Can Christians Use Birth Control?
- Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Arguments against Any and All Birth Control
First, it is commonly argued that modern birth control is evil because it was promoted by racists such as Thomas Malthus and Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood). Sanger tried to implement Darwinism practically by encouraging the use of birth control and abortion among those peoples and races deemed less fit. She set up her first clinics in the poorest and most ethnic neighborhoods.23
Theologian Wayne House says, “In 1933 the magazine for Planned Parenthood, known in Sangers [sic] day as Birth Control Review, actually published ‘Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need,’ by Ernst Rudin, Hitlers [sic] director of genetic sterilization and founder of the Nazi
Society for Racial Hygiene.”24 Furthermore, later that same year the magazine “published an article by E. A. Whitney, entitled ‘Selective Sterilization,’ which strongly praised and defended Nazi racial programs.”25
Sanger saw birth control as the most effective way to get rid of people she called “feebleminded,” meaning those whose mental ability was less than that of a twelve-year-old.26 Sanger also once said, “Birth control appeals to the advanced radical because it is calculated to undermine the authority of the Christian churches. I look forward to seeing humanity free someday of the tyranny of Christianity no less than Capitalism.”27
Sanger was simply a wicked woman, and no Christian should agree with her principles or practices. Nevertheless, to say that all birth control is sinful is fallacious, because it is a classic ad hominem attack that seeks to simply dismiss birth control as evil by connecting it with an evil person. Just because something is promulgated by a godless person does not mean it cannot be redeemed by God’s people and used in a godly manner. Pornographers, for example, are responsible for many of the gains in media, from inexpensive digital movie cameras to highspeed Internet downloads, but that same technology can also be used to download sermons and Bible studies to edify God’s people.
Second, it is argued that Christians never endorsed any form of birth control until 1930. The rhetoric postulates that Resolution 15 of the Anglican Lambeth Conference on August 14, 1930, was the first time in the church’s history that birth control in certain forms and for certain purposes was accepted. The conference did not endorse abortion, and furthermore did issue “its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception-control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.”28
Yet theologians such as Wayne House have refuted the erroneous claim that Christian birth control did not exist until 1930:
Christians in all ages have generally practiced some form of birth control, whether through medical devices or by more natural means, such as restricting intercourse to certain periods of the month or through coitus interruptus [a.k.a. Vatican Roulette]. Though the Roman Catholic church declared birth control a violation of natural law in the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (1965), most Protestants have considered some forms of birth control morally acceptable . . .
Contraceptive devices were known and used in the pre-Christian Mediterranean world. For example, five different Egyptian papyri, dating between 1900 and 1100 BC, have recipes for contraceptive concoctions to be used in the vulva. Other papyri describe preparations aimed at blocking or killing semen. Legal scholar John Noonan, in his authoritative work on contraception, has provided abundant evidence that such formulas were also used in Christian Europe during the medieval period (AD 450–1450) and the pre-modern period (AD 1450–1750).29
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