Should Christians Use Birth Control?
The earliest and simplest Christian creed declared Jesus Christ is Lord (2nd Cor. 4:5, Phil. 2:9-11). It may also be the most critical creed because it summarizes the essence of our faith. Believers are people who submit to Jesus as King. Everything in our lives must come under His rule—including our relationships and sexuality.
Therefore, Christians must think carefully about the question of contraceptives. First, this requires that we understand the nature of birth control. Second, we must seek God in His word to ensure we honor Him with all our choices.
The History and Effect of Contraceptives
For all human history, sex could not be readily separated from the possibility of procreation—until the mid-20th century. While some methods of birth control have existed throughout recorded history, a modern method changed the nature of family planning. The Pill appeared on the American scene in 1960, and upon its arrival, most Christians celebrated this new advancement much like they did other forms of human progress.
But an ominous warning came from the Catholic Church when Pope Paul VI issued the Humanae Vitae in 1968. The Pope warned, “how easily this course of action (the introduction of the Pill) could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” The Pope’s concern was that if people could have sex without the possibility of getting pregnant, it would lead to increased promiscuity. He was particularly concerned about young people. “Not much experience,” he went on to say, “is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.” Of course, pregnancy and having children are wonderful, but if you’re not ready for the responsibility of children, that alone may prevent you from having sex before (or outside of) marriage. But now that men and women can have sex without that concern, the strongest moral incentive for purity is lost.
I understand that, as evangelical Christians, we are not Catholics and, therefore, not under the authority of the Pope. Nevertheless, his concerns were not only valid, but they came true. Since the 1960s, America has undergone a sexual revolution which has led to STDs, increased rates of divorce and adultery, redefined gender roles, and the LGBTQ movement. Of course, several factors contributed to each of these matters, but none of them can be disconnected from the widespread acceptance of the Pill. Scripture repeatedly warns about the dangers of sexual sin. It always leads to human misery and can even bar one from entering the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Five Things to Consider Before Using Birth Control
Children are a Blessing, Not a Burden, from the Lord. The Psalmist says, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (127:3). The Bible presents children as a gift from God. Unfortunately, many people see them as a burden on their time and finances. Children are indeed a stress on both, but being a father, I can tell you the blessings far exceed the challenges. If you use birth control to avoid children because you want to maintain a child-free lifestyle, you may be sinning. We are commanded to be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Unless we’re called to singleness (1 Cor. 7), Christians should marry and at least be open to the possibility of having children.
Some Forms of Birth Control are Abortifacient. Not all birth control is created equal. Some forms prevent pregnancy. Others, such as the "morning after pill," terminate life. Christians cannot in any way justify or support any form of abortion. Furthermore, it’s unclear whether those forms of contraception which claim to be only preventative actually do as they say. The science is not definitive on precisely what happens. It’s possible that termination, not prevention, takes place. That alone should raise concern for Christians. If you are unsure about a specific method you are considering, do further research to ensure it might not be an abortifacient.
Sex is Not Designed Solely for Pleasure. Despite what the culture teaches, sex was created by God for multiple reasons, not just for our enjoyment. God designed sex for procreation, bonding, pleasure, and mutual support. It is also an act of service by one partner to the other (1 Cor. 7:5). Throughout the ages, many Christians have considered sex an act of worship. The ecstasy enjoyed is designed to give us a foretaste of the eternal pleasure we’ll all experience in the presence of God Himself (Psalm 16:11). All this to say, when we reduce sex to personal satisfaction, it is dangerous and unbiblical.
Christians are Not Commanded to Have Large Families. Children are a blessing from God, and we should be open to filling our quiver with them (Psalm 127:5). But it would be beyond the bounds of Scripture to say that every Christian couple should maximize the amount children they bear. Prayerfully consider with your spouse what God may call your family to be.
- Family Planning is Not Necessarily Sinful. All things must be done within the bounds of Scripture and conscience, and each married couple should maintain an openness to the possibility of having children. But Christians should enjoy being married, and depending on their circumstances and plans, family planning is not inherently wrong.
What is your Motive for Using Birth Control?
In the end, the question must be asked: what is your motive for taking birth control? Is it because you believe it’s “my body, my choice”? If so, that’s the same argument made for abortion on demand. Are you using contraceptives because you don’t want the added burden of raising children? Then you may be rebelling against God’s decree. Whatever the reason, you need to be honest with yourself, your spouse, and the Lord.
My wife and I used birth control for years because we weren’t ready to have children. But our hesitancy had nothing to do with health issues or future planning. We just didn’t want kids at the time. But the Lord worked on our hearts, and we came under the conviction that we needed to stop using contraception. God is sovereign, and He controls life and death. We wanted to be open to raising as many kids as He would give us. Today, we’ve been married for almost 13 years, and we have one 7-year-old girl named Emma. In 2020, we got pregnant again but miscarried. Shortly after that, we thought we were pregnant for a third time, which scared my wife. She feared losing another child. At this time, she was 37 years old. Miscarriages are much more common for women at this age. Consequently, I decided to have a vasectomy to protect my wife from the trauma of another miscarriage. This decision aligns with our consciences because we are not preventing pregnancy out of selfishness. Instead, we are doing so to protect our mental and physical health.
Ultimately, you must make the decision that best aligns with Scripture and your conscience. Jesus Christ is Lord and will bring everything in your life under His reign. Nothing is off-limits to Him—not even our family or sexuality.
Note: In writing this article, I referenced and depended on Albert Mohler’s work on the subject, particularly his article, “Can Christians Use Birth Control?” I recommend reading his work for more information on this topic.
Christians must think carefully about the question of contraceptives.
Check out this post that discusses should Christians use birth control: https://tinyurl.com/2dzcm7wd
Brandon is the Associate Pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN and leads the TJC RE:GENERATION ministry for the church. Brandon is married to Sherrie and has a daugher, Emma.
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