I don't have hard statistics at hand, but a quick search on the web can easily reveal that the use of contraception is controversial among Christians, as not every denomination or church openly accepts it. Just for the sake of sharing an example, this BBC article claims that:

Christian acceptance of contraception is relatively new; all churches disapproved of artificial contraception until the start of the 20th century.

In modern times different Christian churches hold different views about the rightness and wrongness of using birth control.

Question: What is the biblical basis against contraception? What are common exegetical arguments against the practice of birth control?

  • 2
    There are seven references in Genesis (regarding either the act of, or the blessing of, fruitful procreation) 'be ye fruitful and multiply'. I don't see this as a question about Christianity, as such. It is a question about the purpose of humanity, as such. Seven references : Gen. 1:22, 28 ; Gen. 8:17 ; Gen. 9:1, 7 ; Gen. 28:3 ; Gen. 35:11. (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 11:06
  • Related and if interest christianity.stackexchange.com/q/305/23657
    – Kristopher
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 12:11

3 Answers 3

  • Genesis 1:22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply
  • Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply
  • Genesis 8:17 Be fruitful and multiply on the earth
  • Genesis 9:1 Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth
  • Genesis 9:7 Be ye fruitful and multiply
  • Genesis 28:3 God Almighty bless thee and make thee fruitful and multiply thee
  • Genesis 35:11 I am God Almighty : be fruitful and multiply

On seven occasions in Genesis, fruitful multiplication is encouraged (one might say, commanded) by God or the blessing of it is conveyed.

To Adam and Eve, by God himself ; to Noah, again by God himself after judgment of the earth ; by Isaac to Jacob ; and finally by God himself, again, to Jacob.

Fruitfulness and multiplication is set before humanity, as such, in the beginning and again after catastrophic judgment and again in what might be termed a covenant relationship.

There is every encouragement that, within a marriage union, there should be fruitfulness. The subject of deliberately avoiding having babies is just not there, apparently.

  • 1
    Onan was punished for practicing a form of contraception.
    – Kristopher
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 12:14
  • 7
    @Kris Onan was punished for his froward attitude towards his deceased brother and his refusal to see his own child become, effectively, his brother's child. I don't actually see that incident as relevant to the above question.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 12:16
  • 16
    All of those verses are in the context of a population, or a nation. So while it's pretty clear that it would be wrong for the whole of humanity to abandon having children, they don't indicate that each couple has a personal duty to procreate if possible. And even if you thought all couples did, nothing there implies contraception shouldn't be used for a season of life by a couple who intends to have children later. So this answer doesn't really provide the Biblical Basis to what the question asks, IMO.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 13:51
  • 5
    Okay, even so, my second point still stands, that you haven't established that the command to procreate prohibits the temporary use of contraceptives.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 14:12
  • 4
    @NigelJ Paul clearly states that couples may, by mutual agreement, abstain from sex from a period of time. That’s clearly evidence that God is happy with people not constantly reproducing. In addition, all commands to procreate you have given are from the Old Testament. Do you have any more modern Biblical references which require Christians to reproduce?
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 18:47

The best Scriptural evidence against contraception is Genesis 38

8 Juda, therefore, said to Onan his son: Go in to thy brother's wife and marry her, that thou mayst raise seed to thy brother. 9 He knowing that the children should not be his, when he went in to his brother's wife, he spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother's name. 10 And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing:

Contraception itself—specifically, coitus interruptus—and also masturbation is called Onanism.

See Noonan's Contraception pp. 33-4, whose footnotes 6 and 7 cite these articles regarding whether God killed Onan for contraception or for other motives (like disobedience, cowardliness/effeminacy in unwilling to assume the responsabilities of raising children, etc.):

  • Relevant Hermeneutics.SE question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1239/…
    – user50422
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 18:54
  • 6
    Onan had a specific duty to his brother's wife, called levirate marriage. It's not generally applicable, and is not a general argument against contraception.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 21:52
  • @curiousdannii Contraception was certainly not his only sin, but he did contracept.
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 22:10
  • 3
    @Geremia Sure, but the question isn't "what are all the things Onan did wrong?" The question asks for the Biblical Basis against contraception, and the fact that contraception methods can be used to spurn duties in a levirate marriage does not imply that contraception is wrong in other contexts. So you're not answering the question.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 22:31
  • Considering that Onan was told to marry the woman and could have had sex with her the next day and the day after that, etc., each of these times possibly producing children, then why would one single act be detestable when there would expected to be many more possibilities for them to have children ?
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 5:09

There was a question about this on an EWTN forum a while back. Whereas most of the teaching against contraceptives come from a fairly straightforward understanding of the word "Use" under the Natural Moral Law. There is a straightforward Biblical Basis

Given the widespread contraceptive practice of the first century, euphemistically referred to as "using magic" and "using drugs," it is logical to see in the New Testament prohibition of "mageia" and "pharmakeia" an implicit condemnation of contraception. This is especially true in the context of Galations 5:20 and Revelation 21:8,22:15, which refer to sins against chastity.


The gist of it is, one of the magic arts used, that had very practical effects, was that which induced abortion. As Arthur C. Clarke said, more-or-less, any science that is too hard to understand most people think of as magic, so it makes plenty of sense to consider any provision against magic, especially magic potions, as an injunction against contraception.

idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions

Gal 5:20 - NIV

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Rev 21:8 - NIV

Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Rev 22:15 - NIV

Now, the crime Onan committed also was contraception, in that he deliberately prevented conception. People conflate that with masturbation too, which isn't a stretch, but lots of Christians who consider contraception sinful also consider masturbation sinful and I can never remember which one is more grave (I've read arguments either way, and I think it depends on what you're doing and who you're doing it with), so it's best to just just avoid them both.

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