Family Planning and Birth Control
Christians do not often discuss family planning and birth control. Many seem to be uncertain about the subject. What are Reformed Christians who want to live according to the Bible supposed to think of family planning and birth control?
Today one gets all kinds of mixed signals about family planning. The dominant attitude of modern North American society favours smaller families for economic and social reasons. Kids cost money and take time. Many people are also worried that the world is in danger of becoming overpopulated in the near future. Barring unforeseen catastrophe, it is predicted that the year 2100 will see 10 to 12 billion people on this planet. Because they are concerned about overpopulation, people are having fewer children. In 1966, 32 per cent of families in Canada had three or more children at home. By 1986, the figure had declined to only 14 percent.
Is Birth Control Christian?
Some who consider themselves Christian seem to have uncritically adopted a similar attitude. The biggest evangelical magazine in North America, Christianity Today, devoted its November 1991 issue to the question “Is birth control Christian?” Christianity Today conducted a poll and discovered that very few people who called themselves committed Christians had even thought about the moral implications of family planning. Their statistics revealed that there was little difference between evangelical Christians and non-Christians when it came to the use of birth control. It was surprising to see that 37 per cent of those Christians had even chosen sterilization.
Lately, however, a small but growing number of evangelical Christians are promoting the idea that any birth control at all goes against God's commands as expressed in the Bible. Mary Pride, the most prominent advocate of this stand, has written a number of books about the Christian family. In her book The Way Home, she says that the use of any form of birth control breaks God's commandment in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”
On the one hand, then, some Christians have uncritically adopted the view of society in general; they limit their families for social and financial reasons. On the other hand, however, there are Christians who strongly state that it is unbiblical to plan your family at all. They believe that we must let God plan our families and have children as God gives them. In between there are almost as many different opinions as there are couples. Some think that only natural means of birth control are acceptable. There may also be others who ask, why discuss this at all? The Bible does not give any clear prescriptions about family planning. Why not leave the subject alone for every couple to work out somehow for themselves?
Amidst all these differences of opinion, no doubt remains that Christians should definitely be open to discussion on the matters of family planning and birth control. Marriage is a big step in life which carries with it much responsibility, especially when it comes to having and raising covenant children. We must be willing to examine our lives continually to see if we are fulfilling our responsibilities in the light of the Bible. Being a Christian involves being a prophet, priest and king in all aspects of life. The issues surrounding family planning and birth control – whether we are to accept and use them, and if so, how and when – certainly require the specific attention of Reformed Christians.
I cannot emphasize enough how necessary it is that young people and especially young couples discuss this issue before marriage. You cannot assume that others think the same way you do about this. You need to discuss it with parents and officebearers, but especially with each other. For this issue involves your service in God's kingdom as future man and wife. A discussion of this important aspect of marriage beforehand can prevent much difficulty later on in your married life.
A Full Quiver
Let us begin with the question whether or not we, as Christians, are even allowed to plan our families. In their book A Full Quiver, Rick and Jan Hess, an American evangelical couple, make a case against absolutely any use of family planning or birth control. The book holds a certain appeal, since the Hesses make their point in a very frank and lively way. They seem to be sincerely struggling to be true to God's Word in a plain and down-to-earth manner. They are willing to put everything on the line for their faith. I question, however, whether their conclusions are scripturally wise.
They begin their book by pointing to the dominant cultural ethos of today. You hear almost daily, in the laundromat or at the job site or even in the pew behind you in church, such comments as these: “We've decided not to have any more children;” “We wish we would have waited longer before our second;” and “We're waiting until my husband is finished with school.” Rick and Jan Hess tell how they were married while Rick was still in graduate school, and decided not to have children until he was done with his studies. They did not discuss the matter in depth; instead they just did what everybody else seemed to be doing, without giving it much thought. After Rick's graduation, they had their first child. Then they felt confused and started to ask questions: should we have any more children? How should we space them? Finally the most important question also cropped up. Was it even their responsibility to decide on these things?
In their attempt to answer this last question, the Hesses do raise many good points. In the first chapter of their book, for instance, they show how, even among those who call themselves Christians, there is often a negative attitude towards children. They ask the reader to imagine a situation in which a young mother is seated on a bench in a shopping mall with five lively kids around her. You're tired yourself, and since there's no other place except beside her, you sit on the same bench. She smiles at you, and you feel you should say something. What is often said? What do you say?
