Birth Control - Is It A Moral Option?

This couple had a serious problem when they had their first child together. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s the “but” that’s the killer. This child had numerous health problems from the get go. Before the child was two, he was at the point of death. They had to life flight him about 300 miles to a special hospital in Denver, CO to keep him alive. They didn’t expect him to live. Fortunately, he did. They have to have him on special equipment to survive from day to day.

They had their second child. More problems, again a host of birth defects.

The man went into the hospital to have some genetics testing done at this point. They found out he had some disorder in his genes that enabled him to be born normally, but all his offspring would suffer severe birth defects. He saw he could not ethically continue having children, seeing he would doom them to such suffering. He had himself sterilized.

After pondering this story, the ethical questions arise. Knowing that you would birth children to a life of unusual suffering, what would wisdom, love and responsibility dictate?
You must ferret out the principals involved in this issue of birth control. You see, if birth control is evil of itself, then stopping conception in any instance would be sinful. You must ask yourself, what are your principals founded on?

We can start this by looking at a rather obscure, but important lesson on growth management:

28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. 29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. 30. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.
Exodus 23:28-30

From this we can find the beasts of the field would automatically multiply to the point of danger if they weren’t properly managed by man. Even against God’s people! Birth is an established “law of nature” God has set in order. It’s not a miracle. A miracle is that which defies the basic laws of nature God has established. This Law is that of multiplication. A miracle would be like Sarah, who was unable to conceive, conceiving. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, conceiving when she was way past age, then the real biggie of the virgin birth of Jesus. Other than a few such examples, birth is not a miraculous event, it follows the law of nature.

An important principal on this issue can be found in a quick look at Psalm 34:

Psalm 34
A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before *Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.
(In the margin it reads *or Achish)
1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
Verses 1-8,17,19,22

A cursory look at this Psalm might give the impression God gives sweeping victories for His people without their lifting a finger. The Prelude, actually a part of the first verse, gives the background this Psalm is based on. I feel it worthwhile to quote the occasion for meditation:

10 And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? 12 And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.
13 And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. 14 Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? 15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house? 1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped . . .
1 Samuel 21:10-22:1a

We can see that though the Psalm gives full credit to God’s ordering of events for protection of His servant, David did take an active part in that protection. David wrote Psalm 34 and he said it was God who gave the deliverance. These passages show the Lord grants providential oversight of His own, but nonetheless doesn’t mean it’s lack of faith for His David to take a determined action to help orchestrate that end result.

The same is seen in persecution in the New Testament. When the church was persecuted, the Christians dispersed. Jesus even said that when they persecute you in one city, flee ye to the next. There are those who would cast up the accusation that to flee shows a lack of trust in God’s keeping hand. “You flee, you’re afraid. You’re not trusting that God will keep you and protect you!” I actually had someone say almost that very thing to me once. Such actually presents a haughty presumption on promises God never gave. You can eventually take that kind of reasoning to say that to go to the doctor is sinful because you’re trying to receive a healing for something that God obviously hasn’t chosen to heal you of. What, you’re not satisfied with what God has to give you? Hopefully you can see how people can take this line of reasoning out to extremes.

Those against birth control cast the accusation of not trusting God when a person practices birth control. A Psalm such as this shows the principal that even though we are to trust God’s hand, we do bear some responsibility. Especially when you couple this issue with the passage of the beasts of the field multiplying out of control. After all, wouldn’t God just hold back their overproduction for the safety of His own people, if they simply trusted Him. Why would God pander to a lack of faith instead of challenging them to simply trust in His birth control of the dangerous beasts? Yet further, why not simply trust Him to protect us from the overabundance of dangerous wild beasts? We end up in the sin of “presumption” with such reasoning.


18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Genesis 2:18

Marriage is for more than just reproduction. It meets other needs, that of help and companionship. The lust factor is also dealt with by Paul. He pointed out the definite danger of continual abstinence:

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
1 Corinthians 7:2,3

We can see from these two passages there are more reasons for marriage than just reproduction.

There is another important lesson to be gleaned from Jesus when He had been talking about marriage:

11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Matthew 19:11,12

Eunuchs made by man for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Jesus mentions this practice and with not a word of condemnation of such practice. If birth control was of itself evil, this practice would have been evil. Especially in respect to its being done for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Jesus would have made a definite reference to this being a mistaken concept when He brought the issue up, if it had been an evil practice.

The point of the anti-birth control position, is that practicing birth control is of itself evil because you’re inhibiting the “be fruitful and multiply” directive. To become a eunuch is to take it out of God’s hands. To become an eunuch is the extremist method of birth control.

One of the prime Bible passages those against birth control point out is that of Judah’s son who refused to raise up offspring to his brother’s name:

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. 7 And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.
8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.
9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.   
Genesis 38:6-10

He was selfish and either wanted to see his brother’s name removed from Israel or didn’t want to risk losing the chance of additional inheritance. He followed his legal obligation in going in to his brother’s wife, after his brother had died. Since this legal requirement would grant descendants to his brother’s name, and he didn’t want that, he “spilled it on the ground” when he went in to his brother’s wife. Because of this sin against his brother, the Lord slew him. His sin was in seeking to destroy his brother’s name out of Israel, hence the Lord slew him. It was not the issue of practicing birth control. The context of the passage clearly shows what the sin was for which the Lord slew him.

