Skip to comments.Evangelical Leaders are Ok with Contraception
Posted on 06/09/2010 6:00:15 AM PDT by NYer
Evangelical leaders are overwhelmingly open to artificial methods of contraception, according to the April Evangelical Leaders Survey. Nearly 90 percent said they approved of artificial methods of contraception. In a separate poll conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in partnership with Gallup, Inc., 90/91 percent of evangelicals find hormonal/barrier methods of contraception to be morally acceptable for adults.1
Most associate evangelicals with Catholics in their steady leadership in pro-life advocacy, and rightly so, said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE. But it may come as a surprise that unlike the Catholic church, we are open to contraception.
Indicative of their commitment to honoring the sanctity of human life, several leaders included caveats in their affirmative answers saying while they approve of contraception, they would strongly object to drugs or procedures that terminate a pregnancy once conception has taken place. George Brushaber, president emeritus of Bethel University, said that contraception should be used with proper biblical and medical guidance.
Personally, I dont believe there are any Scriptural prohibitions to most common methods of contraception, said Randy Bell of the Association for Biblical Higher Education. I can say from personal experience that God can defeat such methods if he chooses to do so.
Many noted that biblical sexuality is not limited to procreation, but that its purpose extends to the consummation and expression of love within marriage. Our leaders indicate that contraception can be utilized if all biblical purposes of sex are upheld and that it may actually aid in keeping the balance, Anderson said.
Greg Johnson, president of Standing Together, approves of artificial methods of contraception, but added, I believe the church does have a responsibility to communicate and preach the importance of family and that couples should not carelessly allow themselves to use contraception as a way to avoid having children and a growing family altogether.
Two leaders said they would not approve or disapprove, but would leave it to married couples to decide based on the ethical and biblical criteria of a given situation.
The NAE Generation Forums publication, Theology of Sex, is a resource to help ministers and church leaders create healthy dialogue about Gods intentions for sex. For more information on the Generation Forum or the Theology of Sex publication, visit www.naegeneration.com.
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.
Funny how all the founders of Protestant Christianity *did* think there were Scriptural prohibitions of contraception. Has Randy Bell even heard of Luther and Calvin?
Personally, I dont believe there are any Scriptural prohibitions to most common methods of contraception,
We must be reading different bibles.
When you join a cult all of your assets become assets of the cult. You have a big bank account. The cult has a big bank account. You have a van. The cult has a van. You have a 50 cal machine gun. The cult has a 50 cal machine gun.
A religion usually only wants 10%. :)
Scary Catholic baby penguin.
So, which Evangelical group is on record as opposing contraception?
How should we "lump" them? If the "Five Sola" were valid principles they WOULD all be lumped together.
Liberal Protestantism with it's acceptance of female clergy, abortion, homosexuality, etc. was always going to be the outcome of YOPIOS, because man's sinful nature will result in him using YOPIOS to rationalize his sin.
That said, I've never had a Catholic knock on my door to invite me to church.
If you speak about Catholicism to the people you know the same way you speak about Catholicism on FR then I can't say that I blame them.
I understand that not all Protestants define themselves as Evangelicals. My mother is a Prebyterian, old-school from Northern Ireland, and she would never check the “evangelical” box.
Some sub-groups in the Anglican Communion consider themselves Evangelical and/or Charismatic, while others are totally not-that and think my Catholic parish is way too Evangelical.
It is only within the past several generations that this universally accepted code of moral theology has broken down among the separated brethren.
It could be argued that apostasy in moral theology is the harbinger of that Great Apostasy foretold by scripture.
In which case, Evangelical Christianity can make no claim to being "true Christianity," in that it has clearly apostasized on moral theology, i.e., on contraception.
Some history of Christian thought on Birth Control:
(Note: The quotes of the early church fathers can be researched in their entirety, courtesy of Calvin College.)
