What Quiverfull Christians Believe about Birth Control

I just found a video via No Longer Quivering that summarizes everything Quiverfull Christians believe about birth control. I remember being told most, though not quite all, of the things in this video. The video is provocatively titled “You Deserve to Know the Truth: Contraception.”

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The video is shamelessly opposed to all contraception, and at one point argues that we are “contracepting ourselves out of existence.” (I’ve written before about the Quiverfull movement’s claims that we are actually facing not overpopulation but the threat of demographic collapse.) There is no thought to why people are choosing to have fewer children today besides the vague idea that it’s because of “selfishness.” And of course, the solution is not to make having children more attractive in our society but rather to force people to have children they don’t want through limiting contraception.

Also, this video says that the gay is caused by contraception. Oh yes. Now you really have to watch it. That particular argument is one I don’t remember hearing growing up, but somehow, I wasn’t surprised to hear them make it.

Note: If you find this interesting and want to read more, check out 1flesh, a “hip” Catholic website against birth control.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Rosa

    This is a goldmine, thank you. My boyfriend is cracking up from across the office.

  • http://louisebroadbentfiction.wordpress.com Louise Broadbent

    Hahaha! They use a ‘don’t-drink-when-pregnant’ symbol as an anti-pregnancy symbol at one point.

  • Katty

    I just can’t get over the fact that the first (and thus presumably most important) point they make in the whole 13+ minutes video is that we as women become less sexually attractive to men if we use contraception. Not only is this completely bogus (which goes almost without saying), it also baffled me completely why I as a woman was supposed to care so much about attracting men. Aren’t I supposed to be chaste and pure anymore? Of course, they explained that pretty neatly, claiming that (SPOILER!) our poor, confused alpha males would turn to men if we weren’t careful…
    Also, why do (probably fake) studies on animals apply to us humans in this instance and later in the video there are dire warnings about humans degrading themselves to the level of animals?? Well, I guess I shouldn’t be expecting any logic here…

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

    Wow, fearmongering at its best. Not to toot my own horn, but I did a series of posts on 1flesh and the anti-contraception movement on my blog, and I would really love input on them.
    http://ripeningreason.com/you-kids-think-you-invented-sex-part-i-2/

  • http://www.diannaeanderson.net Dianna

    I can’t decide what my favorite part is!

    Is it the scaremongering pheromones argument? Is it the study on homosexual behavior being from 1978? Is it saying that X thing is on the rise but not given us before and after statistics? Is it the ignorance of RESOURCE DEPLETION in the argument about how the whole world’s population could fit inside Texas? Is it the likely unintentional endorsement of evolution in citing (in detail!) a study about how a contraceptive turned a monkey gay (after all, if we’re not “related” to monkeys via evolution, why should this study matter?). Is it the misuse of Augustine – who believed that a fetus is soulless until about 4mos into the pregnancy – in an anti-contraceptive/pro-life argument? Is it the use of Vladmir Putin as a source?

    Oh oh, I know! It’s the pronunciation of “Putin” as “Poutine.” Faaaaavorite.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Yeah, why are they citing Poutine in their own support? Don’t they realize it’s…CANADIAN!!!!!

      I think my favorite is the idea that men are all confused because so many women are “contracepting” that there are none around for them to be sexually attracted to anymore. Except why would all these women be “contracepting” unless they’re HAVING SEX WITH MEN? Our guys are doing a pretty good job faking it for us contraceptors, clearly.

      Contraception has turned women into sluts who have sex with men all the time. Also men don’t want to have sex with women anymore. Women have become immodest hussies who degrade themselves to make boys like them which is EVIL but if you use contraception, boys won’t like you which is EVIL! We don’t need no stinkin’ logic!

  • Gwynnyd

    I lasted a whole minute and half into that before the WTF quotient got too weird for me.

  • veganatheist01

    Does anyone have more information on the environmental effects of hormonal contraception? That’s something I’ve heard before…

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I wondered about that too. I think one thing to bear in mind is that birth control pills used to have a MUCH higher dose of estrogen than they do today – it took a while to iron the kinks out and figure out what dose worked and all. Also, methods of contraception like the IUD or the ring use less estrogen as well, given that they release it right into the correct area rather than having to filter through the whole body. So my guess is that concerns about estrogen in the water, etc, were more of an issue a couple of decades ago than today. But I don’t know. And I don’t know where to find information on that besides a google search.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        It’s not exactly what you were asking but this post of Bix is relatively relevant.
        http://ripeningreason.com/you-kids-think-you-invented-sex-part-vi/

      • veganatheist01

        The smaller estrogen amounts are probably balanced out by the fact that more people use hormonal contraception.
        Guess I’ll try to find more on that on my own, since it’s a serious issue. Thanks for your answer!

