Q&A- My thoughts on birth control

Would you be willing to share your thoughts on birth control?

Thanks, Carrie

When this question arrived in my inbox, I was both excited and nervous.

Excited because I love to share with others our passion for having children, our belief that they are a blessing, and our desire to have as many as we can (Ryan loves to tell people that Caden is #2 of 12!). Nervous because this is a controversial issue, and I fear that I lack the wisdom and grace to carefully share of my opinion in the best manner.

I approach this topic with just a bit of fear and trembling, because my sincere desire is to speak what God has put on my heart regarding children, as well as the use of birth control, and yet to not speak judgment nor condemnation on anyone who holds a view or practice different from my own (by that, I don't mean to say that I think it's relativistic and that there is no truth in the matter- only that I am not the authority on the matter, and my place ought not to be one of judgment).

(above- My sweet Abigail, at 1 month old)

Now that that's out of the way, may I share a story with you?

So we'd been married a few months, and were just starting to become adjusted to life in Japan. We were there working as English conversation teachers, and were living frugally in an effort to pay off our (read: my) debt. The plan? To spend two years working, the first to pay off the bulk of the loan, and the second to finish it off and begin saving so my husband could go back to university to finish his degree.

Though I had begun our marriage briefly on the pill (it had been recommended by my doctor for my PCOS- that is an issue for a whole other post!), I had quickly gotten off of it as it really threw my hormones off and made me just a little less than sane, shall we say. We had also learned of some other side effects of the pill, which I will talk more about later. Anyways, I'd been off it for just a couple of months, and then something crazy happened.

We both began to feel this need to really delve into the Word and discover what the Bible said about children and birth control. Neither of us could quite explain why, but we both felt it strongly, and so we began to study and pray.

Although we never discovered anything that we felt answered our questions definitively (as in, a moral, Biblical objection to the use of birth control), what we did find was that throughout the Bible, children were viewed as blessings, gifts, treasures, assets, joys. Not once did we find a scenario where a child was unwanted or deemed a burden. Those who were barren and childless were devastated, and grieved a very great loss. Those who had many children were viewed as blessed indeed, and the blessing of the womb was often mentioned in conjunction with all of the other blessings of obedience (crops, livestock, land, prosperity). Jesus himself was full of evident love for children, and despite his disciples urgings, he entreated the children to come to him.

Accompanying this, we were reminded of the threads that run throughout the Scriptures of placing our ultimate trust and plans in our Lord's hands, and not ours. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Prov 16:9). We are told not to boast in our own plans (James 4:13-16). We also saw that it was the Lord who opened and closed the womb (Gen 20:18, 29:31, 1 Sam 1:5, Deut 7:13).

We felt this struggle in our hearts, to want to trust in our own plans, and not His. I remember thinking that I didn't want to give up birth control that very month, but maybe the next month would be okay, because I calculated that by then we could make enough money to pay off our debts by the time I stopped work. I distinctly remember sensing that the Lord was telling me that it wouldn't be trusting Him to wait another month- I had to trust Him and His provision for us right then, and not just when it felt easier.

I clearly remember the evening that we spent with another young, English couple in a nearby city during that time of seeking. We had a delightful time over dinner, enjoying their fellowship (a rare thing for us in Japan!), and their sweet 5 month old baby girl. We discussed with them the issue that was weighing on our hearts. They shared with us that they had been married several years before becoming pregnant, and even then it was an accident. But, they said, if they had only known what a joy and a blessing children were, they would have started having them right away.

As we drove home along the darkened road, we realized that God had confirmed it in both of our hearts. We could do nothing else. We gave up our plans, and opened our hearts to whatever God would have for us. How could we say no to such a blessing? How could we tell him that His timing in opening my womb was wrong? Who were we to say no to His gifts?

We anticipated that it would take us quite some time to conceive, as I have a hormonal disorder that affects my fertility. We were beyond surprised and so completely thrilled to find out we had conceived our daughter that very month, only 5 months into our marriage. I truly believe that her conception was nothing short of miraculous (considering my health issues), and that the timing was to test our faith and trust in the God who provides for all our needs.

