Skip to comments.Protestants and Birth Control
Posted on 06/09/2010 7:23:27 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
Protestants and Birth Control
In "Always a Sin" we saw how Christian teachings (i.e., Catholic) before the Schisms of the Eastern Churches and the Protestant Reformation were opposed to contraception and sterilization and that the Catholic Church maintains this view. In "Where Are We Going and Why Are We In This Hand Basket?" we saw how contraception and sterilization were introduced to the Christian community of the twentieth century by unbelievers desiring to modify social norms.
It's time to look at how Protestant's throughout history have viewed sex deliberately made non- procreative. Let's start at the beginning...
(Note: I owe much credit to the research of Protestant scholar, Charles Provan. In 1989 Mr. Provan published a book, The Bible and Birth Control. Most of his research into historical Protestant views on this subject came from reading commentaries on Genesis 38, in which Onan, who married his deceased brother's wife to fulfill his familial obligation, withdrew from her during intercourse rather than impregnate her. God then killed Onan.)
Martin Luther and John Calvin are recognized as fathers of the Reformation.
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.
Also, John Wesley is recognized as the founder of the Methodism.
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 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."
So what happened?
It's the old story of Christians attempting to conform the world to Christ and the world trying to conform Christians to its ways. Protestants fought bravely, but in 1930 the first hole appeared in the dike (in the Anglican Church) and lead to a flood. In the next thirty years all Protestant churches were swept away from their historic views on this subject. One interesting point is that just a few years earlier the Anglican Church condemned contraception.
In 1908 the Bishops of the Anglican Communion meeting at the Lambeth Conference declared, "The Conference records with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction as demoralising to character and hostile to national welfare."
The Lambeth Conference of 1930 produced a new resolution, "Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, complete abstinence is the primary and obvious method.," but if there was morally sound reasoning for avoiding abstinence, "the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of Christian principles."
By the 1958 Lambeth Conference, contraception was an accepted part of life among most Anglicans, and a resolution was passed to the effect that the responsibility for deciding upon the number and frequency of children was laid by God upon the consciences of parents "in such ways as are acceptable to husband and wife."
The Anglicans present an excellent microcosm of what happened among Protestant churches in the 1900s.
A constant Christian teaching was completely undone among Protestants in a mere thirty years. This brings up an unsettling choice...either the Holy Spirit was not guiding Christians before 1930 or Protestant Churches have been ignoring His guidance after 1960.
Rome's long-established habit is to declare as fact what is not in evidence.
You are apparently on a one man quest this evening to convince the readers of FreeRepublic that contraception is evil.
Have you ever been a woman with a medical condition that meant pregnancy was very dangerous for you, yet you wanted to enjoy sex with your husband?
No, I didn’t think so.
If you see in the above quotations any defense of the unChristian and anti-Scriptural practice known as contraception, then you can see literally anything at all in them.
"The Conference records with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction as demoralising to character and hostile to national welfare."
Are we to take this as an endorsement of contraception?
To call this a condemnation of contraception is a misrepresentation?
How about you answer her question first?
This article has already been posted. So please continue to post it so that people can read the message.
What is the reasoning behind this statement?
Are we to understand that risking one's life to give another life is somehow not a Christian way of thinking?
Are we to understand that enjoying sexual pleasure is more important than doing what God wants?
Sometimes life requires us to choose between doing what we feel like doing and doing what is right. In fact, this is a constant fact of life.
This man isn’t on a ‘one man crusade’.
Two, if you have a medical condition which precludes pregnancy, then don’t get married, or have sex during the times which you aren’t fertile, and maintain this throughout your marriage.
Those are your two options.
I'm not trying to be provocative (I actually agree with the article) but asking an honest question.
No, same with having sex during your wife during her non-fertile periods.
Provided that the times when you do have sex are ‘open’ to children, that’s the only part that matters.
The question is an interesting one.
It implies that one cannot have an opinion unless one is a woman for whom pregnancy is life-threatening.
Leaving aside the question of whether such incredibly rare cases should dictate everyone else's behavior, it is ridiculous to claim that the only people who can have an opinion on a matter are people who have lived an extremely rarified form of experience.
Not only is the question nonsensical, the presuppositions behind it are nonsensical.
