Guidance of the Church on Birth Control

I understand that we need to have guidance from The Church regarding modern topics such as stem cell research, cryogenics, in vitro fertilization which did not exist in biblical times. Why then did the Church wait until the 1930’s and 1960’s to give us guidance on birth control with the Humanae Vitae and Casti Connubii?
Physical methods of birth control go back 3000 years to ancient Eygpt, and sex is as old as Adam & Eve. I am not aware of any commandments against physical methods of birth control in the Bible, only the subjective interpretation of Onan. If sexuality is so powerful and important in Marriage and using birth control is a sin, why didn’t God mention it explicitly in the commandments?

The church did not wait until the 1930’s but has spoken out against contraception since the earliest times. Clement of Alexandra, Augustine, the Council of Nicaea and many others spoke out.


I’m sure there will be quote after quote on this thread before long.


You misunderstand. The church did not “wait” until 1930 to teach anything. Casti Connubii is merely a reiteration of Church teaching, given immediately after the Anglican Communion began teaching falsely on this topic so as to make sure the Catholic faithful were not misled.

I suggest the book The Bible and Birth Control by Charles Provan, which is a good summation of the traditional teaching on marriage and fecundy. Of course, the bible need not say anything on the matter as it is not the sole rule of faith. But, it does.

That is correct. When the Anglicans allowed for some artificial birth control in 1930, the Church reminded the faithful.

When the “Sex without love Revolution” began to market The Pill in 1967, Pope Paul VI acted again. And this was the reaction to Humanae Vitae in 1968:

"Within 24 hours, in an event unprecedented in the history of the Church, more than 200 dissenting theologians signed a full-page ad in The New York Times in protest. Not only did they declare their disagreement with encyclical’s teaching; they went one step further, far beyond their authority as theologians, and actually encouraged dissent among the lay faithful.

"They asserted the following: “Therefore, as Roman Catholic theologians, conscious of our duty and our limitations, we conclude that spouses may responsibly decide according to their conscience that artificial contraception in some circumstances is permissible and indeed necessary to preserve and foster the values and sacredness of marriage.”

Source: Regnum Christi

“…an event unprecedented in the history of the Church…”


But it is my understanding that there is a difference between the Church “speaking out” and “infallible Church teachings”. Were there any infallible teachings of the Church prior to 1930 regarding birth control?

Since truth doesn’t change. if it is true now it was true then.

It always makes me uncomfortable with Catholics use “birth control” to refer to anything from condoms to diaphragms to Yaz. I’m on hormonal “birth control” (not used for anything of the sort) because I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. A medication that supplies my body with much needed estrogen is unprecedented in history and is not the same, theologically, as say, an IUD.

First, Humanae Vitae makes it clear that such drugs can have a licit use. However, the birth control pill is not the only option.

I recommend:

For other problems that occur before or after the first child, I suggest women contact:


Look, I’ve discussed the issue with my doctor and I’m not interested in getting advice from strangers on the internet. This is part of the problem I was referring to. My health and wellbeing is automatically questioned, prodded, and discussed because it so happens that my illness is treatable with pills that also cause temporary sterility.

I’m certainly not offering you any advice, listen to you doctor. In the context of the question as to the Church’s position on birth control, however, the point is that there is such a thing as licit use of a birth control pill, based on the “principle of double effect”. I am not sure what problem you are referring to. I read all the posts…I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that you are in any way violating any Catholic moral prohibitions simply by taking hormonal birth control pills to treat a medical condition.

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