(Pointing at the children and counting loudly) “One! Two! Three! Four! Five! They must sure keep you busy!”
“You must have your hands full!”
“What a big family! Are they ALL yours?”
“What lovely children! You must be very proud to have such a nice, large family!”
The first three are obviously the most common responses. Once the young mother has told you that they're all hers, how do you react?
“I'm sure glad it's you and not me!”
“How can you afford them all?”
“How many more do you plan to have?”
“That might be fine for you, but two is more than enough for me!”
“Five! Haven't you figured out what causes that? Haven't you heard of birth control? Or haven't you heard of overpopulation?”
“Don't you believe in family planning?”
“Five of your own! What a blessing!”
The Hesses make an excellent point here. Not only in the world, but also in the church, we often find negative attitudes towards children and large families. As fellow believers and as parents, we should be aware of this tendency. Some parents complain that their kids drive them up the wall and that they can't stand having them home all day on a holiday. Sometimes they make such negative statements right in front of or even to their kids. What message do we then convey to others or to our children? Certainly not that children are a blessing from the Lord. Let us be careful. Our children are really the Lord's covenant children; they belong to Him.
Where do Babies Come From?
The second chapter of. A Full Quiver is entitled “Where Do Babies Come From?” The Hesses present two possible answers to this question. Babies either come by chance from the random meeting of sperm and egg, or they come from the sovereign God who causes conception. Then the Hesses show from various texts throughout the Bible that the latter is the case. In Genesis 4:1 Eve confesses at the birth of Cain, her firstborn, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” In Genesis 20:17 and 18, after Abraham confesses to king Abimelech that his step-sister Sarah is also his wife, it follows,
Then Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.
In addition, Genesis 29:31 tells us, “When the LORD saw that Lea was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” The Hesses take these texts as evidence that children come from the Lord. They conclude that God causes and also prevents conception.
In the next chapter of their book, they concentrate on Psalms 127 and 128, which describe children as rewards and as gifts of the LORD. “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them!” (Psalm 128:5). (From this last text the Hesses derive the title of their book.) These Psalms show that children are to be seen as blessings from the Lord. The Hesses go on to argue that we may not prevent the Lord from giving us blessings. People who use means of birth control to prevent the conception and birth of children are actually preventing the Lord from giving them blessings! They belong, according to the Hesses, to the imaginary tribe of the A-blessites, a tribe which does not want blessings. Christians should not belong to this tribe. Let God give you His blessings, the Hesses say. Let Him plan your family.
The Hesses are realistic enough to realize that their approach brings on a host of questions. They list what they call “The Infamous 20 Questions.” These questions are thought-provoking. The first infamous question, for example, asks, “Shouldn't I practice birth control due to overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, and food shortage?” The Hesses respond by proving with all kinds of statistics that the world is far from being overpopulated. If you gave every person in the world 1,000 square feet of space, you could fit the whole population of the earth – all four and a half billion – in the states of Nebraska and Kansas. The rest of the land on earth (all 99.7 per cent of it) could be used for food production, amusement parks or whatever you like.
Infamous question number three is: “Do you know how much it costs to raise a child nowadays?” The Hesses simply answer that no father is the sole provider for his family. God promises to provide. That is why we pray every day as Christ taught us, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Besides, to raise a child till he is 18 and to care for that person after retirement costs on average about $200,000. But such a person, during his working life, produces on average more than $2,000,000 worth of goods and services. Ultimately there is no cost, but rather gain to society.
One more infamous question, question four: “I go crazy with the kids I have now! You don't know what it'll do to me to have … who knows how many more?” The Hesses respond by stating that they, as parents of nine kids, found that the toughest number of kids to handle was two. With more than two children, you start to become more organized and less fussy. Kids also have the tendency to care for each other. In addition, scriptural discipline is a must for any large family. Finally, we should not forget that God promises grace to help in time of need.
