Today amongst the majority of married Christians, the questions of contraception use is a non-issue; they use it. While it may be true that the majority have no issue with it, even Catholics, the reality is that for all of Christendom the use of contraception was, up until 1930, forbidden. It was at this point at the Council of Lambeth, the Anglican church decided that the use of contraception was permissible amongst married couples. Ironically at the previous Council of Lambeth they condemned the use of artificial contraception. It was just a matter of time before virtually every protestant denomination followed suit (I have yet to come across a Protestant church that explicitly and officially condemns the use of contraception).
Two dogmas of the Protestant churches are Luther’s Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. He would say that we are saved by faith alone and that the Bible is the sole authority. Interestingly there exists some incongruences in the Protestant understanding Scripture. Claiming the Bible as the sole authority, they teach contradictorily with some claiming that they are eternally secure and others claiming that you can lose your salvation; click here for more on this.
In any conversation with a Catholic, Protestants insist that we are saved by faith alone and not by works. When a Catholic makes reference to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, right away the Protestant responds that the Bible is the sole authority, not Church, not Sacred Tradition.
If Protestants are so willing to cling to Luther’s teaching on Scripture and salvation shouldn’t they also be willing to cling to his teaching on morality as well? Consider Luther’s perspective on the use of contraception:
This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to 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. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment. (LW 7.20-21).
This was obviously not something he was even willing to consider. But why do Protestants not follow this? Was Luther wrong? If he was wrong about this, then maybe he was wrong about Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura as well. If he wasn’t wrong then it would seem reasonable to embrace this teaching as well. Is their anti-Catholicism so strong that only if the Catholic Church were to teach that contraception was permissible would they then say it is not? Or, are they just shopping at the Dogma Cafeteria picking and choosing the teachings personally accept?
It is refreshing to be a part of a Church whose teachings don’t ebb and flow with the tide of political correctness and the appetites of its members. For instance, in response to the Anglican church’s flip flop on the issue, the Catholic Church in the document Casti Conubii wrote:
6. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
The language of the Church sounds far more like that of Luther than the wishy washy Protestant take on the subject.
Later, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is stated:
2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:
Some might say that the Church needs to get up with the times and condone the use of artificial contraception. There were a group of Pharisees who thought Jesus should ‘get up with the times’ regarding divorce. However, our Lord and Saviour set them straight, stating that they needed to change their hearts and behave like they were intended to in the beginning. I suspect he would do the same today.
It seems then, that for all Christians to be faithful to Scripture and the moral tradition of the Church, the rejection of artificial birth control is a must.