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Taryn Mattice

I wonder if we were all forced to read the Song of Solomon (the one in the Bible) once a year if it might make any difference to this conversation.

8 chapters of sex and pleasure, sex and pleasure, (and longing) and not a single mention of God.

Or, come to think of it, pregnancy.

Steve Shiffrin

Thank you for your commentary Patrick. The Lambeth Conference
criticized those who decide not to have children on selfish grounds.
It did not suppose that sexual relations without the possibility of
procreation was sinful or that sexual pleasure in marriage was not a
good in itself. The Lambeth Conference did not support the view that
rigorism in bodily matters equals holiness.See Susan Stabile

Patrick k

-- the Lambeth Conference expressed “its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.” --

Right, but what other use would there be? What is non-procreative sex other than a luxury? If you say "to increase intimacy and connectedness" -- aren't there much more spiritual ways to do that?

Patrick k

Interesting... but I'm not sure that you're not merely making an argument from convenience. It's more convenient, sure, to use contraception, than to abstain from sex. Is it morally equivalent?

I can understand the argument that the use of contraception in married couples is not sinful, or at least not mortally sinful. But what is sex without the possibility of conception? Isn't it just mere physical pleasure, similar to, say, a good bottle of wine?

Is it the proper role of the Church to instruct one on how best to attain physical pleasure? The Lambeth statement seems to say: "We know you are unsatisfied with merely spiritual things, and need a little spice in your life. So it's okay to use contraception, since the Eucharist probably won't quite cut it for you."


It is selfish to have kids:

They pollute the world, ruin fine dining experiences, disproportionately cause crime and misery, provide parents a big tax break and big tax credits, provide parents succor in their old age. All the while, childfree folks are paying for the pleasure to the parents and the misery inflicted on others.

Steve Shiffrin

Well said, as always. I too balk at the phrase contraceptive
mentality. Among other things, it substitutes a vague epithet for
an argument. If it means to condemn birth control in pursuit of a
self-indulgent life style which I think is what it was intended to
mean in this context, there are surely less off putting ways of
making the point.
I suspect we disagree about the percentage of couples that think
about birth control in moral terms. But I have zero evidence to
support my view. I suspect many more think about household chores
and the spending of money in terms of fairness which inherently
imports moral deliberation.

Taryn Mattice

I am very comfortable with the language of the Lambeth Conference you've quoted.

But some of the other language makes my hair stand on end. (Full disclosure, Protestant here.) This past month I heard the term "contraceptive mentality" for the first time and spewed my coffee.

I'd ask whether most things in marriage aren't "moral issues" --from who has responsibility for household chores to how money is spent. "Mere convenience and the furtherance of a selfish lifestyle" are temptations at every turn.

The nice thing about the relative silence from Protestant bodies is not that it proclaims contraception is morally neutral, but that it allows for what I imagine most couples know -- this is a moral issue, under the category of mutual care.

Still, I think we need help incorporating into our moral reasoning the environmental and human costs of a rapdily expanding population. For a people serious about human suffering, we Christians are surprisingly mealy-mouthed about this.

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