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In Mormon belief, if a couple is able to have children, then generally it is their privilege to bring them into the world. Reflecting on the first commandment given to Adam and Eve, Mormons believe that we are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, to bring children into the world. Since Mormons believe that we all lived as spirits before we came to earth, to have children is to provide bodies for other spirit children of our Heavenly Father, so they can also experience mortality.
Bearing and raising children is a sacred responsibility. Church leaders encourage couples not to procrastinate having children for selfish reasons. To have a family is a very high priority in the Mormon faith and children should be viewed as a blessing.
However, there exist exceptional circumstances, in the view of which it is understood that the question of how many children to have, when to have them, and even if to have them, is a private issue between the husband, the wife, and the Lord. These exceptional circumstances include health problems which may make having children difficult or even impossible. There may be factors that make having children later rather than sooner a necessity. The health of the mother should always be a priority in any decision made by the couple. Again, this is a private matter and a matter for prayer.
Couples should also remember that the purpose of sexual relations is not only to have children, but to come closer as a couple.
Hence, birth control is not banned by the Church, nor is it at all considered to be the same as abortion, though the decision to use it is a matter that the couple should consider prayerfully.
Gospel Library:Gospel Topics:Birth Control states the following:
- 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. (See Plan of Salvation.) 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.