Contraceptive Methods and Reproductive Technology

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3
 
conception-6

The sanctity of human life must be the foundation of all conversations on contraception and reproduction. Biblically, life begins at conception and must be protected and preserved even from its earliest stages (Psalms 139:13; Job 10:11, 31:13-15; Genesis 25:22; Luke 1:41).1

Its value derives primarily from the truth that humans have been instilled with the very image of the triune God (Genesis 1:26-27). As those created in His image, humans display the glories of our Creator.

Discussions about contraception and reproduction must also take into account the biblical blessing of offspring. Children are to be cherished as good gifts from a gracious God. Problems arise whenever this truth is forgotten or neglected. Some fail to embrace the goodness of the gift of children, instead viewing them as inconvenient. Others fail to remember that children are undeserved blessings that we are not entitled to. Neither disposition of the heart is healthy or right. Where children are neglected, disregarded, abused, idolized or demanded, God’s intention is compromised. As sons and daughters of a good and generous Father, we are called to possess humble and glad hearts that embrace the gifts that He has given and trust Him with those He has not.

Contraceptive Methods and Reproductive Technology

Opening Clarifications

The consideration of contraceptive and reproductive technologies requires wisdom. These are complex ethical matters to which the Scriptures speak but often only in principle and implication. How to build upon and apply the foundational biblical concepts in these areas can often be unclear, but we hope to provide general biblical principles for assessing the various options widely available today. In no way is this resource an exhaustive analysis of each and every ethical concern, but it is rather an overview of relevant contemporary issues.

Technological innovation will surely introduce even more options for both contraceptive and reproductive assistance in the future. Though we will not deal explicitly with those unimagined technologies, this resource will lay out general principles and parameters that provide general guidelines for future assessment.

A Word to Husbands and Wive’s2

If there were ever decisions in marriage that need to be highly collaborative, they are these. Wives will often bear the results of contraceptive and reproductive decisions in their very bodies in a way that husbands will not. The husband therefore has the responsibility to hear, receive and weigh his wife’s thoughts with love and compassion, as you each realize and live out the reality that our bodies are not our own (1 Corinthians 7:4).

It is also good and necessary to work through these decisions within the context of gospel-centered community. Though past, present and future decisions are weighty and sensitive, you should feel freedom from shame to share your various fears, failures and desires associated with contraceptive and reproductive technologies. God has commanded and provided community for the good of His people and His glory, and we should embrace this blessing by opening our hearts and minds to others.

These are not theoretical discussions. They are weighty and sensitive matters with real-life implications. Our desire is that you will hear the heart behind this resource, which is to shepherd our people through a complex and confusing world of technological options.

We encourage you to consider this resource with an open heart and mind and in a spirit of prayer. Some of the considerations and conclusions might be convicting based on past or present decisions, but our hope is that these implications would not drive anyone to despair or shame but, rather, to the hope and grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Contraceptive Technology

What is contraception?

Before examining contraception, it is helpful to distinguish it from the broader category of birth control. Though often used synonymously with the term birth control, contraception only applies to methods and technologies that are intended to prevent conception. Birth control, on the other hand, refers to everything from abstinence to abortion.

Abortion is not a form of contraception because it does not prevent conception but, rather, terminates an already-conceived life. While Christians might debate the various ethical issues of contraceptive use, the Church generally agrees that abortion is prohibited by God.3

With this distinction in mind, below is a non- exhaustive list of the most common forms of technology widely considered as contraceptives today:

  1. Abstinence
  2. Rhythm or calendar methods
  3. Withdrawal
  4. Barrier methods 4
  5. Sterilization 5
  6. Implants and injections
  7. The “pill” 6
  8. Morning after pills 7

We will consider these particular contraceptives, not those that are primarily abortive. That said, although not primarily abortive, there is research to strongly suggest that many common contraceptives today have mechanisms with intentionally abortive potential. We will consider these particular forms, and the principles addressed should help create a tool for evaluating other current and future forms of technology.

Is it sinful to use contraception? Why or why not?

