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Contraception and Christianity

Discussion in 'Christianity DIR' started by johnnys4life, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    Now, to show that ALL of Christianity was universally against contraception from Biblical times up until the 1930's, you need merely to look back through history. There is a great wealth of evidence from Christian religious leaders in the early days of the Christian church, and even after the reformation, that contraception was considered a sin, and there is no evidence to refute that this was the universal doctrine held by the whole of Christianity up until the Anglican Counsel decided otherwise.



    Tradition / Church Fathers and Protestant Founders

    There was no lack of birth control in the ancient world. Pharmacological, barrier (both chemical

    and mechanical), coitus interruptus, sodomy, sterilization, etc. were already being used. For a

    brief introduction to the subject by the foremost historian of the subject, see John M. Riddle, et

    al., "Ever Since Eve . . .: Birth Control in the Ancient World", Archaeology, March/April 1994,

    pp. 29-35. While in the past these were far from always effective or reliable, people kept trying.

    See John M. Riddle: Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance (1992),

    and Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West (1997). However, whenever it

    was found it out, is was most often condemned as heresy, and sin.


    "They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children.

    Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption." Epiphanius

    of Salamis, Medicine Chest Against Heresies 26:5:2 (A.D. 375).

    Men who are avaricious and desirous to avoid children as a burden "mutilate nature, not only

    killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live."--St. John Chrysostom,

    Homily 28 on Matthew 5 (P 57:357).



    http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ274.HTM


    Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit? Where there are medicines of

    sterility? Where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain a harlot, but

    you make her a murderess as well. Do you see that from drunkenness comes fornication, from

    fornication adultery, from adultery murder? Indeed, it is something worse than murder and I do not

    know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then?

    Do you contemn the gift of God, and fight with His laws? What is a curse, do you seek as though it

    were a blessing? Do you make the anteroom of birth the anteroom of slaughter? Do you teach the

    woman who is given to you for the procreation of offspring to perpetrate killing? That she may

    always be beautiful and lovable to her lovers, and that she may rake in more money, she does not

    refuse to do this, heaping fire on your head; and even if the crime is hers, you are the cause.

    Hence also arise idolatries. To look pretty many of these women use incantations, libations,

    philtres, potions, and innumerable other things. Yet after such turpitude, after murder, after

    idolatry, the matter still seems indifferent to many men--even to many men having wives. In this

    indifference of the marrie dmen there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not

    against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these

    innumberable tricks, invocations of demons, incantations of the dead, daily wars, ceaseless

    battles, and unremitting contentions.
    {St. John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on the Epistle to the Romans (PG 60:626-27) }
     
  2. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    "To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature." Clement of

    Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 2:10:95:3 (A.D. 191).

    “[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great

    property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, [so] they use

    drugs of sterility or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been

    engendered." Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9:12 (A.D. 225).

    "[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for

    bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did

    not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty

    shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife."

    Lactantius, Divine Institutes 6:20 (A.D. 307).

    "God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of

    life; so too, the genital [’generating’] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been

    received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring.” Lactantius, Divine 6:23:18

    (A.D. 307).


    "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly

    ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted" Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor

    of Children 2:10:91:2 (A.D. 191).



    "f anyone in sound health has castrated himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled among

    the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be

    promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume

    to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and

    should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon admits to the clergy." Council of Nicaea I,

    Canon 1 (A.D. 325).


    "This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children,

    but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman

    come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of

    children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a

    mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion."

    Augustine, The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 (A.D. 388).


    "n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [the sin of

    covetousness] are wearied even of their father’s old age [wishing him to die so they can inherit];

    and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous

    and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have

    mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to

    live." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 28:5 (A.D. 391).

    "[T]he man who has mutilated himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul says, ‘I would

    that they who trouble you would cut the whole thing off’ [Gal. 5:12]. And very reasonably, for

    such a person is venturing on the deeds of murderers, and giving occasion to them that slander

    God’s creation, and opens the mouths of the Manicheans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as

    they that mutilate themselves among the Greeks. For to cut off our members has been from the

    beginning a work of demonical agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon

    the works of God, that they may mar this living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but

    to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security as being irresponsible,

    and doubly harm this living creature, both by mutilating the members and by impeding the

    forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 62:3

    (A.D. 391).