There is so much more to say, but I think that this is enough for now. I will continue on with my thoughts shortly…

Although they may be different than my own, I welcome your thoughts. Please keep them polite and respectful, but feel free to express your own opinions (though I will delete comments if I find them inappropriate). Thank you!

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

Read Newer Post
Read Older Post

Comments

  1. I struggle with this one a lot…and I was curious what your input/thought would be on my particular situation.

    I got married last year, but have been on birth control pills for the past almost 6 years. I was put on the pill because of severe periods that doctors couldn’t figure out the cause of. My period when it got more “regular” (nearly 6 years after they started) was 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. I would bleed heavily for two weeks, and have two weeks “mostly” free of bleeding. Needless to say it was wreaking havoc on me – I was getting more emotional with each period and I was constantly borderling anemic. I never felt good, and often had no idea when a period would start (as they never had truly regulated). Before this I had a few periods that lasted 45+ days, and the only way they could stop them (from what they told me) was to shock my system by taking 3 pills a day and weaning off of them.

    When I was put on them solidly at 18, I appreciated finally having normal periods, and not constantly running to the bathroom because of heavy periods (I would often have to wake up in the middle of the night to change a pad). Birth control evened it out and I finally had a “normal” (though I understand it’s completely fake) period.

    I never had a moral problem with the pill (besides worrying what it really is doing to me) until I got married and heard of the abortive possibilities. There is even one instance where I was convinced I was pregnant (some symptoms, and just a sense, though everyone thought I was crazy), but a period came. I hate to think that we could have conceived.

    I’m stuck though because I can’t stand the thought of going back to periods the way they were because I felt like I couldn’t live a normal life with it. But of course I don’t want to possibly abort a child (though, we would still use alternate bc if I came off the pill for various other reasons).

    Has anyone been in a similar situation? I don’t want to be seen as “selfish” for staying on the pill…It just seems hard to think that it’s as cut and dry as some might think. (Seeing as it was medically getting worse for me to have my “normal periods…)

    There’s other factors with this, but this is the gist as of now (and I know this comment is years after the original post

    • Hi – I thought I would jump in with my experience because I was in a very similar situation. I too had extremely heavy periods throughout my teens. Like you, they would last 2 weeks and come back two weeks later. Most of the time I would get soo sick for a few days with intense cramping that came in waves, nausea, vomiting, etc. I remember being in the middle of an episode and thinking, this feels like labor! From what I now know, the cramping was very much like labor contractions. I was put on the pill at 18, which was a lifesaver. Everything regulated out to a “normal” period.
      After getting married and wanting children I was extremely scared of my periods returning to how they were. I lived with the pill guilt for over a year and then went off of it a few months before we wanted to try and conceive. In that short time of 3-4 months between getting off the pill and conceiving my first, my period stayed normal, as if I was on the pill.
      It is now 6 years and 3 kids later and my periods have stayed very normal – between 5-7 days, 4 weeks apart, normal bleeding (although some days are heavier), and only mild cramping. Although I must say that between being pregnant and nursing 3 kids I have not had 6 years of periods – maybe more like 2 years.
      I have felt that my body just needed to be jump started back to normal with the pill and it now knows what it is doing. Since being off the pill I have realized how much it really was messing with my hormones (not to mention a low sex drive!). I hope to never have to go on it again.
      I hope this helps you. Don’t feel guilty about being on it, because I truly believe that my body needed them too! I just wanted you to know that you may not be forever doomed with the horrible periods :)

    • It actually sounds as if you have the same medical issue – PCOS. Absent and irregular periods (or, a “regular cycle” that’s just plain nuts!) is one of the key symptoms. PCOS is actually caused (for the most part) by a metabolic imbalance (Insulin Resistance) which can be very challenging to properly diagnose. The good news is that, once you get the IR under control, most women do see their cycles (and fertility) returning to “normal”! Also, the first few months off of the BCP (Birth Control Pill) are sometimes the most fertile. So, by treating the underlying issue, you may find that you won’t need BCP to control your symptoms anymore! Also, while BCP is commonly prescribed for PCOS symptoms (or for any period irregularities, in fact), all it really is is symptom control, and can actually harm your metabolism, long-term. Check out http://www.pcoscommunity.org for some great support and info on PCOS! :)

