NFP Awareness Week #7: The Pill Makes Men Less Manly and Women Less Womanly

Have you heard about the study by the anthropologist Lionel Tiger? He put some monkeys on an island and then tested what happened when he put the female monkeys on artificial contraception. He found the male monkey exhibited strange behavior and was much less interested in the females when that happened. This is fascinating! Could this explain the rising divorce rates and crumbling of females and confusion about gender that we’ve seen in the past decades, if human have a similar physiology to monkeys? Watch the video above featuring Professor Janet Smith to hear the full story.

Here’s a thoughtful analysis about the study that Lionel Tiger did, and how it relates to natural family planning. Did you know that, as it says in the article, “Women off the pill can distinguish responsible, gainfully employed, physically fit men from social “losers” by the smell of their clothes; women on the pill fail this same pheromonal evaluation”? 

Here is the next excerpt from my book’s chapter on natural family planning:

Some LDS Church Leaders Have Taken a Stand Against Artificial Birth Control

If you go back to earlier statements from Church leaders, you get stronger counsel against using birth control. Here are some:

 

From President Joseph Fielding Smith:

 

I call upon the Church and all its members to forsake the evils of the world. We must shun unchastity and every form of immorality as we would a plague. We must not dam up the wellsprings of life by preventing childbirth. We must not be guilty of unrighteous and evil acts of abortion.17

 

From Elder Ezra Taft Benson:

 

The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father’s children.  We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. The commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have  gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children…18

 

From Elder Harold B. Lee:

 

If I were to name the first thing that impressed me always in these fine Latter-day Saint homes, I would say it was a love for and a desire for children. These are homes where the having of children was not delayed because of some social, educational, or financial objective, and where the size of families has not been limited by the practice of birth control.19

 

From President David O. McKay:

 

In the well-ordered home we may experience on earth a taste of heaven. Seeking the pleasure of conjugality without a willingness to assume the responsibilities of rearing a family is one of the onslaughts that now batter at the structure of the American home. Intelligence and mutual consideration should be ever-present factors in determining the coming of children to the home.20

 

From Elder Spencer W. Kimball:

 

It takes faith–unseeing faith–for young people to proceed immediately with their family responsibilities in the face of financial uncertainties. It takes faith for the young woman to bear her family instead of accepting employment, especially when schooling for the young husband is to be finished.21

 

From Elder Boyd K. Packer:

 

Frequently I receive letters and not infrequently young couples come, particularly of college age, struggling to achieve advanced degrees, and they ask for counsel on the coming of children in their lives. Never has a generation been so surrounded with those who speak irreverently of life. Never has there been such persuasion to avoid the responsibilities of parenthood. Never has it been so convenient to block that frail foot path of life across which new spirits enter mortality…Young couples are continually told that parenthood means forfeiture of advanced degrees and limiting of occupational progress, a representation they will live to know is false….I warn you to approach parenthood with reverence. When you covenant in marriage and are free to act in the creation of life, when you stand at the threshold of parenthood, know that you stand on holy ground.22

 

From President David O. McKay:

 

And what about the woman who can bear children, who still retains her beauty and energy, who has intelligence to care for them and the motherly emotion to love them, but who limits her family to two or three? And what about the man who arbitrarily refuses to let his wife enjoy this greatest gift of womanhood? She and he are both recreant to the highest, most blessed duty of parenthood.23

 

          Finally, here’s an official statement from the First Presidency of the LDS Church issued in 1969:

 

We seriously regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity.Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. . . .However, we feel that men must be considerate of their wives who bear the greater responsibility not only of bearing children, but of caring for them through childhood. To this end the mother’s health and strength should be conserved and the husband’s consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self control a dominant factor in all their relationships.24

 

      You can find more quotes from LDS Church leaders on birth control in the LDS Institute Manual titled Eternal Marriage, pages 14 to 16. (You can find this online at ldsces.org.) This section has an excerpt from an old Ensign magazine, an “I Have a Question” feature that asked about “gospel family planning.” It is answered by an LDS OB-GYN. I am disappointed that this LDS doctor’s answer does not promote NFP much. I cannot speak authoritatively for the LDS Church, but I humbly submit that there is a “gospel family planning” method that works. It is NFP and the related Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). It does work to prevent birth when the mother’s body needs a break. It is the only method that harmonizes with the natural cycle of a woman’s body and allows her to be the most in charge of her fertility and the most independent of stores and pharmacies.

         The Ensign article mentions a woman who needed a break after bearing many children. Tragically, she died during childbirth because she thought that it was against the teachings of the Church to do any form of birth control. She had medical problems that her pregnancy complicated and the result was death. I wish this dear couple had known that NFP is an effective and moral “birth control” choice. When are we as LDS Church members going to get what many Catholics, such as the Kippleys and the Couple to Couple League folks, already understand, that NFP and ecological breastfeeding are God’s way of family planning, and that they work, if we work them?

 

Husbands as Stewards and Consecrating Your Fertility to the Lord

          It’s instructive to note that the word “husband” in the ancient definition connotes a caring for or being a steward of, as in husbandman, or farmer. Husband comes from the same root word that husbandry comes from. A farmer is in tune with the cycles or seasons of the earth. A true husband is in tune with his wife’s cycle of fertiltiy. As they teach in the Creighton model of NFP, “It’s not her cycle, it’s your cycle.” I like that. This teaching unites the couple into one cycle. It elevates a woman’s fertility cycle to a level where it is the governing cycle of the married couple.  

