Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Protestantism and Contraception

Not too long ago Touchstone ran an interesting article on the history of Protestantism and contraception, tracing historical positions on contraception and relating them to the life of the Protestant pastor. It is an interesting article to me, not leastwise because growing up I had no idea that there had ever been Protestant opposition to contraception. It seemed that nearly everybody I knew did it, and even the "full quiver" types I knew who didn't appear to practice contraception didn't say contraception was itself immoral. It wasn't uncommon for folks I knew getting married to find condoms on the seat of their "getaway" vehicle. Since the vast majority of my family and friends were Protestant, it took the intervention of a friend who understood a wee bit about Catholicism for me to avoid finding rubbers in my own getaway car. Apparently, many Protestants don't even know that faithful Catholics oppose contraception.

Also of interest was information on Southern Baptists (including a convention statement) embracing abortion in certain circumstances back in the 1970's. Until recently, I didn't know that many Protestants (even of the evangelical stripe) had embraced Roe vs. Wade early on.



RC said...

this is an interesting topic, and a tough, but important debate.

that's an interesting article, thanks for sharing it.

Shawn said...

Sheeeesh bro. Could you sound anymore anti-protestant and raise your catholic banner a little higher?

I would suggest reading the "red letters" in your Bible. If yours doesn't have them find one that does and check it out.

Why does everything have to be an "us" and "them"? Both sides of the fence are equally as guilty. Why can't it be a "we" as in "we followers of Jesus Christ?"

Just currious...

MarkC said...


Welcome to our blog. I'm glad you're here, and I hope you will stick around and add your thoughts to our discussions.

However, I'd like to request that you tone down the sarcasm in future comments. You are quite welcome to disagree with MB... in fact, disagreeing with each other is precisely what makes this blog valuable. But, disagreement is most useful when it is presented in a careful and respectful form (unlike sarcasm), and when it is specific in substance.

I'm not clear what makes you say that MB sounds "anti-protestant", and I didn't see him raising a "catholic banner". I have no idea how he presented an "us" and "them" approach in this post. You threw out these accusations, but you didn't specify what you were responding to.

Assuming MB's historical facts are correct, was there something inappropriate about his sharing of them? If his statements are incorrect, please point out (respectfully) where they were wrong. If his statements were incomplete, and there is other information that would give a fuller light to the conversation, by all means add that insight.

Just try to be specific, direct, and respectful. Thanks!


MamasBoy said...


Considering that the article is written by a Protestant, I can hardly imagine it being anti-Protestant. Whichever side one comes down on, the history in the article itself should not be offensive. I'm sorry if you viewed anything else that I wrote as anti-Protestant. It wasn't intended as such.


Shawn said...

markc and MB (DC)-
You were right, I am sorry, I could have said the same thing less sarcasticly...if I was someone else. Let me qualify that by saying it is a down fall of mine, I am trying to let God change that in me, it is just going to take a lot of unlearning. So please bare with me

Do I think MB is wrong by quoting this article(in other words do I believe it to be a fabrication?)


"Both sides," an analogy that makes me cringe by the way, like to throw out how this side or that side is wrong, and finger point.

The discussion about contraception is a legit debate and one I am curious about, but I believe if you are going to roll the Baptist under the bus for something that, I think we all agree on, is wrong and was written 20 something years ago, lets present both sides of the arguement.

I will look further to find exactly what organization it is, but when I was in college I "discussed" with another believer, who was catholic, this very topic of ontraceptives and abortion. She was part of a "catholic pro-choice organization." See what I am getting at here?

Both sides of the fense have made mistakes in history, the protestant church, the catholic church, the whatever kind of church have had there problems and made their mistakes. I guess I simply just didn't understand why you singled out one certain denomination.

If you would like to talk to me about "what I am," feel free to e-mail me at

Once again I apologize for offending anyone, I honestly am just fed up with "denominations" period, maybe just the wrong time to vent that.

Shawn said...

I feel even worse now, I just read this

"This blog is designed not for preaching or venting or informing, but for discussion. Our goal is to learn together, in the midst of our disagreements. We commit to:

* Respect each other

* Work to understand each other

* Carefully consider new ideas

We might find that we were wrong. We might change someone else's mind. Or, we might come to understand other perspectives better, and find unexpected common ground. If you desire respectful, thoughtful discussion on difficult issues, please join in!"

