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Abortion and Contraception in Scripture



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Christian Scholars Review Fall 1971 42 58 Copyright 1971 by Christian Scholars Review Cited with permission In this essay C E Cerling Jr a United Methodist clergyman re examines abortion and contraception in the light of biblical revelation Abortion and Contraception in Scripture C E Cerling THE PURPOSE of this paper is the examination of the biblical teaching relating to the problems of abortion and contraception This examination it is hoped will provide a necessary foundation for discussions of the problems in the ethical realm particularly the problem of whether abortion is equivalent to murder Before one can consider the problems in terms of specific situations it is necessary to establish general principles that can be applied to all situations 1 By focusing attention on the problems of overpopulation poverty and other matters relating to these problems one moves from the area of theology to situation dominated ethics 2 Is it fair to ask of documents as old as the Bible questions concerning abortion and contraception questions that appear to have such modern origins The questions are fair because they are not really questions unique to the present age Noonan 3 who gives the most thorough discussion of the early Church s attitude toward contraception as it developed historically 4 devotes 1 Helmut Thielicke The Ethics of Sex trans J W Doberstein New York Harper and Row Publishers 1964 p 232 states that ethical principles may even present situations where a principle is more important than a life But he also affirms the importance of difficult cases to test one s ethic p 199 2 J W Montgomery How to Decide the Birth Control Issue Christianity Today X March 4 1966 9 William E Hulme A Theological Approach to Birth Control Pastoral Psychology XI April 1960 26 7 It should also be added that these secondary considerations may force re examination of one s original position because of factors not considered in scripture because not applicable to the biblical mileau 3 J



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