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'Family planning & Birth Control' issues are Biblical matters. God speaks about family planning and birth control all throughout the scriptures. Included is the right biblical perspective Christian parents ought to have toward family planning and birth control. Part of the Godly Beginnings for the Family.
Birth control has greatly shaped our modern society. A couple now largely has control over limiting the number of children they want. With abortion as a final filter, children can be selectively eliminated from their family life.
Is it right to limit the number of children that we have? What should be the right attitude to having children? Does God really care whether we have two or five children? Does the Bible really say anything about family planning and birth control?
Most modern parents either ignore or do not think about these questions. When we were about to be married in 1978, we were fortunate to go through premarital sessions with our pastor. They were uncommon back then. One session had to do with birth control. The pastor never questioned its usage. He only explained how the different methods worked. As we think back, his mindset was modern even though he was strong on doctrine and the Word of God.
The modern mindset goes something like this, “You might want a few children, but you certainly want to control the number and spacing of them.” Was there a reason the pastor declined to speak how historically birth control was considered immoral by Christians? Or was there a reason he failed to mention God’s goal for us was to raise many godly children? Are we really to “control” this process? Were God’s people morally wrong in the past because they could not limit the number of children?
To be honest we were ignorant back then. We didn’t detect these errors. We accepted up these modern truths without examining the scriptures.
We didn’t even know that we should look and see what God had to say about family planning. We started off poorly and this negatively affected both our attitude toward our family as well as our marriage. We are still working to straighten that kinked mentality.
Some of you might not have ever thought about what God thinks about children. The scriptures are clear about this matter. Let’s examine God’s purposes for giving us children from three perspectives: 1) Creation mandate, 2) Covenant blessing and 3) Caring purpose.
Most of us have heard about God’s Words, “Be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis. Let’s first read the verses and then discuss their meaning for us today. Note that the command was given to His people, people of faith.
“And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
“Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (Genesis 8:17).
“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1).
“And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it” (Genesis 9:7).
Certainly one of the things we should not do is say that God says nothing about having small or large families. God does not say, “You can choose to have as many children as you want.” Instead the Lord clearly commands us to be fruitful which only has one interpretation, which is to have large families.
God tells us how we are to be good stewards of what He has given to us. He has created the first two but now beckons the rest of us to have many. Like any investment we want it to grow. The NIV translation uses the word “increase” instead of “multiply” which covers up God’s real intention. Exodus 1:7 shows the meaning of the word.
“But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7).
This great increase of people makes a lot of sense. God wants us to multiply when the world tells us not to expand beyond replacement levels. That is addition. When some die (subtraction), then we can add some. God, however, literally tells us to multiply.
There are a number of objections to this. We will greatly limit our discussion but encourage you to read further for more extensive and accurate information.
Modern man emphasizes that the command only relates to those in sparsely populated areas. This is a reasonable argument if we strip God’s purpose for giving us many children away. And ignore the blessing He attaches to having lots of children. This command does not stand-alone, as we will soon see.
People assume that the world is ‘over-populated’ but never seek God’s perspective on this matter. God never placed a cap on His command to multiply. He actually wants to fill the earth with godly people. He wants mankind to spread throughout the earth even into the suburbs and countryside. God wants to see the resources that He has provided well used!
Secular man has taken it upon himself to fix the problem. We are aghast at some steps societies have taken to sterilize large groups of people. Our own country subsidizes sterilization in poorer countries. Man wars against God’s purposes. They are willing to kill children but save the spotted owl.
Man has a fear that the earth’s resources are insufficient or limited. Our real problem has not been insufficient resources. Even today, farmers are being paid not to produce food. War, greed, and some religious beliefs are our true problems. God uses famine and pestilence to direct people back to Himself. Famines are mostly due to war and greedy leaders. God says they are a result of disobedience.
As man multiplies he is able to specialize his studies and become much more resourceful. This in turn enables him to make more progress in developing God-given resources. My friend recently asked me what it takes to grow crops? Plants need the sun and water and a few minerals to grow and produce. This reminded me of a green house that grows luscious tomato plants without soil.
As to land, we have plenty of land still to live on. We used to live in one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Many people moved down from the mountains to the cities. Yes, we lived up higher (floors up) than we were used to, but life was very livable.
When people are polite and abide by good social laws, everyone can live peacefully together. God never wanted us to live in fear but by trust in Him. Many so-called environmentalists do not trust God. They are scared. They should learn from Malthus. Back in the 1700s, he first logged his theory about how perilous man’s situation was because the population was increasing faster than sparse resources! God, however, embarrasses man’s theories by abundantly providing for the needs of the earth.
Click to order download (pdf) with study questions, footnotes, etc. or get the powerpoints and handouts.
The world is evil; it always has been. But even here we need to remember God’s promises. What about Daniel who was raised in captivity? What about Moses who was just barely saved from baby slaughter by parents who risked their lives? We forget it is God who blessed Israel while they were in captivity in Egypt! Because of God’s public policy to greatly increase the Israelites’ population, the Egyptians came up with their own form of birth control–murder (Exodus 1).
