Skip to comments.American Evangelicals beginning to rethink birth control, argues author of new book
Posted on 01/11/2012 2:35:05 PM PST by NYer
ROCKFORD, Illinois, January 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) A new book from one of the worlds foremost scholars in family issues examines how mid-twentieth-century evangelical leaders followed the mainstream and bought into birth control, and, briefly, abortion.
The book, titled Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control, 1873-1973, by Dr. Allan Carlson, comes at a time when some American evangelicals are rethinking their position on birth control. For instance, there are the followers of the Quiverfull Movement who eagerly accept their children as blessings from God, eschewing not only artificial birth control, but even natural family planning. In this way, they say they trust the Lord for family size.
Raised within a religious movement that has almost uniformly condemned abortion, many young evangelicals have begun to ask whether abortion can be neatly isolated from the issue of contraception, reads the publishers description of the book. A significant number of evangelical families have, over the last several decades, rejected the use of birth control and returned decisions regarding family size to God.
Dr. Allan Carlson, who works toward the recognition of the natural family as the basic unit of society, is the President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society and the Founder and International Secretary of the World Congress of Families.
In his new book, Carlson examines historic Christian teaching regarding birth control and discovers the origins for such teaching in the early church, according to the publishers. He looks at a shift in the arguments behind this teaching made by the Reformers of the sixteenth century and traces the effects of that shift all the way up the late 20th century.
Praise for Carlsons new book is already pouring in.
Opposition to birth control is widely perceived as a ‘Catholic issue.’ Historian Allan Carlson demonstrates that as a matter of historical fact, the Christian churches were united in their opposition to contraception until 1930, said Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute.
Carlson deftly shows how the change occurred, through a combination of ‘divide and conquer’ tactics by the population control lobby, intellectual exhaustion among the Mainline Protestants, and anti-Catholicism among the Evangelicals. Highly recommended.”
Russell D. Moore, Dean, School of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said that Carlsons hard-hitting and unrelenting arguments suggest that perhaps American Evangelicalism unwittingly traded the Blessed Virgin Mary for Margaret Sanger.
This is not the first time Carlson has tackled the sticky issue of birth control. In a tour-de-force article that appeared in Touchstone titled Sangers Victory: How Planned Parenthoods Founder Played the Christiansand Won, Carlson highlighted what he argues was Sangers brilliant strategy for creating a positive vision of birth control that would break through traditionalist opposition.
By demonizing the Catholic Church alone and by claiming to defend the Protestant conscience from Roman oppression, she left the impression that Protestants were on her side, in the apparent hope that this would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, he says.
At a Christian conference last October in Chicago, Carlson spoke about what he called a simple truth, namely that faithful Christian communities produce an abundance of children, and in doing so, they change this world. He also pointed out that since the inception of Christianity there has been what he called a consistent reproductive consensus that those of Christian belief oppose abortion, infanticide, a contraceptive mentality, and easy divorce.
My family is quiverfull as is our church family. I knew that coming into this and chose it yet it is amazing how many people condemn me for that choice like I’m doing something wrong. It also amazes me how many ‘pro-family’ conservatives chide me for not waiting until I was 30 to get married and have a family, like I’m missing something by not working at paying off massive student loans, slaving at a job I don’t like, and then having shallow meaningless relationships with guys who live with their parents.
I took a serious look at what feminism had to offer and I said, “No, thank you.”
Besides, there’s nothing feminine about feminism.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the recent Supreme Court decision that confirmed Roe v. Wade, stated, "in some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception . . . . for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail."
The Supreme Court decision has made completely unnecessary any efforts to "expose" what is really behind the attachment of the modern age to abortion. As the Supreme Court candidly states, we need abortion so that we can continue our contraceptive lifestyles. It is not because contraceptives are ineffective that a million and half women a year seek abortions as back-ups to failed contraceptives. The "intimate relationships" facilitated by contraceptives are what make abortions "necessary". "Intimate" here is a euphemism and a misleading one at that. Here the word "intimate" means "sexual"; it does not mean "loving and close." Abortion is most often the result of sexual relationships in which there is little true intimacy and love, in which there is no room for a baby, the natural consequence of sexual intercourse. Contraception enables those who are not prepared to care for babies, to engage in sexual intercourse; when they become pregnant, they resent the unborn child for intruding itself upon their lives and they turn to the solution of abortion.
