Sunday, August 20, 2006
Putting a New Spin on that special "Oh, God!"
Over here we read about the evolving evangelical position on contraception, at least within marriage (the whole question of pre-marital, or perhaps non-marital, sex, is a post for another time). It seems that evangelicals are remembering that sex is a gift of a good God, and see contraception as part of the stewardship Christians are to practice. The writer, from the Wall Street Journal, notes the prevelance of "marital guides" in Christian bookstores.
It is nice that the mainstream media (can I lump the WSJ in that category, considering its editorial page?) is noticing that Christians are not cheerless, joyless, and sexless creatures, out to ruin our lives, removing from sex the role of pleasure as an aid to strengthening the marriage bond for the pure functional role of making more babies. It is also nice that even those who had previously been adamant in their opposition to contraception, even within marriage, are mellowing with age and experience. It is nice, finally, to have a recognition that there is more complexity in the real world than we would like to believe.
It is important to remember, along with theological objections, there are also good ideological reasons for being, well, uneasy, about the ideology of contraception. The godmother of the contraceptive movement, Margaret Sanger, was a racist, eugenicist, and saw the distribution of contraceptives to the working class and minorities not as a boon to them, but rather to the majority and middle- and upper-classes. By reducing the fertility of "undesirables", there would be no threat from them overwhelming those who, by "nature", were destined to rule (we see echoes of this same argument, sadly, in many arguments today; those who make these arguments are blissfully unaware of the deeply offensive nature of their position, an d react with vehemence when it is pointed out). This is not to argue against contraceptives. It is only to point out that, while a boon in many respects, the movement to control fertility was born within an ideology that should be anathema to us all.
I am glad that more evangelicals are embracing a healthy view of sex as an enjoyable bonus, marital recreation as it were (in all senses of that word). I am also glad that hearts are softening on the place of contraception within the marriage bed, opening up greater possibilities for married couples. Sex is one of the best gifts of God, and using it wisely is part of the calling of God to be stewards of the gifts of God. Let us all, then, go forth, and practice good stewardship, thanking God loudly in the process!
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