  2. I have thouroughly enjoyed your web site. Blessings to you. I am now 44 years old and also went through this decision of more children or not. My husband had a vasectomy not wanting to when we were 30 my story is long so I will tell you I wept grieviously for one year. We found a Chirstian doctor who did reversals one year exactly after the reversal we had a fourth son Austin then Grace, then Joy. Through medical problems we can no longer have any more so we are adopting a child who will be our 6th earthly child named Elijah. If I had to do it all over again I would enjoy natural family planning.
    Blessings to you all!!!

  3. annonymous says:

    Please don’t post my name! There aren’t many Wendy-Kays!
    I have read your blog and I love them! I have never commented or anything, as nothing really needs be said!
    But on this post, my heart really sank. My husband and I are traditional Catholics and I use NFP via the LadyComp, a neat little gadget that charts my cycles for me and tells me when I am fertile. With my crazy cycles, it is wonderful and all natural. It just takes my basal temp in the morning.
    Anyhow, that isn’t why I was upset. Several of these posts are from women saying that drug addicts and prostitutes should be on bc and how unfair it was that awful people have children. I think that is terribly short-sighted and selfish. Forgive me for being indignant, but I am the child of one of those women. Growing up, I had to live with that shame. People would talk as though I wasn’t even there! We lived in squalor sometimes, but I was still a child and would jump rope or play hopscoth in the dirt outside where ever she happened to drag us. “Poor kids! Why do they even have them!”
    Some how, only by the grace of Our Lord, I survived that. The good Lord, King of the Universe, even adopted this worthless should-have-never-been daughter of a whore in the waters of baptism! After college I dedicated my being to Him and he gave me a wonderful shepherd for a husband. My womb has always belonged to the Lord. There are two beautiful souls that are walking this earth that wouldn’t exist if not for me. My sweet husband wouldn’t have someone utterly devoted to him.
    I know my worth in the sight of my crucified Lord. Yet, when I hear comments like this, I am reminded that on this earth, I am not really wanted. I am resented and not worth as much as ‘hoped for’ children. Suddenly, I am that dirty little girl again that keeps her eyes to the ground when better people pass by.
    I deserve to be here as much as anyone else, or God would have never created me. When God creates a baby in the womb of any person, He gives them equal divine dignity. A baby is always a blessing, and that child is very possibly the instrument God will use to bring the erring parent back to Him.
    Sorry I didn’t proof read. I stay at home with a 3 year old and an 18 month old, so I am a little tired (it is bedtime), and this subject is emotionally taxing as well, but I hope you will post some of this to let people know how such attitudes, if carried out, deny that we all are created in the image of God.

    • Mrs Deaton says:

      @annonymous,
      I realize that this was posted nearly three years ago, yet in reading it deeply touched my heart. I desire to ask forgiveness on the part of all believers for any ways in which we made you feel unwanted, unloved, or of less value. Those are complete lies from the enemy and have no hold on those who belong to the KING! Please know that the ladies above I am sure meant no harm to those children living but only thought they were showing compassion in wanting the cycle to stop. The Lord has a plan and a purpose for every life brought into the world!
      I believe that the only way true trust in our creator can come is by completely surrendering our hearts and lives to Him- the author and finnisher of our faith. No amount of research or worldly knowledge can replace the peace that comes from following the Lord with true abandon! I want to encourage you that God has given you such a gift in that you can share with others of HIS faithfulness!! Praise be to our Lord and Savior and may we all continually seek after His heart.

    • You are certainly worth just as much as anyone else, and you are beautiful!!! :)

      I do have to admit, though, I sometimes do have thoughts similar to what you describe (and I’ve had a lot of life experiences, so it take a lot for me to step outside my compassion for other people’s circumstances). I do want to clarify one thing, though – When I have had thoughts like that, it’s out of compassion for those very children! ALL children need to be loved and valued, no matter what their beginnings! Yes, you survived your upbringing, and managed to thrive and be a shining example of how we can rise up and overcome! My main thought and feeling is that you should not have had so much to overcome in the first place. Every child deserves a loving parent (preferably two) who loves them, unconditionally. Unfortunately, you did not find that in your earthly parents, but you DID find that in your Heavenly Father!

