Originally published Tuesday, 17 April 2012.
Many mothers chose to put their children on birth control as a means of protection. As a mom, I understand this completely. I would give my own life to protect my children from being hurt, and I would give most everything else to ensure that no one hurts them. But, as a Christian, I know this truth: “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). We hope that by putting them on birth control we will protect them from getting pregnant, or getting in a position where they have to make a choice. But I submit that doing this communicates a negative message to your children.
So, should I put my daughter on birth control?
No. There, I said it. No, I don’t believe you should put your teenage daughter on birth control. Below are five questions I hope will challenge you to think more deeply about this issue. Assuming that you have taught your daughter that sex should be expressed in marriage, consider the following:
1. Will placing your daughter on birth control send her the message that you don’t believe she has the ability to control herself?
All of her life she’s probably heard from you, “I believe you can do this! I believe in you!” Every child needs to know that her parents see something bigger in them … see potential. She sees you, whether you like it or not, as an expert, an authority. Moms are supposed to have all the answers, right! If you communicate, in this situation, that you DON’T believe in her, even if you so much as hint in that direction, you’re risking your relationship with your daughter. And hey, “if mom doesn’t think I’m capable of waiting until marriage, maybe I really can’t.” Believe me, that’s the LAST place you want her to be.
Keeping sex for marriage CAN be done. But you know what? An even better message to send your daughter, from the time she’s a little girl until she’s in heaven with her Maker, is that she CANNOT do it by herself. Only God can do it in her, and He wants to help her be faithful to His will. Even now, I’m trying to teach my little boys that they can’t obey God without Jesus’ help. If you put your daughter on birth control, I believe you’re missing an opportunity for her to dive to the foot of the cross in desperation and need for sovereign intervention. She’ll miss the intensity of the battle. But more importantly, she’ll miss the sweetness of victory as Christ meets her every need and becomes the TRUE Lover of her soul.
2. Will placing your daughter on birth control send her a message of “permission granted” to do what she’s doing (or planning to do)?
“I know my mom loves me and would never do anything to hurt me. So this birth control must mean that she’s giving me permission to go ahead and have sex … as long as I protect myself, she’s thinks it’s okay.” I’m just not sure how you communicate to a young lady, while handing her a pack of pills, that you don’t approve of her decision to have sex before marriage. Somewhere, buried in her heart, lies an ignited flame that believes mom has given her permission as long as she’s safe. And while we’re on that topic…
3. Will placing your daughter on birth control remove the discipline that comes along with bad choices?
At what cost does our desire to protect our daughters come? Since the Garden there have been consequences to bad choices. My dad used to tell me, “Brooke, if you can’t listen, you have to feel. And sometimes you have to learn the hard way.” So much truth in those words. Acts 17:11 tells us that “God disciplines those He loves.” The consequences of our sin often serve as a perfect, albeit painful, motivator to avoid that sin in the future. If we protect our daughters from feeling the consequences of their sin, they may NEVER learn and never change … never repent. And that is of great cost indeed. Yes, even pregnancy can be a consequence of sin. STDs can be a consequence of sin. Heartbreak can be a consequence of sin. And sometimes, we truly do have to feel the pain of our choices to be able to know why we have to turn away from them and into the arms of our awaiting Savior ... who, by the way, is ready to redeem.
4. Does placing your daughter on birth control communicate to her that you don’t trust God to work in her life?
Have you placed your daughter into God’s care? Not just once. But every single time you’re tempted to try to control her life. More importantly, does she know without a doubt that you choose to trust God in all areas of your life, including the outcome of her life? How many times do we step in and act when we don’t see God moving in the way we think He should? We take the control back, force the situation to go the way we want it to, and interfere in God’s greater redemptive plan.
I don’t write this without some fear and trembling. I look at my two little boys, so in love with their mama and daddy right now, and it literally breaks my heart to think that a day may come when they may choose something other than the Truth we’ve tried so hard to teach them. I pray that this never happens, but I’ve seen it happen in other families. If my son was walking into the valley of the shadow of death I would sacrifice my own life to keep him out. But removing the consequences of his sin? If they don’t feel the pain of their actions, our children may never know their need for a Savior.
5. Will placing your daughter on birth control make her more likely to go all the way, even if she has doubts, because she feels safe?
When I was 17 my doctor put me on birth control pills. Not because I was sexually active (I wasn’t) but because I was having severe pain associated with my menstrual cycle. I didn’t take the pills for long ... turns out they made me feel worse than the cramps did. But I remember, for the brief time I was on them, feeling like I now possessed a power I didn’t have before. It was almost like I had a terrible, wonderful secret. I didn’t really WANT to have sex before I was married, but with those pills deposited safely in my system I knew (or thought I knew) that if I changed my mind no one would have to know. Those pills, even though they were never intended to address my sexual activity, placed a seed of doubt in my heart and a false sense of protection and safety from the ravages of sin. I knew that if I wanted to, I could.
But I was wrong.
I dismissed the written, revealed Word of God. I dismissed God’s right to my body as its Creator. I believed the lie that sin could be covered up with no one the wiser. And I didn’t trust God to perform that which He had started in me as I walked in obedience.
As you’re making this all-too-important decision, I pray you’ll come to the answer through much prayer. Certainly I have not covered every aspect of the process today. I didn’t intend to. But I believe the answer to this question begs another, as with much the rest of life. Do we really trust God?
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Lovingly share your thoughts with me here. Let’s learn from each other.