    "But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless

    perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother

    seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of

    children?" Jerome, Against Jovinian 1:19 (A.D. 393).

    "Observe how bitterly he [Paul] speaks against their deceivers…‘I would that they which trouble

    you would cut the whole thing off’ [Gal. 5:12]…On this account he curses them, and his meaning is

    as follows: ‘For them I have no concern, "A man that is heretical after the first and second

    admonition refuse" [Titus 3:10]. If they will, let them not only be circumcised but mutilated.’

    Where then are those who dare to mutilate themselves, seeing that they draw down the apostolic

    curse, and accuse the workmanship of God, and take part with the Manichees?" John Chrysostom,

    Commentary on Galatians 5:12 (A.D. 395).

    "You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink

    sterility and murder a man not yet born, [and some commit abortion]." Jerome, Letters 22:13 (A.D.

    396).

    "You [Manicheans] make your auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women

    with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets

    announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of

    your law [against childbearing]…they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their

    wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it,

    then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the apostle predicted of you so long ago [1

    Tim. 4:1–4], when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away,

    husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are

    pimps.” Augustine, Against Faustus 15:7 (A.D. 400).

    "For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for

    the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race,

    permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only

    to propagate progeny." Augustine, Against Faustus 22:30 (A.D. 400).

    "For necessary sexual intercourse for begetting [children] is alone worthy of marriage. But that

    which goes beyond this necessity no longer follows reason but lust. And yet it pertains to the

    character of marriage…to yield it to the partner lest by fornication the other sin damnably

    [through adultery]…[T]hey [must] not turn away from them the mercy of God…by changing the natural

    use into that which is against nature, which is more damnable when it is done in the case of

    husband or wife. For, whereas that natural use, when it pass beyond the compact of marriage, that

    is, beyond the necessity of begetting [children], is pardonable in the case of a wife, damnable in

    the case of a harlot; that which is against nature is execrable when done in the case of a harlot,

    but more execrable in the case of a wife. Of so great power is the ordinance of the Creator, and

    the order of creation, that . . . when the man shall wish to use a body part of the wife not

    allowed for this purpose [orally or anally consummated sex], the wife is more shameful, if she

    suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman." Augustine, The

    Good of Marriage 11–12 (A.D. 401).

    "I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating

    offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an

    evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they

    retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful

    cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility…Assuredly if

    both husband and wife are like this, they are not married, and if they were like this from the

    beginning they come together not joined in matrimony but in seduction. If both are not like this,

    I dare to say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer

    with his own wife." Augustine, Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17 (A.D. 419).
     
  3. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    "Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive] so that she is

    unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as

    she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and,

    unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a women

    does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for

    chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman" (1:12).

    Caesarius of Arles, Sermons 1:12 (A.D. 522).


    Source: http://www.scripturecatholic.com/contraception.html
     
  4. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    Even the early Protestant reformists were against contraception. These are direct quotes from the

    prominent Protestant reformists and thier views on the Bible passage concerning the sin of Onan:

    Martin Luther and John Calvin are recognized as fathers of the Reformation.

    Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) - "Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed."

    John Calvin (1509 to 1564) - Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race.
     
  5. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    Also, John Wesley is recognized as the founder of the Methodism.

    John Wesley (1703 to 1791) - "Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse

    of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused

    to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God,

    and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - And it

    is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the

    Lord, and destroy their own souls.

    Examining sermons and commentaries, Charles Provan identified over a hundred Protestant leaders

    (Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Nonconformist,

    Baptist, Puritan, Pilgrim) living before the twentieth century condemning non- procreative sex.

    Did he find the opposing argument represented as well? Mr. Provan stated, "We will go one better,

    and state that we have found not one orthodox theologian to defend Birth Control before the

    1900's. NOT ONE! On the other hand, we have found that many highly regarded Protestant theologians

    were enthusiastically opposed to it."






    A constant Christian teaching was completely undone among Protestants in a mere thirty years. This

    brings up an unsettling conclusion...either the Holy Spirit was not guiding Christians before 1930

    or Protestant Churches have been ignoring His guidance after 1960.

    Source: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/841514/posts
     
  6. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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  7. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    Rather, he wants us not to hate children, and to bear children if we are able, as they are considered a blessing.
     
