The Mormon way of life is a fascinating topic of conversation to many. While most of our teachings and scriptures are easily available, our way of life is still mysterious to many people. We seem loving, family-centered, and traditional in our values. In many religions that hold the same ideals, birth control is prohibited. It would be easy to assume that we feel the same way.
Do Mormons believe in birth control? According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or LDS), the decision to use birth control is at the discretion of the married couple. There may be many several reasons why a couple would choose to use birth control, but the decision is always made together. Because intimacy outside of marriage is discouraged, abstinence is the preferred birth control of single people.
We believe that the family is God’s gift to us. Each child is a blessing, and couples are encouraged to bring as many children into the world as they feel they can care for and support. But how many children are we “supposed” to have? How many is too many? What happens if the mother’s health is placed in jeopardy during the pregnancy?
Children, Families, And Marriage In Mormonism
Genesis 1:28 says that one of the first commandments God gave Adam and Eve was to “. . . be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” We believe that it is both a duty and a privilege to have a family. Not having kids simply because we don’t want to be considered selfish and counter to our faith’s teachings.
However, we also believe that it is the married couple’s decision as to how large we make their family. Couples should take health, finances, and the ability to supply the necessities a growing family needs into consideration when family planning. Providing a loving, caring home for our kids is the most important thing we can do. Couples are encouraged to pray and seek counsel together before committing to using any kind of birth control.
We believe that a family consists of a husband, a wife, and our children. We also believe “family” includes other relatives living in the same house, or under one family head. However, we allow that a single parent with children and childless couples can also be families. Even a single person living alone can be called a family.
We believe in a thing called the Eternal Marriage. We believe that God meant for marriages to last for eternity, not simply for this life. Marriage is the most sacred relationship that can exist between a man and a woman and it can affect a couple’s happiness now and forever. We also believe that family bonds also continue beyond death. Families will be reunited in Heaven, and we will continue to be a family forever.
We believe that children reach the age of accountability at eight. Once we reach that age, we can decide if we want to be baptized or not. We always wait until the child is ready for the commitment baptism means, because Agency is also another important principle in Mormonism. We believe it is every person’s right and privilege to make our own choices. We don’t believe in forcing someone to do something they aren’t ready or willing to do. This includes baptism.
It is a Mormon couple’s responsibility and privilege to bring children into the world. We believe that raising children brings joy into our lives and raises us up in the eyes of the Lord. We are expected to help teach our children scripture and to love God and Jesus Christ. Families often take part in both Church classes and at-home study. Parents are expected to keep a home free from cursing, arguments, and divisiveness. We are encouraged to show love to each other and our children.
Our families tend to be more traditional, with the father the head of the house, and the mother encouraged to stay home, especially if there are young children who need her care. We believe that it is the father’s role to provide for the family and the mother’s duty to nurture the children. While we believe women are just as capable as men to be successful in the workforce, staying at home, if possible, is a woman’s calling.
In an address to Brigham Young University in 1977, Elder Delbert L. Stapley quoted Spencer W. Kimball as saying, “The family is the most important institution in the world. A happy home is not only heaven on earth, but it is the strength of the nation. [It is also the strength of the Church.] A people, a nation, cannot be great without happy, strong homes.”
What Is Our Stance On Abortion And Sexuality?
Because we take family life seriously and believe each child is a gift, our stance on abortion is what you’d expect: we’re against it.
Following the commandment “thou shalt not kill,” we believe that elective abortion is a sin against humankind and can be punished by excommunication. Members who advocate for abortion also face discipline from the Church.
However, we do make allowances for extreme situations, such as the health of the mother, the health of the unborn child, or pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest. However, before making any decisions we are strongly encouraged to seek counsel from Church Elders, and to pray for direction from God.
If a woman becomes pregnant outside of marriage, both she and her boyfriend are strongly encouraged to marry each other and start a family. However, even the Church agrees that this isn’t always the best course of action. In those situations, the mother is encouraged to place the baby up for adoption through an LDS service whenever possible.
According to the Brigham Young University’s Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “In LDS life and thought, sexuality consists of attitudes, feelings, and desires that are God-given and central to God’s plan for his children . . . Sexuality is not characterized as a need, or a deprivation that must be satisfied, but as a desire that should be fulfilled only within marriage, with sensitive attention given to the well-being of one’s heterosexual marriage partner.”
While we believe that the primary reason for sex is procreation, we also strongly believe that intimacy and affection within a couple’s marriage is necessary to build a strong, lasting, sacred relationship. We don’t believe sex and the libido are evil, just the opposite! However, any physical expressions of love and desire belong to the married couple only.
Dating couples are expected to abstain from intimacy until after the wedding. In fact, any activity that may cause desires that can’t be expressed until after the wedding are discouraged. Abstinence is considered a way of life for our younger members, and there isn’t the same stigma attached to it that many of others faced in their high school and college years.
We are encouraged to discuss sexuality and procreation with our kids. We should answer our children’s questions honestly and make sure they know about the consequences the LDS Church places on people who have premarital sex.
When it comes to things like adultery, rape, incest, and other practices considered unholy, we take a very firm stance. The perpetrators are sought out to atone for their crimes and the victims are protected. Victims are not held responsible for the actions of their attackers. It is our duty to help them heal and restore their sense of well-being.
In the end, what is clear is how seriously we take the idea of family. We believe that when we marry, we enter into a sacred contract with everyone in our family for all eternity. We consider each child a gift from God, and each family member a sacred part of our eternal life. For us, birth control is meant only to ensure the health of our family and is to be used cautiously and with great consideration.
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