A gracEmail reader whose spouse, for financial reasons, does not want more children, is nevertheless hesitant to utilize birth control. “I feel disobedient to God’s command to increase and multiply,” this troubled person writes. “I feel like we are thwarting God’s purpose for sex. Have you any advice?”
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The command to increase and multiple occurs twice in Scripture. God so commands Adam and Eve after he creates them full-grown (Gen. 1:28), and he repeats the command to Noah and his three sons following the Flood (Gen. 9:1). In both cases, those addressed constituted the entire human race on this planet. No other human beings have ever faced that situation. I conclude that the command to multiply and to fill the earth was not intended for anyone else.
The Bible teaches that God gave married people sex, not only to make babies, but also for the sheer fun of it (Song of Solomon), to satisfy natural urges (1 Cor. 7:2), and to prevent fornication (1 Cor. 7:5). The idea that the only purpose of sex is procreation came later than the Bible, from philosophical reasoning.
I do not know any Scripture which suggests that birth control is evil, whether the so-called “rhythm method” of monthly timing to prevent contraception, the use of condoms or other mechanical devices, or surgery on either the man or the woman. Abstinence itself is a form of birth control, although, for married people, it is perhaps the least desirable (1 Cor. 7:5). In our day, unfortunately, abortion has become a method of birth control as well, although from a biblical standpoint it is more properly seen as infanticide.
There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with deciding either to have children, or to stop having children. It is very important to take care of the children one does have, and to bring them up in a godly home that teaches them to know and to reverence God, and which consistently attempts to model Christian attitudes and conduct (Deut. 6:6-9; Eph. 6:4).