We’ve probably all heard it before in one form or another: “Be responsible and use birth control–that’s how you respect your body, your family, and the rest of the world.” But is that attitude justified by an honest reading of what Scripture really has to say? Does birth control influence us to have a greater respect for life, or does it undermine a respect for life?
Think about it, perhaps a married couple tries to be “responsible” and control the timing and amount of children they have–but then they find out they are expecting, quite unexpectedly. What is their reaction? Oops! Things have gotten a little out of hand; we weren’t being careful enough–now what are we going to do? Yes, what are they going to do? If they are like most Christians, they will grudgingly accept the “consequence” of their carelessness, make the necessary adjustments to the change in plan, and just make sure they’re more “responsible” next time (maybe with a vasectomy?). They will only be open to having more children if they are “sure” it is the will of God–so, if they hear fog-horns and trumpet-blasts, they will be willing to change their minds, but they never pause to consider whether the answer might not already be in the Word of God.
What does the Bible say about it? Because as important as this matter is, one would think that God would have provided some inkling of His will for us, right? Is it as some say, that this topic fosters confusion and uncertainty–or are they looking in the wrong places? It makes sense that if we look online and to public, popular opinion, we will come face to face with a barrage of opinions. But why look there? Why not look to the Bible itself for our answers–and it is there that we find conclusive, consistent, non-confusing answers. Please join me in taking a brief look at a few, convincing passages straight from the mouth of God Himself. I hope you’re ready to be absolutely blown away, because these shocking examples are the exact opposite of what our culture (and even some churches) believe!
Genesis 12:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Wait a second, here — did you notice that? Many of us have read this passage ten times before, but we probably didn’t take the time to consider this point:
Who would “make [Abram] a great nation”? The answer is I, the Lord. By “great nation,” was God talking about a people with lots of weapons and fortifications? Lots of knowledge and skill? What was God talking about?
He was referring to People; in other words, babies that would be conceived, be born, grow up and form a populous nation. Great nation = populous nation. God was the one Who would make a whole nation out of one man and his wife, through their offspring. Wow! And He would do it to “bless” Abram, not to burden him.
14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
What did Abram believe? That the Lord would send him an heir from his own body, as promised. So, Who controls conception here, for Abraham and his wife? Is it them? Or is it God? It is clearly God. Just as God would send Abraham the promised heir, He would, through him, also give him descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth and as the stars of heaven. God had no problem whatsoever being the One responsible for the Hebrew’s population growth. A God Who is capable of bringing people as numerous as the stars into existence surely has no problem managing our “overpopulated” planet!
There is both a spiritual and a practical application here: Spiritually, the heir of Abram would be a type for the promised Son of God, who would come through promise and be sacrificed by His Heavenly Father for our sins; all who believe in Jesus are incorporated into the family of God, spiritually — so the family of faith will include millions, if not billions, of people. And on the practical side, Abram would literally have a son, and his descendants would literally become a huge nation of people. We can see how God was in control of both aspects.
The song “Father Abraham” is a well-known Sunday School song sung by children: Father Abraham, had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham, and I am one of them, and so are you… After having sung this song a hundred times, we have been left with the impression that Father Abrahams had only spiritual sons, but there is actually a more down-to-earth, practical side of it: Father Abraham had many physical sons, too, if we consider all his descendants put together.
Genesis 17:1-6, 15-16
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.
. . .
15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”
Again, God says that it is He Who will multiply Abraham exceedingly. That doesn’t fit with today’s “take charge of your own fertility” mentality. It doesn’t fit with our dependence on birth control (including Natural Family Planning/NFP); in God’s eyes, abundance through multiplication is a good thing, and having children is no different than any other area of life.
21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.23 And the Lord said to her:
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
At this juncture, I would like to pause to point out that there was a destiny for the twins within Rebekah’s womb, and for the lives of their descendants, even before they were born. Is it not logical to assume that God caused their conception with this very plan in mind?! If that was the case, Jacob and Esau had a purpose for their lives before they were ever conceived! Wow! What about our children? Are Jacob and Esau special cases, or does God have a special destiny for our children, too? If He does, might we be disrupting those plans through our use of birth control? Because as much as God loves us and works everything out for our good, it is possible to rebel against the will of God and have to suffer the consequences (like Adam and Eve).
