Here are some reasons why the "Be fruitful and multiply" command and the discussion of birth control in general evoke such strong emotional responses that make a sober and reasonable discussion based on the Scriptures extremely difficult.
1. There has been a rapid and quite radical change in the views held within the church on the subject of birth control during the past two or three generations.
2. The conceiving, bearing, and rearing of children involves so much in a person's life that our discussions will inevitably become very personal.
3. There is a tendency toward antinomianism within the confessional movement today, likely a reaction against the intrusion of Reformed theology among us.
4. The command, "Be fruitful and multiply" is at least as much blessing and promise as it is command so that focusing on the law might not bring out the whole intent of this command.
5. There are cases where infertility or other problems make the fulfillment of the command impossible or dangerous and these cases are made prominent in an argument that is of a more general nature.
6. There is little if any theological leadership in defense of the traditional teaching on this subject.
7. The change in teaching has occurred at the same time that effective birth control methods have been introduced, leading one to assume that had the technology been available hundreds of years ago the change in thinking would have taken place hundreds of years ago.
8. We all impute personal motives and ulterior motives to those with whom we disagree, and in a discussion of a topic that by its nature includes very personal matters it is inevitable that the argument will at times descend into acrimony. Too bad, but that's human nature.
Having said all of this, may I make a couple of very personal observations?
First, when God gives you gift after gift after gift He humbles you by His generosity unless you are a complete ingrate. A man blessed with a beautiful, healthy, pious, Christian wife to whom God gives a dozen children should humble himself before God in gratitude every day.
Second, gift is gift. Gift isn't imposed. We don't require attendance at private confession or the Lord's Supper as a matter of law. Some folks cannot take the Sacrament of the Altar. They are still Christians who have all of the spiritual blessings God has to give. Some people cannot receive children. They are not less than those who can.
Third, God does provide for His children. How? I never know. Mostly through kind and generous people. Sometimes Christians we have never met.
Finally, the main point of view of traditionalists is that children are, objectively, blessings from God. This is our argument. God blessed them and said be fruitful and multiply. That's the issue. That's what God says and that's what I believe and when my children face troubles in life and I worry about this or that I hold up before me God's word of blessing here, the inspired and inerrant word of God says that my children are God's blessings to me.
Those who don't entirely share the traditionalist approach to this topic may assume that we are standing in judgment of them so I always encourage traditionalists to state our case in terms emphasizing God's blessing rather than God's law.
My two cents worth on this topic.
Pr. Rolf Preus Chimes in on Family Planning
Always a pastor in his theology, Pr. Rolf Preus gives his perspective...