Sam Torode, a Christian husband and father, wrote the book Open Embrace to promote NFP among Protestants. He has a remarkable article on the Internet called “Love in the Garden” (.compleatmother.com/articles2/love_garden.html) In this article, Torode compares his desire to plant a garden and care for the earth as a steward or husbandman to his role as a husband  to care for his wife’s body by honoring her fertility cycles. He quotes essayist Wendell Berry as saying that the modern culture hurts women bodies by treating them like machines, instead of humans. It does this  with pills and devices instead of reverencing them with ecologically sound ancient forms of discipline and restraint. Industrialism, or what I call our conveyor belt culture, separates fertility from sexuality, according to Berry. To comment further, in my own words, anything that separates us from the wholesome use of our fertility (within the sacred bonds of marriage) separates us from God, since  fertility is one of the main attributes about our bodies that is godlike.

As Torode declares, “My wife, with her cycle of fertility, is not a forest to be cleared or a mountain to be strip-mined. Instead, she’s like a garden, yielding her fruits to the patience and care of the loving husbandman. Neither are our potential children pests to be warded off with chemicals. Instead, children are crowning gift of marriage, the visible fruits of a love too strong to be contained in just two bodies. Even so, at times it is prudent to avoid the gift of children, by exercising stewardship over our fertility. Looking to the garden, we can see how to manage fertility in harmony with nature. If you want a field to lie fallow, you refrain from planting seeds during the fertile season. The same is true of our bodies—to avoid pregnancy, a couple can learn to follow the wife’s signs of fertility, and avoid intercourse during the fertile time.” For as much as the modern world has gone green, it has yet to go green in the area where it would do the most benefit, in the environment of sexuality. The proper ecological use of sex is not only in the bonds of covenant marriage, but also in the form of natural family planning. Society has cleaned up the air and the water somewhat but not the places where sex shouldn’t be.

So the very word “husband” is a call for husbands to practice NFP by honoring the wife’s natural fertility cycle as a farmer or husbandman is aware of the seasonal cycles of the earth’s fertility. We have never been told by the current prophet, “Thou shalt not use the birth control pill,” that’s true. You probably never will. (See reasons later in the chapter.)  But as shown by the above quotes,  our leaders have counseled against using pills that would stop babies, or artificial practices that would block “that frail footpath” of new life. Notice the word “artificially” in this phrase from  the letter from the First Presidency:  “Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor…it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children.” If that’s not a HUGE instruction to use NFP, I don’t know what is. NFP is natural “birth control,” other forms of birth control are artificial. I know some people refer to the health part of that statement  and say, yes, for my mental health I have to use birth control, so I jive with that statement. This is where I suggest you search your soul. Are you looking at children as gifts from God? Are you doing all you can to increase your capacity to receive these gifts God is eager to give you? This is something only you can answer.

The fact that the word husband remind us of the stewardship aspect of being a husband like a farmer is a steward, or husbandman, of the earth also makes me think of one more thing. You can approach the use of your sexuality and fertility with an ownership approach or a stewardship approach. The culture of death around us teaches that sex is to be used by anybody whenever they want for their own pleasure, with or without whatever partners he or she wants, because each person owns his or her own body and has a right to whatever pleasure he or she can get from his or her own body. These are lies and come from Satan. Okay, I realize I am getting a little preachy here, but hear me out. The culture of life, inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ, reverences life and teaches that one’s sexuality and fertility are not owned by that person, but owned by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is in charge and in control of everything as the Lord (which means ruler). Control is an illusion. The Lord is always in control. We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we are. We are merely stewards of what he owns.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost and that are bodies are not our own, but are bought with a price (the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ), “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” When we practice NFP we are reminding ourselves that we are wise stewards who consecrate everything, even our bodies, down to our sexuality, our pleasure, and our fertility, to the Lord and his Kingdom, for his glory, to bond in marriage and to create babies. Why do we think that our fertility is something we can turn on and off with artificial, man-made devices according to our own selfish desires instead of as a godly attribute that we are to learn lessons from and let flow according to the seasons as a tree does?

 

So Let’s Just Get it Out There…NFP is the Gospel Family Planning Method, or God’s Preferred Form of Birth Control

The letter from the First Presidency also asked husbands to exercise self-control in sexual relations, which hints at using natural family planning as well, since NFP is the only method of birth control that involves some self-control (except for the teeny bit of patience involved in delaying passion while you get a condom or another barrier device, that doesn’t count). So I am going to be bold and say that NFP is the birth control method that most fully accords with LDS Church leaders’ teachings on birth control.

There, I said it. (It’s not the popular thing to say, especially to LDS newlywed couples who want sex all the time, which is easily afforded by using the Pill, but I feel I am obligated to say what is right, not necessarily popular.) Not just NFP, but NFP with ecological breastfeeding, so that babies are born at a sustainable pace and we don’t “run faster than we have strength,” as King Benjamin taught in the Book of Mormon. I am not talking about everyone being like the famous Duggar family with 19 kids and counting, following what appears to be their open womb policy of having a baby every year. I admire them for being willing to have such a large family. If I  were free of debt and had a 7000 square foot home, I just might have that many kids too.

Being Sensitive to Family Size

          I am not saying that people with large families or those that have a baby nine months after the honeymoon are better than those with small families or those who delay having children. I know there are many factors involved in having children and we are not here to judge each other by our family size. This is not a race to see who can have the most kids the fastest. A young newlywed couple in your ward may seem like they are postponing having children after a year or two of no pregnancy, but in reality they may be struggling with infertility or miscarriages. We just never know. Similarly, the same thing may be happening in a family that already has children. In this day of xenoestrogens and other toxins that wreak havoc with fertility, secondary infertility is common. We are called to love and support each other, and leave the judging, and any comments, to God whispering through the voice of the Holy Ghost and conscience.

 

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