Does Limiting Your Family Size = No Exaltation?

The purpose of this article is to show what the prophets of the Lord have taught about birth control. By the end of reading this, it should be quite obvious what the Lord’s stance is. You can argue whether or not what the prophets have said is right or wrong. However, you cannot argue what their stance is or that their words are outdated. See “Sacred Cow #3: Expiration Date On Words of Prophets” for more information.

There are those who claim that the current position of the church on birth control (found here, here, and here) can be made to say that the church says birth control is okay to use. FAIR even claims that “the use of birth control is not prohibited by the Church… Birth control is meant to be used carefully and prayerfully but it is not forbidden.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This article will show why.

We could go through each of the statements from the church word by word and show you why such thinking is wrong. Maybe another time. However, as can be seen in the links above, not one single statement or sentence from the church advocates or even condones the use of birth control. As Apostle Mark E. Peterson said:

Some have wondered if the Church would approve such practices. Of course it never has and never could. – Your Faith and You, pg. 121

Rather, each statement says that the matter is between the couple and the Lord. Obviously, each couple will have their own opinion, but what is the mind of the Lord on the matter? As will be shown from the MANY occasions the servants of the Lord have spoken on birth control, they have made it quite clear what He thinks.

How The Lord Works

For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round. – D&C 3:2

Now taking it for granted that the scriptures say what they mean, and mean what they say, we have sufficient grounds to go on and prove from the Bible that the gospel has always been the same. – Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 264

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same.D&C 1:38

From these quotes, we can see that the Lord does not vary from what He has said, the gospel is always the same, and whether God’s words are spoken by His own voice or by the voice of the servants, they will be fulfilled. With that in mind, let’s proceed to see what the Lord’s servants have said about birth control and limiting family size.

In order to preserve time and not make this article too long, we have elected to use only parts of quotes that we have chosen. Of course, we will be accused of taking quotes out of context. So be it. Only the ignorant can accuse us of that. Those who go to the original sources know the truth.

Servants Of The Lord Speak

Brigham Young

I have also known some [men] in my past life, who have said, that they did not desire to have their wives bear any children, and some even take measures to prevent it; there are a few such persons in this Church. When I see a man in this Church with those feelings, and hear him say, “I do not wish to enlarge my family, because it will bring care upon me,” I conclude that he has more or less of the old sectarian leaven about him, and that he does not understand the glory of the celestial kingdom.Journal of Discourses 3:265

Men can sin with their wives by violating the law by which we are. This law is pure and holy, and every act of our lives should be to promote that and not destroy it. We should preserve the life that is within us and permit it to multiply. If any other course is pursued in the midst of this people, the curse of God will come upon those who do it.The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 3:1916

Ezra Taft Benson

The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father’s children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord . . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.” We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who have tried to raise them up in righteousness. – April 1969 General Conference

george albert smith

As a people we believe in children. We believe that they are an heritage given to us by our Father in heaven. We can understand how, in the olden times, as recorded in the Scriptures, when some of the grand women of Israel were childless, and deprived of the joy of having little arms cling around their necks, and sweet innocent lips to give them the kiss of childish affection, they cried unto the Lord that they might have children, to take away their reproach. We understand what that means, if we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and we comprehend that one child, born under proper conditions and reared under suitable circumstances, is worth more than all the cattle and sheep upon a thousand hills, aye, than all the treasures of the world. That is why, as Latter-day Saints doing our duty, we welcome these priceless treasures from the throne of God when they come into our homes. In the world it is not always so, but, lacking understanding, some are stopping the springs of life, and assuming the responsibilities of cutting off posterity, by avoiding fulfilment of the great commandment given to our first parents, to “multiply and replenish the earth.” Children are the offspring of God, their spirits were begotten in the holy heavens of our Father, and they are given to us for our blessing. We, as stewards, are permitted to receive them in their infancy, to educate and prepare them, not alone that they may become great in this world and bring honor to us here, buy by observing the laws of God, that they may live again with us in the presence of our Father, throughout the endless ages of eternity. …

I saw in the press a few days ago a report that there is a union of women, in one portion of Europe, who have agreed that they would give birth to no more children, and members of their organization are traveling among the people teaching this pernicious doctrine, and many have joined the deplorable union. I wondered if they realize that, of all the blessings God had been good enough to bestow upon them, of all the privileges that they might enjoy in this life, they are blindly rejecting the most priceless of all; I thought that if the Gospel of Jesus Christ could but touch their hearts, if they could comprehend that this is a part of the great plan of our Father, if they could understand that the purpose of their existence in this world is that they might have joy, and that joy could come to them in perfection only by being the mothers of sons and daughters, how differently they would act. No Latter-day Saint woman, understanding or comprehending the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will refuse the legitimate opportunity to bear sons and daughters in the image of God. No man properly realizing his privileges and opportunities, would do anything to prevent himself being a father in Israel, and having the privilege of rearing and educating children created in the likeness of our Father whom we worship. But our brethren and sisters in some parts of the world fail to understand that, and, in the place of sweet, innocent children, and the prattle and joyous laughter of those of whom our Father has said, “Their angels are ever present with me,” we find dogs, birds and cats receiving the affection and taking the place of those jewels that the Lord intended should embellish the crown of every good man and woman in the world, who are capable of being fathers and mothers.

How will those feel who fail to obey that first great command when they stand in the presence of the creator, who says to them, as He said to those in olden times, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” How can they comply with that invitation if they have no children to take to the Father? They must remain childless throughout eternity. They have been blind to their rights and privileges. It is only by a proper understanding of the laws of God, and by compliance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, only by doing what the Lord has said we should do, that we will enjoy the fulness of happiness that our Farther in heaven has promised those who are faithful. I do not feel to censure, but with all my heart I pity the man and woman who grace their home with the lesser animals of God’s creation, and keep away from their firesides those angels from His presence who might be theirs through time and through all eternity. I realize there are some men and women who are grieved because they are not fathers and mothers, they are not blessed of the Lord in that particular, they have no children of their own and by no fault of their own. I believe the Lord will provide in such cases. If they will do their duty in keeping the other commandments, their reproach will be taken away. I raise my voice among the sons and daughters of Zion, and warn you that if you dry up the springs of life and abuse the power that God has blessed you with, there will come a time of chastening to you, that all the tears you may shed will never remove. Remember the first great commandment; fulfill that obligation. October 1907 General Conference