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        If you find something, let me know, because I’m curious too!

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

        I looked into the environmental thing when I was doing my 1flesh posts, although I couldn’t point you to comprehensive studies on the issue, because I’m not sure they exist. If anyone knows of any, I would be curious to read them.

        What I found were isolated studies on fish populations or the decline of sperm quality in Israel. The concern is that the synthetic hormone ethynil estradiol is peed out into the water cycle by women taking hormonal contraceptives, and this leads to an increase of intersex fish. In the Israeli case, some scientists were hypothesizing that increased estrogen in the water supply was leading to a decline in sperm quality in humans, but they think the prime culprit is the use of hormones in Israel’s dairy industry.

        Based on what I’ve read, the use of synthetic hormones and endocrine disrupters in agriculture and manufacturing is a way bigger source of environmental issues than women taking hormonal contraceptives. Also, a pregnant woman evidently produces 10,000 times more estrogen than does a woman on hormonal contraceptives. And, as Libby Anne noted, there are low-dose or estrogen-free contraceptives. For example, the Paragard (copper) IUD isn’t hormonal, and the Mirena IUD is progestin-only, and delivers a small dose locally to the uterus. So even if estrogen-based contraceptives are found to be a significant source of environmental harm, it’s not like we all need to stop using contraception. There are other options.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I’ve heard plenty about those very environmental effects, including those studies on fish etc. But my understanding is that most of the damage is done not by actual estrogen but by estrogen-like chemicals that are routinely used in consumer products–things like phthalates which many plastic products are absolutely full of! If they’re so concerned about this stuff, they should be pushing for more environmental regulation and more regulation of industry–except they probably consider that kind of thing to be part of the Evil Socialist Obama Agenda.

    • Alexandra

      I did some reading up about it, and what I found is that the majority of the synthetic estrogens in the water are coming from plastics and factory farming, not birth control. However, the synthetic estrogens from birth control are more potent than the other ones, but even when you do the math, it’s not the big deal that the anti-contraception folks make it out to be. Like by orders of magnitude. This is a great blog post about it:

      http://www.antigoneawakens.com/2012/08/no-pill-isnt-destroying-environment.html

      • Rosa

        This. Most of the estrogen effects in the water come from industrial sources. And thank you for the link, I hadn’t seen that blog.

      • veganatheist01

        Thanks a lot, great article!

    • Christine

      The problem is that we know that estrogen is a problem, and it’s not just the anti-contraception people who say that the estrogen from birth control pills that are the source – researchers will list it as a possible cause. http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/male-fish-in-grand-river-show-female-traits-1.985586

  • veganatheist01

    Also, the “authentic love” line after the lecture about how men find infertile women unattractive is hilarious.

  • thalwen

    Argh since when did “contracepting” become a word?!? “Jane, you better stop contracepting,” that’s just… who talks like that? I’m also glad Russia’s president is gravy fries (Poutine). Also, birth control makes you unsexy but all that contracepting causes a lot of adultery. And it means more gay sex which last I checked doesn’t need contracepting.

  • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

    Gosh, my husband’s “fixed” and I’m now barren (thank you, premature menopause!)… I suppose we should just be two old fogies refusing to even consider carnal relations?

    I’ll have to let him know. This could put a crimp in our evening plans…

  • Gordon

    1False likes to pretend they are secular.

  • http://elliha.blogspot.com Elin

    This film angers me on many levels. I, as a Christian, do not agree with their interpretation that contraception is forbidden. Couples are allowed to live in celibacy for all their marriage or periods of time, why would you then not be allowed to use birth control? Celibacy is 100% if kept and birth control means you are always open to the chance/risk of having babies while still being able to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse.

    Second, their talk of ferromones, if birth control makes your body act pregant why are only the ferromones produced by birth control bad and not those of pregnancy? Do one not also risk ones marriage by multiple pregnancies when you will be seen as less attractive to your husband? Would not non-hormone birth control pills then be better than no birth control at all?

