Female sterilization, also known as tubal ligation or getting one’s “tubes tied,” is a common form of contraception. During this surgical procedure, a woman’s fallopian tubes are cut, tied, or blocked to prevent eggs from reaching the uterus for fertilization. As a result, a sterilized woman can no longer conceive children naturally.
Female sterilization is a controversial topic among Christians. Some believe it is acceptable, while others argue it goes against God’s commands for marriage and procreation. In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine what the Bible says about female sterilization and present key insights for Evangelical and Charismatic Christians to prayerfully consider.
The Bible does not directly address female sterilization. However, it provides principles about children, marriage, and the purpose of our bodies that can guide Christians seeking wisdom on this issue. By examining relevant biblical passages, we can thoughtfully reflect on how sterilization procedures align or conflict with God’s design for womanhood, marriage, and family.
This is a complex topic with reasonable arguments on both sides. As Christians, our highest priority is obeying and glorifying God with our bodies and through our marriages. My goal is not to condemn or condone but to explore scriptural evidence that allows you to make a prayerful, informed decision if sterilization is right for you.
- Children are a blessing from God, and Scripture encourages married couples to “be fruitful and multiply.” Elective sterilization may contradict God’s design.
- Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit belonging to God, not us. Permanent surgery impacting fertility requires thoughtful stewardship.
- Marriage involves a covenant union between husband and wife. Unilateral decisions about sterilization may undermine marital intimacy.
- There are examples of biblical figures who were infertile or chose not to bear children. God may allow sterilization in some circumstances.
- Christians can thoughtfully disagree on this issue. Couples should pray and seek wisdom from scriptural principles and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Children Are a Blessing from God
The first biblical principle we must grapple with is that children are unequivocally presented as a blessing from God. Consider the following passages:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5).
“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6).
God designed the incredible gift of human procreation. Children are not a “choice” but a gift that God bestows. The Bible describes just how precious children are throughout its pages. Bearing and raising children is considered one of life’s greatest joys and privileges.
Because children are so highly valued in Scripture, many Christians question if intentionally avoiding childbirth contradicts God’s design. Does sterilization show a lack of trust in God’s provision? Is it a form of rejecting God’s blessings?
At the same time, we must evaluate the context of these passages. They do not appear to be absolute commands that all couples must have children. Scripture presents children as a joyful privilege, not an absolute obligation. There may be factors like health risks that could make childbirth unwise in some circumstances. But elective sterilization warrants careful discernment, given the Bible’s high view of children as blessings from the Lord.
The Command to “Be Fruitful and Multiply”
One of God’s very first commands to humanity was to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Later, after the flood, God repeated this command to Noah and his family (Genesis 9:1).
This foundational command undergirds God’s design for marriage and sexuality. The conjugal union between husband and wife is sacred in part because it facilitates procreation. Bearing and raising godly offspring is presented as one of the primary purposes of marriage throughout Scripture.
Therefore, some Christians argue that intentional sterilization rebels against God’s design for marriage. By permanently severing a woman’s fertility, sterilization permanently ends her ability to fulfill the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate. It rejects God’s command for married couples to participate in filling the earth through procreation.
However, the context is important here as well. First, this command was issued to humanity as a whole, not every individual couple. There are examples in the Bible of married couples who did not bear biological children. We will examine some of these stories later. So this command alone does not necessarily prohibit sterilization.
Second, some argue this command was specifically intended for humanity at the dawn of creation and immediately after the flood when the earth needed populating. That stage in human history has long passed. Therefore, this command may not permanently bind every couple throughout all generations. However, it does affirm God’s general design for marriage and sexuality.
So the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate does not conclusively prohibit sterilization in all cases. But it does present bearing children as God’s normative design for marriage, which must guide Christian couples considering permanent surgical birth control.
Our Bodies Belong to God
Another important biblical principle is that our bodies are not our own. They were created by God, redeemed by Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. As believers, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are merely stewards, not owners, of these temples God has entrusted to us.
This principle has profound implications for sterilization. As stewards, we do not have absolute autonomy over our bodies. We are accountable to God for how we use and modify them. Permanently severing a woman’s God-given childbearing capacity is a form of altering God’s temple. Prayerful caution and thoughtful stewardship are required.
