Dear Ask Mormon Girl:
Having grown up Catholic, I was taught contraception goes against God’s plan. If I ever get married I’ll probably use Natural Family Planning, but I’m curious: what are the LDS Church’s views on contraception? Are they totally against condoms and the pill or do they leave that up to the members to decide what’s best for their families?
Last week at the supermarket checkout, I looked up from stacking a carton of eggs and a package of Dora the Explorer Pull-ups on the conveyor belt to see that Time Magazine was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Birth Control Pill. What swell timing you have, NRP! (Good thing, too: you’ll probably need swell timing to make that Natural Family Planning work for you.)
Now, for the official LDS Church stance on birth control, I’d recommend you go directly to the official LDS church website or to this helpful article at the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
Basically, you have it right: on matters of birth control, the Church encourages members to decide what’s best for their families. From what I’ve read, heard, and experienced, Mormon talk about birth control emphasizes prayerful deliberation, moral agency, consideration for women’s perspectives on family size, and the importance of marital intimacy for reasons beyond procreation.
Want more evidence that Mormons think contraception is A-OK? A 2004 article from the BYU student newspaper reported that at least 80% of the young women who go to the BYU Health Center for premarital gynecological exams request some form of birth control. Go Cougars!
Maybe it wasn’t this way thirty years ago. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a popular Mormon musical called Saturday’s Warrior that put a negative spin on limiting family size (sing it with me now: “Zero Population is the an-swer, my friennnnnd!”) and sent lots of good LDS couples home to bed to try for just one more “Saturday’s Warrior” baby. These days, while you’ll still find young LDS families with seven or more children—bless them!—a recent mantra I’ve heard in Mormon circles declares that “three is the new six.”
It’s safe to say that on any given Sunday at church you’re surrounded by many happy LDS condom and pill users. I’d bet there are even a few IUDs hanging out in the pews: despite the sentiment among some older women that IUDs act as an abortive device by preventing implantation, plenty of Mormon women seem to be using them these days.
Finally, dear NRP, when marriage and family time does come along, I hope you’ll find the courage to ask a trusted sister in spirit and about her favorite method. Women (and men too!) have lots of inside wisdom on this birth control business. And maybe, just maybe, our readers will take advantage of the relative anonymity of the internet to share a little of that wisdom here. What do you say, readers?
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