Friday, August 27, 2010

The 1930 Lambeth Conference and Griswold v. Connecticut

Gregory K. Laughlin look back at "two pivotal events in the life of the broader Christian community and in the moral and social life of the United States" — Two Dubious Anniversaries. "These twin anniversaries — 1930 and 1965 — offer an appropriate opportunity to consider the misgivings of two prominent Anglicans with regard to the use of contraceptives and with the actions taken by the Anglican bishops gathered at Lambeth Palace eighty summers ago." The author's conclusion:
    Neither Lewis nor Eliot was willing to condemn all uses of artificial contraception, yet both had obvious concerns about the moral implications of its use. There were Anglicans (and other Protestant and Orthodox Christians) then — as there are now — who were willing to stand by the historical Christian condemnation of the practice. Today, however, the Catholic Church stands alone in her unbroken condemnation of a practice which, until a lifetime ago, all Christians condemned. We would do well to consider the concerns raised by Lewis and Eliot and to return to the constant teaching of historic Christianity prior to that fateful summer a mere eighty years ago.

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Anonymous Pints in NYC said...

For whatever it is worth:

Lewis for a while suffered from that most solitary vice, which he called simply "it" in letters with a childhood friend of his who also apparently had struggled with it. You can come across this correspondence in a few places in the book: "Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis".

Lewis' increasing victory over this vice might be the seeds for, or at least reinforce his views about, certain passages in "The Great Divorce" that deal with the rejection of fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying pleasures in this world and the acceptance of absolute joy in Heaven.

Now, it could be argued that any sexual activity using contraception is just a group form of that most solitary vice. Of course, in such a light, Bill Clinton was honest when he said he "did not have . . . " But in that very light, one wonders how Lewis could square his growing distaste for that most solitary vice with contraception.

Likewise, one wonders what Lewis and others would have to say about Onan and his fate. Heck, even Cain, a murderer - who murdered his own brother! - had it better off. Then again, it is debatable whether Onan's fate was due to the interuptus, or to disobeying God's command to impregnate Er's widow.

In any case - while the wisdom, authority, and historical accuracy of the predictions concerning contraception found in Humane Vitae are clearly divinely inspired and true, I still can't help but laugh at H. L. Menken's joke concerning Natural Family Planning:

"It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry."

8:58 AM  

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