Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quiverfulls of...ummm...Crap

I wanted to use the other word. Trust me, I did.

This post isn't intended to speak against large or "mega" families. I've said it before - if a couple wants a large family and can provide for a large family, more power to them. I'm fully behind them. This post isn't intended to speak against homeschooling. This post is intended to speak toward the naive, gullible nature of and the spiritual laziness, immaturity, and irresponsibility exhibited and practiced by many conservative Christians.

I want to write a bit about the idea that "God controls the womb." It sounds like a nice, "godly" thing to believe - but it's gullible, extremely spiritually immature and irresponsible, and once again, it makes conservative Christians almost identical to the people they so vehemently oppose. People are too willing to give up their minds and grasp empty, worthless spiritual platitudes - which "God controls the womb" is. When I talk about people consuming servings of Kool-aid every day, and doing so without question, "God controls the womb" is certainly one of those servings. There's a reason I posted this a few days ago. I want people to understand the ramifications and dynamics involved when you give your soul to a movement and its ideas.

[For the rest of this piece, "God controls the womb" will be condensed to "GCTW"]

Nothing in any book of the bible suggests or instructs that God is responsible for your womb. You need to get the notion that GCTW is "biblical" completely OUT of your head. GCTW is the product of ONE thing: Dominionism. Period. End of story. So, while you may not be a dominionist, you're certainly drinking the Kool-aid they offer if you subscribe to GCTW.

To take dominion, you need numbers... 

"Hmmm. So how do we get the numbers we need? I've got it! Breeding! But if we tell our people to just start outbreeding everyone, that'll never really sell. Sounds kinda kooky and cultic. Hmmm. So how do we do this? Hmmm. I've got it! We'll make it biblical! We'll tie it into their faith and godliness and stuff! We'll give 'em the Kool-aid under the guise of homeschooling and "family values" and stuff! They'll never even notice! Someone get Mary Pride in here ASAP!"

Ahh, Mary Pride. A "made" (but submissive) woman in the Christian Homeschooling mafia, champion of all delusional things QF, and the root of most modern GCTW nonsense. A legalistic religious addict's legalist.

My question is, how far are you willing to go with the whole "God controls...____" concept? In the past, I asked if GCTWers believe God also controls other aspects of life, such as "transportation". Has a nice, Christianesy ring to it - "God controls transportation". In all seriousness, there's as much biblical evidence that God controls transportation (Elijah the prophet and Philip the evangelist come to mind almost immediately) as there is for the idea that GCTW. Will you forsake your car the same way you've decided to forsake birth control? What? No? It's obvious, then, that you have no faith, right? I mean, if you can't trust God for transportation, you must not have much faith. I mean, you may not even be a Christian at all!

I think it's telling that of two ideas presented in the paragraph above, both with equal amounts of "biblical evidence" to support them, one (for those keeping score at home, the "transportation" one) would be immediately dismissed as crazy or totally ridiculous and irresponsible if you tried to promote it. The other has had an entire paradigm built around it - because it provides a solution to resource issues and fits nicely into the long-range goals of dominionism, respected voices within the Christian homeschooling mafia/cult promoted it and served it out in dixie cups, and naive, non-discerning (though usually well-meaning) conservative Christians, reacting in fear and paranoia to that mean old world closing in around them, drank it without even thinking to examine what it was. They were told it was good for them, and they never even thought to exercise discernment. Discernment isn't terribly important in their world. "Godliness" is (as defined in the Patriarchal/Authoritarian Dictionary).

Discernment is SOOOO terribly lacking in Christianity, mainly because fundamentalist Christianity is intent on keeping the Holy Spirit behind a veil. Christ reconciled the separation between man and the Spirit of God, but few Christians pay any attention to what the veil of the Temple being torn means in context. It's the single event that everything else in the bible built up to - reconciliation with God. The Holy Spirit is what's needed to genuinely grow in the faith. Otherwise, those who profess Christian faith just spin their wheels in perpetual spiritual infancy, blown by any wind, latching on to every legalistic formula, driven by cultural fears, unable to move past elemental things. In response to the piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Reb Bradley's article, and its distinct lack of the Holy Spirit, someone elsewhere in the cyberworld made the comment (paraphrased) "We have to trust that the Holy Spirit will reveal Jesus to them." I appreciate the heart behind the comment, but I think the opposite is actually true. Since they already profess Jesus, they need to understand that Jesus has revealed the Holy Spirit to them (with the tearing of the veil) and made God available on a personal level. They already claim Jesus. Now they need to rely on the Spirit to grow past the works-based ideas and role-playing that makes up the critical mass of their "faith".

