Protestants & Contraception

  • Thread starter Thread starter matthew1624
  • Start date Start date
Not open for further replies.


What is the protestant view of contraception? I ask because I have six children and one common response to the number of children we have is “have you been fixed?” Most of these responses come from non-denominational Christians that I know very well. Unfortunately I get these responses from Catholics as well, but we all know what the Catholic church teaches on contraception. Just curious.
I don’t think that there is any one set protestant viewpoint. Most have the opinion that the marriage bed is undefiled = anything between man and wife goes including contraception. (So a tearing out of context Hebrews 13:4, which is saying don’t commit adultery.)

Mormons would be an exception in they don’t approve of contraception. I’m not sure there is any distinguishing between most others, if any take a view of barrier methods are okay but the pill is not (except Orthodox seem to have that viewpoint).

Did you know, that all forms of artifical contraception was condemed WITH OUT EXCEPTION by all major Christan denomination up until 1930, when the eccumenical Lambeth Conference voted to allow the usage of these means, but restricting them to “hard cases” (I suppose that is heath, financial, etc).

Commonly folks (both Catholic and Protestant) will mischaracterize the Churches postion as “unrealistic” or “antiquated”, neither of which is true. They usually continue on to make a foolish accusation such as “The Church believes that the only purpose for sexual intercourse is for procreation”.

Now, here is where we see the true bias of the individual. If we can agree that by and large, from observation, God created human sexuality with a two fold purpose. That is licit sexuality (between a man and woman who are bound by the sacrament of marriage) 1. Brings pleasure to the couple 2. Bears the possibility of conceiving a child. Ok, if we can agree that these are the two major objectives of sexuality, then lets look a bit closer. Although the husband and wife are one flesh, they also maintain their individual characteristics. This is such that the satisfaction of the marital act may be fulfilled in both, or just one of the parties depending on a multitude of variables surrounding the circumstances in which the act takes place.

As well, conception of a child is just as tenetative as is the reciept of pleasure.

In what case would it be reasonably possible to say that the conception of a child would take place in normal marital relations, without at least one partner achieving satifsatction? This is not a realistic view, and is not reasonable then to charge that the Church advocates that the ONLY purpose for sex is procreation, hence it is, in effect, highly improbable.

I really like Scott Hahn. Hes alright in my book, for a man with a Doctorate that is. He always draws the connection between a husband and wife as Christ is to His bride, the Church. He likens the Eucharistic feast, in which we renew our covenant, just like the Israelites did at the Passover Meal (seder supper), to the renewing of the marital covenant via the act of sexual intercourse. Its interesting to realize that the Church doesn’t view a marriage as being valid until it is “consummated” which means until the sexual intercourse has taken place.

When the marital act is compared to the Eucharist, then artifical contraception would similarly be like spitting out the concrated host and chalice…the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Why would one spit out the Eucharist? Well, if the contraception mentality is resonant, then it would probable be the same as why folks use birth control. They just want to experence the taste and the sensation, but they don’t want the responsibiltiy that goes along with the sacrament.

Just a thought.
Sometimes the argument goes that since Scriptures is not EXPLICIT about it, they they can decide because

‘we believe there are valid reasons for delaying, limiting, or not having children. There are those who realize they may need more time to mature before trying to raise children. There may be those who should never be a parent. Financial matters must also be considered. Some couples decide to wait until they have finished their schooling before having children. Living in a country in which the lives of the parents and children are in constant danger due to religious persecution might be reason to use birth control to await a safer time for starting or expanding a family.’

some staement, eh. sad that’s what it really is.
I want to interject something here. Protestants are generally perfectly fine with birth control because they do not see an explicit biblical case AGAINST it. Not only that, there seem to be very solid “rational” reasons why bringing a child into the world might not be a good idea.

