Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 16, 1970
NUMBER 10, PAGE 6,7b

Is Birth Control Sinful?

Larry R. Devore

This matter has received considerable attention in recent days in the various news media, and also many Christians are concerned about it. The Roman Catholic Church is the champion defender of "no artificial means" of birth-control, and the Pope and his hierarchy are a subject of controversy in the secular press, radio, and TV. However, people who love God's Word and want to be guided by its precepts are not so concerned with Roman Catholic Church Law but rather "What saith the Scriptures?"

The main passage I know of which bears on this subject, and upon which many arguments are predicated is Gen. 1:23, which reads, "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." KJV Now what is the proper application of this verse? "God said unto them. . ." Who? Adam and Eve. As there were no other persons on earth, it was commanded of God that Adam and Eve should reproduce so that mankind might continue and the earth be filled with people. In a general sense, this passage continues to be fulfilled today every time a woman bears a child. There is absolutely nothing in this verse that requires your wife or my wife to do it all! We should also notice that there is more required in this verse than just the reproduction of children. The command was given not only to "replenish the earth..." but also they were to "subdue it..." and to be in control, to "have dominion" over all living species on the earth. These are to be subordinate to man. If we force this verse into the new covenant and apply it to Christians regarding birth-control, then let's take it all! It will be necessary for you and your wife to subdue all the earth. Looks like a big job. Better get started pronto! But wait a minute, someone says, the early patriarchs and their families fulfilled this. That's exactly right! It was their task, given them by God, to insure the continuity and stability of the human race, and to "subdue" the animals. For example, domesticating various animals for man's use, such as; cattle, horses, camels, oxen, sheep, dogs, chickens, etc. We take this verse altogether out of context to apply it to birth-control in Christian families today. In such passages as Gen. 4:16-26 we can see this being fulfilled, and the "beginnings of civilization," being established. H. C. Loupold speaks of this in his commentary on Gen. Vol. 1, page 214-228.

Purpose Of Marriage

Much of the misunderstanding that has arisen over this subject is due to a lack of understanding what the purposes of marriage are. An important purpose of marriage is for procreation, but this is not the only purpose. See Gen. 1:28; I Tim. 2:15. Another important purpose is for the fulfillment of natural, God-given sexual drives. For every appetite or desire that God has endowed man with, God has also given him a lawful (legally, morally, scripturally) means or way of satisfying such. The apostle Paul said that one purpose of marriage was to avoid unlawful sexual relationships. "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." I Cor. 7:2. It is neither wrong nor sinful for men and women to satisfy their God-given sexual desires within the bonds of marriage. "Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled...." Heb. 13:4. Having established that marriage as taught in the Scriptures has multiple-purposes (love, companionship, procreation, etc.) it ought to be evident that the Scriptures neither prohibit nor teach against limiting the size of one's family, nor do the Scriptures limit the methods that may be employed.


In my judgment, the so-called "rhythm method" seems to be the most inadvisable in the light of Paul's teaching in I Cor. 7:5. Husbands and wives are to submit to one another in all marital duties and relationships. I Cor. 7:4. Paul said the only reason for depriving one another of such relationships was not to limit the size of family (abstaining during wife's fertile days) but by mutual consent for a season of fasting and prayer, and then coming together again, before either husband or wife is lead into temptation. Actually, the "method or methods" employed are a matter of personal preference and/or possible medical reasons.

We also ought to consider that we are responsible for raising up whatever number of children we bring into the world. I Tim. 5:8. To fail to provide for our family makes us worse "than an infidel." Also, there is the possibility of the mother's health being broken by bearing too many children. All these things need to be taken into consideration. For a more comprehensive study of this subject, see the article by brother James P. Needham in Apostolic Doctrine, Vol. 8, No. 7, Page 106-109. Credit is here given to him for some thoughts in this article.

It has been my aim in this brief article to help someone study this subject on a Biblical basis, and in all things to rightly divide the word of the Lord. Whether or not I have succeeded let the reader judge for himself.

— P. O. Box 5, New Carlisle, Ohio 45355