Saturday, January 5, 2008

Contraception, population, and humanist imperialism

Some time ago I received a question about my views on contraception and population. This is a very extensive topic, with many angles that could be addressed. In this post I am choosing to focus on the differences between a humanist and a biblical worldview. Before beginning, I’d like to note that much of the earth’s surface is unpopulated and there is more than enough food for every person. God has given us abundance. Human sin and mismanagement, however, mean that there are still people suffering from lack of food.

The promotion of contraception for the purposes of population control is usually associated with the promotion of many humanist ideas. These include the following:
  • Smaller families are happier, healthier and more practical.
  • Have smaller families so each member will be able to have a higher standard of living.
  • There is a duty to control fertility to ensure that children are provided for well, and the environment will not be harmed.
While it is commonly believed that modern times are unique in regard to the use of birth control, many ancient cultures also practised it. Ancient Egyptian and Native American cultures come to mind.

I believe that the Bible presents a different vision on each of the points above. . .
  • Many children are a blessing and a source of happiness (Ps 127 & 128, Duet. 28, and other passages)
  • Each family should be content with what they have, as long as it is sufficient to provide food, clothing and shelter (1 Timothy 6:7 – 8).
  • God is in control of fertility, as he opens and closes the womb (Genesis 20:18, 30:22, 1 Samuel 1:5). God also promises daily bread for all his people. When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt they multiplied rapidly, although they were bearing children for a life of hardship and slavery (Exodus 1). This was a blessing to them, and the Bible never indicates that they were unwise for having children in these circumstances.
  • We have a duty to care for the environment. However, the very part of the Bible that encourages us to care for the world (Genesis 1 & 2) also encourages us to have children (Genesis 1:28). It is ironic that some Christians use the Creation Mandate as a reason to control fertility, when it relates physical fruitfulness to godly rulership of the earth.
Theoretically I would not have a problem with promoting knowledge about non-abortive birth control methods (barrier methods, natural family planning, and sterilisation), if massive doses of humanist thinking did not accompany it. While Christians can and do disagree about the ethics of contraception, all should agree that it is a matter of conscience which should never be laid upon people as a duty. Advocating population decreases in the developing world imposes Western ideology upon people who have differing beliefs about fertility and family size. It is essentially an exercise in humanist imperialism.

1 comment:

  1. Because I didn't get married until age 30, had my first at 33 and my 2nd child at just 39, my ob/gyn highly suggested birth control. When we became engaged we discussed the number of children we thought would be good for us due to my age. We prayed about our options. (the pill was not recommended for me due to a history of breast cancer on my mom's side of the family and because of my age). We elected to have my husband get a vasectomy. We only had to pay our $10 co payment as insurance covered it! It's noninvasive surgery, done as out patient and there are virtually no problems with it. It freed us up to enjoy our "time together" when we were back to that! It was a good option for us. We are both born again Christians, by the way. you wrote a very good post!