WASHINGTON (RNS) In courtrooms and in the media, a political and legal battle is raging over whether employers must abide by a mandate in the Affordable Care Act to include contraception coverage in employee insurance plans.

Ostensibly, employers’ religious liberty — not contraception itself — is the central issue because the overwhelming majority of American families have used contraceptives for decades to control the number and spacing of their children. Widespread embrace of contraception has become a fact of life in America.

Birth Control - the practice of preventing unwanted pregnancies, typically by use of contraception.

Birth control — the practice of preventing unwanted pregnancies, typically by use of contraception. Photo courtesy of Steve Allen via Shutterstock

Evangelical leaders are tripping over themselves in the rush to stand with Roman Catholic bishops against this perceived governmental overreach. At the same time, a growing number of white evangelical leaders are attempting to sow seeds of doubt about the morality of birth control itself.

These men — and yes, they’re mostly men — will tell you that the Protestant embrace of birth control lacked adequate theological reflection. They will ignore the economic and social realities of modern life that make having Duggar-sized families undesirable and unrealistic. The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, argues that “the birth control revolution set loose a firestorm of sexual promiscuity and much human misery” but gives “The Pill” a tenuous and unenthusiastic green light. Of course, contraception has had profound consequences. But safe, effective contraception has given thoughtful, faithful people the liberty and autonomy to ensure that their children are welcome, wanted and able to be cared for.

The anti-contraception movement’s signature achievement has been to suggest that hormonal contraceptives are — or may be — abortifacient, or akin to abortion. Can Christian women really risk using these pills if, in doing so, they are slaughtering their unborn children? Whether employers must provide these methods of birth control is at the heart of the Hobby Lobby challenge to the contraception mandate that’s headed to the Supreme Court this spring.

Taken together with growing concern about broken abstinence pledges, delayed marriage and constantly having to explainbiblical womanhood to their own people, the intended effect of bemoaning contraception is to idealize pre-feminist conceptions of marriage and family. In short, concerns about contraception are about much more than contraception, and the debate over birth control is a mere skirmish in a larger theological and ideological battle.

In a recent commentary, I suggested that more evangelical leaders will come out against birth control. They have adopted Catholic positions on every other issue relating to sexuality (while, incidentally, rejecting Catholic social teaching on almost everything else). It’s hard to expect that millions of Americans will reorganize their entire family life just because their religious leaders say so. It would require a level of coordination that, so far, seems not to exist. Abandoning contraception would be a bitter pill for the rank and file to swallow. But if the elites can convince the masses, it will be the jewel in their crown.

Here’s why.

For starters, consider the demographic implications. Even a modest shift in birthrates can have a significant impact — particularly for denominations in which birthrates have declined and growth has stalled. In his provocative book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?,” Eric Kaufmann argues that birthrates and retention rates are much more important to a religion’s market share than conversions. For all of evangelicals’ emphasis on saving “the lost” from eternal conscious torment in hell, their leaders understand that persuading families to have five or more children instead of two or three could be a bigger long-term demographic boost than conversions alone.

Consider a second, convenient side effect if the faithful can be convinced that delayed marriage, women with advanced degrees, and small families are against God’s design.  The loudest voices have made it abundantly clear that a woman’s place is in the home. Yet out of economic necessity and/or a desire to exercise their own conscience and will, most evangelical women work outside the home. Obviously, women with fewer children are more likely to work full time.  With five or more children, it becomes virtually impossible. And there lies much of the appeal for the (always male) leaders.

There is one other place that women especially should never be: the pulpit. If more women aspired to have larger families, perhaps fewer would think that God is calling them to pastoral ministry. Perhaps fewer would go to college and graduate school. Perhaps fewer would pursue careers. At its most extreme, if young women revert back to being economically dependent on their fathers and husbands, they will be much easier to control.

At this point, it becomes clearer why fundamentalists and some evangelical leaders find it so compelling to oppose the use of contraceptives. Not only would their demographic strength and political clout skyrocket after just a generation or two, but they would have also found a surefire way to keep females out of workplaces, pulpits and other places Christian women allegedly do not belong.

As with most debates in evangelical life, women themselves are largely excluded from the discussion. We can’t know the extent of the strategizing about how to persuade people to “let God determine the size” of their families. Preaching and teaching that contraception is a vile sin is a high-stakes gamble. The Catholic Church fought that battle and unleashed a lay rebellion.