      I grew up in a “perfect” home, with two parents. My father was a police officer, my mother was a homemaker. We went to church every Sunday, and my parents were the “pillars of the community”. What no-one knew was that, once the doors were closed, all Hell would break loose. My father was a violent, angry drunk, and was also heavily addicted to strong pain killers. My mother was a cold, angry perfectionist. I was the youngest of 3 children, and the only girl, and I was the “unwanted one”, the “black sheep”. I was not loved or wanted. I was the unwanted baggage that had to be carted around and put up with. I was so terrified to bring a report card home that I would have panic attacks. When I did bring one home that I thought I had actually done alright at (mostly B’s with a couple of A’s and a C), my mother just took one cold look at it and said “well, if you had REALLY tried, you could have had 100% in EVERYTHING!”

      I guess my point is that, I, too, know what it is like to have to rely on our Father. I turned to Him when I was very young, and He kept my spirit alive, and gave me the strength to carry on, when I thought I couldn’t take any more. He still leads me, and I trust him. Don’t ever feel like you’re a nobody! There are some people who should never raise children, but there are NO children that should never have been! You ARE special, and wanted in this world, and you have two beautiful children, now, who’s world revolves around you (as well as a loving husband)!

  4. Another great post! I am really loving your blog! My husband and I are pregnant with our first child after almost 6 years of marriage and are extremely excited about starting our family. I started on the pill for the first year or so of our marriage, but found the side effects to be horrible. After much thought and prayer, we decided that I would quit the pill and we would just let children come along when God thought it was time. We certainly didn’t think it would take 5 more years. About 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS, and my doctor suggested going back on the pill. Unfortunately, I agreed and took one month’s worth. It did kick my period back into a regular cycle, but the other side effects were absolutely HORRIBLE. I was in so much pain that all I could do was lay in bed and cry. No more of that. I decided that I would manage what PCOS symptoms I could with diet and exercise, and live with the rest. My husband and I decided to adopt and for the past two years we have been pursuing that dream only to have it recently fall apart. We were both crushed when our adoption failed, but amazingly, the next month we found out we were pregnant with a miracle baby. Now we are looking forward to a family made up of biological, foster, and adopted children in the future. That being said, I do think that for some people and at some times, there are forms of birth control (like charting and such) that are appropriate. I certainly would NOT recommend the pill though. I already have enough hormonal issues with my PCOS and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis… why would I want to subject myself to more?;-) I am also very interested in hearing what you have to say about managing PCOS…looking forward to that post!

  5. I loved this post – a lovely story of how the issue has worked itself out in your life.

    I am Catholic, but far from strict and I have used birth control in the past. The pill always made me feel awful, like my body was not my own. I could never stay on it very long.

    After our second child was born and turned two, we realized that we wanted more kids. Through a long process, we discovered that I have PCOS and went through three years on infertility. It was a long struggle and we ended up deciding to stop for our own sakes. A month later we conceived our third child. After his birth, we decided to just let nature take its course and were blessed with number four just over three years later.

    We realized that we are done and we have made that decision permanent, but it has been an interesting journey and one I will never forget. I loved every second of the last two’s moments so much more just because I had a frame of reference of what it is like to long for a child. It is truly an amazing blessing, however they come into your life (adoption, foster care, etc.)

    Thanks for going out on a limb – that makes the best blogs!

  6. I fully agree with you—no qualifications will be coming from me.
    I felt the need to post my thoughts as well, on my blog (http://thefullquiver.blogspot.com/2008/08/addendum.html).
    They almost are exactly the same as yours (although I probably assumed that most people would realize God, of course, describes children unequivocally as a blessing-kind of niave of me).
    Anyway, I appreciate the very sensitive way you handled the topic. Thank you!

