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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 3

Birth Control

Aware of the fact that there are some things not clearly spelled out in the scriptures we subsequently have controversy in which sincere people often take opposite views on the same question. I might add that on some issues there are several views or interpretations, none of which agree with the others.

These differences of opinion are the result of numerous factors, two of which I will mention briefly. Number one: Many simply believe the traditional viewpoint of their group or church. It’s their church, their denomination and their people. Some followers of such a group are simply sheep that believe their leaders can do no wrong. Others have been fully persuaded by their teachers who adeptly wrest the scriptures to confirm their traditional views.

The other group is not necessarily being loyal to their group, neither have they been fully convinced that their doctrine is true. It is simply a case of selfish expediency. They choose to believe a particular doctrine because it serves their purpose. That purpose might be religious ambition, financial gain or a license for sin.

Within the confines of all groups are people who need to prayerfully consider their position and form an honest conviction based upon the scriptures and their own conscience. God has given us liberty in many doubtful things which we can wisely use or abuse. It is in this area that many legalistic concepts have been formed and come forth as doctrines which bring men into bondage. I believe this is true of birth control as well as sex in general.

Paul says, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Romans 14:14.

A study of the above chapter clearly reveals that Paul has been dealing with numerous things over which Christians have different opinions.

Verse 15 reveals that we are not to abuse our liberty by using it in such a way as to offend our brother. Even though we might have faith and feel no condemnation in some things we do, we are not to despise our weak brother who lacks such faith.

Verse 22 says, “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” This verse is simply saying we are to keep such faith to ourselves before God not making a public display of it where there is a danger of offending our weak brother.

This whole chapter is devoted to Christian liberty in doubtful things where there is a difference of opinion. It is admonishing both sides to be considerate of each other and to be fully persuaded in their own minds. In the subject we are now considering, I, likewise, admonish every reader to be fully persuaded in his own mind. My desire here is to simply get you to examine your present position in the light of the scriptures rather than traditional beliefs.

I must add that it is not an easy thing to change our views when we have been taught to believe a certain thing all our lives. It takes much prayer with a desire to know the truth of God’s glory alone. This plus a willingness to walk in the truth revealed is a great stumbling block to most people.

Needless to say, birth control is another controversial aspect of the subject of sex in general. Many poor souls are intimidated and live in mortal fear when they think of any type of birth control. Having been taught that it is the command of God to bear children they consider it a great sin to do anything to prevent conception.

Many couples are in great bondage because of this. Sexual intercourse is never fully satisfying as long as there are mental hang-ups caused by fear or condemnation. Afraid they will get pregnant and afraid to do anything to prevent it, they cannot approach the marriage bed with freedom necessary to fully enjoy sexual union. This fear seems to affect women more than it does men.

This is caused by a number of factors. Being the weaker and more sensitive vessel, the woman is more subject to intimidation than the man. Then too, women as a whole are more religiously conscientious than men. This is proven by the fact there are far more women who attend church than men.

The woman’s fear of pregnancy is caused by the knowledge of the consequences of her pregnancy. Nine unpleasant months of carrying the child, perhaps already burdened with small children and taking care of her home, can and does strike fear to the heart of many women. This with the fear and anxiety of the birth itself, plus twenty years of responsibility in mothering the child can have a traumatic effect on some women. This is the great reason Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” Eph. 5:25. A kind, considerate husband can greatly alleviate the fear and anxiety of his wife during pregnancy.

Because so many ignorantly think the only purpose of sex is to beget and bear children, there is a great need to examine this question in the light of the scriptures. One of the chief scriptures used to justify this extreme position is Gen. 1:28, where among other things the Lord told Adam and Eve to “... Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth....”

Let’s not forget this was in the beginning of the creation and the Lord said the same thing to the other creatures, (Gen. 1:21-22) which have no moral conscience about reproduction. Just suppose we took the same attitude toward all creatures including the stray dogs and cats that roam the cities of the world, starving and diseased. These animals, as well as many other creatures, are often a nuisance and a menace to the health of society. Remember God blessed them as well as man, saying “... be fruitful and multiply....”

Although it is true God set in motion the law of reproduction, he certainly didn’t intend for man to stand aside and be destroyed by the law. If man was to have dominion over all the earth as Gen. 1:26 says, he certainly gave him the intelligence to exercise that dominion for his own good.

This dominion would include man’s own natural earthly reproduction as well as the animal world. God has given man an intelligence far above that of the beast which moves by natural instinct only in obeying the lust and desire of his flesh. He has no capacity to think nor consider the consequence of his act. Yet some, under the guise of religion, would confine or put man in the same category as the beast when it comes to sex and reproduction.