191 AD - Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children
"Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted." (2:10:91:2) "To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature" (2:10:95:3).
307 AD - Lactantius - Divine Institutes
"[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . .or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife" (6:20)
"God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital ['generating'] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring" (6:23:18).
325 AD - Council of Nicaea I - Canon 1
"[I]f anyone in sound health has castrated [sterilized] himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon admits to the clergy"
375 AD - Epiphanius of Salamis - Medicine Chest Against Heresies
"They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption" (26:5:2 ).
391 AD - John Chrysostom - Homilies on Matthew
"[I]n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [the sin of covetousness] are wearied even of their father's old age [wishing him to die so they can inherit]; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live [sterilization]" (28:5).
393 AD - Jerome - Against Jovinian
"But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?" (1:19).
419 AD - Augustine - Marriage and Concupiscence
"I am supposing, then, although are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives] . . . Assuredly if both husband and wife are like this, they are not married, and if they were like this from the beginning they come together not joined in matrimony but in seduction. If both are not like this, I dare to say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer with his own wife" (1:15:17).
522 AD - Caesarius of Arles - Sermons
"Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive] so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a women does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman" (1:12).
Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) -
"Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed."
John Calvin (1509 to 1564) -
Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race.
John Wesley (1703 to 1791) -
"Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - And it is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.
(Examining sermons and commentaries, Charles Provan identified over a hundred Protestant leaders (Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Nonconformist, Baptist, Puritan, Pilgrim) living before the twentieth century condemning non- procreative sex. Did he find the opposing argument was also represented? Mr. Provan stated, "We will go one better, and state that we have found not one orthodox [protestant]theologian to defend Birth Control before the 1900's. NOT ONE! On the other hand, we have found that many highly regarded Protestant theologians were enthusiastically opposed to it." )
Sr. Penelope Guin ...
I don’t question that at all. My point is that many who consider themselves evangelical try to escape the fact that they are part of Protestantism.
Yes, and it appears, to this outsider, that some who consider themselves "Protestant" say the "Evangelicals" are something totally different - even though each one follows nothing but the Bible.
The essence of the Protestant Reformation was “sola scriptura” and Evangelicals and Protestants both claim to adhere to that. It appears to me that they want to use these labels to exclude whoever disagrees with their interpretation of the Bible.
All the time on these threads I see people say things like, “Protestants don’t believe Mary remained a virgin,” or “Protestants don’t believe in the Real Presence,” or any number of other things and it’s nonsense. As best I can tell, the ONLY thing that they seem to be in agreement on is their denial of papal primacy.
I’ve found this to be a rather interesting discussion. When my wife and I went through our marriage preparation with our priest — which included a marriage workshop and NFP classes — we developed our understanding of the marital act as possessing a procreative and unitive aspect in accordance with Church teaching.
Attempting to negate the procreative aspect with contraception also hurts the unitive aspect. If the marital act represents God’s will that husband and wife become one flesh and give completely of themselves, that reality can’t truly be realized in the presence of contraception, which impairs the the ability to truly give completely of oneself to your spouse.
Pope Paul VI warned everyone about these consequences when he wrote “Humanae Vitae”.
Interestingly enough, my wife’s sister (Baptist) takes a position that the birth control pill is ok — disregarding the fact that it can act as an abortifacient — and NFP is somehow “unbiblical”.
wagglebee: How should we "lump" them? If the "Five Sola" were valid principles they WOULD all be lumped together.
wagglebee, will you please cite the specific creeds/confessions/articles of faith/doctrinal statements for every Evangelical denomination - or at least for the NAE and their member organizations - that shows evangelical adherence to the Five Solas?
How could I? It’s impossible, YOPIOS has allowed the Reformation to wander down whatever road any given sinner wants to take it down.
Post 9: How should we "lump" them? If the "Five Sola" were valid principles they WOULD all be lumped together.
Post 20: How could I? Its impossible, YOPIOS has allowed the Reformation to wander down whatever road any given sinner wants to take it down.