That said, the tide seems to be turning. My wife visits a forum called “Gentle Christian Mothering” that is very Protestant with a sprinkling of Catholics. The interesting thing is that NFP is discussed not only by the Catholics but by a high percentage of the Protestants on the board. There is even a book available about NFP from a Protestant perspective (which apparently makes a case against artificial birth control) … this is a small snowball in Protestant circles that is gaining momentum. Also, many converts that I have read about cited this particular teaching as being the one that got them started looking into Catholicism. That would certainly be the case with us.
Since Xenon-135 mentioned Scott Hahn, I have to add that one of the things that struck me in reading his book (with Kimberly) Rome Sweet Home was the particular incident that seems to have started him on the road to studying Catholicism. Both were studying in a Protestant theological seminary, and his wife selected contraception as her research topic. Her studies ended up convincing him that the Catholic position was correct.
What is the protestant view of contraception?
Protestants have not learned that it is a sin to use contraception. They don’t promise to be open to have children when they mary in their protestant churches.

Most of the them have no clue contraceoption was a sin in all major denominations until 1930.
Most of the them have no clue contraceoption was a sin in all major denominations until 1930.
True cmom, but when they find out they don’t care anymore than they care about Luther believing Mary was ever-virgin. They write it off as erroneous thought that persisted from Catholicism. A few it might make a difference to them, but only if they are really open and searching for truth. If they are set against Catholicism and anything supportive of Catholicism they will reject it outright.

On a Jewish note I read an Orthodox Jewish woman’s chapter on family planning and while they believe the pill is acceptable because it is temporary and does not interfere with the conjugal act both sterilization and barrier methods(condoms, diaphragms) failed the test and were not “kosher”.

Granted birth control pills can be abortifacient but our society takes it for granted that Planned Parenthood is great and we can see glimmers of hope in non-Catholic sources.
What is the protestant view of contraception? I ask because I have six children and one common response to the number of children we have is “have you been fixed?” Most of these responses come from non-denominational Christians that I know very well. Unfortunately I get these responses from Catholics as well, but we all know what the Catholic church teaches on contraception. Just curious.
Hi, I was thinking about this yesterday, when I have gone to my Doctor (just for a check up) will the word (Menopause) Hot flashes/night aweat! grr, I talk to him about it, he ask if I would like to take birth control pills! some people take it, for Menopause, is this a sin! for a women to take? just wondering!:hmmm:

There is no “Protestant position” because there is no central Protestant authority that decides matters of faith and doctrine. As with most things, Protestant views will run the full range from total agreement with Catholic doctrine (on this issue) to advocacy of abortion.

In my experience, 90% of Protestants have no problems with standard forms of birth control. They argue that it is not specifically condemned in the Bible, so it is a matter of “Christian liberty” (i.e. multiple viewpoints are allowable on this issue). The “sin of Onan” (Gen. 38) is a “problem text” for thoughtful Protestants, but most of them will explain it as: “Onan was punished for disobeying the law of Moses (that he should take his brother’s wife) not for using contraception.” If confronted with the history of Christian doctrine on this issue, most will say, “well that was their tradition” or “that was cultural for their time.”

A year or so ago a book was published by an Evangelical publishing house called “An Evangelical Couple Reconsiders Contraception.” I didn’t read it (since I am celibate) but I know one couple who did and decided to stop using birth control.

Honestly most Protestants haven’t thought much about this issue. In my grandfather’s study there are some Baptist books against contraception that are about 80 years old but, since the 1960s, it has been a non-issue for most Protestants.

Hot flashes/night aweat! grr, I talk to him about it, he ask if I would like to take birth control pills! some people take it, for Menopause, is this a sin! for a women to take?
Short answer is don’t take it. The pill is an “abortifacient”, which means it causes abortions.
Janet Smith:
Now, I haven’t told you the worst reality about the pill which is really that it’s an abortifacient. I’ve been talking about it as though it were a contraceptive, but it also works as an abortifacient. At least it says so in the insert that’s in the pill. It says that it works in three different ways: One is it stops ovulation, and again, that’s clear enough. If it makes your body think it’s pregnant. It will not ovulate because when you’re pregnant, you can’t get pregnant. When you’re pregnant, you don’t ovulate because you have a new baby growing inside of you and there’s no reason to ovulate. Or if that doesn’t work, if there happens to be breakthrough ovulation, (and no woman knows when that’s happening in her body. a woman doesn’t know month by month, how her hormones are acting, whether she’s not ovulating when she’s on the pill or if there’s breakthrough ovulation.) And the pill can what it’s called change the viscosity of the mucus. There’s mucus that helps the sperm get to the egg and a certain mucus that prohibits the sperm from getting to the egg. And it will change the mucus. Or, it will prevent the nidation of the fertilized ovum. That means, the fertilized ovum, new little human being, working down the fallopian tube, trying to implant itself in it’s mother’s uterine wall, nest. Nidate. But it prohibits that and the woman sloughs off the new fertilized ovum. And a woman doesn’t know how this is working in her system. Norplant works this way, the IUD works this way. Depo-Provera works this way.
On average, women on the pill have 3 to 4 “break through” ovulations per year. This means that they can conceive a child and then kill that child through its inability to attach to the uterus.