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  8. angellous_evangellous

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    Not to ignore everything that has been written so far, but I would like to offer a fresh response. God's command to be fruitful and multiply was given twice: once to the first humans and once to Noah, a starting over point in the biblical story. The commandment was given for two simple reasons 1) God honors our sexual nature and heterosexual intercourse has a divine purpose and 2) to populate the earth. God did not give us the command so that we could indiscriminately have sex with everyone we want and make as many babies as possible, or to keep having children until we die (pre-1950s, some bible-believing Christians just kept having kids - the female body can only produce so many and then she can't handle it anymore.

    The principle of "be fruitful and multiply" needs to be balanced with stewardship. We are to be good stewards of our bodies and resources. In Genesis, God placed man on earth to care for everything, to be a good steward. For Christians, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are commanded to care for it, and the doctrine of resurrection is a bodily one, making the body the object of redemption. Cotraception is a means of being a good steward of our bodies and resources. Married couples can wait to have children and carefully plan their lives around the well-being of a limited number of children, caring also for the health and well-being of the mother (not forcing her by religious manipulation to keep having kids, or to have any at all). The earth is populated now, there is no need to just have kids for the sake of having them. In fact, in many cases it can be the height of irresponsibility.
     
  9. angellous_evangellous

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    BTW: Thanks johnny for the history lesson. I will keep your stuff... it is exceptionally useful.
     
  10. angellous_evangellous

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    I must say that this quote does not take into account the health of women. Russell pointed out in Why I am not a Christian that many Christians who promote this view forced their wives to have children until they died. That is, a pastor friend of his made his wife have one baby a year until she died. This kind of thinking does not honor God or human dignity. To be a good steward of our bodies, we must pay attention to them and care for them responsibly.
     
  11. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    That is where natural family planning comes in. It is a fairly new technique, but the rythm method and abstinence within marriage were permitted when necessary throughout Christian history. If you examine the above quotes I think you'll be able to see what I mean, and if not I can point out the lines I'm thinking of. It makes sense as well, that if you truly cannot bear another child, or take care of another one, the only thing that is 100% effective is abstinence, and in this way a Christian woman need never resort to abortion. Nowadays, NFP, if you are following the strictest rules, is nearly 100% effective when done correctly. I am told by one man who's wife had health problems such that her doctor was afraid she would die if she became pregnant again, that they used NFP effectively for 9 years, and now she is post-menopausal.
     
  12. linwood

    linwood Well-Known Member

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    Isn`t NFP just another form of contraception?

    What is the difference in a Biblical sense?
     
  13. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    I'm working on that one, I've almost got it all togethor but I need a little more time.
     
  14. linwood

    linwood Well-Known Member

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    Cool.

    No hurry, we`veall got other things to do.

    :)
     
  15. may

    may Well-Known Member

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    an examination of the record about Onan reveals that he was not put to death for practicing birth control.​

    After the death of his brother Er, Onan was instructed by his father Judah to perform brother-in-law marriage with Tamar. This was with the express purpose of ‘raising up offspring’ for his dead brother. He would have no right to have relations with her otherwise. Of Onan’s response to Judah’s command, we read: "Onan knew that the offspring would not become his; and it occurred that when he did have relations with his brother’s wife he wasted his semen on the earth so as not to give offspring to his brother. Now what he did was bad in the eyes of Jehovah." (Gen. 38:8-10) Brother-in-law marriage was later incorporated into the Law covenant at Jehovah’s command.—Deut. 25:5, 6.​

    By acting contrary to the purpose of brother-in-law marriage, Onan demonstrated disrespect for his father. In disobedience to his father’s command, he selfishly held back from preserving Er’s family line. This was also an expression of hatred for Er, as Onan worked, not for, but against his dead brother’s interests. Onan callously disgraced his brother’s widow. He selfishly laid bare her nakedness but withheld from her the rightful due of motherhood. He also showed that he had no appreciation for "sacred things," as there was a possibility that the promised Messiah would have come through the offspring he might have fathered by means of Tamar. (Compare Hebrews 12:16.) All these factors reveal that Onan was a wicked man who had no regard for the interests of others when his own interests seemed to be at stake. It is because of the baseness of Onan’s reason for failing to give offspring to his dead brother that Jehovah slew him.​

    The case of Onan’s being one that involved selfish disregard for the purpose of brother-in-law marriage cannot be used to condemn birth control. It is noteworthy that the Bible nowhere discusses the use of contraceptives or birth control in marriage. Nor does it say that Christians are obliged to produce children. Consequently, with regard to birth control, Christian married couples must allow their Bible-trained conscience to govern.



