Being anti-abortion isn't exactly the same as being pro-life---that is, it wasn't the persuasion of our church fathers in the faith, nor did it represent the majority in American history until the 1920's. Yet now, birth control has been an assumed way of married and unmarried life for the past six decades. Celeste McGovern skillfully put it this way:
"For anyone under 60, birth control is just a fact of life. Those under 50 won’t recall that it was ever controversial. The pharmaceutical separation of sex from babies has been so thoroughly accepted by Western society that any holdouts are seen as fringers: 'orthodox' Catholics, Mormons, and health hippies."
While identified as a "Roman Catholic" view today for its drastic implications, anti-contraception was a popular conversation-subject among our church fathers. Epiphanius echoed the voice of innumberable church leaders from the early to the later church:
"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)."
In fact, it wasn't until 1930 that contraception was accepted by the Anglican Church, and even then, it was permitted only stringently---usually, only on the basis of endangering the health of the mother. Indeed, all denominations, not specific to the Roman Church, rebuked contraceptive forms.
Anthony Comstock, a nineteenth century American postal worker, insisted on a non-coincidental association between pornography, abortion, and birth control, calling them "born of the same mindset," a “...corruption of the sexual impulse… [and] contrary to Scripture.”
Augustine, in usual blatant fashion, described the use of contraception as making a wife a "mistress." In his mindset, similar to that of Comstock's over a millenium later, sexual activity in avoiding the natural fruition of seed, denies not only procreation, but encourages a sexual appetite free of "limitations." If the blessings of children were deliberately avoided, then "free love" would explode and promiscuity would heighten.
Family planning in America, made especially pronounced by future Planned Parenthood founder and eugenics specialist Margaret Sanger, moreover, insisted on the relief of the "burden" of unwanted children:
"Greater understanding and practice of planned parenthood, through the use of contraceptive measures prescribed by doctors and clinics, will mean that there will be more strong and healthy children and fewer defective and handicapped babies unable to find a useful or happy place in life."
According to Sanger, birth control was the outgrowth of contraception which was, in turn, the outgrowth of moral liberty and increased "choice"---not coincidentally, the word most utilized to support the pro-abortion cause of radical feminists today. Sanger knew that, if she could succeed in numbing the public to the utilization of birth control, she could change the family structure, dynamics and, ultimately, society. The responsibility of both men and women would be nullified.
Being anti-abortion---certainly a necessary Christian view--involves more of a one-way view of the circumstance; that is, it simply opposes abortion with a more passive perspective on the life actually involved. To be fully pro-life, according to Dr. Voddie Baucham, dean of African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia and author of "Family Driven Faith," entails a certain mentality beyond a negative connotation regarding abortion. Rather than accepting the life of the unborn, Baucham conveys that the pro-life mentality embraces the unborn, opposing not only the radical measure of abortion, but any and every method of preventing life:
"Evangelicals in America are not pro-life, they're just anti-abortion... just look at our birth-rates."
Am I equalizing all forms of non-abortifacient contraception and abortion? No. While some of the church fathers saw it that way, I cannot reconcile the thinking that the taking of a life is the same as preventing one, unless the method holds any potentiality as an abortifacient.
Certainly, this is a hard and rare brand of thinking these days. I certainly do not endeavor to sit in judgment on anyone. Raising a family difficult, and we do not often even think to question the more "taboo" topics. Instead, my intention was to briefly convey historical facts and leave you with the decision. Do we act from a place of apathetic assumption or true conviction?
What I am trying to draw out from a gentle and humble place, is the possibility that maybe our thoughts on children do need to be challenged; how much thought have we given to this subject: before God, before Scripture, before our spouses or fiancees? If we truly believed that children are blessings, fruits of the womb, would we change our behavior in any way?