One Catholic article claims, “Scrolls found in Egypt, dating to 1900 BC, describe ancient methods of birth control that were later practiced in the Roman Empire during the apostolic age. Wool that absorbed sperm, poisons that fumigated the uterus, potions, and other methods were used to prevent conception. In some centuries, even condoms were used (though made out of animal skin rather than latex).”4

Egyptian physicians offered prescriptions for the prevention of pregnancy, according to Egyptian papyri dating from 1900 to 1100 BC.5 In the Greco-Roman world, birth control potions were recorded in fifth-century BC writings from the Hippocratic school of medicine.6 In early medieval European history, the Celtic and Germanic peoples used various medicines to control birth.7 The Arabian philosopher and doctor Avicenna wrote The Canon of Medicine during the eleventh century, and the work discussed spermicides, vaginal suppositories, potions, and abortifacients. The work was the standard medical textbook for the next five hundred years.8

In 1873 the United States passed the Comstock Law, named after the Christian who proposed it, which made it illegal to mail or import contraceptives, and most states outlawed the sale and advertisement of contraceptives.9 In 1880 the diaphragm was invented, and by 1935 over two hundred types of artificial contraceptive devices were in use in the Western world.10 In 1936 the courts overturned the Comstock Law.11 The first “birth control clinics” in the United States opened during the 1920s, available only for married and engaged women who could prove their status with appropriate paperwork.12

As the number of birth control options has increased and continues increasing, so has the need for discernment. Therefore, we will examine various options that fall along a birth control continuum.13 I will differentiate between no birth control, contraception, which literally means “against (contra) conception” (such methods prevent conception, whereby a sperm fertilizes an egg), and abortion, which terminates the life of a fertilized egg.

LEVELS OF BIRTH CONTROL

 Level 1: No Birth Control

 At the very least, every Christian married couple should cover every aspect of their marriage with prayer, including future children God may bless them with. Through prayer, the Christian couple is demonstrating faith in the goodness and sovereignty of God over all of life, including the womb.

Some Christian couples determine to use only prayer in their family planning. As a result, they simply enjoy normal marital sexual relations and trust that if God desires that they have children, he will provide according to his timing. When a Christian couple chooses this approach, trusting that whatever happens is God’s good will, it is acceptable.

A Legalistic Version of No Birth Control

When this form of family planning is dogmatically pushed as the only faithful Christian option, such foolish legalism can lead to both self-righteousness and harm. This kind of narrow thinking is popular in networks such as Quiverfull and often promulgated through some sectarian homeschool networks and promoted in some Christian books, which are not bad on all points but widely miss the mark on the issue of birth control.14 Vision Forum Ministries, which includes authors such as R. C. Sproul Jr., published the book Be Fruitful and Multiply in which Nancy Campbell, who publishes Above Rubies magazine, says, “‘Contraception, sterilization, and abortion.’ . . . Each one is masterminded in hell!”15 Similarly, in Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Revive Our Hearts national radio show host and best-selling author Nancy Leigh DeMoss, says: