My reading of the Views by Aaron D. Wolf (“Hating Babies, Hating God”) and Judie Brown (“Rending the Seamless Garment”) in the June issue of Chronicles is that contraception is condemned almost to the same degree as abortion. Surely there is a great distinction between abortifacients and the prevention of conception.
It seems clear from statements by the Pope that birth control, except for natural family planning, is a grievous sin that, if unrepented and continued, becomes a mortal sin, with perdition a certainty.
Under these conditions, there would be a rather small number in the last 2,000 years eligible for everlasting happiness. Heaven would be rather lightly populated, but other destinations would be somewhat crowded.
The Pope remarked that it isn’t that there are too many people at the table but that there is not enough food on the table; but the table is getting smaller, and we are running out of chairs.
—William A. Diehl
Mr. Wolf Replies:
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Diehl: On the list of violations of the natural law, abortion certainly ranks higher. The goal of my piece, however, was to show that there is a biblically based tradition in Protestantism condemning contraception, and it is not without reason that John Calvin declares birth prevention akin to a “violent abortion.” A culture in which the natural connection between the marriage bed and the blessing of children is severed is fertile ground for the seeds of abortion, euthanasia, and sodomy.
Contraception was not widely practiced among Protestants until their leadership followed Margaret Sanger in proclaiming it to be not only acceptable but, in the case of those without great financial substance, morally preferable. Thus, most Protestants find themselves in an awkward position when confronted with their own theological and moral traditions, which unanimously condemned the sin of Onan until Lambeth.
There is good news, however. Protestants need not cross the Tiber to defy the culture of death. Instead, they can stand with Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Cranmer, as well as the majority of Christian moral thought throughout the centuries. More and more Protestants are doing just that. In my own South Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, a resolution was passed at the June convention to that effect: “Whereas, the mainstream Church has for nineteen centuries taken a stand against birth
control . . . therefore be it resolved that the South Wisconsin District in convention formally request the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations to review and re-examine its position on birth control with respect to the Word of God.”
Contraceptors need not face the wrath of God in eternal perdition—if they repent. “Be not deceived,”?says St. Paul. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”