Evangelical [i.e., conservative Protestant] magazine Christianity Today turns critical eye to contraception
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
August 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of Evangelical Protestantism in the United States, has published a spate of articles questioning the practice of contraception in recent months, accentuating a trend against birth control among Evangelicals that has been accelerating during the last half-decade.
The publication’s latest installment on the topic is a review of “Adam and Eve and the Pill,” by Catholic writer Mary Eberstadt, which defends her thesis that contraception, and particularly the contraceptive pill, is the “Pandora’s box” of the sexual revolution.
“As Eberstadt sees it, the contraceptive pill has launched us into a new age in which responsibility has been divorced from sex. And while it is easy to point fingers at the secular world for embracing this reproductive technology, Christians are complicit in its hold on our culture. Most Christians do not want to be told what to do with their bodies any more than non-Christians, and the Pill has made that freedom possible,” writes doctoral student Sharon Hodde Miller.
Miller opines that “pastors cannot address the widespread sexual brokenness in our culture simply by encouraging married sex. They must also address the ideology and theology behind the brokenness, and contraception is Ground Zero for those discussions.”
Calling Eberstadt’s data on contraception and its consequences “undeniable,” Miller concludes that “if we want to think seriously and Christianity about sex, then we need to think seriously about contraception.”
The magazine took another swipe at contraception in an April opinion piece on “Why Churches Shouldn’t Push Contraceptives to their Singles,” which takes issue with the Evangelical “Q” conference held recently in Washington D.C., at which a majority expressed their support for promoting contraception among fornicating singles as a away to avoid abortion.
“In Romans 3:8, Paul establishes a standard that we ought not do evil in order to bring about good. … The fellow who buys a condom or the woman who takes the pill does so for a specific reason: they do not trust themselves to remain chaste when presented with the opportunity,” wrote Matthew Lee Anderson. “They presumably have good reason for their doubt, if they have failed in the past. But the purchase of contraception reinforces their self-perception of their own captivity to their sexual desires and their own inability to remain continent.”
Anderson identifies the contraceptive “solution” as a way of fleeing from the suffering inherent in an authentic Christian life. “Communities where contraception is advocated as a solution (whether from the pulpit or in the counselors office) are communities free from the deadly burden of the cross, free from the sufferings and co-laboring that will inevitably come from caring for single mothers and their children,” he writes.
Other articles have addressed the growing alliance between Evangelicals and Catholics against President Barack Obama’s contraceptive mandate and other policies regarding human life and family issues, or have urged Evangelicals to enter into such an alliance. One recent article also noted that Evangelical groups were blasting the National Association for Evangelicals (NAE) for holding an anti-abortion conference that was primarily funded by a pro-contraception organization.
Only one recent article defended contraception, in the context of giving it to young Evangelicals who were already engaged in extramarital sexual behavior. Jenell Paris, author of “Birth Control for Christians,” recognizes that “Advocating contraception for unmarried churchgoers certainly is a compromise,” but adds that “Com- means with, and promise means to agree, or to make a pact. To compromise is to work toward agreement or commitment with another. Like compassion, community, or companion, com- is about being in relationship with others.”
The magazine’s new tendency to criticize artificial birth control is in sharp contrast to the position it began to take in the 1960s, when its editors sneered at the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae for condemning contraception, a position shared by founder Billy Graham. However, virtually all Evangelical groups were at one time opposed to artificial birth control, and Evangelicals were the last of all protestant groups to accept such practices, decades after the capitulation of “mainline” denominations in the 1930s.
According to a 2010 poll by the National Association for Evangelicals, 90% of its minister-members approve of contraception.