Early Church Fathers and Contraception

The Catholic Church has always opposed contraception. It was heretical groups like the Gnostics (2nd century), the Manichaeans (4th century) and the Cathari (12th century) who opposed Christianity's teachings on this subject. Here is a selection of citations from the early Church Fathers right down to John Paul II which affirm the Catholic position on contraception. Contraception is not a new thing that was invented in this century. It has been around as long as sex has been around. The Church has always taught that contraception is wrong. In the days of the Early Church Fathers (100-400 A.D.) it was called coitus interruptus:

" They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives." (St. Augustine, Against Faustus, 15:7, 400 A.D.)

"I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed.  Those who do this, although are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame.  Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives].I dare say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer with his own wife."  (Marriage and Concupiscence, 1:15:17, 419 A.D.)

"Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Lev. 11:29].  For he means, 'Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth with the body through uncleanness [orally consummated sex]; nor shalt thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth with the body through uncleanness."  (Letter of Barnabas, 10:8, 74 A.D.)

"Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor to Children, 2:10:91:2, 191 A.D.)

"[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from salves or lowborn commoners, they use drugs of sterility [oral contraceptives] or bind themselves tightly in order to expel fetus which has already been engendered [abortion]." (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 9:12, 225 A.D.)

"They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children.  Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption." (Epiphanius, Medicine Chest Against the Heretics, 26:5:2, 375 A.D.)

"Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth?  You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then?  Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his [natural] laws? (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 24, 391 A.D.)

"You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives.  Others, indeed, will drink sterility [oral contraceptives] and murder a man not yet born." (St. Jerome, Letters 21:13, 396 A.D.)

Related Articles

Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way.
We have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together,
we give you absolute permission to move.
Amen