The Hesses want to make the point that none of the arguments brought against leaving family planning up to the Lord has any substance. In fact, they say, Christians have every reason to desire large families. They play with statistics and show how much a church would grow in three generations if every couple had eight children. You start off with forty couples, and in three generations you end up with about 12,890 people! Evangelicals are often so busy with church growth from the outside, the Hesses point out, that they forget that the greatest growth could come from the inside! Imagine, if all the Christian churches grew at a similar rate, what an impact they would have on a society in which the non-Christian birthrate is always declining. The Hesses envision newspaper headlines such as these: “NFL Owners Opt for Saturday Games: Players Need Time for Church and Family on Sundays”; or “GM Unveils New Nine-Passenger Corvette”!
People who are afraid to give up control of their family size to the Lord are, according to the Hesses, showing a lack of faith. They state in chapter 7 of their book,
We know couples who have read this book or with whom we've discussed these issues and they have no arguments or questions. They simply do not trust God. They may opt to be moderately fruitful and add instead of multiply. They choose to fill perhaps one or two bedrooms of their home rather than the world. We just try to encourage and pray for them, remembering that once that was exactly our state.
In spite of all the good and interesting ideas which Rick and Jan Hess present in their book, I do have serious problems with their viewpoint and supporting arguments. I believe that they went wrong in the second chapter of their book, which had the title, “Where Do Babies Come From?” The Hesses suggested only two possibilities: either babies are conceived by chance or conception is the gift of God. On this basis they reason as follows. Since Christians believe the Bible, which tells us that God gives conception, that children are a blessing from Him, and that He commands us to multiply and fill the earth, therefore family planning is wrong. We must let God plan our families and bless us as He sees fit.
I am afraid that this kind of reasoning does not work. We see here the danger of using the Bible selectively. It is true, according to Psalms 127 and 128, that children are a blessing from the LORD. But also listen to what Psalm 104:14 says.
Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth.
The Bible tells us that food also is a blessing provided by God. Nevertheless, in order to receive and enjoy food, man – including the believers – must work. “If any one will not work, let him not eat,” Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 3:10. If there is no sowing, there will also be no reaping. The Lord could easily make grain grow where none has been planted. But He has so ordained it that man must normally work for his food. Man toils, God blesses and so there is food. Since God has ordained us to receive food in this way, we would be wrong not to take the responsibility on ourselves to work.
Similarly we are to exercise responsibility with regard to the birth of children. It has pleased God to use human involvement to bring about the procreation of the human race. He is able to work wonders in human procreation. Think of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. The greatest wonder of all occurred when He caused His Son to be conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Normally, however, children are conceived and born as a result of the sexual relations between a man and his wife. Therefore Eve says, in Genesis 4:1, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” Certainly babies come from God, as Psalm 139 so clearly describes, but they also come from the activity of a man and a woman.
Rick and Jan Hess absolve husband and wife of all responsibility in procreation. They never even mention that any such responsibility exists. In fact, they suggest that it is most responsible to avoid taking responsibility for sexual activity, by leaving it up to God to plan your family. One wonders what they would say about children conceived and born out of wedlock. Would they consider a man and woman who have a child out of wedlock to be responsible for its conception and birth? Or would it be God's fault that the child was conceived?
My conclusion is that the Hesses are wrong to say that we may not be involved in family planning. They say that even though it is difficult to leave family planning up to the Lord, because of the fear of having too many children, nevertheless this is the path Christians should take. I believe, however, that it is much more difficult for a couple to plan a family in a way that is responsible to God, to each other and to their children.
Be Fruitful and Multiply…
In the “Form for the Solemnization of Marriage” in the Book of Praise, used in the Canadian Reformed Churches, two purposes of marriage are mentioned.
The Word of God also teaches us about the purpose of marriage. First, husband and wife shall live together in sincere love and holiness, helping each other faithfully in all things that belong to this life and to the life to come. Second, by marriage the human race is to be continued and increased, and under the blessing of God, husband and wife shall be fruitful and multiply. If it pleases God to give them children, they shall nurture these children in the true knowledge and fear of the Lord (Book of Praise, p. 636).
Some people appear to have trouble accepting that second purpose of marriage. According to the form, it is based on Genesis 1:28 where God says to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Writing in the November 1991 issue of Christianity Today, the theologian Dr. C. VanLeeuwen of Calvin College in Grand Rapids attempts to remove Genesis 1:28 as the basis for a God-given purpose for marriage.
