Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Reformers, Sex, and Contraceptions

Children of the Reformation
A Short & Surprising History of Protestantism & Contraception
by Allan Carlson

It is a reckless analyst who risks reopening sixteenth-century disputes between Roman Catholics and the Protestant Reformers. I do so in the interest of a greater good, but my purpose is not to say who was right or who was wrong. I would simply like to explore why the Protestant churches maintained unity with the Catholic Church on the contraception question for four centuries, only to abandon this unity during the first half of the twentieth century.

I write as a historian, not an advocate. (I am a “cradle Lutheran,” but one who believes Martin Luther was wrong about what he called the impossibility of lifelong celibacy; I have come to know too many faithful Catholic priests to accept that.)

Orders & Disorders
To understand the change in Protestant thought and practice, we need to understand the Protestant vision of family and fertility, particularly as expressed by Luther and Calvin, and how it has changed over the last hundred years.
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“Children of the Reformation” first appeared in the May, 2007 issue of Touchstone.


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