Thinking it through

Family planning – a subject we never discuss?

Family planning – a subject we never discuss?
Stephen Rees
Stephen Rees Stephen Rees is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Stockport.
15 February, 2024 15 min read

I had an email from a church member a while back. He wrote, ‘Have you ever written about family planning? I’d be really interested to know what you have to say.’ I was taken aback. Why? Because I realised that I’d never written, preached, taken a Bible-study, run a seminar on the subject. Could I remember anyone else speaking on the subject? No. Could I think of any book on the subject? Or an article in any Christian magazine? No.

I could think of publications on the subject of birth control. But that’s a different subject. An important one, but not the issue my friend was raising. He wasn’t asking what methods he and his wife might use to regulate the size of their family. He was asking something more basic. Is it right in the first place for a Christian couple to decide how many children they intend to have? And if so, what factors should they take into account?

Why the silence on the subject? Clearly not because it’s irrelevant or unimportant. If someone told me they’d never heard a talk on ‘A biblical approach to stamp collecting’ or ‘A Christian view of space travel’, I’d say, ‘That’s not surprising.’ Those are subjects that are of immediate concern to a relatively small number of Christians.

But family planning? That subject affects almost every Christian couple. And it has huge repercussions for Christian life, for churches, and for society. So is it legitimate for Christians to plan their families – i.e. to try to limit the number of children they may have? Clearly most Christians believe so – otherwise the average family in our churches would be much bigger than it is.

I have met a small number of Christians who disagree. They firmly believe that family planning – by whatever method – is simply a no-no for believers. Some of them have a dozen or more children. I can admire their faith and their willingness to challenge a view that almost everyone else takes for granted. But I’m unpersuaded by their arguments. I’ve heard four main objections to family planning used. 

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