11.16.2007

The Nose Knows... at least it used to.

The Nose Knows… at least it used to.



Perhaps you've heard this before... According to the book Taking Sex Differences Seriously (a very well researched book, albeit from an evolutionary perspective), "Research indicates that the birth control pill may interfere with a deep, unconscious mechanism involving the sense of smell by which women have ensured that the partners they choose can help them produce healthy offspring... women... regularly prefer the smell of men whose immune system is unlike theirs in terms of key proteins that detect and attack invaders... Moreover, a woman's sense of smell is most keen around the time that she ovulates and is most fertile.

The birth control pill changes all this. Women on the Pill do not have a heightened sense of smell at any part of their cycle. And as science writer Deborah Blum explains... when on the Pill, women have smell preferences that are "reversed... almost completely." Women taking oral contraceptives prefer the smell of men with immune systems similar to theirs.

Scientists are beginning to wonder if the birth control pill has led to a whole generation of marriages that have had more difficulty producing offspring, or that have produced more vulnerable offspring..." (109-110)

Your thoughts?

10 comments:

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

How does the Christian apply this information?

While interesting, the effect discovered here is a medical one regarding promiscuous women and those who are using hormonal birth control during their process of choosing a spouse. I'm not sure what the application of this is for Christian teaching and preaching, in which God's law against fornication should be the argument.

I suppose this is important information we should share with those few unmarried Christian women who might be using hormonal birth control for reasons other than contraception (e.g. acne, dysmenorrhea). Otherwise, I do not see the practical application to Christians.

Ultimately this study does reinforce the fact that non-contraceptors are the ones who are procreating the majority of the next generation. Unfortunately, this includes a disproportionately higher percentage of Muslims than Christians! Guess who's being fruitful, multiplying, and taking dominion? The few of us Christians who are following the Biblical doctrine of procreation simply can't make up the difference.

Me said...

"Scientists are beginning to wonder if the birth control pill has led to a whole generation of marriages that have had more difficulty producing offspring"
This is not about a difficulty producing offspring - a woman can get pregnant by her own immediate male family

Pr. Conner said...

Erich,

I guess I was thinking more along the lines of natural law - i.e. tampering with God's good design could mess things up (which I’m sure you agree with).

I agree "God's law against fornication" should be taught and preached (which I do, but I think it has to be balanced with gentleness and tact). In my experience, however, people just don't see contraception as falling under "fornication." Please understand, I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm just trying to find effective ways to reach people (Christian and otherwise) who might otherwise tune out. I truly believe most Christian people would be surprised to learn about all the potential negative effects of contraception and therefore more likely to give it up.

For me, preaching and teaching about contraception has become less of a “repent you godless sinner” and more of a “look at what this does to your relationship with your spouse, your potential future children, and even God. It messes everything up. God wants you to experience the fullness of His love in all things, especially marriage and family, and contraception won’t help you experience that fullness.”

Your thoughts? (and please understand I’m not suggesting you espouse a hardnosed, beat people over the head approach to preaching and teaching “God’s law against fornication.”)

Pr. Conner said...

"Me,"

Thanks for the post. I don't think the point was just the increased difficulty of producing offspring, but also the increased likelihood of producing offspring with health issues.

You are correct that children could result from incestuous relationships, but, as you know, these offspring are the ones with the highest risks of health difficulties due the genetic similarities of mother and father.

According to the study referenced, the Pill increases the likelihood of producing offspring with health difficulties because it interferes with the woman's designed ability to detect like immune systems and thereby avoid them.

Your thoughts?

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

"I truly believe most Christian people would be surprised to learn about all the potential negative effects of contraception and therefore more likely to give it up."