George Q. Cannon

From what we have heard we are led to believe that the spirit is abroad in the earth, and is making some headway among the Latter-day Saints, to look with reproach upon women with large families, and the desire seems to be growing among some of the younger population, to desire only one or two, and not to exceed three, children. We have heard that many of the diabolical practices of the world have been introduced in Utah, among some who profess to be Latter-day Saints, to prevent the bearing of children. No sin, unless it be that of murder, will meet with a greater condemnation from God than this evil of tampering with the fountains of life. Such sins will destroy the strength of any people that practices them, and that nation whose people yield to such vices is in great danger of destruction. No Saint can practice or encourage such corruption without incurring the displeasure of an offended God.Juvenile Instructor, Vol 30, pg 425

I refer to the practice of preventing the birth of children. I want to lift my voice in solemn warning against this, and I say to you that the woman who practices such devilish arts, or the man who consents to them, will be cursed of God. Such persons will be cursed in their bodies, cursed in their minds, cursed in their property, cursed in their offspring. God will wipe them out from the midst of this people and nation. Remember it. – Gospel Truth, Vol 2, pg 128

Joseph F. Smith

Motherhood lies at the foundation of happiness in the home, and of prosperity in the nation. God has laid upon men and women very sacred obligations with respect to motherhood, and they are obligations that cannot be disregarded without invoking divine displeasure. In first Timothy 2:13-15, we are told that “Adam, was the first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in transgression. Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity, and holiness with sobriety.” Can she be saved without child-bearing? She indeed takes an awful risk if she wilfully disregards what is a pronounced requirement of God. How shall she plead her innocence when she is not innocent? How shall she excuse her guilt when it is fastened upon her? . . . Fundamental, however, in motherhood, is the belief of the Latter-day Saints that God will reward those who honestly and faithfully endeavor to keep His commandments. He will not lay upon them a burden that He does not give them strength to bear.Juvenile Instructor, Vol 50, pg 290

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 desires—eternal life. – Quoted in Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.86

Erastus Snow

I say also, when the time comes that God sees in the midst of His people an increase of the female element, and the wicked ready to devour that element and appropriate it not in the way to “multiply and replenish the earth,” but for the gratification of fleshly lust, and will actually take and employ hellish means to prevent the increase of their species, and show that they are not only beneath the brute, but beneath the vegetable creation, by refusing to bear fruit, thereby placing themselves in the category of the trees that are dried up, fit only to be cast into the fire, he can take measures to counteract this evil. And I say before God, angels and men, that every man and woman who joins in unholy wedlock for the gratification of fleshly lust, and studiously plan to frustrate the command of God in the multiplication of their species, show that they are unworthy—what shall I say?—unworthy to be classed among the honorable of the earth. And we have reason to believe that many have done, and are today, in the great cities of Babylon, taking steps to destroy their own offspring, committing infanticide and feticide, all of whom, and their aiders and abettors, are but ripening for the damnation of hell. And when God sees this damnable doctrine taught, and taught by such men as Mr. Henry Ward Beecher and other modern divines falsely so-called, who teach the world that it is a positive evil to multiply and increase so greatly in the land—when such doctrine is taught by leading lights, and so readily accepted by the masses, the Lord says, the time has come for Him to take measures to counteract this great evil, by introducing laws in the midst of those who fear Him and work righteousness and live according to the principles of life; men who are upright, honest and faithful, men who are willing to assume the responsibility; to take the daughters of Eve to wife and multiply and replenish the earth, for those men are unworthy of them. It is as Jesus said concerning the man who hid it in a napkin; he laid it carefully away, and by and by brought it out, saying, here it is as I received it, not having increased at all; in other words, we are just where we were when we started. Another one says I received two talents; and have increased to four, another says I received five talents, and now have ten: the master says to the one who hid his talent, who perhaps laid it carefully away and kept it nice, watching over it with the greatest care; or in other words, to him who did not multiply and increase, but on the contrary took pains to avoid doing so, “Take from him that which he seems to have and give to him that has ten; for he that has and improves upon that which he receives, shall receive more abundantly.” – Journal of Discourses 24:74

In modern Christendom—in these United States especially, and in staid New England more than perhaps any other portion of this American continent—is this commandment of God to multiply and replenish the earth nullified. The Latter-day Saints are looked upon with envy, with jealousy and reproach because they do not take the same view as they do, and their numerous families stand out in bold contrast with the New England families, where you will find as you go through the land one, two, or at most three children in a family, and many families with none. In some instances this apparent sterility may have resulted from various abuses, but in most causes the result of devices of wicked men and women to counteract and prevent the fulfilling of the great commandment of God to multiply and replenish the earth, and in many instances, feticide, infanticide and child murder are the result of this very general desire to avoid the responsibility of families. It has become a crying evil in the land. Some writers deeply deplore this crying evil, and represent it in its true light; while many other writers and speakers are either silent upon the subject or give their voice and influence in its favor. A few years ago I remembered to have read a discourse of Brooklyn’s great orator, Henry Ward Beecher, in which he took the ground that any considerable increase of the human species would be a positive evil, something to be deplored; and he elaborately attempted to portray the evils that would result from it, and the whole tendency of the discourse was to discourage the multiplication of the human species. Others have followed in the same train of reasoning. They seem to have forgotten the commandment given to our first parents, and never to have comprehended the purposes of Jehovah. Those who adopt these views have seemed to imagine that there would be greater happiness in the gratification of fleshly lusts, and in pandering to pride and worldly pleasures, and the increase of wealth, than to obey the commandment of God. They have resolved to avoid raising large families. The last tour I took through New England (which is my native country), about twelve years ago, I was more deeply impressed with this state of things than I had ever been before. When I was a boy, in Vermont, I knew not the ways of the world, and comprehended not what was going on, in our large cities and more populous parts of the country. I was born of honest parentage, who reverenced the principles of life and salvation, and I understood not what was going on around me, nor do I think those evils existed there to the same extent that they now do. But as I remarked, when I made my last tour through New England, I was more forcibly impressed with this state of society than ever before. I spoke of it to my aged aunt in Rhode Island. I said to her: “Aunt, when you were young, and when my mother was young, rearing large families, it was a source of joy and pleasure to rear offspring. Now as I go through the land, I see the efforts of the people are in an opposite direction.” “Oh, yes,” said she, “it is unpopular now, for people to have large families; it is considered vulgar, men and women now seek to avoid these responsibilities.” This is a well known fact. The tendency of the age is to animalism, to the gratification of fleshly lusts and worldly pleasures. Well, the Latter-day Saints have experienced in their own lives something nobler, and have learned to recognize the wisdom of Jehovah in that order of things which He enjoined upon our first parents. This is the marked difference between the unbelieving world and the Latter-day Saints. I say the unbelieving world, because I regard this doctrine which I have referred to as a doctrine of devils and not the doctrine of Christ; that the tendency of it leads, as I before remarked, to feticide, infanticide, child murder, and to the gratification of fleshly lusts and worldly pleasure without fulfilling the great object and purposes of our Father, and the effect in the end would be the wasting away of the human species if it were generally adopted. It is high time that a voice from heaven should rebuke it. It is high time that the Lord, who wishes to raise up seed unto Himself, should command His people and renew upon them the obligations placed upon our first parents.Journal of Discourses 26:219