Either they're "lumped together" or they've wandered down "whatever road". Either they still adhere to the Five Solas (which you claimed is what lumps them together) or they've wandered away. What defines "Protestant" for you, wagglebee? The last time this question came up between us, you asked "Do you have a suggestion for a term to use for non-Catholic, non-Orthodox, non-Protestant Christians?" Let me remind you of how I answered your question back in 2007:
IMO it's bigotry to assume that all of us non-Catholic/Orthodox types are all alike, that we're all "Protestants", or that the sins of a few can be blamed on all who look like them. Such beliefs I would label as "Anti-Protestantism".Are you an anti-Protestant, wagglebee?
**Evangelical Leaders are Ok with Contraception**
Then they really aren’t pro-lifers, are they?
|2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).
|2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:
Actually, I claimed nothing of the sort. I said that IF the "five solas" were valid they WOULD be lumped together.
However, when these 16th century heresies were introduced, it caused Protestants to embrace them and follow them down whatever road their sin took them.
What defines "Protestant" for you, wagglebee?
Christians that trace their theology to the Reformation.
Are you an anti-Protestant, wagglebee?
Not at all.
I know of dozens of husbands and wives who were raised RC and who left, initially, because Rome's various prohibitions were capricious. In time, those same couples came to understand the truth found in their Protestant church and they became solid, Biblically-literate Christians.
Contraception is not equitable to the murder of abortion. Rome just wants more bodies in the pews so it (theoretically) outlaws contraception, and RCs are catching on.
Odd that you would say that:
God has been teaching his church down through the ages. He has endued generation after generation of his people with wisdom. We should therefore respect the long-standing wisdom of our Christian heritage. We should depart from it only if Scripture truly forces us to do so.
It is therefore highly significant that the church down through the centuriesOrthodox, Catholic, and Protestant alikeheld one view on contraception with remarkable unanimity until just recently. It was condemned in strong terms, and contraception was often made a criminal act.
This historical context alone does not prove that contraception is wrong. However, should we expect an immoral and hedonistic society to come up with genuine moral insight, contrary to nearly two millennia of consistent Christian teaching?
In the end, God doesn't give a pat answer about contraception. But he does provide a framework within which believers are responsible and free to make godly decisions. In fact, this framework does condemn most of the world's approach to contraceptionbut not because it's contraception. Rather, it condemns its fundamental self-centeredness (Ps. 10:4). Believing couples should soberly examine themselves as to whether they conform to this worldly selfishness and, if so, repent. Still, the biblical principles which we've considered seem to imply thatgiven right motivesGod does permit contraception.
So is contraception just some sort of "holdover" of Catholicism? Did Protestants ALWAY think that teachings against contraception were just "loony restrictions"? If this is the case, why did they wait so long to clarify things?
There are many methods of birth control and some are, indeed, offensive to God. Some are even detrimental to women's health.
Many of the usual ones are neither, however.
As I said, keep pushing this restriction. Protestant churches are growing while the RCC is contracting.
What restrictions? You mean the ones that the OPC website AGREES with?
Protestant churches are growing while the RCC is contracting.
Which ones? Do you mean the ones that have dropped other "loony restrictions"? Like the "loony restrictions" against female clergy, homosexuality and abortion?
John Calvin (1509 to 1564) - Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race.
i really have to chuckle at your quoting john calvin.
as far as i know he didn’t claim to be infallible.
You’re missing the point. Probably deliberately.
From Humanae Vitae:
Faithfulness to God’s Design
13. Men rightly observe that a conjugal act imposed on one’s partner without regard to his or her condition or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife. If they further reflect, they must also recognize that an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will. But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source. “Human life is sacredall men must recognize that fact,” Our predecessor Pope John XXIII recalled. “From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God.” (13)
Unlawful Birth Control Methods
14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)
Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreationwhether as an end or as a means. (16)
Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.
