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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, August 26 2021

What does the Bible say about birth control?

Historically, the idea labelling sex as dirty and evil crept into some Christian denominations, resulting in the erroneous teaching that sex should only be engaged in by married couples when they wanted to have children.

God created humans as male and female and considered His whole creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31). He planned for husbands and wives to be joined together and to become one flesh through sexual relations (Genesis 2:24), and He calls the marriage bed “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).

Children are a natural result of sexual intercourse between a husband and wife and are called “a gift from the Lord” (Psalms 127:3, New Living Translation). But the Bible does not restrict sex in marriage to be only for making babies. In fact, the Bible encourages husbands and wives to give pleasure to their mates.

Our Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension booklet points out: “The idea that sex was dirty and evil was an idea that crept into Christianity from early Catholic teachers. Their compromise with the obvious reality that sexual activity was necessary to have children resulted in their teaching that sex should only be engaged in by married couples when they wanted to have children. Yet there is no such instruction in the Bible.

“Genesis 2:24 says, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh [have sex].’ Proverbs 5:15-19 encourages couples to enjoy sexual pleasure together within marriage. Paul says that husbands and wives should render the sexual affection due each other—refraining only during times set aside for prayer and fasting (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

“No passage in the Bible forbids husbands and wives from having sex for pleasure when not trying to conceive children. There is nothing wrong with couples using contraceptive methods, provided they are not physically harmful, to postpone having children until the time of their choosing.”

One passage often cited as prohibiting birth control is in Genesis 38. This sad story is one of selfishness and rebellion, but does not make a statement about birth control in general.

After Tamar’s husband Er died, her father-in-law Judah told his son Onan, “‘You must marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. Her first son from you will be your brother’s heir.’ But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep from having a baby who would belong to his brother” (Genesis 38:8-9, NLT). Onan’s sin was rebellion and selfishness, not birth control.





With time, he also came to understand the days observed by most of Christianity are not commanded in the Bible, and Scripture backed up his realisation that associating the name of Jesus with these days did not make them more acceptable: "... in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).




While in high school, he also discovered that in the King James Version of the Bible the word translated as "Easter" in Acts 12:4 was an erroneous translation of the Greek word ‘pascha’, a word clearly meaning the Passover (described in Leviticus 23:5). It was not until the second century, long after the New Testament was written, that people began to replace the Passover observance with Easter.




Jesus and His family observed the Holy Days of the Bible, travelling to Jerusalem, when He was twelve years old, to observe the Passover (Luke 2:41, 42). John 7 also shows Christ keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day (described in Leviticus 23:33-36) in spite of the threat of bodily harm. Jesus kept all of the annual festivals, not only because He was a devout Jew, but because God commanded them and He was setting an example for Christians today (Matthew 28:20).




These Holy Days were also observed following Christ's ascension. The disciples were gathered together to observe the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent (Acts 2:1), because Pentecost was still a "holy convocation," a commanded assembly (Leviticus 23: 15- 16, 21).




Gentile Christians also observed the biblical Holy Days. More than 20 years after Christ’s crucifixion, about the year A.D. 55, the Apostle Paul gave important instruction to the Church in the gentile city of Corinth, where most church members were gentile. A man was involved in an immoral relationship, and Paul instructed them to expel him from the church:"...Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump...For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with ...the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).




The Corinthians had put out leaven to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but had not applied the spiritual lesson. Paul’s intent, by instructing them to "keep the feast," was not to spiritualize away the Days of Unleavened Bread, but to magnify them. The New Testament builds on the foundation of the Old by emphasizing the spiritual intent of the Holy Days.




Colossians 2:16, 17 is perhaps the most oft-quoted New Testament Scripture used to discredit the Holy Days: "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."




Paul was not saying not to keep the Holy Days, he was addressing their proper observance. The Colossians had been introducing ascetic practices on the Holy Days, as they were being influenced to follow the commandments and doctrines of men (verses 18-23). If anything, these verses corroborate the practice of God's true Church in the first century was to observe these days,




Another misunderstood text is Galatians 4:8-10. Verses 8 and 9 refer to the practices of the Galatians before they knew the true God, and after learning the truth, they were beginning to return to these ‘weak and beggarly elements’. To say God's laws are weak and beggarly is blasphemous. These "days and months and seasons [times] and years" were pagan practices, possibly similar to astrology today.




When a person looks into the commands and examples in the Bible to determine which religious festivals to observe, there is only one choice to be found: the annual festivals and Holy Days of God. If we are to build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will faithfully observe these days, and come to learn more about God's plan of salvation for humanity.

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