01) BIRTH-CONTROL: What is the first commandment ever given by the Lord to man? How does the Lord feel about birth control? Should couples postpone having children?

Commentary

The first commandment given to man in the Garden of Eden was to multiply and replenish the earth. The importance of this commandment, while not commonly understood or appreciated in our day, has never changed 1. We have compiled a list of passages from scripture and the words of prophets in our day that clearly explain the importance of this “First Commandment.melvin

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

#1:

We seriously regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity. Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by. 2

#2:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . . . The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. . . .We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan. We warn that individuals who . . . fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. 3

Joseph Smith

“Joseph Smith made many prophetic statements that last our day. Some of them seemed preposterous at the time. Lillie Freeze recalls one such. ‘He said the time would come when none but women of the Latter-day Saints would be willing to bear children.’ In large measure this is already happening today-before our eyes.” (Joseph Smith the Prophet, Truman G. Madsen, pg. 21, printed version of the “Joseph Smith tapes.”)

Lillie Freeze recalled: “We should post ourselves regarding the prophecies that have been predicted. I will mention one in particular that was uttered by the Prophet Joseph Smith, he said the time would come when none but the women of the Latterday Saints would be willing to bear children. (Remembering Joseph, p. 135; see also “Remarks at the Y. L. M. I. Conference of Box Elder Stake,” Young Woman’s Journal 2, no. 2 (November 1890): 81)

Brigham Young

#1:

There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. 4

#2:

To check the increase of our race has its advocates among the influential and powerful circles of society in our nation and in other nations. The same practice existed forty-five years ago, and various devices were used by married persons to prevent the expenses and responsibilities of a family of children, which they must have incurred had they suffered nature’s laws to rule preeminent. That which was practiced then in fear and against reproving conscience, is now boldly trumpeted abroad as one of the best means of ameliorating the miseries and sorrows of humanity. Infanticide is very prevalent in our nation. It is a crime that comes within the purview of the law, and is therefore not so boldly practiced as is the other equally great crime, which, no doubt, to a great extent, prevents the necessity of infanticide. The unnatural style of living, the extensive use of narcotics, the attempts to destroy and dry up the fountains of life, are fast destroying the American element of the nation; it is passing away before the increase of the more healthy, robust, honest, and less sinful class of the people which are pouring into the country daily from the Old World. The wife of the servant man is the mother of eight or ten healthy children, while the wife of his master is the mother of one or two poor, sickly children, devoid of vitality and constitution, and, if daughters, unfit, in their turn, to be mothers, and the health and vitality which nature has denied them through the irregularities of their parents are not repaired in the least by their education. 5

#3:

This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth. 6

#4:

Men can commit sin with their wives by violating the law by which we are. This law is pure and holy, and every act of our lives should be to promote that and not destroy it. We should preserve the life that is within us, and permit it to multiply. If any other course is pursued in the midst of this people, the curse of God will come upon those who do it.
7

John Taylor

Now, this is where the hardship comes in and it also accounts for this eternal rubbing and bumping. “How much can’t I do, and how little can I do to retain fellowship with the Church; and how much can I act selfishly and yet be counted a disciple of Christ?”  8

Joseph F. Smith

#1:

Those who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of wedded life should see to it that they do not abuse the course of nature; that they do not destroy the principle of life within them, nor violate any of the commandments of God. The command which he gave in the beginning to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force upon the children of men. Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel than to prevent or to destroy life in the manner indicated. We are born into the world that we may have life, and we live that we may have a fullness of joy, and if we will obtain a fullness of joy, we must obey the law of our creation and the law by which we may obtain the consummation of our righteous hopes and desires–eternal life.

I regret, I think it is a crying evil, that there should exist a sentiment or a feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. I think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe that this is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.  9

#2:

In answer to your communication in which you ask me for my views on the issue of “birth control, or the limiting of the number of children in a family to one or two”… I have this to say: The first great commandment given both to man and beast by the Creator was to ‘multiply and replenish the earth;’ and I have not learned that this commandment was ever repealed. Those who attempt to pervert the ways of the Lord and prevent their offspring from coming into the world in obedience to this great command, are guilty of one of the most heinous crimes in the category. There is no promise for eternal salvation and exaltation for such as they, for by their acts they prove their unworthiness for exaltation and unfitness for a kingdom where the crowning glory is the continuation of the family union and eternal increase.  10

Heber J. Grant

Another of the great evils of the age is race suicide [the use of contraceptives].  This also is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Providing opportunity for the spirit children of our Father in Heaven to come to earth and work out their own salvation is one of our sacred privileges and obligations. We teach that among the choicest of eternal riches are children. 11

George Albert Smith

Children are an heritage from the Lord, and those who refuse the responsibility of bringing them into the world and caring for them are usually prompted by selfish motives, and the result is that they suffer the penalty of selfishness throughout eternity. There is no excuse for members of our Church adopting the custom of the world to either limit the size of the family or have none at all. We have been better taught than they. 12

David O. McKay

#1:

True motherhood is the noblest call of the world, and we look with sorrow upon the practice here in our own United States of limiting families, a tendency creeping into our own church. Some young couples enter into marriage and procrastinate the bringing of children into their homes. They are running a great risk. Marriage is for the purpose of rearing a family, and youth is the time to do it. I admire these young mothers with four or five children around them now, still young, happy.”  13

#2:

Seeking the pleasures of conjugality without a willingness to assume the responsibilities of rearing a family is one of the onsloughts that now batter at the structure of the American home. Intelligence and mutual consideration should be ever-present factors in determining the coming of children to the household. When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and diseases that might be transmitted with injury to their offspring, the use of contraceptives is to be condemned.  14

#3:

Another deterrent to happiness in the home is the refusal to bear the full responsibility of motherhood and fatherhood. Members of the Church who are healthy and normal should not be guilty of restricting the number of children in the home, especially when such action is prompted by a desire for a good time, or for personal gain, or to keep up with the neighbors, or by a false impression that one or two children in a family can be better educated. These are excuses which members of the Church should not harbor, for they are unjustified.

