Use of Contraceptives in Marriage

What’s your opinion about using birth control? We’re newly married and trying to make up our minds about the best way to approach contraception. But we’re getting mixed messages from friends, family, and doctors. One Christian couple we know believes that birth control of any kind is against God’s will.
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The question of birth control can be touchy and controversial, especially in the Christian community. Believers from different faith backgrounds come to different conclusions — and as a non-denominational family outreach we don’t feel it’s our place to force our opinions on anyone.

But we’re glad to offer some of the basic philosophical principles our ministry is based on and explain how these principles impact our views on contraception.

Focus on the Family holds that all human life is sacred, and that life begins with fertilization (the union of sperm and egg). We don’t believe that it’s wrong to prevent fertilization, but we oppose any method of so-called birth control that functions as an abortifacient (any method that acts after fertilization to end a human life by preventing implantation in the womb).

A closer look

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): They fall into the abortifacient category.

Barrier and timing methods: Some couples who want to avoid any concern about the abortifacient nature of certain contraceptives choose a barrier method (like condoms or diaphragms) or a timing method (sometimes referred to as Natural Family Planning). Either of these will require more planning and prep than other methods.

Vasectomy and tubal ligation: We leave these procedures to individual judgment. For obvious reasons, the Bible is silent on them. So we can only urge husbands and wives to seek the Lord’s guidance and accept His leadership.

We would point out, though, that there’s a strong chance that the effects of these procedures would be permanent since reversal isn’t always possible. This could concern Christian couples who feel strongly about the importance of staying “open to life.”

Birth control pills: In general, this is a complex category, partly because there are many different formulations of oral contraceptives. Some of them are believed to function as abortifacients on some occasions.

  • Oral contraceptives containing only progesterone: Right now, it appears that they don’t reliably prevent ovulation. (A similar mechanism of action may be at work in implantable contraceptive Nexplanon.) Progesterone-only pills might allow fertilization to occur, with a greater chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic (outside the uterus).If that’s the case, then those pills are problematic for people who believe that life begins at fertilization. For this reason, we don’t recommend their use.
  • Oral contraceptives containing both estrogen and progesterone: This type of birth control pill is the most commonly prescribed. They and Depo-Provera injections appear to work primarily by suppressing ovulation. Because of that, they can be considered true contraceptives since they prevent the union of sperm and egg.The majority of physicians we’ve consulted don’t believe that these pills or Depo-Provera have an abortifacient effect. However, a minority feel the possibility does exist and that women should be informed about it.

Bottom line

On the whole, contraception is an issue that should be approached with prayer and wise counsel from friends, parents, mentors, pastors, and trusted medical professionals. It’s important to make decisions in this area with as much information and insight into every aspect of the subject as possible.

Can we help? Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our licensed or pastoral counselors would be happy to discuss your questions and concerns. And they can give you referrals to marriage and family therapists in your area.

 

Resources
The First Five Years of Marriage: Launching a Lifelong, Successful Relationship

Articles and Position Statements
Birth Control Pills and Other Hormonal Contraception

Copyright © 2010, Focus on the Family. This information has been approved by the Physicians Resource Council of Focus on the Family.

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