Most forms of contraception available today were not invented by the first century, so we should not be surprised that there is little explicit testimony in the Bible. After a comprehensive examination of Scripture, we do not find universal prohibition of contraception in general. Yet, throughout its history, the Church has generally opposed the practice based on biblical and theological arguments.

A brief overview of the biblical arguments

There are four primary passages often used to prohibit birth control, but further examination exposes the weakness of the arguments.

  1. Genesis 38:8-10 refers to a man named Onan who is said to have “wasted his seed.” Some believe the passage teaches that the act of withdrawal is sinful. However, this explanation is not ultimately satisfying because the concern is not the act of withdrawal but rather Onan’s unwillingness to fulfil his duties to his brother’s wife (an admittedly foreign practice to our modern opinions and one which is no longer to be seen as a binding familial obligation on this side of the cross). 8
  2. Genesis 1:28 commands mankind to “be fruitful and multiply.” Though certainly normative, this prescription should not be taken as a universal mandate for a couple of reasons. First, many men and women are physically unable to bear children, and this failure should not be assessed as sinful. Second, the Scriptures uphold a high esteem for intentional singleness in passages such as 1 Corinthians 7.
  3. Deuteronomy 23:1 and other passages prohibit the entrance of eunuchs into the congregation of Israel, a restriction that seemingly implies that those who are unable or unwilling to procreate are forbidden from the kingdom. Christ’s clear commendation of eunuchs (Matt. 19:12) and the aforementioned high view of singleness, however, clarifies that this Old Testament restriction is not universally binding and should not be taken to imply that procreation is always mandated.
  4. Psalm 127:3-5 exalts children as a gift from the Lord and commends the one whose “quiver is full.” This passage is taken by some to imply that any effort to control the size of a family is sinful. But just because something is a gift does not mean that we don’t choose to steward that gift for the kingdom. For example, a godly spouse is a blessed gift from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22), yet Paul explicitly states that it is acceptable and commendable to remain single for the sake of the kingdom (1 Corinthians 7). 9

A brief overview of the historical argument

In addition to the misapplication of Scripture, many have historically compromised the issue of birth control through a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of sex. While marital sex was originally created by God (Genesis 2:18-25) to be received with thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:3), errant voices in history gradually ignored the biblical picture of sex as a good and gracious gift to be embraced within the confines of marriage. In place of this beautiful portrait, many in the Church have exalted a life of chastity and singleness as the ultimate ideal. To such thinking, sex is acceptable but not commendable and then solely or at least primarily for the purpose of procreation.

This historic view of sex as a necessary evil has been generally corrected, yet its residue has led a number of traditions to dismiss contraception entirely. After all, if sex were limited entirely to the purpose of procreation, then efforts to eliminate conception would surely be improper. The Bible, however, makes no such statement about sex being entirely or even principally limited to the purpose of procreation. Procreation is a primary purpose, but it is biblically indefensible to restrict the gift to procreation. Rather, marital companionship, unity, pleasure and defence against lust all add to a more robust understanding of God’s diverse intentions for sex. 10

Summary

In the absence of clear biblical prohibitions, there seems to be no universal restriction on contraception. Therefore, we should ask some diagnostic questions in assessing the question of permissibility to help develop a healthy understanding of contraception.

First, what is the underlying motive of the heart in using contraception?

Second, do all forms uphold and honour the sanctity of human life?

Is contraception always wise, appropriate and good?

Behind each action or decision is a controlling desire, so before considering contraception, it is helpful to ask why it is desired. Biblically, children are to be viewed as a gift from the Lord. So if your pursuit of birth control is motivated by fear, greed or lust for comfort and convenience, these heart issues need to be exposed and confessed.

Theologian Al Mohler provides some wise guidance in this area:

We must start with a rejection of the contraceptive mentality that sees pregnancy and children as impositions to be avoided rather than as gifts to be received, loved, and nurtured. This contraceptive mentality is an insidious attack upon God’s glory in creation, and the Creator’s gift of procreation to the married couple.11

There are potentially acceptable reasons for pursuing contraception. However, it is unwise to blindly commend the technology without first questioning the motivation of the heart. Without condemning contraception itself, Christians should confront the particular “contraceptive mentality” which masks subtle forms of idolatry by plumbing the desires of the heart.