    Third, they do make valid points about side effects of hormone birth control. Most of my friends have had at least some side effects and this is one of the reasons I have chosen not to use hormone birth control (me and my husband have used condoms as birth control until choosing to become pregant) and it is sometimes ignored by health care people, at least here in Sweden. A friend of mine where for example laughed at when she asked about the risk of strokes while on the pill and the midwife gave gravely incorrect information about the risks which she found out later when she started to have another side effect (her breasts grew two sizes). Despite my concerns with hormone birth control I still believe that they might be a good choice for some people as long as the risks are explained and taken into consideration by the person using them.

  • Christine

    While I think that the people behind that film are crazy, my actual hormones during my luteal phase and pregnancy are nowhere near as rough on my body as the pill is. Friends who were so sick that they were actually throwing up during pregnancy (despite taking anti-nausea medication) said the same thing. That being said, I see it as like infant formula – yeah, it’s a lot worse than the real thing. That doesn’t mean it’s evil.

    • Alexandra

      Well, that’s your own experience, but it certainly isn’t universally the case. A huge percentage of women who use hormonal birth control partly because they prefer the artificial hormonal cycle to their natural one. For a lot of women it is in no way “worse than the real thing.”

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        For me and specially for my aunt it’s like that, she was actually completely incapacitated during one or two days of her menstruation before starting on it.

      • Christine

        I do know a couple of women who manage to use it with no problem (does the friend who has to switch prescriptions every now and then count?). I know that there are people who find the pill easier than dealing with cramps, I was just trying to say that they’re not the same, not that one is worse than the other.

        I agree that the pill is much better than natural menstruation though. The only way I managed to go off of it to have a baby was by charting (yes, I know, you need to do that anyhow), so that I knew when to take drugs for cramps. Throwing up once or twice a month because of the pill is way easier than dealing with normal menstruation.

    • Rosa

      a lot of women have these side effects and switch to other forms of contraception, or switch oral contraceptives – the effects of different pills vary tremendously.

    • http://blissfulheretic.blogspot.com BlissfulHeretic

      The thing is, there are non-hormonal contraceptive choices. I’m on the copper IUD–no hormones, 99% effective, no pill to remember. It’s great. There are also condoms, diaphragms, spermicide, cervical caps, etc. Additionally, there is a wide variety of pill formulations. Just because one doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that there isn’t one that will.

  • Anonymous

    I just wanted to point out something my boyfriend noticed, watching this over my shoulder–whenever they show a syringe (I think one spot is at 1:50 or so?) it kinda looks like there’s a bullet inside it. It’s kinda interesting that they would insert that subtlety in there when their opinion is otherwise pretty overt….

  • Lynne

    Birth control pills have made my life livable. Before hormonal birth control I would have my period three weeks, maybe have a week off, and then start the cycle again. Honestly that isn’t really attractive or particularly enjoyable. I have had absolutely no side effects whatsoever. As a medical professional, I find the misinformation to be disburbing. It’s also absolutely absurd to say that just because a woman is on birth control she sleeps around. Does the religious right not understand that hormonal birth control isn’t only used for birth control….while there are very few uses for Viagra. UGH! I also love how in the video is shows a little baby for an egg that doesn’t implant. Apparently science education isn’t particularly important or necessary. My numerous anatomy and physiology books, as well as biology books show something completely different at that stage.

    • Christine

      EXACTLY THIS. If you want people to stop using hormonal birth control, release this miracle drug that you must have, so that we can deal with our cycles. Think how much money they could make selling it to women with menstrual problems who want to have a baby.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Basic biology in general doesn’t seem to be their strong suit. They claim that only fertile women are attractive to men but don’t they realize that even women who aren’t using hormonal birth control are infertile most of the time? Ovulation lasts a few days out of every month. So men naturally only find women desirable a few days a month? That’s certainly news to me! What makes it absolutely priceless is that these are, no doubt, the same people pushing the idea that the male sex drive is a force of nature so uncontrollable that women must take responsibility for it by hiding our bodies and being available for sex on demand as wives.

