It is hard to undersell how fatal the 1930 Lambeth Conference was to Western civilization.
It may sound dramatic, but it really was a dark day in the history of Christianity.
Up until August 14, 1930, every Christian denomination opposed the use of artificial birth control. The Anglican Church was the first denomination to break from divine law and the Natural Law in permitting contraception use for its members.
To this day, practically every Christian sect tolerates or even promotes contraception use. The most obvious and notable exceptions are the Catholic Church and some Orthodox Churches.
By a popular vote of 193 to 67, the Anglican Bishops passed at their 1930 Lambeth Conference the following Resolution 15:
“Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipleship and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Nevertheless, in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception-control for motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience” (emphasis added).
THE SECULAR PRESS’ REACTION
How do you think the U.S. secular press reacted to this news?
If you were to ask modern folks, say on a college campus, how they think the secular press reacted in 1930, I bet I know what you would hear.
“Oh, they would be celebrating, I bet. Christians waking up to the times.”
“I bet they ran headlines celebrating the liberty won for women.”
These are the reactions I would expect we would hear. Instead, here’s a sample of the actual reactions following the 1930 Lambeth Conference.
“It is impossible to reconcile the doctrine of the divine institution of marriage with any modernistic plan for the mechanical regulation or suppression of human birth. The church must either reject the plain teachings of the Bible or reject schemes for the ‘scientific’ production of human souls.
“Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee’s report, if carried into effect, would sound the death-knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be ‘careful and restrained’ is preposterous.”
—The Washington Post, March 22, 1931 (emphasis added).
“It is the misfortune of the churches that they are too often misused by visionaries for the promotion of ‘reforms’ in fields foreign to religion. The departures from Christian teachings are astounding in many cases, leaving the beholder aghast at the willingness of some churches to teach ‘Christ and Him crucified.’ If the churches are to become organizations for political and scientific propaganda, they should be honest and reject the Bible, scoff at Christ as an obsolete and unscientific teacher, and strike out boldly as champions of politics and science as modern substitutes for the old-time religion.”
—The Washington Post editorial, March 24, 1931 (emphasis added).
“Lambeth has delivered a fatal blow to marriage, to motherhood, to fatherhood, to the family and to morality,” wrote James Douglas, editor of London’s Sunday Express.
— New York Times, August 17, 1930, pg. 5, col. 1.
These reporters and columnists saw the façade birth control offered from the moment the news broke about the 1930 Lambeth Conference. It’s hard to imagine the secular press today being capable of such level-headed thinking. These days virtually the entire secular press just assumes birth control use as moral.
Take for instance the example of this op-ed published at nytimes.com on March 23, 2016. I have selected various quotes from the article, titled “No Contraception? No Equality,” written by Elizabeth Deutsch, a student at Yale University.
Deutsch wrote it in anticipation of the Supreme Court listening to oral arguments in a case called Zubik v. Burwell. This case challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s mandated contraception coverage for employee health plans.
Here’s what The New York Times published
“This case is one of several recent conflicts in which one side seeks to use its religious objections to undermine laws that promote equality…
“Access to reproductive care is central to equality between the sexes. By requiring employers’ health plans to provide contraceptive coverage, the Affordable Care Act represents an important legislative link between sex equality and reproductive rights…
“But as it weighs religious objections to contraception coverage, the Supreme Court should recognize that it is only when women’s health care rights are fully recognized by the law that women can participate in society as equals.”
My, how the Times have changed.
Were you aware of the 1930 Lambeth Conference decision that opened Pandora’s Box?
Have any thoughts on the media coverage of contraception use then or now?
Please leave your comments below.