Is Birth Control a Sin?

Is Birth Control a Sin?


By Clarence L. Haynes, Jr.

If you are a married couple, Christian or not, you will invariably face the question of birth control. While birth control is widely accepted in our society, there may be those who have differing opinions about whether Christians should use it. They may ask if birth control is a sin.

Most mainline denominations have no issue with birth control. However, you may get push back from the Roman Catholic Church when dealing with this question. If we limit our discussion to sexual relations that happen within the bounds of marriage, then I have found no Biblical reason to say birth control is a sin. Taking it outside of that relationship is a different story, which we will address in a little while. However, for this discussion, I want to address this topic of birth control by talking to Christians, whether you are married or not. We’ll start by defining some terms, so we are all on the same page.

What Do We Mean When We Say “Birth Control”?

There are different types of birth control, and they are all known as contraceptives. These are either ways or methods that are used to prevent conception or pregnancy. Different contraceptive methods include condoms, diaphragms, birth control pills, and more natural means like celibacy and tracking your cycle.

Whichever birth control method you use, it can vary in its effectiveness. Obviously, the most effective method of all time is celibacy. Only one person in history has ever gotten pregnant prior to having sexual intercourse, and that was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Part of the debate over birth control is tied to the method you use, which is part of the argument the Catholic Church uses.

Is It a Sin to Take Birth Control?

The question is birth control a sin focuses not so much on natural methods, but on any type of assistance used in aiding birth control. No one, not even the Catholic Church, would question if celibacy or tracking your cycle, both methods which use no intervention, is wrong. The focus is on any non-natural method of birth control.

For a married couple in a sexually monogamous relationship, there is nothing wrong with using birth control. I have yet to find a Scripture that can justify making the statement that using birth control is a sin. I will leave room for people to have different opinions about this topic, but if we are talking in a marital context, the question comes down to one of preference, not of right or wrong.

I would like to add one more thought. Some people are using birth control for serious health-related issues such as fibroids or uterine cysts. In this case, you should know that using birth control is not a sin.

What about Birth Control outside of a Marital Context?

If birth control is being used outside of a marital context for a sexual purpose, then in this case using birth control is a sin. In these instances, many people use birth control as a license to engage in sexual activity without worrying about the consequences that can result from that activity, one of which is pregnancy.

When birth control is used as the promoter of sexual relations outside of marriage, then it is a sin. In these cases, birth control can contribute to promiscuity because people see it as a get-out-of-jail-free card, or the ability to have their cake and eat it too. If you remove the ability “to get caught,” which birth control can do, then many people see this as the green light to be sexually active before or outside of their marriage. If you use birth control in this light, there is only one conclusion – birth control is a sin. The exception is if you are practicing celibacy because you are not engaging in sexual activity. 

Does the Bible Say Anything about Family Planning and Children?

In the Bible, one of the first things God told Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). The Bible also speaks about the blessing of children.

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).

As wonderful as the gift of children is, the Bible does not command every married couple to have children. I know people who have no desire to have children of their own and they are not sinning when they do that. Also, we must recognize that in marriage, sex is not just for procreation; sex is also for pleasure. The book Song of Solomon talks about the pleasure and enjoyment of sex within a marital relationship. I would encourage you to read the entire book but here is a small sample. 

“Oh, how beautiful you are!
How pleasing, my love, how full of delights!
You are slender like a palm tree,
and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit.
I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree
and take hold of its fruit.’
May your breasts be like grape clusters,
and the fragrance of your breath like apples.
May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine”

(Song of Solomon 7:6-9).

Just so you don’t think this is one-sided, here is her response.

“I am my lover’s,
and he claims me as his own.
Come, my love, let us go out to the fields
and spend the night among the wildflowers.
Let us get up early and go to the vineyards
to see if the grapevines have budded,
if the blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates have bloomed.
There I will give you my love”

(Song of Solomon 7:10-12).

My point here is simple. Sex within a marital relationship is a good thing. If you are married, enjoy the sexual relationship with your spouse because God has freed you to enjoy it. But, if you are going to be sexual, then there is the potential of pregnancy. The only way to prevent that is by using birth control, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Should Christian Families Limit How Many Children They Have?

There is no right or wrong answer as to how many children a Christian family should have, it really is an individual decision. I would suggest that you should have as many children as you can provide for emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

Raising children is not easy work, and while some may be able to provide for a child financially, they cannot provide emotional or spiritual support, and these folks are better off not having children. Some people have emotional and spiritual aptitude, but they don’t have the financial means. It is estimated that it takes about half a million dollars to raise a child from birth to age eighteen. Raising children is not cheap and it requires your full commitment. If you cannot provide that or can only provide that on a limited basis, there is nothing wrong with limiting the number of children you have, even if that means you choose not to have any at all.

To do this is going to require some form of birth control. I can assure you that if you want to have a healthy sex life, celibacy in marriage is not the most effective form of birth control. You will need something else. 

How Can Christians Lovingly Respond to Those on the Other Side of this Debate?

As it is with some things in the Christian faith, there is room for more than one opinion. The question of birth control is one of them. This is not an issue of right and wrong – unless you are using birth control outside of a marital context which I mentioned earlier. Since the Bible does not explicitly say “thou shalt not use birth control” then you are left to decide what is best for you and your spouse. This applies to whether you will use birth control, as well as the type you decide to use.

I would encourage all believers to approach this conversation with grace and recognize that someone may have a different viewpoint. There is no need to argue or debate because this issue does not determine a person’s salvation. At the end of the day, some Christians will believe in using birth control and some will not. Both opinions are okay.

Is birth control a sin? My answer is no, but you and your spouse must decide if you will use it. Whatever you decide, know you are not sinning if you choose to use it and God will not condemn you for using birth control. As with so many things in a marital relationship, talk with your spouse and make the decision that is best for both of you.


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