HOW GOD VIEWED THE SECOND SON BORN TO ABRAHAM
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
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.
Onan and the Levirate Marriage Law
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 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.
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:
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.
Although caring for a child under these circumstances would be difficult, there is no suggestion that steps be taken not to conceive.