Is It Sinful to Be Sterilized?

Sterilization poses a significant issue if only because of how many people are resorting to it. Studies done in the 1970s show sterilization is the most frequently used form of contraception in the world, and as of 1979, the second most frequently used among Americans. By 1976, 30 percent of all widowed, divorced and separated women and single mothers aged fifteen to forty-four in the U.S. had been surgically sterilized. Nearly the same percent among all U.S. married couples had at least one partner sterilized. By 1977 nearly ten million persons in the U.S. had been sterilized. Those figures include an average of one million per year from 1974 to 1977.(1) One-third of all married couples who are of childbearing age are permanently sterilized. (2)

Is sterilization morally wrong? No. There are implications to consider. Sterilization is a permanent choice for a couple to cease having children. I have many counseled couples who regretted their sterilization decision because their circumstances in life changed. They bought into the lie of the world that children were a burden rather than a blessing.

The Bible is clear that children are not to be considered a burden but rather a reward from God.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3 (ESV)

The Bible considers a large family a blessing.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:4–5 (ESV)

While sterilization is not wrong, and at times may be an appropriate choice for medical reasons, the world around us encourages it early and to help keep families small. A Christian couple who makes that choice may be unwittingly denying themselves blessing and reward from the Lord.

(1) Rosalind P. Petchesky, “Reproduction, Ethics, and Public Policy: The Federal Sterilization Regulations,” Hast Center Rep 9 (October 1979): 30.

(2) MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1981). The Fulfilled Family. Chicago: Moody Press.