Even more, all believers wrestling with these issues should feel a tension between the desire to bear children and a call to steward the gifts and opportunities that they are given for the sake of the kingdom. Though technological advancement is a gift of common grace, it might also foster a subtle desire to play God. Given these concerns, we commend prayer and counsel to any couple considering the use of contraceptives.

If contraception is not universally sinful, which kinds are permissible?

Called to steward our bodies and safeguard the sanctity of human life, Christians have a responsibility to know the effects and potential effects of all forms of contraception they may use. As a general rule, contraceptives that absolutely honour and uphold the sanctity of human life are acceptable, while those that do not are not acceptable. The fundamental question that must be answered then is whether a particular form of birth control functions purely as a contraceptive or whether it has abortive intention or potential. If a particular method terminates or potentially terminates life,12 we must be concerned.

Methods that do not terminate or potentially terminate life

Abstinence, rhythm, calendar and barrier methods seem to be appropriate methods within the confines of a marital relationship, assuming proper motives. Within certain parameters, there also does not seem to be compelling evidence for prohibiting some forms of sterilization. 13

Methods that are intended to terminate life

Surgical and chemical abortions and some morning after pills (see footnote 7) are intentionally abortifacient (purposefully abortive) and should then be universally rejected. 14

Methods that have the inherent potential to terminate life

There exists a great deal of debate regarding the potential effects of birth control pills, injections and IUDs.15

The final mechanisms of all three forms of control are similar, and thus the concerns are the same (as would be the case with any other present or future technology with the same capability).16

 

How do some forms of contraception potentially terminate human life?

Currently, the latest medical research suggests that all of the various types and brands of birth control pills available today function similarly with potentially abortive effects.17 They each have three basic mechanisms of action.18 The first mechanism is primary, while the last two are backup mechanisms in case the first fails. The three functions are:

  1. To prevent ovulation.
  2. To thicken cervical fluid, impeding the progress of sperm.
  3. To weaken the uterine lining.

The first two mechanisms are purely contraceptive in nature, but the final is potentially and purposefully abortive. Its function, should the first two mechanisms fail, is to create an environment less conducive to the survival of a fertilized egg.19 By weakening the wall of the endometrium, the mucus membrane that lines the uterus, a fertilized egg is less likely to attach and is more likely to be aborted. As with the other mechanisms, there is a possibility that this third action too will fail, and the egg will implant, but the point remains that the very intent of the mechanism is to make the environment hostile for an already-conceived child.

This function of the pill, as well as injections and IUDs, is ethically and theologically concerning. Though not intentionally or maliciously attempting to abort a child, those who use such forms of control risk an early, spontaneous abortion.

How should we assess this potential termination of life?

Most Christian couples who decide to use birth control pills, injections or IUDs do so completely unaware of the abortive potential. Their intention is certainly not to terminate life. They often have good intentions, yet they are uninformed of the potential dangers. However, with knowledge of these risks comes greater accountability and responsibility.

We hope that couples will process through these concerns with hearts and minds saturated by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though this information may produce godly sorrow and conviction, there is absolutely no condemnation to be found in Christ. We encourage all to pursue the freedom offered in the gospel within the context of gospel-centered community.

With this hope in mind, we ask: To what degree are we bound by potential but unintentional effects? Biblically, there seems to be a spectrum of responsibility when it comes to the taking of life.20 On the one end, there is an intentional and premeditated act that constitutes murder. On the other end, there is a completely accidental occurrence. Between these two ends, there is the unintentional yet irresponsible loss of life (Exodus 21:12-14).

Though the penalties for intentional and irresponsible acts differ, they are both viewed negatively in the Scriptures, just as they are in our culture. For example, a parent who intentionally murders their child is punished more harshly than a parent who fails to buckle their child into a car seat, but both acts of intention or negligence are punishable by law.

Even more to point, there is a distinction between a woman who willingly aborts her child and a woman who, despite knowing the inherent risks, continues to smoke and drink heavily during pregnancy. There is a difference between the two cases, yet both bear obvious responsibility and guilt in regard to their actions.