The Latter-day Saints do not imitate the examples of the Eastern cities and the old commonwealths of the Atlantic seaboard in destroying their offspring. They do not patronize the vendor of noxious, poisonous, destructive medicines to procure abortion, infanticide, child murder, and other wicked devices, whereby to check the multiplication of their species, in order to facilitate the gratification of fleshly lust. We are not disposed to imitate these examples, nor to drink in the pernicious doctrine once uttered in Plymouth Church by the noted Henry Ward Beecher—that it was a positive evil to increase families in the land beyond a limited extent, and the ability of the parents to properly educate and maintain them, sustaining the idea of small families; in effect, justifying the mothers—the unnatural mothers—of New England, and their partners who sanction their efforts in destroying their own offspring, and in preventing the fecundity of the race. Fancy such a doctrine justified by the noted orator of the nineteenth century, and reechoed by the smaller fry throughout the country! The Latter-day Saints are taught to reverence the words of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, concerning the multiplication of their species, and are called as His children to multiply and replenish the earth. Journal of Discourses 25:11

Parley P. Pratt

The object of the union of the sexes is the propagation of their species, or procreation; also for mutual affection, and the cultivation of those eternal principles of never ending charity and benevolence, which are inspired by the Eternal Spirit; also for mutual comfort and assistance in this world of toil and sorrow, and for mutual duties toward their offspring. Marriage and its duties are therefore not a mere matter of choice or of convenience, or of pleasure to the parties, but to marry and multiply is a positive command of Almighty God, binding on all persons of both sexes who are circumstanced and conditioned to fulfill the same. To marry, propagate our species, do our duty to them, and to educate them in the light of truth, are among the chief objects of our existence on the earth. To neglect these duties, is to fail to answer the end of our creation, and is a very great sin. While to pervert our natures, and to prostitute ourselves and our strength to mere pleasures, or to unlawful communion of the sexes, is alike subversive of health, of pure, holy and lasting affection, of moral and social order, and the laws of God and of nature. If we except murder, there is scarcely a more damning sin on the earth than the prostitution of female virtue or chastity at the shrine of pleasure or brutal lust, or that promiscuous and lawless intercourse which chills and corrodes the heart, perverts and destroys, as it were, the well springs, the fountains or issues of life. – Key to the Science of Theology, pg 173

David O. McKay

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.October 1943 General Conference

Dallin H. Oaks

It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so. – October 1993 General Conference

Children are our most precious gift from God—our eternal increase. Yet we live in a time when many women wish to have no part in the bearing and nurturing of children. Many young adults delay marriage until temporal needs are satisfied. The average age of our Church members’ marriages has increased by more than two years, and the number of births to Church members is falling. The United States and some other nations face a future of too few children maturing into adults to support the number of retiring adults. Over 40 percent of births in the United States are to unwed mothers. Those children are vulnerable. Each of these trends works against our Father’s divine plan of salvation. – October 2018 General Conference

J. Ballard Washburn

Thus we see that in marriage, a husband and wife enter into an order of the priesthood called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. This covenant includes a willingness to have children and to teach them the gospel. Many problems of the world today are brought about when parents do not accept the responsibilities of this covenant. It is contradictory to this covenant to prevent the birth of children if the parents are in good health.

Thirty-five years ago when I first started practicing medicine, it was a rare thing for a married woman to seek advice about how she could keep from having babies. When I finished practicing medicine, it was a rare thing, except for some faithful Latter-day Saint women, for a married woman to want to have more than one or two children, and some did not want any children. We in the Church must not be caught up in the false doctrines of the world that would cause us to break sacred temple covenants.April 1995 General Conference

Spencer W. Kimball

John and Mary, tomorrow when I repeat the phrases that will bind you for eternity, I shall say the same impressive words that the Lord said to that handsome youth and his lovely bride in the Garden of Eden: “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” The Lord does not waste words. He meant what he said.

You did not come on earth just to “eat, drink and be merry.” You came knowing full well your responsibilities. You came to get for yourself a mortal body that could become perfected, immortalized, and you understood that you were to act in partnership with God in providing bodies for other spirits equally anxious to come to the earth for righteous purposes. And so you will not postpone parenthood. There will be rationalists who will name to you numerous reasons for postponement. Of course, it will be harder to get your college degrees or your financial start with a family, but strength like yours will be undaunted in the face of difficult obstacles. Have your family as the Lord intended. Of course it is expensive, but you will find a way, and besides, it is often those children who grow up with responsibility and hardships who carry on the world’s work. And, John and Mary, do not limit your family as the world does. I am wondering now where I might have been had my parents decided arbitrarily that one or two children would be enough, or that three or four would be all they could support, or that even five would be the limit; for I was the sixth of eleven children. Don’t think you will love the later ones less or have few material things for them. Perhaps like Jacob, you might love the eleventh one most. Young people, have your family, love them, sacrifice for them, teach them righteousness, and you will be blessed and happy all the days of your eternal lives. – New Era, June 1975

Too many young people set their minds, determining they will not marry or have children until they are more secure, until the military service period is over; until the college degree is secured; until the occupation is more well-defined; until the debts are paid; or until it is more convenient. They have forgotten that the first commandment is to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” And so brides continue their employment and husbands encourage it, and contraceptives are used to prevent conception. Relatives and friends and even mothers sometimes encourage birth control for their young newlyweds. But the excuses are many, mostly weak. The wife is not robust; the family budget will not feed extra mouths; or the expense of the doctor, hospital, and other incidentals is too great; it will disturb social life; it would prevent two salaries; and so abnormal living prevents the birth of children. The Church cannot approve nor condone the measures which so greatly limit the family.Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pg. 328

Harold B. Lee

Those who refuse as husbands and wives to have children are proving themselves already too small for the infinitude of God’s creative powers.Ye Are The Light Of The World, pg. 266

We declare it is a grievous sin before God to adopt restrictive measures in disobedience to God’s divine command from the beginning of time to “multiply and replenish the earth.” Surely those who project such measures to prevent life or to destroy life before or after birth will reap the whirlwind of God’s retribution, for God will not be mocked.October 1972 General Conference

