Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Report on "Birth Control"

From Christianity Today, May 1931

BOTH the Church and the World have
been stirred by the portion of the report
of the Commission on Marriage, Divorce
and Remarriage which deals with "Birth
Control." The Commission was appointed by
the 1929 Assembly. Its report to the 1930
Assembly was handled somewhat roughly by
that body, but the Committee was permitted
another year of life. The report to the
1931 Assembly has to do with Marriage,
Divorce, Remarriage, Birth Control and
proper sex education both of Ministers and
people. Section II, which deals with Birth
Control, has been widely commented upon.
It is as follows:

"Earnest Christian people are asking for
the Church's guidance on the subject of Birth
Control. This subject demands attention today
as never before. Economic conditions
and a worthy standard of living clearly make
it wrong to bring children into the world
without adequate provision for their nurture
and proper consideration for the health of
the mother.

"The Christian conception of sex clothes
the relationship between husband and wife
with spiritual significance, sanctifying marriage
as a divine institution. Moral control
is the basic essential to a worthy experience
of the marriage relation.

"In expressing its judgment on this subject,
the Church in no sense modifies its
condemnation of sex relations outside of

"Two methods are possible in securing
birth control. The first is continence. The
second is the use of contraceptives. When
this method is adopted in seeking the worthy
objectives stated above, it should only be in
fidelity to the highest spiritual ideals of the
Christian home."

The second general recommendation of the
Commission is as follows: "The Commission
recommends that the General Assembly
adopt the report concerning birth control
contained within this Commission's report
above as expressing the attitude of our
Church upon this intimate and all important

The Presbytery of Philadelphia, at its
April meeting overwhelmingly adopted a
strong memorial to the forthcoming
Assembly concerning this report. The memorial
was moved by the Rev. George B.
Bell, D.D., of the Patterson Memorial
Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, as follows:
"The Presbytery of Philadelphia convened
in its regular monthly meeting May 4, 1931,
desires to express to the General Assembly
meeting in Pittsburgh, May 28 to June 3,
its profound disapproval of that portion of
the report to be submitted to the Assembly
by its Commission on Marriage, Divorce and
Remarriage in which the Commission
endorses birth control by contraceptive

"It is the opinion of this Presbytery that
the adoption of this declaration would bring
deserved criticism and odium upon our be-
loved church."

It will be remembered that a year ago,
when the Commission desired to alter the
Confession so that marriages with Roman-
ists should be allowed by the standards, a
protest was adopted by the Presbytery of
Philadelphia against making any change.
This protest originated with Dr. Bell, who
later carried his point on the floor of the
Assembly. The Presbytery of Philadelphia
has instructed its Commissioners to vote
against approval of the section of the
report dealing with Birth Control.

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