Given the clear biblical and moral responsibility that accompanies knowledge, it is unwise, if not explicitly sinful, to continue using potentially abortive forms of birth control once a person is made aware of the possibilities inherent to the technology. 21

Summary

On the one hand, it seems biblically permissible to consider and use various contraceptives as long as the particular form places a high value on the sanctity of human life. Assuming motive has been addressed, Christian couples may use rhythm and calendar methods, barriers, non-abortive forms of sterilization and short periods of intentional abstinence for the sake of stewarding the gifts that God gives for the sake of the kingdom.

On the other hand, certain forms of birth control are not truly or solely contraceptive; they are potentially abortive. Though The Village will not explicitly prohibit or police the use of the pill, injections, IUDs and other forms of potentially abortive birth control, we strongly encourage our members and attendees to prayerfully consider their abortive risks and to talk to their doctor. We hope that you will consider using one or more of the more life-honouring forms of prevention or at least consider using supplemental contraceptives to greatly lessen or even entirely eliminate potential abortive risk. 22 The probable benefits of family planning are not worth the potential loss of human lives bearing the image of our great God.

Medical technology is changing at such a drastic rate that the specific conclusions of this resource might become outdated in the near future. New forms of contraception will be invented, and existing forms will be updated. Some of these forms will honour and protect life, while others will not. Regardless of these changes, the general principle for assessing all present and future forms remains unchanged. The sanctity of human life and the belief that life begins with conception abide as our litmus test, thus any contraceptives with abortive potential are to be avoided if not supplemented by other non-abortive forms of contraception.

Again, we understand that these conclusions might be difficult to process, especially for those who have unwittingly used the pill or other contraceptives with similar potential in the past. It is unfortunate that misinformation has plagued this topic, but there is great hope moving forward in the light of the gospel. In Christ there is no condemnation or shame, but grace and love from the Author of both life and forgiveness.

Reproductive Technology

The inability to have children is a difficult reality for many in the church today. Countless couples walk this dark road with fear, sorrow, confusion, anger, bitterness and unfounded shame. Though children are a gift and reward from the Lord (Psalms 127:3), the inability to have children does not mean God is punishing you. The Lord is good and gracious toward His children, even in seasons of infertility. This struggle is also not just a modern phenomenon. Looking at the history of redemption in the Bible, we see that many of the matriarchs of our faith – Sarah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth, to name a few – walked through similar seasons of sadness.

But, still, how should believers respond to infertility? Historically, there have been few options: prayer, fasting, waiting and adoption. However, with the various scientific advancements of the twentieth century, there are many more options. Although some believers remain sceptical of science and commend only prayer and patience, God has given man the capacity for innovation and creativity, providing us the opportunity to utilize medical intervention to the extent that it does not violate other principles of Scripture. That said, the posture of the heart and the sanctity of human life should be the predominant criteria by which this technology is assessed.

What is artificial reproductive technology?

Defining artificial reproductive technology (ART) can be difficult. By formal definition, ART is restricted to technologies in which both sperm and egg are manipulated. Hormonal therapies and artificial insemination are, therefore, not technically considered ART as only sperm or egg is manipulated rather than both. However, using a more general definition, ART can be applied to any method used to induce pregnancy by artificial or partially artificial means.

Using this general definition, below is a non-exhaustive list of the most common forms available today:

  1. Hormonal therapies
  2. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or artificial insemination (AI)
  3. Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) or zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)
  4. In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  5. Surrogacy

Is it sinful to use reproductive technologies?

The various forms of artificial reproductive technology available today were not yet invented by the first century, so we should not be surprised to find little explicit testimony in the Bible. The whole of Scripture nowhere universally forbids, in principle, the use of reproductive technology. Thus, we must ask some diagnostic questions to develop a healthy understanding of artificial reproductive technologies.

First, what is the underlying motive of the heart in using ART? Second, do all forms of ART uphold and honour the sanctity of human life?

Is Artificial Reproductive Technology always wise, appropriate and good?

