In the May issue of the Beacon Lights, our brother Mr. Fred Iwema, of our Bethel PRC, responded to my article entitled, “Child-bearing, Not Child Prevention” of the February issue. He indicates this is a “hot” issue and takes a stand against my view. He states his response “follows considerable meditation and prayer on his part” which I appreciate. Since this has also been true for myself, it may appear that either view may be acceptable after all. But can this be? Let us look a little deeper into this and seek to know what the will of God is for us with this “hot” issue.
Personally, the hatred of this world for large families is not a surprise to me because I come from a covenant family of ten sons and six daughters. Although we often heard many compliments for having such a nice family, there were also those who ridiculed us at times. But when our belief of God’s command to “be fruitful and to multiply” is questioned by members of the same household of faith we want to know for certain whether we are mistaken or if this biblical command is actually no longer in force. We must honestly face this matter in the light of God’s Word and then make our conclusions accordingly. May God give us the grace to do so in the spirit of Christian love for one another.
Our brother writes that this matter must be left up to each couple to decide for themselves and that the church, or anyone else, has no say in the matter. He wants to use the term “conception control” instead of “birth-control” or “child-prevention.” He made no reference to any passage of scripture for support of his position other than the passage of Genesis 38, which really does not support his view at all. He only mentions this passage is not relevant. However, both the position of “conception control” or “birth control” disregard the command of God in Genesis 1:28 and the instruction of God in Psalm 127. Therefore, my convictions on the issue of “birth-control,” “child-prevention” or “conception control” remain unchanged.
To avoid being overly lengthy in my response I will answer the questions he posed and then make a few summary remarks and conclusions.
Our brother asks the question, “Can the ‘tea- totaller’ judge the action of the moderate user?” My answer is yes but they must judge the actions of the moderate user accurately. If the moderate user is only a moderate user he may not be condemned. However, to place the issue of alcohol consumption on par with our calling as husband and wives to have covenant children does not apply to the issue at hand. You will not become drunk if you have what some call “too many” children!
In the same paragraph, our brother asks: “Would it not also be true then that those who claim to have a ‘headache’ or are ‘too tired’ for sexual union are also guilty of ‘conception control’? If so, is the church prepared, or even permitted, to ‘police the bedrooms’ of its parishioners?” My answer is that I Corinthians 7:5 teaches husbands and wives are not to defraud each other, except it be with consent for a time, to give themselves to fasting and prayer. If one claims to have a “headache,” or to be “too tired” for sexual union for selfish reasons that may well be defrauding one’s mate. My response to the brother’s question whether “the church is prepared, or even permitted, to ‘police the bedrooms’ of its parishioners” is yes—if it becomes apparent that sin is going on in the bedroom. Of course, we should not place policemen in bedrooms but the church must not be afraid to begin discipline when sin is brought to their attention. And when sin is kept secret, we ought to remember that our Lord’s all-searching eyes are everywhere present—even in our bedrooms. Perhaps we do not take this as seriously as we ought to.
In a following paragraph, the brother states, “Genesis 38 is not a condemnation of ‘conception control’ just as Leviticus 10 is not a condemnation of burning incense. Onan broke the command to fulfill the Leverite law, Nadab and Abihu broke the command to come to worship according the instruction of God.” My reply here is that his reference to Onan, as simply breaking the Levitical law, misses the point since the very act of Onan was to prevent having seed (vs. 9), that is a child, from being raised up to carry on the name of his brother. Of Onan’s act, we read: “And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.” (vs. 10) Even though it was likely that Onan’s root sin was hatred, his wicked deed was an act of “conception control” or “prevention.” In this regard one should read chapter 38 of Rev. Harbach’s book, Studies in the Book of Genesis. It has excellent instruction for all of us on this subject. (See pgs. 718-719 re Onan’s sin.) Also, the passage in Deut. 25: 5-10 shows an alternate way that Onan could have taken. This alternate means was actually used in Ruth 4:6-10 and the kinsman was not killed!
Concerning the statement of my former article, “In my younger days, if someone would have promoted birth control they would have been strongly warned that this was a form of murder,” the brother asks and states the following: “Is then Mr. DeJong saying that we commit murder if we use ‘conception control’? Would that not suggest that we had thwarted the sovereign purpose of God to bring forth a specific child? Can we do that? Of course not! It denies sovereignty, and suggests that God is not able to bring forth each of those for whom He planned before the foundation of the world.” My response to the first question is that preventing the life of a child from being born is essentially destroying the life of a child before it even begins to develop. There is life in the sperm and modern technology bears this out as well. In very rare cases, if it can be proved that conception will result in the death of the mother, an exception to such a rule may apply. But one ought to be convinced that this is really the case. (This is similar to one’s duty to shoot and kill the enemy in war at the general’s command. Such is not considered as murder.)
The other question whether “conception control” can “thwart the sovereign purpose of God to bring forth a specific child,” is a misuse of the great truth of the sovereignty of God. It uses the truth of God’s sovereignty to justify doing one’s own will. It is certainly true that our actions will never alter the sovereign, decretive will of God. But that does not allow us to do things contrary to God’s will of command (His preceptive will), and say this will never alter God’s sovereign (decretive) will. That, would be like the true “Hyper-Calvinist.” All our actions must be done in harmony with the commandments of God’s Word. I do not know whether the brother actually intends this, but we must not allow such a conception of the sovereignty of God to justify our deeds.
In reality, none of us can ever determine how many children God will give us. All we can do is seek to prevent or abort but we sinful humans can not create life. God alone makes some barren and others fruitful. To “control conception,” “space children” (which naturally eliminates a child—or else what would fill in the space?) or to practice “birth control” are both attempts to do away with a child. Otherwise preventative actions would not even be needed to begin with!
Much more could be said. May what has been said be seen, not simply as a fight between brethren of the church, but as a search for the truth of God’s Word in this matter. May our covenant young people take their calling to seek godly mates to love and cherish in the marriage state seriously. Also, may God give them the courage and strength to raise up all the children that God may be pleased to give them. Then God’s command for us to be fruitful and multiply on the earth will be done. Our quivers will be full according to His will, as commanded for us to obey in His Word. May the arrows He gives not simply stay in our quivers but be shot forward into new generations. Generations which, by the grace of God, continue to give birth to all the covenant children of God until the last elect child is born and our Lord returns upon the clouds of glory.
Let us pray for wisdom and grace, especially for our mothers in Israel, not only to bear all the children God is pleased to give us, but also to raise them up in the fear and admonition of His name. We must not adopt the practice of the world, which not only prevents conception, but also aborts millions of children.
In The Bible and Birth Control, by Charles D. Provan, we read, “… Some theologians spoke out against the limiting of children by Christians until fairly recent times. And now, opposition to birth control is almost dead. We hope this paper will help to rekindle it, and lead to God bestowing many blessings upon his people: wonderful children.” That is also my desire. Buy the book and read it. You won’t be sorry!
Ken De Jong
Member of Peace PRC