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Third Hour

Can Latter-day Saints Use Birth Control?

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Delving into the Church’s history on the topic of birth control can get sticky. With just a quick internet search, it is clear that the issue leaves room for varying opinions among church members. So is using birth control a sin? Let’s talk. Be fruitful and multiply Adam and Eve Teaching Their Children by Dale Parsons As Latter-day Saints, we believe that the family is central to God’s plan, so naturally, having children to raise in righteousness has been encouraged throughout church history by apostles and prophets. In Genesis 1:28, we read that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were commanded to “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Members of the Church today have been commanded to do the same. Brigham Young teaches that “there are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?— to prepare tabernacles for them… it is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can." Elder Christofferson teaches that “God ordained that men...

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As with all aspects of sexuality between a married couple, the article concludes with "it is between you and the Lord". 

Questions can arise however when couples feel there is a conflict between earlier church leader statements and current church policy. In my lifetime I've seen a great deal of change in how the Church deals with these issues. I believe the Lord has made adjustments in the areas of sexuality over the years to better reflect the sacred and private nature of those relations. The Law of Chastity has not changed, but the church has largely removed itself from the bedroom and left those decisions where they belong - with married couples. 

So, what should a young couple do when faced with the current Church position that leaves all sexual decisions to the couple, but then they read past church leader statements with do's and don'ts regarding specific sexual acts and birth control?  They should take their questions to God, not to ecclesiastical leaders. The current Church Handbook is clear that leaders are not to ask about, or provide counsel regarding specific sexual practices. Couples should counsel and decide together about sexual matters while wisely considering this Church statement given in a media release on May 4, 2007 when reading past church leader statements:

"Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.”

 

 

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Two responses to the article, which I generally like and the historical context in which I appreciated:

1). Re the “don’t judge” advice—does that go two ways?  ‘Cause I hear plenty of Church members chirping about how Sister So-and-so has too many kids . . .

2). The fact that the Church actively discourages permanent sterilization and instructs persons considering such a step to counsel with their bishops, adds another dimension to the discussion that it seems got lost in this article.  

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This was a fairly decent article. While earlier statements from church leaders that contradict modern teachings have never bothered me (continuing revelation being a central belief of ours and all☺), I do appreciate how the author demonstrates how much wisdom is still contained even in revelations that have been superceded. I loved how she put a 1917 revelation from President Joseph F. Smith into the context of the time and demonstrated how much value was still contained in his prophetic words.

When it comes to discussing family planning, unless the person you are talking too is a very close personal friend or family member and you know it's ok to talk to them, just don't ask. Whether they have a lot of kids or not, it's none of your business, it's between them and the Lord.

Edited by Midwest LDS

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

1). Re the “don’t judge” advice—does that go two ways?  ‘Cause I hear plenty of Church members chirping about how Sister So-and-so has too many kids . . .

2). The fact that the Church actively discourages permanent sterilization and instructs persons considering such a step to counsel with their bishops, adds another dimension to the discussion that it seems got lost in this article.  

1 - I remember a time in NJ with my wife and five young children when a middle-aged woman on the street frowned at us and said "Don't you know what causes that?" My wife and I smiled and laughingly said "Yes! And we think it's awesome!". That's become our standard response ever since.

2 - Given the guidance below, a Bishop would need to follow the Spirit when evaluating the individual circumstances. But even then, I imagine most Bishops wouldn't feel comfortable telling a couple who already have children that they shouldn't consider either option. Perhaps if they are newly married and want to avoid having children so they can travel the world, but even then both tubal ligation and vasectomy are usually reversible.

Some may find it hard to see how these choices differ much from an IUD or birth control pills except for the costs and expertise involved in reversing them. Personally, I've never met a couple who discussed their choice with their Bishop before they had the procedures performed, and I think that might be because a majority of members have never even heard that the church handbook addresses the subject. 

Handbook 2 Section 21.4.15

Surgical Sterilization (Including Vasectomy)
The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization should be considered only if (1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or (2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer.

Edited by clwnuke

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Wrong question. The answer is obvious: Yes. A better question would be, "Should Latter-day Saints use birth control?"