Unfortunately, most fundamentalist and legalistic Christian leaders want few things less than for their flock, market, what have you, to be personally lead by the Holy Spirit. They go to great lengths to prevent it, and seemingly with considerable success, what with ideas like GCTW saturating conservative Christianity - and sadly seeping into some mainstream circles.

GCTWers are pretty aggressively pro-life in their views on abortion. They feel that birth control, in and of itself, is a form of abortion. What exactly is being aborted through birth control? Something that might have, could have, possibly have happened? Well, it never happened, so that's an argument over something that isn't. An egg? Sperm? Neither of those are a baby. Those two things have to actually come together for there to be anything that can be argued is a baby. The vast majority of birth control prevents those two things from coming together - therefore, there's no baby - and therefore, there's no abortion. It's a nice "I love babies and life more than you do" idea, but it isn't grounded in reality, but rather in spiritual immaturity and futile attempts to be "godly". 

And the worst part of all of it? The GCTW "choice" recklessly disregards and takes a pass on personal responsibility for sexual actions, which is EXACT argument that this same group of people makes against what other group of people?

They look identical to everything they stand against, but can't even begin to see it. Fundamentalism is like an intellectual death spiral.

I probably should've went with that other word.


  1. OMG... THANK YOU for posting this! GCTW is something I've been personally thinking/praying about. Hubby & I have a 3yr old & while I haven't been on hormonal birth control we still used barrier methods to control our family size. After a miscarriage in Jan 2011, we stopped preventing pregnancy again at the end of July & have not yet gotten pregnant (we were preg our 1st month of "trying" w/both previous pregnancies) so I wondered if God was teaching me to fully trust Him & give up my "control" over my family size. On the one hand I fully believe that free will is God given, on the other hand I wondered if God wants completely trust and obedience in ALL areas of my life even if hubby & I can't afford a large family. Your example of trusting God for transportation is SPOT ON! I appreciate you helping me see that I'm not sinning against God by choosing to prevent pregnancies.

    Something I've always scratched my head over: I read somewhere about the Duggar mom not breastfeeding her babies after 4 months of age in order to get pregnant again quickly. Is this the norm in GCTW families? Seems like that's not allowing God to decide... just saying.

  2. I think contributing to the whole idea of GCTW is real ignorance of how sex works. Many of these couples have been so sheltered that they don't understand that having sex during the fertile part of women's cycles without birthcontrol leads to high chances for pregnancy for most young, healthy couples.

    I think it's rather striking that these couples think the best way of consulting God in the process of making a family is to simply choose to have sex and hope that God will miraculously intervene to impose His will. Rather than the more obvious and mundane option of, you know, actually taking the time to pray and ask Him.

    I would even go so far as to say that this is a symptom of turning Christianity more into a religious culture rather than a personal relationship. In a culture, one has safe, predictable rules to follow, no pesky dynamic relationship which takes work to maintain. Not using birthcontrol is a rule which has been tied up in a pretty Christianese wrapping.

  3. Charity, I don't know if it's the norm, but when I hung out briefly on a QF message board, they were very upset with people who would "use one baby to prevent another" by breastfeeding more than the minimum. Which I thought was weird, because for most women, breastfeeding exclusively for 6mo, then ad lib thereafter will space those babies 2 years apart, which is quite healthy and not unreasonable at all.

  4. Lewis and readers, I need some help which you are very well situated to provide :) Within about the next week, I need to get my hands on resources that promote "biblical betrothal," the kind that is considered by proponents to be unbreakable except by infidelity or abandonment, just like marriage. It's a step beyond Josh Harris. I see that a Dr. S.M. Davis has a ton of Cds and DVDs on the topic, but I don't know if they are what I'm looking for and don't want to waste my money (or give it to him!). Basically I need to document the fad of betrothal within very conservative evangelical Christianity in the early 1990s. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks a million!