  7. As far as the “extreme” situation that was mentioned- that is so sad. But I have to disagree. Teen girls don’t need birth control pills. They need to be taken to a home or something and their abusers arrested. Such wickedness is so sad and a sin before an Almighty God. I can hardly believe that girl would be left in that situation if someone knew about it. Isn’t that illegal?!!
    Sorry for being so opinionated-you don’t have to post this, but I had to vent.

  8. Hugs to you, Deborah. Thank you for being honest, I will pray for you :)

  9. I am 35 and a newlywed, being married only one year. Before marrying, I was a missionary teacher. I didn’t purposely put off marriage…that is just what God had for me. His timing. Now, I am ready and eager to have children. I fully expected to fall pregnant immediately. But, that did not happen. And, it still hasn’t happened. I have never been on birth control, nor do I plan to. It has been such an emotional journey waiting on the Lord to bless us with children. I had always hoped for a quiver full. Some days it is hard to see how that will happen at my age. I know there is nothing too hard for God. At this time, I am studying in Genesis about Abraham and Sarah.

    Some days, I get frustrated with the Mom Bloggers who post tickers on their blogs of when their babies are due. Hearing the resounding tick of my own biological clock makes it difficult for me to be happy for them. It is much easier to entertain jealous thoughts and I must be careful not to let bitterness take root. That doesn’t sound like a missionary does it? I’m just being honest.

    It is hard to deal with these deep rooted emotions when everyone else around you seems to be conceiving with each breath…and you are the only woman without child.

    Okay…enough of this…you get the picture.

    • @Deborah,
      Hi Deborah, totally understanding your feelings look and see the answer in what you wrote”that is just what God had for me”. Ask God what He has for you on this and to give you the faith to trust Him as the answer comes.
      The world that we live in is full of so called facts and figures but with God who is The God of The impossibles there is only victory.!!!
      As you wait look around for the opportunities He gives to be a mother to children in need. May The Lord be your fortress each day.
      i just noticed that this blog is from 2008-any news???

  10. Hey Stephanie,
    Wow, this is a big topic to delve into! LOL Thanks for your humble post. :-) I personally feel that this is a “liberty issue” where God can lead different families in different ways (as long as it is not abortive). So I think if God has called you to be open to not “using anything”, than go for it!

    I just wanted to mention a few things (not to be contrary, but just to explain a bit of a different view on this issue. :-) )

    I personally think that the Bible doesn’t always say that children are always blessings (a shocking statement from someone who wants as many children as she can get!). If you read through Proverbs, you will notice that wise sons are blessings to their parents, but foolish sons bring grief and bitterness to his parents. So, just my opinion, I think it would be be Biblically accurate to say that wise children are blessings. ;-)

    My husband and I personally have always wanted a large family and have desired to embrace as large of a family as we would raise into “wise” adults. We were pregnant within 6 weeks of our wedding, so we were quite eager. But birth control always was an option we considered biblical and even wise at times for us personally. As we have dealt with different things, from the death of our first born to a heart defect to premature labor with the second, to loss of health on my part from two close, stressful pregnancies, we have realized that with wise family planning, we would have more chances of a having a large family if we gave ourselves a break from pregnancies.

    We strongly believe in God’s sovereignty. When our first died, we found comfort knowing that God had planned every hour of her life. But we still did everything we could to save her. Not because we doubted God, we just think that using medical intervention is a good use of our responsibility. I think that God knows ever hour of my life as well, but I still buckle my seatbelt when I get in the car. Once again, not because I doubt God, but because I think it’s the wise, God honoring thing to do. In the same way, we use certain family planning methods (namely natural family planning, and c*ndoms) to try to make sure I don’t completely loss my health (or my unborn babies health), while aiming to have a large family, or whatever size God leads us to have (though we hope large, but will be content with however many He gives).

