Many Catholics have long regarded Pope Paul VI’s little-read-but-much-despised encyclical letter Humanae Vitae as prophetic. Even some who, perhaps, had not previously thought so are admitting that “Humanae Vitae in its entirety reads better, and more presciently, every year.”
A few months ago, while I was in the middle of a rant, I wrote as an aside:
I have come to believe that Humanae Vitae is going to eventually be seen as a powerfully unifying document between Evangelicals and Catholics, but that’s for another post. . .
Well, I guess this is that post. Last Tuesday Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, specifically references the encyclical in a thoughtful piece suggesting that non-Catholic Christians consider the ruinous effects of artificial birth control on society and then take another look at the Protestant stance on artificial birth control:
Affirming that human life must be recognized and protected from the moment of conception, evangelicals increasingly recognized Intrauterine Devices [IUDs] as abortifacients, and rejected any birth control with any abortifacient design or result. This conviction is now casting a cloud over the Pill as well.
Thus, in an ironic turn, American evangelicals are rethinking birth control even as a majority of the nation’s Roman Catholics indicate a rejection of their Church’s teaching. How should evangelicals think about the birth control question?
. . . we should look closely at the Catholic moral argument as found in Humanae Vitae. Evangelicals will find themselves in surprising agreement with much of the encyclical’s argument. As the Pope warned, widespread use of the Pill has led to “serious consequences” including marital infidelity and rampant sexual immorality. In reality, the Pill allowed a near-total abandonment of Christian sexual morality in the larger culture. Once the sex act was severed from the likelihood of childbearing, the traditional structure of sexual morality collapsed.
I wouldn’t by any means characterize it as a tumbling toward Rome — Scot McKnight says that by opening the discussion Mohler has presented a big bag of issues and I’m still looking around for some actual responses from Protestant blogs, that go beyond simply posting Mohler excerpts.
At Young, Evangelical and Catholic, Brantly Millegan shares part of an email sent to Mohler, and says he’ll post any response he gets.
I do remember reading in Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home that Catholic teaching on birth control was a contributing factor to their eyes turning Romeward. Who knows? Perhaps this will be the beginning of the day Christ looked forward to, when “all shall be one.”
Or, you know…not.
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