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Is it Wrong to Use Birth Control?

A look at the moral arguments surrounding the use of birth control.

Page Summary:

Among Christians, there is significant debate over the ethics of birth control. The Catholic church formally opposes all forms of artificial birth control. Most Protestants only The first question relates to mechanics. Could certain birth control methods actually cause an abortion? The second question

There are two basic types of birth control, those that prevent sperm from fertilizing a woman's egg and those that prevent the already fertilized zygote from implanting in the uterus. The first method, in preventing fertilization, keeps a new human being from coming into existence. The second method, in ending the life of an already developing human being, is actually an abortifacient. It makes the lining of the uterus hostile to the newly formed life, prevents the zygote from implanting and forces the death of this tiny human being. Birth control methods which perform as abortifacients are doing the same thing earlier in pregnancy that medical and surgical abortions do later in pregnancy. They kill an innocent human being. For this reason they are unjust and should not be used.

There is, of course, another aspect to the birth control question, one that is more spiritual than medical. It could be phrased more appropriately, "Is it wrong for Christians to use birth control? Is it wrong for married Christians to "play God" in actively preventing a conception that may have otherwise occurred? (We say "married Christians" because sexually active Christians who are not married are in sin independent of the birth control issue - Ephesians 5:3).

The Catholic Church opposes all forms of artificial birth control on the premise that it, "is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence." The arguments for such convictions are presented on the Catholic.com website. The Catholic Church does not oppose abstinence-based efforts such as Natural Family Planning (NFP) to avoid pregnancy and regulate family size. The following can be found on the USCCB website:

NFP is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.

Most Protestants do not oppose non-abortive forms of birth control, and do not feel their use is an attempt to usurp Gods' authority. One defense of this position can be found on the Desiring God website. The following comes from their article "Does the Bible Permit Birth Control?" :

...if one concludes that it is wrong to seek to regulate the timing and size of a family, then it would have to be concluded that natural family planning is just as wrong as "artificial" means. But if one concludes that it is appropriate to steward the timing and size of one's family, then what makes "artificial" means wrong but natural family planning right? Surely it is not because God is "more free" to overrule our plans with natural family planning! Perhaps some have concluded that artificial forms are wrong because they allow one more fully to separate intercourse from the possibility of procreation. But if it is wrong to have intercourse without a significant possibility of procreation, then it would also be wrong to have intercourse during pregnancy or after a woman is past her childbearing years. There is no reason to conclude that natural family planning is appropriate but that "artificial" means are not.

Abort73 does not take an official position on the ethics of non-abortive forms of birth control. We do, however, encourage Christians to carefully and prayerfully evaluate the merits of both positions. These are not decisions to be made lightly.

This page was last updated on October 11, 2011. To cite this page in a research paper, visit: "Citing Abort73 as a Source."

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