God has worked through difficult circumstances before: the Exodus. How else could 3 million people survive as they slowly traveled through barren land? He can do what is needed in the future.
This is an area that we need to check our own attitudes. How we start with our children will affect them the rest of their lives. For example, what parent hasn’t thought of the safety of his or her child? We all do. But our response is critical. Either we will instill an outlook of faith or of fear into our child’s life.
Dangers will be present; sometimes worse than at other times or places. Having a faith in God that He can care for them is invaluable in such circumstances. Our child will gain this as we have faith in God that He will care for them.
If we are married, then we need faith not only for our lives but also for our children. In most cases the fear is worse than the actual threat. Nevertheless, we must live or die in faith; there is no other option. We can’t stop having children because of a decadent society with bursts of terrorism or threats of war.
From this phrase ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’ we are able to positively state some points. God is pro-life in every sense of the word. He designed and provided for life. As a convinced salesman, He then encourages each of us to take part in this wonderful life-building program. In fact, it is a command. We have no option but to be positive about having children, even lots of them.
Did you ever notice that a certain negative or ‘burdensome’ attitude is quite common among modern parents. They are so busy with their lives and careers, that caring for their children has become a grand hassle. They don’t enjoy them. This mentality sometimes originates with our own parents. We were in fact unwanted children.
We can hear our Mom groaning about doing all this for us and telling us we were so unappreciative of their hard work. We might even remember words like ‘You were a big mistake’ or ‘Did I ever tell you that we never planned on having you?’ These words left a big scar.
These kinds of statements have wounded many a child. Others are so busy creating lives of ease, wealth or fame, that they don’t want to serve others even their own children. Pure selfishness.
The solution is right in these verses. By meditating on “Be fruitful and multiply,” we can gain God’s grand perspective of life. We need to see that each life is valuable. God wants us around.
Death was necessary because of sin. God was so pro-life that He made a way to make us come back to life again! If you feel like you were an unwanted child or feel your children are burdensome to you. Deal with it or it will infect your children in a bad way. Sometimes we need to forgive our parents.
At other times we need to repent for trying to carry out our own plans independently from God’s purpose for us. If we do not start right here, there will many undesirable consequences.
God is desires to further His cause with our wills and bodies. He has given us, like Adam and Noah, the ability to have multiple children. God put no limit on His command. He has never rescinded it. We see that He wants us to have more rather than less.
Should we really take the opportunity to limit the number of children? No. We should be open to having as many children as He would want to give us. Doesn’t God want us His people to have lots of children? He sure does. He wants to fill this earth with people who seek Him out.
Because of the context of these verses, we realize that we cannot make a conclusive argument that this creation mandate verses apply equally to all. Each time God gave these commandments, there were very few people around. We believe, though, God’s intent is that we all do get serious about having lots of children.
As we look at the following perspectives, it will help us see that these commands were not only for Adam and Noah but also for all of us. Let’s look at how God has associated blessing with having lots of children.
One of the most humorous situations in life can be found in how modern man looks for profit, success and blessing in every part of his life but not in having lots of children. Man is so caught up in materialism, comfort, and a life of ease that he does not even like thinking about having many children. Some choose not to have any children.
Other parents are being duped into thinking of only the hurdles of raising children. They hear the stories about how it takes two adult parents to feed or diaper one little child. This might sound ridiculous but to be honest parents who do not parent God’s way find that their modern techniques and assumptions create intolerable living situations.
A better solution is to learn how to raise children God’s way. God’s view is radically different. Children are a blessing! No negativity there. Let’s look at a few scripture verses.
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, within your house, Your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD” (Psalm 128:3-4).
“Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace” (Psalms 144:12).
“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalms 127:5).
God’s blessing is associated with having lots of children. This is the natural and proper way to think of families. We think of big families. Although it might be odd now to speak of larger families, it was only one or two generations ago that most people had large families.
When there is harmony in the home, children from large families have the most fun. They always have several playmates. I still fondly remember the games I used to play with my brother and sisters.
The reluctance of some parents to have many children stems from the supposedly exorbitant cost of raising even one child. They cannot understand how raising a child to the age of seventeen, at a cost of around US$160,000, can possibly be a blessing. They think of it as next to impossible. The odd thing is that the richer people are, the less children they have! Can something demanding such a high price tag be a blessing? I suppose the answer has to be a question, “Who are you going to listen to?”
We choose to listen to God’s Word. God says blessings are associated with being godly and having children. When we put the pieces together, we read that God wants godly families to have lots of children. Can you read it any other way?
In order to be clearer, let’s look at how God frames the covenant with His people. Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessings and the curses of the covenant. Blessings come from obeying His laws; curses come from disobeying His laws. Blessings are typically shown through productivity including having children. God does not separate the blessing of wealth from the blessing of children. They go together. In other words, there should be enough food to go around.
Disobedience & Curse
“The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you will keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9).
