What has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught about birth control? How have those teachings changed?
In answer to your communication in which you ask me for my views on the question of "birth control," or the limiting of the number of children in a family to one or two," according to the teaching of the day by the so-called elite or fashionable class, I have this to say:
The first great commandment given both to man and beast by the Creator was to "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth;" and I have not learned that this commandment was ever repealed. Those who attempt to pervert the ways of the Lord, and to prevent their offspring from coming into the world in obedience to this great command, are guilty of one of the most heinous crimes in the category. There is no promise of eternal salvation and exaltation for such as they, for by their acts they prove their unworthiness for exaltation and unfitness for a kingdom where the crowning glory is the continuation of the family union and eternal increase which have been promised to all those who obey the law of the Lord. It is just as much murder to destroy life before as it is after birth, although man-made laws may not so consider it; but there is One who does take notice and his justice and judgment is sure.
I feel only the greatest contempt for those who, because of a little worldly learning or a feeling of their own superiority over others, advocate and endeavor to control the so-called "lower classes" from what they are pleased to call "indiscriminate breeding."
Th old Colonial stock that one or two centuries ago laid the foundation of our great nation, is rapidly being replaced by another people, due to the practice of this erroneous doctrine of "small families." According to statistics gathered by a leading magazine published in New York, a year or two ago, the average number of children to a family among the descendants of the old American stock in the New England States, was only two and a fraction, while among the immigrants from European shores who ?re now coming into our land, the average family was composed of more than six.
Thus the old stock is surely being replaced by the "lower classes" of a sturdier and more worthy race. Worthier because they have not learned, in these modern times, to disregard the great commandment given to man by our Heavenly Father. It is indeed, a case of the survival of the fittest, and it is only a matter of time before those who so strongly, advocate and practice this' pernicious doctrine of "birth control" and the limiting of the number of children in the family, will have legislated themselves and their kind out of this mortal existence.
Joseph F. Smith, Jr.
"I regret, I think it is a crying evil, that there should exist a sentiment or a feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. T think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that T believe this is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice."
"I think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe this is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.— Relief Society Magazine, Vol, 4, June, 1917, p. 314 et seq."
"Small families are the rule today. Husbands and wives refuse to take upon themselves the responsibilities of family life. Many of them do not care to be bothered with children. Yet this commandment given to Adam has never been abrogated or set aside. If we refuse to live by the covenants we make, especially in the house of the Lord, then we cannot receive the blessings of those covenants in eternity. If the responsibilities of parenthood are willfully avoided here, then how can the Lord bestow upon the guilty the blessings of eternal increase? It cannot be, and they shall be denied such blessings.
Now I wish to ask a question: How will a young married couple feel when they come to the judgment and then discover that there were certain spirits assigned to them and they refused to have them? Moreover, what will be their punishment when they discover that they have failed to keep a solemn covenant and spirits awaiting this mortal life were forced to come here elsewhere when they were assigned to this particular couple."
"Multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it, was the directive given in the Garden of Eden. Selfishness is an element that breaks and erodes and destroys marriages as it destroys lives and all that is good. It is an act of extreme selfishness for a couple to refuse to have children
when they are able to do so."
[Spencer W. Kimball, "Fortify Your Homes Against Evil" April 1979]
Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity. When husband and wife are physically able, they have the privilege and responsibility to bring children into the world and to nurture them. The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife.
God has a plan for the happiness of all who live on the earth, and the birth of children in loving families is central to His plan. The first commandment He gave to Adam and Eve was to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The scriptures declare, “Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Those who are physically able have the blessing, joy, and obligation to bear children and to raise a family. This blessing should not be postponed for selfish reasons.
Sexual relations within marriage are not only for the purpose of procreation, but also a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual ties between husband and wife.
Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.
Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple. Elective abortion as a method of birth control, however, is contrary to the commandments of God.
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