Earlier this week, I received an Instagram message from a sweet blog reader asking if I would be open to a topic suggestion for a future article. I was so excited to read this, as my whole purpose behind this blog is to seek to serve and encourage you ladies in whatever way I can (so, yes-that means that if any of you have a topic suggestion, too, I am all ears! 🙂 ). So, I told this reader absolutely, and she replied by saying that there was something she had been struggling with and would appreciate hearing my opinion on. She has given me permission to post her full question here, and I hope that it, along with my response, proves to be a blessing both to the dear lady who asked the original question and to you, as well, should you find yourself in the same situation.
“I have been taking birth control pills for a couple years now, but over the past few months I have been feeling very convicted in my heart that it is not a good thing to be doing. When we first got married, we planned to wait a couple years and then start a family. Now my husband wants to wait a few more years and wants me to continue birth control. We both believe a woman’s place is at home, serving her family and the Lord, but based on research I’ve done, and what I’ve read from God’s Word, I believe that for me personally, birth control is wrong. My desire is to be a mommy, my heart longs for children. I am seriously struggling with discontentment and I ache with the desire to have a baby in my arms. I am struggling to know if I should continue taking the pills, as my husband basically demands I should, or if I should do what I feel God is leading me to do (stop taking the pills). It’s a matter of respecting my husband, but at the same time, God has more authority over me and I have my personal convictions. I don’t know what to do!!”
Oh, sweet reader, my heart goes out to you! My heart aches for how this situation must make you feel-that you are being torn, almost, between your husband and your Heavenly Father. That must be such a hard place to be in, and I want you to know that I will be praying for you!!
Also, before I get into my thoughts on your question, please know that I am not telling you what you must do. I am just sharing my thoughts with you, in the hopes that they might prove helpful. First and foremost (and I’m sure you probably have), seek the Lord and His wisdom. He promises, in James 1:5, that He will give wisdom to those who ask for it. So, please do not feel bound by what I myself might encourage you to do. You aren’t beholden to me! 🙂 Seek your Heavenly Father’s wisdom and draw near to your husband-they are the two to whom you are to answer (obviously with the Lord having more authority over you than your husband, as you said). But I do pray that you are able to find something encouraging and helpful in the advice I share with you here.
Sit Down and Talk with Your Husband
You may very well have already done this, but if not, I would say this really needs to be the very first thing (after praying for wisdom, of course) that you do. Sit down with him and give yourselves a chance to share your hearts. You don’t want this to be a time of you lamenting what you may think of as his unfairness or his being in the wrong nor do you want it to be a time of begging him to change his mind or attacking him for his stance. This needs to be a completely safe time for each of you to fully and honestly share your own individual viewpoints. It could be that he does not fully know where you are coming from or that perhaps you do not understand his viewpoint. Why is he changing his mind as to your timing of having children and deciding it is best to again postpone the growth of your family? From what you mentioned about him believing a woman’s place is in her home blessing her family, it doesn’t sound to me as if he doesn’t ever want children or is wanting you to remain on birth control because he just doesn’t like kids. So, I don’t think that is the problem here. Is it possible that he feeling as if the two of you are not in a secure enough place financially to add little ones to the mix right now? Is he feeling ill-equipped to be a father? Perhaps he is wanting more time with just you? There could be any number of reasons as to why he is wanting you to remain on birth control for the time being, so I think it so, so important for you to find out exactly what his reasons are. The same goes for you. You need to be able to fully share your feelings and lay all your thoughts out on the table as to why you feel you should get off birth control and why you so desperately want to be a mama right now. He needs to be able to dwell with you with understanding (1 Pet. 3:7), and he can only really do that if he knows where you are coming from. After you have respectfully and level-headedly (you like how I made up a new word there? 😉 ) shared your feelings, if he still wants you to remain on birth control for the time being, the next thing, I believe, is to…
Determine if He is Asking You to Sin
I can tell that you have a very good head on your shoulders when it comes to your understanding of Biblical submission and God’s authority. You are so right when you say it is important to submit to and respect your husband, but that God ultimately has more authority over you than he does. That is true because, while Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18 make it clear that we wives are called on to submit to our husbands, we answer ultimately to God and are to obey Him rather than man (Acts 5:29) in instances when man calls us to do something sinful. Colossians 3:18 saws we are to submit to our husbands “as is fitting in the Lord”. It obviously would not be fitting, for example, to submit to a husband who tells you to rob a bank. But, other than in cases of obvious sinful commands, we are to submit to our husbands in all other things (Ephesians 5:24). So, in your particular situation, for example, you have to ask yourself whether or not, Biblically speaking, it is a sin to use birth control. Personal convictions are important, but when it comes to deciding whether to specifically go against our husband’s wishes (which is a serious thing), we need to be so careful that his wishes are actual sins Biblically, and not just against our own desires, personal convictions, or ideas. Granted, personal convictions should themselves be Bible-based, too, but you get my point. We cannot be wishy-washy when it comes to disregarding our husband’s wishes.