Elective sterilization is different from most other medical procedures. It permanently removes an integral part of womanhood God designed. Unlike surgery to remove cancer or repair injuries, its only purpose is to destroy a healthy reproductive system. This raises important questions about modifying healthy fertility to suit our preferences versus stewarding it faithfully.
Again, this does not necessarily prohibit sterilization under all circumstances. There may be justifiable reasons like serious health risks. But all Christians considering permanent birth control should grapple with whether it reflects faithful stewardship of the body God gave them. We must humbly seek God’s wisdom rather than assert our own autonomy over God’s temple.
Marriage Covenant and Consummation
Marriage throughout the Bible involves a sacred lifelong covenant between husband and wife, reflecting Christ’s covenant with the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). The consummation of marriage through sexual union is an integral part of this covenant. It facilitates the procreation of children, engrafts husband and wife into one flesh, and provides the context for life-giving intimacy.
Sterilization impacts the marriage covenant by permanently preventing procreation through this covenant union. It alters what God designed as a central purpose of sexual intimacy within marriage. There is a sacred mystery to two becoming one flesh through conjugal union. Permanently severing procreation seems to mar this mystery in some ways.
Also, sterilization impacts the marriage covenant when done unilaterally without mutual agreement. If a wife gets sterilized without her husband’s knowledge, it damages unity and trust. By making a unilateral decision about her body that prevents them from having children together, she undermines the “one flesh” mystery of marriage.
Married couples considering sterilization should evaluate it prayerfully and decided jointly. Factoring a spouse’s thoughts shows respect for the sacred union you covenanted together under God’s authority. Unilateral decisions fail to honor the marriage covenant.
Examples of Childlessness in Scripture
Although procreation is clearly God’s design for marriage, Scripture contains multiple examples of married couples who remained childless. Examining some of these stories provides helpful guidance about sterilization.
Abraham and Sarah
Abraham and Sarah remained childless for decades after their marriage. Eventually, God miraculously intervened to grant them a son in their old age (Genesis 21:1-7). Yet during their long infertility, Abraham still had authority to bear children through Hagar.
This example shows that God is sovereign over conception and barrenness. Though childlessness grieved Abraham and Sarah, they accepted it as God’s will for that season. They continued trusting God’s promises, though initially trying to bring them about through their own efforts.
This demonstrates that we should not assume absolute control over fertility and conception. Submitting to God’s will requires humbly accepting seasons of childlessness if God so ordains. The story does not directly relate to elective sterilization. But it does illustrate God’s sovereignty over fertility and conception.
Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives but remained unable to conceive (1 Samuel 1). Though grieved by her barrenness, she continued praying and worshiping God earnestly. She vowed that if God granted her a son, she would dedicate him to the Lord’s service.
Eventually, God answered Hannah’s prayers and she gave birth to Samuel. Her story reminds us that God hears prayers regarding fertility. It also shows that barrenness does not indicate God’s disfavor. Hannah deeply loved God despite her inability to bear children.
Again, the circumstances differ from elective sterilization. But Hannah models godly character and righteous desire for children, which should guide all believers considering permanent birth control. Her story doesn’t prohibit sterilization but does affirm the goodness of seeking children earnestly.
Jesus on Eunuchs
In Matthew 19:12, Jesus describes “eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”
“Eunuch” refers to castrated men, who were often servants in royal courts. Jesus says some are “born this way” with congenital defects, others castrated by force, and some who “made themselves eunuchs” voluntarily. This last group he says pursued celibacy “for the kingdom of heaven.”
This shows that willingly avoiding marriage and children is permitted if done to pursue undivided service to God. While the context differs, Jesus’ mention of some who “make themselves eunuchs” shows that willful barrenness is permitted in some circumstances in God’s kingdom. This offers guidance for believers prayerfully considering sterilization.
Paul on Marriage
Paul encourages Christians to remain single and celibate to better serve God, “for the unmarried person is anxious about the things of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). However, he says those struggling with sexual self-control should pursue marriage.
