Read an Excerpt
How many children do you want?
For more than twenty years, when engaged couples have come to me for premarital counsel---either in my capacity as a physician or as a pastor---I have asked them to sit back to back so they can't see each other's response and then have asked them to raise the number of fingers for the number of children they hope to have. Rarely have both the man and woman given the same answer.
This exercise helps many couples realize that in their plans for marriage, an important consideration has been left out. 'How many?'
and 'When?' can be complex questions.
* An engaged woman attending a Christian college overhears one of her professors explaining why he has six children:
'We don't use contraception---that would mean a lack of faith. We prefer to trust God.' She wonders how she and her fiance will balance 'stepping out in faith' with weighing the pros and cons and making wise decisions.
* A wife has been using the pill, but she and her husband recently heard that the pill causes abortion by killing the early embryo. Now they have second thoughts and are trying to figure out what method of contraception, if any, is best for them.
* Feeling her biological clock ticking, a wife is eager to stop using contraception. Her husband, concerned to first establish financial security, wants to wait. Their endless discussions about when to stop using contraception are getting them nowhere.
* Acouple with five children have always thought it was wrong to use contraception but have now been told that the wife's health would be endangered if she were to have another child.
They have no idea where to begin in considering the options.
* An engaged couple plans to use contraception after they marry, but they have no idea what options are available and which ones fit within their pro-life beliefs.
Each of the individuals in these situations has desired to honor
God with his or her choices, so they have turned to Scripture for guidance. There they've found much written about living sexually pure lives but nothing directly about contraception---the deliberate prevention of pregnancy.
Some people assume that the Bible is silent about contraception because it did not exist in Bible times. Yet some methods, such as withdrawal, have been around for thousands of years, as we will discuss. This raises even more questions. Is the Bible silent on the subject because it is a relatively unimportant issue? Or were certain practices assumed?
In exploring such questions, we will draw on our theological training and our discussions with hundreds of couples. In addition,
my many years of medical practice as an obstetrician and gynecologist,
my experience in pastoral ministry, and my years of teaching at the seminary level provide case studies and quotes that come from real-life encounters.
LET'S TALK ABOUT IT
1. How many children do you want? How many children does your spouse want?
2. Is there a difference between the two numbers?
3. Did you know this before you married?
4. Have either of your changed your minds about this since you married?
PART 1: MYTHS AND 22 FACTS
5. Have you come to a consensus about family building?
If not, what needs to happen for you to find a place of oneness?
6. In general, how do you as a couple handle conflict resolution?
Would you say you 'find one another's heart'?
Does one of you tend to give in while the other gets his or her way? Do you both seek unity and godliness through love? If not, what steps need to be taken to move in that direction?