I really am sorry for offending anyone

MarkC said...


I doubt there was any offense. I know MB, and he has a pretty think skin (he has to, being a convert to Catholicism in a predominantly Protestant family with predominantly Protestant friends!). I certainly didn't take offense either. Thanks for sticking around.

I'd be quite interested to hear about the pro-choice Catholic group that you speak of (doesn't sound Catholic at all to me)... but in the context of the on-going discussion that we have on this blog, I think MB's comments about Protestantism and contraception have a reasonable place. At other times, for example, we have discussed in great detail (and with significant disagreement) the moral propriety of natural family planning (the Catholic church's acceptable non-contraceptive version of family planning). We have also discussed abortion and IVF many times, and those discussion have often touched on the issue of contraception. We've examined it from many sides.

As a Catholic convert from Protestantism, MB has a unique interest in the angle that he presented... but he's more than willing to listen to someone else's angle, too. :)

By all means, join in. We're always interested in hearing new perspectives.


MamasBoy said...


No offense taken. I appreciate your willingness to apologize. It is something I have had to do myself multiple times on this blog (as Mark knows quite well). If people held grudges against me for all the times I've misworded my posts and come across like a jerk (or not misworded them and been a jerk), nobody would bother to read anything I write. So, please, stick around. I promise you that what you write in the future will be read and engaged on its merits (and not dismissed because of silly offenses).

Regarding the baptist decision on abortion, I was not trying to single them out. I was just very surprised, given their current position on the topic, to learn a bit more of the history and thought others might be interested. Also, believe it or not, I have much more respect for Protestants (not Catholics) who come to that conclusion than might be expected. Baptists are sola scritura people and I don't think that an airtight case against abortion can be made from Scripture alone. In fact, as I'm learning by reading the positions of people who favor legalized abortion, there are all sorts of questions that can be raised in that regard, making the decision more difficult than many have been lead to believe. I've been meaning to create a post here on the Biblical basis for abortion, but I simply haven't had the time recently. I'm writing this on a break at work for my third 20+ hour shift in a weeks time.

Regarding Catholics for a Free Choice or some other pro-choice "Catholic" group, I am aware of all sorts of "Catholic" groups advocating for women priests, normalization of homosexuality, abortion and numerous other causes. Frankly, I don't think most of those groups are even run by Catholics. Also, I think its a bad comparison, but explaining that would get into the difference between "teachings of the Catholic Church" and teachings of Catholics, be they lay people or the pope. If you want a better example (that still comes up short), try the statement of the The Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, USCCB, "However, it now recognizes that Jews are also called by God to prepare the world for God’s kingdom. Their witness to the kingdom, which did not originate with the Church’s experience of Christ crucified and raised, must not be curtailed by seeking the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity. The distinctive Jewish witness must be sustained if Catholics and Jews are truly to be, as Pope John Paul II has envisioned, "a blessing to one another.""

While one would hope that the committee did not mean to say that we should quit seeking to convert Jews to Christianity, it sure seems like that's what they are saying to me. However, it contradicts very clear church teaching both old and recent (even though the document was an official publication of an official committee of the USCCB).

I bet you couldn't come up with an example half as good for doctrinal error by people officially associated with the Catholic Church. :-) Like I said, earlier, though, I view these types of examples through the lens of what official "Church teaching" is and isn't. It is unfortunate that such a lens is required sometimes, but the Church is made up of fallible humans just like me and Pope B.

Getting back to the subject of the original post, if you have other sources that you think are more accurate or lay out the history in a more sympathetic light, I enjoy engaging multiple perspectives.


steviepinhead said...

"I know MB, and he has a pretty think skin..."

I *think* the word I've emphazized in the quote was simply a typo (though skin that thinks might be cool, too, like those "wearable" computers that are supposedly in development), but it does suggest a mental wavering between "thick" and "thin."

I suspect we are all thin-skinned on some subjects and thick-skinned on others.

steviepinhead said...

And, of course, I then had to commit a typo: MarkB ==> MarkC.