Birth Control, the Bible, and Obamacare
Breastfeeding was their birth control
Menstruation was a rare thing for the Jewish followers of scripture. Once in a great while when a woman did have a period, she was physically separated from her family for a period of two weeks (Leviticus 15). At the end of that time, she would be reunited with her husband. The time of her return would coincide with the time when she was also coming into her days of fertility. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, she would become pregnant. Because breastfeeding usually prevents a woman’s menstrual cycle from occurring, it would be several years before she would even be able to have a period again, and that only if she did not get pregnant first. In fact for both Jew and Gentile alike, across most of human history, women were either pregnant or breastfeeding until they reached menopause. In other words, our great grandmothers married young, had lots of children, and probably had very few periods in their lifetime.
Birth control in the Bible
Birth control was not unheard of in Bible times, but it was rare. There are two classic examples of birth control in scripture. In one, it was a curse from the Lord. King David’s wife, Michal, mocked him for worshipping God in public. Because of this, the Lord shut up her womb, and she was never able to have children (II Samuel 6). In other cases, the Lord caused some women to be barren, only later allowing them to bear children. This was the case for Abram’s wife, Sarai (Genesis 11:30), Jacob’s wife Rachel (Genesis 29:31), and Hannah, the mother of Samuel (I Samuel 1).
Man killed for using birth control
The only recorded attempt of humans to prevent pregnancy occurs in Genesis 38. It resulted in the death of the perpetrator, Onan. In Hebrew culture if the older brother died without siring a child, the next brother was to marry his widow and sire a child by her. This child would carry on the older brother’s bloodline, and receive the larger portion of the family inheritance. When Er, Onan’s older brother died, he found himself in this situation. Not wanting to father a child by his sister-in-law, Tamar, it came to pass when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it [his seed] on the ground, lest that he should give seed unto his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he killed him also. (Genesis 38:9-10) The sin here was not the use of birth control, but the greed of Onan that caused him to disobey the command to give his late brother a descendant.
In our modern world today, the use of birth control is fairly widespread. Many types of birth control prevent women from ever becoming pregnant. Some, however, work by permitting the egg to be fertilized, and then later killing the growing baby. These include abortion, medications that poison the fetus, and IUDs (intrauterine devices). Because abortion is cheap and legal in the United States, many of my friends in high school and college chose to sacrifice their unborn child at an altar of convenience instead of take responsibility for their actions. So rampant has the spread of abortion become, that we can say without a doubt that abortion is the number one killer of young Americans, far outstripping gang violence, suicide, or alcohol related deaths.
Obamacare takes on Christianity
Birth control has come to the forefront of the news recently, because President Obama’s national health care plan has called for employers to provide health care to their employees that includes paying for birth control methods that actually kill the living child. Let’s say that a church is large enough to have a paid employee. Under the President’s plan, the church would find itself potentially in the position of having to pay for the aborting of a fetus if that employee backslid and wanted to dispose of an unwanted pregnancy.
Can Christians break the law?
This creates a real conundrum for the Christian, because while the Bible clearly teaches us to obey those people in authority over us, it also teaches the sanctity of human life. When confronted which such a decision, we find direction in the words of the apostles: we ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
Please pray for church leadership that they would stand for children, and that should the time arrive that they would be willing to face legal reprimand as they carry out Acts 5:29. Also pray for a genuine spirit of repentance in our president as he deals with the backlash of having placed the government of the United States in a position of trying to undermine religious freedom.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.