Birth Control: Permissible By God?


Birth Control:  Permissible By God?

Daniel Ruegg


When Beth and I were making decisions concerning our family and the various methods of birth control available, we wanted to be cautious that we were not using anything which would interrupt the development of human life in progress, but something which would merely prevent it from beginning.  One does need to be aware that there is quite a difference, especially since the United States’ FDA and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have radically redefined conception to mean the implantation of a fertilized egg and not the point in which an egg is fertilized.  While we must all do our own research and investigation, it is understandable how the risk of inadvertently terminating a life in progress would lead to the decision to abstain from all medicinal forms of


contraception and possibly even to questions as to whether or not birth control is something a Christian should even be practicing.  In coming to an adequate scriptural conclusion on the subject, many remind us that sex was given by God to reproduce and, therefore, anything which would prevent the conception of a child from sexual intercourse would go against the command of God to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:26-28).  However, the scriptures equally describe the sexual relationship in marriage as something to be enjoyed separate and apart from reproduction.  Paul admonished Christians to marry as a means of controlling sexual desires and reminded husbands and wives of their obligation to express marital affection in the sexual relationship (1 Cor. 7:2-9).  Husbands and wives are expected to enjoy sex in marriage (Prov. 5:18-19).  It is clear from these passages that sexual enjoyment is not merely an incidental fact along the way in acknowledging reproduction as the sole purpose for marriage, but is identified as an equally legitimate purpose for marriage as well.  We are also reminded through Scripture that children are blessings from God which are only given through means of the sexual relationship (Ps. 127:3-5; 128:3-5), and would therefore be limiting ourselves of potential blessings God would bestow on us when using contraceptives.  On the other hand, we are also aware of a variety of other blessings from God which are subject to limitations.  Wives are a blessing from God (Prov. 18:22; 19:14), but men are limited to only one wife.  Food is a blessing from God (Mt. 6:11) but we must not gorge ourselves either.  The Scriptures are clear that it is ultimately God who directs our lives (Prov. 16:9) and therefore the point is often made that having children should be left in the hands of God alone without any human interference to alter His will.  But the Scriptures also show we are free to choose our own mate and if we even decide to marry at all (1 Cor. 7:1, 5, 8-9, 26-28, 36-38).  The Scriptures clearly show we are permitted to plan for our future (Rom. 1:13; 2 Cor. 9:7; Acts 20:3).  God has ultimately placed man in charge of all His creation (Gen. 1:26-28) and has permitted us to even alter and control the course of nature.  Trees and rocks were not created in the form of homes and dwellings and God has permitted us to alter nature to meet our needs and desires (Gen. 4:20; Acts 21:8).  God approves of artificial farms, vineyards, and flocks which man alters to produce quantities sufficient to meet our needs (Gen. 4:2; 9:20; 47:3).  We are born naturally into this world naked, yet God has ordered we alter that natural state by being clothed (Gen. 3:21), even allowing man to personally alter his own dress to suit his own comfort and desired look (Gen. 24:22; Lk. 15:22).  It is evident that families in the brotherhood have a variety of personal conclusions in regards to their plans for children.  Just as brethren in the early church had a variety of personal conclusions in regards to what food was permissible to eat and which Mosaic religious practices were permissible to observe, we are presented with the challenge of enacting our personal conclusions in our own lives without enforcing or teaching others to do be compelled to do the same (Rom. 14:1-15:7; Acts 16:1-5; 15:1-5; Gal. 2:1-5; 5:1-25).  While exercising our personal liberties in the realm of marriage, let us be careful to respect each other’s personal matters of conscience without feeling the need to persuade or enforce our personal conclusions on the rest.  As Paul warned the Galatian brethren, this will only lead to biting and devouring one another and working against the fruit of the Spirit which ought to be exhibited in our lives as we work together in the growth and work together in the Kingdom.  Debates and lengthy attempts to convert each other to adopting our personal conscientious conclusions in the realm of individual liberties will only distract us from our true focus on developing the Spirit of Christ and being molded into His image as we seek to bring the lost to God.  “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.  These things are good and profitable for men.  But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless,” (Titus 3:8-9).