The question of size of families, I know, brings up many problems: the question of woman’s career, the false cry of “quality, not quantity,” which one writer rightly says should read “extinction, not preservation,” or the matter-of-fact question of daily living and getting on in the world.

With the high ideal of marriage as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, members of the Church should have but one goal, and that is to keep in mind the fact that marriage, the foundation of society, is “ordained of God” for the building of permanent homes in which children may be properly reared and taught the principles of the gospel.”  15

Joseph Fielding Smith

THE BLESSINGS OF BIRTH INTO MORTALITY. Nothing should be held in greater sacredness and honor than the covenant by which the spirits of men-the offspring of God in the spirit-are privileged to come into this world in mortal tabernacles. It is through this principle that the blessing of immortal glory is made possible. The greatest punishment ever given was proclaimed against Lucifer and his angels. To be denied the privilege of mortal bodies forever is the greatest curse of all. These spirits can have no progress, no hope of resurrection and eternal life! Doomed are they to eternal misery for their rebellion!

And then to think that we are not only privileged, but also commanded to assist our Father in the great work of redemption by giving to his children, as we have obtained these blessings ourselves, the right to live and continue on even to perfection! No innocent soul should be condemned to come into this world under a handicap of illegitimacy. Every child has the right to be well born! Every individual who denies them that right is guilty of a mortal sin. . . .

The obligations which married couples take upon themselves should conform in every particular to the commandments given by the Lord. In the beginning, the Lord said when he gave Eve to Adam, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” This earth was created for the very purpose that the spirit children of our Father might have the privilege of the temporal existence, receiving bodies of flesh and bones as tabernacles for the spirits which occupy them, and then, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, receive the resurrection in which the spirit and the body become inseparably connected so that man may live again….

Marriage is an eternal covenant, not to come to an end as taught so generally throughout the world when the covenanting parties are dead, but to endure forever. The real purpose of life is that the spirits of men thus clothed in bodies of flesh and bones may, through obedience to the gospel, come back into the presence of the Father and the Son, to receive the fulness of exaltation,

The Lord has revealed that when a man and a woman are married according to his law, children born to them will be theirs throughout all eternity. The covenant given to Adam to multiply was renewed after the flood with Noah and his children after him. The Lord said to Noah: “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying. And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.”

This covenant is still binding, although mankind has departed from the way of eternal life and has rejected the covenant of marriage which the Lord revealed.

BIRTH CONTROL IS WICKEDNESS. The abuse of this holy covenant has been the primary cause for the downfall of nations. When the sacred vows of marriage are broken and the real purpose of marriage abused, as we find it so prevalent in the world today, then destruction is inevitable.

No nation can endure for any length of time, if the marriage covenants are abused and treated with contempt. The anger of the Almighty was kindled against ancient nations for their immorality. There is nothing that should be held in greater sacredness than this covenant by which the spirits of men are clothed with mortal tabernacles.

When a man and a woman are married and they agree to limit their offspring to two or three, and practice devices to accomplish this purpose, they are guilty of iniquity which eventually must be punished. Unfortunately this evil doctrine is being taught as a virtue by many people who consider themselves cultured and highly educated. It has even crept in among members of the Church and has been advocated in some of the classes within the Church. It should be understood definitely that this kind of doctrine is not only not advocated by the authorities of the Church, but also is condemned by them as wickedness in the sight of the Lord. President Joseph F. Smith has said in relation to this question:

‘Those who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of wedded life should see to it that they do not abuse the course of nature; that they do not destroy the principle of life within them, nor violate any of the commandments of God. The command which he gave in the beginning to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force upon the children of men. (This was repeated by President Hinckley in the Proclamation to the Family). Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel than to prevent or to destroy life in the manner indicated. We are born into the world that we may have life, and we live that we may have a fullness of joy, and if we will obtain a fullness of joy, we must obey the law of our creation and the law by which we may obtain the consummation of our righteous hopes and desires–eternal life.’

‘There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can.’

If these iniquitous practices find place in our hearts and we are guilty, then when we arrive on the other side–and discover that we have deprived ourselves of eternal blessings and are accused by those who were assigned to come to us, because, as President Young has said, they were forced to take bodies in the families of the wicked–how will we feel? Moreover, may we not lose our own salvation if we violate this divine law?

Instructing the mothers of the church, President Joseph F. Smith said in June, 1917:

‘I regret, I think it is a crying evil, that there should exist a sentiment or a feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. I think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe that is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.

When young people marry and refuse to fulfill this commandment given in the beginning of the world–and just as much in force today–they rob themselves of the greatest eternal blessing. If the love of the world and the wicked practices of the world mean more to a man and a woman than to keep the commandments of the Lord in this respect, then they shut themselves off from the eternal blessing of increase. Those who willfully and maliciously design to break this important commandment shall be damned. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord.