Ah yes, the old "we never claimed to be infallible" defense.
Actually, this defense is nothing more than textbook moral relativism. Protestants have been employing this more and more frequently over the past few decades to condone female clergy and abortion and homosexuality, I shudder to imagine what they will embrace next.
Of course Evangelicals aren’t opposed to contraception. Why would they be? Being anti-birth control is ridiculous.
Is it? Until the Lambeth conference in 1930, all Christian churches condemned birth control as sinful. Today, the Catholic Church is virtually alone in holding to this ancient belief, as one denomination after another has accepted artificial contraception. This should be a troubling fact for many who believe in Scripture.
We might wonder, why is contraception harmful to marriages? The reasons are many. When sex becomes solely an act for pleasure, with no chance of having children, often a user mentality of one's marriage partner evolves. One or both partners can become selfish, and that selfish behavior can lead to other problems in the relationship.
You may want to visit the link I posted above on what the Bible teaches about artificial birth control.
Ping to the MayflowerMadam.
Of course these “Christian” churches are simply trying to be relevant. Those churches of decades and centuries past were merely a product of their times. Today’s churches however are NOT merely a product of Their Times. (or are they?)
The *heart* behind contraception and NFP are identical: exerting control over fertility.
Don’t play this holier than thou game, thinking that you’re somehow better because your form of birth control is approved by Rome.
You're right, in a certain sense, that NFP can be abused if there's a contraceptive mentality behind it. But when NFP is done for the right reasons, it preserves openness to life, whereas contraception completely thwarts it.
Here is something we can agree on whole-heartedly: Children are a blessing from God, and it would be wise to consider why we might want to refuse such a blessing.
I always assumed that progeny was the result of a biological event.
No need to be snarky. The *heart* of this matter is that couples have accepted a low estimation of children. The *heart* of this matter is to affirm that children are a blessing. Surely you agree with that.
I've seen that propaganda posted multiple times on FR, but the truth does not support it. According to National Council of Churches´ (NCC) new 2010 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches the Catholic Church´s membership in the United States grew at the "robust" rate of about 1.5 percent in 2008. The growth outpaces the estimated U.S. population growth rate in 2008, listed as 0.9 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook. There are now an estimated 68.1 million Catholics in the United States.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose members are known as Mormons, grew 1.7 percent to almost 5.9 million members. The Assemblies of God grew 1.3 percent to about 2.9 million.
Other denominations lost membership. The Presbyterian Church (USA) shrank 3.3 percent and now has about 2.9 million members. American Baptist Churches in the USA decreased two percent to 1.4 million, while the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 1.9 percent of its membership, which now stands at 4.7 million.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denomination after Catholics, lost 0.24 percent of its membership and now stands at 16.2 million. It also declined in membership in the year prior.
World wide the Catholic Church is gowning at a rate of 1.4% per year.
Thank you for the dialog.
The heart behind contraception is this idea that children are not a blessing. The thing is, people are free in this country to use it or not use it; few are going to stop using it simply because the Vatican demands it.
So how do we facilitate less contraceptive use? By addressing the *heart* behind its use. Instead of simply demeaning those who use contraception (whether birth control or NFP), we should promote the value of children, show how God has given them as a blessing. That will facilitate less contraceptive use.
Some contraception is in fact abortifacient. We should educate Evangelicals (and others) about when it is abortifacient, so that they can stop killing pre-born babies.
Which particular church or denomination is growing or shrinking is ultimately not that important.
Let’s pray instead that the number of Christ-followers, regardless of organizational affiliation, increases.
I also believe in a positive message, but the Church must instruct its members and to be pro-life one must believe that promoting life is worth bearing the possibility of censure.
That is simply not realistic in a universal sense. Do not attempt to convince me that children born as a result of brutal and repeated mass rapes are a blessing. [e.g. Bosnia]
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