TUBAL LIGATION / VASECTOMY AND THE CHRISTIAN
Recently I received an e-mail that raised the following questions:
Do you believe all women are wrong to tie their tubes? I do not, and I have considered having it done my own self, and I have NO problem in my conscience. I'm not against having children. I’m just against ME having MORE children.
The comment came from a serious Christian who has given herself to a life of prayer and has seen the hand of the Lord move in many areas of her life. In searching the net for information I might pass on to this sister, I discovered there was very little information available relating scripture to the topic. It is also a subject avoided by most ministers in fear of offending those who sit in the pews. In the following paragraphs I will attempt to explore the Biblical view of children and contrast that with situational attitudes that we have picked up with interaction with the world’s view; but before moving on to the meat, here are some other relative questions typical of our generation.
* What about health problems or a troubled marriage
* It causes a lot of anxiety to be engaged in sex with your spouse when you know you don't want to have any more children and birth control methods are not 100% guaranteed or they just don't work for you.
* Yes, children are a gift from God, but not everyone should have that gift and not everyone who does have them should keep on getting them. I know my limit and “birth control” just seems the wise thing to do
* I agree it is wrong to become infertile if it's done out of rebellion. However, it is better a person have NO children than to have abortions, or to have children and not love them and care for them right
* I'm against abortion but I don't believe the same with a man or woman having their tubes tied. One is prevention and the other is murder
These are all relative comments and important things to be addressed. Most of these issues are addressed in considering God’s original intent for mankind which is in direct and violent collision with the pressures and standards of the society we live in. Because we are Christians, we are to be obedient to God’s point of view, so let’s examine some relevant scriptures.
IN THE BEGINNING
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Our original parents were commanded to be so fruitful that they would replenish the entire earth and subdue it. This command was given to them before the fall into sin and since God declared that everything He had created was “very good” - it is a safe assumption that having many children was His perfect will for His highest creation.
No where in the Bible has God rescinded his command to be fruitful and replenish the earth. The fruit of each generation populates the earth for the subsequent generation.
THE BIBLICAL ATTITUDE TOWARD CHILDREN
Throughout the Bible (both testaments), childlessness was considered a reproach to man, and sometimes even a punishment of God. There are numerous accounts of women in Scripture, beseeching God for a son. Consider, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Hannah to name just a few. Michal, daughter of Saul and wife of King David was rendered childless because she valued royal dignity more than worship of God.
Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! … Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
2 Samuel 6:20,23
The Law of Moses states that a childless condition was part of God’s judgment for very sinful acts. For example:
And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.
And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless. Leviticus 20: 20-21
THE GIFT OF A CHILD CONSIDERED A REWARD
The Shunammite woman, who materially blessed the prophet Elisha was empowered to conceive a child as a reward for her service to the Kingdom of God.
And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.
And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him. And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people.
And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old.
And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door.
And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid.
And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.
2 Kings 4: 8-17
Shortly before he passed into eternity, the patriarch Jacob pronounced a prophetic blessing upon each of his sons. He blessed his favorite son Joseph, with the blessings of heaven above and of the deep below, and blessings of the womb. Genesis 49:22 There was never an indication of the remotest thought in the mind of any that the number of children born to a family should be limited.
A MIRACULOUS MOVE OF GOD - PRODUCES THE CHILD OF PROMISE
God moved miraculously in some cases to bless unlikely recipients with a child of promise. Consider Abraham who was called the “friend of God”. He was financially and spiritually blessed, but without a child, his death would mean the end of the family line.
After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6
Those of you who are familiar with the Scriptures may remember that Abraham fathered a son named Ishmael through Hagar, a secondary wife, given to him by Sarah when she did not conceive according to her own timetable. When God spoke with the elderly patriarch, Abraham expressed a thought that those who believe they have enough children can relate to. Here’s the story.
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee…
 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
It is apparent that the fleshly wisdom of Abraham kicked in here. He saw no reason why all the promises made to him could not be fulfilled through the son he already had. Legally, Ishmael was considered Sarah’s since she was mistress of the household. “ O that Ishmael might live before thee” is Abraham’s intellectual evaluation that he and Sarah were just too old to deal with a baby.
But God had a different view of the situation!
 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful,…
 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. Genesis 17: 19,21
All the promises made to nation of Israel, including the birth of Messiah Jesus, were fulfilled through the line of Isaac. Praise the Lord, that Abraham and Sarah were obedient to the Lord and did not decide that Ishmael was enough for them.
