What does the Bible have to say about birth control? Well…nothing. Birth control wasn’t around when the Bible was written so Scripture doesn’t say anything about it. That being said, I believe we can examine the text and come to a wise and informed decision about birth control and family planning.
Let’s begin by defining what birth control is. Birth control, also known as contraceptive, is any method or device designed to prevent pregnancy. According to this article from Mayo Clinic, your options vary from condoms to birth control pills to natural family planning (NFP) to sterilization. Birth control does not terminate a pregnancy; it prevents it from happening. (Note: Christians should stay away from birth control that has an abortifacient effect.)
Usually when birth control is brought up in Christian circles, folks like to mention Psalm 127:3 which says children are a heritage from the Lord. That verse get’s pulled up and then, the conversation just sort of ends. The assumption seems to be that a couple who uses birth control sees children as a burden not a blessing. That’s not necessarily true.
There are a wide-variety of reasons why a Christian couple would choose to use birth control, even if only for a time. From health issues to financial concerns to limited space; there are genuine reasons why a couple would want to prevent pregnancy. A couple may love children and desire to have them; maybe, now just isn’t a good time. On that note: we won’t address whether or not Christian couples are required to have children. Perhaps that is a topic for another day. For the sake of time, we won’t tug at that thread.
So, there may be Christian couples who adore children, hope to have them, but have legitimate reasons for wanting to prevent pregnancy. Is that okay? Is it sinful? At this point, the argument is usually made that we should trust God with our fertility. While that is likely a well-intentioned and respectable stance, it doesn’t really hold up. Would you also say Christians shouldn’t lock their doors? Shouldn’t we trust God with our safety? Should we not go to work and trust God with our finances? Yes, we trust God in all things; we also aim to be responsible and wise.
Another objection to birth control that I would like to address is the simple fact that it is unnatural. Appealing to nature is a fallacious argument. Natural is not synonymous with good; unnatural is not synonymous with bad. Swamp water is natural. Don’t drink it. Drink unnatural sanitized water instead. However, I can understand a woman not wanting to mess with her body’s natural rhythm, if you will. If I’m being honest, I’m not a big fan of hormonal birth control myself.
Even OTC methods like condoms and spermicidal lubricants aren’t natural. Of course, sterilization (vasectomies and tubal ligations) are not natural. But, what about methods like natural family planning? This is where the conversation switches a bit. What this all boils down to is the purpose of sex.
We simply cannot find Scriptural evidence to support the claim that sex is only for procreation. If that is your stance, you must be willing to say that a woman who has already gone through menopause should not have sex with her spouse. If a couple is unable to have children and chooses to adopt, for example; they also should not have sex. If sex is only for procreation, basically only fertile couples get to have sex during the woman’s ovulation. Where does the Bible say that? No where.
Babies are a natural result of sex. We all passed 8th grade biology, right? Of course, babies are a wonderful blessing. (Seriously, gimme all the babies!) However, sex does not always result in pregnancy. Can you imagine if you had a baby for every time you and your spouse were intimate? That’s a lot of babies! All that to say, I can’t see any Biblical grounds for saying birth control is sinful or wrong. Assuming a couple is making the decision together and they are praying through it; I can’t see why it would be wrong for a couple to prevent pregnancy. At the end of the day, God IS sovereign. If He really wants you to be pregnant, He gon’ make it happ’n.
Based on my understanding of Scripture, this does seem to be a matter of Christian liberty. Can you use birth control to the glory of God? Odd question, I know, but please think about it. As I mentioned earlier, there are some really good reasons why a couple might want to prevent pregnancy for a time. Truly, their hearts could be in the best of places. It seems a bit unfair to assume they hate children or don’t trust God.