Review: Contraception and Christendom

Image from Amazon.

Author: David Hasselbrook

Publisher: Neofita Eleon

I’ll admit it: This is not the typical book I read, let alone review. But when I saw this book as an option in a reading group I am a part of, I voted for it. While this book is a response to a specific argument made by a specific writer in the LCMS, Hasselbrook addresses the broader implications and concerns of contraception, especially for Christians.

This little book is not in the typical format of most nonfiction. It comes across more as a dissertation than anything else. And this makes sense as Hasselbrook adapted this from a paper presented at an LCMS conference. But despite its nonconformity, I rather enjoyed it. Typically such formatting bothers me in reading, but by constructing his book in this way, Hasselbrook gets right to the heart of the matter without finding the need to drag out certain arguments for the sake of length. Furthermore, he inserts all his notes as footnotes, includes a bibliography, and provided multiple indexes for cross-reference and further research.

As for the subject matter, Hasselbrook pulls no punches. And while I appreciate his straightforward and concise approach, he can be a bit abrasive, especially to the modern reader. He begins with a history of contraceptives starting from ancient antiquity. He then continues by discussing the views of the early Church Fathers on contraceptives through the Reformation and onto the present day. He then continues by addressing the arguments made by Alfred Rewinkel, who pushed for the acceptance of contraceptives in the Church. Finally, he ends by countering those arguments and shows that the right and historic view on contraceptives is to avoid them entirely. This, Hasselbrook states, is the true way for any Christian, especially for one who claims to be prolife. These last two sections make up the majority of this short book.

Considering the subject matter, it should come as no surprise that Hasselbrook speaks on various sexual acts that may be enlightening to some readers. In short, be forewarned. And yet, he includes these not to be crude but to explain fully the degradation of those acts and how they are related to the greater concept of contraception.

I was appreciative of Hasselbrook’s brief history at the beginning of this book. Though I knew something of the history of contraception, I am ashamed to say I did not know nearly anything about what the Church had to say on the subject, past or present. I am still unsure how to respond to some of Hasselbrook’s arguments and conclusions, though I cannot say I disagree with them all. Most of them, anyhow. There was one point he made at the end concerning baptism I found a bit of a stretch. I’m also not sure I’m willing to go as far as he does to say that the prevention of conception is equal to murder. Even so, Hasselbrook did well to demonstrate the unbiblical nature of various forms of contraception and how nearly all forms exemplify a disregard for human life and a lack of trust in God.

I will still have to ponder all of his conclusions and how I should respond in my own life. While I generally dislike the use of contraception and abhor those which take life, I never really considered how the prevention of life (put thus) might also be wrong. I was convicted to be sure. This book is not for the faint of heart, especially those not willing to be confronted about their sexual and familial decisions or to be faced with the ultimate consequences of those decisions. But I would recommend every Christian should dare to read this book and at least consider his arguments.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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