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What does the Bible say about birth control?

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God created humans as male and female and considered His whole creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31 Genesis 1:31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
American King James Version×
). He planned for husbands and wives to be joined together and to become one flesh through sexual relations (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×
), and He calls the marriage bed “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4 Hebrews 13:4Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
American King James Version×

Children are a natural result of sexual intercourse between a husband and wife and are called “a gift from the Lord” (Psalms 127:3 Psalms 127:3See, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation). But the Bible does not restrict sex in marriage to be only for making babies. In fact, the Bible encourages husbands and wives to give pleasure to their mates.

Our Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension booklet points out: “The idea that sex was dirty and evil was an idea that crept into Christianity from early Catholic teachers. Their compromise with the obvious reality that sexual activity was necessary to have children resulted in their teaching that sex should only be engaged in by married couples when they wanted to have children. Yet there is no such instruction in the Bible.

Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×
says, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh [have sex].’ Proverbs 5:15-19 Proverbs 5:15-19 15 Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well. 16 Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17 Let them be only your own, and not strangers’ with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and be you ravished always with her love.
American King James Version×
encourages couples to enjoy sexual pleasure together within marriage. Paul says that husbands and wives should render the sexual affection due each other—refraining only during times set aside for prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 3 Let the husband render to the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife to the husband. 4 The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud you not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
American King James Version×

No passage in the Bible forbids husbands and wives from having sex for pleasure when not trying to conceive children. There is nothing wrong with couples using contraceptive methods, provided they are not physically harmful, to postpone having children until the time of their choosing.”

One passage often cited as prohibiting birth control is in Genesis 38. This sad story is one of selfishness and rebellion, but does not make a statement about birth control in general.

After Tamar’s husband Er died, her father-in-law Judah told his son Onan, “‘You must marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. Her first son from you will be your brother’s heir.’ But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep from having a baby who would belong to his brother” (Genesis 38:8-9 Genesis 38:8-9 8 And Judah said to Onan, Go in to your brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to your brother. 9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
American King James Version×
, NLT). Onan’s sin was rebellion and selfishness, not birth control.

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