Small families is the rule today. Husbands and wives refuse to take upon themselves the responsibilities of family life. Many of them do not care to be bothered with children. Yet this commandment given to Adam has never been abrogated or set aside. If we refuse to live by the covenants we make, especially in the house of the Lord, then we cannot receive the blessings of those covenants in eternity. If the responsibilities of parenthood are willfully avoided here, then how can the Lord bestow upon the guilty the blessings of eternal increase? It cannot be, and they shall be denied such blessings.  16

Harold B. Lee

#1:

If I were to name the first thing that impresses me always in these fine Latter-day Saint homes, I would say it was a love for and a desire for children. These are homes where the having of children was not delayed because of some social or educational or financial objective, and where the size of the families has not been limited by the practice of birth control.  17

#2:

[W]e declare it is a grievous sin before God to adopt restrictive measures in disobedience to God’s divine command from the beginning of time to ‘multiply and replenish the earth.’  18

Spencer W. Kimball

#1:

We must share the gift of life. John and Mary, tomorrow when I repeat the phrases which will bind you for eternity, I shall say the same impressive words which the Lord said to that handsome youth and his lovely bride in the Garden of Eden: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”(Genesis 1:28)  The Lord does not waste words. He meant what he said. You did not come on earth just to “eat, drink, and be merry.” You came knowing full well your responsibilities. You came to get for yourself a mortal body which could become perfected and immortalized, and you understood that you were to act in partnership with God in providing bodies for other spirits equally anxious to come to the earth for righteous purposes. And so you will not postpone parenthood. There will be rationalists who will name to you numerous reasons for postponement. Of course, it will be harder to get your college degrees or your financial starts with a family, but strength like yours will be undaunted in the face of difficult obstacles. Have your family as the Lord intended. Of course it is expensive, but you will find a way, and besides, it is often those children who grow up with responsibility and hardships who carry on the world and its work. And, John and Mary, do not limit your family as the world does.

Don’t think you will love the later ones less or have fewer material things for them. Perhaps, like Jacob, you might love the eleventh one most. Young folk, have your family, love them, sacrifice for them, teach them righteousness, and you will be blessed and happy all the days of your eternal lives.

Have large families regardless of social norms. In America and elsewhere in the world, the family limitation program is gaining much strength. Latter-day Saints do not believe in this. We believe in following the admonition of the Lord in having large families and rearing them righteously. We hope that our Latter-day Saints will not trade children for accommodation and luxury.

When you go to the temple for sealing, you will note that the Lord continues to command his people to live this commandment. It is not easy. It is much easier to limit the family to one or two, but great blessings come to those who struggle through the years with the small children. When they have reared them righteously, they will have crowns throughout eternity. The time will come when those men and women who have neglected their duties because they wanted luxuries will be very jealous of the joys and happiness of those who sacrificed in the early years of marriage. Certainly we do not just wish to bring children in the world and turn them loose to go wild. We must rear them in righteousness. Generally, you will find that the people that come from the large families are generally the best trained and the most faithful. . . .

So our beloved mother Eve began the human race with gladness, wanting children, glad for the joy that they would bring to her, willing to assume the problems connected with a family, but also the joys. . . .

I wish to say without equivocation that a woman will find no greater satisfaction and joy and peace and make no greater contribution to mankind than in being a wise and worthy woman and raising good children. . . .

Come home, wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and, unembarrassed, help in a major role to create bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously wait.

When you have fully complemented your husband in home life and borne the children, growing up full of faith, integrity, responsibility, and goodness, then you have achieved, your accomplishments supreme, without peer, and you will be the envy through time and eternity of your sisters who have spent themselves in selfish pursuits.

Technology frees time for better child rearing. Today’s women, especially in the United States and some other countries, have ease, comfort, leisure, conveniences, and time, such as no other women in history have had.
What has she done with her new-found liberties and freedoms and opportunities and time? Has she perfected her own life? Is she more dutiful and faithful to her reduced home duties than was her great-grandmother with her multiplicity of arduous ones? Is today’s woman a better wife to her husband? Is the modern, electrically driven home of today a happier haven of refuge than the four walls of the last centuries? Is she today a better, more congenial neighbor than yesterday’s woman? Does she have more children now that she has more time, better facilities, and more help? Does she train her children better than her ancestors did? Does she herself have more faith and piety than the women of old? And does she better instill into her children the faith which will make gods of them?

God bless the women, the wonderful women of every time and age and place, who establish first in their lives their Lord, his work, and their families.

Women who are deliberately childless will regret it. I am not sorry for women who sacrifice their lives for children. I am not sorry for those women who have many children. But I am sorry … for women who come to the Judgment Day who have never assumed the responsibility of rearing children, who have been afraid of pain, resistant to sacrifice. They are the ones whose hearts will be heavy.

Childbearing should not be delayed for convenience. After marriage young wives should be occupied in bearing and rearing children. I know of no scriptures or authorities which authorize young wives to delay their families or to go to work to put their husbands through college. Young married couples can make their way and reach their educational heights, if they are determined.

Supreme happiness in marriage is governed considerably by a primary factor-that of the bearing and rearing of children. Too many young people set their minds, determining they will not marry or have children until they are more secure, until the military service period is over; until the college degree is secured; until the occupation is more well-defined; until the debts are paid; or until it is more convenient. They have forgotten that the first commandment is to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28)  And so brides continue their employment and husbands encourage it, and contraceptives are used to prevent conception. Relatives and friends and even mothers sometimes encourage birth control for their young newlyweds. But the excuses are many, mostly weak. The wife is not robust; the family budget will not feed extra mouths; or the expense of the doctor, hospital, and other incidentals is too great; it will disturb social life; it would prevent two salaries; and so abnormal living prevents the birth of children. The Church cannot approve nor condone the measures which so greatly limit the family.

How do you suppose that the Lord would look upon a man and a woman whose marriage seems to be largely for the purpose of living together and sex gratification without the responsibilities of marriage? How do you think that the Lord looks upon those who use the contraceptives because in their selfish life it is not the convenient moment to bear children? How do you feel the Lord looks upon those who would trade flesh-and-blood children for pianos or television or furniture or an automobile, and is this not actually the case when people will buy these luxuries and yet cannot afford to have their children? Are there not numerous people who first buy the luxury article and then find they cannot pay the doctor or a hospital bill incident to childbirth? How do you think the Lord feels about women who forego the pleasures and glories of motherhood that they might retain their figures, that their social life might not be affected, that they might avoid the deprivations, pains, and agonies of childbearing and birthing? How do you think the Lord feels as he views healthy parents who could have children but who deliberately close the doors by operation or by contraceptives, close the doors upon spirits eager to enter into mortal bodies? . . .

