human bodies have souls living in them.

                  1. Jay Dee says:

                    Sorry, have to argue that one. The concept of an immortal soul prior to judgement day, when Christ returns, is not biblical. That’s a Greek mythology teaching that has sneaked into Christianity, but shouldn’t be there.

                    1. Lindsay Harold says:

                      I’m not sure, precisely, what you are disagreeing with. What do you think happens to our souls when we die? Are you saying they die too and then come back to life later, when Christ returns?

                      Also, do you agree with the rest of what I said about embodied souls and living human bodies having souls in them?

                    2. Lindsay Harold says:

                      Interesting idea of the soul. I’ll have to look into it.

                      In the meantime, your definition of the soul would seem to suggest that the soul comes into being when the body does. You say there are no disembodied souls and that body and soul are one and die at the same time. If that is the case, how can a human body form and yet there is no soul? If there are no disembodied living souls, can there be living soulless bodies?

                    3. Jay Dee says:

                      When the body does what?

                      No, there cannot be a living soulless body so far as I can tell from scripture. Adam was not alive until he became a soul. However, there seems to have been a body (arguably not alive, despite having all the scientific requirements of life) prior to Adam becoming a soul.

                    4. Lindsay Harold says:

                      I agree. There can’t be a living soulless body. If a human body is living, there is a soul.

                      In the case of Adam, the body was formed, but not living. It most likely looked like a dead body, having skin and bone and other parts, but no life. Then God breathed into him and he began to live. The cells became alive, metabolism started, growth happened, breathing started, etc.

                      In the case of a newly-formed zygote, all of the characteristics of living things are there. There isn’t blood yet because all living things start as a single cell. And blood isn’t, scientifically speaking, necessary for life. Plenty of living things have no blood at all and none of them start out having blood. But a zygote does have growth, metabolism, movement of intracellular parts, etc. These things distinguish living organisms from non-living things. This kind of life is something science can’t quite explain. A dead cell and a live cell have all of the same parts, but the live cell has things going on inside while the dead cell has stopped working.

                      A zygote meets all of the scientific criteria for a separate living organism. It has a complete and unique set of human DNA. It is already either male or female. He or she grows, develops, and functions as a separate organism, and not part of the mother’s body. The zygote is a living human individual. It is a body. And where there is a living body, there is a soul.

                    5. Lindsay Harold says:

                      I see that you asked “When the body does what?” That seems to be referring to a sentence of mine which I will rephrase as “Your definition of the soul would seem to suggest that the soul comes into being when the body comes into being.”

                      Since, scientifically and logically, the body comes into being at fertilization, that would suggest that the soul also comes into being at that time.

                  2. Jay Dee says:

                    I seem to be unable to comment on the other one. We seem to have reached the limited of nested comments.

                    According to the Bible, when we die, we die. Body and soul, because they are one.

                    Ecclesiastes 9:5 says that the dead know nothing. There are no disembodied souls. The concept doesn’t exist in the Bible. A soul cannot exist without a body, because a soul is the body and the breath of God combined.

                    1 Timothy 6:16 says that only God has immortality.
                    And 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 states that we do not take on immortality until the last trumpet call (judgment day). Note: watch your versions here, they like to add the word “body” where it doesn’t originally exist in the Greek.

                    So no, I don’t agree that human bodies have souls in them. I believe, as the Bible states that a soul is body + breath (spirit) of God. That our soul is mortal. That in the last days there will be 2 resurrections: the resurrection of the God’s people (Rev 20:5) and the resurrection of those that chose not to follow God (Rev 20:13). That those in the first resurrection will take on immortality, and those in the second resurrection will not, they will experience the second death, at which point they will again cease to be alive.

                    1. Lindsay Harold says:

                      After doing some looking, it seems the Bible does in fact teach the concept of disembodied souls. Here’s an article that lists several passages that do so. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/what-the-bible-does-and-doesnt-say-about-the-life-or-death-of-the-soul/

                    2. Jay Dee says:

                      Hi Lindsay,

                      I don’t want you to think I’ve ignored this. I am preparing a document in response (it’s far too large a discussion for a comment), and will link to it here when complete. Please be patient with me.

    2. Jay Dee says:

      I in no way meant to minimize your loss during miscarriage (regardless of the stage). It think it’s perfectly acceptable to grieve life, or potential life. Many grief for their children who will never be conceived, because they are barren as well.

      I welcome all discussion, thanks for commenting Darby.

      The point of the post was to make people aware of what stage their birth control terminates life, or potential life, and to act accordingly. Not to argue when life begins. What I find is a contradiction in people’s beliefs and their actions. This is my belief, and my contraception choices fall within my belief. But, there are many Christian who belief life begins at conception, but then use birth control methods (like The Pill, IUDs, etc.) that terminate pregnancy beyond conception. I do not understand how they can life with this cognitive dissonance.

      1. Lindsay Harold says:

        I agree that it’s normal to grieve both life and potential life. However, it’s not the same thing to grieve one as to grieve the other. To grieve an actual child is to miss them in this life while looking forward to seeing them in heaven one day. To grieve a potential child is to grieve what might have been.

