The Rick Santorum-fueled war on contraception stakes its argument in morality. According to God and the Bible and the Pope and all the sources that the kinda-monotheistic religion of Christianity listens to, contraception is wrong. Why? Because women are only supposed to have sex for the purpose of having children. If it’s for pleasure, it makes God do a frowny face.
To be provocative and sensational, as evil pill-popping bloggers like to be, I’m going to ask a silly question – how moral is having children? I’m not being like China and saying, “Quit having children – or at least throw your first child in the gutter if she is a woman.” I think that if a woman wants to physically birth a baby out of her vagina, she should be able to. But the current debate in America assumes that the purpose of female sexuality, and women in general, is to have children – maybe way more children than a woman would ever want to come out of her vagina.
One thing fundamentalist Christians don’t like to consider is what the Bible might say if it were written today. Would certain circumstances of modern society also displease God? What if one of the ten commandments was simply, “Drive less.” There are many actions we do that have a negative effect on society and the planet that did not factor into the equation before.
I was recently talking with someone who works in corporate sustainability. One thing he said to me was that the packaging, and what a consumer does with it, makes up about half a percent (.5%) of its environmental impact. The takeaway is that no matter how moral and awesome we are as consumers, just needing to eat cheeseburgers and put diapers on your baby is inevitably going to do bad things for the planet and encourage a bunch of 12-year-olds in sweatshops to work 14-hour days. If you consider having a less-bad impact on the planet to be a qualifier of morality, then one of the most moral things you can do is not have a bunch of babies that will eat cheeseburgers and one day put diapers on their own crop of babies, forever and ever.
This argument goes with many others that support the idea of family planning. The more that families can have the right amount of children for their economic comfort level, or choose to not have children if they don’t want to, the better our future will be. Less “oopsy,” unwanted children means less children growing up neglected by too busy parents, in poverty, inevitably eating up more and more resources and producing more and more garbage in a landfill. Contraception isn’t just not immoral, it is part of a new, globally conscious morality that religion needs to acknowledge.
I may choose to have kids one day or I might not. But I will never apologize for choosing not to procreate – except maybe to my mom. I don’t consider this a moral stance or an immoral stance – for now, morality is too much of a dirty word to deal with.