Sometimes operations or adjustments or hormones may make parenthood possible. Frequently fears and frictions and tenseness are causes for barrenness and sterility. Such people should do everything in their power to put themselves in a position to have their babies. Adoption of parentless children brings joy to many hearts. Few, if any, parents need be childless through their years.

Mother’s health should he considered. In family life, men must and should be considerate of their wives, not only in the bearing of children, but in caring for them through childhood. The mother’s health must be conserved, and the husband’s consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self-control a dominant factor in all their relationships. Sterilization to avoid the inconvenience of children is sinful. We marry for eternity. We are serious about this. We become parents and bring wanted children into the world and rear and train them to righteousness.

We are aghast at the reports of young people going to surgery to limit their families and the reputed number of parents who encourage this vasectomy. Remember that the coming of the Lord approaches, and some difficult-to-answer questions will be asked by a divine Judge who will be hard to satisfy with silly explanations and rationalizations. He will judge justly, you may be sure. Sterilization and tying of tubes and such are sins, and except under special circumstances it cannot be approved.  19

#2: Many good people, being influenced by the bold spirit of the times, are now seeking surgery for the wife or the husband so they may avoid pregnancies and comply with the strident voice demanding a reduction of children. It was never easy to bear and rear children, but easy things do not make for growth and development. But loud, blatant voices today shout ‘fewer children’ and offer the Pill, drugs, surgery, and even ugly abortion to accomplish that. Strange the proponents of depopulating the world seem never to have thought of continence!  20

#3:

It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so. 21

Ezra Taft Benson

#1:

Today the undermining of the home and family is on the increase, with the devil anxiously working to displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children. The Book of Mormon describes this condition when it states, “And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.” (2 Nephi 13:12)  And then these words follow—and consider these words seriously when you think of those political leaders who are promoting birth control and abortion: “O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” Let me warn the sisters in all seriousness that you who submit yourselves to an abortion or to an operation that precludes you from safely having additional healthy children are jeopardizing your exaltation and your future membership in the kingdom of God.  22

#2:

The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father’s children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity. The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. That commandment has never been altered, modified, or cancelled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, “Lo, children, are an heritage of the Lord: . . . Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. . . .” (Psalms 127:3–5)  We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who try to raise them up in righteousness.

The precepts of men would have you believe that by limiting the population of the world, we can have peace and plenty. That is the doctrine of the devil. Small numbers do not insure peace; only righteousness does. After all, there were only a handful of men on the earth when Cain interrupted the peace of Adam’s household by slaying Abel. On the other hand, the whole city of Enoch was peaceful; and it was taken into heaven because it was made up of righteous people.

And so far as limiting the population in order to provide plenty is concerned, the Lord answered that falsehood in the Doctrine and Covenants when he said: “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.” (D&C 104:17)

A major reason why there is famine in some parts of the world is because evil men have used the vehicle of government to abridge the freedom that men need to produce abundantly. True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate, through worldwide birth control, God’s purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to his spirit children are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine. They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support.  23

#3:

True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate God’s purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to His spirit children through worldwide birth control are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine. They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support. 24

Opposing Statements

Margaret Sanger

#1:

The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.  25

#2:

Couples should be required to submit applications to have a child.  26

#3:

I cannot refrain from saying that women must come to recognize there is some function of womanhood other than being a child-bearing machine. 27

Planned Parenthood

#1:

Dr. Lena Levine in 1953, concerning Planned Parenthood’s purpose and planned course of action: “… to be ready as educators and parents to help young people obtain sex satisfaction before marriage. By sanctioning sex before marriage we will prevent fear and guilt. We must also relieve those who have these … feelings, and we must be ready to provide young boys and girls with the best contraceptive measures available so they will have the necessary means to achieve sexual satisfaction without having to risk possible pregnancy.” 28

#2:

Planned Parenthood has an unhealthy concept of pregnancy, as it views the state of gestation as an abnormal condition or disease. Speaking for the organization, Dr. Warren Hern refers to human pregnancy as “an episodic, moderately extended chronic condition … May be defined as an illness … Treated by evacuation of the uterine contents…” 29

#3:

Planned Parenthood has encouraged homosexuality and advocated compulsory sterilization of all who have two children.  30

#4:

We are not going to be an organization promoting celibacy or chastity.  31

#5:

“If your parents are stupid enough to deny you access to birth control, and you are under 18, you can get it on your own. Call Planned Parenthood.  32

#6:

At Planned Parenthood you can also get birth control without the consent or knowledge of your parents. So, if you are 14, 15 or 16 and you come to Planned Parenthood, we won’t tell your parents you’ve been there. We swear we won’t tell your parents.  33

Scripture

Genesis 1:28
God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.

Psalm 127:3–5
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.

Supporting Statements

George A. Smith

The Lord has blessed us with many children, and there is no Latter-day Saint, who has an abiding faith in the Gospel and in the great command which God first gave to the children of men, to multiply and replenish the earth, but what rejoices in them, and regards them as blessing from on high; and nobody in the mountains that I know of has ever complained of the number of children . . . “Mormon” people raising hearty, hale little fellows to walk over these mountains and make them blossom like the rose. . . .