Mark E. Peterson

In this birth control effort man places himself in direct opposition to the plan and laws of God. The Almighty made this world, and He made us. All human beings are His children, His spirit offspring, and it is His intention to provide each one of us with a body of flesh and bones. This body is essential to eternal progress. With this in mind, He gives us the powers of procreation and permits us to join with Him in a divinely sponsored act. But by preventing or aborting legitimate births, we oppose this plan. His spirit children are born into bodies of flesh and bones by His own design. Then who are we to prevent it? – The Way to Peace, pg. 266

Stephen L. Richards

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 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.” – October 1941 General Conference

We of Zion do not have to debate this issue. We know of the doctrine that emanates from the revelations of the Lord. We know that he has commanded the replenishment of the earth from the homes of his people, as President Clark said yesterday. 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 who 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 don’t 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 don’t have too much sympathy for Latter-day Saint couples who do not have faith that if they do God’s will, he will bless them. – October 1951 General Conference

Melvin J. Ballard

One of the great obligations that was upon us was to keep the first great commandment that God gave to man – to multiply and replenish the earth. We who slight that obligation, who wilfully, 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. – Sermons, pg. 207

Hugh B. Brown

The readiness of a couple to enter into the bonds of matrimony can be measured by the desires they have to bring children to this earth. A lack of this desire indicates immaturity, and a couple that feels this way is probably not ready for marriage.You and Your Marriage, pg. 135

Relief Society Magazine and Conference

In 1916, the Relief Society Magazine wrote to several different Apostles and a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric asking to get their views on birth control. Their responses were published in the magazine and this is what they had to say.

Rudger Clawson

In my opinion that practice of restricting the number of children in the family, as advocated by many people, is sinful. It is contrary to the first great commandment given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, when the Lord said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth.” etc.

Woman is so constituted that, ordinarily, she is capable of bearing, during the years of her greatest strength and physical vigor, from eight to ten children, and in exceptional cases a larger number than that. The law of her nature so ordered it, and God’s command, while it did not specify the exact number of children allotted to woman, simply implied that she should exercise the sacred power of procreation to its utmost limit.

Restricting the family to one or two children, as is often done in the world at large, – more especially among the rich who have ample means to support large families – is a serious evil even to them. It may, and frequently does, lead to grievous disappointment in after life, where death has stepped in and claimed the children as its victims before they reached maturity. Thus the parents are left without ministrations of loved ones to smooth their pathway down to the grave. The hope of posterity is cut off, and their names disappear from among men. Those who resort to restrictive measures, respecting the number of children in the family, except it be by non-association of husband and wife, trifle with the fountains of life, and will certainly invite the displeasure and righteous anger of an offended Creator, who gave to man and woman this God-like power for the express purpose of bringing souls of men into the world. The Lord has said, “This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Hence those who are instrumental in bringing children into the world, and doing their full duty by them, help to accomplish the designs of the Almighty Father.

Blessed is the man and blessed is the woman to whom no sin is imputed in the marriage relation, but who carefully observe the law of their natures, and keep the commandments of God. To them the future will bring no regrets, and they will not be troubled by an accusing conscience or keen and abiding anguish of the soul.

George F. Richards

The efforts on the part of Eastern magazine writers to educate the people of the United States, particularly parents, to the doctrine that they should limit the number of their offspring to three or four children, and how this can be accomplished, is both pernicious and an abomination in the sight of the Lord; and it robs both man and his Maker of their glory and increase. I view it as a direct fulfilment of what was shown to the Apostle Paul by the Spirit, would come to pass. (1 Tim. 4:1-3.)

It is marvelous how many are departed from the faith and are giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocricy; having their conscience seared as with a hot iron, some forbidding to marry and others commanding to abstain from meats, and from child-bearing, which God hath created to be received in thanksgiving. The Apostle admonishes Timothy to refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and to exercise himself rather with godliness. These may well be called old wives’ fables, and a curse will follow those who advocate such doctrines.

My wife has borne to me fifteen children. Anything short of this would have been less than her duty and privilege. Had we received and obeyed the doctrine of three or four children to the home, we would have cut ourselves short of blessings more valuable to us than all the wealth of this world would be, were it ours. We might never have known in this life what our loss had been, but it would have been just as great as we now see it, and sometime we would know as we now know. Then consider the joy and value of life to others. What of our eleven children born to us in excess of the four to which such as these magazine writers would limit us? Can the value of such a mission and service be estimated? Will not these our children and their husbands, wives and children, for generations after us, if they are duly appreciative, rise up and call us blessed forever and ever?

As to the danger and hardship of child-bearing to the mothers, I have to say that from my observations, I conclude that the answering of nature’s laws which are God’s laws is far less injurious and dangerous than the efforts made to defeat these laws.

That there is less of anxiety and cost in rearing but few children in the family, is granted, but that children thus brought up are better reared, I do not concede. It is an easy matter to understand how that people would make popular the wrong of which they are guilty and having no thought of repentance, seek to drag others down to their own low, evil level. It seems to take away, in a measure, their reproach. This class, as a rule, are guilty of the double offense of both practicing and teaching a false and abominable doctrine. For such, the patience of the Lord, I fear, will cease to be a virtue and His anger will be kindled against them.

David O. McKay

Any effort or desire on the part of a married couple to shirk the responsibility of parenthood reflects a condition of mind antagonistic to the best interests of the home, the state and the nation. No doubt there are some worldly people who honestly limit the number of children and the family to two or three because of insufficient means to clothe and educate a large family as the parents would desire to do, but in nearly all such cases, the two or three children are no better provided for than the two or three times that number would be. Such parents may be sincere, even if misguided; but in most cases the desire not to have children has its birth in vanity, passion and selfishness. Such feelings are the seeds sown in early married life that produce a harvest of discord, suspicion, estrangement, and divorce. All such efforts, too, often tend to put the marriage relationship on a level with the panderer and the courtesan. They befoul the pure fountains of life with the slime of indulgence and sensuality. Such misguided couples are ever seeking but never finding the reality for which the heart is yearning.

Depriving themselves of the comfort and happiness of the companionship of children, the barrenness of their lives drives the young couple to seek the hollow fads and fascinating excitements of “Society,” many of which pursuits are as antagonistic to the real purpose of life as the influence of evil can make them.

As I write these lines, I have in mind a young girl who has substituted for the reality of home and family, the froth of week-end parties, and midnight carousals, including the most degrading but fashionable habit of cigarette smoking. She began her married life in honor, and is the mother of two beautiful children; but she was caught in the whirlpool of pleasure and passion, and though flaunting daily the latest fashions, is sinking from respectability to refined degradation. “O what a falling off were here!” I cannot look upon such actions of young husbands and wives without a feeling of pity mingled with contempt. There is comfort only in the thought that in our communities such cases are exceptional.