But, Pr. Conner, the effects revealed by this study would not be reasons for Christians to give up contraception. A Christian is not a fornicator. I am assuming as a premise here that a Christian will either be found single and celibate, or married. The single person on the pill, while perhaps calling herself a Christian, is outside Christianity unless, as I said, the pill is being used for acne or dysmenorrhea. Yes, the married Christian may be using the pill for planning her family, but she already has a spouse and will therefore not be swayed by this study, even if dismayed at what harm premarital use of the pill may have caused. It cannot cause any more harm to such a woman with regard to what this study reveals. The question I'm posing is: "how can a Christian find this study to be a reason to give up the pill?"

I certainly agree that this perhaps speaks to natural law, but what if we found out that the pill works in favor of something good? Would we then say that natural law favors the pill in that regard? I think it is best to stick with God's Word rather than trying to employ natural law too much. Natural law, while beneficial to employ at times, must always be considered somewhat suspect when doing theology as Lutherans.

Pr. Conner said...

Erich,

Well said.

I wish I could share your starting assumption that “a Christian will either be found single and celibate, or married.” I agree it should be this way, but (as you know) often times isn’t.

You also said, “The single person on the pill, while perhaps calling herself a Christian, is outside Christianity unless, as I said, the pill is being used for acne or dysmenorrhea.” I don’t want to misunderstand you. Are you suggesting that anyone taking the pill is ruled out from Christendom, save your exceptions? Or were you saying that a person taking the pill for reason other than you listed is outside the truth/practice/teaching of Christianity?

You posed a great question when you asked, “how can a Christian find this study to be a reason to give up the pill?”

I don’t think this study alone would convince anyone, but I do think that sharing this study with others could be an effective tool for anyone on the pill. They might lead people to ask, “What am I doing to myself, to my body, to my relationships? And is there a better way?” And that, I believe is a step in the right direction.

I also agree that natural law should be employed cautiously. God’s Word has A LOT to say on this subject so I wasn’t suggesting neglecting it. I’m only suggesting using the Bible and natural law.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

1. Are you suggesting that anyone [i.e. everyone] taking the pill is [i.e. without question] ruled out from Christendom, save your exceptions?"

Answer: Suggesting? Perhaps, but that was not my intent thus far. Since you ask, I must answer that I simply don't know if a married person who contracepts is outside Christendom. But at the very least, it certainly calls one's faith into question. Luther called it a sodomitic sin. The question regarding faith is whether a person is struggling with this sin or living in it. How can someone consciously take a pill every day (or take their temperature and other observations daily in NFP), claim there's nothing wrong with doing this, and not be "living in" this sin?

Lukas Osiander commenting on Genesis 38:10 says the following:

[What he did] which was an abhorrent thing and worse than adultery. For such an evil deed strives against nature, and those who do it will not possess the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6:9-10. And the holier marriage is, the less will those remain unpunished who live in it in a wicked and unfitting way so that, in addition to it, they practice private acts of villainy.

2. "Or were you saying that a person taking the pill for reasons other than you listed is outside the truth/practice/teaching of Christianity?"

Answer: I certainly don't disagree with this statement, but I am certainly saying something more severe than this.

The main point I've been trying to make is with regard to unmarried persons taking the pill for contraceptive purposes - obviously while engaging in willful fornication. I believe such persons must be considered to be living in sin, and thus unbelievers.

The reason I have been trying to make this point is that this is the audience that this study speaks to. The effect of the pill that this study reveals is only pertinent for those who are in the process of choosing a mate - i.e. single women. Once in a faithful marriage, it makes no more difference with regard to this effect whether one continues on the pill.

Pr. Conner said...

Erich,

thanks for you clear thoughts.

I'd like to hear (read) someone else weigh in on this.

What do other people out there think (assuming you're still reading the blog)?

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Pr. Conner,

While Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be a very slow time of year for blogging - both reading and commenting - I believe there are still plenty of people reading the blog. Few comment. Nevertheless, I'm very interested in your opinion of my answers, and I'm sure our readers are as well. A pastoral corrective to my layman's theological perspective is needed, and I certainly trust yours.

Erich

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

P.S. "Corrective" (n.) as from the French correctif, and late Latin correctivus, "a bringing into order."