      But this new info sure lets women off the hook! What a relief to know that I can be as immodest as I want since, as a pill user, I can’t cause a man to “stumble” anyway? As for women who don’t use hormonal birth control, I guess they can whore it up all they want for most of the month, as long as they bring out the modest clothing for their few days of ovulation. Seems easy enough.

      Thanks, Oneflesh!

      • Christine

        I remember a study that looked at the tips exotic dancers made. Women who were on the pill made less than women who were ovulating. I think, but am not sure, that women who weren’t on the pill or ovulating made less than the ones who were on the pill. Does anyone remember who made the higher average tips? I’m thinking it might have been the ones on the pill, but that could just be because I really want the anti-birth control people to look stupid.

    • Jenora Feuer

      Well, there are other uses for Viagra, albeit none with significant percentages of use. I seem to recall its original purpose was as a blood pressure medication, as it acts to expand capillaries in the body, increasing the total volume of the circulatory system. While it’s not used much anymore, I believe it can be used in combination with anti-coagulants for certain people with problems with blood clots getting lodged in the blood vessels. It was also recommended in one paper with regards to Crohn’s disease, of all things, operating under the assumption that the greater blood flow would accelerate immune response. (I’m pretty sure that one has been debunked since.)

  • Karen

    Disclaimer: didn’t watch the video. Watching people spout blatant lies distresses me far more than reading them.

    I’m now post-menopausal. I chose not to have children, and given that I knew then what I know today, I’d make the same decision. The reasons are totally selfish. My husband didn’t want children, and I knew if we had kids I’d basically be the head of a one-parent family. Didn’t want to do that. I have mental health issues, and I didn’t want to add the difficulty of parenting onto that camel’s back; it’s collapsed once before. I didn’t want to inflict an unstable mother onto my children; heaven knows my own mother was unstable enough, I couldn’t justify out-unstabling her with my own children! So it’s all about me. Take that, God-who-doesn’t-exist.

    • Judy L.

      Karen,

      Good for you for choosing the right kind of life for yourself. It wasn’t selfish at all to decide that having children of your own wasn’t necessary for you; you clearly considered what was best for you, your marriage, your family, as well as what all that would mean for potential children. Most people don’t think about their relationship with their partner and their own mental health and that parenthood might not be for them until AFTER they have children (and there are certainly lots of people who want children for selfish reasons that result in them being lousy parents). Our species is not on the brink of extinction due to under-population. Not everyone needs to have children of their own and not everyone even needs to have children in their lives. Some of us make really good aunties and uncles and some of us just do right by our neighbours by paying our taxes that fund public schools that educate other people’s children and employ the teachers in our communities (and some of us understand that pro-immigration policies in North America are going to be essential for there to be a large enough workforce in the future to keep our economies running and to support social security programs and government-rescued pensions and to fill positions that require advanced degrees and training – we certainly can’t rely on the Quiverfullers to produce the next generation of doctors and scientists). So much of the personal and professional success that women have enjoyed in the past 40+ years is because we’ve been able to use contraception and abortion to decide when or if we have children and to improve our health. I could go on forever about this, but in summation: the right-wing religious fundagelical crap that says we exist only to serve a psychopathic god by only having sex to make babies and that our purpose as women is to be brood mares and not meddle in God’s plan to make us miserable with pain and blood and cysts and cancer is just that: pure bullshit. Your life and your body are the only ones you get and if you’d made it this far without too many regrets, you’re doing pretty damn well. I’m sure there are plenty of people who regret not having had children, but I think it’s far worse and far more damaging for those who regret that they did.

    • Christine

      Thank you for not having kids, and framing your choice in a way that doesn’t invalidate my choice to do so. And I’m quite serious in the first part of my request – I’m feeling enough guilt over choosing to have kids, given the population and population growth (on a global scale – I know we’re in natural decline in Canada). It would be much worse if people had children just because they felt obligated to.

      • Judy L.

        Christine,

        Every child deserves to be a wanted child; you shouldn’t feel guilt about choosing to have children. It would indeed be worse if people had children just because they felt obligated, but can you imagine how much worse it would be for all of us if people had children because they had no other choice?

      • Christine

        Oh, I agree. My point was that, while I find some of the reasons people give for not having children to be very offensive, I would like population growth to stay down. I’m a little iffy on “every child being a wanted child”. I’d want to sit down and have a discussion about how the terms are being defined before fully endorsing it.

