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.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

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]

    4 replies to "Is Birth Control Sin?"

    • harrynelson

      OK. Fiirst, I am a huge fan of TTP. Thanks to you and Rhome for your ministry. I am an Elder in a SBC Church in Charlotte, NC, and your program has helped me tremendously in understanding theology more in depth.

      Here’s one that I feel (partially) qualified to engage you on, though. I have 7 children. You mention that “There is nowhere that Scripture speaks directly to this matter either in precept or principle.”

      God judges our heart in what we do. I would just challenge you and the other folks who read this blog on this one to search your heart on what “practiced responsibly and for the right reasons” means.

      While God did not speak to the idea of birth control, specifically, through the scriptures, he does speak to His view of the value of children, and how they are to be viewed by the parents.

      Psalms 127:3-5 (ESV)
      3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
      4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
      5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

      Here, God clearly has a state of mind and heart about having children, and the fact that we have moved from a largely agrarian society to an industrial one did not change His mind.

      My wife and I did not start out with the intent of having lots of kids. We thought we would have 2 or 3 like anyone else… But, with each one, we re-asked the question: What, in our circumstance, would make us prevent or delay more children through some extraordinary means? Each time, we seriously considered surgery for either her or I. I even went for a “consultation” one time to discuss surgery for me after our 5th. (Most oral contraception is abortifacient, so we didn’t open that up as an option.) But, in the end, we have always come back to a series of questions.

      What other blessing of God would we consider having surgery to prevent or delay? What does our answer show us about our heart?

      If we go forward with surgery of some type, why are we doing it? Is it, in reality, a selfish reason.

      There are a lot of folks who use the “practiced resbonsibly and for the right reasons” to justify a lot of reasons that are not so right.

      Please don’t get me wrong. This is not an easy decision. We have had some very difficult conversations with each other and with God on this issue. I am not one of those that believes that it is always a sin to prevent a pregnancy. We have had some very, very difficult pregnancies. We know what its like to go through that. After our 5th, I really thought I wasn’t getting the time with each one that I would need in order to be a good parent.

      Althoug a little off topic, I will say, practically, that 3 children is the “hardest” to have in terms of demands on your life. After that, you really start to realize some economies of scale, you give up any pretense that you’re going to have a good golf game or anything like that, and your life gets better every day.

      I just think the line is not where most American Christians put it, in terms of what “right reasons” means. Before helping plant a familiy integrated church, we were almost ostracized for the number of kids we had. God looks at the heart, and having 7 children, people take it upon themselves to tell me a lot about what is on their heart regarding kids, and I wish people could hear themselves – like children are an unfortunate disease.

      Thanks again, Michael, for your ministry.

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Harry. We have four and they are surely a great blessing. I am sure there are many of those who read this blog and wonder why we are not practicing more birth control!!

      God bless.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      This article by Mary Eberstadt titled “Christianity Lite” touches upon the issue of contraception. It can be found here.

    • Bible Study

      I don’t believe birth control is sin myself. I do believe that murder is sin, but calling birth control murder, I won’t go that far. To each his own.

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