God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.
Bible, Genesis 1:28
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.
Bible, Psalms 127:3–5
Birth ControlA Great Danger. True motherhood is the noblest call of the world, and we look with sorrow upon the practice here in our own United States of limiting families, a tendency creeping into our own Church.
Some young couples enter into marriage and procrastinate the bringing of children into their homes. They are running a great risk. Marriage is for the purpose of rearing a family, and youth is the time to do it. I admire these young mothers with four or five children around them now, still young, happy. (President David O. McKay, CN-6/11/52)
Seeking the pleasures of conjugality without a willingness to assume the responsibilities of rearing a family is one of the onslaughts that now batter at the structure of the American home. Intelligence and mutual consideration should be ever- present factors in determining the coming of children to the household. When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and diseases that might be transmitted with injury to their offspring, the use of contraceptives is to be condemned. (David O. McKay, CR-10/43:30)
To warn of a great danger I must speak of it more specifically. I do so most reverently. If it shall please the Lord to send to your home a goodly number of children, I hope, I pray, you will not deny them entrance. If you should, it would cause you infinite sorrow and remorse. One has said that he could wish his worst enemy no more hell than this, that in the life to come someone might approach him and say, I might have come down [p. 510] into the land of America and done good beyond computation, but if I came at all I had to come through your home and you were not man enough or woman enough to receive me. You broke down the frail footway on which I must cross and then you thought you had done a clever thing. (Stephen L Richards, CR-10/41:108)
Family Curtailment A Worldly Doctrine. Perhaps the most serious aspect of this attack of the foe being made on our homes is in the arbitrary curtailment of the size of families. The proponents of this worldly doctrine grow bolder and bolder every year. They claim support from mathematical prognostications as to the increasing demands of populations, and the limited supply of the earths sustenance. They claim improvement of the race by its limitation. They have been making these claims for many years, and they have won many adherents to their cause, especially among the so-called intelligentsia of the world.
For the most part the world has been under the leadership of this birth-restricting intelligentsia for many years. And where are we? We have more physical comfort, more education perhaps. Do we have better government? Are we making more progress in developing the Christian virtues among men? Do we have more brotherhood, peace, and unselfishness?
I doubt if there exists in all the world any place or institution comparable to a big family for the inculcation of the principle of unselfishness and mutual consideration, the high qualities of character so indispensable in the solution of the worlds problems. I know there are bad big families and bad small families; but take it by and large, I would assume that there is a thousand percent better chance of a great leader in a good cause coming from a family of ten than from a family of one.
Now, if I am not careful, I will be debating this issue. I dont want to do this, first, because I am sure I am not fortified with all the arguments, and I might get bested, depending on who the judges are; and second, because we of Zion do not have to debate this issue. We know of the doctrine that emanates from the revelations of the Lord. [p. 511]
We know that he has commanded the replenishment of the earth from the homes of his people. The Lord pity those who subject themselves to his rebuke for denying entrance to the spirit children whom he would send into mortality, and the Lord pity those sophisticated couples would would pervert the sacred institution of marriage into an arrangement for social convenience and selfish personal gratification.
Now, fathers and mothers of the Church, some will conclude after hearing these comments that I am without sympathy for the sacrifice mothers make, and for the hardships put upon fathers in rearing a family in these oppressive economic times. Those who so conclude are partly right and partly wrong. I dont have too much sympathy for a father, a Latter-day Saint father, who decides that a baby cannot come into the home until a ten or fifteen thousand dollar house has been built and furnished, and the money is in the bank to pay expenses, and who will let his wife go to work to bring about this so- called economic security. I dont have too much sympathy for Latter-day Saint couples who do not have faith that if they do Gods will, he will bless them. (Stephen L Richards, CR-10/51:112-3)
Poverty Not A Good Excuse. One of the great obligations that was upon us was to keep the first great commandment that God gave to manto multiply and replenish the earth. We who slight that obligation, who willfully, maliciously, and premeditatively debauch these glorious bodies endowed with their wonderful creative powers, and make them mere harps of pleasure, shall come to reap distress and sorrow in this life, and condemnation when we meet the accusing finger of those whom we might have given the glorious opportunity of coming into this life. About the throne of our Father are his children whose numbers are fixed and have not been changed nor altered from the beginning, so far as those who were to come to this earth are concerned; for they were seen, even from the days of Adam, the host of the unborn. They have cried around the throne of the Father night and day for the privilege of coming into earth life, and they seek that opportunity today. [p. 512]
May none of the mothers of this Church slight nor neglect those anxious ones, but open the door and give to those worthy sons and daughters of our Father the glorious privilege of coming to earth to obtain glory, honor, blessing, immortality, and eternal life in the presence of the Father, with the sanctified and the redeemed. Let not the mothers of the present nor those of the future, be swerved from the right path by any environment or cir cumstance that seems to mitigate against the performance of this duty. Let not poverty bar the way, for if poverty had been a consideration on the part of the mothers of the past, many of us would not be here. (Melvin J. Ballard, Sermons, P. 207-8)
Birth ControlA Great Sin. When a man and a woman are married and they agree, or covenant, to limit their offspring to two or three, and practice devices to accomplish this purpose, they are guilty of iniquity which eventually must be punished. Unfortunately this evil doctrine is being taught as a virtue by many people who consider themselves cultured and highly educated. It has even crept in among members of the Church and has been advocated in some of the classes within the Church.
It should be understood definitely that this kind of doctrine is not only not advocated by the authorities of the Church, but also is condemned by them as wickedness in the sight of the Lord.
President Joseph F. Smith has said in relation to this question:
Those who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of wedded life should see to it that they do not abuse the course of nature; that they do not destroy the principle of life within them, nor violate any of the commandments of God. The command which he gave in the beginning to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force upon the children of men. Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel than to prevent or to destroy life in the manner indicated. We are born into the world that we may have life, and we live that we may have a fulness of joy, and if we will obtain a fulness of joy, we must obey the law of our creation and the law by which we may obtain the consummation of our righteous hopes and desireseternal life.
President Brigham Young has this to say about birth [p. 513] control, an abomination practiced by so-called civilized nations, but nations who have forsaken the ways of life:
There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can.
If these iniquitous practices find their place in our hearts and we are guilty, then when we arrive on the other sideand discover that we have deprived ourselves of eternal blessings and are accused by those who were assigned to come to us, because, as President Young has said, they were forced to take bodies in the families of the wickedhow will we feel? Moreover, may we not lose our own salvation if we violate this divine law?
Instructing the mothers of the Church, President Joseph F. Smith said in June, 1917:
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. 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 that is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.
When young people marry and refuse to fulfill this commandment given in the beginning of the worldand just as much in force todaythey rob themselves of the greatest eternal blessing. If the love of the world and the wicked practices of the world mean more to a man and a woman than to keep the commandment of the Lord in this respect, then they shut themselves off from the eternal blessing of increase. Those who willfully and maliciously design to break this important commandment shall be damned. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord.
Small families is 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 [p. 514] 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. (Joseph Fielding Smith, 1955, Doctrines of Salvation 2:87-89) [p. 515]