Is There Biblical Support for Contraceptives?

Joe Veix

Using theological arguments might be one way to reach a common ground.

There’s a great article by Steven Waldman on BeliefNet that tries to address the problem of choosing a lesser sin to avoid a greater sin. I’m not religious and I’m hesitant to use the Bible as a basis for a pro-choice counter-argument (for many obvious reasons, including: why debate under someone else’s fixed rules?); however, it’s beneficial to speak to the anti-abortion crowd in their own language, especially when it might help in reaching common ground.

Waldman asks pro-life activist Jill Stanek:

"Even if [pre-marital sex and contraceptives] are sins, aren’t they lesser sins than murder…? Wouldn’t she accept more premarital sex in exchange for fewer abortions?"

Stanek responded with this:

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"The idea of authorizing ‘lesser sins’ to decrease ‘greater sins’ is not Scriptural. In fact, Scripture teaches the opposite phenomenon occurs: Little sins lead to bigger sins. They don’t sate. You should know satan works in quite the opposite direction, enticing us in small, seemingly innocuous ways."

Then it gets interesting. Waldman asks evangelical professor David Gushee about this interpretation. Gushee responds:

"But all sins are not equally weighty. This can be clearly shown from scripture, as when Jesus condemned certain Jewish religious leaders for "neglecting the weightier matters of the law." Wearing suggestive clothing is not as weighty as having extramarital sex. Slapping a face is not as weighty as killing someone. Weightiness has to do with the gravity of the sin as this is taught in scripture and also with its significance in impact on other people’s lives and on our own life.

Moreover, sometimes lesser sins appear to be affirmed in scripture where they prevent greater wrongs. The Hebrew midwives lied to save the Jewish babies from murder, and they are affirmed. Rahab lied to save the Jewish spies. She is treated as a hero. Divorce is against God’s will, but provisions are made for it in both OT and NT. These examples are rare, but they do occur."

Gushee is more persuasive; he cites (biblical) precedent. Though I can’t help but wonder: if one sufficiently proves a biblical argument for reducing the amount of abortions by allowing a "lesser" sin, does that mean the anti-abortion crowd could be persuaded to favor contraceptives and sexual education?

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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