HOW GOD VIEWED THE SECOND SON BORN TO ABRAHAM
At the crowning moment in Abraham’s life, when he was willing to offer his son in obedience to God on Mount Moriah, the Scripture shows how God viewed Isaac, the child of promise.
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
The obvious response of the casual reader is that here is an error in the Bible. What about Ishmael? The answer is that Isaac is the son of the covenant, and as such, he is viewed by God as Abraham’s only son.
When we refuse God’s blessing and prevent conception, not only are we being disobedient to the command to be fruitful and multiply, but we never know whether the refused child is the very source of fulfillment through which God’s plan for us is to be accomplished. We are quick to say, “Let Ishmael live before you”.
A BIBLE EXAMPLE OF BIRTH CONTROL MEETS WITH SWIFT JUDGMENT
Onan and the Levirate Marriage Law
Expanding a family through the birth of offspring was so important, God made provision for a Jewish man to have a family tree, even if he died before his time. The provision was called Levirate Marriage and works like this:
If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.
And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. Deut 25: 5-6
There was a provision in the plan of Levirate marriage for a brother who did not want to take his former sister-in-law as his wife. The brother would be considered socially incorrect, but was not forced into a union he found objectionable.
And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.
Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.
And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
Deut 25: 7-10
There is a scripture that has been used to support the concept that God does not approve of birth control since the time of the early church fathers. It was also the accepted view among Hebrew scholars until this past century when many doctrines got the “liberal” treatment. The scripture in question is found in Genesis 38 and references a son of Judah who was to perform the duty of the Levirate marriage to Tamar, his bother’s widow. Some have attempted to refute this scripture saying it is not a judgment on birth control by saying that Onan’s problem was not that he refused to father a child, but that the child would be considered the son of his deceased older brother. If that were the case, it is logical that Onan would have declined to marry his brother’s widow at all. The penalty for that infraction was the acquisition of a nickname, “the Unshod”. Onan had no problem having sex with her, he just did not want the child period, since it would not be credited to his account.
And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
Had he refused the marriage, Onan might have suffered some social consequences, but God’s opinion of the matter was quickly demonstrated in a more permanent fashion.
The saga of Onan is the only example of refusing the gift of a child recorded in the scriptures. The only other negative comments about bearing children refer to times of great judgment. Jesus spoke a word that referred to the invasion that was to come upon Jerusalem. The constraint of caring for an infant during the ruthless attack of Rome in 70A.D. easily explains this reference.
But Jesus turning unto them said,
Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
A similar event is prophesied in the Olivet discourse in which Jesus spoke of events of the last days. Many believe this is yet to be fulfilled.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Matthew 24:19-22
Although caring for a child under these circumstances would be difficult, there is no suggestion that steps be taken not to conceive.
BIBLE FACTS OF LIFE:
HOW DOES THE SCRIPTURE TELL US THAT PREGNANCY ACTUALLY OCCURS?
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. Gen 4:1
Our concept that the intellectual ability of our ancestors was severely limited has been formed by negative pictures of cavemen dragging their unwilling mates into some dark region in order to procreate. Actually they were pretty smart folks. Consider Adam who named all of creation and Noah who built the ark with very sketchy blue prints - no small feat even for the engineers of today. Eve was smarter than we give her credit for. She correctly understood the source of her children.
The Lord closed up the wombs of the subjects of Abimelech.
Abraham, the man of faith, was not always a sterling example of perfect trust in God, but had to grow into this distinction. Early in his life he lied to the king concerning his wife Sarah. Because of Sarah’s beauty, Abraham feared for his life and so he told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister. This was a half truth. Sarah was taken and put into the King’s harem, but God protected her by closing the wombs of all the women in the kingdom. When the truth was revealed, Abraham was used by God to reverse the curse.
So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife. Genesis 20:17-18
Isaac, Abraham and Sarah’s miracle child of promise, knew where babies came from.
And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. Gen 25:21
Leah may have been the ugly older sister, but God favored her with many sons. Leah had four sons in rapid succession, and then there came a time when she stopped bearing.
And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.
And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.
And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.
And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. Genesis 29:31-35
And so began the "Baby Derby" in Jacob’s household. Leah stopped bearing but asked the Lord to fix that problem for her.