It is certainly true that having a child from your own body is an exceedingly good gift from the Lord and one of the highest blessings of this life. From the beginning, God hardwired humanity with the desire and command to “be fruitful and multiply.” However, sin consists of turning good things into ultimate things. This tendency is a danger when it comes to childbearing. Bearing a child is one of the highest privileges that a couple can be granted, yet it is not the greatest privilege.

While the desire to have and raise genetically related children is grounded in the created norms and cemented in God’s imperative to “be fruitful and multiply,” it is nonetheless important not to place one’s hope or sense of worth too greatly on one’s ability to have children. The final hope of the Christian does not lie in the ability to manipulate human reproductive systems or in the ability to have children at all…our ultimate hope lies not in our ability to have children but rather in our Savior Jesus Christ.23

We are not implying that a couple seeking reproductive assistance is doing so from an idolatrous heart, but we are exhorting couples who are wrestling with this sensitive subject to lay themselves and their desires before the Father from whom all good gifts flow (James 1:17) and by whom all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).

A Word about Adoption

Though we cannot give the subject the attention it deserves, adoption is a legitimate and explicitly biblical means to pursue the call to commend God’s works to the next generation. The act of adoption mirrors the heart of our heavenly Father who not only justifies His people but also calls us His sons and daughters. Though not an exact substitute for bearing your own biological children, adoption is a good and godly pursuit and should be prayerfully considered as an opportunity to advance the kingdom.24

If Scripture does not universally prohibit the use of reproductive technologies, which kinds are permissible?

The crucial issue is the sanctity of human life. As a basic rule, forms or types of ART that honour and uphold the sanctity of human life are acceptable, while those that do not are not acceptable. Therefore, the fundamental question is whether or not a particular form of reproductive technology terminates or potentially terminates human life.25

Technologies that do not terminate or potentially terminate human life

AI, GIFT and ZIFT all primarily involve creating an environment more conducive to conception and implantation and do not require the destruction of any human life. The only potential problem with these methods is the use of egg or sperm from another source other than the spouse. On this particular issue, there is no concrete prohibition, though some would say the use of “genetic material (donor egg, donor sperm, donor DNA) from someone other than the husband or wife” leads to “considerable doubt with regard to the morality of such a practice.”26 This same concern would also be voiced regarding the issue of surrogacy, but again the issue is ethically complex, so we encourage prayer, wise counsel and discernment.27

Technologies that are intended to terminate human life or have the reasonable potential to do so

Since the point of reproductive technology is to conceive life, there are no methods that are primarily intended to terminate it. However, at least one current technology can potentially do so. Though other technologies, present and future, might pose similar risks, we will consider the most widely used method of this time: in vitro fertilization (IVF).

How does IVF potentially terminate human life?

IVF simply involves fertilization of an egg to create an embryo in an artificial environment (in vitro literally means “in glass” referring to the petri dish or test tube in which conception occurs), making the practice appear morally permissible. However, there are certain advantages to creating not just one but multiple embryos at a time, which can result in two theological dilemmas.

First, we must ask what will become of those embryos that are not ultimately implanted. Are they frozen for later use, frozen and simply forgotten, or destroyed in the process of research? These are important questions, and those who use the technology bear a burden for responsible and loving concern for these embryos. An embryo is a fertilized egg that represents the beginning of human life. Destruction or neglect of human life, even in such early stages, is immoral.

Second, the woman often has up to four embryos implanted within her at a time. What will she do if all four embryos implant? Abortion, or “fetal reduction” as it is called, is simply not a permissible Christian option, and the body often cannot support the implantation of numerous embryos. In general, it is helpful to think of this issue through the lens of two questions: How many embryos do you desire to carry to term and care for? How many embryos can you reasonably expect your body to support?

IVF would not necessarily pose moral dilemmas if it were as simple as fertilizing one egg with one sperm from a husband and implanting one embryo in his wife, the mother-to-be. IVF poses grave ethical problems, at least for prolife Christians, when it involves creating multiple embryos, destroying some of those embryos because of possible birth defects, or indulging in “fetal reduction” (destroying some developing children after they are returned to a woman’s body).28

Summary

It seems biblically permissible to consider and use various forms of artificial reproductive technology as long as the particular technology places a high value on the sanctity of human life. Assuming motive has been addressed, it seems acceptable for Christian couples to use hormonal therapies, intrauterine insemination, artificial insemination, gamete intrafallopian transfer or zygote intrafallopian transfer. Use of IVF itself is acceptable within the bounds previously addressed. As stewards of God’s gifts, we have a responsibility to address the various concerns associated with ART and respond accordingly.