Advocates of the “Quiverfull” movement (think the Duggars or the recently sidelined Doug Phillips) allege that denominational leaders reluctantly accepted contraception in the 20th century because they realized they were powerless to stop its inevitable widespread use. They did not want to risk losing a monumental fight against their own people. Ironically, today’s Protestant leaders of the anti-contraception movement may have to abandon their crusade for the same reason.

(Jacob Lupfer is a doctoral candidate in political science at Georgetown University. His website is www.jacoblupfer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jlupf.)

KRE/MG END LUPFER

 

48 Comments

  1. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Not mentioned in this article is the Evangelical focus on Biblical Teachings–the very thing that is drawing many Biblical Protestants to the Catholic position which is part of Catholic Tradition going back to apostolic times.
    The fact of the matter is that -overall- the Bible is a strong pro-life document. But the media likes to try to undercut Biblical Witness by making many ancient Christian teachings look like they have just recently been fabricated by some old men in the Vatican.
    But historically the pro-life position of the Bible and the early Church was a great “drawing card” for women in the decadent Roman Empire where women and their children were treated like so much garbage–much like women and their children are becoming treated today in the decadent American Empire.

    • Re: “… the very thing that is drawing many Biblical Protestants to the Catholic position which is part of Catholic Tradition going back to apostolic times.”

      Unfortunately Catholic teaching about abortion and when human life begins, is anything but continuous “going back to apostolic times.” For example, St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas thought life began at quickening, not conception. Along the way other ideas prevailed, and were occasionally changed.

      Re: “The fact of the matter is that -overall- the Bible is a strong pro-life document.”

      The Bible also calls for anyone violating the Sabbath (no matter how small his/her transgression may be) to be put to death (e.g. Ex 31:14-15, 35:2). It also is pro-slavery (e.g. Eph 6:5-6, Col 3:22, Phlm 1:12). And it says hares chew the cud (Dt 14:7). Its God also killed people for no explicable reason (e.g. all but 8 of humanity in Gen 6:7, Er in Gen 38:7, Nadab & Abihu in Lv 10:1-2, etc.).

      I could go on at length but will not. The point is, the Bible says a lot of things that are extreme, objectionable to modern sensibilities, or factually wrong. On what rational basis can one decide public policy based on its contents?

      Also, the Bible has virtually nothing to say … at all … about abortion. There are passages mentioning causing miscarriages (e.g. Ex 21:22), but not very much else. It is by no means clearly or unambiguously “pro-life.” The words “thou shalt not abort a fetus” do not appear anywhere within it. To be honest, the pro-life position is more or less a modern construct that the Bible-book authors predated by centuries and therefore couldn’t have written about.

      Re: “… the decadent Roman Empire where women and their children were treated like so much garbage …”

      The Bible does nothing at all to elevate women or children above the status they had in the Greco-Roman world. The best that can be said is that Paul mentions a couple of women who had leadership positions in the early church. But those female leaders were outnumbered by men. And in any event, he also commanded women to be silent in church (1 Cor 14:34), which had to have severely limited any woman’s ability to lead. Elsewhere, too, the Bible commands women to be submissive (e.g. Col 3:18, Eph 5:33, 1 Pt 3:1).

      • True, the Bible may not mention abortion, but it does have strong words for hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17). A fetus is an innocent human being, created in God’s image.

        • Let me see if I get this straight…. God condones slavery, rape, and destroys humanity and condones incest. The post by PsiCop above has some good information on this… And yet the bible mentioning not to shed innocent blood means anything? Seriously… God destroyed the entire world over screwing up his creation then he raped a virgin and violently killed his pseudo son for everyone elses perceived sins? That’s some innocent blood being shed on top of the fact that the bible inherently tells people they’re not responsible for their actions since someone else suffered… WTF….

        • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

          It seems clear that some commenters here would just as soon go back to the practice of some pagan groups wherein , after a child was born, the mother was expected to place the child on the father’s lap. If the father approved of letting the child live, he gave it back to its mother. If not, he either bashed its brains on a rock or threw it to wild dogs.
          How this is any different from the savagery of modern partial-birth abortion that most abortion advocates support -escapes me.
          As it says in the Bible: “God knit me in my mother’s womb.” Thereby declaring all human life sacred. A concept secular people deride because they have no concept of the sacred.

