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Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control, 1873-1973 Hardcover – November 10, 2011
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“[E]xplores the path taken by evangelicals from ardently opposing the dissemination and use of contraception in the late 19thcentury to acceptance by the mid-1900s… Recommended.”
—B. F. Le Beau, Choice
“Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control, 1873-1973 examines the history and process by which evangelical leaders eventually moved from being against contraception to accepting birth control and even briefly abortion. It uncovers a relatively little-known segment of evangelical history and Christian religion, exploring shifts in arguments and interests in the early Church and following the religious movement's influences and changing interpretations of the Bible. Any Christian collection strong in Christian social history will find this a scholarly survey that fills in many gaps.”
—The Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review
“[A] fascinating history of sex, contraceptives and abortion… Godly Seed is more than a history of abortion, spotlighting those who opposed it and others who defended it. It is also a book of the rich history of the church, both catholic and protestant… Godly Seed should be in the library of all, no matter what side of the debate you stand. It is remarkably non partisan, offering all views respectfully, even showing the negative conduct of Chrisitan leaders along with abortion proponents who misuse Scripture verse to make their point.”
—Reverand Austin Miles, http://cc.org/blog
"Opposition to birth control is widely perceived as a 'Catholic issue.' Historian Alan Carlson demonstrates that as a matter of historical fact, the Christian churches were united in their opposition to contraception until 1930. Carlson deftly shows how the change occurred, through a combination of 'divide and conquer’ tactics by the population control lobby, intellectual exhaustion among the Mainline Protestants, and anti-Catholicism among the Evangelicals. Highly recommended."
—Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president, Ruth Institute
"This provocative volume by one of the world's foremost family-issues scholars suggests that perhaps American Evangelicalism unwittingly traded the Blessed Virgin Mary for Margaret Sanger. The arguments are hard-hitting and unrelenting. Reading this book is like seeing an unwelcome reflection in a mirror. But it might just start a conversation that is well worth having."
—Russell D. Moore, dean, School of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
About the Author
Allan C. Carlson is president emeritus of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society in Rockford, Illinois and was distinguished visiting professor of history and politics at Hillsdale College.
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Top Customer Reviews
I like the book's extensive references provided at the end of each chapter. It provides plenty of places to go for further research.
More could have been said about Malthus, the ideas that the earth is already over crowded, the arguments with regard to women's health, economics of large families, etc. It is not enough to just state these arguments were made but to address them head on. Maybe I was too optimistic, I was hoping for more of the biblical arguments, from before 1907, presented against the use of artificial birth control and not so much of a history.
Recommended other reading:
The American Religious Debate over Birth Control 1907-1937
This book shows a slight tilt against Christianity, but does a good job documenting a critical time in American history related to this subject. It tells how virtually every Christian denomination stood against artificial birth control prior to 1907 (and Margret Sanger), and how Margret Sanger chipped away at the legal system and the churches to where by 1937 virtually all of the denominations accepted artificial birth control. One of the interesting things to me is to see the same methods used by Sanger to justify birth control were used again in the abortion argument and now in the homosexual arguments.
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The author of this book rightly associates the two practices together, with one leading directly to the other. I commend him for his courageous act of writing this book. Abortions will never come to an absolute end, but its practice will never decline until the evil of contraception is once more recognized as its precursor and its use discontinued.
The rhythm method as prescribed by the Catholic church (which does not impose a contrived barrier), is the only morally valid alternative to contraception in controlling family size and spacing pregnancies, but it does require abstinence at certain critical times. In today's secularized materialistic and highly sexualized culture it seems difficult to practice any form of delayed gratification. Yet the Church must renew her mission to proclaim the whole truth even though certain aspects of moral theology are not widely accepted. The church is not in the business of accommodating popular culture.