Most likely it is, because we study God's creation by way of science, but that is left entirely up to God, our creator, in whom we are to put our trust.
One note, intercourse with one's wife who is pregnant when she is about due can induce labor naturally.
Condoms have a real world failure rate of 7-15%. Other barrier methods are similar.
The pill (and all other hormonal contraceptives) is about 95 to 98% effective, but it is very dangerous, with risks including blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and breast cancer. Plus it is abortifacient, so its not permissible for any Christian who takes their faith seriously.
So what options are available for committed Christians who need effective options, i.e., facing a medical condition that meant pregnancy was very dangerous for you?
“Is having sex with your already-pregnant wife “non-creative” sex?”
As I understand it, any sex just for the fun of it (even in marriage) is a sin punishable by eternity in purgatory....or narnia or some other made up fairy tale land. The only sex that is allowable is sex for procreation, and even then, you better not enjoy it!
No one is prying. He is making a moral argument, not conducting surveillance.
How is your life effected if a responsible, married couple decides to use preventative contraception?
One of the points at issue is what constitutes "responsible" in the first place, so you're begging the question.
A culture that encourages and reinforces an attitude that is hostile to life and hostile to God's will is no good for everyone.
The point is that this "responsible" couple is first and foremost hurting themselves.
Sex is a very powerful and important thing.
Viewing it as simply a form of recreation is, first of all, denying reality. Secondly, it's not very smart.
Question asked, question answered.
How is my life affected by contraception? I’d love to be able to find a faithful Catholic to marry. It would make a huge difference. If you use contraception you aren’t going to have kids, and that affects who I employ, who employs me, my classmates, friends, wife, everything.
My entire life is shaped by this contraceptive environment.
So why do so many Catholics have abortions?
I would like to see the lab results of people who think abstinence is so simple. I’m guessing their Sex Binding Hormone Globulin (SBHG) is very low along with their serum T levels. Every individual feels the intensity of sexual attraction according to their hormone levels. We are not the same, something easy for one individual is nearly impossible for others.
Imagine how different the world would be if everyone had twice as many children.
How would that impact my life growing up?
My wife and I taught NFP for 10 years.
NFP + sanctifying grace = success.
The attitude that puts recreation before procreation - that puts one's own desires above doing what is right.
Then that is their God-given right to "hurt" themselves.
Interesting choice of words.
No one has the "right" to disobey God.
They have the freedom to, but no such "right" to do wrong exists.
Anything else disregards the very foundation of liberty.
What is the "foundation of liberty"? The freedom to do evil? Where does liberty come from?
Our world would be a $hithole devoid of resources capable of sustaining society. Look at the massive poverty in overpopulous countries like China or India or the entire continent of Africa.
What are you talking about????
It ain't easy, but being a Christian disciple never is.
So, in other words, brain chemistry is destiny and exercising self-control is a pointless pursuit?
The fact is that living in society without going to prison requires a very high degree of constant self-control.
Our current cultural environment teaches us that abandoning self-control in sexual situations is perfectly fine, even laudable - but that abandoning self-control with regard to parking is deeply wrong and punishable by fines and even imprisonment.
This environment is a social construct in which certain values are consciously reinforced and encouraged while others are discouraged and punished.
I’m a happily married man of 17yrs with one child. I would have liked to have had more but it didn’t work out that way. We practiced contraception most of those years and each time we attempted a pregnancy we succeeded. I don’t understand this aversion to family planning according to ones ability to support their family.
Sounds like he's referring to abortion.
I'll respond to your post with a paraphrase of a comment I just made on Kopp's other thread...
One of the differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics is that Protestants can hold a variety of positions on matters that are not Scripturally-mandated.
Unlike RCs who are given a laundry list of insignificant, capricious do's and don'ts, inevitably missing the forest that is salvation by Christ alone for the trees of good works and presumed piety.
Barrier contraception is not antithetical to Biblical Christianity. Rome just wants more seats in the pews.
Hopefully husbands and wives will have as many children as they can happily raise since children are the greatest joy any human being can know.
And as my mother always told me, we don't decide when to have our children. God decides. They are from Him.
No, its not purposely non-procreative. Neither is marital relations after menopause.
I have been saying precisely the opposite - namely that we all have the capacity to freely choose to do evil.
If it doesn't encroach on another person's liberties then yes.