So, the question becomes, is it a sin for a Christian woman to be on birth control? Now, I want to tread very, very carefully here, as it is a serious thing to say whether or not something is a sin. We have to be oh-so-careful to follow only the text of Scripture as it is written and not be guilty of adding to, or taking away, from it (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:18) or developing our own man-made standards and traditions. I will share with you my own thoughts on this, but, as with anything else, be a Berean (Acts 17:11) and take what I say and measure it up against Scripture to see if it be so.
This topic is actually right up my alley, as I have been on both sides of it and it was also something that my husband and I discussed when I was pregnant and then newly postpartum with Anna. I only have one sibling myself (whereas my husband has 5!) and, growing up, my family believed for years that birth control was fine for them to use. Then when I was about 15, the Lord began to change my parents’ minds about that after we met and befriended some large families, became aware of a ministry that taught a lot on Psalm 127 and the blessing that children are, etc. Up until that time, I don’t think I had ever even read Psalm 127 before, and so having this new (to me) idea that children are a great blessing and something to seek after, I zealously took it and ran with it and began to personally believe that it was a downright sin to ever use any form of birth control. After all, to do so would be to intentionally reject the blessing of God, right? When Owen and I got married, we together decided that from day one, we would not do anything to hinder a pregnancy (and the Lord surprised us with a positive pregnancy test only two months into our marriage! 🙂 ). In addition, we both, to this day, want a large family with several children. We firmly believe children are a great blessing, as the Bible clearly says, and look forward to seeing how many the Lord chooses to give us. However, in the days and weeks after I had Anna, we revisited the topic of birth control again and this time came to a slightly different stance on it (again, what I am going to tell you was our own personal conviction and decision, not that it has to be yours or any other couple’s! I share this merely to illustrate my viewpoint on the issue at hand of whether or not birth control, in and of itself, is sinful). Early on in my pregnancy, I knew it would be my goal to exclusively breastfeed Anna until she was 6 months old, at which time I would start supplementing some by introducing some solids here and there. This fact caused us to revisit the birth control issue, because I also knew that, though pregnancy does not necessarily always reduce the amount of milk you produce (though that does happen!), it does greatly lower the quality of it, making it not as densely nutritious as it is when you are not pregnant. Because of this and because Anna was my first child and I therefore did not know when my cycle would return or if I would be one of those Mamas who have it come back very early after giving birth, we felt it the responsible thing for us to do to be on a form of non-hormonal, non-invasive birth control for a time while Anna was tiny. If the Lord had chosen to send us another child very soon after Anna was born, that child would, of course, have been a great blessing, too, as Anna was. But, while I do wholeheartedly believe in the sovereignty of God and His ability to give a couple a child regardless of their usage of birth control, I also fully believe in the Biblical concept of human responsibility. And while I believe that children are a blessing, therefore it’s great to have several, I also believe that children are a blessing, therefore we need to act like it and take the best care we can of each one, individually, that the Lord has already given us. For us, personally, that meant using a form of birth control for a time to try to insure that Anna received the fullest and best nutrition she possibly could while still such a young baby. Now that she is a toddler and the issue of milk supply is no longer as big a concern, we are no longer using any birth control at this time (and before anyone wonders-yes, I promise I asked my husband how much of our personal story he was comfortable with me sharing, so he is fully on board with what I just wrote, haha 😉 ). Here is the thing-I wholeheartedly believe that children are a great blessing and I hope to have a house full of them! But I do not personally believe, as I once did, that being on birth control always equals sin and a rejection of children. It can actually be used as a way to take good care of and bless the children God has