        I had a baby. A real human being that was progeny of my husband and I, had a combination of our DNA, was attached in my uterus, and was growing and developing. He or she never had a heartbeat. But I will meet that baby in heaven. What I grieve is an actual baby. Not a potential baby or an idea, but a real human being.

        If you deny that my baby was a real person, you are minimizing my loss, whether you intend to or not. You are saying that I won’t see my baby in heaven – that he or she never had a soul, even though there was a body. That’s a serious claim.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Then I won’t argue, there is no sense. I’m sorry for your loss.

  23. Shaston says:

    My wife and I use natural birth control and condoms. When we she isn’t ovulating, I do not use a condom or pull out. When she is ovulating I use a condom or pull out. Its simple and keeps things spicy. We also look at ovulating a 3 or 4 day process just to be safe. Hope this helps someone.

  24. AMaxwell says:

    You mentioned using an app to track your fertile moments as a means of knowing when (or when not to) have sexual intercourse with your husband. What app would you recommend? My husband and I are “later” in years and together have a total of 6 kids (some from previous marriage) and were thinking of getting the mirena however since “hitting a brick wall” (can explain) we are looking into the choices as we feel strongly that conception begins at fertilization and was not aware that mirena would basically ‘abort a fertilized egg’ by making the womb inhabital for a new baby. We are grieve stricken about what to do as we are not really desiring more children in our later years but so desire to follow His will. ….
    Would greatly appreciate your input!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m afraid we haven’t used one in years, but a quick search should find a couple apps you can try.
      And, of course, there are always permanent measures.

  25. roguenine9lu says:

    III think that ideas on when life begins/gains human rights can be broken into 5 categories:

    1. Sometime after birth-not very common in first world countries today (unless you count parents of teenagers saying, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.”) but was more prevalent in the ancient world when an unwanted or disfigured child might be left in the wilderness to die of exposure.
    2. At birth/first breath-If I’m remembering correctly, this view was held by many Christians in the early to mid 20th century, based on God breathing life into Adam.
    3. At heartbeat/blood-I’m not sure if I had come across this view prior to reading it here. Jay Dee has already gone into it pretty extensively.
    4.Implantation-This is probably the latest that I would feel comfortable with defining life’s beginning. The reason I’m open to this possibility is that anywhere from 30-50% of fertilized eggs are lost before or during implantation.
    http://www.babycenter.com/0_miscarriage-signs-causes-and-treatment_252.bc
    5. At conception-This is the where I lean, mainly because the DNA is distinct from the mother’s and it is the point when cells (sperm and egg) that would otherwise stay single cells begin to form a human. Also I think that when you are in doubt you should er on the side of life.

    As to BC methods, my wife was on the Pill for PCOC before we got married and remained on it for abou 1.5 years until we decided to stop trying to prevent pregnancy (still no luck there, but all in God’s timing). Other than that, we will occasionally use a condom during sex, but mostly just to make clean up easier if she is especially tired.

    I will challenge you on souls from your comments above. The main reason is Jesus statement to the repentant criminal beside him while on the cross, “Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
    And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)

    This is further supported by Paul writing in the first 10 verses of 2 Corinthians 5, especially verse 8: “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”

    This is probably a bit of a both views are correct because God is outside of time situation. When you die you are immediately in the presence of God, along with those believers who died hundreds or thousands of years earlier and also those who have not yet died and even those who haven’t been born yet. This seems to be what Jesus is saying to the criminal with him on the cross, that His kingdom will come from the criminal’s perspective that very day.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      The quote from Luke 23:42-43 could be challenged by simply moving the comma (which doesn’t exist in the Greek):

      I assure you today, you will be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:42-43

      With that correction, it becomes consistent with the rest of scripture. I have a longer discussion of this topic here: http://seekinggodskingdom.com/what-happens-when-you-die/. But, in short, Christ certainly did not go to heaven immediately upon his death. He is clear later in John 20:7 that he hadn’t been to heaven yet. As for the 2 Corinthians 5:8 passage, the translation you chose is implying something not in the original text. The green word “kai” does not mean “then. It means “and”. As mechanical translation gives:

      We are having courage yet and we are well seeming rather to be away from home out of the body and to be at home toward the master.

      But, that’s a little rough. The authorized version has it thus:

      We are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

      In short, he’s saying that he’d willingly give up his life here in favor of a life in heaven. But this is clearly not a comment on the time between the two states.

      1. roguenine9lu says:

        Fair enough, as I said at the end I don’t think that its a big difference and is onevof those things that is hard to understand from our time bound perspective.

        Also, I had forgotten to mention that if I could pick any BC method, it would be one called RISUG/Vasagel that is in phase III clinical trials in India and Animal trials in the US that involves injecting a polymer solution into the vas deferens that can be reversed by another injection that flushes it out. (It has only been reversed in animal trials so far) The human trials in India have been going on for over a decade without pregnancy. Vasagel is the one being developed in the US and is expected to begin human trials next year and the foundation developing it hopes it will be available publicly in 2018.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          It’s not a big difference in this discussion, but it has massive impact on eschatological theology.

