The air conditioning broken, the windows of our townhouse were open, fans were blowing, and I was stripped down to my blue running shorts. I lay on the floor nearly comatose from the humid midwestern heat, smiling as I looked at my baby son. He smiled, I smiled. I talked, he cooed.
The oppressive heat that kept me from moving, didn’t thwart the deep joy I felt as I stared into the eyes of my 2-month-old son. There is nothing – NOTHING – as wonderful as fatherhood.
Despite the joys of daddy-ing, a few weeks later I visited the Planned Parenthood office near our home. I made arrangements for, and several weeks afterward had, a vasectomy. I did this because I like sex. I did this because my wife and I chose not to have more children. Oh, yeah, I am and was Christian. Since that time we have both responded to Calls to the ministry.
- Fatherhood and children are amazing.
- I like having sex.
- I practiced birth control so we could have sex and no more children.
- I am an ordained minister, as is my wife.
Good people disagree with one another. Equally moral people arrive at different conclusions about what is right and what is wrong. Though we all seek to follow Jesus, Christians are not a monolithic group. Despite the impression given by some, there are many different understandings of what following Jesus means.
My theology and understanding of the science of reproduction, lead me to conclude that contraception is consistent with the faith. In many cases, such as my own, I believe it to be the most moral decision. I understand and respect the Catholic theology that is unsupportive of many forms of contraception. There is a strong faith that undergirds the official position. I simply do not agree.
Americans are free to hold personal beliefs about the morality of contraception based upon their religious (or nonreligious) worldview. As designed, American government must cast a wider range of what is morally acceptable than any particular belief system or religion. This is the nature of a pluralistic, open society.
This is the nature of a people who built respect of differing views into their constitution. Freedom of expression and religious practice are an essential part of what it means to be American.
Many do not come to the same conclusions about birth control as I do. They are free to persuasively argue for their position. They are not free, however, to impose their religious teachings upon the whole. To do so has a name. That name is theocracy.