  5. Excellent point above, having sex during ovulation is taking thing into your own hands you are trying to have a pregnancy just as much as anyone who uses birth control isn't.
    I've always thought it buzzard that people say they're letting god plan their family when the process the go through to let *god* do te planning is totally bizarrely different from the way they would let *god* plan anything else. It amuses me to because if you've ever talked to anyone who has ever used any kind of birth control properly chances are high you'll figure out that it has a pretty high rate of failure and I'm thinking if god wants you to have a child that badly he can work through birth control.

  6. Your information is not entirely correct. With hormonal birth control such as the pill, if you start it in the short amount of time between fertilization of the egg and beginning the pill, it can cause a miscarriage. The chances are low, but the chances are there. I choose not to use hormonal birth control for health reasons...I don't think it's healthy to mess with our hormones unnecessarily. But I have gotten pregnant twice now using some method of birth control, the first one was an ectopic pregnancy that I lost (and glad I didn't have to make the decision to have an abortion because I know people that believe it's wrong to abort an ectopic pregnancy and would rather me die from it than me abort the baby).

    The second time, I became pregnant with my first little girl out of four kids, and we love her so much!

    So, hormonal birth control can cause abortions, it is rare but possible.

  7. @Lynn...

    Israel Wayne is a big proponent. Some of his ideas are covered here...

    And this one, well, I'm not sure who's behind this little patch of ridiculousness...

    I hope these are helpful.

  8. While children are a blessing, what about Christian couples that can't conceive or go full term. And what about the fact that Paul in 1 Corinthians approaches marriage from a human sexuality view point and doesn't even talk about about childbearing except for encouraging post menuopause women to marry if they so choose. Sure we see God reversing menuopause for Leah and Sarah in Genesis, or granting Samual's mother the ability to conceive(Hannah I think) so while the matrix does belong to God nowhere does the Bible prohibit family planning. As a matter of fact we read in the OT about how the barren woman is/will be blessed.

    I have to agree with the idea of being spirit led that Lewis brought up, most ministers do not encourage/teach being led by the spirit.

  9. Question: I have a QF friend who says she is listening to the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is about a relationship rather than a religion, and that that is what she has, and that the Holy Spirit has confirmed for her that she is to trust God with her fertility. How do I respond to that?

  10. I have always felt that GCTW is one of the most smug beliefs of the QF movement.
    It is terrible to watch how women who have difficulty conceiving are treated.

  11. Anon 8:52...I'm not sure there's a perfect way to respond to her. I'd probably ask her if she's confident the Holy Spirit would be telling her the same thing if she'd never heard of QF or wasn't a part of whatever church or group she heard the idea from.

    My guess is no and that she's probably confusing the Holy Spirit with groupthink. Happens all the time in these movements.

  12. Anon 8:52...I'd probably also ask her why it's okay for her to deflect personal responsibility for her sexual/reproductive behaviors, but it's not okay for people who get abortions?

  13. Anon 8:52 If she truly believes that God wants her to get pregnant again, why not this "fleece"? God can do ALL things; there is NOTHING too hard for him. So, she should use a condom or the birth control consistently each month, and if GOD wants her to get pregnant, she will.

    God is stopped by a thin sheaf of rubber latex? I think not. God is unable to cause an egg to be released in a woman's body because she is taking hormones? The same God who created the entire universe with mere words? Seriously?

    The QF people are the ones without faith. Their God is so weak He totally depends on the arm of flash (fundamentalist speak for human efforts). Not only that, from what I've heard, their God is pretty weepy and vengeful when people don't cooperate and foil his plans. Sort of like an oversized ego in a pint-sized body on the playground., "But you guys, I said do it this way! *cries* I'll get you for this! *shakes fist*.

    Seriously, the Living God is Lord over all of creation, and He doesn't need your cooperation if He wants a child born. Ask Mary the mother of Jesus, or Hannah, or Micah, or Elizabeth...

    God is capable of accomplishing all He wants accomplished. So who's got the weak faith now?

  14. @Charity...What you said here made me think of something...

    Something I've always scratched my head over: I read somewhere about the Duggar mom not breastfeeding her babies after 4 months of age in order to get pregnant again quickly. Is this the norm in GCTW families? Seems like that's not allowing God to decide... just saying.

