Monday, April 16, 2007

Christ-Centered Bioethics

So, last night at church, we were planning to dive back into a study on the book of Kings, but due to technical difficulties we decided to have an "Ask Anything Sunday" service (kinda like Dr. Mohler's "Ask Anything Wednesday" radio show, only not on the radio, and not with Dr. Mohler).

One question that caused many of us to stop and think was, "Is it right to use birth control to decide how many and when we have children, or should we simply trust God with the number and timing?" This question hit home with me because recently my wife asked me the same question after reading a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. In the book entitled Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free!, DeMoss claims that one lie women believe is that they should have any deciding role in family planning. She argues that family planning should be God's prerogative.

So, I was thankful that we were able to approach this question thoughtfully last night. No one, however, had solid logical, fully biblical, and convincing arguments for or against non-abortive birth control. We moved on from the question leaving the choice up to the personal conviction of the family.

Thankfully, brother Justin found this great article on John Piper's web site. "John Piper and most of the pastors on staff believe that non-abortive forms of birth control are permissible," and they make several great points to support their position. First, they argue that just because children are good gifts from the Lord we should not necessarily seek as many of these good gifts as possible, just like a wife is a good gift from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22), but it is not necessarily wrong to stay single. If we are focused on kingdom purposes, we are free to manage the resources God gives us.

Second, they argue, birth control is no guarantee that a couple will not have a child. We don't shun haircuts so God can determine the length of our hair, and farmers don't necessarily cultivate every acre of land that they own (especially if they have lots of land). God actually desires for us to manage his creation for his glory. "God very often causes us to plan as the means towards improving our lives and advancing His kingdom purposes."

There are other very good arguments in this article that support the view that birth control is permissible and may even be considered a blessing from God if used for the right reasons.

Thankful for freedom in Christ and God's sovereign rule over this world,



Eric Holcombe said...

We have been struggling recently with the idea of having more children - compounded by the fact of my sterilization via selected (but possibly reversible) surgery. At this point, I can easily rationalize our ages, the reversal surgery success rate, how do we pay for college, etc. as being a "no" answer. In a sense, I feel that I/we are suffering our consequence for the surgery decision, although it was made with the health of my wife in mind - seemingly the lesser long-term health impact in birth control choices. With three children, we are already 20%'ers, which is hard to believe given the sizes of families two generations ago. Spending time with much larger families (6-10 kids) has been an interesting exposure as well - it is a different life by necessity. I haven't decided if that is what is required of us or if all walks of life (and family size) are profitable in the kingdom.

I would say that managing the resources according to kingdom purposes may not fit into most of our rationales - but that is the question that must be wrestled with. I find Voddie Baucham's "Centrality of the Home" message particularly convicting on the financial front, especially for Americans. Do we desire prosperity more than the blessings of children? Is our management plan based on a particular number of children "getting a good job", "getting a college education" from the right schools, given my earning potential, etc? Are these kingdom perspectives or what the world defines as success for our children?

On another front, I believe it is just as worthy (if not more so) to be willing to adopt. What a potential life change for an unwanted little one rescued and placed in a Christian home! In a sense, it seems selfish to continue to grow our family and ignore the least of these around the world (or down the street).

S. Todd Young said...

Eric, it is really nice to hear comments and discussions! I thought I was just keeping a journal out here, it's so quiet! :-)

I agree with you that most do not consider kingdom purposes when they choose family size. It is usually a decision based on the size family we grew up in and how comfortable/uncomfortable we were with that size of a family, or possibly a decision based on one's dreams of the ideal family, but rarely do we consider how the kingdom might be impacted. If we are supporting missionaries with our direct contributions, we might decide to maximize our giving potential by maintaining a small family, but if we are seeking to impact a community we might plan to have as many children as feasibly possible.

The point is, I think, that most people do not consider God substantially in the choices they make regarding family size.

I agree with you; I too feel a particular attraction to adoption just because there are so many children in the world that are neglected and unwanted. What a heart breaking condition our world is in!

Glad to have you posting here!