God’s Protection – Evangelicals embrace the “contraception culture.”

God’s Protection – Evangelicals embrace the “contraception culture.”

American evangelicals, as it happens, are pro-contraception. A Harris Poll conducted online in September 2005 shows that evangelicals overwhelmingly support birth control (88%).

Protestants’ acceptance of contraception has a relatively short history. The 1930 Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops was the first Christian church body to authorize the use of contraceptives within marriage, even as it condemned certain motives for using it, like “selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.” The introduction of the birth control pill in the 1950s and 1960s offered “free love” to society at large; married evangelicals embraced its convenience and effectiveness. The Catholic Church, by contrast, stated in Pope Paul VI’s “Humanae Vitae” encyclical of 1968 that the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage are inseparable.
A minority movement within evangelical circles would agree. They oppose contraception not merely on pro-life grounds but also on the grounds that artificial contraception inhibits the possibility of children, in effect, offering a “thanks, but no thanks” (or at least “not right now”) response to God’s blessing to “be fruitful and multiply.” Sam and Bethany Torode, two evangelicals at the center of the movement, put it this way in their book “Open Embrace” (2002): “Pregnancy is not a disease–why vaccinate against it?”

Still, many evangelicals portray abstinence not as obedience but as an investment in future great sex. For those who marry, the “my body, my choice” attitude contributes to a contraception culture that places fulfillment of personal desires ahead of God’s desires.

Some evangelicals charge that the Pill has contributed to the moral breakdown of society; perhaps, but evangelicals’ embrace of the contraception culture has not helped. It may have made Christianity sexier to potential adherents but diminished a public understanding of marriage in the process. For evangelicals, this may be a bitter pill to swallow.

Interesting article. I do agree that there would be no debate over same-sex marriage if we hadn’t allowed contraception to undermine the traditional, life-giving understanding of marriage. Reading Humane Vitae, it’s amazing how prescient it was.