Can Christians Use Birth Control?
- Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Some will argue that there is a difference between a child in a mother’s womb and one outside of it, yet the early church saw both as equally living people and the taking of life in either state as equally murderous. Their convictions were based on Scripture, which uses the same word, brephos, for Elizabeth’s unborn child, John the Baptizer (Luke 1:41, 44), as is used for the unborn baby Jesus in Mary’s womb (Luke 2:12) and also for the children brought to Jesus (Luke 18:15).81 Simply, in the divinely inspired pages of Scripture, God reveals to us that a child in the womb and a child singing and dancing around Jesus in worship are equally human beings, who bear the image of God, and thankfully Mary did not abort the “tissue” in her womb, because he was God.
Prior to being saved from my sins and regenerated by Jesus at the age of nineteen with a new mind, with new understanding, with a new heart, and with new desires, I am sad to say I was vocally pro-abortion to the degree that I was more Malthusian in my outlook. I wrongly believed that less fit people should be sterilized or not permitted to conceive and encouraged, if not required, to abort if impregnated. I argued for this persuasively both in high school classes, as the president of our student body, and later in college classroom debates. I deeply regret my sinful position, and for those who somehow claim to believe simultaneously in Scripture and abortion, my rebuke includes a suggestion of ongoing study as an act of repentance, in order to experience Romans 12:2, which commands, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Thankfully, Jesus can forgive any sin, even the sin of murder, as he did while hanging on the cross and asking God the Father to forgive those who murdered him. Furthermore, prolife ministries are devoted to extending the love, grace, mercy, compassion, and support needed for men and women who have suffered from abortion to experience healing and new life. In our church this includes a ministry to post-abortive women run by female deacons who were once sexually active and who aborted their own children, only later to meet Jesus, repent, experience new life, and become godly wives, mothers, and church leaders.
In summary, as a pastor I would support Christian couples practicing levels 1 to 3 of birth control, urge those considering level 4 to prayerfully and carefully reflect on their decision, and oppose any Christian couple considering level 5, unless there are extremely weighty extenuating circumstances. In twelve years as the pastor of Mars Hill Church, which has seen hundreds and hundreds of weddings and pregnancies, I have not yet faced such circumstances, and by God’s grace I pray I never do. Should that occasion occur, I will work with the family, aided by prayer from our church, counsel from fellow elders, and outside expert medical counsel, to arrive at a decision based on a careful examination of all the variables involved.
1Genesis 1–2; Deut. 32:39; Ps. 139:13–16.
2Gen. 1:27; James 3:9.
3Gen. 1:28; 9:1.
4Ex. 1:16–17; 21:22–25; Lev. 18:21; Jer. 7:31–32; Ezek. 16:20–21; Mic. 6:7; Matt. 2:16–18; Acts 7:19.
5Jer. 1:5; Job 10:9–12; 31:15; Ps. 119:73; Eccl. 11:5.
6Gen. 9:5; Ex. 20:13.
81 Pet. 4:10.
9Gen. 1:27, 31.
10Gen. 2:24–25, cf. Matt. 19:5, Mark 10:7–8, Eph. 5:31; Prov. 2:16; Mal. 2:14.
12Gen. 20:18; 29:31; 30:22; 1 Sam. 1:5–6; Isa. 66:9; Luke 1:24–25.
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