Now we begin looking at the opinions of evangelical pastors and leaders on the subject. I am only going to present the opinions of men who are solid teachers, who have demonstrated that they take God's commands seriously, who have demonstrated the capacity for wrestling with theological matters.
John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, a well-known author (Desiring God), has written this statement on the subject of contraception:
[Desiring God Ministries] and Bethlehem Baptist have no formal position on birth control, but John Piper and most of the pastors on staff believe that non-abortive forms of birth control are permissible. The Bible nowhere forbids birth control, either explicitly or implicitly, and we should not add universal rules that are not in Scripture (cf. Psalm 119:1, 9 on the sufficiency of Scripture). What is important is our attitude in using it. Any attitude which fails to see that children are a good gift from the Lord is wrong: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them" (Psalm 127:3-4).
The statement addresses three common objections to birth control:
- Is birth control consistent with the truth that children are a gift from the Lord?
- Shouldn't we let God determine the size of our family?
- Should natural family planning be preferred to "artificial" contraception?
In response to the first point:
...it can be pointed out that the Scriptures also say that a wife is a gift from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22), but that doesn't mean that it is wrong to stay single (1 Corinthians 7:8). Just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it. It is wrong to reason that since A is good and a gift from the Lord, then we must pursue as much of A as possible. God has made this a world in which tradeoffs have to be made and we cannot do everything to the fullest extent. For kingdom purposes, it might be wise not to get married. And for kingdom purposes, it might be wise to regulate the size of one's family and to regulate when the new additions to the family will likely arrive.
The statement goes on to call birth control a "gift from God that may be used for the wise regulation of the size of one's family, as well as a means of seeking to have children at the time which seems to be wisest."
There's a vigorous denial of the idea that it's more godly to simply let things happen naturally, using the doctrine of providence to point out that God accomplishes his sovereign will through means, including the decisions of couples to use or not use birth control.
(I'm reminded of a coworker who stopped using his alarm clock and decided to trust God to wake him up in the morning. He didn't last long at that job, but I guess it was God's will that he be fired for tardiness.)
Does the use of birth control reflect a lack of faith?
Without regulating the size of their family, many couples would end up having more children than they can reasonably support financially. In response, some argue that we should simply have faith that God will provide the funds. However, we don't use the "God would provide" reasoning to justify going beyond our means in other areas of life. We wouldn't consider it wise, for example, to pledge twice our annual income to missions organizations in faith that God will supply the extra funds. God expects us to make wise decisions according to what he has given us, and not presume upon him providing from out of the blue.
Finally, Piper knocks down the idea that natural family planning is superior to artificial birth control:
Some conclude that "natural family planning" is acceptable but "artificial" means are not. But this seems to overlook something significant: in both cases, you are still seeking to regulate when you have children. And so if one concludes that it is wrong to seek to regulate the timing and size of a family, then it would have to be concluded that natural family planning is just as wrong as "artificial" means.
Piper doesn't address the point that Catholics make to justify their support for NFP and opposition to ABC -- that artificial birth control damages the nature of conjugal sex per se.