“And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground…” (Deuteronomy 28:11).
“But it shall come about, if you will not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15).
“Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock” (Deuteronomy 28:18).
The world’s way is to bet on how many children can be handled emotionally and afforded financially The decision is then balanced by how many children they feel they can “handle”. God hates the selfishness, self-confidence and lack of faith by which parents make these decisions. They are not open to be used as God desires. Children suffer emotional and physical problems from not feeling wanted. How we need God’s perspective!
God wants us to be eager to have children. He wants us to not only desire to have one or two children to satisfy our inner needs, but to raise lots of godly children. We are to trust God for grace, wisdom, love and wealth to raise ‘His’ children. If God doesn’t want us to have more children, then surely He knows how to close the womb.
Those who use various birth control methods often doubt God’s involvement with the children they receive from Him. Instead of seeing themselves as the source of life, they need to see God as the Giver of life and the Promiser who promises to care for the child.
Practically speaking, we should join the former generations and look forward to large families in order to raise up many godly children that bring glory to His Name. Perhaps the world will reject large families, but it is the definite blessing of the godly marriage to have many children.
We started off wrong in this area of life, but God slowly opened our eyes. We thought we were smart missionaries by only having two children. What a sham! Upon our return home, God began to teach us Family Basics 101 from His Word about having children. We were helped by a number of books.
Our family’s second generation (six children from 2 to 12) is all by grace. Instead of considering the children a disruption to God’s purpose in our lives, we now believe that they are a necessary means for God to reveal His gospel to the world. We are training them up to be straight arrows that God will use to bring glory to His Name.
God miraculously provides for those who trust Him.
A pair of pants for an active boy.
Money for a car to replace our dead one.
Gas money to visit grandparents.
Special treats to remind us that He is watching out for us.
Timely financial assistance.
Yes, we have been through several miscarriages that for a while made us uneasy about having other children. In recent years God has led us to a life of faith. We have no guaranteed monthly salary. We have no savings.
Sometimes we do not know where the next day’s milk will come from. We are not saying others should live like us, but it is comforting to know that God knows how to take care of those who trust Him.
God uses our humble circumstances to show that money should never be a factor in having children. God has provided for us step by step including sending one child through college. He has shown Himself marvelous in the way He has provided for us.
In a positive way, shoving the birth control contraptions back over the counter has saved us a lot of money, inconvenience and distraction. We could finally focus on fully expressing our love to each other in faith rather than in fear.
We still need to trust God for His decision as to whether or not He will send another little one to be raised by us. We have our concerns: we are older, not much youthful vigor left, financial uncertainty and a busy life combined with ministry.
All of these are no longer worries. We trust our God. We sense our love has been able to blossom much more faith in our lives as well as in our children. Meanwhile, our faith is set on Him to help us raise eight godly children who are devoted to Him and His ways.
What is God really up to? What is His final goal? Let’s look at the end of the Bible.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;” (Revelation 7:9).
God is raising up a great crowd to form the Bride of Christ. They will continue reigning where Adam stopped. In a sense it is happening right now through God’s people on earth. But in the new heavens and earth, the whole program will gloriously expand. God wants a multitude to join Him in this project when He unfolds His full developmental program.
God chiefly expands His kingdom program through multiplying His people. It is most obvious that God’s people are to properly raise their children. Fathers are told to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Mothers are to “bear children” (1 Timothy 5:14). As a natural result of faithful parenting and instruction in the Lord a lot of children will come to love the Lord. This is nothing new. The Old Testament speaks of this in several places though particularly in Deuteronomy 6. It is tragic when it doesn’t happen.
If we refuse to raise godly children, then how shall God’s kingdom expand? Yes, of course there is the missionary endeavor, which is right and good. But does it make any sense to focus on missionary expansion out there and ignore raising your own godly children?
The best way is to do both. God has enabled most parents to have children. They have a responsibility to bring them not only into the world but usher them into God’s family. Should we not more willingly and devotedly raise and disciple our own children?
The other day I was playing with my two year old. The thought came to me, “What would have happened if I never had this child?” What a tragedy it would have been if because of my caution, fear or self-indulgence, I chose not to have this child. It is easier to think about not having children when a face is not put with it. I hate to think of my sin that might have caused us to have one or two fewer children.
Let us no longer think that having or not having children is inconsequential to God and His program. Satan is known as the murderer. He is just as glad not to have the children born to Christian parents as to have the chance to later eliminate them. As Christian parents we are privileged to expand God’s kingdom by working hard and diligently bringing them up in the Lord.
Is Birth Control Christian? which shows the effect of birth control in God's kingdom.
The BFF Parenting Library has both the Biblical Parenting Principles for Toddlers materials as well Godly Beginnings for the Family. It includes Powerpoint slides and handouts for each session. Click the DVD for more information. The many practical training materials supplied on this one DVD can't be found elsewhere. More info.
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Great families are those in which husband and wife embrace their responsibilities as defined in God's Word.