Like Jesus, Paul permits willful celibacy and singleness out of devotion to Christ. His instructions to engage in marriage to avoid sexual sin offer some reasons for marriage and procreation. But he clearly endorses singleness to promote undistracted spiritual service for some believers.
Paul’s guidance shows that willful childlessness may be permitted in some circumstances. Those with undivided hearts for Christ’s kingdom may choose celibacy and singleness. Through prayer and wisdom, this may apply in some cases of sterilization as well.
Conclusions from Biblical Examples
Infertility and childlessness grieved men and women throughout the Bible. Having children is presented as a joyful privilege. But God does not condemn barren couples as deficient or sinful.
Additionally, both Jesus and Paul permit willful singleness and celibacy for special devotion to God’s kingdom. While different from sterilization, these examples do show that intentional childlessness is permitted in some circumstances.
Together, these examples indicate that sterilization may be acceptable in certain cases. Couples need to carefully and prayerfully evaluate their motives and alignment with biblical values when considering permanent birth control. Righteous reasons could exist, though these procedures warrant spiritual discernment given the gravity of wilfully severing fertility.
Differing Views Among Believers
Given the principles we have explored, Christians have interpreted biblical evidence to reach differing conclusions about female sterilization. Below are two views held by evangelicals who take Scripture seriously but disagree on this issue.
View 1: Sterilization Is Morally Acceptable
Some Christians believe sterilization can be morally acceptable. They present arguments like:
- The Bible shows God values principles over directives. Biblical principles do not prohibit sterilization in all cases.
- Scripture affirms the importance of children but does not command all couples must have kids.
- God’s sovereignty means we need not control fertility entirely through our own choices.
- Stewarding our bodies requires wisdom to discern when permanent birth control may be prudent.
- Marriage intimacy remains holy and unitive even without procreation potential.
- Examples like Paul demonstrate willful childlessness is permitted for some.
View 2: Sterilization Is Morally Wrong
Other Christians argue sterilization is morally wrong. They present arguments like:
- God designed our reproductive capacity which we should not destroy without grave reason.
- “Be fruitful and multiply” expresses God’s normative call for married couples.
- Sterilization permanently rejects God’s blessings of children and family.
- It fails to trust God’s promise to “provide all you need” (Philippians 4:19) if He calls you to welcome more children.
- It undermines marriage intimacy by severing its God-designed procreative purpose.
- It exhibits lack of faith in God’s sovereignty over conception and fertility.
As you can see, committed Christians reasoning from Scripture come to different conclusions on this issue. It warrants careful reflection to seek personal clarity.
Guidance for Prayerful Discernment
Given the principles we’ve explored and diversity of viewpoints, what guidance does the Bible offer Christians considering sterilization? Below are some suggestions for thoughtful and prayerful discernment.
- Remember your body is God’s temple, so seek to steward it faithfully.
- Reflect on whether your motives align with biblical values regarding children, marriage, and serving God wholeheartedly.
- Consider if health risks or other factors make childbirth dangerous or unwise in your situation. Seek medical wisdom.
- Carefully weigh if you may regret losing your fertility in the future as circumstances change.
- If married, make this decision only through mutual discussion and consent with your spouse.
- Consider less permanent options like long-term contraception before sterilization.
- Focus on trusting God’s sovereignty rather than asserting your own will regarding fertility.
- Ask God in prayer to give clear direction and confirm if this decision honors Him.
The Bible does not directly prohibit or permit female sterilization. Scripture upholds the blessings of children and encourages married couples to welcome them as gifts from God. At the same time, it presents examples where God permits willful childlessness in certain circumstances.
This complex issue requires thoughtful reflection on biblical principles and sincere prayer for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. As we submit our thoughts and desires to God’s perfect will, He promises to guide our decisions, even when Scripture does not give unambiguous direction. Wise and faithful Christian couples can reach differing conclusions as they seek to honor God with their marriages and bodies.
Rather than making sterilization a point of condemnation or contentment, believers should focus on cultivating wholehearted devotion to Christ in their marriages. When He is our highest aim, God will lead us to decisions that advance His glory. May the Lord give each couple gentle wisdom as they reflect on how permanent birth control aligns with His beautiful design!