Few would argue against birth control for people with certain diseases, physical handicaps, or mental retardation. Yet they, under the guise of religious conviction, would impose the law of unfettered reproduction upon all others regardless of condition.

POPULATION EXPLOSION

With respect to Gen. 1:28 where Adam and Eve are told to be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, I think most everyone will agree this scripture has pretty well been fulfilled.

One of the many great problems facing our world today is the population explosion. At the present tremendous rate of increase we will soon need another world to populate.

This population increase is rapidly shrinking our habitable world, increasing pollution and will soon make it impossible to produce enough food to feed earth’s great multitude.

At the beginning of the Christian era it is estimated the earth’s population was somewhere between 250 and 350 million. It took 1700 years for the population to double the first time. From 1700 to 1850 or 150 years later the population doubled again. It was during the nineteenth century the first billion was reached.

From 1850 to 1940 it only took 90 years to double again reaching the figure of 2,300,000,000. The 1969 population was estimated by the United Nations to be 4,309,000,000 or almost twice as many as the 1940 population. At the present rate of increase there will be 6,994,000,000 or almost seven billion people by the year 2000.

This means that the world’s population will more than triple itself from 1940 to the year 2000 or a period of 60 years. A million babies a month are being born in India, a country where undernourishment and starvation has been prevalent for many years. With American food supplies scheduled to stop in a few months what will happen to them?

These statistics taken from Funk and Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia, Volume 19, pages 272-274, by Funk and Wagnalls, Incorporated, 1973, should tell us something. Surely it seems the handwriting is on the wall. Although hunger, starvation and disease are no stranger to millions who have already lived and died it seems that Revelation 6:5-6 is pointing to famine on a world-wide scale such as man has never experienced.

Another scripture used by some to impose their extreme views on others is I Timothy 5:14 where Paul says, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

A study of the context relating to this scripture (I Tim. 5:9-15) will show that Paul is not so much interested in the bearing of children as he is in keeping the younger women out of mischief. Marrying, having children and taking care of their home would serve to keep them from wandering from house to house as idle busybodies bringing reproach upon Christ and the Church.

None can deny that it has always been normal for all of God’s earthly creatures to mate and reproduce. This is the law of nature. This is also true of man. Though created in the image of God, he is a physical being. As such it is his nature to mate and reproduce.

Since he is created in the image of God and has an intelligence that goes beyond that of the beast God has given him specific instruction concerning sex, marriage and the bearing of children. I might add that the true children of God are spiritual and not just physical. All Biblical instructions actually are given in the ultimate sense for the benefit of God’s spiritual family. Were this not so neither Jesus nor Paul would have emphasized the spiritual over the natural. Matthew 12:47-50, Rom. 9:8, Gal.4:22-31.

Another traditional saying used as scripture to condemn birth control comes from Gen. 38 where Onan went in to the wife of a brother whom the Lord had slain to raise up seed in his brother’s name. Under the custom which later became a part of the law (Deut. 25:5) it was the duty of the brother to marry the widow and raise up children in his brother’s name. Knowing the seed would not be his, Onan spilled the sperm on the ground and the Lord also killed him. The moral principle involved here was Onan’s contempt for his deceased brother whom he should have honored with seed that would perpetuate his name in the earth.

Judah the father of the two slain sons promised a third son, Shelah, to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, as soon as Shelah was old enough. Upon failure to keep his promise to her after Shelah was grown, Tamar pretended to be a harlot and tricked Judah into having intercourse with her that she might have a child to carry her deceased husband’s name.

The father of the child had to be a close kinsman. This custom, which was later incorporated into and became a part of the law, was a type of the seed of Christ which must be perpetuated. The fact that Christ’s seed must endure forever is borne out in Psalms 89:20, which says, “His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.”

From this story has emerged the saying, “it is better to put the seed in the belly of a whore than to let it fall upon the ground.” This, of course, is not scripture but more man-made tradition that has served to bring people into bondage. How could such a saying be true when God’s word plainly says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Heb. 13:4.

In Paul’s treatment of the subject in I Cor. 7, he teaches that the principal reason for marriage is gratification of sexual desire lest the person be overcome by his passion and commit fornication. That is why he says in verse 9 it is better to marry than to burn.

Further on in the chapter, in verses 32 thru 35, the apostle actually says that it would be better not to marry at all that we might give ourselves to Christ without distraction. If begetting and bearing natural children were as important as some insist then Paul’s emphasis or reason for marrying and not marrying was wrong.

