Hi, it’s Tyson here, a 27-year-old Seventh day Adventist from Australia. My wife and I just had our third child, and she is happy with 3 and doesn’t want any more.
We are currently exploring contraception options.
The natural method (withdrawal, ovulation timing) seems a bit risky! Barrier methods seem okay, except latex for the man is not good as you said on your podcast. Hormonal is not something my wife wants to do for health reasons. And finally, sterilization is what my question is about to you today. I’m amazed how many people in my life are asking me the question “Have you got the snip yet?” I know the bible says that in a multitude of councilors there is safety. But I don’t think this is good advice!
In your recent podcast on YouTube “Be Fruitful and Multiply – What Does It Really Mean?” you briefly mentioned losing your sense of the infinite when men lose their ability to reproduce. I’m asking if you can expand on that idea.
If we can start with the easy part of your question first, we have often said that quoting Bible verses out of context is very problematic because we can find an isolated Biblical verse that would help us make almost any case imaginable. Of course, you are correct that just because many people say or do something does not make it correct. That is why the United States of America, for example, is a democratic republic, not a democracy. Mob rule is not a good rule. If we choose our councilors wisely, then listening to their advice is helpful. Simply listening to the most popular ideas out there is foolish.
We can expand on the idea of why a man losing the ability to reproduce correlates with losing a sense of the infinite. One of the points we make in our forthcoming book The Holistic You: Integrating Your Family, Finances, Faith, Fitness, and Friendships is that God built a world in which we can understand spiritual realities from physical ones and vice-versa. Male and female reproductive organs differ in some interesting ways. Baby girls are born with a finite number of eggs that will be ovulated down the road, while sperm is produced in seemingly infinite numbers for most of a mature male’s life. Once a woman is pregnant, her body is focused on only one life (or a limited few) for the next year. A man could (shouldn’t but could) conceive a new life every day.
We sympathize with your wife’s concern about the physical effects of hormones. That is real. What we are pointing out is that there are also real spiritual effects of closing the door on potential life, particularly for the man. Part of his spiritual makeup mirrors the physical makeup that expresses unlimited potential.
There are many factors to consider when thinking about contraception. You mention that you are a Seventh Day Adventist and perhaps you can get guidance from a wise mentor of that group. Our contribution is that spiritual consequences should be treated with the same seriousness as physical ones. What is more, the two, physical and spiritual, lead to consequences that are intertwined and affect one another.
Enjoy your family,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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