I remember once, in traveling through the State of Indiana, encountering a gentleman who called himself Professor Jones, connected with a university there. He asked me a great many questions about our system in the mountains, and wanted to know how we did this and how we did that. I explained it to him as correctly as I could. . . . said he, “If you continue the course you are now pursuing, you will produce a set of men in those mountains who will be able to walk the rest of mankind under their feet.” I suppose, like enough, he may be one of the men who would like to proscribe us now. I know this, if the reports of learned men are true, the course now being pursued by a great many of our Christian friends in the East, will, in a few generation, wipe out the race of ’76 and give the country into the hands of strangers. It is time that somebody was fulfilling the great command of God, to multiply and replenish the earth, and put away licentiousness, and labor for the upbuilding and welfare of the human race.  34

Boyd K. Packer

The Lord has told us that it is the duty of every husband and wife to obey the command given to Adam to multiply and replenish the earth, so that the legions of choice spirits waiting for their tabernacles of flesh may come here and move forward under God’s great design to become perfect souls, for without these fleshly tabernacles they cannot progress to their God-planned destiny. Thus, every husband and wife should become a father and mother in Israel to children born under the holy, eternal covenant.

By bringing these choice spirits to earth, each father and each mother assume towards the tabernacled spirit and towards the Lord himself by having taken advantage of the opportunity He offered, an obligation of the most sacred kind, because the fate of that spirit in the eternities to come, the blessings or punishments which shall await it in the hereafter, depend, in great part, upon the care, the teachings, the training which the parents shall give to that spirit.  No parent can escape that obligation and that responsibility, and for the proper meeting thereof, the Lord will hold us to a strict accountability. No loftier duty than this can be assumed by mortals. ” (Boyd K. Packer, For Time and All Eternity)

George Q. Cannon

#1:

From what we have heard we are led to believe that the spirit is abroad in the earth, and is making some headway among the Latter-day Saints, to look with reproach upon women with large families, and the desire seems to be growing among some of the younger population, to desire only one or two, and not to exceed three, children. We have heard that many of the diabolical practices of the world have been introduced . . . among some who profess to be Latter-day Saints, to prevent the bearing of children. No sin, unless it be that of murder, will meet with a greater condemnation from God than this evil of tampering with the fountains of life. Such sins will destroy the strength of any people that practices them, and the nation whose people yield to such vices is in great danger of destruction. No Saint can practice or encourage such corruption without incurring the displeasure of an offended God. 35 36

#2:

I refer to the practice of preventing the birth of children. I want to lift my voice in solemn warning against this, and I say to you that the woman who practices such devilish arts, or the man who consents to them, will be cursed of God. Such persons will be cursed in their bodies, cursed in their minds, cursed in their property, cursed in their offspring. God will wipe them out from the midst of this people and nation. Remember it.  37

#3:

Mothers, teach this to your daughters, for I tell you it is true. I need not pronounce any curse, whatever my authority may be, but I say to you that women who take this course, and men who consent to it, will be cursed of God Almighty, and it will rest upon them until their generation shall be blotted out, and their name shall be lost from the midst of the Saints of God unless, as I have said, there is deep, thorough and heartfelt repentance. 38 39

Julie Beck

Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are “becoming less valued,” in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children. Prophets, seers, and revelators who were sustained at this conference have declared that “God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children and that “in the eternal perspective, children—not possessions, not position, not prestige—are our greatest jewels.” Faithful daughters of God desire children. In the scriptures we read of Eve (Moses 4:26), Sarah (Genesis 17:16), Rebekah (Genesis 24:60), and Mary (1 Nephi 11:13–20), who were foreordained to be mothers before children were born to them. Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality, but just as Hannah of the Old Testament prayed fervently for her child (1 Samuel 1:11), the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain here will rise with them in the Resurrection (D&C 130:18). Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood.  40

Steven L. Richards

#1:

To warn of a great danger I must speak of it more specifically. I do so most reverently. If it shall please the Lord to send to your home a goodly number of children, I hope, I pray, you will not deny them entrance. If you should, it would cause you infinite sorrow and remorse. One has said that he could wish his worst enemy no more hell than this, that in the life to come someone might approach him and say, “I might have come down into the land of America and done good beyond computation, but if I came at all I had to come through your home and you were not man enough or woman enough to receive me. You broke down the frail footway on which I must cross and then you thought you had done a clever thing.  41

#2:

Perhaps the most serious aspect of this attack of the foe being made on our homes is in the arbitrary curtailment of the size of families. The proponents of this worldly doctrine grow bolder and bolder every year. They claim improvement of the race by its limitation. They have been making these claims for many years, and they have won many adherents to their cause, especially among the so-called intelligentsia of the world.

For the most part the world has been under the leadership of this birth-restricting intelligentsia for many years. And where are we? We have more physical comfort, more education perhaps. Do we have better government? Are we making more progress in developing the Christian virtues among men? Do we have more brotherhood, peace and unselfishness?

I doubt if there exists in all the world any place or institution comparable to a big family for the inculcation of the principle of unselfishness and mutual consideration, the high qualities of character so indispensable in the solution of the world’s problems. I know there are bad big families and bad small families; but take it by and large, I would assume that there is a thousand percent better chance of a great leader in a good cause coming from a family of ten than from a family of one.

Now, if I am not careful, I will be debating this issue. I don’t want to do this, first, because I am sure I am not fortified with all the arguments, and I might get bested, depending on who the judges are; and second, because we of Zion do not have to debate this issue. We know of the doctrine that emanates from the revelations of the Lord.

We know that He has commanded the replenishment of the earth from the homes of His people. The Lord pity those who subject themselves to His rebuke for denying entrance to the spirit children whom he would send into mortality, and the Lord pity those sophisticated couples who would pervert the sacred institution of marriage into an arrangement for social convenience and selfish personal gratification.

