Is using Birth Control a Sin?
I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. I thought I would help it along a little bit by hammering a ‘softball’ of a question today. Lately, all of the questions on Mondays have been super hard and tricky. I thought today I would ‘let up’ a little and ask an ‘Easy-Peasy’ one.
This one’s tough. It was asked of me recently by one of my very best friends in the world. And, as we say here in the South, “boy is it a goodun!”
Let me make four quick points up front so this post won’t be so long you won’t read it:
1. I am addressing MARRIED couples.
2. Though I will not list or discuss birth control methods here – I am talking about those that neither harm the mother nor abort a fertilized egg.
3. This post might spur even more questions. If so, ask them in the comment section below so we can dialogue; or – if you prefer – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org privately.
4. For a very good, fair, and thorough explanation of this, see the “Birth Control” chapter in John and Paul Feinberg’s Ethics for a Brave New World.
Let me get straight to the point. There are several arguments (some even biblical) people try to use against using any form of birth control. Opinions on this issue – as I’m sure many of you are aware – are rampant. My goal here is to answer the question, “Is using birth control a sin?” Or, to put it another way: “Does the Bible make any moral claim on the issue of birth control?”
My answer? No. It is not a sin & the Bible does not put any moral claims on birth control. Feinberg and Feinberg declare, “nothing scriptural or otherwise prohibits all forms of birth control.”
In fact, I would argue (along with these authors) that what Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:8 about family care actually admonishes couples of the wisdom, in many cases, to use birth control. Paul writes: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Though Paul does not speak specifically of birth control here, two strong implications can be made:
First, if the parents think adding another child into the mix might make it difficult or impossible to properly care for already existent members – then wisdom and birth control should be seriously considered. In other words, having as many children as possible at the expense of being able to properly care for every family member is sinful. I AM NOT SAYING having a lot of children is sinful or a bad thing. What I am saying – and I believe Paul is saying in this verse – is that each couple and family is different. Care and wisdom need to be applied regarding each and every family situation. God puts babies in wombs – YES. But God also gives parents a brain. . . and Christian parents a spirit of wisdom to use at all times, in all situations. The question to ask, then, is not: “Is birth control wrong?” Rather, “What is the BEST possible scenario for my existent family?” Or, “What would add the most value to my current family members?”
Second, if the medical history of the husband or wife points to major negative implications for the parent and/or child – then, again, birth control and wisdom should be seriously considered. This could range from genetically transmitted diseases or a physical ailment due to the makeup of a particular woman’s body for pregnancy. Again, I AM NOT SAYING that it is sinful for the couple to trust God and see if they might have biological children together. But, biblically speaking, there is ZERO biblical obligation for the couple to ‘have to have’ their own biological children. Again, using 1 Timothy 5:8 as our guide – the question for Christian couples here should be: “Considering our current physical circumstances and health – what would most benefit our family right now and over time?”
Wisdom and concern and care for existent members of one’s household is a MUST. As a matter of fact – it is MORE of a biblical imperative than the birth control issue. What I mean is – if there is no clear biblical command for/against birth control, then it is MORE of a biblical and moral issue that we use wisdom in our decisions regarding our current overall family makeup and design.
No, using birth control is not a sin. In fact, doing so – in some circumstances – might actually display more biblical wisdom and maturity.
What do you think? Comment below.