And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.
And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.
And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.
And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
Genesis 30: 17- 21
Leah understood that it was the Lord that had blessed her and opened her womb. Rachel, on the other hand - prevented from conceiving - looked to her husband to remedy her barrenness. Rachel said to her husband, “give me children or I die”. But Jacob knew what Leah knew - it was God that opened or closed the womb.
And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? Gen 30:2
Rachel finally got the point - and the baby.
And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:
And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son. Genesis 30:22-24
Hannah, one of two wives of Elkanah, suffered torment at the hands of her rival. Hannah knew that it was the Lord who would open her womb. She asked God for the child and struck a bargain to return the child to the Lord.
Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD. 1 Samuel 1:20
After she fulfilled her part of the bargain, God blessed her multiple times.
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD. 1 Samuel 2:21
A final pronouncement on the value of children is made in the Book of Psalms. It begins:
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it…”.
The question of the legitimacy of refusing children from the Lord through birth control may well be answered in this one verse. We are quick to forget that it is the Lord that builds our households. Our frantic attempt to build it ourselves on material prosperity and social acceptability is futile, and may be the root cause of why so many of our households have crumbling foundations.
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Psalms 127: 1, 3-5
What we know so far:
1- God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply;
2- It is God that opens a womb and allows conception, and closes a womb and prevents it;
3- Children are to be considered a blessing and a gift from the Lord.
ARE THERE ANY SCRIPTURAL WAYS TO PREVENT CONCEPTION?
Separate for a time of prayer and fasting.
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 1Cor 7: 1-5
When Paul wrote the above, his statement of equality between a husband and a wife was considered revolutionary. He stated that each partner in the marriage owed a duty to the other, but there was a time when they could abstain from sexual contact by mutual agreement for a time of prayer and fasting. This appears to be the only scripture on the topic of abstinence for a married couple. This quote is even a “stretch” in applying it to the purpose of preventing conception and I am not really confident that this is a correct application of this scripture. The purpose of prayer and fasting is quite different than removing oneself from the possibility of conception.
TAKING THE CONTROL AWAY FROM THE LORD
So far we have been discussing the concept of childlessness or the birth of children in an agrarian society where many sons meant much prosperity. Although some agree that being without children all together is a grievous thing, they also cite the cost and responsibility of children in modern times as a reason for taking steps to limit conceptions. The problem for Christians arises when we seek to take the control of conception away from the Lord.
The natural order of things dictates that when a marriage occurs, children will usually be produced. Medical discoveries of the last century now allow individuals to circumvent the blessings of family and substitute our own logic for God’s best. We can prevent conception to a reasonable degree of certainty, and even cause a conception to happen outside of the natural human environment. No matter what reasons we give, when we take matters into our own hands, we are still acting in rebellion to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply and usurping His sovereignty over the child bearing process.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Since the Bible records many who petitioned the Lord in order to conceive a child, and we are always to be honest before the Lord, why not ask the Lord to prevent conception? This still puts the couple in the position of submitting to the greater will of God.
I have been asked if I am against all types of birth control or just permanent methods like vasectomy and tubal ligation. If the Bible says children are to be considered a blessing and a gift from the Lord; and the Bible is wholly true all of the time; then deliberate means of preventing conception is “leaning on our own understanding instead of leaning on the Word of God”.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6
If God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, and it is He that opens a womb and allows conception, and closes a womb and prevents it, then whatever method we used to thwart that plan is rebellion against Him. We are choosing where and under which circumstances we will not acknowledge His Lordship.
NO WIGGLE ROOM
When a scripture doesn’t say what we want it to say, the inclination of our flesh is to look for “Wiggle Room”. Wiggle room is a circumstance under which the scripture doesn’t mean what it appears to be saying, and of course, those circumstances match our situation exactly. The problem is the overwhelming evidence is against wiggle room on the issue of preventing conception. God’s Word is true all the time.
I think that the most difficult thing for a Christian is saying and meaning, “Nevertheless not my will but Thy will be done” especially when there are life long consequences. However, when we allow God to make the decision, we are assured that:
… all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
If you are considering a tubal ligation or a vasectomy, please don’t step off the cliff into this area of deception. If you have already had one, seek the Lord and ask Him what He would have you do. Some of these procedures can be reversed.
GOD’S CHOICE GUARATEES GOD’S BEST!