Evangelicals Rethinking Contraception? Thank you, Albert Mohler

Filed in Evangelicalism by on January 15, 2014 1 Comment

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I’ve watched Albert Mohler’s increasing willingness to speak against birth control with interest. He does not affirm the Catholic position,  but he often sounds like the Cliffnotes version of Humanae Vitae. As early as 2006, Mohler wrote about the issue. Then, just a month or so before I left Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mohler cautioned against the evangelical approach of wholeheartedly embracing birth control without thinking too hard about it.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches against the use of any artificial birth control and considers these to be assaults upon the dignity of all human life. In more recent years, evangelicals have had to rethink the contraception issue. At the very least, the issue of abortion has required evangelicals to realize that any form of birth control is a matter of great moral significance and thus of moral conscience.

To be clear, Mohler does not regularly talk about the issue, but he was the only evangelical pastor I ever heard say anything much more sophisticated than, “just make sure it doesn’t cause an abortion.” Recently, though, it appears more evangelicals are rethinking contraception. Here’s what’s happened over the last few weeks: 

December 30- Jacob Lupfer writes an op-ed for Religious News Service titled The evangelical unease over contraception, lamenting the fact that more evangelical leaders will soon begin opposing birth control:

In a recent commentary, I suggested that more evangelical leaders will come out against birth control. They have adopted Catholic positions on every other issue relating to sexuality (while, incidentally, rejecting Catholic social teaching on almost everything else). It’s hard to expect that millions of Americans will reorganize their entire family life just because their religious leaders say so. It would require a level of coordination that, so far, seems not to exist. Abandoning contraception would be a bitter pill for the rank and file to swallow. But if the elites can convince the masses, it will be the jewel in their crown.

January 8- Albert Mohler responds in the Washington Post: 

For evangelicals, everything changed with the advent of The Pill. And evangelical acceptance of the oral contraceptives (and, beyond that, other forms of birth control) also happened without any adequate theological reflection. Today’s generation of evangelicals is indeed reconsidering birth control, and theological concerns are driving that reconsideration.

January 9- Chelsen Vicari writes an op-ed in the Christian Post titled, “An Evangelical Woman’s Response to the ‘Unease Over Contraception,” affirming Mohler.

Evangelical leaders who chastise the Pill do not do so in a selfish pursuit to fill their pews with future congregants, as Lupfer asserts. Instead, they are recognizing how abuse of the Pill directly conflicts with God’s very first commandment given to man: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28)

January 15- Briana Meade writes “Let’s Talk about (Protected) Sex” in Christianity Today, disparaging the Pill and, surprisingly, quoting Brantly Millegan:

Birth control issues have yet to come up in any of the local churches I’ve been part of, whether through pastoral leadership or through fellowship with other believers. Only recently, through online media and blogging, that I have witnessed evangelicals take an active interest in birth control. Perhaps this is because online media allows potential anonymity and honesty in a way that the church has not produced organically.

Evangelical-turned-Catholic writer Brantly Millegan and his wife Krista approach contraception through the idea that we “have been made by God with purpose,” which applies to our sexuality. Their convictions led them to believe that defending the intended purpose of sex meant refusing contraception. While we don’t feel convicted to approach contraception in the same manner, my husband and I found their reflections to be worthwhile in prompting our own conversations about our responsibility to live out our sexuality faithfully.

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Personally, I think this is a very encouraging shift. Mohler has also rightly pointed out that more evangelicals are affirming the Catholic position at the same time that few Catholics affirm their own Church’s views. Let’s take the lead from the evangelicals and start reading Humanae Vitae!

Are there other well-known Protestant leaders who speak against contraception? 

-Anthony Baratta is a 25-year-old writer and newly married husband who left seminary to become Catholic in March of 2012. Read more about Anthony’s journey at his blog on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Christian LeBlanc says:

    I’m a cradle Catholic, read HV before I was married in 1988; the best 14 pages I ever read. I grew up and live in SBC country, and well remember Mohler’s article from 2006. Like many SolaScrips, he’s aware of not just the SBC’s take on contraception, but also its evolving and re-evolving position on abortion, while the RCC remained constant. Regardless of Dr. Mohler’s public postions on these procreative issues, I know of former Southern Baptists who converted in part because of the RCC’s constancy on sexuality.

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