Another passage used to say birth control’s sin is:

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:28

God “blessed them” and “said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply”. Those who condemn birth control say that since God told them to multiply, it’s sinning for individuals to do otherwise. On this same principal, it would also have to follow that God gave the same command to the birds and sea life He created. The command is found in Genesis 1:20-22 and indirectly to the cattle and beasts of the field in Genesis 1:28, yet we see, in light of the passage already discussed in Exodus 23:29, that management was a factor to be hedged into a proper understanding of God’s purposes and design in this issue. Not to mention the management mandate found in Genesis 1:28. The law of blessing to multiply had to be, otherwise life would become extinct upon the earth. Look at it this way. You can have a multiplication factor and regulate it and get what you want. If, on the other hand, God did not set into motion the law of reproduction, no matter what regulating man put into operation, life would not multiply and man and animals would cease to live on this earth! You can see why the law of multiplication had to be set in motion.

A very possible reason a couple might decide upon having a small family, or possibly none at all, is drawn out through various scriptural passages. A relevant point on this issue comes to the fore in light of the present times. Consider the direction this country is going, and whole world for that matter.

26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. 27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 28 But and if thou marry, thou has not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh; but I spare you.
1 Corinthians 7:26-28

In these verses we find Paul talking about remaining unmarried having definite benefits in light of the facts of “the present distress”, as he puts it. What is this present distress? In Paul’s case it was persecution. Consider the issue of raising children when you didn’t know if any day you were to be thrown to the lions or used as a candle in the streets of Rome, since you were a Christian, and leave behind orphans. Worse yet, have to watch your children used as candles. Knowing this very real dangerous situation existed at that point in time, it was better not to raise a family. You can go back to some apocryphal literature from the time between the Old and New Testament when the Jewish persecution related the horrible sufferings of one woman who had a bunch of children. They tried to compel her to deny the true God. To induce her to, they slew one child at a time in front of her. She stood firm exhorting them to each keep their trust in God and not deny Him. Eventually they slew the woman as well.

I believe we’re seeing a time of persecution arising in America. I increasingly hear accounts of such going on. From “Child Protective Services” who openly declare their views that they consider Conservative, Bible-believing Christians as cultees whose children should be removed from their homes to help protect them from being brainwashed; to physicians who are held legally responsible to report any child they consider as not being raised according to the accepted methods of the local society. For an example of what I mean on that, there was the case of a couple who didn’t believe in vaccinating their child. They told the doctor and that began his effort to have their child removed from them.  He tried to trump up a neglect case. He called in the police and the child protective services. Fortunately, in that case, the parent’s called HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) and got their counsel. They followed it and it brought that instance out safely. These are only touchstone examples of the direction things are taking. Seeing this, we must consider Paul’s consideration of the benefit of not having families or large families.

There are two psalms that expound on this point of consideration. They are Psalms 127 and 128. They are both “Songs of Degrees”.  The one was sung immediately after the other in their special occasion of singing at one of Israel’s major feasts when they were sung at different stages in approaching Jerusalem .

Psalm 127
A Song of degrees for Solomon.
1 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

This first Psalm is undoubtedly quoted by proponents of the no birth-control stance. We can see many children are a sign of blessing of God in verses 3-5. That was the standard Hebrew view throughout the Old Testament. Something very important to be seen in this Psalm ties it along with the Psalm which was immediately to follow it in Psalm 128. Notice that in verse 1 it starts off with God’s providential protection so that the city was kept in a state of peace and safety. A safety that comes, not from strong military advantage, but from God’s protection of His people. Verse 2 again shows that those who can count on God’s protection for peace and safety are those He calls beloved. Verse 5 closes it with the ability to confront their enemies without fear. The blessing of many children is a blessing in a state of a secure homeland that is secure because it’s one that follows the Lord. Considering this, move on to the next Psalm in the degrees:

Psalm 128
A Song of degrees.
1 Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
5 The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.

This Psalm summarized the principals of a good environment for raising children. Verses 5 and 6 tied the blessing directly into the city and the nation that followed the Lord - “that feareth the Lord” and “walketh in his ways”. When that national and city condition is not present, the security for family life is gone. In that security, the large family is a blessed one. Apart from that, it quickly changes into the situation that Paul was referring to in I Corinthians chapter 7. Those husbands and wives that had large families faced great grief in such a persecuted state. Even though they were those who “feareth the Lord: that walketh in his ways” as 128:1 referred to, they were not immune from persecution and slaughter. Psalm 128 referred to a national Israel that was a theocracy God had set up on this earth. God granted special promises of protection for that unique theocratic institution, but not for the churches under the New Testament, the situation has a difference.

Whether a couple chooses to have a large family, a small one, or none at all is a matter to be carefully and prayerfully decided upon by each couple. We cannot sit as judge of each other on this issue. This is a personal matter for each couple to decide, having all the factors before them so that they can make wise and loving decisions. They need to consider both the potential children, their own strengths and weaknesses and whether they can responsibly take care of them. Maybe even the factor of providing a home for a homeless orphan or orphans is an option.

It’s between you and God.
There’s the very real concern about appropriate methods of birth control. All methods are not morally acceptable. The moral risk is too great! For instance, I’ve heard for many years that “the Pill” is perfectly safe and actually preferable. Until recently I had never heard that one of the ways it works is by destroying the fertilized egg. It prevents the fertilized egg from implanting and thus succeeds in killing the child. Of course, this information is not going to be openly given out, it’s too explosive. To help confuse the issue of what’s really going on, the child is given the new term “blastocyst”, which means a newly conceived child not yet implanted in the uterine wall. For thorough documentation and information on this see for an article entitled Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? by Pastor Randy Alcorn or contact Eternal Perspective Ministries, 2229 East Burnside #23, Gresham, OR 97030 - Phone # 503-663-6481 to order this article in a booklet. There’s also a government publication - Publication No. (FDA) 94-1213 which confirms the basics of how the pill works.

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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