Martin Luther’s teachings on Scripture and salvation are famous, but less widely known are his views on birth control. Stemming from a high regard for the creation mandate to multiply and fill the earth, Luther followed the early Church in condemning worldviews that saw fertility as a burden rather than a blessing. Such opinions were not merely confined to mediaeval Europe; they are prevalent today and need to be opposed by a new generation of pastors.
. . . fertility was regarded as an extraordinary blessing and a special gift of God, as is clear from Deut. 28:4, where Moses numbers fertility among the blessings. “There will not be a barren woman among you,” he says (cf. Ex.23:26). We do not regard this so highly today. Although we like and desire it in cattle, yet in the human race there are few who regard a woman’s fertility as a blessing. Indeed, there are many who have an aversion for it and regard sterility as a special blessing. Surely this is also contrary to nature. Much less is it pious and saintly. For this affection has been implanted by God in man’s nature, so that it desires its increase and multiplication.
Accordingly, it is inhuman and godless to have a loathing for offspring. Thus someone recently called his wife a sow, since she gave birth rather often. The good-for-nothing and impure fellow! The saintly fathers did not feel like this at all; for they acknowledged a fruitful wife as a special blessing of God and, on the other hand, regarded sterility as a curse. And this judgment flowed from the Word of God in Gen. 1:28, where He said: “Be fruitful and multiply.” From this they understood that children are a gift of God.1
1 Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis Chs 26-30, Luther’s Works, vol. 5 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1968), 325.