Love realizes his sweetest happiness and his most divine consummation in the home where the coming of children is not restricted, where they are made most welcome, and where the duties of parenthood are accepted as a co-partnership with the eternal Creator.

In all this life, however, the mother’s health should be guarded. In the realm of wifehood, the woman should reign supreme.

Man, not woman, is the chief cause of this evil of race suicide now sweeping like a blight through the civilized nations.

Marriage is ordained of God that children might be so trained that they may eventually be worthy of Christ’s presence; and that home is the happiest in which they are welcomed, as God and nature intended they should be.

Orson F. Whitney

I believe in large families, though I am aware, of course, that it is easier to feed, clothe, educate and rear a few children than many. But these considerations, so conclusive to some minds, have never had weight with me, contemplating as I do the eternal rather than the mere earthly phases of marriage and procreation.

The only legitimate “birth control” is that which springs naturally from the observance of divine laws, and the use of the procreative powers, not for pleasure primarily, but for race perpetuation and improvement. During certain periods, those of gestation and lactation, the wife and mother should be comparatively free to give her strength to her offspring; and if this involves some self-denial on the part of the husband and father, so much the better for all concerned.

“Birth control,” under God’s law, is a problem that solves itself. I have no faith in the sophisms of those who reject his law, and try to substitute therefor their own vain theories for sex regulation. The eugenists may mean well, but they don’t know enough to lead the world out of the wilderness.

Joseph Fielding Smith

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 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 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.”

The 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 are 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.- Relief Society Magazine, Vol 3, pg 363

Hyrum M. Smith

In reply to your request that I “express my views” upon the subject of your letter of April 17, I submit the following statement:

My observations and reading confirms my belief that the question is not a new one. The “doctrine” of birth control or race suicide has been taught and practiced for generations, and is as firmly fixed in the minds of so-called “Christian” peoples as the many other immoral institutions, e.g., divorce, inebriety, suicide, etc.

For years the birth-rate in France has been smaller than the death-rate, while in other Christian countries, including our own New England, the death-rate comes dangerously near offsetting the birth-rate. And the peril is no doubt increasing through the work of the promoting agencies you refer to.

If, as you intimate, the influence of these agencies is operating among our people, and there is a calculated tendency on the part of the least proportion of the young married members of the Church to follow the lead of the world in such wicked ways; and if older parents are teaching and encouraging their married children to neglect the primary and ultimate purpose of marriage by resorting to criminal practices in order to prevent birth altogether of limit the number of children born, then the Church is facing a real danger which must arouse the profoundest apprehension, and all her power should be brought to bear in an effort to overcome and counteract such tendency.

As one of the watchmen on the towers of Zion, I raise my voice in warning to both old and young against every such teaching or practice. “Beware of the leaven on the Pharisees and Sadducees,” and of the things, “after which the Gentiles seek.” These are the evil tendencies and practices of the world, which, for many years, have caused the most serious concern among the wisest and most far-seeing men of Christian lands, making them fear for the very existence of the race.

The Psalmist declared that, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: – Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them,” and conversely, cursed and miserable is the man that, as the result of his own design, hath his quiver empty. He must some day awaken to a bright realization that of that which is the most precious possession of either earth or heaven he is destitute and forever powerless to obtain, and that where they are who have inherited Eternal Lives, he cannot come, worlds without end.

The people of nation that follows the false teachers – be they editors of papers, authors of books, magazine writers, “Eugenists,” or what not, of either sex, who advocate, with or without law, the prevention or limitation of the birth of children, will enter upon the sure road to ruin and extinction and will deserve their disgraceful end.

And to the passing of laws upon the question the first to be enacted should be one making the advocacy of birth prevention and restriction a crime, with a severe penalty for the advocate. Then pass other laws aiming to raise the environment and standard of all homes, community and industrial life, to the highest possible plane wherein all children might receive every advantage for the fullest development of body, mind and spirit, and let the number born be controlled only by the laws of nature, which were established by the Divine Creator for the purpose that man should multiply in the earth and the earth by replenished.

David A. Smith

It is with pleasure that I attempt to comply with your request for an expression as to my attitude towards the feeling that is apparently growing that it is a mistake to have large families.

In considering this subject it seems to me that it will be necessary to look at it from two angles. First, from the point of view of the man and woman who are selfish and narrow-minded, and who only care for the gratifying of their own selfish purposes and who do not know or hope for a future existence or happiness. If this is the class that is called the rich and cultured, I would say that those advocating birth control are perhaps nearer right, for the sooner this class can be stamped out, the sooner will the purpose of the Lord be brought about.

Considering the subject from the point of view of those who believe in God and in a future existence, those who are living not to carry out their own human, selfish desires, but are trying to serve their Creator and obey His laws, surely it can not be looked upon in the same light. For as the first grow more selfish and more covetous, which often causes the severing of the marriage bond or the entering into it for the mere sake of form, the latter class become more self-sacrificing, their hearts become more tender, and they possess a greater love and sympathy for the children of God. Their lives are not void with emptiness for they are living for others. Their lives are filled with joy and happiness, for they know that they are trying to fulfill the purpose of their creation. Their sorrows are not the sorrows filled with bitterness, but sorrows which tend to mellow them in the eyes of God.

A number of years ago it was my privilege to be acquainted with two young men who were employed at the same place and who were married on the same day. The next day as they returned to work they received the congratulations of their associates and one expressed the hope that “their troubles would all be little ones.” One young man thanked him; the other said, “Not for me. We have agreed that no little ones will come to our home, until we have had some enjoyment out of life, and have laid up something for the future.”

A number of years later, I met these young men. The greeting was, “How are you getting along, and how many babies have you?” One raised his head with a feeling of pride as he answered. “Six;” while the other, with tears in his eyes, said he would give all of his worldly possessions if his home could be blessed with babies. He said, “I am afraid we have gone too far, and can now look for nothing but doctors’ bills.”

I bear testimony of God’s mercy to me. I was married in my youth and started with nothing but enough furniture to comfortable fill two little rooms which were rented, and with an income of $30 a month. I may belong to the poor and ignorant class, but I am grateful to Him to whom we must all look for final judgment, for His mercies, for my father, his family, and for the wife and nine children the Lord has given me. – Relief Society Magazine, Vol 3, pg 433

After receiving these responses from the General Authorities of the church, the editor of the Relief Society Magazine decided to write a letter to the First Presidency to see if they “approved in full of the statements made by the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and especially Joseph F. Smith, Jr., [Joseph Fielding Smith] who treated the matter authoritatively, and if all was said in harmony with the views of the First Presidency.” This is the letter they received.

