By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
"Quentin, that's my cousin's name," she says after introductions, holding my handshake a little longer than is usual. "What organization are you from?"
"Mimes for Abstinence," I reply, motioning as if I'm trapped in a box. I move in closer, licking my lips and making direct eye contact. "We try to slip in the message slowly, with hardfacts, then pull out information, generating a gush of excitement."
I explain why kids shouldn't have sex and graphically describe in detail the type of sex they shouldn't be having, concluding with my theory that Popsicles promote oral sex.
I'm interrupted when a confused old lady enters the conference room. "What is this workshop?" she asks.
"Contraceptives," another old lady informs her.
She makes a big, sour face and sarcastically moans, "Oh-kaaaay!" Quickly she leaves.
"We're trying not to make this a real controversial topic," explains the director, a soft-spoken woman in a pink top. "What is your organization's policy on contraception? When I say this, I mean artificial contraception."
To help clarify, she asks people to raise their hands as she asks questions about who they think should use contraceptives.
"OK for singles, OK for married couples?"
No hands go up.
"OK for singles, not OK for married couples?" Huge laugh (of course no hands go up).
With that, she launches into "A Modern-Day Fable About Holly and Steve." A slide shows Holly and Steve hugging and holding flowers, much as happy couples do. Then trouble enters paradise. "Holly began taking oral contraception: the pill. She gained 10 pounds and felt tired and irritable. She couldn't maintain her full-time job. She soon felt resentful at Steve's sexual advances. No one in her circle of Christian friends had experienced this.
"Holly was being robbed of happiness."
I look again at the slide of Holly and Steve hugging, holding flowers. What went wrong? They look so happy. To think, it was all because of birth control.
We go next to the Bible, specifically Genesis 38:10, in which Onan spills his seed on the ground and is struck dead by God. The soft-spoken director questions the appropriateness of married couples using contraceptives. "That's our objective: understand God's plan for marriage and families," she says. "The purpose of sex is procreation."
Once we separate sex from creating children, she says, the door is open to a whole (pardon my French) hell of a lot of trouble: "Protestant Church tolerance of birth control paved the way to the legalization of homosexuality, sodomy. And you know where we are today with gay marriage."
A murmur runs through the crowd. I wrinkle my forehead and frown. The old woman next to me wrinkles her forehead and frowns. An old lady gets up and leaves looking visually upset, moving her lips. Two court cases from the 1960s that found birth control to be in a zone of privacy protected by the Constitution are mentioned as precursors to Roe v. Wade.
"When we allow for contraception on demand," she says calmly, "we allow for abortion on demand."
The only solution is NFP -- natural family planning -- or the so-called rhythm method, which involves married couples not having sex during the time of the month when the woman is fertile. Yes, all that is required for God-sanctioned birth control is married couples who occasionally abstain from sex.
It's just that easy! It's just that fun! And, unlike condoms, it is approved from above. "The big difference is there's a violation of the natural law," she calmly explains.
"It also cuts down on sensitivity," I state to the woman next to me with a wink.
Another big difference: "If a couple uses contraceptives, and it happens to fail, they are disappointed when the wife gets pregnant." In the case of NFP, however, God is part of the intimacy and decision-making for the couple: "They know it could happen, and they totally surrender to it!"
To emphasize this, she calmly shares the story of a married couple's first time having sex. "When they were coming together, they could see the Lord," she explains. "They could see the Lord, they could see children. Do you not hunger for that kind of experience?"
Wow! I've heard of some freaky-ass shit, but a threesome with the Lord? A ménage à trois with the Master?! Oh Jesus!
"There's a zero percent divorce rate for those who practice NFP," she says. (I didn't know birth control was one of the leading causes of divorce.) "It definitely affects relationships; I know that from experience!"
Now I fully understand why abstinence educators tell kids that condoms are ineffective. It's not a scientific or logistical issue; it's completely a moral issue for these folks. They think birth control correlates to something in the Bible (my favorite work of fiction next to Battlefield Earth). They're not thinking of kids' health; they have a moral agenda. It's like teaching creationism over evolution in the classrooms. It's religion over science, except here it's religion over the health of kids.
"I want to ask her if it's OK to get a vasectomy," I say afterward to the woman with the George and Laura button on her purse. "Or if that will break up my marriage, since it's birth control?"