Fred Clark has been writing a lot about evangelical Christians’ growing opposition to birth control.
Just five years ago it would have been unthinkable for American evangelicals to rally against contraception. Religious opposition to contraception was strictly a Catholic thing and evangelicals, as Protestants, did not accept the baroque theological arguments supporting that Catholic teaching.
That has begun to change. White evangelicals have begun adopting Catholic language and Catholic teaching regarding contraception. This change has not occurred due to any new theological or biblical understanding, but due to a political change — due to white evangelical opposition to President Barack Obama.
This is deeply weird. Five years ago I would not have imagined that this strange development could even be possible. Five years ago, the very same white evangelicals now denouncing contraception could not themselves have imagined such a thing.
He’s right. If you want an illustration of what he’s talking about, take a look at the trailer for Birth Control: The Movie.
Let me offer a description from the documentary’s website:
We live in a culture where there is no fundamental difference on the issue of child prevention between the church of Jesus Christ and unbelievers. The fruit of our contraceptive culture is rancid and many voices are calling for a restoration of the church. …
This engagingly fast-paced documentary takes a historic look at the modern church’s public embrace and overwhelming acceptance of child prevention as biblical theology. The reinterpretation of Scripture and rejection of our church history in the mid twentieth century allowed for responsible planned procreation.
No longer was the raising of godly seed seen as the primary purpose of marriage; but now marriage was redefined as a union “intended for companionship and mutual spiritual aid”. This new view, brought on by the European spread of eugenics, brought rise to a departure from centuries of universal agreement among all branches of the church. In essence, the church was complicit in championing “privacy in marriage” to allow the liberty of responsible planned parenthood, heedless of scriptural authority or precedence.Our follow up documentary … will theologically and philosophically prove that birth control and family planning is truly not up to us, but up to God to control. Using logical argumentation, we will provide evidence for, and tackle the objections to, some of the greatest arguments for a life without contraception; a life where God is in control of our womb.
So, what is going on here exactly?
For one thing, there is currently being bleed from the Quiverfull movement, which holds that fertility should be left up to God and that birth control should be rejected entirely, into mainstream evangelicalism. Now don’t take that for more than it is—the individuals interviewed for this movie include Doug Phillips, Kevin Swanson, Geoff Botkin, R. C. Sproul Jr., and Nancy Campbell, not exactly your mainstream evangelicals. However, the flap about birth control over the past year has created an environment conducive to the spread of their message. The anti birth control fringe of evangelicalism is hard at work moving the entire paradigm in their direction—and as the Slactivist points out, they’re having some success.
Over the coming couple of weeks, I’m going to be talking more about this issue. I’m going to look at evangelical leaders’ positions on birth control and I’m going to talk about evangelicals’ growing fixation on the concept of a “contraceptive mentality,” which was originally a Catholic idea. To give you a hint of what this concept is all about, I’ll quote from the movie’s director: “Contraceptives are the cause of abortion. In fact, if we did not have contraceptives in this country, we would not have anywhere near the abortion rate we do now.”
More on this to come.