Now, fathers and mother of the Church, some will conclude after hearing these comments that I am without sympathy for the sacrifice mothers make, and for the hardships put upon fathers in rearing a family in these oppressive economic times. Those who so conclude are partly right and partly wrong. I do not have too much sympathy for a father, a Latter-Day Saint father, who decides that a baby cannot come into the home until a house has been built and furnished, and the money is in the bank to pay expenses, and who will let his wife go to work to bring about this so-called economic security. I do not have too much sympathy for Latter-Day Saint couples who do not have faith that IF THEY DO GOD’S WILL, HE WILL BLESS THEM.  42

Melvin J. Ballard

#1:

One of the great obligations that was upon us was to keep the first great commandment that God gave to man–to multiply and replenish the earth. We who slight that obligation shall come to reap distress and sorrow in this life and condemnation when we meet the accusing finger of those whom we might have given the glorious opportunity of coming into this life. About the throne of our Father are his children whose numbers are fixed and have not been changed nor altered from the beginning, so far as those who were to come to this earth are concerned; for they were seen, even from the days of Adam, the host of the unborn. They have cried around the throne of the Father night and day for the privilege of coming into earth life, and they seek that opportunity today.

May none of the mothers of this Church slight nor neglect these anxious ones, but open the door and give to those worthy sons and daughters of our Father the glorious privilege of coming to earth to obtain glory, honor, blessing, immortality, and eternal life in the presence of the Father, with the sanctified and the redeemed. Let not the mothers of the present nor those of the future be swerved from the right path by any environment or circumstance that seems to mitigate against the performance of this duty. Let not poverty bar the way, for if poverty had been a consideration on the part of the mothers of the past, many of us would not be here.Such mothers as those who have borne us were not afraid of poverty; my own dear little mother came from England, trudged all the way across the plains, a girl thirteen years of age, the eldest in the family, and carried her little brother on her back. In early life she united her fortunes with an English boy who had preceded her, with very little of this world’s goods, and yet with a firm resolve to serve God and keep his commandments. They were not afraid to pay the price. I think of her sacrifices, inasmuch as she became the mother of ten children; I was her youngest son. How I have appreciated her! I honor and esteem her today, that she did not forget me, that she was willing to pay the price again, that she was willing to come for me, that she remembered me and gave me, too, he chance for earthlife. She has enshrined herself in my heart until I almost worship that mother who with faith in God gave herself in loving sacrifice for her children to care for them and guard them during their young lives, until they reached maturity. Poverty is no bar, and never shall be.  43

#2:

Thus we see that in marriage, a husband and wife enter into an order of the priesthood called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. This covenant includes a willingness to have children and to teach them the gospel. Many problems of the world today are brought about when parents do not accept the responsibilities of this covenant. It is contradictory to this covenant to prevent the birth of children if the parents are in good health. Thirty-five years ago when I first started practicing medicine, it was a rare thing for a married woman to seek advice about how she could keep from having babies. When I finished practicing medicine, it was a rare thing, except for some faithful Latter-day Saint women, for a married woman to want to have more than one or two children, and some did not want any children. We in the Church must not be caught up in the false doctrines of the world that would cause us to break sacred temple covenants.  44

. . . All the honor and glory that can come to men or women by the development of their talents, the homage and the praise they may receive from an applauding world, worshiping at their shrine of genius, is but a dim thing whose luster shall fade in comparison to the high honor, the eternal glory, the ever-enduring happiness that shall come to the woman who fulfills the first great duty and mission that devolves upon her to become the mother of the sons and daughters of God.

Orson F. Whitney

Birth control, under God’s law, is a problem that solves itself. I have no faith in the sophisms of those who reject His law, and try to substitute therefor their own vain theories for sex regulation. The eugenists may mean well, but they don’t know enough to lead the world out of the wilderness.”  45

Orson Hyde

When God said, Go forth and replenish the earth; it was to replenish the inhabitants of the human species, and make it as it was before. Our first parents, then, were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth; and if the Savior found it his duty to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness, a command of far less importance than that of multiplying his race, (if indeed there is any difference in the commandments of Jehovah, for they are all important, and all essential,) would he not find it his duty to join in with the rest of the faithful ones in replenishing the earth? 46

John A. Widtsoe

#1:

Should Birth Control Be Practiced? This is an insistent subject. It raises at least three vital questions: Why should married people want to practice birth control? What is the effect on those who practice it? Are large families desirable?

Ill health may make birth control necessary. A weakened body or actual disease may justify protection of the mother and the unborn child against any further physiological burden. However, for those of sound health, who conform to the laws of nature, child bearing promotes physical well-being. As a rule, women who have large families are healthy throughout life.

A more frequent cause of birth control is real or fancied economic pressure. Under modern conditions requiring the services of an obstetric physician and hospital care, the husband and wife of moderate means hesitate to incur this added draft upon their resources. And, often they delay the coming of children because they prefer first to pay for and enjoy the house or piano or automobile or refrigerator or radio-phonograph, or other desirable but not indispensable things. Married students sometimes feel that if they have children they must forego or greatly delay the completion of their educations. In one form or another the economic excuse is a common one.

Others practice birth control because they feel that the care of having children consumes their time and strength, and therefore interferes with social or professional ambitions. They want to be free to “live life as they choose.” To this class belong those who absurdly declare that they look for quality instead of quantity and therefore limit the size of their families.

The having of children and the rearing of a family entail expense, especially while the children are young. That goes without saying. Yet, the economic excuse for birth control is seldom convincing. A way is usually found to meet family costs, if the desire for children is stronger than for the new piano, let us say. Sacrifices for a time on the part of the parents and on the part of the older children if there be any, will usually provide the necessary means. The economic excuse roots, in the majority of cases, in selfishness. Yet, it should be said that society, which benefits from its citizens, should make provisions by which the expense incident to motherhood would be within the reach of the poorest.

Those who practice birth control to further their personal ambitions are of course motivated wholly by selfishness. They might well be asked why they married.

Birth control when necessary should be accomplished in nature’s way, which does not injure the man or the woman. A careful recognition of the fertile and sterile periods of woman would prove effective in the great majority of cases. Recent knowledge of woman’s physiology reveals “the natural method for controlling birth.” This method “violates no principle of nature.

