Birth Control

Control. That might well be the single term that best describes modern man. Control time. Control matter. Control the atom itself. We live in a world full of "control freaks." Birth control is only one of many examples of man's effort to steer his own course and determine his own way.

Now the impulse to control is not evil in itself. In fact, the first commandment given to man by God is a requirement to exercise control (Gen. 1:28). Man was created to steward, tend, and protect the world that God had made. To do so, man was given authority to master the created world. But here is where modern man's lust for control goes awry. The original creation design placed man in authority and gave him dominion in order that he might take the raw materials of the world and rework and remake them so that they would be even more glorious. This is, in short, the Creation Mandate. Fill the earth. Control it. Make is glorious. And then, give it back to God.

But modern man’s effort to control fails at the last step. It is precisely because he has faltered in his worship that modern man has perverted his desire for control into a gross idolatry. It is just so with birth control. Birth control is often an attempt to control the future, to control economics, and to control happiness. Such control has no concern to bring glory to the Creator. Such control is carnal and not pleasing to God.

Fundamental to the terms of that original Creation Mandate was the requirement to "Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth." It would appear that it is only by means of the propagation of mankind that a proper, God-glorifying dominion can be exerted. Is it not plain that modern man's impulse to control the number of children he has flies in the face of God's command?

You needn't look far to find the propaganda machines whirring away, pumping out pamphlets, commercials, and other media blather praising the "virtue" of small families. The so-called population explosion is a lie. I read a few years back that at that time the entire population of the planet could be placed within the Southeastern three counties of Oregon and that each individual would have more space to him or herself than the residents of Hong Kong enjoy right now. Now no one is suggesting such a relocation plan. But the illustration shows how far we have to go before we run out of room.

We are often threatened by news that the supply of food, water, oil, clean air, and other natural resources are about to run out. But it just isn’t so. New reserves are being found constantly. New technology is making more and more efficient use and reuse of raw materials. But the people who are running the propaganda mills want to control the population.

The Eugenics movement, popular in the United States prior to WWII, was the philosophical parent to both Hitler’s “extreme solution” and to Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood. At its soul, Eugenics was the idea that the world could be bettered if certain undesirable traces and even races were weeded out of the genetic pool. Hitler’s particular application of that “dream” gave the movement a black eye. But Eugenics in America didn’t disappear, it just switched tactics. The focus went from sterilizing blacks and other poor persons to encouraging abortions. Would you be surprised to know that the vast number of abortions perpetrated over the past 50 years have been performed on "minorities" and the poor? That is no accident. Our culture is hostile toward babies, especially if those babies are born to "undesirable" citizens.

With that background in mind, we are prepared to narrow our focus to the question of birth control. I will assume that those who are reading this article are not men and women who would be quick to run out and get an abortion on demand. I trust that you cringe at the idea of sterilizing certain women just because of the color of their skin. I assure myself that most, if not all of you, value the life of the unborn and are prepared to defend it. And yet, I believe that much of the rationale that such people as you employ to argue for birth control smacks of the same poison that permeates our broader culture. Am I wrong? I hope so.

It should be pointed out here that there are certain techniques advertised for preventing pregnancy that actually terminate it. These birth control devices and pharmaceuticals are called "abortifacients." They often work by preventing the fertilized egg (read: the infant) from implanting in the mother's womb. These are nothing but a convenient form of abortion and should therefore be shunned out of hand by all faithful Christians.

Other birth control devices and techniques operate by preventing the sperm and egg from ever meeting. While this method does not result in an abortion, there are objections that can be raised against its use. Our law, in agreement with the Law of God, distinguishes between the act and the intent. There is a profound difference between 1st Degree Murder and Unintentional Manslaughter. Just so, there is an important distinction to be made between the act of preventing a pregnancy and the motive for doing so.

Many persons who would never think of darkening the door of an abortion clinic may use a condom, or "the pill," or some other non-abortifacient birth control device for the very same reason. A young woman who wanders into Planned Parenthood to obtain an abortion may do so because she thinks she cannot afford to care for the infant. She may do so because the child's father is pressuring her, so that he won't have to face the fact that it's time for him to grow up. She may want her freedom. Babies make it tough to keep up the social schedule that childless women can enjoy. Do those rationales sound familiar? It is to be feared that many who use birth control, including many Evangelical Christians, employ the self same arguments as that woman.

What then is to be the Christian response to birth control? First, the Creation Mandate has never been revoked. Hence our default position must be to continue to "be fruitful and multiply." Second, we must cultivate a culture that delights in babies and encourages families to bring them into the world. Third, we must abhor with all our might the perverse and wicked attempt on the part of our unbelieving culture to prevent the birth of millions of infants by means of abortion. Finally, we need to think wisely about how to encourage large families by once again providing living wage jobs for fathers that pay better than those given to single men and women.

Now a word to balance things out. It is possible to read what I’ve said above as a universal prohibition against all forms of birth control at all time. That is not my intent. What I am seeking to insist upon is not the elimination of the practice of birth control per se but the extermination of the anti-Christian attitude that often, though not always, underlies it. There are times of emergency. There are decisions of wisdom that may deem it unwise to enter into pregnancy at a particular time. I raise no objection whatsoever to such wisdom or such careful decisions. Let our thinking and our decisions about pregnancy and children be guided by the Word of God and not by the whims of our culture, especially insofar as our culture clamors for autonomous self-determination.

Other questions need to be asked and answered that are outside of the scope of this article. What is the place of "natural family planning"? How young or mature ought men and women to be before they marry and start a family? What role does the Church have in encouraging families who seek to "fill the earth" with their progeny? The resources provided on this page are offered to "keep the discussion going."

—Guest-written by pastor Jeff Harlow

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