Tag Archives: Ethics

The Early Church and Contraception


This paper seeks to address the claim that the early church fathers were universally against contraception, and that this historical fact should in some way be of a concern to Protestants who only began to accept the practice in the early twentieth century.  A faithful understanding of the early church’s condemnation of contraception and an evaluation of its application to Protestantism requires several components.  First I examine ancient reproductive biology and the extent of its impact on the beliefs of ancient Christianity.  I then note the extent to which Stoic thought influenced condemnations of contraception.  Quotations from some church fathers are provided, with special attention paid to the general rejection of the “unitive” function of sexual intercourse.  From this it is clear that neither Protestants nor Catholics consistently follow the testimony of the early church.  This is followed by an attempt to articulate and engage the implicit argument concerning the Protestant departure from the consensus of belief in the early church.  I conclude by observing the silence of Scripture on contraception, despite its practice in the ancient world and the New Testament era, and commend wisdom as a superior method by which to evaluate contraception.

The paper is available here (PDF):


Leave a comment

Filed under Bioethics, Catholicism, Contraception, Early Church Fathers, Ethics, Papers, Procreation