Birth control as generally understood implies the use of physical or chemical means to prevent conception. A large number of these devices, known as contraceptives, are on the market. None of them is certain to accomplish the purpose desired. Besides, any contraceptive is unnatural and interferes in one way or another with the physiological processes of life. All of them are in varying degrees injurious to those who use them, especially to women. That may be safely contended. The ill effects may not be felt at once, but in time will overtake the parents to their detriment.

Moreover, since birth control roots in a species of selfishness, the spiritual life of the user of contraceptives is also weakened. Women seem to become more masculine in thought and action; men more callous and reserved; both husband and wife become more careless of each other, and increasingly indifferent to the higher duties and joys of living.

The quality versus quantity contention is a fallacy. The only child in a family is to be pitied. He does not learn the art of living harmoniously with other people. Within the home he is either in opposition to his parents or dominated by them. Outside of the home he sulks if he can not selfishly run the show, or he stands apart from the crowd in uneasy self-consciousness. The shaping and polishing of character which go on in a loving household of many children he receives less effectively from less friendly strangers. He misses many of the joys and pleasures of childhood which are possible only in a family of several children. He often becomes inordinately selfish if all gifts and consideration of father and mother are centered in him. The effect of a lone childhood is felt throughout life. The unspoken, unrealized longings for family intimacies are frequently reflected in foiled attempts to make up for the lost experience of childhood and youth. As the years creep on, he misses more and more the intimate understanding and affectionate sympathy which accompany blood relationships. The only child is likely to remain lonely throughout the journey of life. The same might be said measurably of two children several years apart.

Large families are the most genuinely happy. That is the verdict of human experience. In such a family circle there is steady development and joyful living for parents and children. The Psalmist spoke wisely when he said: “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.” (Psalms 127:5)

A home with several children of varying ages approximates the social situations to be met in later life. There the possibilities of life may be experienced in miniature form. Under the loving protection of father and mother, in games and contests, in the exchange of wits, in sacrifices for one another in mutual rejoicing and sorrows, in discussions of family affairs and daily happenings, the business of living in a world of many men is taught. The home with a family of children becomes a laboratory for learning the importance of truth, virtue, and honesty, industry, and the ethical and religious bases of conduct. And, since love for one another tempers and directs all that is done, the children will enter the world’s citizenship better fitted to help build an increasingly improving world. In the training of good citizens or happy human beings, there is no substitute for the home with a large family.

The benefits of a home with several children is not confined to the children. Parents are perhaps equally benefited. Parents who have children show their willingness to accept obligations of good citizenship. They have faith in the future. They dare to continue the race. They are not ashamed to perpetuate themselves. Thereby they win strength to perform other duties of life. Besides, in the rearing of children there is real development of father and mother, a development which can be won in no other way. There is also a supreme satisfaction in presenting men and women, sons and daughters, to the coming age, to carry on the work of the world.

Every parent lives on in his descendants. Above all, is the joy of family life. Father, mother and children perhaps grandchildren, at the table, or at play, in family councils, share in divine satisfactions. It has been so ordained that the family comes nearest to the heavenly pattern in organization and joys. And, these joys continue into old age. Loneliness is banished. The childless couple miss much in life; and as the years move on the sense of loss becomes keener. The finest, most important, and happiest institution on earth is the family, composed of father, mother and children.

The future of the state and of the race depends upon the willingness of its citizens to beget and rear children without artificial interference. During the last centuries mankind has learned much. The comforts and blessings in every modest home surpass those of the emperors of old. Who shall inherit these gifts and the others in process of making? — Our children, of course, if we have any, and if they are numerous enough to claim consideration. It is a cruel fact, to which we must give heed, that those most highly prepared to enjoy and advance our civilization have a decreasing birthrate; while those of less training, or perhaps inferior gifts, continue fruitful. Many a college class of picked men and women half a century after graduation have fewer children than the original number of the class. It takes more than two children to keep the population from decreasing. The worldwide view is the same. The birthrate of the more advanced nations is falling rapidly; while that of the more backward peoples is large and increasing.

In the last twenty-five years, the birthrate of the United States has fallen from twenty-five to seventeen per thousand of population. In 1941 in the United States the births did not quite equal the deaths; while in Japan the births exceeded the deaths by one-half. Time 47 reports that Great Britain has a million and half fewer babies, and a million and a half more pet dogs than at the time of the Boer War. If there is no change, they whom we are inc lined to call semi-civilized or barbarians will take over the earth. The survival of our civilization may yet depend on an increasing birthrate in the nations which have made that civilization possible.

Latter-day Saints take literally the command of the Lord to the first couple: “Multiply, and replenish the earth.” 48 That is the purpose of marriage and means more than one or two children. We understand that hosts of waiting spirits desire to come on earth through our lineage. We know that the family is the unit of heavenly society; and that the greatest gift of God is to give His children the opportunity of continuing family relationships throughout the eternities. Are they who will not obey the law on earth worthy of this great reward in the hereafter? Gospel doctrine should make every Latter-day Saint married couple eager for the privilege and obligations of parenthood. And they should have the faith and trust that the Lord will provide the means for obeying His law.  49

The purpose of marriage is two-fold. First, it provides the joy that accompanies conjugal and family love. We are so endowed, and it has been so ordained, that full happiness can be won only through the associations made possible by family life.

A family consists of parents and children. There is no real family life without children. Mother-love, father-love, parental-love, must be satisfied to obtain full family joy. Marriage is incomplete unless children are begotten, reared, and trained.

The second purpose of marriage is to provide bodies for the pre-existent spirit children of God, who have earned the right to come on earth. These spirits have accepted the plan of salvation, and are anxiously waiting for the opportunity to take upon themselves temporal bodies, and to share in the experiences of life on earth. They accept gladly the call to come here, for they know that the experiences of earth are a preparation for the glorious, eternal activities in that other world which we enter after death.

