In an entry from last October, PCA pastor Tim Bayly says that our use of birth control demonstrates a lack of faith in God's promises. (Tim is the brother of David Bayly, whose sermon on contraception was discussed in an earlier entry.)
He draws a parallel with God's call in Malachi 3:
Again, the principle: Man refuses to use the gifts God has given us to worship Him, and instead we take and use them for our own selfish purposes. We spend the money He gave us but refuse to tithe. We make love with the woman He provided as our helpmate but refuse to allow that love to be fruitful.
He suggests that those Christian couples who deliberately limit their fertility are just like the unfaithful servant in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, who, out of fear, buried his master's money in the ground, rather than putting it to use and making it multiply.
What a perfect picture of Christians’ stewardship of the womb today. Walking by faith is risky and it’s clear that God will hold us accountable for the instruction and discipline of our children. So out of fear we block the womb, sheath the rod, and claim we’ve done it all for our Master.
The ironic thing is that no people across history have been blessed with the wealth God has poured out on us, but no generation of the Church has been more stingy in its use of that wealth for fruitfulness and multiplication. Twenty-five hundred square foot homes that are heated and cooled; food in the dumpsters behind our supermarkets that would make our ancestors shake their heads in disbelief; automatic washers and driers; stoves, refrigerators, and freezers; educational opportunities unheard of across history; disposable diapers, high chairs, and car seats; what more do we need?
But we look at prior generations of Christians and shake our heads in disbelief. "Susannah Wesley had fifteen children. Can you believe it? The poor woman."
Poor woman nothing. God blessed her with children and those children were her glory, each of them being a gift from God. We stand gazing at her with our own children holding their soccer trophies and SAT scores in their grubby hands, and we dare to claim we have been fruitful, too? We have helped in the multiplication and filling of the earth?
No, we have hidden our lights under a bushel; we’ve buried our talents in the ground. Instead of asking God to pour out His blessings on us, we’ve asked Him to overlook our stinginess, to spare us from stretch marks, to deliver us from the evil of a fruitful womb.
Bayly then depicts how this attitude works out in the home:
Our wives plead with us for more children but we’re the boss and we know the meaning of responsibility and good stewardship. "That’s it honey, we’re done. No more rewards. No more blessings and fruitfulness. We’re going to do something for ourselves. Finally we’ll be able to get ahead and save for our retirement. I’m tired of messy diapers and kids crying at night. Our last will be in all-day kindergarten soon. You’ll be able to get a job and help out with setting up their college funds. Call the doctor and set up an appointment for me to have a vasectomy, would you? Won’t it be nice to make love without worrying about an accident?"
(Around my house, it's my wife who has been making that argument.)
In a more recent post on the topic, Tim Bayly addresses the possibility of exceptions:
There may be extraordinary circumstances in which a Christian man and his wife would consider intentionally circumventing the fruitfulness God placed at the heart of marriage. If so, they should understand that such circumvention bears a heavy burden of proof when one stops to consider the one-voiced witness in this matter of both Scripture and the Church through the ages. To be more specific, as a pastor I am not prepared to say such circumvention is always wrong. But I don’t hesitate to say that most couples who have chosen to limit the fruitfulness of their love have done so in ignorance of this biblical teaching and command, and are unlikely to have been doing so by faith. And whatever is not of faith is sin.