Birth Control & Scripture

This last Sunday I preached a sermon on marriage, divorce, children, etc.  I preached from Matthew 19:1-15, Jesus’ words on the subject of our contemporary debate.  In verses 4-6 Jesus is making the point that marriage is the first covenant community, established by God going back to the beginning of human history.  This covenant community consists of a male and a female leaving their parents and cleaving in allegiance to their spouse and becoming one flesh, thus becoming a family. 

What Jesus was emphasizing in vv. 4-6 is the marriage covenant, from the beginning, is between a husband and wife; Jesus is saying this order of creation transcends time.  Jesus was also saying there should be allegiance between husband and wife, and that divorce and adultery are not an option.  Jesus said there is a one flesh physical and spiritual union between husband and wife that should not be broken and which results in children.  At this point in my sermon I failed to fully explain a point I was trying to make –

What I said was:

“The idea of ‘One Flesh’ is that sex produces children…therefore, if you are not ready to have children, you should not be having sex…”

What I meant was:

“The idea of ‘One Flesh’ is that sex produces children…therefore, if you are not ready for the possibility of having children, you should not be having sex…”

My point was to say that you should not be having sex before marriage or outside of marriage.  Why? Because a child born outside of the marriage covenant will not be raised in the ideal community, which God intended for them to be raised in (i.e., the covenant community of family – a mom and a dad raising their children together in a loving environment – this is an ideal community because raising children alone or in step-families is way more difficult than raising a child in one home with both biological parents.  Having sex outside of a committed relationship can result in having children and result in brokenness, pain, and creates a burden financially and educationally for the state and for those in relationship with the person trying to raise children outside of the marriage covenant – think of welfare, lack of stability, lack of really knowing at least one parent, lack of help doing homework, lack of understanding of unconditional love and discipline of remaining in a relationship even when it is difficult, etc., etc.). 

I hope this clarifies what I was trying to say, but I know this leads to more questions, like: Is it okay to have sex for pleasure? Is it okay to use birth control?

First, it is okay to have sex for pleasure – WITH YOUR HUSBAND or WIFE – but DO NOT go outside of the marriage covenant.  Do not have sex before marriage.  The Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 7 that for those who are tempted sexually and do not think they can control themselves, they should get married and enjoy a sexual relationship with their God ordained spouse.  But sex outside the marriage covenant is prohibited – “Flee sexual immorality…” (1 Cor. 6:18).

Second, related to birth control the Catholics would say no.  But Scripture says nothing about birth control.  But Scripture does prohibit abortion [God knits together a child in the womb – cf. Psalm 139:13, and we are not to kill another human being created in the image of God – cf. Genesis 9:6 & Exodus 20:13], therefore it seems logical that if birth control is not prohibited by Scripture it is okay to use as long as the method is not abortive.

What method of birth control is abortive? Any type of pill or device that kills an embryo or does not allow an embryo to attach itself to the uterine wall – this is a form of abortion.

What methods of birth control are okay? Any method of birth control that prevents the sperm from meeting the egg seems to be okay (i.e., Scripture is silent on this issue with the exception of Onan’s sin in Genesis 38:6-11 – which is a complicated story and may not have to do with birth control, but with selfishness on behalf of Onan because he knew Tamar’s offspring would not be his own – look up “Levirate Marriage” to understand what was happening in this passage and write me a question if the story doesn’t make sense).

In summary:

  1. Marriage was designed by God to be between a husband and wife (Genesis 1:27 & 2:24).
  2. This marriage covenant involves “leaving and cleaving” and “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
  3. It is biblical to have sex for pleasure in a God ordained marriage between a husband and his wife (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
  4.  It is biblical to only have sex in a heterosexual marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18-7:2 & Hebrews 13:4).
  5. Scripture is silent about birth control (with one possible exception).
  6. Scripture does say a child is knit together in the womb and is therefore human (Psalm 139:13; Jeremiah 1:5; & Job 10:11).
  7. Scripture does say murder is wrong (Genesis 9:6 & Exodus 20:13).

May you follow God’s design and be blessed by Him as you follow it!



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