          Thanks for commenting! It’s been fun.

  26. aquafall says:

    Hi! Jay Dee (and Christina). I wanted to thank you. I may be young (almost 22), but have for many years looked at trying to find different options, if any, for birth control for a Christian. I only today came across your perspective and for my whole life just assumed the same ideology as many Christians and told myself life began at conception. I never tried to back it up with scripture or prayer; I just accepted it. I’m now not sure where I stand. One thing that you kept reiterating that I very much appreciate is how this is YOUR conviction and everyone should pray and read the Bible to find out what they think is alright between them and God. You did not push anyone to believe what you believe either. I have always wanted to plan sex according to my menstrual cycle and use condoms when i have the chance of becoming pregnant a.k.a. the calendar method, but my period has been irregular for many years and I feel that always wearing a condom while inside a marriage is not okay for me, so Ive felt stuck. Like I said, Im still not sure how I feel about it, but you have given me the drive to step up to the plate and take my relationship with God to a new level regarding sex and fertility and pregnancy. Even though God has set clear rules on many things, some things can be confusing. And that is where faith and prayer and conviction come in. I am excited to further my understanding and to hear God’s voice on this.

    Disclaimer: I also want to say God also has given us the tools to understand the scientific side of things. I am a nursing student so I definitely urge anyone to go and research things on their own and to not take my word for it. So Im definitely not saying it is smart to purposely be ignorant of the scientific aspect. Only to gather as much information as you can and to take it to God for clarity, understanding, and conviction. Again thank you for your (new to me) perspective.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Happy to help! And welcome to the community. Hopefully we’ll see you around some more.

  27. Alex Catherine says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Currently my husband and I are exploring other birth control methods. We are expecting our first child soon and feel so blessed! Once our baby is here, it is now back to the question: what birth control should we use? We originally used Natural Family Planning till our unexpected blessing of being pregnant. However, my periods for years before getting married (and in marriage) are always super irregular. We were very strict about the method because we wanted to avoid. However, being so strict already caused a lot of sexual problems in our marriage. Sex became less frequent, more routine, less spontaneous, bad timing (ex: I, husband, or both want sex but can’t), stressful, etc. It really wasn’t until we became more lax about “following the rules” that we became pregnant. My husband and I are so excited about having a baby but we really want to wait to have more kids after having a baby and have more sex in our marriage. It really hurts to turn down your spouse or even telling yourself you can’t have sex with your husband (I have a higher sex drive surprisingly…yes I am that kind of lady haha). Talking to people, and reading this helps a lot. I really want to be more prayerful about this decision too. Thanks again for your thoughts from you and your wife!! Many blessings to you both!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I would say try a few things. Condoms are easy, and if used properly, pretty effective. Alternatively, you could remain with NFP, be strict, but during the two weeks fall back on other sexual activities that do not involve PIV sex.

  28. Anonymous says:

    1) Thank you for writing on this topic. The topic certainly merits more dialogue within the church, but more importantly, civil discussions that are not emotionally charged where individuals can work out their convictions with love and grace for one another. I would suggest doing a word study on how many times “conceived” is used in Scripture (whether the Hebrew in the OT or Greek in the NT). I am convinced that the Ancient Near Eastern culture would have understood life to begin at the earliest signs of pregnancy, or conception, and God seemed to affirm this in His own dealings with the nation of Israel.

    2) you mentioned you would try to use Scripture to back up everything you were saying, but I only saw two Bible verses concerning your thoughts on when life begins, but nothing concerning the use of birth control?

    3) I feel there is inconsistency in your logic as to why you are not supportive of abortions in the very early stages, “For the simple reason that far too often people don’t know when they got pregnant”. Would you consider abortion acceptable before 4-5 weeks if the woman was certain about when she got pregnant?

    4) I would encourage Christian husbands and wives to consider seriously the possible idolization of sex in their marriage, in that I believe our American culture has been so conditioned to think that sex should be readily available all the time, and this has invaded the church culture to the point where Christian husbands and wives have a very narrow minded view on why God created sex. Sex was created to be first as an act of worship, and secondly as a gift for men and women to enjoy. Romans 12:1-2 encourages us to always be ready for change and transformation from the way we have been accustomed to think.

    5) I would much rather email you privately with these things, but I could not find an option for that?

  29. Kristen says:

    Interesting post. The idea that blood pumping through the veins = life is a very interesting idea. I did want to mention, for anyone who comes across this article, a great birth control option (for those not wanting anything permanent) that’s cheaper and more reliable than some of those mentioned above. The Caya diaphragm with Contragel spermicide is a probably the most reliable and safest option out there. No prescription required, one size fits most, you order it straight from Europe. The spermicide is much safer than what’s available here in the US. When you combine the diaphragm, spermicide and withdrawal it has been found to be 99.97% effective. That’s a 3 in 10,000 failure rate. We also chart using the methods described in “Taking Charge of Your Fertility,” which of course makes things less reliable overall, but we don’t want to use contraception when we don’t need to. Thus far this method is working quite well for us. However if we conceive again we both agree it will pull the trigger on a vasectomy!

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