    Most QF and "GCTW" people intend to have as many babies as humanly possible. It's both dishonest of them and irresponsible of them to blame their own desires and intentions on the "will of God". If what I'm saying weren't true, QF families with only a child or two would feel as "blessed" as a family with a brood of 10 or 15. They don't, they're frowned upon, and usually it's blamed on some "sin" in their life or something equally as ignorant.

    By their own reckoning, if they have a dozen, God's in control, but if a couple exercises the same "faith" and no birth control principles, yet has few children - they did it rather than God. The entire philosophy becomes two-faced.

  15. I heard a lot of GCTW growing up and never was able to fully reconcile what I didn't agree with and the guilt that I'd feel from these people/ideas. This sermon on birth control REALLY helped me understand all sides of it. Hope it helps someone else too. :)

  16. Ouch...I'm not a fan of Driscoll at all. I don't like anything about him.

  17. Oops, arm of FLESH not flash! Sorry for the typo.

  18. "Anon 8:52...I'd probably also ask her why it's okay for her to deflect personal responsibility for her sexual/reproductive behaviors, but it's not okay for people who get abortions?"

    That, right there, is probably one of my favorite quotes from you to date, Lewis.

    As for the Mark Driscoll reference-No. That man is disgusting.

  19. Annonymous said:

    "Question: I have a QF friend who says she is listening to the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is about a relationship rather than a religion, and that that is what she has, and that the Holy Spirit has confirmed for her that she is to trust God with her fertility. How do I respond to that?"

    Shadowspring makes a good point. Ovulation cycles are natural. Women's bodies were created to prepare for pregnancy once a month. So if you want to have a baby, but you use birth control and ask God to intervene if He wants you pregnant, you're asking God to take special measures on your behalf. But to not use birth control, and to claim that you're "trusting God with your fertility," is to expect God to take special measures on your behalf, too. It's like when Satan told Jesus to throw Himself off the temple. Sure, God could prevent the natural consequences from happening, but it would have been wrong to force God's hand.

    If you don't use birth control, you're not "trusting God with your fertility." You're simply giving your fertility over to the natural courses of this world. As Brita said-- the way to really trust God with your fertility is to pray and ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit.

  20. I think a lot of it is a "blaming God" mentality as well. Because if God is to blame for all those kids then the personal responsibility for thinking things through goes out the window. God wouldn't have made it as easy to figure out cycles and stuff if he hadn't wanted us to exercise some sort of thought over it. Birth control pills etc make this easier of course, but for centuries people have realized some of the signs and figured out ways to avoid having children (or the signs to know when to try). But the whole GCTW is in some ways close to the victim syndrone "everything happpens to me and I can't do anything about it!"

  21. Hey Lynn, I think Jonathan Lindvall may have been one of the people to have come up with the idea of modern betrothals. He was big into the courtship movement at first, but then felt that courtship wasn't good enough, and came up with the idea of betrothal to solve the issues with courtship. One of his sons was married through a betrothal.

    I hope that helps!


  22. Well done! And so badly needed to be said!

  23. Interested bystanderOctober 7, 2011 at 6:44 AM

    On failed implantation: It is estimated that a majority of fertilized eggs do not implant in the uterus or are expelled too early to be considered a pregnancy. Either the egg was fertilized too late and is too degraded to implant or the uterus isn't quite ready or the signals necessary to maintain a pregnancy don't coordinate. This is a natural occurrence in humans and other animals and not due to birth control. So hormonal birth control (the pill, etc.) may or may not be the cause of any particular fertilized egg making it to baby status. Failed implantation alone can not condemn the use of such birth control.

  24. Failure for an egg to implant may occur naturally, but I don't think it's morally acceptable to use hormonal birth control to PURPOSEFULLY prevent implantation of an already-fertilized egg, which is what the pill does. The pill suppresses ovulation, but there is always a risk of "breakthrough" ovulation, and in the case an egg is fertilized and implants in the uterine wall, the pill induces bleeding at the end of the cycle and causes an abortion. Also, the pill causes the uterine lining to thin -- that's another of its safeguards against pregnancy. In case an egg DOES implant, most of the time the lining is too thin to sustain a pregnancy anyway. The pill is deliberately making a woman's body hostile to an already-fertilized egg, in addition to preventing the egg from being fertilized in the first place. I am not quiverfull, but as a practicing Catholic I do not use the pill as I believe it's morally wrong.

