Christian views on contraception
The Roman Catholic Church is morally opposed to contraception, believing that all sexual acts must be open to procreation. The only form of contraception permitted is abstinence. In Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, he considered only periodic abstinence within marriage acceptable. Even so, Catholics have voiced significant disagreement with the Church's stance on contraception. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued probably the most heavily dissenting document, the Winnipeg Statement. In it, the bishops argued that many Catholics found it very difficult if not impossible to obey Vitae, and tried to assert the Catholic principle of primacy of conscience in the matter. Catholic theologians such as Charles Curran have criticized Vitae's stance against specifically artificial contraception.
Among Protestants, four categories have been suggested as useful in understanding the group's views. These are the "children in abundance" group, such as Quiverfull adherents who view all contraception as a contravention of divine purpose; the "children in managed abundance" group, which accept only Natural Family Planning; the "children in moderation" group, which accepts a wide range of contraceptive conditioned upon whether the motives of users are considered moral; and, the "no children" ("child-free") group, which sees itself as within their biblical rights to define their lives around non-natal concerns. Conservative Protestants tend to view contraception use outside of marriage as morally wrong, connecting such usage as an encouragement to promiscuity.
- Humanae Vitae: Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the Regulation of Birth, July 25, 1968 (html). The Vatican.
- A summary and restatement of the debate is available in Roderick Hindery. "The Evolution of Freedom as Catholicity in Catholic Ethics." Anxiety, Guilt, and Freedom. Eds. Benjamin Hubbard and Brad Starr, UPA, 1990.
- Canadian Bishops' Statement on the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae".
- Charles E. Curran,. Loyal Dissent: Memoir of a Catholic Theologian (Moral Traditions). Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 1-58901-087-6.
- Christopher G. Ellison and Patricia Goodson (1997). "Conservative Protestantism and Attitudes toward Family Planning in a Sample of Seminarians". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36 (4).