Many today seem to consider the matter of conception to be out of God’s hands. In their minds, God only interferes on “special occasions,” and that doesn’t normally include our own children– those children they think we have the responsibility to allow or disallow to be conceived. You see, to many people’s way of thinking, the conception of children is our responsibility to control; only after the children have already been conceived is it God’s duty to manage their destiny. But that is inconsistent; if God controls the destiny of people already conceived, would He not also be involved in bringing the sperm and egg together that would cause that destiny to “come to life”? Why one and not the other — why not both things working together? And if that is the case, then God controls the conception of individuals and He controls the course of their lives. And also in that case, what right have we to interfere in that process? Unless we have special foreknowledge of future events, which is highly doubtful.
Leah – Genesis 29:31-33
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32 So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.” 33 Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon.
. . .
(Leah, continued) – Genesis 30:17
17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.
Rachel – Genesis 30:1-2
1 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”
2 And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
. . .
(Rachel, continued) – Genesis 30:22-24
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 So she called his name Joseph, and said, “The Lord shall add to me another son.”
(Jacob and Esau meet again after a long estrangement) – Genesis 33:4-5
4 But Esau ran to meet him [Jacob], and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?”
So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”
Josesph – Genesis 41:50-52
50 And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” 52 And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
(Joseph, continued) – Genesis 48:3-4, 8-9
3 Then Jacob said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’ . . .
8 Then Israel [Jacob] saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?”
9 And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”
There are many other references in the Bible that speak of God’s control over the womb! It really is amazing, and I encourage you to not be lazy (a smile and a wink from me, here) and do your homework. This is an important topic, and if you don’t make the time to study what the Word of God says about it — right now — your whole life could pass away in ignorance. That’s what I realized about my own life, and that’s why I finally decided to just do it. Wouldn’t it be sad to have all the answers sitting right in front of us, in that incredible Book, while frittering our time away googling what other people think about it, instead of finding out what GOD has already said about it!
If you thought that you could find the truth about birth control in the Bible, would you take the time to study it? Would you be willing to read through the entire Bible again, jotting down every reference to conception, childbearing, multiplying, etc.? What would it take for you to actually do this? What if the only impediment keeping you from finding out the will of God is that you just haven’t yet made up your mind to try? My advice is to not waste anymore time. This is too important.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Giving control of conception over to God isn’t the same as jumping off a cliff; rather, it’s more like opening a door to the blessings God always intended that you be able to have!
12 “Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. 13 And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock.
Clearly, God is able — and willing — to bless those who believe in and obey Him with many types of blessings, including the blessing of having children. Being fruitful was not an accident, but was a direct result of God’s blessing. He was in control of conception. He was the one Who made the Israelites multiply. Lest anyone think this principle applied only to Old Testament times, here’s a New Testament example:
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me [Paul] from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles . . .
God had a plan for Paul’s life right from the womb; and if from the womb, then from before the womb, too. As I pointed out earlier, God has a plan for each and every child we allow Him to place into our lives; why limit our Creator by using birth control?
Birth control, from a biblical perspective, isn’t being wise — it’s being fearful.
It’s not being cautious, it’s being prideful.
Prideful because we teeny humans think that we can somehow anticipate the long-term value of a single life (actually more than one life, if you count all the children that baby might eventually grow up to have, including grandchildren, etc.). When we use birth control, what we’re actually doing is this: playing god by making the choice for Him because we assume He can’t be trusted to manage on His own. We want to decide who ought and ought not to exist. How wrong is that? Biblically, it doesn’t fit at all.
How does birth control destroy a respect for life and for the Giver of life? In this way: it pretends to put us in charge over who gets to live and when. It wrests authority over this area from God and attempts to place it in our hands. We begin to devalue what we regard to be our right to control. After all, if we have the “right” to determine conception, why not also the right to determine to have an abortion? To commit suicide? To eliminate the elderly and mentally disabled? If life is in our hands right from the very beginning, why not also at the very end and everywhere in between? You see the mini-god personality taking form? Now instead of receiving life from God with awe and thankfulness, we have been thanking Him only when it is convenient for us to do so while degrading the value of life through condoms and IUDs. We reject the life that comes from Him; that’s the same as rejecting HIM:
“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
Let’s let God be God, and leave conception in His hands. Who does He want to send into your family? You might never know unless you stop using birth control and start trusting Him, instead.