What follows is a brief review of prominent characters among the Protestant Reformers with their view of birth control use.
Too often any moral opposition against birth control is tied to the Catholic Church. And for good reason, as the Church has condemned the use of contraception for its entire history.
Yet, not many Christians realize that tolerance or acceptance of birth control use is a recent phenomenon in the history of Christianity as a whole. The Protestant Reformers, as you will see, stood with the Catholic Church in the historic rejection of contraception use.
What follows is an excerpt from the concluding section of my ebook, “7 Biblical Passages Against Birth Control… And How to Use Them to Defend Life.” It is available for FREE for you to download by clicking here.
You likely consider contraception to be just a “Catholic problem.” However, Christendom as a whole stood opposed to its use all the way until 1930 with the Anglican Church’s Lambeth Conference. The Anglicans were the first Christian group to permit contraception for married couples.
Since then, the vast majority of Protestant denominations have come to accept its use. However, the Catholic Church has remained opposed this entire time and always will.
What follows are a few excerpts and references to some of the most prominent Protestant Reformers’ writings condemning contraception use. I am borrowing these quotes from Charles Provan’s The Bible and Birth Control (1989) (pages 65-93). This is to be a sampling of the Reformers’ views:
Martin Luther, leader of the largest 16th century revolt against the Catholic Church. The most famous “Father” of Protestantism
“But this blame [that poverty prevents the raising of children] is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper” (Luther’s Works, Vol 5, pg 332).
“Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery… Consequently, he (Onan) deserved to be killed by God” (Commentary on Genesis 38:8-10).
John Calvin, a later, popular Protestant revolutionary
“And the thing he (Onan) did displeased the Lord… 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” (Commentary on Genesis 38:8-10).
John Wesley, a much later Protestant preacher in England
“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, he refused to raise up seed unto his brother. Those sins that dishonor 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 souls” (Commentary on Genesis 38).
Were you aware of what the Protestant Reformers thought of using contraception?
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