  • Karen

    No form of birth control works for everyone. The trick is to find something that works for you (the couple). For us, the pill (and later, vasectomy) worked. YMMV extremely, which is why it is important to educate yourself on all the options!

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      It’s so true. People have different bodies and different wants and needs. And that’s OK! I feel like people need reminding on occasion. There are a lot of different options out there, and it’s not like you have to pick one and stick with it for the rest of your life.

  • Judy L.

    So, does this mean that if we all take enough birth control pills, Rush Limbaugh will turn gay?

    Seems to me that the only people who would be turned off by the feminizing effects of estrogenic hormones would be gay men, so this is a very strong argument for straight men who fear being the object of gay male desire to start taking birth control pills. Yes indeed, straight homophobic men: once your breasts start to grow and your beard thins out and your body goes all soft you will no longer have to worry about unwelcome attention from the gays. ;)

    • Christine

      If you believe it’s your call to have your wife pop out a new baby every 18-19 months then it would be a threat. It can have an effect on sperm quality.

      I was about to make a sarcastic comment about how you’d need to avoid plastic, and never eat canned food, and you have way more of an effect, then I realised who’s pushing this agenda, and that a lot of them probably feel that it’s their wife’s duty to ensure that those happen.

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    It should probably also be noted that certain side-effects of hormonal birth control might be considered desirable. When I was looking at going on the pill I got a sheet with a list of both negative and positive effects (as my grandmother had a bone disease for many years before she died, ‘reduces bone loss’ was pretty attractive). So it’s more than just asking ‘what am I willing to put up with to not get pregnant’.

  • Noelle

    Weird. Not surprising, but weird. What happens when kids from these families go to med school? There must be some with that particular ambition. It’s a helping job with a salary to support a family, so it must be an attractive idea for some.

    • Doe

      I’ve met a number of pro-life med students, and a lot of them are not so deluded but some do believe that anything that stops a zygote from implanting is not okay. I’m fine with that as long as they aren’t telling their patients that birth control causes abortions. It comes up sometimes with regard to selective abortion which is the abortion of an embryo with medical problems.

      I will say this: being a medical student has exposed me to people from so many different walks of life that I have learned never to assume I know what my patients’ lives are like and why they make their choices. I would hope that someone from a very isolated background like this one would learn quickly that what s/he has been taught about people outside the faith is mostly wrong.

      • Noelle

        It’s more difficult for some than others, the reconciling old beliefs with new realities. I’ve known many very conservative and religious students, residents, and physicians. But none where even learning correct physiology would be a conflict, the video above an example. It takes a good mind to fully understand the physiology of the reproductive system. I don’t think one could do it and still hold this kind of bias, especially not with the speed that everything needs to be mastered in before going onto the next topic. Something has to give.

  • smrnda

    If people want to frame this as an issue of the godly way and the secular way, they are free to do so, but when they cross over into the argument that there’s going to be some deficiency in the relationships or lives or character of people using contraception, then they can take it and shove it.

    I think they do this whole ‘couples using contraception aren’t as close or don’t have as good of a marriage’ out of insecurity. A church guilted them into a mess of kids, and they may feel a tinge of jealously on occasion looking at the lives of couples with single digit or no kids, so they have to bash someone just for doing something different *probably* because they are having a tough time deceiving themselves that they’re always happy.

  • Gwen

    This video makes me really angry – how is that “The Truth about Contraception”? More like “half-truths about contraception”.
    It’s ridiculous to claim that “chemical” means of contraception (one of my pet peeves: what they mean is synthetic) cause “teh gay”, yet make us all promiscuous, full of STDs and cause abortions (because women who don’t use the pill wouldn’t consider abortion for an unwanted pregnancy, right?). At least they seem to be evolutionists, otherwise it couldn’t be relevant that a poor monkey whose females had been put on birth control was so confused he ‘had interactions’ with the other males.
    btw: Someone should tell them that overpopulation isn’t about space but other resources like – among others – food and (clean) water.

  • Anonymous

    My favorite part was when they said each person would have a little less than a quarter of an acre while putting the number on the screen…. .024 is NOT the same as .24. Each person would have a little less than a TENTH of a quarter of an acre… think 41 people to an acre.

    If they can mess that up so badly, I won’t even bother to check any of the other numbers.

  • Charissa

    Wow. No words n

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