This is begging the question.
I asked if the foundation of liberty was the freedom to evil.
Your response is that it is "if it doesn't encroach on another person's liberties."
You can't define liberty by using liberty as one of the terms in your definition.
You spoke of the "foundation of liberty" - I ask again, what is the foundation of liberty?
I'll point out that it cannot possibly be the freedom to do evil, because even in societies which are widely considered to possess almost no liberty at all - North Korea, Saudi Arabia - there is complete freedom to very evil things. In fact, the frequency and intensity of the evil done to people by their fellow men is a hallmark of those societies.
That's an impressive exercise in radical hermeneutics.
Barrier contraception is not antithetical to Biblical Christianity.
Of course it is. The entire message of Scripture regarding fertility is entirely opposed to contraception.
Rome just wants more seats in the pews.
If Rome wanted more seats in the pews, then all Rome would need to do is to abandon traditional Christian moral teaching and embrace popular notions of morality. Going with the crowd will always produce more followers than imposing inconvenient rules.
And as my mother always told me, we don't decide when to have our children. God decides. They are from Him.
Then why use contraception ever? Let God decide.
If what your mother said was true, such deliberate interference is either completely useless and therefore unnecessary - or it is godless.
Even if "overpopulous" were a real word, it would be difficult to define.
The entire continent of Africa has 1 billion inhabitants. It is 3 times the size of China, which has 30% more inhabitants yet has 70% less land.
China is also much wealthier than Africa, despite being much more crowded.Within America itself, some of the most crowded areas are the wealthiest (central New Jersey, southern Connecticut, southern California) while some of the most sparsely populated are the poorest (North Dakota, western Arkansas).
Your thesis doesn't really hold water.
It really comes down to culture more than population density.
As I said, I hope Rome keeps pushing this presumptuous agenda, foolishly equating contraception with a real abomination like abortion.
We Protestants will welcome the thousands of families who leave Rome over this point and who will one day realize God has led them to a sturdier faith.
Individual tax rates would go down because the whole socialist ponzi scheme would have sufficient workers.
Remember that these ‘kids’ would all be 60 and under.
Luther, Calvin, Wesley, all of them condemned contraception.
This isn’t a Catholic issue. This is a modernist/traditionalist argument.
No one will argue your right to self-determination. However, to think that you are in charge of your own destiny is an extreme hubris. No one on this thread has argued for the government to crack down on your bedroom habits... they are discussing right and wrong; God's Way or man's way; selflessness or selfishness. What good is the Church or the Bible if it doesn't impose an obligation on the faithful to be... faithful?
I will answer the question you have missed... "What is the foundation of liberty?" The divine origin of man (according to G.K. Chesterton).
Using that definition, no one has ever possessed liberty, since our bodies are subject to all kinds of infirmities, diseases and physical limitations. Most of our physical reactions are beyond our conscious control.
Moreover, our lives are, from the very beginning, controlled by all sorts of forces beyond our command - our family situation, our innate physical and mental abilities, etc.
Our free will operates only within a certain restricted field that is determined in large part by forces beyond our control.
But even if we possessed this mythical level of control over our bodies and lives - this amount of transcendent power - how would liberty be founded upon it?
Surely a person who was in utter control of his body and life could still use the power that control gave him to deprive others of liberty.
Surely liberty comes from some other foundation than simply power.
Then Onan apparently lived pleasurably ever after in your interpretation.
As I said, I hope Rome keeps pushing this presumptuous agenda, foolishly equating contraception with a real abomination like abortion. We Protestants will welcome the thousands of families who leave Rome over this point and who will one day realize God has led them to a sturdier faith.
Thanks for the entertaining commercial break.
Let's return to your earlier claim: that God decides if and when we have children.
If this is the case, why would one ever use contraception?
If God decides, then no contraception is necessary.
At best it would be a needlessly superstitious practice.
They did not condemn contraception, per se. They condemned certain methods of contraception and they also chastized marriages which intentionally chose not to have children.
**A constant Christian teaching was completely undone among Protestants in a mere thirty years. This brings up an unsettling choice...either the Holy Spirit was not guiding Christians before 1930 or Protestant Churches have been ignoring His guidance after 1960.**
Bravo for the NON-contracepting couples, both Catholic and Protestant! Contraception KILLS!