What About Birth Control?

The number of birth control options continues to increase, so has the need for discernment in using them. To help understand the options available, we can differentiate them by breaking them into five different categories.

Level 1 - No Birth Control

Every Christian married couple should cover their marriage with prayer, including the children God may bless them with. In prayer, the couple is demonstrating their belief in the goodness and sovereignty of God over all things, including the womb.

Some Christian couples determine to only use prayer as their family planning method. As a result, they simply enjoy normal marital relations and trust that if God wants them to have a child, they will. When this method is chosen, family planning is simply prayer and trusting God with the results.

Sometimes this form of family planning is pushed as the only acceptable method. When that is insisted upon for all Christians, it seems to fall beyond the bounds of Scripture.

Level 2 - Natural Birth Control.

Natural methods include any method of contraception where pregnancy is prevented by abstaining from vaginal sexual intercourse on days when the wife is likely to be fertile. The most popular method is the calendar-rhythm method. This method is now replaced by the symptothermal method and the standard days method. Today there are even fertility computers that make these methods easier to use by telling a couple when sex will or won’t result in pregnancy. One common myth with this method is that a woman cannot become pregnant while nursing, while that is true for some women, it is not true for all women.

Level 3 - Non-Abortive Birth Control

Like the natural methods, non-abortive birth control methods also seek to influence the timing of conception but do so by taking either temporary or permanent measures.

Temporary non-abortive birth control methods are generally barrier methods. Barrier methods of contraception include all methods that permit intercourse but prevent the sperm and egg from coming together. Levels 1-3 are options for Christian couples without concern that they may terminate a fertilized egg and thereby take a human life.

Level 4 - Potentially Abortive Birth Control

“The pill” is a categorical term for more than forty types of oral contraceptives, which are also referred to as birth control pills. They contain a mixture of estrogen and progestin. These hormonal contraceptives are designed to override the female body’s normal cycle and trick the brain into believing a woman is already pregnant, thus preventing the release of the egg from the ovaries.

These pills perform three functions:
  1. They inhibit ovulation, which is the pills primary means of birth control.
  2. The pill also thickens the cervical mucus making it more difficult for the sperm to travel to the egg.
  3. The pill thins and shrivels the lining of the uterus so that it is less able to facilitate the implantation of the newly fertilized egg. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) reveals the endometrial lining of pill users is 58 percent thinner than nonusers.

Does any of this prevent a problem? The first two purposes of birth control pills are contraceptive in nature and are therefore acceptable for use by a Christian couple. The third function of birth control pills is potentially abortive in that it seeks to disrupt the ongoing life of a fertilized egg. This third, abortive, function of the pill is not clearly communicated by many of the companies producing the pill. Because of this abortive function, the use of the pill has becoming increasingly controversial for Christians.

For more information on this, see www.28daysonthepill.com

Level 5 - Abortive Murder

Abortion is taking a human life by killing a fertilized egg. This is also known as the sin of murder. Abortion includew medical procedures of various kinds as well as RU-486, also known as the morning after pill. Other items which cause abortions are the intrauterine device (IUD) which irritates the uterine lining so a fertilized egg can not plant into the uterine wall. Norplant is also another abortive method.

It may seem odd for me, as a Pastor, to discuss the type of birth control. Tragically many people, including Christians, use abortion as a form of birth control.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute is a nonprofit corporation for reproductive health research and policy analysis. The Institute is also a public education arm of Planned Parenthood. It reports that one in six women who have abortions claim to be evangelical Christians. Based on these statistics, 5.6 million women in our churches have chosen abortion as a way out of an unwanted pregnancy. Each year, 1.5 million American women have an abortion. This means 250,000 evangelical Christian women will choose to abort a child this year.

(This explanation is also presented in the book Real marriage: The truth about sex, friendship & life together by Mark and Grace Driscoll, pg. 194.)