Sins Against Nature: The Condemnation of Birth Control in Early Christianity

  • Lori Breslow Massachusetts Institute of Technology


In the period when the early Christian Church was formualting its doctrine on marriage, sexual relations and procreation, a number of technologies existed which were used by both women and men in an attempt to impede conception. Church fathers, however, particularly St. Augustine, strongly criticized the use of birth control. Their argument was that contraception was a "sin against nature." This paper attempts to explain why that argument was so compelling and shows how it was used in the struggle over who would control reproduction—the individual or the community.
Original Research