          • “partial-birth abortion”

            There is no such procedure. You (or someone else not a medical professional) made that up.

          • “It seems clear that some commenters here would just as soon go back to the practice of some pagan groups wherein , after a child was born, the mother was expected to place the child on the father’s lap. If the father approved of letting the child live, he gave it back to its mother. If not, he either bashed its brains on a rock or threw it to wild dogs.”

            Strawman is strawy.

          • Re: “It seems clear that some commenters here would just as soon go back to the practice of some pagan groups wherein , after a child was born, the mother was expected to place the child on the father’s lap. If the father approved of letting the child live, he gave it back to its mother. If not, he either bashed its brains on a rock or threw it to wild dogs.”

            Really? I said that? When? Please identify precisely when and where I posted any such thing. If you cannot and will not do so, then admit you were wrong to make such a statement.

            It’s fine to disagree with people, but lying about them in order to justify your anger towards them, is childish, and completely inappropriate in anyone who has the title “deacon.”

            I look forward to your apology to me and other commenters here (none of whom said anything even remotely resembling what you say they did), and your promise never again to lie about those who disagree with you. I hope you have the courage and moral fiber to do so.

            Or you can resist a apologizing and just keep doing what you’ve done. Your choice.

        • Re: “True, the Bible may not mention abortion, but it does have strong words for hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17).”

          Gee, that’s interesting. There are two reasons I say that:

          Elsewhere in the Bible, with YHWH’s endorsement (Job 1:12), all of Job’s children were killed in a single moment (Job 1:18-19). Nowhere in the book of Job does it say any of them had done anything to have deserved such a fate. Also, YHWH ordered Saul to wipe out the Amalekites utterly: men, women, children, even their livestock (1 Sam 15:3); it’s difficult for me to believe that infant Amalekites couldn’t have been “innocent.”

          Perhaps even worse, in yet another part of the Bible, it says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), meaning that there is no such thing as a truly “innocent” person. Taken in tandem with Prov 6, this means it’s OK to shed the blood of anyone, at any time.

          So I ask you, which of these would you like to go with? If you look at the latter statement, no fetus can truly be “innocent” because “all have sinned.” If you go with the former, your God can’t truly have been committed to the idea that killing “innocents” is wrong under all circumstances, since he’s made multiple explicit exceptions to that “rule.”

          Please choose which one you want to go with. I await your decision.

          • Ps 51:5 “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sounds like the Psalmist considered the fetus guilty as hell.

      • PsiCop, it’s a shame that God, speaking through His word, the Bible, does not seem to be meeting your expectations of Him. But, it’s not really important that He acts or behaves in a manner that suits you, me, or anyone else whom is a part of his creation.

        Romans 9: “For (God) says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ …So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens the heart of whomever he wills….”

        If God expects individual Christians to turn the other cheek when attacked because of their faith, that is His prerogative. If God wants Christians who are slaves to obey their masters, that is His prerogative. If God wants women who are Christians to submit to their husband’s authority within the family, that is His prerogative. If God wants men to love and treat their wives as Jesus loves His church, that is his prerogative. It’s not our role to judge God.

        Romans 9:20: “But who are you, a man, to answer back to God?”

        • Re: “PsiCop, it’s a shame that God, speaking through His word, the Bible, does not seem to be meeting your expectations of Him.”

          This has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with your deity, with what you believe about him, and how you arrive at your conclusions about him. Fortunately, you’ve made that clear:

          Re: “But, it’s not really important that He acts or behaves in a manner that suits you, me, or anyone else whom is a part of his creation.”

          So you admit your deity is whimsical and capricious, and does whatever he feels like, any time he feels like, to anyone he feels like, and doesn’t regulate his own behavior? It’s fine if you want to believe that about him, but I can’t see how or why any ethical or moral person would ever want to worship such a depraved creature.

          Re: “Romans 9:20: ‘But who are you, a man, to answer back to God?'”

          I wasn’t aware I was “answering back to God.” I was, as I said, addressing your claims about your deity. But OK, if you want to be that way, and keep redirecting this back at me rather than yourself and your deity, then fine. I invite your God to stop me from “answering back at” him. And I invite you to stop me from doing so, too.

          Go right ahead. Stop me, if you can.

