This is a question that I was asked and thought I would share with the blog world.
Outside of the Roman Catholic Church official bull (Humanae Vitae) prohibiting birth control, there is no official position that the church has taken with regards to this issue. While Roman Catholics believe that taking birth control can be a mortal sin (one which removes the justifying grace of God), Evangelicals have seen the use of birth control as permissible.
You could consider this as part of the adiaphora. The adiaphora are things which the Scriptures do not speak on and therefore should not be imposed upon others according to one’s opinions. There is nowhere that Scripture speaks directly to this matter either in precept or principle. As Paul told the Romans concerning things indifferent, “Who are we to judge another.” Romans 14 speaks very clearly to issues which are unclear.
Yet, at the same time, it would seem that everyone does practice birth control in one way or another. Abstinence within marriage can be a form of birth control. Avoiding sex during certain times of the month is a form of birth control. Humor me more a moment, but it could even be said that a lack of exercise and eating unhealthy, since it can drastically reduce sperm count, could be a type of unintentional birth control.
If the principle that some would like to impose is that we are not to “play God” by attempting to disrupt the natural course of events as God intends to bring them about, we are presented with some theological problems.
1. Can we actually disrupt the plan of God to this degree? In other words, is it conceivable for us to think of God as sitting on His throne, desirous to create baby Johnnie through parents Greg and Laurie, yet Greg keeps wearing protection thereby frustrating the plan of God? As many of us know, God is in control of this and brings about many unexpected events. Sometimes He opens the womb when you thought you had prevented such an occurrence!
2. Does this mean that we are to have sex as much as possible so that we can be sure that we are meeting the divine “quota?” If birth control were wrong for the above stated principle, this might be the case. How does one know when they have met this “quota.” If somehow they are tired one night and miss an opportunity, does this fatigue become sin?
But we must be careful and qualify this answer, knowing that certain types of birth control can amount to post-conception abortion. If this is the case, then this type of birth control is nothing more than homicidal population control. And we know that murder is a sin. Therefore, any birth control that causes abortion is sin.
Is birth control sin? Not when it is practiced responsibly and for the right reasons.
I hope this has been helpful.
C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.
Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]