I've had a number of conversations recently related to family planning and birth control.
There's a concise article by John Piper on the subject that is good, but there's an even better message by Mark Driscoll on the subject. You can download the sermon "Religion Saves and 9 Other Misconceptions- Birth Control" for free off itunes, or go to the Mars Hill website. This is the closest thing I've heard to my opinion on the issue.
Let me share what struck me as I listened to Driscoll's message. In one word: freedom. One way to tell you're in a legalistic environment is if you're often made to feel guilty about life choices that make you wonder, "Is that really in the Bible?"
Legalism is satanic. Legalism is bondage- it wages war against freedom. I think this is an issue where people become legalistic, casting upon others an unnecessary burden. Here's what I mean...
I love the idea of having lots of kids. I know they are a blessing from God. I would love for lots of "Arants" to bring the love of Christ to a hopeless world.
But there's something that's been bothering me... can Leatha and I handle more kids? I might be able to, but what about Leatha's emotional well-being? She is the one who has to remain sane when surrounded by the chaos of little kids all day. I can understand how moms have emotional breakdowns and are prone to depression. It's draining physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Add on top of it trying to maintain order, educate the kids, eating healthy, being inside all day...
Some people object to this with the following quasi spiritual response, "You just need to trust God."
Absolutely. I need to trust God that four kids might be all we can handle. Of course we shouldn't let selfish motives drive our decision (more kids will keep us from going on nice vacations and wearing expensive clothes and driving new cars...) But we are stewards of this life. I have to obey the command to live with my wife "in an understanding way." I've got to study her, "Does my wife want more kids and I'm being selfish? How is she doing emotionally? Would she be able to handle more? Are we being good stewards of the ones we have now? Can we afford it? As Paul would say, "If you can't take care of your own family- you're worse than an unbeliever)
Then there's the 31 orphans we're trying to feed in Malawi. Or the 800 college students we're trying to shepherd. Or the church of which I'm an overseer.
Some women can handle none, or one, or two, or twenty... but it's an issue of freedom. Plan your family with a biblically informed view of family and kids, then make a decision based on how God has wired you as individuals and as a couple.
Freedom in family planning. That's what I felt after listening to the Driscoll message. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!" (2 Cor. 3:17)
P.S.- Leatha and I haven't decided on whether or not there will be a #5 (actually, there are five already, but our first one is in heaven.) Moreover, God has the right to trump our plans...