          If you cannot or will not stop me from doing so, then may I suggest you admit that I am able to question everything you say about your deity and that, moreover, the mature thing for you to do is concede this fact, rather than childishly and impetuously demand that I stop, merely because you dislike my critiques?

          I other words … I’m free to critique your religion and its premises any time I want. You can either accept that fact, or not. Your choice.

        • That’s no answer: “Bow down to my God because He’s God!” How about all the other gods that must be obeyed? Your opinion is no better than those of billions of non-Christian religious adherents.

    • Problem is, Deacon, the kids aren’t buying it. The patriarchy is going to die, the sooner the better. You want to preside over a thinning sea of grey heads on Sunday? You want to do 30 funerals a year and no baptisms? Keep parroting the party line.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        How about looking around the rest of the world and beyond our narrow minded western secularism.
        There is no shortage of youths in religions that are derisively described as “patriarchal.” In fact, Western Europe is fast becoming lost in a sea of young devout Moslems.
        And in our own country Judaism is fast becoming a religion of the Orthodox and the Hasids as so many liberal Jews embrace the modern squelch life mentality.
        And in the suburbs and cities of America the churches overflowing with young are usually the Catholic-especially Hispanic– or the Evangelical.
        So- go ahead– stick your head in sterile secular sand. The Bible says “Choose Life” for a very natural, intelligent reason that in time always proves true on history’s proving grounds..

      • Actually patriarchy will live, in fact eventually it will rule. The pill guarantees it. The only cultural mode that consistently produces high birthrates is patriarchy.
        Read your Darwin! Even a small advantage in birthrates leads to long term replacement and domination.

        • Serving Kids in Japan

          Well, yes, except you’re assuming that all those kids born to patriarchal households will grow up to embrace patriarchy, or even religion. There’s no way you can be sure of that.

          And I find it more than just a bit ironic to hear someone espousing both religious patriarchy and Darwinism in the same comment. ;)

  2. You’re right on the mark to stress gender throughout this analysis. And towing the Catholic line on matters of sexuality is hardly something to be proud of. Sexuality is an arena in which the Catholic clergy and institutional church have lost a great deal of moral authority due to clergy celibacy, sexual abuse, the mandate against contraception and the misogyny and anti-embodiment attitudes that generally permeate Catholic thinking on sex, sexuality and women. The Catholic church has lost moral authority because women (and their partners) want and need to control fertility and to plan for children and families. A celibate, all male priesthood that does not “play the game” is widely viewed as lacking moral authority to make the rules–and catholics have been effectively rejecting church teachings on contraceptives for decades. So fine–let the protestant evangelicals and fundamentalists go for it. There will always be a few poor souls who will buy into the quiver nonsense. But most evangelical women/families will follow their catholic brothers & sisters in widely disregarding the church’s teachings on these matters if those teaching include a rejection of contraceptives and family planning. That all this nonsense is being promulgated by men and that women’s voices are largely excluded only increases the likelihood that the teachings will be widely disregarded and viewed as irrelevant to the realities of most women’s lives.

  3. The Bible is an ancient, largely out of date, sectarian text and not a suitable basis for public policy. Overpopulation is the driver behind climate change and resource depletion, and the greatest threat to the future of human life. As long as Catholics and conservative Protestants reject contraception they make themselves the enemies of life on earth.

    • Life on Earth doesn’t have “enemies” or any ideology beyond replication. All life on Earth is in competition with all other life for resources and space. Those who replicate their genes will dominate the future, those who do not, won’t.

      Choosing not to have offspring doesn’t stop the growth of life. You are merely making room for those who do not share your compunction. The space that your offspring would have held will be held by theirs.

  4. Deacon John M. Bresnahan
    “The fact of the matter is that -overall- the Bible is a strong pro-life document.”
    That is absolutely hilarious!
    Of course it is, if you discount the parts where your God murders what could possibly be millions of people through floods and fire and brimstone. Murders children with she-bears for teasing a bald man, or for just being first born. Orders the murder of thousands more, or condones not only the murder in those ancient times, but murder even unto this very day of anyone who breaks a whole gamut of arbitrary rules.
    The fact of the matter is that -overall- the Bible is a strong pro-death document.

  5. The ideas about evangelizing the world simply by having big families is not an idea captive to this generation. It was advocated in the Catholic Covenant Communities of the Sword of the Spirit movement of the 1980-90s. The SOS probably still encourages it today.

