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RE:QUEST

A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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Relationships: Contraception

Family Planning

Contraception is the intentional use of artificial methods or techniques to prevent pregnancy.

Types of Contraception 

Artificial: human-made, designed to prevent pregnancy. Examples include condoms, the birth control pill, an intrauterine device (coil), and the contraceptive implant.

Natural: methods that aren't created by humans, such as the rhythm method, when the couple has sex on certain days when the woman is not ovulating.

Having children has always been a central part of Christian marriage. The first commandment given to Adam and Eve was 'Be fruitful and increase in number' (Genesis 1:28). In other words. 'Go and have lots of babies'. For centuries all Christians believed that it was up to God how many children a couple had; contraception was thought to be wrong or interfering in God's plans. However, over the years attitudes have changed.

Christian Beliefs About Contraception

Because there is no direct teaching about contraception in the Bible, Christians struggle to agree on the subject. Some accept any form of contraception as an essential way for families to be able to control the number of children they have, whilst also enjoying a sexual relationship. However, others disagree with artificial forms of contraception, believing that children are a gift from God, so stopping conception is a sin.

Catholic View

The Roman Catholic church is completely opposed to any form of contraception. They believe it is wrong for a number of reasons, including:

  • The Bible teaches that people should have lots of children. Every time a couple has sex there is the possibility of a new life. Artificial methods go completely against this teaching as it stops procreation.
  • The main purpose of sex is procreation: the creation of babies. Contraception prevents this main purpose, putting more of a focus on the sex itself.
  • Contraception can lead to sexual immorality, promoting promiscuity and casual sex. This is condemned in the Bible. You can read more about this view by clicking here. This can cause problems for individuals and society, with the spread of STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  • Pope Paul VI's 'Humanae Vitae' (1968), states: 'Condemned is any action, which either before, or at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse is specifically intended to prevent procreation - whether as an end or a means ... It is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it.'

However, whilst all methods of artificial contraception are unacceptable, Catholics do accept the use of natural methods, as procreation is still possible.

Other Christian Views

Other Christians, such as Evangelicals, Protestants, and Baptists, accept contraception because:

  • Contraception can help couples when planning the size of their family, based on their circumstances. For example, they may not be ready to have children, or their lifestyle might not be suitable. They may have little money, and can't afford more children, but still want to have a sexual relationship. Further, the couple might carry genetic disorders which lead to them deciding not to have children. Contraception allows a couple to enjoy a sexual relationship without having to worry about getting pregnant.
  • Sex for pleasure is an important purpose of sex, allowing a couple to express their love: contraception doesn't stop this.
  • Artificial contraception doesn't go against the teachings in the Bible.