Birth Control

Does the Bible forbid birth control? Before we give the answer, let's define some terms.

Conception Control

When we talk about birth control, we actually mean conception control. Life begins at the moment of conception, not at birth. Consider the following verses:

Psalm 139:13-"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb."

Isa. 44:2-"Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb…"

Luke 1:36-"And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month."

Since life begins at conception, any method of birth control after conception is the taking of a human life. "Because he did not kill me before birth, so that my mother would have been my grave, and her womb ever pregnant" (Jer. 20:17). Abortion and the IUD terminate the baby's life after conception.

For Married Couples Only

Because sex seals the covenant of marriage between a male and a female, all sex outside of the marriage covenant is forbidden. This includes fornication (pre-marital sex), adultery (sex outside the marriage), homosexuality (sex with same sex), and bestiality (sex with animals). Therefore, conception or protection control is not permitted in any of these cases.

Bill Gothard's Teaching about Open and Closed Wombs

Are methods of birth control that prevent conception wrong? There is no verse in the Bible that forbids conception control for married couples. In the biblical times before our modern day methods were invented, they were limited to the withdrawal method of birth control. God leaves it to us to prayerfully consider how many children we can have.

Seminar teacher Bill Gothard instructs people since God is the one who opens and closes wombs, birth control is wrong. Therefore, parents should have as many children as possible because conception is determined by God, not you. According to Mr. Gothard, any interference through using methods of birth control is fighting against God's plan. (Bill Gothard has never been married and has no children)

I've seen many people in bondage to this unscriptural teaching. It's one thing for parents to want to have children and another thing for parents to feel like they have to have children. One is freedom, the other is bondage. God will not make us do something that we don't want to do because He doesn't violate our free wills.

Although there are many verses in the Bible which speak of conceiving and giving birth, there are only five verses mentioning God opening and closing the womb.

Gen. 20:18--The Lord closed all the wombs of household of Abimelech

Gen. 29:31--The Lord opened Leah's womb

Gen. 30:22--The Lord opened Rachel's womb

1 Sam. 1:5--The Lord closed Hannah's womb

1 Sam. 1:6--The Lord closed Hannah's womb

Is it right to form a doctrine on birth control based upon these five verses and then make people feel guilty if they don't obey it? First, none of these verses are talking about birth control

We need to take Scripture in context when we interpret it. None of these verses used to support birth control are talking about birth control.

Second, these verses deal with people who couldn't conceive but were trying to get pregnant. In most cases today, women already have the ability to conceive (their wombs are already open), but are not necessarily wanting to get pregnant at the time.

Third, a "closed womb" meant a woman did not have the ability to conceive. An "open womb" meant the woman had the ability to conceive.

An open womb doesn't mean "getting pregnant." It means if the womb is open, a woman has the ability to conceive. There are millions of women who have open wombs who aren't pregnant.

Genesis 29:31-32 says the Lord opened Leah's womb AND she conceived. These are two different events. Once her womb was open, she then had the ability to bear children. Notice that the Lord opened her womb once, but she conceived four times.

Gen. 29:31-"and He opened her womb…"

Gen. 29:32-"And Leah conceived and bore a son…Reuben."

Gen. 29:33-"Then she conceived again and bore a son…Simeon."

Gen. 29:34-"And she conceived again and bore a son…Levi."

Gen. 29:35-"And she conceived again and bore a son…Judah."

Some couples who follow Bill Gothard's teaching have said, "We're just trusting God to open and close the womb to determine how many children we will have." As you can see from the above verses, once the woman has the ability to conceive, she will continue to have children as long as she has relations with her husband. God does not have a switch in heaven where He flips "open" or "closed" whenever a couple has sex. Don't throw away your Biology 101 book. Read the chapters on how conception takes place. It's still valid.

Who Decides-God or Us?

Does God give us the right to decide how many children to have, or is the decision completely up to Him? It's interesting that God decides to create a person AFTER a man and woman have made the decision to have sex! The divine decision comes after the human decision. God has given us the responsibility for many decisions in life. When we manage our responsibilities in life, it doesn't mean we have stopped trusting God. Do you drive your car with your eyes closed? Although you trust God to get you safely to your destination, you share in that responsibility. Do you work at a job, or do paychecks miraculously appear in your mailbox? Although God gives you the ability to make wealth (Deut. 8:18), it's your responsibility to work. Does God mail in your payments for you, or do you pay the bills? It's your responsibility to mail in the payments, not God's.

What about God's will in determining the number of children? God wants the married couple to be in agreement about how many children they should have. He designed this world so that if a man has sex with a woman, she will probably conceive-even if they aren't married! If God had a switch in heaven where He opens and closes wombs according to His will, don't you think He would turn the switch to "closed" when people who aren't married have sex? Although the act of sex outside of marriage is wrong, once a child is conceived that baby becomes God's will even if the couple isn't married. God loves every baby who has been conceived. He has given us an incredible ability to procreate, and a responsibility to raise that child after the conception takes place.

Four Purposes for Sex

Those who forbid birth control methods view sex only for the purpose of giving birth. Procreation is not the only reason for sex, otherwise it would only be permitted when a couple was wanting to have children. There are four purposes for sex:

Unity Factor

Matt. 19:5, Gen. 2:24, 1 Cor. 6:16

The act of sex seals the covenant whereby the two become one flesh.

Communication Factor

Husbands and wives communicate on three levels: body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Sex is communication on the physical level.

Pleasure Factor

Prov. 5:18-19, 1 Cor. 7:2,3,5,9, Heb. 13:4

God created sex within marriage for husbands and wives to enjoy each other and bond.

Procreation Factor

Gen. 1:28--"Be fruitful and multiply"

There are obviously many times when a married couple wants to experience sex for pleasure, but not for procreation. It is during those times when birth control is permitted.

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