The Village will not explicitly prohibit or police the use of reproductive technologies by members and attendees.29

However, we encourage prayer, counsel and wisdom as you think through these issues. While the Bible does not speak explicitly to the diverse complexities of medical technology, there are biblical principles to which we are subject. Our glad and trusting submission to God’s Word is our greatest good, regardless of the temporary sorrow and pain that might accompany such obedience.

The field of artificial reproductive technology is constantly expanding, thus believers need a general principle for assessing such medical advances. The sanctity of human life and the belief that life begins at conception abide as the foundation for future evaluation. Forms of reproductive technology with abortive intention or potential should be avoided for the glory of God and the preservation of human life in His image.

These conclusions might be difficult to process, especially for those who have personal experience with such reproductive technology. It is unfortunate that misinformation has plagued this topic, but there is great hope moving forward in the light of the gospel. In Christ there is no condemnation or shame, but grace and love from the Author of both life and forgiveness.

A final word to husbands and wives

The conversation on artificial reproductive technologies is not abstractly philosophical but, instead, represents a very real and raw reality for many in the church today. We want those who are walking through the wilderness of infertility, pain of child loss or shame surrounding past decisions to know that they are loved. We encourage those in such seasons to pray, fast, wait and hope in the midst of gospel-centered community. We commend our Home Groups and Recovery Groups as spheres in which the grace and mercy of the gospel can be experienced and embraced.

Conclusion

Ethical issues of medical technology can be confusing and at times frustrating. Christians nevertheless bear a responsibility to think biblically about all areas of life. The Scriptures are to be the ultimate authority and final judge on all things, as they represent the clear and consistent Word of our great God. He has spoken and, in His speaking, has declared the sanctity of human life. As those created in His image and redeemed through the gospel, we bear a particular responsibility to agree with His assessment of life and to conform our lives accordingly for our greatest good. This call demands some degree of familiarity with potential effects of the various forms of medical technology that we might use.

In light of this reality, convenience, comfort and covetousness are not the lenses through which we are to evaluate medicine and science. Rather, our charge is to assess the use of contraceptive and reproductive technologies on the basis of the preservation and protection of human life. Forms that truly uphold and honour the sanctity of life for the glory of God are acceptable, while those that do not are not. Our God is good, and He has given us life in both creation and redemption. Let us be wise and faithful stewards of the gifts that He gives and trust Him even when inconvenient, uncomfortable and painful.

Feb 07, 2013

© 2013 The Village Church. All rights reserved.

Recommended Resources

  • God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger with David Jones
  • Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions by Randy Alcorn
  • When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden: Encouragement for Couples Facing Infertility by Sandra Glahn and William Cutrer

Footnotes

1 For an explanation and defense of the “life begins at conception” position, consider The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf or the chapter entitled “Abortion is About God” in For the Fame of God’s Name by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor.

2 See “Sexual Immorality in the Scriptures” on The Village Church website for further explanation on God’s design for all sexual activity to be limited to a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman. We also understand that many single mothers and fathers and widows and widowers will use this resource, and our hope is that they too will be edified and encouraged.

3 See “Is Abortion Sinful?” on The Village Church website for further explanation and defense of this statement. As mentioned in the resource, the one possible exception to this general prohibition of abortion is when the life of mother or another child is at stake.

4 This includes such devices as diaphragms, cervical caps and condoms.

5 This is a broad category including hysterectomy, vasectomy, tube tying, ablation, etc.

6 There is in actuality not simply one “pill,” but multiple types and dozens of brands. As all forms available today have similar functions, they will be considered together, and we will simply refer to the pill in the singular.