  25. Ok, as one who has practiced GCTW, I'm gonna jump in! :-) I am currently past child-bearing ability, have 12 offspring and had 3 miscarriages. We did not practice GCTW until after the birth of our 8th child. Yep, I have had more BC methods fail than one can imagine.

    So, to make this shorter, I'll just drop some bullet points.

    1.) Far too many Christians take something that God has given them as a call or a conviction and attempt to unbiblically enforce it on their brothers adn sisters in Christ. Thus "movements".

    2.) Purposely stopping breast feeding of a young infant just to get pregnant again is NOT GCTW!!! That is taking it into one's own hands. There are some QF types who purposely TRY to figure out ovulation so as to raise the possibility of a pregnancy. That is also NOT GCTW.

    3.) One who just automatically assumes that getting pregnant again in spite of medical advice is "trusting God" and praying about it, and perhaps deciding to avoid pregnancy is deciding for themselves, and not letting God decide.

    4.) When we get on a bandwagon, none of us is trusting God...we are drinking the kool aid.

    From a former kool aid drinker,

    Lois Brown Loar, mom of twelve :-)

    BTW, I agree with Sarah, above, about how hormonal birth control works. I researched it in medical literature, not in QF, patriarchal, or any other religious based literature. Also, from the beginning of our marriage(after conceiving one baby even while I was on the pill), I backed away from hormonal birth control as being an unhealthy disruption of a woman's endocrine system. I didn't use hormones during my peri-menopause years, either. I allowed my body do what it was gonna do.

  26. Sarah...

    as a Catholic? eyyiyi. did you know, back before Vatican II came out, EVERYONE believed that birth control was going to be "okayed" by the Pope? and that it was a MAJOR shock when, instead, birth control was condemned?

    so, look - i grant that i am not, and never have been, Christian, so i look at these things from a different point of view. BUT:
    A) God gave us BRAINS. if God was opposed to birth control, why would we have it? and i DON'T just mean "modern birth control pills" - i mean, for instance, a certain herb that was so very extremely popular it was the face of a Roman coin. so popular and so very used that that SPECIFIC form of that herb [the one MOST SAFE to use] was LITERALLY worth it's weight in gold [hence the coin modeled after it] and is now extinct because it was over-harvested. why would such an herb [or any of it's cousins, which by the way are still thriving and still used as birth control and/or abortificants - and THERE IS a difference between the two, i'll come back to that] have ever been around if God didn't want people to be RESPONSIBLE for themselves?
    [there is an entirely different, non-theistic argument one can have there, but it's not relevant.]
    B) again, we have BRAINS, and it isn't hard, at ALL, for us to figure out *when* we're fertile. it's not as obvious as, say, a chimp - but then again, we don't actually enter "heat", either. if God *REALLY* wanted us to procreate like animals do, why DON'T we? why do we have control over having sex [at least, in theory - leaving rape out of it] why does that Catholic church promote "Natural Family Planning" if we aren't supposed to control our bodies? following NFP is just as "unnatural" as taking a pill or shot or patch or whatever.
    C) you really, really don't understand birth control. or conception. i'm NOT trying to be mean - my mom was an OB/Gyn nurse, and is now an OB/Gyn nurse practicioner - i learned all this almost literally with "my mother's milk". over HALF of all fertilized eggs fail implantation. that, by the way, is the CONSERVATIVE guess. but, even more, that thing of "hormonal BC does this, it does that, it does this other thing" isn't strictly TRUE! for SOME women, the lining of the uterus MAY become thinner - in others, it becomes thicker, in others, there's NO change. it's more a function of the *individual* than the BC.
    then there's your whole thing of "if a person starts BC after she's pregnant but before it implants that would cause an "abortion", because it doesn't implant". except... you DO NOT start BC at a time of the month where that COULD happen! you, VERY SPECIFICALLY, start BC the day after your period ends, so that that can NOT happen. if you somehow have a fertilized ova on THAT day, there's NO WAY, no matter what, that it's going to implant, BC or no BC. you've just gotten rid of everything it would implant *IN*. so many girls and women complain about having to wait to start BC, and never seem to get WHY. but that's why
    *YES*, hormonal BC stops ovulation. yes, there MAY be side effect like thickening or thining of the uteran lining. but the lining isn't the point, and shouldn't be the reason to NOT use BC - because women can, DO, get pregnant on BC, with "perfect use". it's RARE, but it does show that BC doesn't just "abort" [again, abort isn't the right word...] anything that happens. most fertilizations just DON'T TAKE, even WITHOUT BC. the body is OFTEN "hostile to an already-fertilized egg". it doesn't take BC to get that result.


