"An oasis of
refreshing, cool, clear water in the midst of cesspools
of pornography, filth and false teaching on the Internet."
One of the most important considerations of Christian married couples today should be that of birth control. A few decades ago married Christians hardly knew what to do about the advent of readily available contraceptives (oral and others). But now many Christians accept various forms of contraception without much, if any, deliberation. And so-called "pastors" dismiss the issue with "let your conscience be your guide." What conclusions can we draw from the Scriptures concerning birth control?
We need first to understand that not only did God create everything in the universe, but that He is in absolute control of His creation. He directly causes or allows every event and nothing happens without His awareness.
This, of course, means that God is also in control of the womb. He "opens" the womb and He "closes" it---all according to His purposes. Beginning with Eve we can see this truth: "Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord" (Gen. 4:1). After Cain killed Abel, the Scriptures say, "And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel" (Gen. 4:25).
When Sarah, Abraham's wife, was barren she said to her husband, "Behold now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing" (Gen. 16:2). Later it is recorded, "And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife...I will...give thee a son" (Gen. 17:15-16). We are reminded of God's sovereignty when Sarah heard the Lord tell Abraham that she would have a son: "And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of surety bear a child, which am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:13-14).
Sarah acknowledged that it was God who had kept her from having children. And later in the situation when King Abimelech took Sarah for himself, after he gave her back to her husband, "Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his [Abimelech's] wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham's wife" (Gen. 20:17-18). God can open the womb, and He can close it.
The Lord is not only sovereign, He is compassionate. When Jacob's wives Leah and Rachel were barren, we are told that "When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb...And Leah conceived, and bare a son" (Gen. 29:31-32). Later we see that Rachel envied her sister, Leah, and said to her husband, "Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?" (Gen. 30:1-2). Later when Leah saw that she was not having anymore children "God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived" (Gen. 30:17). Likewise, "God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb" (Gen. 30:22).
These are not the only cases in which God controlled the womb; there is yet another recorded in the Old Testament. It is said that Elkanah "loved Hannah" but the Lord had shut up her womb...And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord...Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord" (1 Sam. 1:5, 10, 20).
What about the New Testament? We should not forget the case of Zacharias and Elisabeth, John the Baptizer's parents. "And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years...But the angel said unto him...Zacharias...thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear the a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (Lk. 1:7, 13).
And, of course, there is the supreme case of the virgin Mary. God's control of the womb is exemplified in the miraculous conception of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.
But what does all this have to do with the Christian married couple today? God has not changed. He is still sovereign and He can control the size of the family in answer to prayer. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Christians should not turn to the world for all its schemes for preventing conception including sterilization, pills, IUDs and other devices. But what about the so-called rhythm method? Notwithstanding the widespread use of this technique by many professing Christians, this method, with all the rest, is based upon worldly wisdom and has no scriptural warrant. In fact, there is only one case in all Scripture of anyone trying to prevent conception and that is Onan---and God killed him (Gen. 38:9-10).
Also, the Word of God nowhere teaches to abstain from sex with your marriage partner to avoid conception. God told the first man and wife to "be fruitful, and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). And the inspired psalmist wrote, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord: the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3 NASB). The apostle Paul wrote that "the wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife (1 Cor. 7:4). It was God's will for Adam and Eve to "multiply and replenish the earth." A married man was considered (and, in fact, was) highly blessed of God to have many sons. But this was all part of God working out His plan for the human race. Since Jesus came, died on the cross, and ascended into heaven He clearly taught that our priorities should be different for this dispensation. (cf. Matthew 19:12b; Luke 9:59-62); 24:26-33; 1 Corinthians 7:27ff.)
In the Old Dispensation God's people desired marriage and many children. It is, however, important to see that in the New Dispensation the single life for Christ is better than marriage for those whom God calls to the celibate life (1 Cor. 7:1-2, 6, 32-40). The married Christian's interests are necessarily divided between the things of the world and things of the Lord. Marriage, however, should never be forbidden (1 Tim. 4:1, 3), it is honorable, and ordained and blessed by God. Married Christians will have troubles in this life that they need not have (1 Cor. 7:28). For Christians who desire marriage it is all important to marry the one whom God chooses for you.
Medical science has advanced in some areas that are unethical or even evil. For example, genetic engineering---tampering with chromosomes and DNA---with the goal of producing babies designed the way we want them to be rather than leaving it up to the Creator of all life. We should not only leave these things in the hands of God, but also the number of children that He gives to us. We should let God determine the size of our families. Again, "Children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward."
If a mother nurses her babies until they are weaned, because of natural, God-given functions of the woman's body, she can expect to give birth about every two years unless God sovereignly overrules.
Contraception is a detestable thing in the sight of God, including abstaining from sex merely to prevent conception. If a couple's motives are pure and they truly believe they can better serve the Lord with fewer children than what might ordinarily be born, they can humbly request that God "close" the womb, and He will do it. But like every other prayer it must be a matter of faith. You must know that this is God's will for you in serving Him. "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Mt. 21:22).
A married couple may wonder that even though their motives are pure and God closes the womb, what if the children they presently have died or they later thought it to be God's will to have more children? God is sovereign and compassionate; He can easily reopen the womb if it is His will.