Christian couples are pulled in different directions by people, movements, and circumstances on the issue of whether to have children. Some believe that no birth control should be used, whereas others maintain that a couple may properly choose never to have children at all. Most stand somewhere in the middle.
Christians in all ages have generally practiced some form of birth control, whether through medical devices or by more natural means, such as restricting intercourse to certain periods of the month or through coitus interruptus. Though the Roman Catholic church declared birth control a violation of natural law. And most Protestants have considered some forms of birth control morally acceptable.
Contraceptive devices were known and used in the pre-Christian Mediterranean world. For example, five different Egyptian papyri, dating between 1900 and 1100 B.C., have recipes for contraceptive concoctions to be used in the vulva. Other papyri describe preparations aimed at blocking or killing semen. But in Old Testament times various social phenomena gave rise to the desire for larger families and may have led to a repudiation of birth control.
The Bible nowhere forbids birth control, either explicitly or implicitly, and we should not add universal rules that are not in Scripture (cf. Psalm 119:1, 9 on the sufficiency of Scripture). What is important is our attitude in using it. Any attitude which fails to see that children are a good gift from the Lord is wrong: “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-4).
Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were permitted under Roman law at the time of Jesus. Surprisingly, abortion is never mentioned in the Bible, despite the fact that it has been practiced since ancient times by a variety of means. Bible gives clear and direct guidance on many other topics, but abortion is never specifically mentioned in the Bible. Some Bible passages may well give insight into the issues involved, but there is no general agreement about their interpretation.
Prior to 1973, abortion was legal in some of the 50 states of the U.S., usually with restrictions. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court, ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, the states are still allowed to regulate abortion during the second trimester and prohibit it during the third trimester. Since that time, abortion has become one of the most controversial and divisive issues within society.
The men in the ancient society differed from Christians today in that they sought “social immortality”; i.e. preservation of their memory upon earth through their offspring. Christians, on the other hand, see “individual immortality”; i.e., the hope of life after death.
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