  27. [cont]

    most importantly, if the fertilized egg doesn't implant, IT IS NOT AN ABORTION of ANY sort. it's neither a "spontaneous" abortion [i.e. miscarriage] nor a medical abortion [thru meds or surgery]. and it's a LIE to call it an abortion, when it's NOT. it's merely a un-implanted ova. it's one of the best lies on that side of the debate - this lie that birth control *IS* abortion, and that it's abortion because hormonal BC can prevent a fertalized ova from implanting. but i tell you three times - NON-IMPLANTION IS NOT ABORTION. it is non-implantion. they are DIFFERENT. and i *DO* wish people would stop twisting words around - words have meaning already! you can't just decide to change the meaning of something [except... the people who started that KNEW they were lying, but knew that other's wouldn't know they were lying. so i'm not calling YOU a liar, you believe it - but it's still a lie.]

    couple other points:
    been a looooooooooong time since i read the Bible, even longer for the OT. but i distinctly remember God calling for infantcide "better to dash their heads against the rocks" quite often, and at one point he gave a recipe for an abortificant so that some guy could abort his brand-new-won-in-a-battle slave's pregnancy so that said slave could then carry *HIS* child.

    there isn't a single place in the Bible that's anti-birth control and/or anti-abortion. the CLOSEST you get is the guy whose brother died, and of whom God demanded he give his brother's widow a son. but he didn't WANT to give her a son that he would have to pay for but wouldn't be able to claim as his own, so he "spilled his seed" and God was pissed. NOT that he "wasted" his seed [seriously? if ever there were a renewable resources...] but because he wasn't doing his DUTY. THAT was the sin - not masturbation or birth control or any of the other things that have been condemned based on this one chapter. typical

    as for "hormones disrupt" - it's become pretty clear that having period after period is actually pretty bad for women - we have around 400 periods a year, where our ancestors had 200 or 250. a lot of that is pregnancy, but a lot more of it is breastfeeding after birth and etc. that delayed further pregnancy. taking a BC that STOPS a period is probably the best way to go. it's what i did :) then again, i'm one of those heathen women who feels that it's *MY* jobs to figure out how many kids *I* want, and to do what's necessary to have that number [and, then again, there's the whole issue of "pregnancy will kill me", so i have NO kids, because that's not how i want to die...]

    ~Denelian [it won't let me post any other way!]

  28. Doc Sharon over at has a much clearer explanation of how hormonal birth control works:

    "The info about birth control pills and other methods of contraception containing progesterone leading to thinning of the uterine lining is true. That's the information that, back in the early days of hormonal contraception, caused medical experts to speculate that this thin uterine lining might make it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant and that that might be one of the ways in which they prevent pregnancy. That information has since been pretty well debunked.

    For example, women who conceive while taking the pill should have a higher rate of miscarriage than women who conceive while not on hormonal contraception. They don't. There's also the fact that women at risk for early miscarriage who are treated with progesterone are less likely to miscarry again.

    Also, if a woman has enough ovarian function to ovulate while on the pill, her ovary will contain a corpus luteum which produces enough progesterone to maintain normal pregnancy until the placenta develops and takes over. So, even if she's on the pill, if she's pregnant, she's got normal amounts of pregnancy hormones coming from the usual places which should override the pill's effects.In other words, it was a theory that is now essentially disproven.

    Alas, the FDA has very strict rule about labelling and getting them to remove it would cost a fortune and, since the pill manufacturers don't see a lot of people refusing to use their products because if it, they're not going to invest the millions needed to do the study and present the case.

