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No, not that one…another one.

At Marriage Debate, Jennifer Roback Morse and Cristina Page are discussing, "Is Contraception Good For Society?"

Maggie Gallagher introduced the debate and the participants:

Is contraception good for society? Jennifer Roeback Morse and Cristina Page went looking for a place in the blogosphere to have this debate, and MarriageDebate.com volunteered.

So starting Monday look next week for a lively set of exchanges between two intelligent, competent women with radically divergent views on a subject that most people don’t even consider debatable. Best of luck to both of them. Bios below:

Cristina Page:

Cristina Page is Author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Save America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex (Basic Books). Page is also Vice President of the Institute for Reproductive Health Access at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and a prominent reproductive rights activist. Her policy proposals have been adopted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New Jersey State legislature. She has also worked in the editorial departments of Glamour and Ms. magazines and edited The Smart Girl’s Guide to College. Page is married, has a son and lives in New York City.

Jennifer Roback Morse:

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook-Up World (Spence 2005), is a popular writer and speaker on family issues. Her work has appeared in Forbes magazine, National Catholic Register, Townhall.com, and several law reviews. She taught economics for fifteen years at Yale and George Mason. A fellow at the Acton Institute, Morse is also the author of Love & Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work (Spence 2001). She currently lives in Vista, California with her husband, an adopted child, a birth child, and two foster children.

You have to scroll down, then work your way back up to follow the discussion.

And then, on a different note, there’s this. Several years ago, a young Protestant couple, Sam and Bethany Torode, wrote a book called Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception. The book made quite a splash, prompted much discussion and a little soul-searching over at Christianity Today and other places. The Torodes converted to Greek Orthodoxy a couple of years ago.

A few days back, a reader alerted me to a note Sam Torode had put on the Open Embrace Amazon page, in which he reported that he and Bethany now regretted the book and had changed his views. That note has since been removed, and they have offered a fuller explanation at this webpage:

For starters, we joined the Greek Orthodox Church and are now in closer agreement with what some Orthodox have written on this topic (see The Sacrament of Love by Paul Evdokimov and Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective by John Meyendorff). The book we recently edited, Aflame: Ancient Wisdom on Marriage, reflects this, especially in that we have no quotes on sex from Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great — three major fathers of the Western church, in whose writings you are hard-pressed to find anything positive about sex.

Second, our personal experience in the past five years has shown that we had a lot to learn about NFP, and that there is a dark side we weren’t aware of. Though Open Embrace said that it only involves a short period of abstinence, we didn’t know that during breastfeeding cycles it often involves month-long periods of abstinence and dehabilitating stress. During such times (as well as during menopause and stressful life seasons), strict NFP reaches a point where it is more harmful for a marriage than good.

Many Christians believe that the "self" is totally depraved or fundamentally evil (thank you, Augustine and John Calvin). Shades of this influenced our perspective in Open Embrace and our attraction to NFP. We now fully believe in the power of the Resurrection and we no longer live our lives constantly on the alert for "selfishness." Yes, we are marred by sin, but God has given us new hearts with his image strongly growing in them — which means our deepest desires are true and good (see Waking the Dead by John Eldredge). One example: wanting to make love to your spouse often is a good thing, but NFP often lays an unfair burden of guilt on men for feeling this.

We still believe in the "language of the body"–which informs our rejection of some aspects of NFP. How is it that spouses are saying "yes" to the gift of each other when they end up abstaining for much of their married lives (from the aforementioned breastfeeding cycles, pregnancy exhaustion, or energy being diverted into raising kids)? We also see honest congruity with the language of the body by saying "no" to conception with our bodies (via barrier methods or sensual massage) when our minds and hearts are also saying "no" to conception. We don’t believe this angers God, nor that it leads to the slippery slope of relativism or divorce. We strongly disagree with the Catholic Church that this is a mortal sin.

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