    There are some verse that have helped me come to this conclusion and certain logical arguments, but this comment is going way to long already so I won’t go through all of them now. :-)

    Just one last thing I wanted to say, when I was learning about natural family planning, I found it very interesting that in more ancient days, women had very consistent cycles, meaning that they could very consistently know when they were fertile (and avoid getting pregnant if desired). However, in modern days, we have messed up our cycles with hormones, and having artificial lights, etc. This makes it hard to know when you are fertile. It is quite possible (most likely), that in the distant past, women could quite easily avoid becoming pregnant without having to put a huge strain on a marriage by avoiding s*x for long periods of time. There are even stories in the Bible that strongly suggest that women knew when they were fertile to the day. So family planning is not new! It can be hard, however, for some of us to rely on it solely now because we are so “messed up”. ;-)

    All to say, I feel that, for some of us, using certain forms of family planning, can even be the very best thing to do. :-)

    Much Love and Hugs,
    Kimi

  11. Great post, Steph! You’re so open about your life and your struggles!

    Like everything, it is an issue of the heart. What are our reasons for not having children? or for having them for that matter? Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord weighs the heart.

    To name a few, there may be serious medical concerns, or God-honoring, Christ-centered motivations to have few children (serving others as Katherine stated earlier) and there are reasons of pride in having plenty. If we can get past the numbers issue (I can’t see this happening), a lot of us will feel less condemnation in the church community.

  12. AGAIN – thank you for tackling these issues! It is YOUR blog after all and someday you may want to pass these thoughts onto your daughter(s). I love knowing that there are those out there who look to the Lord for these things instead of just doing what our culture does. As believers we must always remember to listen to God’s direction rather than the worlds’.

    I used the pill until my 1st and tried it again after my 2nd, where it gave me massive headaches. I also had started volunteering at a pregnancy center, where the director gave me cause to actually THINK about it instead of just doing it. The Lord used her to totally turn my thinking around. NFP works well for us now.

    I have 4 lovely children and, although that is all WE plan on having (I enjoy the children but not the pregnancies!), we are open to God’s will (and strange that I keep thinking about #5, huh?). I have no intention of INTERVEENING with surgery or the pill or such (although many in my family smurk at this and call me irresponsible). I will admit that it’s hard to have faith when I know that each child is such a HUGE responsibility (their souls are eternal just like mine!), but I know HE knows what He’s doing in our family.

    He made us for RELATIONSHIPS – they show His glory! Thanks so much for your thoughts here! THank you, thank you! Your faith will be rewarded!

    Andrea

    Ps. You need to move next door to me! We have raw milk in abundance here in PA, USA….

  13. It was neat to read your post and see how God worked in yours and your husband’s hearts.

    My husband and I have been married two years now and we agreed before we got married to trust God with this area. It has not always been easy, and even now I am pregnant with twins and have a 9 month old (I got pregnant for the first time 6 months after we were married).

    But the important thing I think is to keep the focus that children are a blessing from the Lord and we are honored that He has chosen us to shepherd some of His precious little ones.

    May God bless you and yours!

  14. It’s hard for me to say I’m against birth control, seeing all the unwanted and abused children who’s parents maybe should have had birth control…

    I went through a brief period of rebelliousness where I thought I never wanted to get married, or have children… But as soon as I met my husband, I knew thats exactly what I wanted – and we wanted a large family!
    We got pregnant with our daughter right away, and when she was 1 1/2 we started planning for the second child, but it took 10 long years of trying, through tears, and prayers, before our son was conceived.
    He is now 10, and because we have never once used birth control, it looks like God didn’t have a large family planned for us, but we are so happy and thankful for our children!

  15. I respectfully have to disagree…although my son is a huge and wonderful blessing, after many struggles with postpartum depression I have been praying and found a peace about waiting to have more. Paul urged men and women not to even marry (if possible) so they wouldn’t focus only on pleasing their husband or wife and neglect their relationship with God. I think this applies to children as well.

    Only having one child, I am able to help out friends in need by babysitting, cooking, and generally helping out on short notice. If I had more children, I wouldn’t be as available to others. I feel like right now, the Lord wants me to be available for others and I am doing an important ministry.

    In summary, I feel like there is no solid biblical evidence one way or the other. Yes, the bible says that children are always a blessing. But God himself only had ONE son!