7 There are various types of “morning after” pills. Some function similarly to “the pill” and should thus be assessed along with that technology. Others, in particular RU-486, are primarily abortive in nature.

8 See “Christian Responsibility and Mosaic Law” on The Village Church website for more on the application of Old Testament law today.

9 See “Does the Bible Permit Birth Control?” on the Desiring God website for a more developed defense against the claim that believers are mandated to have as many children as possible.

10 See the “Biblical Sex” blog series on The Village Church website for further description of the divine designs for sex.

11 “Can Christians Use Birth Control?” on Albertmohler.com

12 It is our biblical conviction that life begins at conception. For further explanation and defense of this position, consider the resources mentioned in footnote 1.

13 An exception in this case might be ablation, which involves the burning of the uterine lining, which then creates a permanently hostile environment for fertilized eggs. Though there are benefits of this technology for conditions such as endometriosis, couples should consider the fact that ablation does not actually prevent conception but instead prevents implantation of an already-conceived life and is thus potentially abortive. Therefore, we encourage supplemental forms of contraceptive in order to greatly lessen if not entirely eliminate the risk of an early abortion.

14 The one possible (though disputed) exception to this universal prohibition would be when the life of mother or child is at stake, as mentioned in footnote 4. Even in this case, the ultimate concern is for the preservation of human life.

15 An intrauterine device (IUD) is an instrument placed within the uterus as a form of birth control.

16 Although there is some disagreement among doctors and scientists over this third mechanism and thus the abortive potential of the pill, research strongly suggests that the pill (and similar contraceptives) does indeed contribute to a thinned endometrial lining, creating a hostile environment which is much less conducive to the implantation of an embryo.

17 The treatment of this issue is necessarily brief for the purposes of this resource. For a comprehensive defense of these assertions, see “Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?” by Randy Alcorn as well as Chapter 7 of God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger. Both sources contain not only helpful theological consideration but also carefully researched medical references.

18 Though not necessarily included in the large print on prescriptions, these three functions are included in the more exhaustive information contained in a Physician’s Desk Reference.

19 Historically and biblically, the Church has considered the fertilization of an egg to constitute the beginning of human life. See related passages referenced in the introduction to this resource and recommended resources listed in footnote 1.

20 In reality, the topic is probably not best represented as a linear spectrum since a comprehensive discussion would also include evangelically debated topics such as capital punishment and warfare.

21 Obviously, this would not be the case for a non-sexually active woman who is taking the pill for reasons other than contraception. As for married women taking the pill for non-contraceptive purposes, the use of a supplemental form of contraceptive would be encouraged (as in the case of ablation discussed previously). Even then, couples should carefully consider that it is possible for those other methods and mechanisms to fail, potentially causing a spontaneous abortion.

22 Given the constant rate of technological advancement and the scope and size of The Village, it is impractical if not impossible to oversee and assess all contraceptive use. Our hope is that our members and attendees would process through the strong concerns outlined in this resource within the context of gospel-centered community and respond appropriately. That said, as questions, circumstances and concerns arise, we will still engage pastorally for the good of the individuals involved and the health of the church body to the glory of God.

23 God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger, chapter 7.

24 Helpful resources on adoption can be found in Adopted for Life by Russell Moore and on the Desiring God and Together for Adoption websites.

25 Again, it is our biblical conviction that life begins at conception. For further explanation and defense of this position, consider the resources mentioned in footnote 1.

26 Kostenberger, chapter 7.

27 On the issue of surrogacy, it might also be noted that the common practice of receiving financial compensation for being a surrogate beyond common medical bills could be potentially concerning. In general, the elders and pastors of The Village would strongly encourage any of our members or regular attendees who are considering surrogacy to talk to us about the various concerns associated with this option.

28 “From Souls on Ice,” Christianity Today, July 2003

29 Given the constant rate of technological advancement and the scope and size of The Village, it is impractical if not impossible to oversee and assess all such use. Our hope is that our members and regular attendees would process through the strong concerns outlined in this paper within the context of gospel-centered community and respond appropriately. That said, as questions, circumstances and concerns arise, we will still engage pastorally for the good of the individuals involved and the health of the church body to the glory of God.

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