Friday, April 11, 2014

Well, If You Have a Good Reason . . .

One of the reasons I took such a hardline in my book, The Christian Case against Contraception, rather than take some middle road, like so many who are more conservative on the subject than pop-evangelicalism, is for the following two reasons:

1. If contraception is not immoral, then it is no more worth mentioning as a possible evil than eating too many cheeseburgers when you go to McDonalds. Sure, you can abuse food, but the sin would be in the abuse, not the thing itself. Hence, selfishness is wrong, but there is no point to name everything on earth that can possibly be abused as though the thing itself "could be wrong." The thing is never wrong. The error is just in the person's misuse of a neutral thing. I find the idea that it is immoral within itself to be foundationally biblical, and hence, find no sway in the argument that it is neutral and merely must be regulated with good intentions.

2. If contraception is immoral then it really doesn't matter if you can find what you think are good reasons to practice it. What is immoral is immoral.

Hence, the idea that evangelicalism is making progress on this issue by issuing statements that argue against selfishness or oppression in its use is a facade. They are saying nothing about contraception that is different than the larger group of evangelicals against whom they are supposedly speaking. On the contrary, they are merely reaffirming the idea that there is nothing wrong with contraception, only its misuse.

And, of course, who would ever consider himself as misusing it? We're the heroes of our own stories. We're the good guys. We always have good excuses for what we do. That's why we do them.

Hence, to say that you should just make sure you have a good reason to do something is idiotic if you are trying to prevent someone from doing something evil. It's much like telling Hitler that killing Jews is wrong unless he has a good reason. In Hitler's mind, he was saving Germany from the lesser evolved primates that were oppressing it economically. He was the savior in his own mind. He wasn't being selfish. He was doing it for the more evolved Aryan race, his people. In his mind, he had a great reason.

Or imagine telling your children not to bounce the ball in the house, unless they have a good reason and decide that it's best for them to do so. 

How about telling two teenagers that they shouldn't have sex before marriage, unless they have good reasons for it, like they love one another and such?

Everyone has a good reason. Everyone has an excuse. Either we meet immorality with clear conviction and condemnation of the act, or we permit it by leaving it in the hands of fallen sinners who always paint themselves as the heroes and never the villains. Heroes are always excused. They always have good reasons. They're never selfish or oppressive. Maybe other people are, but not them.

My point, of course, is that when discussing the subject of contraception, these red herrings should be left out of the conversation. Should I eat a cheeseburger at McDonalds? "Well, as long as you don't eat too many because then it would be a sin" is never the response you would get. Why? Because it isn't a sin. Should I participate in homosexuality? "Well, as long as you love the person and have a good reason" is also never the response you would get from a biblically-informed Christian, largely because it's a sin regardless of what reasons you have for practicing it.

So when we discuss contraception, let's discuss contraception, and not act as though warning that one needs good reasons for it is more balanced and in the middle on the issue than people who outright use it according to their own good reasons anyway. There has been no move. Evangelicalism remains as stubbornly in darkness as it has been concerning this issue since the twentieth century.


  1. Good to have some new posts from you, Bryan.

    I think that the 'middle roaders' you describe still labour under the belief that children are a resource or commodity rather than individuals - i.e. a pool from which we can draw on when convenient rather than unique individuals who deserve life as specific persons. Seems to me that middle-roaders are merely encouraging more frequent trips to the pool than any significant move to thinking about future children as individuals. Kierkegaard must be turning in his grave...

  2. Thanks Ben. That's a great point. I think you're spot on with that.