This topic is adapted from THE BEAT by Allen Parr YouTube channel.
Should Christians use birth control, or should they have as many children as God blesses them with? Allen Parr tackles that question here.
Bible Teachings and Bible Principles
When the Bible is silent on a particular issue, we must instead seek out biblical principles that will help inform our decisions. Allen mentions this because there is no clear-cut teaching on contraception or surgical sterilization in scripture. Instead, he provides us five guidelines to help us navigate this topic.
One: Don’t Plan to Sin
Birth control used as a safeguard for casual sex outside of marriage is not in God’s will. In Romans, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians not to engage in sexual promiscuity and not to plan out ways in which they could indulge in sin.
Romans 13:13-14 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Though we are not the original recipients of Paul’s letter to the Roman church, the biblical principle highlighted in this passage stands and should inform our thinking on this matter. Don’t plan to sin. Using birth control so you can sleep around is unacceptable if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. In this case, using birth control shows that you care more about avoiding consequences than you do about loving and honoring God.
Two: Avoid Abortion
There are two types of birth control: preventive birth control, which prevents conception of new life, and abortive birth control, which destroy the fertilized egg after new life is conceived.
Examples of preventive birth control are condoms, which prevent sperm and egg from uniting, and birth control pills, which prevent ovulation, thus allowing no egg for fertilization.
An example of abortive birth control is the “morning after pill.” In this method, sperm and egg have united, forming a new life, but the morning after pill prevents the embryo from embedding into the uterine wall, essentially starving the new life to death.
In the book of Exodus, we read the following:
Exodus 21:22-25 Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.
This text shows that God views the life of the unborn child as equal to the life of the man or men who injured the child’s mother and caused injury or death to the child. Clearly in God’s eyes, the value of unborn life is not less than that of born life!
Three: Children Are a Gift from God
If a single or a couple becomes pregnant, that child should be viewed as a blessing from God, not as an inconvenience or burden. God is in control.
Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
And children are a blessing from God.
Psalm 127:4-5 Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
God has authority over new life (Psalm 139:13-18). He cares about new life and is sovereign over its creation.
Four: Consider the Season
Paul writes to his protege Timothy:
1 Timothy 5:8 But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
While the principle of “be fruitful and multiply” from Genesis 1 applies to all of us, this does not mean we must bear as many children as physically possible. Every couple should pray together and agree that they are capable of adequately supporting children physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. It is best to leave the decision of how many children to have and when to have them up to the guidance of God for your particular relationship, with full awareness of your present and future ability to care for any and all children you have.
Simply because you can have children doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Consult the Lord for his will and trusted Christians for counsel in the matter and decide together as a couple.
Five: Proceed with a Clear Conscience
If you intend to use birth control, have a clear conscience as to which forms of birth control you will use.
James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
Conclude where you believe life begins and to research what types of birth control are abortive and what types uphold the sanctity of life.
Conclusion: The Bible Doesn’t Prohibit Birth Control
Birth control is not prohibited in the Bible, but there are some guidelines that should be followed. For Christians, birth control to enable casual sex outside of marriage is unacceptable. God values life, so abortion in all forms should be avoided. Children are a gift from God, but if you plan to have them, you should ensure that are able to care for them, and have as many as the Lord leads you to have.
Outside of these guidelines, the use of preventive birth control is acceptable within the confines of Christian marriage. If you are married and use preventive birth control, you can proceed with a clear conscience.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Do you use birth control? If you are unmarried, do you plan to? Why or why not?
- Have you ever known someone who used birth control as an enabler for casual sex outside of marriage? What happened to that person? Are they in a healthy, committed relationship today?
- Allen says that planning to sin shows the true condition of our hearts: that we are more concerned with avoiding consequences than we are with honoring God. Have you ever “planned to sin” whether it involved sex or something else? What happened?
- Allen says that removing consequences with birth control actually makes it easier to sin. Explain why you agree or disagree.
- When do you think human life begins? Explain.
- Is abortion right or is it wrong? If you think it’s right, are there times when it’s wrong? If you think it’s wrong, are there times when it’s right? Explain.
- The Bible says children are a gift from God. What if you have a child who is severely physically or mentally handicapped? What if your child does not have a good prognosis for surviving pregnancy?
- Have you known someone who has had children when they were not best able to care for them either financially, physically, spiritually, or emotionally? What happened?
- The Bible says children are a blessing, but it also commands us to care and provide for our families. How can you bring together these two truths?
- If you use birth control or plan to, have you done the hard work of researching various birth control methods to ensure you are proceeding with a clear conscience? Did you change your mind, or would you open to changing your mind, about different methods of birth control?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.