    Doug “Paco” Gavriledes (now at Sacred Heart Major Seminary http://www.shms.edu/content/paco-gavrilides) was a leader in the Sword of the Spirit who came to our Covenant Community in Steubenville back in the day and urged the wives present to have as many children as they could “for the Kingdom!” The publicly stated goal was that Christians (specifically our brand) would gain power and control in the world simply by producing Christians in vitro, then programming them according to the teachings of the Sword of the Spirit.

    Creator and past president of the Sword of the Spirit Steven B Clark would opine about gender roles in his tome “Man and Woman in Christ,” which a female ex-member friend of mine once referred to as Man and Slave in Christ.

    But Clark had grander plans than that. In 1964 he penned the “Dictator Document”, describing the leader of his forseen communities as “the Dictator, or gadfly” and the members of said communities as “null sets.” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/55907854/Steven-B-Clark-Dictator-SOS-Community-Null-Set)

    It was Steven B Clark, Ralph Martin (also at Sacred Heart Major in Detroit), Paul DeCelles and (now Deacon) Kevin Ranaghan -all leaders in the newly birthed CATHOLIC Charismatic Renewal of the 1970s- who would blend Protestant flavored teachings and understanding of scripture into Catholic lifestyles to produce the Rick Santorums of today. Santorum’s beliefs about contraception and other, extreme pro-life stances represent the impact of this synthesis.

  6. Jacob: Observation for you from an Episcopal priest. Over the last 20 years I have shifted from a fairly conservative evangelicalism to a progressive Anglo-Catholicism. Ironically, I was most conservative during my 7 year stint as a social worker, and have been moving left since then.

    So, on most reproductive issues I have shifted very hard in the direction of feminism, with the exception of abortion (which I don’t want outlawed, but want only used when a doctor determines the mother’s health is in danger). I have shifted on these issues because the trajectory of Scripture seems to me to point to full egalitarianism (starting with Gen 1.26-28 and going through texts like Gal 3.26-29), and there are several visions of liberation theology that successfully spell out the implications of this trajectory. And, as persons made in the image of God, women should have access to the same freedoms, responsibilities, and abilities to use their talents that I have access to.

    But here’s the rub: Your article makes it sound that there is a not-so-secret cabal by American evangelicals and Catholics to keep women in chains. But speaking as a post-evangelical, I can tell you that neither I nor anyone I talked with held socially conservative positions because we wanted to keep women in check. We held those positions because our interpretation of the Bible and the Christian Story seemed to mandate it as a faithful response to God’s revelation. And I changed those positions because of a change in how I interpret the Scriptures and the Story. I have come to believe that liberation and health form a more core value to the Story than, say, purity and legal obedience.

    In short, my positions then (which I consider to be in error) and my positions now (which I think are better) are held for the same reason: In good will I was/am trying to be faithful to the God who called me. Yet I don’t see reflected in your article the idea that someone could hold these positions for that reason. It’s like anyone who holds socially conservative positions MUST be doing it for an oppressive, willfully malevolent reason. I think your analysis is too reductionistic and fails to account for the actual reasons why a majority of evangelical laity and clergy hold these positions. I no longer agree with them, but I don’t ascribe malevolent intent to most of them either.

    • Nate, I can say the same about my experience in Covenant Community. I don’t think there were people in my local gathering that actively sought to hurt or control anyone. Everyone believed it was “God’s Plan” and ergo, in our best interest.

      Though these concepts and our actions that flow from them were always meant with the best of intentions, the effect of those actions over a period of years was NOT helpful, but harmful, as per our Bishop (http://www.scribd.com/doc/19099693/ottenweller-finds-allegations-valid-steubenville-register-06211991)

      I think the fact that you shifted your position once your understanding was more completely formed speaks to this, somewhat.

      If we do things that are hurtful with good intent, what, in the end, is the difference?

    • I think the writer nailed it, but for a different reason than what Nate suggests here. The whole male-chauvinistic retro-position outlined here, derives from the entrenched idea that God is inherently (and exclusively) Male! It gets so firmly ingrained in one’s psyche, growing up either Roman Catholic or highly fundamentalist-Christian, that there’s simply NO questioning it. That is, until you really ponder those basic texts and see that God exists somewhere above the realm of God’s own creation, wherein you encounter the amazing paradox that God is both–and neither–male and female–an Entity far beyond gender!

