American Evangelicals beginning to rethink birth control, argues author of new book
ROCKFORD, Illinois, January 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new book from one of the world’s foremost scholars in family issues examines how mid-twentieth-century evangelical leaders followed the mainstream and bought into birth control, and, briefly, abortion.
The book, titled “Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control, 1873-1973,” by Dr. Allan Carlson, comes at a time when some American evangelicals are rethinking their position on birth control. For instance, there are the followers of the Quiverfull Movement who “eagerly accept their children as blessings from God,” eschewing not only artificial birth control, but even natural family planning. In this way, they say they “trust the Lord for family size.”
“Raised within a religious movement that has almost uniformly condemned abortion, many young evangelicals have begun to ask whether abortion can be neatly isolated from the issue of contraception,” reads the publisher’s description of the book. “A significant number of evangelical families have, over the last several decades, rejected the use of birth control and returned decisions regarding family size to God.”
Dr. Allan Carlson, who works toward the recognition of the natural family as the basic unit of society, is the President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society and the Founder and International Secretary of the World Congress of Families.
In his new book, Carlson examines historic Christian teaching regarding birth control and discovers the origins for such teaching in the early church, according to the publishers. He looks at a shift in the arguments behind this teaching made by the Reformers of the sixteenth century and traces the effects of that shift all the way up the late 20th century.
Praise for Carlson’s new book is already pouring in.
“Opposition to birth control is widely perceived as a ‘Catholic issue.’ Historian Allan Carlson demonstrates that as a matter of historical fact, the Christian churches were united in their opposition to contraception until 1930,” said Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute.
“Carlson deftly shows how the change occurred, through a combination of ‘divide and conquer’ tactics by the population control lobby, intellectual exhaustion among the Mainline Protestants, and anti-Catholicism among the Evangelicals. Highly recommended.”
Russell D. Moore, Dean, School of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said that Carlson’s “hard-hitting and unrelenting” arguments suggest that “perhaps American Evangelicalism unwittingly traded the Blessed Virgin Mary for Margaret Sanger.”
This is not the first time Carlson has tackled the sticky issue of birth control. In a tour-de-force article that appeared in Touchstone titled “Sanger’s Victory: How Planned Parenthood’s Founder Played the Christians—and Won”, Carlson highlighted what he argues was Sanger’s “brilliant strategy” for creating a “positive vision of birth control that would break through traditionalist opposition.”
“By demonizing the Catholic Church alone … and by claiming to defend the Protestant conscience from Roman oppression, she left the impression that Protestants were on her side, in the apparent hope that this would become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he says.
At a Christian conference last October in Chicago, Carlson spoke about what he called a simple truth, namely that “faithful Christian communities produce an abundance of children, and in doing so, they change this world.” He also pointed out that since the inception of Christianity there has been what he called a consistent “reproductive consensus” that those of Christian belief oppose abortion, infanticide, a contraceptive mentality, and easy divorce.