What about Family Planning?
The video in this blog, "How Should Christian Couples Approach Family Planning?" is part 5 of my interview with Mark Driscoll. (Watch all the interview videos.) You might like to check out my book I referenced in the video, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?, which is also available for free as a PDF in its entirety.
In this blog I've included part of a conversation between two Christians who have different viewpoints on the issue of birth control, as well as a link to the complete article. (I’ve made up the dialogue, but much of it comes out of discussions in the Bible college ethics courses I’ve taught.) Think about the points they make. You will likely agree and disagree with both of them at different times. Hopefully this will help you develop and clarify your own position, which may combine elements of both or be very different from either.
I don’t think we as Christians should use birth control. What do you think?
God intends us to exercise wisdom and use our common sense, doesn’t he? If a man and woman are fertile, having sex in the fertile time of the month, there’s a one in four chance of pregnancy each time. Even with nursing, you could have ten or twelve or sixteen or even more children, unlimited children, just like people used to have. Is that really what you want?
It’s not about what we want. God is the giver and taker of human life. Let him do what he wants. Besides, children won’t be unlimited. We’ll have a certain number, a finite number God chooses.
Well, that may sound noble and spiritual, but think about what you’re saying. Why don’t you just let your nails grow and never shave? Why do you take a bath and not let nature take its course? God made us rational beings. He expects us to control our physical functions. We cut our hair—but since it’s natural to have long hair and long nails, doesn’t that mean we’re interfering with God’s natural order?
But isn’t there a difference between cutting hair and clipping nails, on the one hand, and preventing children on the other? Hair and nails aren’t people, children are. Hair and nails are never said to be blessings of God, but children are. Reproduction isn’t just a biological thing. We don’t make babies, God does.
Well, God created the reproductive process, yes, so he set in motion what leads to the conception of each child. But that doesn’t prove he superintends personally over each and every child who is conceived, does it? He’s their Maker, yes, but it doesn’t mean he intended for each and every child to be born. Think of children conceived outside marriage or by rape.
But they’re still children, and he’s still their Creator and Psalm 139 seems to show he has a plan for their lives. Besides, God created sex to have children. Isn’t that the purpose?
Bearing children isn’t the only God-given purpose for marital relations. God made man and woman to complete one another and to fulfill each other’s needs. Having sex also reduces the level of sexual temptation—read First Corinthians 7:2-5. Men and women are commanded to have regular sexual relations. If they don’t use birth control, married people will be afraid to have sex, knowing they couldn’t handle all those children. Marriages will suffer if contraceptives aren’t used. Besides, newly married couples have lots to adjust to already—the last thing they need is an early pregnancy too.
Come on, where’s your faith? You need to trust God more! Who says having children harms a marriage? Sometimes it really helps the marriage by getting the focus off each other. Do you really think God will give you more children than you can handle? Besides, God didn’t just suggest we be fruitful and multiply, he commanded us.
You think you’ve taken the moral high ground, but be sure you look at the rest of Scripture too. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” was a command to Adam and Eve, Noah and Israel, but not to us today. There is no New Testament command to be fruitful and multiply. God told Noah to build an ark too—are you doing that? They stoned adulterers in the Old Testament, but that doesn’t mean we should do it today. Many Old Testament commands don’t apply to New Testament believers. Read Romans 7:6, Galatians 3:23-25 and Hebrews 9:15-17. See, I’ve studied Scripture too! Besides, the earth is already full. We’ve got too many people, not too few. I’m not even sure we should bring children into such an evil world.