Why We Advise Against It!

By David & Lori Crank

From Volume 1 Issue 2 of Unless the Lord ... Magazine

Surgical sterilization has been very popular for at least 20 years now. Procedures have improved to the point where it can be done with relatively little pain or down time. Relative costs have also come down and insurance will often pay for the procedure. I donít have statistics on this, but I suspect a fairly high percentage of folks have been sterilized, with probably little difference between Christians and Non-Christians (at least it seems to me). Why is the surgery so popular? I suppose because most want to limit their families at a certain size and it provides almost certain birth prevention but without any of the hassle (or sometimes risks) of other birth control methods. So when couples decide they don't want any more children, this sounds like a great solution! 

After we had four children and were warned of severe health risks of having another child (see earlier article: Our Story:Part 2), we consented to the tubal ligation procedure. (Note: About 12 years later we were able to have it reversed). But even more popular today is the vasectomy procedure for men. They even advertise it on billboards around town!

But in spite of the convenience and effectiveness of surgical sterilization as a form of birth control, we cannot recommend it! Our reasons are as follows:

Why we do not recommend!

1. Is it wise to reject Godís blessings? Children are such a blessing from the Lord, it hardly seems wise or pleasing to the Lord to conclude that we know better than Him and to take such significant steps to prevent receiving any more blessings from God.

2. Though the surgery to be sterilized is fairly easy and most always successful, the reversal surgery is not so. Tubal ligations and vasectomies can be reversed surgically but with very uncertain success. In many cases the reversal is not successful in allowing couples to have more children. Also the surgery for reversal is considerably more complicated and requires more recovery time. It is not nearly so easy to restore fertility as it is to take it away!

3. Things often change! Just because you want no more children today does not guarantee you wonít tomorrow! Tragedy sometimes strikes and creates a strong desire for more children. It may be a matter of one or more of your children being killed in an accident. Or perhaps the husband or wife may die and the survivor will remarry. Now you may greatly desire to have a child with your new husband or wife. Even in cases where sterilization was to protect the mother's life or health, things can change dramatically. You may find that the risks are not what you were told or may come to desire another child enough to take the risks. Or simply God may change your mind and you may greatly regret what you have done to prevent His blessings.

4. One should be cautious about surgically damaging one's body to prevent its proper functioning. God has designed our bodies to function in certain ways. Though the doctors seek to develop techniques that are safe and cause no harm, a great many such interventions have later been found to have longer range harmful effects. It is one thing to surgically alter a part of your body that is not working correctly and causing you considerable harm. It is quite another to alter your body to prevent its proper working when no medical problems exist. In our experience, just the cutting of fallopian tubes had effects beyond preventing pregnancy. Beware of the possible side effects the doctor neglects to mention or may himself be unaware of!

5. Women sometimes feel a real sense of loss as a result. Purposefully destroying the natural function of the body and forever shutting off a natural fruit of the marriage can result in a sense of loss (especially when the woman has the surgery). Even though the wife may feel she doesn't want more children and can't handle more, she may later feel the emotional impact of having given up her function of bringing forth children.

Though my wife, Lori, underwent tubal ligation thinking we had little choice to avoid a significant risk of death, we found many years later that it was absolutely not so! Also we had come to a point where we were even prepared to take significant health risks in order to have more children. The Lord was merciful in that her surgery was reversed successfully, even though the odds were highly stacked against it in her case. Yet the reversal did not restore everything to the way it was before - there was no going back to that! The tubes were much shorter than what is natural, making pregnancy more difficult. And also there were other changes to her hormones and menstual cycle that appeared to result from the surgery. The Lord was gracious to provide us with two more children, but we might have had considerably more had we trusted God and not so readily believed our doctor.

Before you decide to sterilize, carefully consider your motivation. Be sure your motivation is to please God, not your own selfishness. And don't ever have yourself sterilized without the full agreement and support of your spouse. This can lead to a lot of hurt and bitterness! Your spouse is affected just as much as you by your decision! You are denying children to your spouse. You have no right to make that decision selfishly without your spouse's agreement!

Don't be quick to decide to sterilize - there may be no going back - you may greatly regret it years later!