First Presidency Letter

Dear Sister: The July and August numbers of the Relief Society Magazine contained brief articles by some of the prominent elders of the Church on the subject of birth control, and in view of the importance of the subject and the attention it is receiving throughout the nation, you desire an expression from us in writing in regard to the attitude taken by the writers thereof, together with the soundness of the doctrine contained therein, with special reference to the article by Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr. [Joseph Fielding Smith]

We give our unqualified endorsement to these articles, including that of Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr., [Joseph Fielding Smith] and commend the sentiments contained therein to members and non-members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints everywhere.Relief Society Magazine, Vol 4, pg 68

Do you understand that? This is the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints endorsing the statement of an Apostle of the Lord declaring to the world that if you use birth control or attempt to limit your family size, you are not promised an exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God. Think about that.

Less than a year later, in February 1917, the magazine published another article on birth control. At the end of the article was this statement by Apostle George Albert Smith.

George Albert Smith

“Multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it” was the first great commandment. Since which time the prophets of the Lord have spoken in commendation of the large family. From the beginning until now the women who willingly became the mothers of legitimate children have been respected and honored by good men.

Children are an heritage of the Lord, and those who refuse the responsibility of bringing them into the world and caring for them are usually prompted by selfish motives, and the result is that they suffer the penalty of selfishness throughout eternity. There is no excuse for members of our Church adopting the custom of the world to either limit the size of the family or have none at all. We have been better taught than they. The desire to gain an exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom should prompt us to take advantage of every opportunity, and one opportunity for happiness, there, is the association with the children of the Lord offers us to be our eternal companions.

The small families in New England have made it to some extent the home of the alien. The devil deceived many excellent people, causing them to believe they would be happier without children or with only one or two. This resulted in the gradual dwindling of many families until names that were held in honor a century ago now have no living representatives. Their talent has been buried. How will they feel when they arise in the morning of the resurrection and learn that they violated the law of the Lord and yielded to the temptation of the evil one and closed the door to eternal happiness? They may plead that they knew no better. But what will be the condition of the Latter-day Saints, for we have been taught the truth? When we refuse to assume the responsibility of parenthood it is with the knowledge that we are displeasing our Creator. What is more beautiful in life than a home in which father and mother are surrounded by a large family of children and grandchildren! Compare it with the wilfully childless home. One typifies the eternal spring time of life, the other the eternal winter of death. One of the tricks of the adversary is to suggest that the fewer children in the home the better the chances for education, etc., and the contribution to society will be more worthy. If the parents had the choosing of the intellects coming into their homes they might successfully discard the weaklings, but they haven’t. If they reduce the number born to them by prevention of conception, etc., they may deprive themselves of the honor and eternal happiness of bringing into the world a genius that will add lustre to their names throughout eternity. Many of the world’s greatest characters were born in large families. The small family tends to selfishness, the large family to generosity. One child or two are likely to be pampered and spoiled, but where there are a number of children, each learns to divide with the others the favors bestowed upon him, each learns to serve part of the time instead of always expecting to be waited upon. Each learns the rights of the other and that those rights must be considered.

The gospel teaches that our happiness depends largely upon our posterity which, being true, should inspire us to desire a large and honorable family of children who by reason of being properly born will be heirs of the choicest blessings of the Lord.

When we go from this sphere of existence we will not take any of the wealth of this world that we have been stewards over. It is only loaned to us for our development. But the children born to us under the new and everlasting covenant are ours for eternity, and no one can take them from us. They are a gift of a loving Heavenly Father to us, and our happiness here and hereafter will be greatly enhanced by their companionship and love.

Let the Latter-day Saints understand this and not exchange this eternal blessing for the folly and fashion of the world.- Relief Society Magazine, Vol 4, pg 72

Just a couple of months later in April 1917, the Relief Society held their annual conference. At that conference, President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, spoke out against birth control, and, at the conclusion of the conference, the Relief Society voted on and passed a resolution calling for all Latter Day Saint women to put down the doctrine and practice of birth control.

Joseph F. Smith

Speaking of the fashions of the world, I do not care to say very much on the subject, but I do think that we live in an age the very trend of which is to vice and wickedness. I believe that to a very large extent the fashions of the day, and especially the fashions of women, have a tendency to evil and not to virtue or modesty, and I deplore that evident fact, for you see it on every hand. I deplore the fact that our young women as well as some of our young men – and I don’t know whether I would be justified in making an distinction between the young men and the young women with reference to this matter – are loath to enter into the relationships of husband and wife until they get to be a great deal older than I was when I began life in that way, and considerably older than my wives were when they entered into that relationship with me. Young men want to get homes that are palatial, that are as fine in all their appointments and as modern as anybody else’s before they will get married. I think it is a mistake. I think that young men and young women, too, should be willing, even to this day and in the present condition of things, to enter the sacred bonds of marriage together and fight their way together to success, meet their obstacles and their difficulties, and cleave together and co-operate in their temporal affairs, so that they shall succeed. Then they will learn to love one another better, and will be more united throughout their lives, and the Lord will bless them more abundantly. 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 this is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice. – Relief Society Magazine, Vol 4, pg 317

Relief Society Resolution

Whereas, Many of the men and women, clubs and papers of the United States are uniting in an effort to violate the laws of God and nature by urging the use of the contraceptive devices to prevent child-bearing, thus giving greater license to abandoned men and women, while making of marriage a mockery in the sight of God, and

Whereas, This birth-prevention movement has become nation-wide with a “Birth Control League” which publishes a paper and which has affiliated with similar organizations in England, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Bohemia, Austria, Portugal, Brazil, Cuba, Sweden, Italy, and Africa; with United States branched in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Boston, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; Los Angeles, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York: The Birth Control League of New York; The Committee of One Thousand; The Mother’s Birth Control League of Brownsville, Brooklyn; The National Birth Control League; The Woman’s Committee of One Hundred; Painesville, Ohio; Paterson, New Jersey; Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Rochester, New York; St. Louis, Missouri; St. Paul, Minnesota; The Minnesota State Birth Control League; The Birth Control League of San Francisco; The Seattle Birth Control League; Spokane, Washington; Washington, D.C., The Birth Control League of Washington.

