Bible Answer

Is using birth control the same as abortion, in that we aren't letting God be in control?

Abortion concerns taking the life of an unborn child. Isn't the use of contraceptives just as bad? God opens the womb and closes the womb. So shouldn't we leave it up to Him to determine whether a child is concieved or not?

Because modern birth control options were not available during biblical times the Bible is rather silent on the matter. Therefore, we must be careful not to rush to conclusions. 

From the very beginning of time, God desired man and woman to bear children and raise them to acknowledge Him and His decrees:

GEN: 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
DUET. 11:18 “You shall therefore take these words of mine to heart and to soul; and you shall tie them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. 
DUET. 11:19 You shall also teach them to your sons, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.  

Looking to scripture we begin to understand the Lord sees children as a gift and blessing in life:  

PSALM 127:3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
PSALM 127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
PSALM 127:5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate., 

Continuing, the New Testament echos this same idea concerning bearing children:

1TIM. 5:14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, have children, manage their households, and give the enemy no opportunity for reproach;

Thus being said, when a husband and wife choose to move forward to build a family, this is good in the eyes of the Father, however, because of the silence concerning birth control methods, when a husband and wife decide to wait for a time using contraceptives (i.e. condoms, diaphragm, spermicides, IUD, the pill, the patch, vaginal ring) or permanently prevent further pregnancies (i.e. tubal ligation, vasectomy), therein lies freedom to choose what is best for their family and marriage circumstances.  

When we consult the Bible on the topic of liberty, we find strong warnings against a Christian denying another his or her liberty in Christ. Romans 14 is a key chapter of scripture to guide us in this matter:

ROM. 14:1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not to have quarrels over opinions. 
ROM. 14:2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but the one who is weak eats only vegetables. 
ROM. 14:3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 
ROM. 14:4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
ROM. 14:5 One person values one day over another, another values every day the same. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 
ROM. 14:6 The one who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and the one who eats, does so with regard to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and the one who does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat, and he gives thanks to God. 
ROM. 14:7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 
ROM. 14:8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 
ROM. 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

These verses teach the importance of allowing our brothers and sisters to hold different convictions about amoral matters. The word "amoral" refers to things that are neutral with respect to morality. Amoral matters are neither moral nor immoral by themselves; they have no inherent morality, and therefore they can be used for good or for evil purposes. Regarding amoral matters, we cannot establish absolute rules for Christian living that apply universally to all situations.

Further in Romans 14, Paul teaches that we should not use amoral issues (i.e., eating meat or drinking wine, etc.) to drive a wedge between members of the body of Christ. 

ROM. 14:13 Therefore let’s not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this: not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s or sister’s way. 
ROM. 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to the one who thinks something is unclean, to that person it is unclean. 
ROM. 14:15 For if because of food your brother or sister is hurt, you are no longer walking in accordance with love. Do not destroy with your choice of food that person for whom Christ died. 
ROM. 14:16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 
ROM. 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 
ROM. 14:18 For the one who serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and approved by other people. 
ROM. 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 
ROM. 14:20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the person who eats and causes offense. 
ROM. 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother or sister stumbles. 
ROM. 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is the one who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

Moreover, concerning the specific amoral practice of birth control, these choices fall into the realm of liberty. Each Christian has liberty to do as he or she feels led in these matters, and no Christian may stand in judgment over another Christian’s choices. There is no inherently right or wrong way regarding refraining from contraceptives or not, apart from our requirement to seek for godliness in everything we do as Paul directed:

PHIL. 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 

All Christians are expected to use good judgment in light of their circumstances, always following the leading of the Holy Spirit. If someone has a personal conviction to refrain from birth control methods, then follow those convictions, but don't expect all Christians to follow suit. Each Christian makes the right choice when they follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in accordance with scripture. 

Regardless of which path a believer chooses, the Lord’s will concerning all things will be done in the end. Obviously, there is a degree of mystery involved in reconciling these two principles in scripture. Somehow in the omniscience and omnipotence of God, our choices and decisions remain our own yet serve to accomplish God’s will in the end. Should God desire a husband and wife to have a child, regardless of taking contraceptives or not, a baby will come...

PROV. 16:9 The mind of a person plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Additionally, when taking on the responsibility of building a family it is always wise to start with prayer. Prayer moves us to align with God's will, not God to our will. As we pray we are giving the Lord opportunity to mold our hearts to fit the plan He has for us, and this is the most important outcome of prayer. 

Finally, consider this well-known Psalm:

PSA. 139:13  For You formed my inward parts; 
    You wove me in my mother’s womb.
PSA. 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
    Wonderful are Your works, 
    And my soul knows it very well.
PSA. 139:15 My frame was not hidden from You, 
    When I was made in secret, 
    And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
PSA. 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; 
    And in Your book were all written 
    The days that were ordained for me, 
    When as yet there was not one of them.

Who forms the infant who lives? Who wrote the life of each child in His book prior to birth? God is sovereign in all things, whether we try to prevent something or not. 

We suggest listening to our Sovereignty of God series on matters of the like.

If you would like to hear more of our teaching on Christian liberty from Paul's writing in the New Testament, we highly recommend you listen to our Colossians study and/or our First Corinthians study. Both offer a clear and compelling explanation of Christian liberty in a world of ungodly possibilities.