The earlier link to Albert Mohler’s radio program on birth control (can Christians use birth control?) has raised some good questions among some of you. Here are my thoughts on a few of the queries that have been posed:
“Is it morally acceptable to enjoy the pleasures of sex outside of its natural context (making babies)?”
I would argue that the natural context of sex is not making babies. Otherwise, it would be unnatural for sex to occur unless it made a baby each time. I would argue that the natural context for sex is marriage, and in that case, yes, it is no bueno to experience sex outside the natural context. God created sex within the natural context of marriage for both pleasure and procreation.
“Does birth control demonstrate a lack of faith in God’s provisions? When does claiming “human wisdom” cross the line?”
In my estimation, birth control doesn’t cross the line of a lack of faith anymore than using preventitive medicine in other areas demonstrates a lack of faith. Instead, it is designed to be used in a faith-filled way.
“Is birth control a type of abortion? Are there really birth control methods out there that are safe?”
You will hear plenty of debate in this area. From my understanding, there is no conclusive evidence that birth control methods like the pill cause abortions. The reality is that any time a baby is conceived there is the risk of a chemical abortion (aka miscarriage). None of us would conclude that this risk of an unintended chemical abortion is grounds for not attempting to get pregnant.
There are some things like the morning after pill that do cause abortion. In terms of safety, there are unquestionably safe (in terms of their inability to cause abortions) options available including abstinence (I’m not recommending that one), natural family planning, and condoms.
Is it permissible, as Mohler claims, to use birth control as a means to plan a family (i.e. waiting until having children is more economically plausible)?
I believe the answer is yes. Birth control is anything that alters a couple’s natural sexual patterns or ability to conceive in an effort to reduce the chance of pregnancy. I have never heard of a couple who has not used birth control (by this definition) at some stage in their marriage.
Here’s what I mean…do you know any couple who has not altered their normal sexual habits in any way at any point in their marriage in an effort to minimize the chance of pregnancy? I don’t. It may manifest itself as prolonging breast feeding, taking a week off from intercourse during the woman’s cycle, or many other means. The issue is not ‘do couples use birth control?’ but ‘when do they use it? and how effective is it?’
The bottom line is that birth control is another area in which Christians must partake with good stewarship and discernment. I believe the use of birth control should only take place while embracing the following perspective:
- A willingness to joyfully accept any children that come
- A viewpoint that is acting by faith (Romans 14:23) to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31) in the decision–in other words, not doubting what you have decided to do
- A resistance to comparison and criticism of couples who do not share your convictions
This is in no way intended to be a comprehensive treatise on birth control, but is simply designed to pose some thoughts and spark more dialogue. Bring on your thoughts, questions and criticisms in the comments section.