WHY WE LET GOD PLAN OUR FAMILY
As our family has grown, many ask my wife and I about our views regarding family planning and specifically the practice of birth control. The following is what I feel to be a Biblical view of family planning.
I need to qualify this writing with the fact that when we endeavor to discern whether a particular practice (ie. Birth control, sterilization) is Biblical, it is certainly not to condemn those who have already partaken in such a practice.
Instead, we search the Scriptures to discern what God has to say about all areas of life so we can make an informed decision for the present and the future.
This writing is also meant for believers - I would not expect someone who does not believe in the God of the Bible to be particularly concerned or in tune with what the Bible has to say on this or most other subjects for that matter.
As baby Christians, my wife, Allison, and I practiced birth control (primarily‘the pill’) for the first five years of our marriage until we decided to trust God for our first child. Even that was a big step for me at that time. I was afraid for my life to change so drastically and had doubts about whether I was ready to become a father.
Once we had our first child, our son Max, we felt convicted to never practice birth control again. And God melted away my fears about becoming a father the day Max was born. It was the role I was ordained to step in. How foolish I had been.
Our second child was Madison. For much of this pregnancy (approximately eight weeks!), my wife Allison was on bed rest. She had to take medication which kept the baby from being prematurely delivered.
We had to move in with friends who took care of Allison and Max while I was at work. It was a difficult time. Money was very tight but God provided.
The delivery of baby Madison was a harrowing experience. After two days of inducement, the baby came suddenly and shredded the placenta. She lost a significant amount of blood and had to be rushed into emergency surgery to save her life. Madison was put in intensive care for a few weeks and would not nurse.
A year later we found out that Madison has a genetic disorder which calls for special lifelong care and attention. It also explained the abnormal pregnancy and delivery. In any case, we felt very blessed that God would entrust such a delicate one to us.
After this, family and friends, as well as some doctors would often say, “You’re not having another one, are you?” Or “What if it happens again?” We decided to put it in God’s hands, and He brought wonderful Margaret to us.
Then God brought beautiful Emma and Olivia to us. Now we have our Teddy (who really is a bear of a boy!). As of this writing, we are expecting another baby.
The Point of No Return
At a certain point, I think it was around the time when we had three children and Allison was pregnant with Emma (our 4th child), we had to really make up our minds about having more children. It was getting a little scary. It also seemed difficult (at the time).
We had heard some messages from people in far off ministries regarding letting God plan your family size. It was a foreign concept to us. None of the churches we had ever attended had ever preached this or even approached the subject at all.
So we decided to search the Scriptures and see what God’s Word has to say about birth control. I had always heard that the Bible was ‘silent’ on this issue. We found that to be totally false. In fact, the answer I found wasn’t really what I was looking for at the time.
The Bible and Birth Control
“Lo, children are an heritage from the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5)
If God tells us children are a blessing from Him, why would we ever purposefully reject such a blessing? Perhaps fear, selfishness and the wisdom of this world. Perhaps wanting only the pleasure, but not the hard work of raising children.
Do these reasons sound Biblical? Let’s just take God at His word and walk in faith. Isn’t that what it really it comes down to? Whether we trust God at His word or not?
Remember, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). That is how we are able to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). Our faith comes from what God says, not our own particular feelings at any given time. We are to walk in what God says is true.
Babies are a blessing among God’s people throughout the Bible (especially when God multiplies them), particularly when God opens the barren womb. God curses some people with a barren womb (note: I am not saying that anyone with a barren womb is cursed – that is just how God chose to curse some people).
Why then would a husband curse his wife, or a wife curse herself, by artificially sealing up her womb? Is that walking by faith? Shouldn’t we trust God to open and close the womb?
He may give you one child, three or seven. Or it may be God’s will that you have none – perhaps then He may lead you to adopt or some other path.
The point is, aren’t we to trust all areas of our life to Him? Should we say, “Oh, God, I give myself to you, all that I am, all that I have is yours – but just don’t tell me how many children to have.”
Remember, it is God who designed our bodies to reproduce. We aren’t “fixing” them when we prevent them from reproducing, we are breaking them.
God tells us to do the opposite, to be fruitful and multiply. Just in case the reader is wondering, His command comes forth before and after the fall.
Overpopulation: Usually it is unbelievers who subscribe to this line of reasoning. They are still under the Malthusian delusion that the world is going to be overrun with overpopulation. While this was the prediction several decades ago, the opposite actually occurred.
Too difficult financially: So are many things, like having Mom stay at home with the children, instead of paying a stranger $8 to $12 an hour to raise your children so the family can have a dual income.
The Hebrews had children in captivity while they were slaves in Egypt and became so numerous that the Egyptians became afraid of them. I think that even the poorest of us are in a better position to have children than slaves, financially or otherwise.
Some say that God gives us wisdom to make these choices individually. But remember, the Lord says, “My ways are not your ways.”
Proof: Many couples are in complete disagreement over this. I see this all the time. One wants to still have children and the other says, “No way, we’re done.” The “one flesh” is in disagreement because one feels compelled to yield to God and the other does not.
Now looking back (and enjoying the present), we are very blessed by each one of our children and cannot imagine the thought of having prevented one of them from being born.
Your children will only be young for a very short time and, God willing, you may avoid the empty nest syndrome as your grandchildren come around the time your youngest is growing up.
We trust God with our salvation, our justification, our sanctification, our very lives. Why not trust Him with sending as many (or few) children as He desires?
In closing, after we made the decision to trust God in this area, we found God’s Word to be true. We are rewarded, happy, and blessed by our children – even more so as God continues to fill our quiver.
JJ. AND ALLISON GOBBELL
Santa Barbara, California, USA