By Addie Darling
In its press release for and in its introduction to a new paper in support of contraceptives and family planning, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good sought to “debunk” the myths it claims Christians have put forth about contraception. At the press release, Rev. Jennifer Crumpton summarized the views NEP sought to promote through its paper and its other work:
1) Family Planning strengthens families, primarily by allowing women in particular to become educated and maintain stable jobs.
2) Family Planning protects the health of women.
3) Family Planning reduces the need for abortion.
Sadly, these statements only show a very narrow and selective definition of the “truth.” While cloaked in Evangelical catchphrases, the premises of these conclusions rest upon a secular definition of sexual ethics. In turn, this worldview makes the assumption that children are a choice to serve the desires of the parent, and thus abortion must exist as an escape hatch for those who cannot accept the burden of a child. The attempt to dispel myths leaves us with a more twisted story that raises some serious questions.
Over the course of several articles, I will address each of these points more fully, but for now, I will just point out two overarching issue with NEP’s re-branding of Christian sexual ethics.
I agree with Richard Cizik that in this political and cultural climate, Christianity is often known for it prohibits, rather than for its positive teachings. Also, as a practicing Catholic and as a feminist, I agree with Cizik that there are a variety of ills that Christians need to be imaginative and forceful in addressing, among them poverty, single motherhood, abortion, and misogyny- particularly in institutions and within sexual relationships. However, the solution for this is not the gospel of sexual license, but rather the positive teaching held within the Church’s sexual ethics.
Christianity has a rich tradition, stretching through nearly two thousand years, that creates a positive vision and addresses all aspects of human sexuality, including marriage, contraception, and abortion. As Christians we ought to work with these tools that God has given his church; what NEP proposes rejects these traditions founded in scripture, and molds its vision of “Evangelicalism” and Christianity as a whole to fit the fads of the secular world.
Instead, we Christians should not be “conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind,” and use that reformation to re-create the world and bring it more into alignment with the perfect Will of God.