Contraception currently is hailed as the solution to the problems consequent on the sexual revolution; many believe that better contraceptives and more responsible use of contraceptives will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions and will prevent to some extent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
To support the argument that more responsible use of contraceptives would reduce the number of abortions, some note that most abortions are performed for "contraceptive purposes". That is, few abortions are had because a woman has been a victim of rape or incest or because a pregnancy would endanger her life, or because she expects to have a handicapped or deformed newborn. Rather, most abortions are had because men and women who do not want a baby are having sexual intercourse and facing pregnancies they did not plan for and do not want. Because their contraceptive failed, or because they failed to use a contraceptive, they then resort to abortion as a back-up. Many believe that if we could convince men and women to use contraceptives responsibly we would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus the number of abortions. Thirty years ago this position might have had some plausibility, but not now. We have lived for about thirty years with a culture permeated with contraceptive use and abortion; no longer can we think that greater access to contraception will reduce the number of abortions. Rather, wherever contraception is more readily available the number of unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions increases greatly.
The connection between contraception and abortion is primarily this: contraception facilitates the kind of relationships and even the kind of attitudes and moral characters that are likely to lead to abortion. The contraceptive mentality treats sexual intercourse as though it had little natural connection with babies; it thinks of babies as an "accident" of pregnancy, as an unwelcome intrusion into a sexual relationship, as a burden.
The societal norm - and it’s pervasive in churches as well, even if not openly stated - is that sterility in marriage is the default “responsible” setting, and any exceptions have to be carefully considered, planned, and justified to the satisfaction of the self-appointed concerned citizen.
Babies as a natural outcome of marriage? You must be kidding, right? That’s just so *shudder* distasteful! People are much more supportive of artificial reproduction than they are of a natural marriage relationship that produces “too many” children.
awesome for you Megan. My son and his wife married at 22 and 21 respectively, (she turned 21 in oct and married in January). I personally believe that young marriage is important for a variety of reasons and being the hand that rocks the cradle, as I did with my 3 sons, is the most important job we can ever do.
I think all the proof we need on this issue is looking at the current generation and see how misguided and immoral so many have turned out, the quiver full movement is the hope for our next generation. The only people who cannot see that have not looked at the whole picture yet. Raise them Megan, raise a lot of them, and do it in, through and with Almighty God.
I cannot understand either, the current thought process that “modern” women use. I stayed home with my boys all their lives (they are grown now, so I am working a little to help hubby a bit, but won’t for long, as I miss being home and caring for him and our home so much). I have an adoring husband who is my best friend, 3 sons I could not be more proud of, all of us practicing Catholics, we attend adoration together weekly, and serve our community as we can with our time, talent, and treasure.
Some people need to see a sheepskin or awards hanging on their wall to look at their lifes work; I look at our family portrait to see mine, and I don’t think I could be more content and blessed. Enjoy the journey, it is hard, but, get back to me in 20 years and let me know how you feel-words won’t be able to convey it for you either :) God bless you and your family
That’s wonderful Megan! May God richly bless your family for that decision.
What do you think of the author’s claim that this kind of openness is becoming more common? Is that what you are seeing even outside your church community?
Amen Megan- feminism is a repudiation of feminity- as God ordained it- it is antichristian
“What do you think of the authors claim that this kind of openness is becoming more common? Is that what you are seeing even outside your church community?”
I think he’s right. I do a blog (that I won’t post here because that’s not why I’m here) and I get a lot of positive responses from people. Also get some really nasty ones, too. In the time I’ve run my blog I’ve had maybe 15 people contact our church and I think it’s like around 6 or 7 who have joined.
Outside the church/Christian community there’s a growing ‘quiverfull’ movement among the unchurched. I know because these people write to me too and some ouf share recipes and whatever. The thing we have in common is we’re having kids and not waiting to our 30’s to have families.
I think what we are starting to see is a revival of faith like America saw in the 1820’s and again just before World War One. People are seeing that the worship of material things and consumerism is no substitute for a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They’re seeing the hollow and empty lives they have with secular humanism and they’re seeking both meaning and fulfillment and they come to the cross and find it waiting for them.
Three years ago I was one of them so I know what I’m talking about.