Whereas, Clubs such as the New York City Club and similar clubs in other cities are actively engaged in petitioning legislatures to pass laws protecting these nefarious practices by demanding the repeal of anti-birth-control laws, supported in part by the medical and journalistic profession, and

Whereas, We desire to manifest our faith in God’s laws by a movement for better babies and as many of them as virtuous marriage, and the decrees of a just and merciful Father will permit the parents of this people to bear;

Therefore be it Resolved: That we call upon the Latter-Day Saint women everywhere to repel this pernicious doctrine both in private conversation, in public talks, in our own homes and families; and to pass similar resolutions in all our stake and ward organizations, and then to live up to them.

Resolved: That we sever all connections with any club, society, or associates who advocate and practice birth-control or race suicide. That we refuse to sustain papers, magazines, publishers and writers who teach this doctrine.

Resolved: That we sustain by our voice and vote all laws and law-makers who advocate and maintain laws prohibiting every unnatural and immoral birth-control propaganda. And be it

Resolved, in conclusion, that we invite the co-operation and support of the Priesthood quorums and auxiliary organizations of the Church in this effort to maintain our high and holy ideals and principles. – Relief Society Magazine, Vol 4, pg 322

No Exaltation?

Earlier, we showed an instance where two Apostles of the Lord, authoritatively, stated that those who practice birth control or try to limit their family size are in danger of not obtaining exaltation (Joseph Fielding Smith and Hyrum M. Smith). The First Presidency even endorsed these statements. However, these are not the only times a servant of the Lord has made such remarks.

Joseph Fielding Smith

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.

When young people marry and refuse to fulfill this commandment given in the beginning of the world – and just as much in force today – they 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 wilfully 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 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 wilfully 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.Doctrines of Salvation, Vol 2, pg 86

Ezra Taft Benson

Let me warn the sisters in all seriousness that you who submit yourselves to an abortion or to an operation that precludes you from safely having additional healthy children are jeopardizing your exaltation and your future membership in the kingdom of God.October 1970 General Conference

Position of the Church

You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, these are all apostles making these comments, but the Church has never officially taken a stance on birth control.” That’s wrong. Although the Church acknowledges that “not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine,” the First Presidency is still the highest governing body in the Church, and as such, they are the ones to “receive the oracles for the whole church” (D&C 124:126) and are the “interpreters of the law of the Church.” Considering this, not only is the First Presidency letter to the Relief Society to be considered an official stance of the church, but 50 years later the First Presidency came out with an actual statement.

1969 First Presidency Statement

The First Presidency is being asked from time to time as to what the attitude of the Church is regarding birth control. In order that you may be informed on this subject and that you may be prepared to convey the proper information to the members of the Church under your jurisdiction, we have decided to give you the following statement: We seriously should regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity.

Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by.

However, we feel that men must be considerate of their wives who bear the greater responsibility not only of bearing children, but of caring for them through childhood. To this end the mother’s health and strength should be conserved and the husband’s consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self control a dominant factor in all their relationships.

It is our further feeling that married couples should seek inspiration and wisdom from the Lord that they may exercise discretion in solving their marital problems, and that they may be permitted to rear their children in accordance with the teachings of the gospel. – First Presidency {David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner}, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Office of the First Presidency, April 14, 1969

Those who do not believe the words of the prophets will argue that these quotes and statements are outdated. They will argue that just because the Lord’s servants have not spoken out against birth control in the last 20 years or so (which is wrong, by the way) that the Lord’s attitude has magically changed. There is not a single statement from any General Authority of the Church saying that birth control or limiting your family size is okay in the sight of God. In fact, three different apostles have stated that the church never has and never will change its stance on birth control. Their words are just as true today as the day they were spoken.

Bruce R. McConkie

Today the cry is heard in some quarters that these statements calling upon parents to provide bodies for the spirit hosts of heaven are outmoded. Massive birth control programs are being sponsored on a national and international scale. Fears are expressed that the earth cannot support the number of people that unrestricted births will bring. But God’s decree and the counsel of the prophets remain unchanged. The real need is not to limit the number of earth’s inhabitants, but to learn how to care for the increasing hosts which the Lord designs should inhabit this globe before the last allocated spirit has been sent here to gain a mortal body. Amid all the cries and pressure of the world, the position of the true Church remains fixed. God has commanded his children to multiply and fill the earth, and the earth is far from full. – Mormon Doctrine, pg 86

Hugh B. Brown

The Church has always advised against birth control and that is the only position the Church can take in view of our beliefs with respect to the eternity of the marriage covenant and the purpose of this divine relationship. – The Way of the Master, pp. 114

Mark E. Peterson

Some have wondered if the Church would approve such practices. Of course it never has and never could.Your Faith and You, pg. 121

It will be argued that “my decision to use birth control is between me, my spouse, and the Lord just like the current statements from the church say.” We couldn’t agree more. Yes, just as the church’s statements say, the decision of whether or not to use birth control lies with the couple and the Lord. Heck, every major decision in a marriage is between the couple and the Lord. Every major decision anybody makes is between themselves and the Lord. Somebody’s decision to steal or not is between the individual and the Lord. Do we need the First Presidency to come out with a statement explaining the Lord’s stance on robbery? No, we already know that. Likewise, from what the Prophets have taught, we already know the Lord’s stance on limiting your family size and birth control. We do not need another First Presidency statement to clarify it once again.

Boyd K. Packer

People write asking what is the position of the Church on the Word of Wisdom, for instance, on soft drinks or something. And we think, “Why do they have to ask?” It is a principle, and you have the freedom to do as you will. You do not have to be commanded in all things. Without having to have the Church deliver a statement on it, you should know what the Lord’s position is on abortion or cloning or same-gender marriage or birth control. All of those things are built in as a part of what we know and what we are. – February 2003 CES Fireside

At this point, it should be quite obvious what the Lord’s commandments are about birth control. If it’s not, go back and read it all over again. Just like the position of the church never has and never will change, God’s commandments about about birth control will remain the same.

L. Tom Perry

God reveals to His prophets that there are moral absolutes. Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. – April 2013 General Conference

M. Russell Ballard

There is one way you do that [multiply and replenish the earth]. God’s way.Taylorsville Institute Fireside, September 2017

Whether you choose to follow the council of the Lord through His servants or not is between you, your spouse, and God. However, the consequences of ignoring them is eternal and unchanging.

22 thoughts on “Does Limiting Your Family Size = No Exaltation?”

  1. Considering words spoken by the Lord and his disciples, would not those who are homosexual also be under damnation, and also those who are deliberately single??

  2. The Church Handbook of Instruction says –

    “Birth Control
    It is the privilege of married couples who are
    able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for
    the spirit children of God, whom they are then
    responsible to nurture and rear. The decision
    as to how many children to have and when to
    have them is extremely intimate and private and
    should be left between the couple and the Lord.
    Church members should not judge one another
    in this matter.

