Bible Is Actually OK With Birth Control
Hardliners are interpreting it incorrectly: Elissa Strauss
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2014 10:47 AM CST
A demonstrator holds rosary beads during a protest against the Obama administration mandate that employers provide workers birth control coverage, at Independence Mall, June 8, 2012, in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – If there's one thing we've learned from all the controversy surrounding ObamaCare, it's that the Bible is against birth control—right? Actually, not so much, writes Elissa Strauss in Salon. In truth, the Bible makes "both direct references and thinly veiled allusions to women using contraception." Consider Esther, who became queen after marrying the Persian King Ahasuerus and ended up saving the Jews from a plot to have them killed. She, and all of the king's potential wives, were required to anoint themselves with myrrh oil for a year. That's a long time if it was just being used as a beauty treatment, but it was also used as an abortifacient and contraceptive at the time, suggesting its use may have "allowed Esther, who wielded power through her beauty and ability to seduce, to take control of her reproductive system."

Similarly, the "long, sexy, romantic poem" contained in the Song of Songs makes many references to gardens, which some have argued could be a reference to myrrh and other plants that were used as contraceptives. It certainly seems the couple in the song is having sex for enjoyment, rather than to "be fruitful and multiply," Strauss points out. Then there's the ritual described in Numbers, in which a man is allowed to administer an abortifacient concoction to his wife if he suspects she's been unfaithful. Even the story of Onan, who was punished for "spilling his seed on the ground," is misinterpreted—God was angry he didn't carry out his duty to his brother's widow, not that he wasted his sperm, according to many biblical commentators. Strauss' full column is worth a read.