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The Contraception Guidebook: Options, Risks, and Answers for Christian Couples

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Birth Control: Planning Ahead or Playing God?

By Belinda Elliott Producer Should Christians use birth control? For some Christian couples this is a difficult question to answer. Numerous books and Web sites are devoted to the topic, often passionately defending their views on the issue as the only “right way” for godly couples.

The issue of birth control is a controversial one for many Christians. There are those who believe that any technique that could interfere with the potential for conception is an attempt to “play God” and violates God’s Word. At the other end of the spectrum are those who consider all methods of contraception as viable, even those that could destroy a developing embryo. Between these two extremes are various positions held by people who believe some, but not all, birth control methods are acceptable.

One of the newest books to tackle the topic, The Contraception Guidebook: Options, Risks, and Answers for Christian Couples, is a refreshing addition to the wealth of information available in bookstores and on the Internet about contraception. Unlike many other books on the subject, this book does not attempt to provide a clear-cut answer to the birth control debate. What it does provide is sound medical information about various methods of contraception and how they work, to allow readers to make their own decisions about how ethical or appropriate birth control is for them.

Published by Zondervan in partnership with the Christian Medical Association, the book is written by Dr. William R. Cutrer, an OB/GYN and ordained minister, with Sandra Glahn, a journalist and seminary professor. The authors are sensitive to the various views of contraception held within the body of Christ, and they acknowledge that it is not their responsibility to choose for couples what methods are right or wrong.

“Our desire in writing this book is to speak kindness, gentleness, and humility in what has been at times a heated discussion,” the authors say.

Designed for married and engaged couples, the majority of the book is dedicated to exploring the many types of contraception methods available to couples today. The book offers in-depth explanations of condoms, diaphragms, sponges, IUDs, oral contraceptives, hormone therapies, surgical procedures, and the controversial morning-after pill.

The authors also discuss other topics related to contraception including myths about sex and pregnancy, abortion, surgical sterilization, natural family planning, infertility, and adoption.

While the book is full of medical data and research, the authors do a superb job of making the information easy to understand. And the authors provide numerous Scripture references for couples to study further and prayerfully consider. They also acknowledge topics on which the Scripture doesn't specifically comment.

Cutrer and Glahn write, "In this work we will reason from Scriptures as often and as carefully as we can, but where the Bible is silent, we'll acknowledge that silence."

Where the Bible is not silent, on issues like abortion for example, the authors cite reasons why those procedures directly violate God's Word. For readers who are curious about where the Christian Medical and Dental Associations stand on issues covered in the book, an appendix is provided with statements from the associations regarding hormonal birth control, human sexuality, abortion, and reproductive technology.

Also helpful are the discussion questions included with each chapter, as well as additional questions for couples in an appendix. The thought-provoking questions encourage communication between husbands and wives about each topic covered in the book and how it relates to their family.

One exercise in particular illustrates how often couples do not realize the expectations of their spouse on issues surrounding family planning. Cutrer writes that during counseling sessions he often has the couple sit back to back and hold up their fingers to represent the number of children they want to have. He says the couples rarely have the same answer. If couples take time to discuss their thoughts on these issues ahead of time, they will likely avoid surprises as they begin to plan their families.

Being a newlywed myself, this book quickly captured my attention. It provided information and medical answers that I had spent weeks trying to uncover for myself on the Internet. In my search, I quickly grew weary of sites that provided more Christian “opinion” than medical facts about contraception. It is refreshing to read a book that presents the medical research underlying contraception without feeling the authors are trying to sway the reader’s decision one way or the other.

I highly recommend this book for Christian couples seeking reliable information about contraception. Pick up a copy today, and prayerfully read it as you seek the Lord’s guidance in building your family.

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