     
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  16. angellous_evangellous

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    Respectfully, isn't it your point that a married couple should not have sex other than to have children? And isn't it crucial to your argument that all of Christianity before 1930s held this view and was against any form of birth control? That is, a newly created form of contraception (NFP) is a new development and just as valid as birth control pills, spilling semen, etc? That would bring us back to square one with Russell's criticism.

    Post #2 Rom.1:26-27 - sexual acts without the possibility of procreation is sinful.

    Doesn't that rule out any form of birth control? I agree with you that a Christian woman should not have an abortion. I do not see any problems with birth control pills, and these pills are also used for other purposes (such as assisting some women to help them have normal menstal cycles).
     
  17. angellous_evangellous

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    Matt. 19:6; Eph. 5:31 - contraception
    prevents God's ability to "join" together. Just as Christ's

    love for the Church is selfless and sacrificial, and a husband and wife reflect this union, so a


    husband and wife's love for each other must also be selfless and sacrificial. This means being

    open to new life.

    Johnny, I am not sure what you atr trying to say with this statement, particularly that contraception prevents God's ability to join together. I have two responses.

    1) If you are talking about a condom preventing God's ability to join together (a peice of latex preventing this unification), then please balance your interpretation here with 1 Corinthians 6.16 - Do you not know that whoever is unitied with a prostitute becomes one body with her? It looks like that unification comes from sexual union itself - God wants sexual union in marriage, and he calls this union "one flesh", that is, he does not forge the union but informs us of it and requires its protection. Would a Christian be less implicated in having sex with a prostitute if he wore a condom, or would he still be unified.

    2) I will use the same text to respond to your view that contraception is selfish. I presume that you are saying that selfishness prevents God from unifying man and woman, and that I think that sex unifies them and God is simply telling us what the nature of sex is. Obviously you are incorrect that selfishness prevents unity in the sexual bond, because a man is one with a prostitute in 1 Cor 6.15-16 and thereby sinning against the unity of Christ and the church. God does not say in Gen 2.24 that he is unifying man and woman, but they become one flesh, presumably by sexual intercourse. Therefore, adultry and divorce are preverse because they go against the one body principle of sexual union. Selfishness has nothing to do with it. Furthermore, it could be the height of selfishness not to use birth control. Say a farmer wants more help from added children in the family, and forces his wife using your argument to have children once a year until she dies. Abuses of your construct are prevalent to this very day.
     
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  18. No*s

    No*s Captain Obvious

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    J4L,

    I read this thread for you, and I can't offer much help. It's out of my expertise :(. What I can say is this sounds a lot like a pastoral issue and should be dealt with on an individual basis, not necessarily with rules set in stone. People are different in each situation...

    That, however, is all I can say with any certainty, though.
     
  19. Tzeitel

    Tzeitel Member

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    Johnny's4Life I totally agree with you! You gave all the verses I gave my husband when he said I was obsessed about having a baby. And I had to tell him that it is God's plan for it to be a natural thing for a woman to want a baby.

    I don't know if you thought of this in the million verses you gave above:

    1 Tim 2:15:Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

    The passages leading up to this state what a woman cannot do: preach, have authority over men, dress pridefully and flashy- But God gives a woman something she CAN do-

    this might seem outdated- but a woman's natural ministry is childbearing! After salvation- this is her gift, how she can glorify God by raising godly children to do the work of the Lord.

    I like Genesis 30:1: "And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die."

    Or else I DIE. That's pretty profound, but it shows the purpose of woman in God's sight.
     
  20. Tzeitel

    Tzeitel Member

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    Be fruitful and mulitply and replenish- those are DEFINITELY commands

    Just as Jesus told the disciples "GO and preach the gospel to every creature." There is no wavering in Go, just as there is no wavering in BE fruitful, MULTIPLY, REPLENISH.

    replenish- hebrew male'- means fill up, satisfy, consecrate, to fill up- the world is not yet filled up- this is definitely a command for today. To go against what God says is a sin. I do not believe in birth control.
     
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