By Lydia Parlee
In 2021, 86% of sexually active 18-49 year-olds reported using some form of contraceptive.¹ This could include over 15 forms of contraception, ranging from hormonal birth control to condoms.² Some forms of contraception have lasting consequences and serious outcomes, but all of these have the same purpose: to prevent life. But what is the big deal? If everyone uses it, is it not safe and acceptable? Most would affirm it is not a big deal and is a safe way to prevent pregnancy. But safety is not the standard for Christians, and the likelihood is that most have not dug deeper into the roots and history of contraception.
Since the invention of birth control in the 1950s, the family dynamic has changed dramatically. The fact that women were no longer obligated to have children opened up a whole new world of freedom and supposed empowerment. Women were able to get jobs instead of being tied down to their families. They could focus more on their careers than their families. Contraception no longer tied sex to marriage but allowed men to have intercourse whenever they wanted, with whomever they wanted, with the false promise of no consequences. If there were no consequences, then who cared? When we divorced intercourse and children from marriage, sex became a purely physical interaction between two people. It became casual and common. It gave no obligation of loyalty or life-long commitment. Consent is now the only moral standard for our culture, but as Christians, we must understand that consent is not the standard. Just because something is available and accepted, does not mean it is good.
Contraception divides the God-given call to raise-up children (Proverbs 1:8-9). In Genesis 1:8, God tells Adam and Eve to fill the earth. We all have a God-given call to multiply, and women have a crucial role in the family. Deuteronomy 11:19 says,
“You shall teach them [God’s Words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Mothers need to be home to answer questions and train a child in the way of God. This is not some job that can be outsourced to daycare or schooling. A mother’s job is important and cannot be compromised for a career.
Most people take contraception for selfish gain. They try to justify taking contraception by saying,
“I am just not ready,” or “I can not handle this right now.”
But it should not be up to us to decide whether we are ready or not. You do not just get to tell God when you are ready, or what you can handle. That is God’s job, not ours. We do not get to tell God it is just too much.
We should not be comfortable playing God, acting as God, or pretending to know best what we can handle. He gives us strength and is glorified in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Dependency on God for strength is a good thing, not a shameful thing to be looked down upon. It should not be up to us to limit our family size so that we can have the perfect Instagram-worthy number of children. You do not get to put children on hold while you follow your dream career. When we do this, we are essentially saying that our career and money are more important than the God-given call to have children. We should not demand the timing, God does. When we are thinking rightly, we want God to give us what is best for us and leave all doors open for Him. We can not fully say “I trust the Lord in all things,” if we will not trust Him with our wombs.
Many may argue that not all people use birth control or other contraception to prevent a child. I would agree, the prevention of a pregnancy is not always the case. One may use contraception for several reasons. However, this number is few. It is said to relieve menstruation cramps, regulate menstruation and also lighten acne and iron deficiencies. However, birth control is not a permanent fix to these problems and is only successful when taking it. Hormonal birth control has lasting side effects. These include weight gain, an increase in depression, and increased cancer risk. Then, when you do want to have children, it often makes it much more difficult to get pregnant. The potential consequences just are not worth it.
This topic is actually Biblical. The Bible does talk about trying to prevent pregnancy. This is a fact many may not know or try to ignore. In Genesis 38, Tamar’s husband passed away, and her nearest kin was obligated to take care of her. He would wed her and take on any responsibilities of her former husband. This would include giving her children. However, Onan, her kinsman redeemer, did not like this idea. He did not want to give her children, so he dropped his semen on the ground so as not to impregnate her. He was trying to prevent life. He did not want the obligations of a child with Tamar (the common motive today for almost every kind of contraception). He viewed it as an unwanted burden. God thought this was evil. In fact, God thought this was so selfish and wrong, He actually put Onan to death. Onan only wanted life on his own terms, not God’s. This is where he went wrong. We do not get to choose the terms. We can not want children and life only when it fits our schedule. We must find choosing life a joy, not a burden, no matter the timing.
Some may argue that if God wants you to have children, He will make you pregnant, birth control or not. Of course, this is true. God can do whatever He wants, regardless of the circumstances. We see over and over again in the Bible that God opens and closes the womb (Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Leah,). However, Deuteronomy 6:16 says that …
“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
We are commanded not to test God. Just because God is able to make something good come from something bad, does not mean we should do it. Some women are legitimately not “fit” or “ready.” This does not neglect the fact that God is sovereign over the womb, and we should want whatever His plan is. If you get pregnant, God wants you to submit and get ready! He decides if you are suited or not. God knows and controls all of our circumstances better than we ever could.
When Christians take contraception, we are essentially saying that children are a burden, not a gift. We are putting our wants over the God-given call to have children. We do not get to choose the timing or say when we are done having children, that is God’s decision, not ours. We are not giving God complete control over every aspect of our life. We doubt His faithfulness to provide for our needs, even if we have an unwanted or unplanned child. As Christians, safety and manageability is not the standard, and we must filter every motive, action, and thought through His Word, even contraception. Power to Decide recently wrote an article saying that “people – no matter who they are, where they live, or what their economic status is – have the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.”3 I ask you, should we trust our sinful, fallen, human desires with limited knowledge, and distorted perceptions to hold to that power, or is it better to trust in an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, always-good God?
¹Brittni Frederiksen, U. R. (2021, April 21). Women’s sexual and reproductive health services: Key findings from the 2020 KFF Women’s Health Survey. KFF. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/womens-sexual-and-reproductive-health-services-key-findings-from-the-2020-kff-womens-health-survey/
²Parenthood, P. (n.d.). Birth Control Methods & Options: Types of birth control. Planned Parenthood. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control
32021, A. (n.d.). Everyone Loves Birth Control. Power to Decide. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://powertodecide.org/what-we-do/information/resource-library/everyone-loves-birth-control
[Lydia Parlee is a 9th grade student at Grandview Christian. She selected this topic for an essay assignment in her Bible class.]