As I’ve studied more on Early Church Fathers, I have to say I’m a little surprised, confused and discouraged to learn that some early fathers, particularly Augustine and Jerome, believed and taught that abortion early in pregnancy was not sin, however their views on sex within marriage and women are so strongly negative. I have a hard time accepting their teachings that woman is the root of evil, women provide no good to man except bearing children, and that all sex is unclean (even in marriage) and marital sex for any pleasure is adultry.
This is obviously very different from current teachings and beliefs that all abortion is sinfull, that women have dignity in Christ and that sex within marriage is sacred and unifying. I certainly believe and understand that not everything a saint says is correct, however these two individuals had such a huge influence over the development of the church due to their skill and power at a time when Christianity flurished throughout society and was no longer persecuted. While I think both extremes can be bad, on the surface it does seem like being closer to embracing a gnostic attitude of ascetism as apposed to the hebrew culture our faith was built on.
I’m not sure I’ll ever understand completely, but I just feel so strongly against abortion that it’s hard for me to comprehend that for a long time the Church viewed penance for certain sexual sins within marriage as hundred of times more severe than abortion, which sometimes wasn’t even sin (if the fetus wasn’t fully formed with limbs, etc.).