Is There a Place Within Christian Marriage to Use Birth Control?
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
Yes, but an explanation is in order.
God is the author of human life (Deuteronomy 32:39), and man is a steward, caretaker, and guardian of human life (Genesis 9:5). A Christian may decide when to have children, but it is still God who grants the children.
A Christian’s decision to use birth control is a stewardship issue. Stewardship concerns are those wonderful opportunities God gives Christians to show with their lives and actions the convictions of the heart about God.
Some have argued that God’s Word in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply” is a divine prohibition against birth control Please observe that the passage is the announcement of a blessing, not a command as was given in Genesis 28:1. If this passage was a command given to all people, then the Apostle Paul certainly would have raised a concern with his endorsement to remain single (1 Corinthians 7:1).
What are the factors when deciding to use birth control? Only prayer and a soul-searching evaluation of one’s motives will reveal whether the use of birth control is right. One issue that is of concern is the mental or physical health of the mother. Even in a gender-blind existence, there is no denying the fact that women are the ones who bear the children. They experience the dramatic changes in their bodies, and they are often the ones to assume the bulk of responsibilities for the daily care of each child.
There are limits as to what a woman can handle physically and emotionally. To pursue more children but neglect the Biblical principle to care for one’s spouse and body would be wrong. Children are a blessing (Psalm 127:3) to be cherished and cared for when given. The protecting and caring for our loved ones is a command for all of us (1 Timothy 5:8, Galatians 6:10).
Financial considerations do enter into this evaluation, but we must take special care. Scripture instructs us to be careful as it relates to greed (Ephesians 5:3). A Christian couple will want to carefully evaluate whether financial concerns are genuine in the essentials of raising a family or whether financial concerns reflect greed for things of this world.
Married couples also wrestle with timing questions. Perhaps some schooling needs to be finished, or a few years need to pass to solidify a relationship before bringing in the added dimension of children. These may be valid issues. Again, however, soul searching needs to be done.
What is important to remember is that children, regardless of timing, health or convenience, are blessings from God. Decisions rooted in an attitude that children are anything less than a blessing reflect a motive that doesn’t understand God’s will on the matter.
In summary, a Christian married couple can practice some form of birth control. It falls within the realm of Christian freedom and stewardship. But as with all such issues, a careful exploration of motives of the heart is necessary in order to do that which truly glorifies God.
Adapted from “The Christian and Birth Control” book, which provides doctrinally sound and practical information on the topic of birth control and family planning. Eight easy-to-read chapters provide excellent help and guidance in the light of God’s Word. A resourceful tool for couples, clergy, counselors, and anyone who would like to learn about God’s will regarding birth control. Available here.