Of course, the ensuing argument would require a dozen or a score more qualifiers, and few if any would be listening with spiritual ears. So it would still be a waste of time.

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27 minutes ago, clwnuke said:

Personally, I've never met a couple who discussed their choice with their Bishop before they had the procedures performed, . . .

[Hesitantly raises hand] 

Well, now you have.  :blush:

Our bishop was supportive—my wife has chronic health issues, and we already have more kids than he does.  It was actually kind of a nice opportunity to just counsel with our bishop generally and reflect on the fact that we were moving into a different phase of life.  

Also, FWIW—my urologist’s position was “yeah, this MIGHT be reversible, if you’re lucky—but don’t count on it; and, it’ll hurt.”

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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@Just_A_Guy - Thank you for sharing! It's a normal part of adult life and nothing to be ashamed about. May I ask whether you knew about the church position beforehand or did you just feel inspired to discuss it with him?

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4 minutes ago, clwnuke said:

@Just_A_Guy - Thank you for sharing! It's a normal part of adult life and nothing to be ashamed about. May I ask whether you knew about the church position beforehand or did you just feel inspired to discuss it with him?

No, I knew the Church’s position and that was why we set up the interview.  

As far as the procedure goes—I still have very mixed feelings about it.  Some experiences early in my marriage taught me that the Church’s discouragement of birth control exists for a reason and that there are real and not-always-foreseeable consequences to flouting that counsel; and . . . without discussing some marital/family dynamics that were going on at the time, suffice it to say that I was not happy about bucking the Church’s advice (again) by going ahead with a vasectomy.  I am satisfied that it was necessary under the circumstances and that the Lord approved it; but I don’t view it as being the ideal situation at all.  

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2 hours ago, Midwest LDS said:

When it comes to discussing family planning, unless the person you are talking too is a very close personal friend or family member and you know it's ok to talk to them, just don't ask. Whether they have a lot of kids or not, it's none of your business, it's between them and the Lord.

That doesn’t mean there is isn’t a more righteous answer one ought to choose for their situation. Not all decisions are held equal in the eyes of God.

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I have eleven children.  Original plan was four but I’m an over-achiever.

When people ask me if I know what causes that, I respond: I guess not, but my wife and I do the research daily. 😀

The wife saw Saturday’s Warrior as a young lass and the teachings stuck.

She did try the BCP early in our marriage, while she was in Law School and I was a decathlete / nutrition major.  She had horrible side effects and we stopped.  

We know the doctrine and although there were times when I might have panicked, we looked forward to each new addition to the family.

The last 5 births were all done at home, with a pocket-knife and 2 cable-ties.

Looking back on our life we made the right decisions, except we should have trusted the Lord and never even considered the BCP in the first place.

FCD0A156-2568-44A8-8DBE-0548D8CDD028.thumb.jpeg.c433fbdf9e4a3dc42249159f1f157507.jpeg

 

Edited by mikbone

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11 minutes ago, Fether said:

That doesn’t mean there is isn’t a more righteous answer one ought to choose for their situation. Not all decisions are held equal in the eyes of God.

Nope they aren't, but the answer is different for each couple. For one the more righteous answer is to have more children, for another it's to use birth control, for a third it's to use birth control for a time and have a whole bunch of children later, for another to have just a few children now and stop trying for more. The church stays out of family planning specifically because there is no "one size fits all" answer to this question. God doesn't beat around the bush. If there was one answer that truly should be followed by all, you can bet he wouldn't have apostles telling us that it's between individual couples and the Lord, they would just lay it out for us. 

Edited by Midwest LDS

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@Just_A_Guy - I wouldn't worry about it any further. You did something that was hard, but necessary at the time. The Church has to balance giving general instruction to the members even when they fully realize there are many prudent exceptions to their counsel. You can see that wisdom in the wording of the handbook - "discourages", "Should be considered only if...",  "the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other".  Pregnancy is a taxing process on mothers, and it did little good for so many early pioneer women to pass away during childbirth, with their babies often dying with them. As a couple you made a thoughtful and wise decision to avoid similar circumstances IMHO.