      God is One, Whole, and not defined by gender! No Catholic (and few Episcopal!) priests, nor any fundamentalist Christian preachers start there, or care to extend that forward to the Christ-message that the Messiah came to redeem the human mess, and transform God’s whole creation to the original dream! Paul gives us a few brief glimpses, in some of his epistles, but himself–is so anti-female, (probably divorced–he was, after all, a member of the Sanhedrin, and would not have had the standing to be in that august group if he were unmarried!) Also so mission-driven to spread the basic message, that he doesn’t spend much time contemplating what that whole redeemed, restored creation would look like.

      So the Bible cheats us of that vision, where men and women are truly free to be brothers and sisters, with perhaps complimentary–perhaps competing gifts, strengths and vulnerabilities. That’s left for us 21st century Christians to explore, unfettered by the chauvinism that the writers of the Bible couldn’t help but underwrite, given that they indeed were victims of their own very primitive era.

    • Serving Kids in Japan

      I enjoyed reading your comment — it was well thought-out, and I liked the personal touch. Still, I perceive that there are elements in evangelical leadership that seem to have patrio-centrism as a long-term goal for Christendom in the U.S. I’m relieved to hear that neither you nor your those you know have held this notion. However, that doesn’t prove that the notion doesn’t exist.

      I’ve been reading quite a few blogs that address these trends in American Christianity, and while I realize that we can’t believe everyone’s opinion, there is plenty of behaviour from the talking heads in evangelicalism that disturbs me. For example, the claim by Kevin Swanson that women who use the Pill have wombs filled with aborted fetuses. This was about a year ago — he claimed this as scientific fact on his own radio program.

      Now this claim is simply ludicrous. No matter what one’s feelings are on contraception, anyone with a passing knowledge of human biology can see that wombs can never become “graveyards for lots and lots of little babies” (Swanson’s words). So why is Swanson peddling this junk science? Why would he say such things, except to scare Christian women away from the Pill? This strikes me very much as malevolent intent.

      The author of this article does seem to paint with a broad brush, and I can see why you took offense. I’m sure that many evangelicals avoid birth control, and advise others to do the same, based on their own consciences and convictions. Still, I see some nefarious goings on in Christendom. I learned of this article (and Al Mohler’s response) through this blog posting: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/01/10/cedarville-university-paige-patterson-al-mohler-tough-times-for-female-christian-professors . Perhaps Jacob Lupfer has noticed similar trends in evangelical circles, and that’s one of his reasons for writing the way he did.

  7. Junia, Salome, Priscilla, and Mary

    Wow, way to shame Evangelical Christian women. Being Pro-Woman is about giving women the freedom to choose the life they want to live. Being pro-woman is not about believing that women should work outside of the home (instead of in the home) and use contraception (instead of having children).

    • Yes, being pro-woman means allowing women to live the life they want to live, INCLUDING using contraception if they want to and working outside the home if they want to. Jacob is not saying women should be forced to do those two things, just that we should be free to. There are definite elements within Christianity that want to take both those things away from women. These continued moves against contraception – including spreading deliberate misinformation about the Pill being an abortifacient – are attempts to stop women living the life they want to live.

  8. John: If our internal states and motives don’t mean anything to anyone (including God), then you are right. All that matters is our external actions, and the ends we achieve. In that kind of calculus it would be equally culpable to torture an infant to death for fun as it would be to unknowingly prescribe the wrong medical treatment and have the child die from an allergic reaction. In the end, both children died excruciating deaths, and the motive why doesn’t matter.

    If, however, the motive matters to others and to God, then the reason WHY we do things is important. We may be able to reason with someone who does a bad thing because they thought it was the right thing to do. We probably won’t be able to have any dialogue with someone who does the wrong thing because they want to harm and abuse others. If we demonize everyone we disagree with by ascribing to them demonic motives, we may soon find that we cannot reason with anyone. And then we will find ourselves living in… America in the 21st century.

  9. It seems that some commenters are confusing anti-abortion with pro-child. Advocating strongly for the interests of children is something the anti-abortion activists leave to others. I’ve had anti-abortion demonstrators tell me that child welfare is a matter of personal responsibility and no concern of theirs.
    It takes more than a bag of used baby clothes to make a good life for children, but I don’t see the ‘pro-life’ politicians out front on this issue.