In his article entitled “Breeding Stock or Lords of Creation,” VanLeeuwen states that the words “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” are not a command at all, but a blessing pronounced on man by God. In other words, God says that people will multiply on the earth, but He does not command them to do so. VanLeeuwen therefore concludes that not every couple needs to think about having children in their marriage. He would allow for much freedom in family planning. At the end of his article, he writes,
Within the appropriate boundaries God has set for sex, there is much room for responsible Christian freedom, for what God has made is very good indeed.
I am afraid that this is just a weak attempt to justify certain situations where Christians have chosen for childlessness. It would appear to me that there is no real basis for interpreting Genesis 1:28 in any other way than as a mandate. To take away the imperative force of this passage would be an example of what is known as “accommodating theology”: that is, altering one's Bible interpretation to fit one's life, instead of altering one's life to fit the plain message of the Bible. Genesis 1:28 should remain the basis for the second purpose of marriage. A childless marriage is not an unsuccessful marriage, for the first purpose still stands. Husband and wife are to live together in true love and holiness, helping each other faithfully in all things that belong to this life and the life to come. But in the light of Genesis 1:28 it is a command of God that couples who marry wish or intend to have children. Even if they know beforehand that they cannot have children, the desire should still be present. Children are to be seen as a blessing from the Lord to believers.
Some may point to the fact that Genesis 1:28 stands in the context of the Old Testament and therefore believe that this mandate might somehow now be weakened. But the New Testament also presents the same mandate. For instance, in 1 Timothy 5:14 the apostle Paul writes,
So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, rule their households, and give the enemy no occasion to revile us.
One of the two purposes of marriage is then to have children, and every couple that plans to marry should intend to have children. It follows therefore that a couple would be wrong to marry and decide to wait before trying to have children until one or both are finished their schooling or until they have saved up enough money to buy a house. Marriage and having children belong together. Whoever marries should be prepared to take on responsibility for children, or else wait with marriage and make preparations first. In Proverbs 24:27 it says, “Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for you in the field; and after that build your house.” The implication of this text for marriage is that you must get the necessary aspects such as career and finances in order before you start a family.
But what about the spacing and number of children? Are we to strive for a biological maximum? We have already seen in the first part of this article that the Hesses' decision to leave all planning up to the Lord is not biblically correct. They forget that we are involved in the conception of children in a real way, just as a farmer is involved in working for the crops, even though crops are blessings given by the Lord too. It is true that Genesis 1:28 is a command to be fruitful and multiply and that in Psalms 127 and 128 children are called a blessing from the Lord. But these are not all the texts in the Bible connected with having children. There are numerous passages in the Bible that together give us direction.
In Genesis 3:16 the LORD God says to Eve, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” Keeping this result of the fall of mankind in mind, I believe that there can be occasions when a woman physically cannot handle short spacing between children and maybe should have no more children at all. There may also be psychological reasons; for instance, post-partum depression can become very serious.
It is good, however, to listen to what the Hesses say in their book A Full Quiver. They respond to infamous question 10, “My doctor told me not to have any more children. Shouldn't I do what he says?” in this way,
The white-coated words, “I'm sorry, but you had better not have any more children due to possible health risks,” may be greeted with inner joy – almost bliss! No more 2 a.m. wake-up calls; no more diapers; no more bottles; no more maternal measurements of planetary proportions; no more blessings! We may cover up our glee with a sober face and intone something like, “Oh, that's too bad …”
The Hesses then warn that not every doctor is to be believed. In general, doctors are trained to encourage small families and are quick to discourage larger families. I also believe that it goes without saying that we have the wrong attitude if we greet those words of a doctor with inner glee. We should maintain an attitude determined by Scripture, that children are a blessing from the Lord, and blessed is the couple whose quiver is full of them.
The Bible contains yet another text that says something about family planning. In the Mosaic law we see that the Lord Himself sets controls on the spacing and on the number of children an Israelite couple could conceive. In Leviticus 12 the Lord specifies that a woman who gave birth to a male child was unclean for 40 days, and a woman who gave birth to a female child was unclean for 80 days. In those times of uncleanness a woman's husband was not allowed to have sexual relations with her. Obviously, this meant that a couple would not have another child within a year after the birth of the last. Although the real purpose of this Old Testament law was neither the limitation of the number of children nor increased spacing between births, these were its divinely ordained results. We may therefore say that God does not demand a biological maximum number of children from His people.