I’ve read that the number of children killed by this means far outstrips the 1.5 million “traditional” abortions performed in this country every year.

My wife has been going through hot flashes and early menopause for the last 3 years. She “offers it up”. If women were able to survive the transition for millions of years, I would assume they can also survive now.

Also, the Church does make a moral distinction that abortifacient contraception methods are more grave and sinful.
These people are definitely in the minority among Protestants, but I’ve heard really excellent things about their book. Available from the Couple to Couple League (, even though this info comes from Amazon:

From Publishers Weekly
For such a short book, Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception packs some serious punches. Authors Sam and Bethany Torode argue that all married Christians, not just Roman Catholics, need to seriously examine the widespread usage of contraception, which they feel is against God’s plan for creation. (Pregnancy is not a disease, they assert. Why vaccinate against it?) While supporting Natural Family Planning, which they define as informed abstinence, they also make a particularly uncompromising case for stay-at-home moms, which will probably irritate many readers. More controversially, they argue that a culture that worships sex without procreation will sacrifice its children through abortion, claiming that America’s increasing permissiveness about legalizing contraception in the 1960s led inexorably to Roe v. Wade in the 1970s. While it’s good to see some ecumenical diversity in the contraception debate, some of the basic arguments of this book are problematic.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
What is the protestant view of contraception?
**Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) - **

“Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed.”

Protestant Theologians on the Onan Incident and Birth Control

John Calvin (1509 to 1564) -

Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race.

John Wesley (1703 to 1791) -

"Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - And it is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.

“His sin was extremely heinous, not only as it proceeded from envy of his brother’s honor, and contempt of the promised seed, but as it was horrid and unnatural in itself.” (John Brown, Presbyterian, 1722-1787)

“This is always a shameful sin, yet much more atrocious than a case of incest or adultery: we call it a sin of the effeminate, indeed, even a sin of Sodomy … therefore it was quite right for God to kill him.” (Abraham Calovius, Lutheran, 1612-1686)

“The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous … if any woman ejects a fetus from her womb by drugs, it is reckoned a crime incapable of expiation and deservedly Onan incurred upon himself the same kind of punishment.” (John Calvin, 1509-1564)

“The sin of self-pollution, which is generally considered to be that of Onan, is one of the most destructive evils ever practiced by fallen man. In many respects it is far worse than common whoredom, and has in its train more awful consequences … God, and God alone, can save thee from an evil which has in its issue the destruction of the body, and the final perdition of thy soul! Whether this may have been the sin of Onan, or not, is a matter at present of small moment - it may be thy sin, therefore take heed, lest God slay thee for it.” (Adam Clarke, Methodist, 1762-1832)

“God destests and punishes shameful acts. Shortness of life for the wicked is the punishment of sins. The sin of effeminacy and voluntary pouring out of the seed is contrary to nature: this in itself is compared by the Hebrews to homicide. Thomas argues that this is more serious than homicide.” (Johann Gerhard, Lutheran, 1582-1637)

“This was so much the worse because the Messiah was to descend from Judah, and had he [Onan] not been guilty of this wickedness, he might have had the honor of being one of his ancestors. Note, those sins that dishonour the body and defile it are very displeasing to God and the evidences of vile affections.” (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714)

“Onan’s sin, a deadly wickedness, an example to be held in abhorrence, as condemnatory, not only of secret sins of self-pollution, but also of all similar offences in sexual relations, and even in marriage itself … Onan’s offence … was a most unnatural wickedness, and a grievous wrong. The sin named after him is destructive as a pestilence that walketh in darkness, destroying directly the body and the soul of the young.” (Johann Peter Lange, Reformed, 1802-1884)

“Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin … that worthless fellow refused to exercise love. He preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother.” (Martin Luther, 1483-1546) “For the sin of Onan, it was most detestable, because it was unnatural to spill the seed given him for generation.” (John Mayer, Anglican, 1583-1664)
“He who lies with his wife, as if with a strange woman, is an adulterer … Onan’s sin here was self-pollution, aggravated much by his envy that moved him to it.” (John Trapp, Puritan, 1601-1669)

“Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body … he refused to raise up seed unto his brother. Thos sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord - and it is to be feared, thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.” (John Wesley, Methodist, 1703-1791)

“The lewdness of this fact was composed of lust, of envy, and murder … [murder,] in that there is a seminal vital virtue, which perishes if the seed be spilled; and by doing this to hinder the begetting of a living child, is the first degree of murder that can be committed, and the next unto it is the marring of conception, when it is made, and causing of abortion … his brother Er before, was his brother in evil thus far, that both of them satisfied their sensuality against the order of nature … which may be for terror … to those, who, in marriage, care not for the increase of children, but for the satisfying of thier concupiscence.” (Westminster Annotations, Calvinist, 1657)

(Examining sermons and commentaries, Charles Provan identified over a hundred Protestant leaders (Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Nonconformist, Baptist, Puritan, Pilgrim) living before the twentieth century condemning non- procreative sex. Did he find the opposing argument was also represented? Mr. Provan stated, “We will go one better, and state that we have found not one orthodox [protestant]theologian to defend Birth Control before the 1900’s. NOT ONE! On the other hand, we have found that many highly regarded Protestant theologians were enthusiastically opposed to it.” )

In 1908 the Bishops of the Anglican Communion meeting at the Lambeth Conference declared, “The Conference records with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction as demoralising to character and hostile to national welfare.” The Lambeth Conference of 1930 produced a new resolution, “Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, complete abstinence is the primary and obvious method…” but if there was morally sound reasoning for avoiding abstinence, “the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of Christian principles.”
Calvin made an excellent summary of Protestant view points of contraception so I won’t go over it again. But I did want to point out that the Protestant couple that wrote “Open Embrace” and became convinced that contraception was against Biblical teaching has now entered the Orthodox Church.

Interesting because the Orthodox church itself is split among those who agree with Catholic teaching (although they have their own way of explaining it of course) and those (mostly American Orthodox) who believe there is nothing wrong with birth control. You might have thought that such a strongly pro-life couple would have chosen to become Catholic (which they were also contemplating) but I understand from personal experience that the Orthodox church is very attractive to Protestants as it offers all the smells & bells without having to truly submit to the authority of the pope. I don’t mean any offense to the Orthodox. There is much I love about the Eastern traditions and Tradition. I am only remarking about how it is easier sometimes for Protestants to imagine themselves Orthodox than Catholic.

As a former Presbyterian, I can say from experience that the only “no birth control” Protestants I knew of (and only dimly) were what you might categorize as fundamentalist hicks. It was definitely looked down upon. Every good and upstanding Christian knew about “good stewardship” right? Hmm. The Holy Spirit fortunately led me to be “convicted” (to use that evangelical terminology of my youth) of the sin of contraception while I was still Presbyterian (albeit attending a “non-denominational” church aka sort of fundamentalist hicks), years from becoming a Catholic.

I have cousins whom I have tried to talk to about the Pill being abortifacient.

One didn’t believe me when I said the Pill can cause abortion. Another cousin recently married and had a baby and told me that I didn’t need to worry because she was seeing a “great Christian doctor” that was taking care of her… and supplying her with birth control pills.

The Catholic position on contraception is the first reason I became Catholic. Thank God for the courage of the Catholic Church!

The Hidden Wife
I’m an Evangelical and believe that is it fine to use birth control.
See my two posts above with the unanimous view of all of evangelical and protestant Christianity until 1930.
If people choose not to use it, that’s thier belief, just don’t condemn Christians who use it.
We don’t condemn anyone. We are called to love the sinner while hating the sin.
We are called to love the sinner while hating the sin.
So using birth control is sinful? I don’t agree with that at all. I don’t feel the need to restate my opinion because it is all stated in the website I posted above…
Not open for further replies.