currently given you as well as the ones He may give you in the future. To illustrate this, in addition to our own reasons for using birth control for a time, other couples may have other legitimate, well-thought-out reasons- i.e., military couples may use it leading up to a deployment out of the belief that it is better for a child to have both its mother and its father home when it is born, whereas other couples may contain a wife and mama who is physically unwell and emotionally and mentally exhausted and therefore they delay trying for another child so that they can first focus on the wife and mama receiving the refreshment and healing she needs so that she can be a better mom in the future to any other children the Lord sends their way. I say all of this to illustrate my belief that Psalm 127:3-5 (which does undoubtedly and clearly speak of children being a blessing and happy being the men who have their quiver full of them) is not saying birth control is a sin-it does not address that issue. [clickToTweet tweet=”Psalm 127:3-5 is dealing more with the condition of our hearts than with our specific birth control practices. ” quote=”Psalm 127:3-5 is dealing more with the condition of our hearts than with our specific birth control practices. “] Do we believe in our hearts that children are a blessing or are we viewing children as a burden? Are we believing that they are a reward or a restriction? Are we using birth control because we hate kids, love our careers, and couldn’t care less about God’s heart for children and His desire that couples be fruitful and multiply, or because we feel, in our hearts, after much consideration and prayer, that to use birth control at a specific time is the more responsible or considerate thing to do? You see, all throughout Scripture, our Lord speaks to the importance of our hearts. Out of our hearts flow all the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23) and where our hearts are, there will our treasure be also (Matthew 6:21), so what our hearts are set on is of the utmost importance. I believe that Psalm 127 is teaching us to deeply value and happily pursue the blessing of children, not at all that the use of any form of birth control at any time and for any reason at all is an absolute sin. Because the idea of birth control being a sin is not what Psalm 127 expressly says. All throughout the Scriptures we do indeed see God’s heart for children, that we are to be fruitful and multiply, and that we ought to view children as the rewards they truly are. But sometimes couples use birth control for a season specifically because they value children and want to care for them the best way they can, as illustrated in the examples above. I know, of course, that at the end of the day, God is trustworthy, takes good care of us, has a perfect plan and perfect timing, etc., but I also believe that we are to exercise our human responsibility wisely, as well. That will look different from couple to couple, of course, and the way it looks for Owen and me in the future may at some point differ from how it looked for us right after we had Anna. And that is ok! There is liberty for us there, to personally seek the Lord, His will for our lives as individual couples, and live the way He leads us to individually. The bottom line for me then is this: I believe birth control can definitely be used in sinful ways (i.e. to encourage promiscuity among teens or to exercise a disdain for children among married couples), but it is not sinful in and of itself, is not expressly prohibited in Scripture, and can be used in ways that are acceptable. So, if this is the case and if you, too, feel led to believe this after your own study of Scripture, then if, after your conversation with your husband, he still insists that you remain on birth control for now, I believe the next thing for you to do is to…
Submit and Pray
I almost hate to say this, because I can so clearly hear in your message your heart for children and your heart’s desire to have precious little ones of your own right away. But we wives are commanded in Ephesians 5 to submit to our husbands in all things, the only exception being if they ask us to sin against God’s commands. This is not at all always easy or always what we want or always in accordance with the plans and dreams we have set out for ourselves. But I do know this: because the Lord set up the design of husbands being the heads of the households and wives submitting to that leadership, He can and does work through that design and lead our families in the way He wants them to go through the way the husband leads. There were times in my own family where my mom said she learned this herself firsthand-my parents would be house-hunting and Mama would be just so sure that one option was the way to go, only to have my Daddy say he thought otherwise. She would submit to him, later to discover that he was so right and that they would have, in the end, been unhappy had they gone with the option she originally thought right for them. So, take encouragement from that, sweet sister. The Lord uses our husbands to bring about good for our families-after all, He turns the hearts even of the kings in whatever way He wishes them to go (Proverbs 21:1)! 