It could indeed be that there are no reasons at all for husband and wife to put much room between successive children. They do not delay conception in any artificial way and before too long the wife is expecting again. That is the ideal situation in the light of Genesis 1:28 and Psalms 127 and 128. But it could also happen that they need to wait before having another child. They must discuss this together honestly and prayerfully. Not all parents have the gifts to cope with a couple of small ones who still need a lot of attention. Normally a couple has about 25 years in which they are able to bear children. It is our task to use that time as wisely and as responsibly as we can with what we know. In the same way as one would organize one's time in other things, so one may also organize the child-bearing years. We must always keep in mind, however, that children are a blessing from the Lord, and it is He who ultimately gives them to us.
If the decision has been humbly and prayerfully made that time is needed for the mother to recover or to manage the household and to keep the children under discipline, then the question arises, what method of birth control should we use? In this case, taking responsibility means firstly using self-control. In Galatians 5:22 self-control is mentioned as a Christian virtue. It must always be exercised in the sexual aspect of marriage, otherwise the relationship degenerates into a using of the other. One can start family planning by abstaining from sexual relations at certain times. The so-called “natural” methods of birth control (calendar method, temperature method and Billings method) all require some measure of self-control, since for these methods to work sexual relations are only possible at certain times of the month. These methods are well worth looking into for the couple contemplating the use of birth control, since they do not introduce any chemicals into the body and also promote self-control.
It could very well happen, however, that couples find the natural methods too difficult to maintain, or that these methods simply do not work for them. Then there are also what are sometimes called artificial methods of birth control (condoms, birth control pills, diaphragms and spermicides). It could hardly be maintained that the “natural” way is the only method that Christians should use. Would it be “unnatural” for childless couples to take some form of medication to enhance fertility? It would hardly seem so. How can “artificial” methods of birth control then be considered wrong in themselves? The point is not the method, as long as the method is non-abortive; that is, it does not work by destroying fertilized eggs. Rather we must consider the attitude with which any method is used. The “natural” methods could then be wrong to use if husband and wife have the attitude that there is no time for children. On the other hand, an “artificial” means could be the right approach to use with the attitude that children are desired, but should not be conceived for obvious medical reasons. A couple needs to agree that they are and how they are now going to practice birth control. Making this decision requires discussion and prayer. There is nothing wrong with confiding with close friends or parents or with an officebearer. Husband and wife also need to do research to determine which kind of birth control they are going to use.
I must add that there are no 100 per cent failproof methods of birth control. But for a couple who believe that children are a blessing from the Lord, and who approach this whole matter with prayer, there are no so-called “accidents”- children who are born unexpectedly and who are not desired. It happens that even with birth control a child is conceived. But if the attitude is right, such a child will be welcomed too, and not be resented as an unwanted accident. Sometimes the Lord reminds us that although we have some control, we do not have total control. If we believe from the heart that He is ultimately in control, we will also accept unplanned children as blessings out of His hand. Once you start to think about and to practice birth control, it is easy to lose sight of the scriptural, positive view of children. You need to work at it and to pray that you maintain that positive attitude. After all, the children you receive are always the Lord's children and He wants His church built in the first place from within.
The Wrong Attitude
Today there is a very real danger of adopting the wrong attitude. Some couples completely lack any initiative to build the church. They are only interested in building their own cozy home, in which they have room for only two kids. They never ask themselves whether there could be or should be more. They just don't want any more children. They decided on that beforehand, and nobody is supposed to question their decision, especially not the officebearers. They're not doing anything wrong, are they? They faithfully attend church every Sunday. They had their kids properly baptized and they make their regular contributions to the church. The only reasons given for their decision to have two children are that they wanted to give them a proper upbringing, and they wanted to enjoy some of life's pleasures too. Nothing wrong with that, is there? They have the right to decide for themselves, don't they?
This kind of approach betrays much more than simply a negative attitude towards children. Something is also seriously wrong with such a couple's attitude towards the Lord and towards His church. The problem is not the number of children they have. There are indeed situations in which couples cannot have more than two children. The problem is that they are not interested in serving the Lord and His church. Their life revolves around themselves, and they only pay lip service to the Lord and to the communion of saints. They live for themselves and not in the covenant with the Lord. They pray, “Thy kingdom come,” which means, as we confess in the catechism, “Preserve and increase Thy church.” But they no longer mean what they pray. Their faith is about to suffer or has already suffered shipwreck.