    Married couples should also understand that
    sexual relations within marriage are divinely ap –
    proved not only for the purpose of procreation,
    but also as a way of expressing love and strength-
    ening emotional and spiritual bonds between
    husband and wife. ”

    The Spirit outranks the leaders.

  3. “With respect to the people feeling that whatever the brethren say is gospel, this tends to undermine the proposition of freedom of speech and thought. As members of the Church we are bound to sustain and support the brethren in the positions they occupy so long as their conduct entitles them to that. But we also have only to defend those doctrines of the Church contained in the four standard works: the Bible, The BoM, the D&C, and the PoGP. Anything beyond that by anyone is his or her own opinions and not scripture.”
    (Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965])

    1. So, are we blessed to have living prophets, seers, and revelators with the divine commission to lead us in the way of life and salvation?
      “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
      For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” D&C 21:4-5

      Living prophets means modern scripture–and I would suggest that the quotes compiled for this article are among the most conclusive compilation one is likely to find on almost any church doctrine.

      It’s been my experience that too many members are simply unwilling to follow the Lord.

  4. “I am afraid, however, that this is not as generally accepted or followed to-day as it ought to be. Some of the brethren have been willing to submit to the inference that what they have said was pronounced under the influence of the inspiration of the Lord and that it therefore is the will of the Lord. I do not doubt that the brethren have often spoken under inspiration and given new emphasis– perhaps even a new explanation or interpretation–of Church doctrine, but that does not become binding upon the Church unless and until it is submitted to the scrutiny of the rest of the brethren and later to the vote of the people.”
    (Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965])

    The Spirit still outranks the leaders.

  5. I have three honest questions that you avoid answering on this topic. Will you answer them this time or simply delete them again in fear?

    1. Why in the Handbook does the church encourage couples to have sex without the purpose of procreation? You refuse to say how that is possible without use of contraception, even though ALL scientific evidence disagrees with that position.

    2. If the church condemns use of ALL forms of birth control, why does the Handbook specifically state that it discourages only ONE form of birth control?

    3. Why when giving instructions to married couples on this subject did the church avoid ALL of the quotes you used that condemned birth control AND include a quote from a doctor that clearly supported it?

    1. 1. “Married couples should also understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a way of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife.”

      Clearly doesn’t say “to have sex without the purpose of procreation.” Purpose of sexual relations is procreation. All other things that come with it are just incidents to it. I can find a quote from a GA that said that.

      2. I have clearly already explained this in the article.

      3. Clearly some of the quotes we used are in here.

      1. 1. So are you admitting that your argument is that couples should practice abstinence at all times when they are “spacing” their children and for the rest of their lives after they are done having children?

        2. No you didn’t. The CURRENT handbook postdates ALL your quotes condemning birth control and discourages, but does not condemn, only ONE specific form of birth control. You did not mention why the church would do that.

        3. But none of the quotes in the marriage manual in any way condemn birth control, and one of the quotes openly supports it. That quote was also published in 1979 in the Ensign.

          1. Yes, but it was then included in the manual currently used to teach young married couples about birth control. Why instead of putting all the quotes that you used that condemn birth control did they instead put in a quote that supports it? Trying to confuse young married couples? Worried that too many people were going to be exalted so they wanted to give young couples advice that would prevent their exaltation?

          2. And you still have yet to explain why it would make any sense for the church to tell it’s members that it discourages one specific type of birth control when in fact it is patently obvious that they condemn all forms of birth control. If you were in my house and I had a fridge with salmonella infested chicken, pork with trichinosis, and beef with eColi, would I send the wrong message to you if I told you “there’s food in the fridge, but I would discourage you from eating the chicken”?

            When you ate the pork and almost died and got mad at me, would it pacify you if I said “I told the guy who visited me last week that all the meat was bad. you should have talked to him first.”?

  6. Your problem is that the Lord has spoken through his disciples already. Sure you are free to choose and to seek confirmation of your views.
    I doubt you will receive revelation that birth control is desire of the Lord. If you do it will be the wrong Lord, it will be the same God the Islamist
    follow. Truth is obvious in all things and the counsel given is wise.

  7. Where are the words of Hugh B. Brown who told husband’s to consider the physical and emotional health of their wives in this matter.

  8. So are you married Jarom? Are you intending to actually live by what you wrote here and never use any birth control? Have you found a woman who agrees with you and is prepared to take the risks involved and be constantly pregnant for decades? Do you have any knowledge of the historical experience of women without access to any birth control and how many died or had their health destroyed by constant childbirth? I am genuinely interested in your responses because you are very certain of your position yet it is an incredibly rare one in this day and age.

    1. 1. I am not sure if you are attacking me or not, so the following answers can be taken in a defensive way or just as they read. :P

      2. No, not married.

      3. Of course, why would I say one thing and do another?

      4. You imply that because a woman agrees with me that there will be “risks” and “be constantly pregnant for decades.” The question is laughable.

      5. Would you choose knowledge of history or knowledge of the words of the prophets?

  9. Brith control has side effects. Mood swings, weight gain, skin issues for some, headaches for some, nausea, tiredness, hormonal imbalances, and many more side effects. Another thing about birth control that is not talked about much is the replacement of people. We just got back from the nursing home my sister is in recovering from a car accident. Not one person at the home that works there speaks fluent English. It’s funny but believe it or not back in the 70’s most workers at Convalescent homes spoke English. It was the norm.

    What is really heartbreaking is that people have replaced their children with pets. I can’t tell you how many people I know who aren’t afraid to say they love their dogs more than their spouse or children. Our world is out of whack.

  10. The Brigham Young/LDS doctrine of exaltation is false. It is not supported in scripture and the only written support which can be found for it is in Section 132, which is so blatantly false it is obvious to any thinking person. 132 is an abomination of all other scripture and a pathetic attempt to justify the sin of polygamy, plural marriage, eternal marriage or whatever its practitioners choose to call it.
    The BOM makes no mention of how many kids one must have to gain eternal life.

  11. This is one of the best articles I have read on the subject. I once heard someone say “Those who know the truth are kind and comfprtable. Those who struggle with the truth are confused and uncomfortable.” I think you can tell by these comments who is struggling with this truth.

    I am 22. My husband and I use ONLY the ‘built in birth control’ we have been GIVEN by the Lord– that is: Abstinance during times of fertility, Gestation, and lactation.

    My daughter is 7 months old and due to exclusive breastfeeding and proper mothering, my fertility has not returned.

    THAT is the way it was supposed to be.

    Thank you.

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