Should Church Leadership Confront Couples Who Choose to Use the Pill Despite Knowing Its Potential Abortifacient Effects?

Question from a reader:

I read Randy Alcorn’s book Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortion? He convincingly argues that hormonal birth control causes abortion, and he briefly talks about other abortive forms of birth control. While being a pastor, how did Randy inform people in his congregation about the abortive effects of these birth control methods? What would he have done if individuals decided to use these abortive forms of birth control anyway, after being informed? If the elders of a church found out someone was using an abortive form of birth control, should the elders confront and talk to the person telling them this is wrong? If the elders did talk to them and that person continued to use that abortive form of birth control, should the elders discipline them?

The reason I ask is because most of the newly married couples I talked to at my church are using abortive forms of birth control: combination pills, progestogen-only pills, and copper IUDs. I met with some of these couples to inform them about the abortive effects, assuming they didn’t know. I was ignored or told they already knew it was abortive.

Answer from Eternal Perspective Ministries:

We appreciate your heart as a pastor to shepherd these couples under your care.

Here is Randy’s advice when he was asked about church leaders and this subject.

Randy writes on our website:

As for passing on this perspective to others, I’d suggest it be done carefully and humbly, as some have become anti-contraceptive crusaders in a way that overpowers and raises defenses unnecessarily. I certainly think it should be fair game for discussion and you should feel free to share your perspective with those you love.

And in Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions book, he writes to pastors about sharing this information and the responses they may receive: “Some people will be angry and defensive—I know, I’ve gotten some of their letters. But others will be thankful and appreciative, and will seek God’s face and genuinely deal with this issue. We owe our people the truth, and the opportunity to respond to it.”

It sounds like you have followed this advice of informing the couples you’ve counseled. As for follow up, our advice would be that this not be a matter of church discipline. Randy writes, “You are helping these couples by providing them with some important information to consider before the Lord. It’s up to the Lord to direct them as to what to do with it.”

What your team can do, of course, is pray for the Holy Spirit’s work in each of these couple’s lives, and ask that He would use the information that was shared with them to guide them and convict them as needed.

When we asked Randy specifically about this, he said, “There is a difference between getting an abortion and using a product that may or may not cause an abortion. While I think anyone knowing an abortion may result should not take that chance, we need to be careful not to take an absolute position when we don’t know what will happen. So while I think it’s reasonable for a pastor to encourage and even urge someone not to use an abortifacient, I wouldn’t try to enforce that conviction on them.”

We hope this gives some helpful thoughts for your elder team. God bless you all as you shepherd the flock He has entrusted to you.

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