Most people today accept contraception as a given of modern sexual relations, and just about every Christian church and denomination today believes its use is acceptable in some if not all cases… except the Roman Catholic Church.
But the general Christian acceptance of contraception is a fairly recent development. Up until 1930, all major Christian groups deemed the practice sinful. Then, in 1930, the Anglican Church changed its position at its Lambeth Conference, and other Christian denominations followed suit in the years soon after.
Many thought the Catholic Church would do the same, including the majority of commission members Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) invited to examine the issue in 1965. But in his 1968 document Humanae Vitae, the pope sided with the minority of the commission, and reaffirmed the Catholic teaching that contraception is “intrinsically evil.”
In section 17 of the document, he also made the following four, much-talked-about predictions of what would happen in society as a result of widespread contraceptive use:
1) An increase in marital infidelity.
2) A general lowering of moral standards.
3) A loss of respect for women (man would “reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires”).
4) Governments would coerce people into using contraception and intervene in citizens’ sexual relationships.
Most would agree that these predictions have come true in one form or another, though many would immediately eschew the idea that contraception played any role in causing them. But it’s an interesting question to consider: Do you think there could be a connection between the increased acceptance of contraception and these social occurrences?
Dan is a former Senior Fellow at Intellectual Takeout. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (MN), and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find his academic work at Academia.edu.