I had a feeling he would show up. Over the past fifteen years or so, I have attended many pro-life events, and, depending upon the speaker, the elephant would show up. Most in attendance could not see him, but I could, and I suspect a few others could, also. He doesnʼt cause a problem, and he doesnʼt make a sound. He just stands there in the middle of the room and shakes his head as if he canʼt believe what he is hearing.
So when he showed up three weeks ago at a local Right to Life of Michigan affiliate fundraising banquet, I was not the least bit surprised. For, you see, the guest speaker was Dr. James Lamb, National Director of Lutherans for Life of the Missouri Synod. He is a charming man, a man of great faith, and a man who truly sees the evil of abortion. He strongly believes that the answer to this evil is the love of Jesus Christ. On the Lutherans for Life website, we find the following: “Abortion offers the Church a tragic new mission field and, therefore, an occasion to offer the Good News of Jesus Christ to those struggling to cope with a problem pregnancy. If the Church doesnʼt recognize that we have Good News for these women, who do we have good news for? And what is the Good News for? And what good is the Good News then?”
What pro-lifer could argue with that? I certainly canʼt. But on the same website, we find the following list of “Life Issues”: Abortion, Abortion and the Church, After the Abortion, Adoption, Bioethics and Creation, Crisis Pregnancy, End of Life, Family Living, Just for Kids, Sexual Purity, and Sharing the Message of Lutherans for Life.
See anything missing? Thatʼs right. Contraception. During Dr. Lambʼs entire half- hour presentation, the word contraception was never uttered. The official position of the Missouri Synod on voluntary contraception for married couples is that there is nothing immoral about its use and although having children is a positive good, choosing to be childless through the use of contraception is morally acceptable. And it is contraception that is the invisible elephant in the room. It is a subject that most pro-life organizations, choose to ignore because they do not want to insult their Protestant colleagues nor lose them as allies in the “greater” cause of ending abortion.
But this position is untenable for several reasons. First, it ignores the sinfulness of the separation of the unitive and procreative characteristics of the conjugal act brought about by the use of artificial contraception. Catholic philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand wrote, “ . . . artificial birth control is sinful not only because it severs the mysterious link between the most intimate love union and the coming into existence of a new human being, but also because in a certain way it artificially cuts off the creative intervention of God, or better still, it artificially separates an act which is ordained toward co-operation with the creative act of God from this its destiny.” Those pro-lifers who do not have a problem with contraception inadvertently send a message that says, “Abortion is an affront to God, but purposely cutting off the “creative intervention of God” is perfectly okay.” Does this smell of hypocrisy?
A second problem is that contraception is the gateway, or fall-back strategy, that leads to abortion. It is a very easy step for a woman to rationalize abortion when her pill, IUD, shot, patch, or condom fails and she becomes pregnant. After all, she was being “responsible” and “safe.” Itʼs not her fault that one of those methods failed. Consequently, she has a “right” to abort her child. What can the contraception-is-okay crowd say to her except, “Yes, you were right to keep God out of your bedroom, but now you must listen to Him when it comes to aborting your child.”? Will that argument fly?
A third problem is that many contraceptives are abortifacients. If one reads the literature on the birth control pill, for example, he will find that should the egg become fertilized and make it to the uterus for implantation, the lining of the uterus will have already been chemically altered by the pill so that implantation will be impossible. The result is a spontaneous abortion. An IUD has the same back-up mechanism; so do other methods. But the vast majority of women do not know this. One can only speculate as to how many of them, even those who consider themselves pro-life, have unknowingly aborted several children. And yet Dr. Lamb will not tell his flock about this. Nor will most pro-life organizations. And if these women someday learn the truth, will they have the right to feel betrayed?
The intent of this essay is not to condemn Dr. Lamb, Lutherans for Life, or any other pro-life groups. Instead, I want to challenge the pro-life movement to consider the dangers of not telling the whole truth about contraception, its effect on married couples, and its link to abortion. Can the culture of death be defeated with a partial truth? I have serious doubts.