Some ignorantly take the position that if God wants them to have children they will, if not, they won’t. Just let nature take its course. Suppose a stockman took this attitude when a male from one breed of cows gets into a pasture with another breed. Letting nature take its course would soon destroy a purebred herd. It’s also a good thing the farmer knows when, where and how to sow his seed.

In the beginning the earth was unpopulated and there was ample room for expansion. Neither was there a pollution problem and none can deny that even 50 years ago the world held more of a future for mankind than today. The norm was to marry, reproduce and have families. For this reason God has given his people instructions concerning marriage and the bearing and rearing of children.

CONDITIONS A FACTOR

The last fifty years have witnessed a tremendous change in the earth. The population explosion, pollution, moral decay and the threat of world annihilation with nuclear weapons are part of this change. There is a great possibility that millions of babies now being born will either starve to death, or be killed in war or die from disease. World catastrophe from many standpoints seems imminent.

Of these great problems facing our world today the population explosion may be the greatest. More people means more cars, more fuel, more pollution, more utilities, more homes, more food, more materials and less land and natural resources to produce these things. The shortage of these things which we are now experiencing will increase as the population increases.

Already in many of these things, consumer demand exceeds man’s ability to produce. As this condition worsens man’s greed and selfishness to expand at his neighbor’s expense will increase. This, of course, means more war and threat to world peace. All this is playing into the hands of the spirit of Anti-Christ which is increasing pressure upon mankind for a one world super government.

Aside from giving ourselves more completely to the cause of Christ, I certainly believe world conditions should be considered when we think of bringing children into the world. Jesus spoke of a time of trouble and said, “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days”. Matt. 24:19. Paul likewise recognized that conditions should be a factor in these things. I Cor. 7:26-32.

In consideration of the scriptures and world conditions I see no reason for not practicing sensible birth control. This is especially true where a couple desires to more completely give themselves to Christ. However we must admit that in most cases Christ nor his kingdom is a consideration in the practice of birth control. But even in this, though the motivating factor may be selfish, it seems to be a blessing in disguise in not bringing innocent children into today’s world.

Not being a doctor I could not say with certainty which method is best. Although birth control pills seem to be the most popular means used at this time, some women cannot take them. I am also personally apprehensive about anything that would affect the natural chemistry of the body over a long period of time. It seems some natural means recommended by a specialist in this field of medical science would be preferable.

Where some desire to limit the number of children in their family or not have any children at all, they might consider sterilization. This is a comparatively simple and painless operation especially for the man. Although the operation is effective and does not hinder a couple from having normal sexual relations it is permanent. Because of this I would not recommend it until they have prayerfully determined they do not want any more children.

EUNUCHS

Since some, no doubt, will object to the very thought of an operation to keep from having children, I think it would be well to briefly consider the subject of Eunuchs. In Matt. 19:12, Jesus said, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

Generally speaking a eunuch is a human male that has been castrated to prevent him from being able to have sexual intercourse or beget children. This was a practice in ancient times where kings or rulers would have male children castrated because they wanted to use them in positions of service where they would be in contact with women. This was especially so where the eunuch, sometimes called a chamberlain (Esther 1:12), took care of the king’s wives or concubines. Rendered sexually impotent by this operation the eunuch could also give undivided attention to his job.

For the most part those who were born Eunuchs simply do not have the capacity nor desire for the opposite sex. This could be caused by a birth defect or other reasons known only to God. Although normal in every other way they do not have the capacity for sex physically nor psychologically.

Those who make themselves Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake may simply have the will power to restrain themselves that they might give themselves wholly to the work of God. And no doubt some have had themselves castrated or sterilized in order to achieve this.

There is still another group of people who are born sterile but normal from the standpoint of sexual desire. They can marry and have normal sexual relations but they cannot beget or have children. Certainly none can deny that for whatever the reason a person is rendered impotent it results in birth control. These are some of the doubtful things that I think a Christian ought to be persuaded of in his own mind, free from the dictates of the church.

GOD’S BEST

God’s best and highest is for a Christian who has power over his own will to remain single and serve the Lord without the interference of marriage. Wives, husbands and children require much time, thought and energy that could otherwise be spent on serving God. This is what Paul is teaching in I Cor. 7:32-33.

The teaching of celibacy or forbidding anyone to marry is false and without scriptural foundation. The fact is God condemns this teaching as one of the doctrines of devils that would come forth in the latter times. I Tim. 4:1-3. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

For most of us God’s gracious provision of grace is marriage. This is why Paul said, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” I Cor. 7:1-2.

Although childbearing is the natural result of marriage and sexual union, there is no scripture that forbids birth control or planned parenthood.

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