    Many people also think the 'morning after' pill causes abortions, it does not. Once again, there's that theoretical risk because a woman who takes it will have bleeding a few days later due to withdrawal. Some take this to mean she will be 'washing out' a fertilized egg. The only problem is that the fertilized egg doesn't even get to the uterus for a week. Anytime a woman is exposed to a high dose of estrogen or progesterone, whether from contraception, menopausal replacement hormones, or even natural ovulation; she will bleed when those hormones are gone.

    But, here's the thing: we do not conceive immediately after having sex, sperm are tiny and they've got a long way to go to get to the egg. We know from infertility research that a woman is most likely to conceive if she has sex a couple of days before she ovulates. Why? Because sperm can live about 3 days in a woman's reproductive tract while the egg is only viable for about 18 hours. It takes the 'average' sperm 3 days to get to the egg and fertilize it, which happens in the fallopian tubes, BTW. Therefore, if a woman waits until she's already ovulated to have sex, her egg is probably going to be non-viable by the time the sperm gets to it 3 days later.

    Therefore, a morning after pill works by delaying ovulation in a woman who has had unprotected intercourse as long as she takes it before she ovulates. It causes her ovary to hold onto the egg for a couple of days longer, so that the sperm will be gone by the time it gets to the tube and which also probably causes the egg to be not as easily fertilized as it has 'cooked too long' so to speak.

    There is also an empiric reason why we know that the 'morning after' pill doesn't prevent implantation. Aside from the fact that women get pregnant even after taking it, the pregnancy rate for the morning after pill is higher than the pregnancy rate for the regular pill. If the withdrawal bleeding caused by the morning after pill was so effective at preventing implantation, it should have a lower pregnancy rate that the regular pill or at least be as good. It isn't."

  29. Let me speak to the Catholic position for a moment, which covers Onan, too. Yep, God gave us cycles we could figure out and expects us to discern whether it is a good time to perhaps conceive or if there is a good reason not to. The whole Catholic point is that each and every sexual encounter must be open to life. It's totally okay to just not have sex during the fertile time in order to not conceive. That's the difference between using NFP and using birth control. The mindset sometimes overlaps, but with NFP, you can't block the fertility of the act itself. So if Onan didn't want to sire a child, he should have refused to sleep with the woman and endured the scorn of the men of the tribe. Instead, he had all the pleasure of the sex act, at her expense, by withdrawing. All the arguments in the world about whether the pill is abortifacient won't change the Catholic position, because a woman using the pill for contraceptive purposes is intentionally rendering the sex act infertile, whether it actually works that time or not. It's the intention that matters. That's why Catholic women can use the pill as hormone therapy with the side effect of infertility, and still have sex. Clear as mud? Oh, and in the case of rape, the US bishops have said that the morning after pill is okay to use to postpone ovulation, because forced sex does not have to be open to life, but it shouldn't be used in that short window where ovulation is inevitable, because it could be the direct cause of the non-implantation of a zygote, and that would indeed be an abortion. The Catholic position is that once the egg is fertilized, you've got a little human who should be protected, and that includes not interfering with implantation, even though nature herself may often do so.

  30. A few notes about Onan and other Bible verses mentioned:

    Onan's sin wasn't birth control; it was breaking the covenant with his deceased brother's wife, which was to give her a child in his brother's name. He married her, making the covenant, and then refused to keep its terms. If birth control were against a commandment of God, the Bible would say so somewhere-- but there is no place where it says anything of the sort, and birth control was certainly known and practiced in Bible times. But covenant-breaking is constantly spoken of throughout the Old and New Testaments as wrong.

    God never told anyone to dash anyone's children against rocks. That was part of a psalm in which a Jewish captive in Babylon expresses anguish and pain in terms of violence against the Babylonians. Psalms are poems, emotional expressions of people's deepest feelings, whether of praise, pain, anger or joy. The stuff in the Psalms are not commands of God. And God never commanded infanticide; in fact, many places in the Prophets express God's anguish that people did use infanticide in their worship of idols.

    If there is a passage where God gives someone a recipe for an abortificant so that a man could abort his slave's pregnancy, I'd like chapter and verse. I'm pretty familiar with the whole Bible, and I don't remember anything of the sort.

    But neither is there any place in that Bible that says life begins at conception. There is talk of God knowing people while they are still being formed in the womb, but as to when that starts, the Bible is silent. Just sayin'.