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The Early Church Fathers on Contraception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
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Posted on 02/15/2007 2:16:28 PM PST by NYer

The Early Church Fathers were undivided in their condemnation of artificial birth control. In fact, all Christian churches were in agreement on this until 1930.

Letter of Barnabas

Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Lev. 11:29]. For he means, "Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth with the body through uncleanness [orally consummated sex]; nor shalt thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth with the body through uncleanness" (Letter of Barnabas 10:8 [A.D. 74]).

Clement of Alexandria

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 (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 [A.D. 191]).

To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature (ibid. 2:10:95:3).


[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, they use drugs of sterility [oral contraceptives] or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered [abortion] (Refutation of All Heresies 9:7 [A.D. 225]).


[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 (Divine Institutes 6:20 [A.D. 307]).

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 (ibid. 6:23:18).


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 (Medicine Chest Against Heresies 26:5:2 [A.D. 375]).

John Chrysostom

[l]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] (Homilies on Matthew 28:5 [A.D. 391]).

Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth?. . . Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and Fight with his [natural] laws? (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).


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? (Against Jovinian 1:19 [A.D. 393]).

You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink sterility [oral contraceptives] and murder a man not yet born, [and some commit abortion] (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).


This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her, is joined to the man to gratify his passion (The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 [A.D. 388]).

You [Manicheans] make your auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of your [religious] law [against childbearing] . . . they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it, then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the apostle predicted of you so long ago [I Tim. 4:1-4], when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps (Against Faustus 15:7 [A.D. 400]).

For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only to propagate progeny (ibid. 22:30).


Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive or an abortifacient] 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 (Sermons 1:12 [A.D. 522]).

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Orthodox Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiccaucus; contraception; cultureoflife; humanaevitae; orthodox; prolife
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To: Scotswife
Many women do not understand the abortificant properties of the pill and the IUD.
Scalpels also have abortifacient properties.

So could a bullet, for that matter.

An inadvertent abortion is not on the same moral plane as a woman choosing to use a pill or a scalpel to have an abortion.
201 posted on 02/20/2009 11:42:51 AM PST by dbz77
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To: Scotswife
Warning: May cause spontaneous abortion," and Caution: Causes flushing of fertilized egg"
So it is most likely a bad idea for a pregnant woman to use these drugs. Certainly, pregnant women should be advised of drugs which could cause these things.

These warnings, of course, have little relevance to a woman or girl who has no idea, no reason to believe that she is pregnant.
202 posted on 02/20/2009 11:51:19 AM PST by dbz77
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To: dbz77

There is nothing inadvertent about an abortion induced by the pill or the IUD.

203 posted on 02/20/2009 12:49:10 PM PST by Petronski (For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. -- Cdl. Stafford)
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To: dbz77

why are you following me around on 2 yr. old threads?

204 posted on 02/20/2009 2:01:21 PM PST by Scotswife (GO ISRAEL!!!)
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To: Petronski

So pills and IUD are only used by pregnant women who want to have abortions?

205 posted on 02/20/2009 2:05:53 PM PST by dbz77
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To: ichabod1
Every sperm is sacred.

Yeah, pretty funny. Considering we enlightened Euro-ancestry types are now contracepting ourselves into oblivion, the humor will be somewhat lost on future generations. It will instead be viewed as supremely ironic.
206 posted on 02/20/2009 2:13:28 PM PST by Antoninus (License is the ability to do whatever you want. Freedom is the right to do as you ought.)
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To: dbz77

Your logic is, well, conspicuous by its absence.

207 posted on 02/20/2009 2:15:33 PM PST by Petronski (For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. -- Cdl. Stafford)
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To: Kolokotronis
By the way, nothing in Humanae Vitae's ultimate holdings are dogma in Orthodoxy and never were. They are theologoumenna.

And how are the birth-rates doing in Orthodox and formerly Orthodox countries these days? Just curious...
208 posted on 02/20/2009 2:16:01 PM PST by Antoninus (License is the ability to do whatever you want. Freedom is the right to do as you ought.)
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To: Antoninus

“And how are the birth-rates doing in Orthodox and formerly Orthodox countries these days? Just curious...”

In the only two I’ve seen rates on, Greece and Russia, not well at all. I doubt that has to do with the absence of a hollow warning of “mortal sin” from some priest. In fact, knowing Greeks, if a priest, let alone some hierarch, told a Greek he or she could not use use birth control on pain of some ecclesiastical penalty, its likely they’d have no kids at all.

209 posted on 02/20/2009 7:01:01 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis; Antoninus; Petronski

It’s always wonderful to see one of these older threads pop back up putting the truth out there for everyone to see.

210 posted on 02/20/2009 7:16:38 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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