A Scriptural Approach to Family Planning
Family Planning Decisions Should Be in Harmony with God’s Revealed Will Concerning Marriage and Children
God desires to bless those who enter marriage in three ways (not prioritized):
Genesis 2:18 – “The LORD God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
- Sexual Purity
1 Corinthians 7:1-2,8,9 – “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry (but see 1 Timothy 4:1-3). But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Genesis 1:28 (repeated 9:1) – “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ”
Children are considered a great blessing in God’s Word
- Psalm 127:3-5 – “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of the warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
- Barrenness is considered a curse (see esp. Ruth 1:3).
- Mark 10:14 & 16 – “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”
God protects the holy estate of marriage (see Genesis 2 &3: Matthew 19)
Please note that these passages are not commands from God. They do not indicate that children should be unlimited in number nor do they indicate how many a husband and wife should have. But they do indicate that God considered children a great blessing. That fact will have much to do with a Christian couple’s decisions about when to have children and how many they should have. (See Luther’s explanation of the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.)
Other Considerations that Christians Will Have to Keep in Mind
Stewardship. This involves matters of:
1 John 2:15-16 – “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he had and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.”
1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 5:8 – “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
- Health, especially of the mother
Ephesians 5:28-29 – “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.”
The Means of Family Planning
- “Artificial” means of family planning needs to be examined closely in light of the motive for action and in accordance with God’s commands. Some methods of having children could involve issues that are unacceptable. For example, harvesting eggs might provide the opportunity for pregnancy, but could also lead to abortions if they remaining fertilized eggs are destroyed. Another example is if a couple, seeking help through a surrogate partner, become involved in sexual immorality. Breaking the firth or sixth commandments is not a God-pleasing way to have children. Finally, if there are no God-pleasing ways in which a couple may have children of their own, they will have to face the fact that this is God’s will for their lives and not seek to circumvent that will in a sinful manner. Again, Luther’s explanation of the Third Petition should be kept in mind.
- Some means of birth control actually are abortifacients and therefore unacceptable to Christians. Otherwise, the attitude of a couple is more important than the means they choose to prevent conception Even the use of trusted contraceptive forms of birth control are God-pleasing only when the couple’s motive is in accord with God’s Word.