😉 We can rest in that and reap the blessing of obedience when we follow our God-given calling of submission. We cannot see the big picture in the oftentimes-difficult here and now. But God can and does work everything together for our good (Romans 8:28). God will undoubtedly bless you for your grace, respect, meekness, and obedience in this difficult and heart-wrenching situation. Be encouraged and inspired by what 1 Peter 3:1-6 has to say to us wives when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances with our husbands:
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”
So, you see, this is your calling, sweet reader. Love your husband. Bless him. Encourage him. Honor, respect, and esteem him. Make him laugh, be his biggest fan and enthusiastic helpmeet, and make yourself his very best friend. If you do this even when it is crazy hard to do so (you may very well need to lean on the Lord for the strength required for this!), it will absolutely speak volumes to him! If, in this emotional time, you strive to not whine to and about him, complain about how wrong you think he is, or pick on him for his stance, you may see the Lord begin to work wonders in his heart and he could end up telling you next week that he is ready for a baby! 😉 [clickToTweet tweet=”You never know how the Lord will work, but you can always know He will bring about what is best!” quote=”You never know how the Lord will work, but you can always know He will bring about what is best!“]
In the meantime, between now and when your husband does lift the baby restriction, submit to him and pray for him based on what you discovered through your conversation together. Is he wanting to postpone children because of financial worries? Then pray that he would come to know the Lord as the great provider He truly is and that your husband’s faith and trust in the Lord and His provision for your family would be strengthened and deepened. Is he wanting more time alone with you? Then thank the Lord for blessing you with such a loving husband who adores you so, and seek to make the most of this special time you have together. The more you pray for your husband in these ways, the more your love and respect for him will deepen and the more his willingness and desire to hear your side of things will grow. No matter what your husband’s exact reasoning or whatever approach you may take, rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4, 7).Pray that the Lord will work in your husband’s heart to decide what is best for your family and you just keep on loving your man. Take heart, sister! The Lord’s got this. He loves you, so adores and appreciates your love for children and your wonderful belief that they are blessings, and He is there for you to turn to. He’s at work. Remember that! Even now, He is at work in both your heart as well as your husband’s, and is writing a beautiful story for your family. God bless you, and know that I am praying for you!
I hope my answer was encouraging and helpful to you, sweet friend. Again, thank you so much for coming to me with this and giving me the opportunity to reach out and serve you. If you (or any of you other awesome readers!) ever have any more topic recommendations, questions, or concerns, please let me know! I would love for you to share those with me, as well.
***One note: I want to edit this quickly to add one extra point which I failed to address in the article itself and that is this: because the role of leadership in the home and family falls to the husband, the responsibility of the decisions made and the route the family takes, is squarely on the shoulders of the husband, who is also the one who will ultimately have to answer to God for how the family was led. So, even if you think your husband is in the wrong in some area, you can ultimately rest knowing that the Lord will deal with him and work in his heart, and you are not ultimately held responsible for the decisions made or the outcomes thereof. You are simply held responsible for submitting to your husband in all areas (except only in those areas of sin). There’s a certain amount of relief which comes with that knowledge, I believe!
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