The publicity the Duggar family has enjoyed has promoted the idea that having an unlimited number of children is the best way for a couple to honor God. Amanda asked me whether I had a different perspective. She and her husband didn’t want to be second-class followers of Jesus in ANY way. If they chose to have no more children, and used permanent contraception (such as a vasectomy or tubal ligation) to make certain of that, would God in any way consider them less spiritual, or weak?
Amanda’s first pregnancy went well until near the end. Her second pregnancy almost took her life. And any future pregnancies were likely to carry the same risks. Although in many ways she wanted another child, she and her husband were wrestling with the wisdom of trying again. Would she survive another pregnancy? Would it be wise to subject her two small children to nine months of near-motherlessness, with the possibility that their mother would end up be gone permanently?
Amanda assured me that other Christian couples among her friends also had similar concerns. So here are a few points to help Amanda, her husband, and others like them wrestle with the question of whether God frowns on the use of contraception by a husband and wife.
- Having more children doesn’t make you more spiritual. There is no hierarchy in heaven’s eyes based on how many children you have or don’t have. If there was, the Scriptures would say something about that. The Bible does consider children a gift from God. (Psalm 127:3) The Bible also considers health and wealth to be blessings from God, but these are not measures of spirituality. You can be God’s best friend whether rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or “quiver-full”.
- Many of God’s best friends had few children. Moses had two sons. Sarah’s only child was Isaac. Elizabeth only had John. Elijah, Jeremiah, and Paul likely had no children. The question is what role God has given YOU to play in His kingdom, and that may or may not involve physical children.
- God created marriage, including sex, as a picture of our intimacy with Him. The deepest spiritual meaning of marriage has nothing to do with physical procreation. It has to do with becoming one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) Paul talked about this intimacy as demonstrating the oneness Christ desires with His people. (Ephesians 5:32) Husband and wife act out that oneness sexually whether or not they use contraception.
- Bonding, romantic sex is valued in Scripture. Just read the Song of Solomon. Really read it. (I read it over and over when I was preparing to get married.) OK, it may also be an allegory of Christ and the church. But just read it and tell me that the writer didn’t intend it to describe satisfying, physical, exuberant, romantic love between a man and his wife.
- The kind of contraception you use matters. This is not the post to discuss the various methods of contraception. But God values human life. That’s a primary value repeated over and over in Scripture. For a couple who desires to honor God with their best, choosing a method of contraception that prevents egg and sperm from coming together provides the best assurance of not interrupting the development of an early embryo. Permanent contraception (such as a vasectomy or tubal ligation) fulfills this criterion, although there are other methods that do so also.
- If contraception is not against God’s plan, permanent contraception is not against God’s plan. Since choosing if, when, and how to have children (within God’s guidelines) is one of the things God has placed within our right to decide, there’s no ethical or moral reason not to choose permanent contraception if both husband and wife so wish.
Whew! Did you follow all that?
Bottom line: Scripture supports the view that a couple can use contraception without any concern that God will be displeased, as long as it does not interrupt the development of a growing embryo.
And while you’re at it, go home and make love to your spouse. Beautiful, intimate, passionate sex. Tonight. And unless you want a child right now, feel free to use contraception.
Your Turn: What value do you put on the bonding aspect of sexual intimacy with your spouse? What value do you think God puts on it? Leave a comment below.
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