What does the Bible say about birth control?
Scripture does not directly address the issue of birth control, rather its emphasis is that children are gifts from God and happy is the man whose quiver is full of them (Ps. 127:5). But in all reality, not everyone has the same size quiver (i.e., capacity for a large family). The wise use of birth control as a general principle to limit the number of children, the timing of children, and perhaps to postpone starting a family until a couple is better prepared to be parents should not be frowned upon.
However, if couples decide to use birth control, they should carefully consider the method used and avoid any method that would lead to or cause abortion. One issue that needs to be considered is the fact that recent research suggests that “the Pill” may actually cause an early abortion. It is claimed that the Pill works to cause the woman's uterine wall to reject the already fertilized egg, which causes an early abortion. Most people are unaware of this including many doctors according to the information provided. While we have not researched all the data on this, there are sites on the web that have such information. One such source is quoted below. See also www.epm.org.
The Pill and other abortifacients have three mechanisms for controlling pregnancy. The first is to suppress ovulation or prevent the release of an egg from the ovary. The second is to alter the cervical mucus preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg. These mechanisms can both be considered “contraceptive” in nature. The third action comes into effect when the first two actions fail. When this happens, the Pill then acts to prevent an already developing baby from implanting in the uterus where he will receive the nutrients needed to continue growing.
Not all physicians (and we are speaking of those committed to the sanctity of life and who stand opposed to abortion) agree with this belief. There is an article authored by four Christian ProLife Obstetrician-Gynecologists, April, 1999, entitled “Hormone Contraceptives: Controversies and Clarifications” which demonstrates that not all obstetricians and gynecologists agree with the abortifacient nature of the Pill and it is not as clear-cut as the statement quoted above presents. Copies of the “Controversies and Clarifications” paper may be obtained upon request from ProLife Obstetrician, P.O. Box 81, Fennville, Michigan 49408, or by e-mail. Here is an important quote from this paper:
The remainder of this paper is a presentation of the current scientific data which will allow doctors and patients who are committed to the sanctity of life from the time of conception to make decisions regarding the use of these agents that his or her conscience can be at peace with. We do not assume that everyone, given the same information, will arrive at a uniform decision. However, for the follower of Christ, discernment based on prayer and the evaluation of factual information in the light of Scripture is the basis of ethical decision making.
Another important issue for birth control is the motive or reason. Couples, especially Christian couples, clearly need to evaluate their reasons for birth control. Very often some couples today just do not want to have children because they are afraid it will spoil their fun and games and birth control is used to maintain what they see as their freedom. Of course, being a parent is a tremendous responsibility and does tie a couple down, but the blessings far out weigh the difficulties.
The thrust of Scripture is on the wisdom needed in being godly parents. The proper use of a non-abortive form of birth control is not wrong as long as we are seeking God’s will in what we do. The principle of James 4:15-17 is certainly applicable here:
4:15 You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.” 4:16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 4:17 So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin.
We might mention that the sin of Onan in Genesis 38:8f was not that he practiced birth control via coitus interruptus but that he refused to give Tamar, his brother’s wife, a child according to the law of Levirate marriage. This law was designed to ensure the continuance of the line of the deceased brother.