  10. Mike D'Virgilio

    Obviously Jacob Lupfer is a Marxist. The only motivation a man can have regarding contraception is a powerplay to keep women down. To the left, be they religious or not, it seems that life is solely about who can exert power over whom. It’s so obviously slanted and one sided and narrow minded as I was reading it I was thinking maybe this is some kind of joke, like a piece in the Onion. This guy piles cliche upon cliche upon cliche. I actually feel sorry who see the world in such black and white and distorted terms.

    There are so many reasons why evangelicals are looking askance at contraception today. Many can be found in Mary Eberstadt’s spectacular “Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution.” And contrary to the ignorance spewed in this piece, the Catholic Church and evangelicals who agree with it do not believe birth control is wrong, only that unnatural birth control is. Just read “Humanae Vitae – Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Paul VI on the regulation of birth, 25 July 1968.” An increasing number of evangelicals have seen and will see the wisdom contained therein.

  11. Calling the orthodox Christian view on abortion or homosexuality “the Catholic line” is woeful revisionism. Until recently, this was, quite simply “the Christian line”. Perhaps after watching the social cost of modernism, many Evangelicals are returning to the ancient roots of the faith. Roots that pre-date the entity we call “the Roman Catholic Church” by centuries. Remember that the Didache, a first century document, understood abortion as a violation of the Decalogue’s prohibition against murder.

    Indeed, until the Anglican Communion told us otherwise in 1930, Christians as a whole rejected artificial birth control. “The Roman Catholic position” is merely the ancient consensus fidelium. Rejection of it is less than a century old and has already revealed itself to be empty, destructive and worthy of rejection.

  12. The minor idiocy is claiming that the orthodox Christian teachings on sexual behavior is some how uniquely Catholic, and that Evangelicals have adopted these teachings rather then… you know, having held those beliefs back to the beginning of their particular denomination.

    The major idiocy is the common assertion, in site of a distinct lack of evidence, and much evidence to the contrary, that the motivations of the Church are all driven by a desire of men to use religion to control women. Of course there has to be some malicious motivation. We can’t possibly accept the much simpler explanation that people of religious faith sincerely believe that children have intrinsic value, and that having more children would be good for the world.

    I often wonder how these writers think we Christians are going to stop women from having a say in decisions. It’s as if they think there is some secret council room where the men get together and conspire against their wives and daughters. I can assure everyone that the women of the Church make themselves heard on issues impacting women, and on plenty that don’t. Often and loudly.

    I also am confused why no one ever sees the incongruity of accusing the Church of oppressing women, when women are the primary supporters of the Church, while we have a devil of a time getting men to come. Indeed, one would think that the insistence of the Church on traditional sexual mores would appear more as an attempt to control the behavior of men, in ways that benefit women and children, rather then an attempt to oppress women.

    That is more consistent with the sermons and the emphasis I hear at Church, which seems to consist of telling women that they deserve better so don’t sell yourself short, and telling men that women deserve better so stop acting like a boor. Additionally it would explain why so many women attend Church and insist on their husbands attending Church, while single men so often skip.

  13. Has anyone ever read John Paul II’s Theology of the Body? In it you will learn the Church’s true reasoning behind its teaching against contraception: From the beginning, God created marriage to be a reflection of the Trinity – for a couple to be both unitive and procreative. To take away either of those aspects is to undermine God’s plan for marriage. That’s why the Catholic Church is against both in-vitro fertilization (which takes away the unitive nature of marriage) and contraception (which takes away the procreative nature).

    As a woman who believes wholeheartedly in this teaching, I find it tiresome that others merely assert – without adequate knowledge – that it’s just the all-male hierarchy pragmatically deciding the quickest and easiest way to gain more followers, and I find downright offensive the suggestion that they’re trying to suppress women.

    Heaven forbid a religious leader call his flock to greater holiness.

  14. MyNameIsNotRelevant

    This article has an awful lot of assertions and very little citations, if any. If the Author wants to convince Me, I need to verify the claims and I refuse to do the Author’s “homework” for Him.

  15. “…denominational leaders reluctantly accepted contraception in the 20th century because they realized they were powerless to stop its inevitable widespread use.” Ugh. That denominational leaders would think their own opinion need be taught to their congregations is appalling to me. When did church STOP being about caring for the lost and broken, and START being a place to propagandize its members?

    Well done, Jacob.

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