On the other hand, it is irresponsible simply to say, “We'll take it as it comes. The Lord will provide. Our forefathers lived in that kind of faith, without any family planning. We can too.” Let us not idealize the past. There was also much suffering and misery in the olden days, with which we are not required to burden ourselves today. Let us watch out that we do not try to avoid all responsibility. That can also be an easy way out.
No More Children?
The question remains whether there comes a time when a couple can say, “That's it. No more.” In their book, A Full Quiver, Rick and Jan Hess say no; we must leave it up to the Lord to decide when He stops giving children. But Dr. S.J. Grenz, professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver and author of the book Sexual Ethics, sees it as a very real possibility that a couple can themselves make this decision. In the November 1991 issue of Christianity Today he writes,
Can a Christian couple, then, elect to remain childless? The change in the role of the family in God's purposes that came with the new covenant suggests that under certain, limited circumstances the answer is yes.
Grenz feels that a couple may come to the conclusion that they can better serve the Lord in marriage without children at all.
But I wonder what change came in the role of the family in God's purposes with the new covenant. We believe in the unity of the covenant, and that the promise is to believers and their children just as it was to Abraham and his descendants in the old covenant. I fail to see how anything basically changed in God's purposes as far as the specific role of the family is concerned. The command to multiply and fill the earth in the context of the family would appear to remain the same. I therefore disagree with Grenz and those who say that a couple can decide to remain childless for other than specific and weighty health reasons.
To have children, we have seen, is one of the purposes of marriage which a couple accepts when they decide to get married. Therefore I also believe that there can never be a point at which a couple may say, “We don't want any children at all anymore.” Such a statement betrays a wrong attitude. They fail to see that their marriage, according to Genesis 1:28, still has that purpose as long as they are able to have children. We are not to have as many children as we can without a thought to whether we are able to raise them and manage them. But while there is still the possibility to have children, you should never rule out that your situation may become such that you are able to have more children.
I therefore do not see sterilization as a real option for Christian couples. The purpose of marriage should always be upheld in principle, also by couples who are infertile. Even at marriages of couples in their sixties or seventies the whole form for marriage is read, including the second purpose: be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Who knows whether a couple past child-bearing age will not for instance adopt a child? In the case of a couple who decide not to have any more children and therefore resort to sterilization of either the husband or wife, what happens if their children are suddenly killed in an accident? What if a man becomes a widower, and later marries again? What if he or his spouse-to-be (or both) have opted for sterilization in the past? Could they make their marriage vows just like that, without coming to terms with the fact that they themselves have taken away the possibility of living up to that second purpose of marriage?
Only in very serious cases of severe health problems or psychological problems may a couple decide not to have any more children. For instance, a woman's internal organs may be in such poor condition that another pregnancy would cause severe problems; or the husband could develop a major disorder like schizophrenia. It could be that in such a case a couple then say, “We can't responsibly have more children at this time.” But they should maintain the attitude that they see children as a blessing and they would like to have more. It is possible that a cure could be found for the disorder that prevented them from having more children in the first place. For this reason I would advise that they do everything else that is possible and use correct birth control before I would ever recommend sterilization. Sterilization involves assuming more control than you really should have. Who knows what may happen in the future? Maybe God will make it possible for additional children to be born. What a joy it would then be for a faithful Christian couple to receive children with thankfulness to the Lord and giver of life!
Communication and Prayer
We must always remember that there are no rules that apply to everybody except that this subject must be approached in faith, with much prayer and discussion. Clearly communication is an important factor in a marriage. Couples need to talk these things over in faith as people who want to serve their Lord as much as they are able, according to His Word. Some may be blessed with the means and strength to have many children. Others, because of physical or other serious problems, may not. But first there must be faith in the Lord, and the desire to serve Him. That's where one needs to start.
The main principle to keep in mind is this one: when a couple is going to practice any birth control at all, their attitude should never be “We don't WANT another child,” but “We CAN'T have another child.” The first statement is a denial of their agreement to the marriage form which says that the purpose of marriage is to have children. The second statement maintains that purpose in marriage. When couples discuss anything to do with family planning together, and make any decisions about these things at any time in their marriage, it must be done prayerfully, responsibly and scripturally. Only in this way can they stand before the Lord who sees their hearts and motives.