Updated: Jan 3, 2020
The general position that Christians have towards abortion is that it is a form of murder, and therefore, sinful. At the same time, the general position Christians have towards birth control is that it is a gift from God and there is nothing wrong with using it in the context of marriage.
However, I see a conflict between these two views.
The biblical reason for why abortion is a form of murder is because the Bible makes it pretty clear that God considers the life and value of His created beings to begin at conception. We see this in Psalm 139 as well as the pregnancies of both Jesus and John the Baptist. By killing unborn babies, abortion is a form of murder in that it is an unjust form of taking the life of another human being that has a soul given by God.
Also in general, Christians will claim that children are beautiful gifts from God and should never be considered a burden, and I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. If this is true, then what message does the use of birth control portray when used in marriage?
To put it bluntly, people use birth control in marriage so that they don’t have to “worry” about getting pregnant. There really is no way to get around the word “worry” in this situation.
People can use all kinds of reasons to justify for using birth control (financial stress, limited living space, travel plans, etc), but in the end, it is really to feel relieved of the worry and stress that can come with an undesired pregnancy.
The use of birth control also confirms the fact that Multiplying is one of the purposes of God’s design for sex. People readily accept the general truth that unprotected sexual intercourse will most likely result in a pregnancy.
So what is the conflict between being pro-life and pro-birth control at the same time?
On one hand, the pro-life position states that all human life is infinitely valuable and should be treated as such. On the other hand, the pro-birth control position states that a new life is not all that valuable, proven by the extreme measures that people will take to make sure new life is not formed. I know that there are plenty of good-willed Christians who still became pregnant despite the use of contraceptives and were able to ultimately accept that pregnancy as a gift from God, but that does not disprove the idea that if they were truly accepting of a pregnancy as a blessing, then why were they doing everything in their control to avoid it?
Can those who use contraceptives genuinely say that “all children are a blessing”? I would say they cannot. How can a Christian acknowledge that children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3) while their use of contraceptives is essentially saying they would not feel "blessed" if they had another child. But glory to God who alone is able to change human hearts by His grace that even when there is an undesired pregnancy, it can still result in a life that is preciously valued and loved by its parents.
So what’s the solution?
I believe the solution would be to acknowledge that Multiplying is an obvious purpose of sex and to allow that observation to dictate how Christians are to work around God’s design for the purpose of bringing Him glory.
For couples who either already have children or do not yet have children, but feel compelled to not get pregnant nor desire to get pregnant, I firmly believe that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the better option and is glorifying to God.
What does abstinence in marriage mean? Your knee-jerk reaction to such a term probably
has you thinking that I am advocating for zero sexual intimacy, but that is far from what I am saying. I believe that God has blessed marriages in such a way in that He has provided many forms of sexual intimacy for a husband and wife to enjoy within the beautiful design of marriage. Abstinence in marriage only refers to vaginal intercourse, while still having the freedom to enjoy all the other various forms uses of: touching, massaging, foreplay, assisted orgasms, and sensual stimulation.
Essentially what a married couple is saying to God through their abstinence is, “God, we recognize that you designed our bodies to naturally produce life when we come together sexually. If we do not want to deal with the commitment to possibly raising a child as a result of sex, we will forego the pleasure of sexual intercourse and only enjoy other forms of intimacy together as husband and wife that do not compromise your beautiful design.”
Opponents (and I am aware there are many, and you are probably one of them) to this position will often immediately bring up 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 which says, “stop depriving one another (sexually), except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”
There are 3 areas of this passage that I will address:
1) Cultural view of children
I personally do not find any evidence in the Scriptures that there was a general concern for having “too many” children. Whereas in the American culture, the concern of having too many children is a very common concern for most people. In terms of the audience of 1 Corinthians, I don’t think had the same concerns that people tend to have today in regards to undesired pregnancies. With that being said, I would support people practicing the command in this passage, so as long as they are not concerned about getting pregnant, since, after all it is one of the ways God designed our bodies to function.
2) “so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”
It is important to remember that the lack of self-control is a bad thing. As part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, the evidence of self-control is one of the marks of a Christ-follower, which also means that it is something that Christians should be constantly growing in as God completes the sanctifying work He began in us. The lack of self-control should not be an excuse to misuse sex in a way that is neglecting a part of God’s design, but rather it should cause the Christian to desire to grow in self-control in all things
3)“come together again…”
As I mentioned before, I truly believe that God is still glorified when husbands and wives explore the wonders of the various forms of intimacy that are blessed by Him in marriage. To “come together” does not necessarily have to involve vaginal sex, but for those who do not desire a pregnancy, they are making a small sacrifice (in my opinion) by foregoing the pleasure of intercourse by enjoying other forms of sexual intimacy.
I also believe that it is wrong to believe that Christian marriages require a healthy sex-life in order to be healthy. First of all, there are many marriages where sexual intercourse is not a realistic option due to: health complications, injuries, age, sicknesses, deformities, personal trauma, and more. Is it right to say that their marriages will never be healthy because of these obstacles? Of course not! After all, the absence of sex does not hinder a husband or wife from loving their spouse as they are commanded to in Ephesians 5. A natural question would then be, “If God were to remove sex from your marriage, would you still be willing/able to love your spouse as God commands you to?”
I know this is a very sensitive topic, but my main encouragement for Christian marriages is to consider the implications of the conflict between being pro-life and pro-birth control. The temptation for mankind will always be to “have our cake and eat it too”. Christians will readily oppose abortions, but will likely not have a consistent view of the gift of new life if it is to come at the expense of their sex lives. I simply want to encourage Christians to remain biblically consistent in their decisions and convictions, no matter the cost to ourselves. Jesus said that unless we “hate even our own lives” we cannot follow Him, and I believe that statement would definitely apply to the issue of sex and marriage.
However, in our efforts to be biblically consistent, we will always fail. Therefore, we rejoice in the fact that there is much grace given by God in these kinds of matters, and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We, Christians, are all in this path to holiness together, and it is only by God’s faithfulness to us that we are still saved even through our countless moments of unfaithfulness to Him.
We are simply saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.