In the 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions (which has recently been put online) it says this about surgical sterilization as a form of birth control:
"The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. It should be considered only if 1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or 2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgement and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer. " Source
I also found that many leaders have made strong statements and warnings about sterilization and birth control. Here are just a few of the ones I found:
Prophet Spencer W. Kimball said,
"We marry for eternity. We are serious about this. We become parents and bring wanted children into the world and rear and train them to righteousness. We are aghast as the reports of young people going to surgery to limit their families and the reputed number of parents who encourage this vasectomy. Remember that the coming of the Lord approaches, and some difficult-to-answer questions will be asked by a divine Judge who will be hard to satisfy with silly explanations and rationalizations. He will judge justly, you may be sure." (General Conference, October 1974)
Prophet Ezra Taft Benson said,
"'Consider these words seriously when you think of those political leaders who are promoting birth control and abortion: "O my people they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." (Isaiah 3:12). 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." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.541)
Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith said,
"Now I wish to ask a question: How will a young married couple feel when they come to the judgement and discover that there were certain spirits assigned to them and they refused to have them? Moreover, what will be their punishment when they discover that they have failed to keep a solemn covenant and spirits awaiting this mortal life were forced to come elsewhere when they were assigned to this particular couple?" (Conference Report, Oct. 1965, p. 29)
"I regret that so many young couples are thinking today more of successful contraceptives than of having a posterity. They will have to answer for their sin when the proper time comes and actually may be denied the glorious celestial kingdom." (Conference Report, October 1943, p. 30)
and Elder J. Ballard Washburn said,
These are just a few of the quotes I found about sterilization and birth control. There are many, many more, some of which are stronger and more powerful than these ones. These quotes were so interesting to me because I know so many active LDS women and men, whom I would still consider to be fairly young, who have already been surgically sterilized. It is actually quite common among the LDS couples I associate with (I live in a conservative Utah town) and many couples are public with the fact that they are "done" having children. It is not my place to judge another person's choices-- and I won't. I understand that I don't live in another person's body, life, or marriage and such important eternal decisions aren't mine to make. I also realize that many times sterilization isn't a choice and that because of health problems, c-section complications, cancer, and various other reasons women and men have to have such procedures done. There are circumstances that are beyond our control and God understands that.
Still, finding this information brought up some questions for me:
Are most LDS couples aware that this is the church's stance on sterilization and that the only time elective sterilization is acceptable, from a spiritual standpoint, is because of health problems or mental incompetence? Does this, or would it, influence their decisions?
Why do you think purposely choosing to close your gateway from heaven is something which has eternal consequences and is serious enough that one should consult with priesthood authority before doing it?
If you, or someone you know, has gone through sterilization how was the choice made? What guidance or spiritual insight would you give to someone thinking about one of these procedures?
I'm genuinely interested in your thoughts. Yet as you leave comments please remember that not everyone has the same marriage, body, testimony or is in the the same stage of life or situation you are. Please be kind and considerate of other people when you comment.