I’m afraid I received this email from our Have A Question page nearly a week ago, so I’m a bit late in answering it. The questions are:
I have 2 questions. The first is, Is it normal or okay to use condoms because neither spouse wants to get fixed? My second question is Why don’t men like to get fixed?
Now, this has already been pretty much answered in our Birth Control Options For Christians post, but I thought I’d answer it directly and perhaps add a little more.
Is it okay to use condoms for permanent birth control?
Let’s tackle this one first. This depends on your own personal theology system. Most protestant denominations’ doctrine holds that life begins at conception. In that case, condoms are perfectly acceptable. In the Catholic system, each sperm is viewed as having the potential for life, and thus (and I hope I’m correct in this) there are a whole slew of sins you can commit merely by depositing your sperm in the wrong place. The wrong place being anywhere but your wife’s womb. Someone, please correct me if I’m wrong.
That said, these are church doctrines, not necessarily the individual’s personal beliefs. My personal belief says that condoms are okay.
That said, be warned: condoms are not 100% fail safe. They’re pretty good, but not perfect. At the end of the day, if you are having sex…you should be prepared for the potential of having a baby, because just about every birth control method fails eventually, especially if you aren’t using it properly.
Condoms have about a 2% failure rate, if they are used perfectly. However, the way most people use condoms, it has about a 15% failure rate. Now, the wife has to be fertile at the time that it fails, so that ups your chances quite a bit of not being pregnant (I don’t know how much…stats class was a long time ago), but it’s not perfect. Just be aware.
Now, mixing condoms with something like charting your cycle (I need to get Christina to post about this) can drop the failure significantly, but it’s still not perfect.
Is it normal to use condoms for permanent birth control?
How do you gauge what’s normal? Well, I’m going to refer to our Permanent Birth Control survey we did a while back. We have just under 200 respondents, so not a bad data set. We didn’t ask about condoms specifically, but we did ask how many people are using permanent birth control measures (like a tubal ligation or vasectomy). Now, if we only look at those 45 to 60 (I’m trying to weed out those who are still having kids or past menopause), we still have 68 couples represented. 32% of them aren’t using some sort of permanent birth control measure. Theoretically, they’re not looking to have kids, but still need to be wary of getting pregnant. I can’t say how many are using condoms, but I’d guess at least a few.
I don’t know if that makes it normal. But it’s all I have.
Why don’t men like to get fixed?
Here are the comments from the men who won’t consider or aren’t sure about considering getting a vasectomy (getting fixed) from the same survey:
- Because I’m scared
- You’ll never know when the Lord wants to bless your family with another child. There is a 3 way agreement in a marriage and he should have that right, unless the health or mortality of the mother or father (especially the mother) is at risk.
- I think there is always going to be an underlying fear of something going wrong that could lead to sexual problems. Whether this fear is valid or not…the very idea of someone messing around in this area will always have a certain cringe factor for men. In my current situation…I am also not 100% sure that our marriage will go the distance…so the thought of giving up the opportunity to have children in the future is also a factor.
- Not necessary. There are plenty of other methods without requiring surgery.
- It’s a permanent desecration of our bodies. It’s like disfiguring your face or removing a limb.
- We don’t believe in interrupting the body’s natural processes. Avoid negative side effects; there are no clear health benefits. There are clear health benefits to NOT doing the procedure. We are comfortable doing natural family planning.
- God made me unique and everything in my body has a purpose. If I go and cut myself up so I can have pleasure without the responsibility of pregnancy is not God’s choice for me, but mine own.
- After 4 children we prayed and asked God about birth control, because we were ready with making children. God said He is the One who opens the womb and He is the One who closes the womb.
He will provide for the children He wants to give us. Are we going to let Him bless us with the children He is in store for us or are we going to go do it our own way. The next 4 years the sex was wonderful, because we didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant any more. We have 6 beautiful children and God takes cares of all of them financially and spiritually.
- No desire to break what God made.
- Can not find anywhere in the Bible where God encourages a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and than work hard to prevent children. The only support that I can find for preventing pro creation comes from the philosophy and ideas of pagans who denied the truth of God’s word. I am still searching the scripture daily in case I missed the passages that encourages prevention.
So, yes, some men are scared. But it seems a lot of them do it for theological reasons. Granted, they may be using that to mask their fear. We’ll never know.
I can answer for myself though. I am scared. Here are my reasons:
- About 1% of vasectomies fail to prevent pregnancies. That’s pretty good. But not perfect.
- I’m worried that the doctor is going to inadvertently damage my sex life permanently. This is probably my biggest fear.
- There may be an increase in prostate cancer rates (jury is still out, conflicting studies). With cancer rates at about 50% these days… (saw a study that said autopsies on non-cancer patients who died from other causes still showed cancer in 50% of men).
- There is the feeling that taking my ability to procreate away (even if I don’t intend to use it) makes me less of a man. I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s there and I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge it. This effect has been documented in studies. The studies showed that while men verbally say they have no issue, it was clear they were having trouble coping to the reality of it. This is particularly strong in cases where the men were bullied or pressured into getting a vasectomy. To be honest, Christina is driving this vasectomy idea at the moment, actually, for both of us to get “fixed”. While that is fair (both of us I mean). I’m concerned that I’ll resent her pushing for it after the fact if something goes wrong, and I don’t want to be that way.
So, there are my fears. In addition to that, I honestly don’t know where I stand on the whole theology point. On the one hand, if God really wanted us to have more kids, surgery isn’t going to stop Him. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of elective surgery generally. And this feels elective rather than life threatening. So, that’s my take.
What would you say to this reader?