Edited by clwnuke

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29 minutes ago, clwnuke said:

@mikbone - that's an awesome picture. Redwood forest?

Chesty Puller in the Grove of Titans - We spent a weekend couple years ago finding the grove.

http://famousredwoods.com/grove_of_titans/

https://www.savetheredwoods.org/project/grove-of-titans/

Back then you had to use hints in a book and other web sites to find the location.  It felt like I was in the Goonies movie.  

I was so excited when we found the grove.  My kids on the other hand were not, probably because it took like 1.5 hours of hiking.  When we got there they were more excited about a banana slug then the trees.  I rib them about it every time we are on vacation, or see something awesome.

Look! A 🐌!

Edited by mikbone

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Just now, Maureen said:

@mikbone, I count 13 people in that picture. None of them look old enough to be the parents of eleven children, so I'm assuming two are in-laws. Nice family, BTW.

M.

The hot one on the far left is the wife.  Redhead in the vest is a DIL.  I took the picture.  The slug is probably in the foreground.

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24 minutes ago, carlimac said:

Is this for real or is Lark news related to the Onion?

It is clearly a satire christian website

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On 8/18/2019 at 7:50 PM, Just_A_Guy said:

No, I knew the Church’s position and that was why we set up the interview.  

As far as the procedure goes—I still have very mixed feelings about it.  Some experiences early in my marriage taught me that the Church’s discouragement of birth control exists for a reason and that there are real and not-always-foreseeable consequences to flouting that counsel; and . . . without discussing some marital/family dynamics that were going on at the time, suffice it to say that I was not happy about bucking the Church’s advice (again) by going ahead with a vasectomy.  I am satisfied that it was necessary under the circumstances and that the Lord approved it; but I don’t view it as being the ideal situation at all.  

Meh, the only people I consulted when I had mine were the spouse, the primary care physician, and the urologist.  My procedure was on a Thursday.  I was still feeling a fair amount of discomfort on Sunday.  I managed to get my pants on, but then just really didn't feel like making the effort to get proper shoes on.  So I went to ward council (and church) wearing slacks and water shoes (and a shirt...I'm not that nutty). 

People laughed at me.  I said I'd had a procedure done and wasn't feeling up to a lot of movement yet. There were a couple of questions of "are you okay?" I simply answered that my procedure was elective and that there was nothing to worry about.  I think most people got the idea, but one pressed a little more, so I answered honestly: "I had a vasectomy on Thursday."  After that, no one cared what shoes I was wearing.

The bishop couldn't have cared less. In fact, knowing the bishop as well as I'd do, he'd just as soon not be bothered with these kinds of questions. That's what EQ presidents, RS presidents, and friends are for.

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3 hours ago, MarginOfError said:

My procedure was on a Thursday.  I was still feeling a fair amount of discomfort on Sunday.  I managed to get my pants on, but then just really didn't feel like making the effort to get proper shoes on. 

So that's why women don't wear pants to church!

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2 hours ago, Serviteur du seigneur said:

We must. We have the ability to be rational and thus we should rationalize that the planet just can't stand more people.

The planet can't stand more of the wrong type of people, maybe. I think the planet can stand several hundred million of my descendants. I hope to be an ancestor of every human on the planet within the next couple of thousand years.

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

The planet can't stand more of the wrong type of people, maybe. I think the planet can stand several hundred million of my descendants. I hope to be an ancestor of every human on the planet within the next couple of thousand years.

The population can not grow indefinitely uncontrolled, our planet will not keep up to serve this demand and it will be a total disaster.

There are so many poor kids starving to death in africa, humanity can not even take care of what we already have. Besides that, Everywhere is just so crowded, take a look at how the japanese people live because of their concentrated overpopulation, there's barely pure air to breath in those places, there's not even space, they have to live small bedrooms. 

 

Every crowded place becomes a disaster, you can think of china and india ,the US seems to be going the same way, it's becoming that big thing, running out of control, the south of the country is not at all a first world anymore, incomparable to Canada, which is small in population and easy to administer. And that's one of the reasons that makes european countries such as the nordics perform so well in everything. Lesser the population, the better the land becomes.

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