American Evangelicals beginning to rethink birth control
A new book "Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control, 1873-1973" by Dr. Allan Carlson questions the acceptance of artificial birth control. It is a well-known fact, or should be, that Martin Luther and Calvin both condemned birth control.
Catholic theology has always linked contraception to abortion, but this has been eschewed by most Protestant churches.
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.
“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 Carlson’s “hard-hitting and unrelenting” arguments suggest that “perhaps American Evangelicalism unwittingly traded the Blessed Virgin Mary for Margaret Sanger.”
In reading Randy Alcorn's book Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments, Alcorn states that he came to the point where he could no longer advise couples to use artificial birth control once he realised that most forms (the pill, the IUD) act as abortifacients. He concluded that he could only advise couples to use barrier methods of birth control, since the others actually destroyed nascent life.
And a couple of months ago David Jeremiah, a Christian evangelist, surprised me when he prefaced a radio show by saying that he was going to disturb some people, but he felt that he had to talk about this issue. He then proceeded to talk about couples who choose not to have children and he quoted the Bible passages that show children are actually a blessing from the Lord. Not only that, but the primary purpose of marriage is not companionship for the man and woman but the birthing and parenting of the next generation. This, he said, was God's purpose in marriage and couples should really examine whether they understood that.
So there seems to be a shift occurring in some Christian circles. It will not come about easily, because changing people's sexual practices is probably the hardest area in which to provide mentoring.
But given the increasing secularisation of the world, it would be a good thing if Christians had more children because if we can't beat them at their game, we might be able to outnumber them.