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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).

Hippolytus

[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]).

Lactantius

[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).

Epiphanius

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]).

Jerome

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]).

Augustine

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).

Caesarius

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: mockingbyrd

"Does the Orthodox Church have a position on the morality of abortaficiant contraceptives, such as the pill, the depo shot, norplant, IUD etc, all of which agknowledge at least the possibility of having abortaficiant side effects?"

Abortion is murder. That's the Orthodox position.


61 posted on 02/15/2007 7:14:03 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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I do have to wonder why, however, the abortion rate among Catholic women is so high.

Ouch, sports fans! K comes out with an upper-cut. N is stunned, but gathering strength.

62 posted on 02/15/2007 7:15:59 PM PST by Enosh ()
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To: Kolokotronis

And abortaficiants are recognized as such and are condemned?

I am not trying to badger you, I hope it doesn't come across that way. I am feeling especially think tonight, been battling my daughter on eating brocoli. Apparently the only way that will work is if you eat it as though you are Cookie Monster.

So that's the brain cell level I'm at right now...thanks for your patience.


63 posted on 02/15/2007 7:21:55 PM PST by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: mockingbyrd

"And abortaficiants are recognized as such and are condemned?"

I sincerely do not know what spiritual fathers tell their spiritual children about this. I do know, because our Metropolitan, as well as virtually all other Orthodox metropolitans in this country at least and in Greece, regularly and publically condemn abortion by any means, that it would seem likely that they are. By the way, a lot of good it does. The abortion rate in Greece is staggering.


64 posted on 02/15/2007 7:26:41 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: GCC Catholic

I wasn't born at the time either, but your understanding is basically how I heard it too.


65 posted on 02/15/2007 7:28:40 PM PST by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: Kolokotronis; mockingbyrd
Abortion is murder. That's the Orthodox position.

But, according to a previous post, the decision to use 'artificial birth control' (i.e. an abortaficient), is okay. Please clarify the diffference for us. When is it 'okay' to abort an unborn child, in the Orthodox Church, using artificial birth control?

66 posted on 02/15/2007 7:30:49 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Kolokotronis
So do I have the Orthodox position correct:

Don't use contraception unless there is serious need. If there is serious need whatever form is used is determined by the couple, with guidance from a spiritual head.
67 posted on 02/15/2007 7:34:03 PM PST by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: NYer

All of this talk about abortifacient birth control pills because they prevent implantation leads me to the following question:

If you believe prevention of implantation is abortion, then the logical belief that follows is that every time a fertilized egg doesn't implant, a woman has a miscarriage and a soul goes to wherever unborn baby souls go, whether heaven, or the discredited limbo, or somewhere else.

I don't believe the Church has ever taken that stance which, IMHO, makes the birth control pills are abortifacients per the Catholic Church argument difficult to maintain.


68 posted on 02/15/2007 7:37:49 PM PST by cammie
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Sports fans! N is up! She ducks, she swerves, she JABS!
69 posted on 02/15/2007 7:39:20 PM PST by Enosh ()
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To: cammie
I don't believe the Church has ever taken that stance which, IMHO, makes the birth control pills are abortifacients per the Catholic Church argument difficult to maintain.

How so? whether heaven, or the discredited limbo, or somewhere else

Please remember that this is a Caucus thread. Respectful questions and discussion of the issues is the point. This statement reads as an attack on particular Catholic thought.

70 posted on 02/15/2007 7:41:59 PM PST by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: Kolokotronis; Enosh; mockingbyrd
The dogmatic declaration hasn't worked, NYer.

Of course it works. The problem, obviously, is that those who hear it are not listening. They would prefer to hear those positions that support their practices. That is not about to happen!

Why is Roman Catholic contraceptive usage marginally higher than the rest of the population then? For that matter, why is the abortion rate for Catholic women substantially (not marginally, substantially) higher than for Protestant women?

Personal choice! If I turn a deaf ear to what my priest tells me, I have then opted to follow my conscience, even if it is diametrically opposed to what the Church teaches. That is not the fault of the Church.

I do have to wonder why, however, the abortion rate among Catholic women is so high.

Is it? What is the abortion rate among Catholics?

Turrning a deaf ear towards the teachings of one's Church does not negate them. On the other hand, when a Church accedes to the weaknesses of its members and justifies their failings, I would step back and take a closer look.

71 posted on 02/15/2007 7:43:10 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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... She coldcocks the announcer...
Oww..
72 posted on 02/15/2007 7:48:34 PM PST by Enosh ()
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To: Kolokotronis

Let's just say your assertion about contraceptive use and abortions among Catholics are accurate. (I have never seen those statistics, but honestly it wouln't surprise me, at least the abortion one)

So what?

What does that have to do with the truth or wisdom of a particular teaching? Last time I checked truth wasn't a popularity contest. Look at Christ in John 6. As a majority of His followers abandoned Him due to His teachings, did He modify anything, decide that He was wrong? No. So why does the fact that people refuse to believe something make it in error?


73 posted on 02/15/2007 7:50:23 PM PST by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: Enosh

awwww.....and I was getting fond of the guy.....


74 posted on 02/15/2007 7:51:47 PM PST by mockingbyrd (peace begins in the womb)
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To: NYer

"When is it 'okay' to abort an unborn child, in the Orthodox Church, using artificial birth control?"

Never, so far as I know.


75 posted on 02/15/2007 7:59:45 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: mockingbyrd

Sort of. It isn't just guidance, like a suggestion. A spiritual father often has to "guide" firmly and it is accepted that way by good Orthodox.


76 posted on 02/15/2007 8:01:43 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: mockingbyrd

"What does that have to do with the truth or wisdom of a particular teaching?"

It may or may not have anything to do with the truth of the teaching; it may have a great deal to do with the wisdom of it and whether or not it is truly dogma.


77 posted on 02/15/2007 8:04:30 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: mockingbyrd

"What does that have to do with the truth or wisdom of a particular teaching?"

It may or may not have anything to do with the truth of the teaching; it may have a great deal to do with the wisdom of it and whether or not it is truly dogma.


78 posted on 02/15/2007 8:05:15 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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Whoa, sports fans! K made the Sign of the Cross and just stood there.
Righteousness, determination? Stay tuned!
79 posted on 02/15/2007 8:07:44 PM PST by Enosh ()
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To: NYer

"That is not the fault of the Church"

Well, we do all have free will. I contend, however, that by declaring something dogma ex cathedra which the people haven't accepted, this is an unfortunate result of a theological/ecclesiological mistake.

"Is it? What is the abortion rate among Catholics?"

If one includes Hispanic women, 33% higher than among Protestant women. Looked at another way, the rate of abortion among Catholic women of all ethnicities in the US is 5.1 per 1000 pregnancies.

By the way, I have been a member of my state's Right to Life organization for many, many years.


80 posted on 02/15/2007 8:16:54 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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