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Wide White: Thoughts on birth control

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thoughts on birth control

I've had a few conversations with both friends and family lately on birth control. My wife recently came across an article on the topic from Desiring God (a ministry of my church) that I found relevant to some of those discussions and very much worth a read.

For those who don't have time to read the whole article, here are a few key sections:
The Bible nowhere forbids birth control, either explicitly or implicitly, and we should not add universal rules that are not in Scripture. What is important is our attitude in using it. Any attitude which fails to see that children are a good gift from the Lord is wrong.

Just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it. It is wrong to reason that since A is good and a gift from the Lord, then we must pursue as much of A as possible.

In reality, then, although it is true that "blessed is the man whose quiver is full of [children]," we need to realize that God has not given everyone the same size quiver. And so birth control is a gift from God that may be used for the wise regulation of the size of one's family, as well as a means of seeking to have children at the time which seems to be wisest.

Sometimes people also reason that if you really want to "trust God" to determine the size of your family, then you should not use birth control. The assumption seems to be that if you "just let things happen naturally," then God is more at work than if you seek to regulate things and be a steward of when they happen. But surely this is wrong! God is just as much in control of whether you have children when you use birth control as when you don't. The hands of the almighty are not tied by birth control! A couple will have children precisely at the time God wants, whether they use birth control or not. Either way, then, God is ultimately in control of the size of one's family.

Human activity does not...interfere with [God's] plans, but is instead itself governed by Him as the means to bring to pass His will. Hence, we should not conclude that what happens apart from our planning is "better" and more reflective of God's desires for us than what happens through our planning.

Without regulating the size of their family, many couples would end up having more children than they can reasonably support financially. In response, some argue that we should simply have faith that God will provide the funds. However, we don't use the "God would provide" reasoning to justify going beyond our means in other areas of life. We wouldn't consider it wise, for example, to pledge twice our annual income to missions organizations in faith that God will supply the extra funds.


Blogger Carla declared,

The objection for many who are prolife is birth control that does not allow a human embryo to implant in the lining of the uterus. A unique, human being has already been created and is then destroyed.

5/08/2009 7:34 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

I don't think this article is about the type of birth control, but over whether or not birth control itself - natural, condom, pill, what have you - is permitted in the first place.

5/08/2009 9:00 AM  
Blogger Kara Jo declared,

Good thoughts Joey. Had wrestled with the same issue years back and came to the same conclusions.

5/09/2009 11:22 AM  
Blogger Stephen declared,

Interesting article. As a Evangelical Lutherans, birth control has never been an issue in our family. I assumed it was only the Catholic church that wrestled with the notion.

5/10/2009 8:48 PM  
Blogger watchman declared,

Honestly, I never understood the whole "every sperm is sacred" philosophy. I appreciate the article stipulating the stewardship aspect of parenting and family life. The sad truth is, many of us ahave a full quiver and no bow.

5/12/2009 10:54 AM  
Blogger zeugma declared,

Reread the synopsis and count the inconsistencies and contradictions. God is going to overfill a quiver?

To say that the Bible does not prohibit birth control (more accurately, conception prevention) is like saying it doesn't prohibit water skiing: it would be an alien idea, an impossibility.

Marriage is a covenant. Covenants have signs. Covenants also have requirements and blessings and curses based upon obedience to the requirements. The signs of the covenant are not optional. The failure to preform the sign almost cost Moses his life. What is the sign, the sacrament, of marriage covenants? What are the requirements? What are the blessings and curses? Jesus identified the cup as not just the sign of the new covenant but as the covenant itself. The signs are that important.

All these matters weigh on the issue of conception. Three women in the Bible are described as beautiful: Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel. All three were barren, a huge curse. This curse was so great that it drove Rachel mad. Leah was described as homely yet she was blessed in contrast to Rachel.

Covenants also have successors. Who are the successors of the marriage covenant? Why do we not sing to the bride on the wedding "may you be the mother of thousands"? Why do we demean mothers of large families as "baby factories." Why do we say "They have too many kids." Really? Which ones should not exist? How do you know?

"Implicit"? Where does the Bible not expect children, the covenant's successors, from marriage? Why does the Bible tell us that after Abraham's death he remarried and had children? Why is Michal, David's wife, cursed by "having no child until the day of her death"?

God ordains the ends, but He also ordains the means to that end. What end does He want? What end do we want? What means does he command? Why do we fear He will get the number and timing (and the last name) of children wrong? It is absurd on the face of it.

There is a lot of worldly thinking in the church. List the common objections to large families. How many are worldly?

7/08/2009 11:17 PM  

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