Thursday, April 10, 2008

Birth control revisited.

My wonderful dh and I have had a long running discussion about the practice of birth control in the modern church. We agree that the devil, the enemy of our souls, hates children and wants us to avoid having and raising up families who love the Lord. We know that our culture values prosperity and personal hedonism more than children. So it should not come as a surprise to us that this attitude has crept into the Church. Many of my church friends assume that having children is an area of absolute personal liberty, no more significant to the Lord that what color car you drive. Simply an area of personal preference. They see no problems with artificially limiting the size of your family in order to maintain a certain standard of living or keep you from being "stressed out."

On the other side of the equation we have the Quiverfull movement. These Christians believe that any limiting of family size is sin. That we should eagerly desire and embrace as many pregnancies as possible during our childbearing years, trusting that God will open and close the womb as He sees fit. God bless the QF for planting a flag and causing families to reconsider God's design. I am grateful that they stand up and proclaim the truth that children are blessings and a gift from the Lord. But some of the more radical elements of this camp say that there is no reason a woman should ever use any kind of birth control (even Natural Family Planning) - even if her health is poor or God has a special task for her family for a season. The problem with this camp is that is smacks of legalism and judgment.

I don't believe a loving husband would push his wife to have another baby at a time when her health was in danger. I don't think God would have a sick mom kill her unborn child through abortion, but there is a wisdom in allowing a sick mother to heal for a season before seeking pregnancy again. I know a couple who practices non-abortificant birth control because they believe God has called them to minister right now in a very dangerous area of the world. Their access to medical care is limited and a pregnancy at this point would mean that they could not continue their ministry. They do say that at some point they will move to a different area (and have children) when God tells them it is time, but for this season they believe they are in obedience to the Lord by not having children.

What I propose is a middle road. A place where each couple actively seeks to know what God's will is for their family. The world tells us that we should avoid "too many" children and the QF movement tells us that we should have as many children as physically possible. I think we should each listen to the Holy Spirit and stop trying to be the voice of God to each other. Let us encourage one another to ask "how many children do YOU want me have, Lord?" God bless those who have chosen to abandon their wombs to the Lord and eschew all birth control. And God bless those who use birth control for a season. And may the Holy Spirit convict any of us of our sins. Whether that be judging someone else for their use of birth control, or refusing to seek the Lord about His will for our family size.

So many of us want to bind each other with our own consciences. We forget that "man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7). Maybe we should be quiet and let the Holy Spirit work on folks Himself.

3 comments:

Sheila Kippley said...

In following God's plan for our families, one should consider his plan for baby care and baby spacing via breastfeeding. The only type of breastfeeding associated with natural child spacing is ecological breastfeeding or natural mothering. The Seven Standards of ecological breastfeeding can be learned by downloading the free NFP manual (100 pages)at www.nfpandmore.org. Chapter 4 on the breastfeeding is only 14 pages. Sheila Kippley, volunteer for NFP International

pfamilygal said...

NFP is a fantastic way of spacing children for most folks and that's great info! For some of us it still results in blessings of new babies every 18 months. Which we have enjoyed!

Terra said...

Great defense of God's plan. I struggled with what to do early on in our marriage. Now we are content with NFP. Fortunately for me my cycle is like clockworth so it's easy. However, the reverse is also true. If I "play" a little too close to my ovulation my child spacing isn't all that far apart! :)