In the light of this knowledge, the begetting and training of children acquire a high spiritual meaning. When a child is born, another pre-existent personage is given the privilege of preparation on earth for his divine destiny; another step is taken to complete the plan laid out in the Great Council of pre-existence.

Under these two purposes, marriage becomes a sacred privilege; really a partnership with the Lord in achieving the purpose of the plan of salvation. Under this doctrine, children are joyously welcomed by Latter-day Saints. The responsibilities accompanying the having of children are not only willingly but gladly accepted.

Under this doctrine, also, Latter-day Saints are not parties to the agitation to limit the number of children in a family. This unwholesome practice is in defiance of the experience that, all in all, large families are the happiest. There is in large families a varied interplay of thought and behavior that maintains interest in life and living, and compels personal self-control. No member of a large family, properly conducted, has wished that it might have been smaller. As the years move on, there is increasing appreciation of the many contacts made possible by a large family.

Childless couples confess to their longing for children, to enlarge their happiness; and are often led to adopt children. Childless couples are most subject to marital differences. One student reports that about “70 per cent of all childless couples dissolve their marriages in divorce.” fn For marital happiness, children are a good insurance. They are “the tie that binds husband and wife together.”

They who airily say that they look for quality rather than quantity in children talk nonsense. The inborn quality of our children is beyond parental control. We cannot transmit to them more than we ourselves have or our ancestors had. If we are superior, or our progenitors were so, we may have superior children. The number of children bears no relationship to their quality. Very often the last child of a large family has been the most largely endowed by nature.

Likewise, in this country at least, large families do not need to suffer for economic support. Children really may be made an economic asset, to the benefit of the family and themselves. Read the lives of the men who have won most success. Usually, they have been obliged to yield some economic service from their childhoods.

Under normal conditions, the bearing of children brings health to the mother; and to support them, power to the father. It would be wisest and best in the matter of child-bearing to let nature take its course. Ill health or incurable disease should be the only cause for limiting the number of children in the family. The married couple should trust that, if one obeys law, the Lord will help win the battle. Fear always destroys joy.

Birth control is a tampering with nature. It is dangerous, no matter how well devised the contraceptives may be. It affects adversely those who practice it, physically, morally, spiritually, and especially emotionally. An uneasy conscience, clanging nerves, emotional instability, moral weakness, and a feeling of cowardice, are likely to follow those, who, to foster their own supposed comforts, selfishly run away from the duty of parenthood. We cannot deceive nature, or escape her punishments.

Not the least of the evils resulting from birth control is the failure to maintain the population of the land. The birthrate in the United States is on a steady decline. Per thousand of population it has fallen from 25 in 1915 to 17 in 1939, and appears to be still declining. In 1941 the reproduction rate in the United States was below the death rate. Such a condition weakens the race. The nations that will possess power in the future, will be those who maintain a normal birthrate.

The Latter-day Saints, true to their teachings, have maintained a high birthrate, at present nearly twice that of the United States. Children continue to be welcomed in Mormon households.  50

Susa Young Gates

In spite of all that the prophets have said, there is still division and misunderstanding among the saints over the question of birth control. That it is widely practiced for purposes of “family planning” or “spacing” cannot be denied. Thus, it is apparent that some Latter-day Saints are being influenced by the thinking and conduct of the general society. As has happened so often before in the history of Israel’s associations with the “Canaanites,” the chosen people have come under the influence of their faithless neighbors. Times and attitudes change. In view of the permissive spirit of our day, the following by Susa Young Gates, then editor of the Relief Society Magazine, would strike many of this generation as being overly prim and naive:

“Do you give countenance, by word or by example, to the deadly evil of so-called birth control, or limitation of offspring? These are crucial tests in this wicked day and age, and unless our lovely and beloved daughters can meet the test fairly and triumphantly they are not yet ready to bear upon their shoulders the symbolic emblems of spiritual service so long and faithfully worn by the mothers of the passing generation. “  51

Orson F. Whitney

#1:

Unfortunately, some, being in sympathy with the mood of the times, are seeking Church approval in following the world down the well-worn path of least resistance. There have always been those whose concern was not how they might do more, but how they could do less. Pointing out that the Gospel requires a willingness to forsake all earthly interests, John Taylor said:

Now, this is where the hardship comes in and it also accounts for this eternal rubbing and bumping. “How much can’t I do, and how little can I do to retain fellowship with the Church; and how much can I act selfishly and yet be counted a disciple of Christ?”  52

#2:

However, there are many who sincerely want to do what is right but who have been confused by the conflicting counsel on “family planning” which they have received. Unfortunately, modern Israel is yet to see eye-to-eye on every principle. Like the divided branch at Corinth, we are some of Paul, some of Cephas, some of Apollos and some of Christ. This is inevitable when men ignore the teachings of the prophets and turn to their worldly disciplines for the answers to life’s most important questions.

Wrote Elder Orson F. Whitney: “Birth control, under God’s law, is a problem that solves itself. I have no faith in the sophisms of those who reject His law, and try to substitute therefor their own vain theories for sex regulation. The eugenists may mean well, but they don’t know enough to lead the world out of the wilderness.”  53

Hugh B. Brown

The problem of birth control and voluntary barrenness is poisoning the very fountains of life and defying God’s injunction to multiply and replenish the earth. 54

Theodore Roosevelt

There are many good people who are denied the supreme blessing of children, and for these we have the respect and sympathy always due to those who, from no fault of their own, are denied any of the other great blessings of life.

But the man or woman who deliberately foregoes these blessings, whether from viciousness, coldness, shallow-heartedness, self-indulgence, or mere failure to appreciate aright the difference between the all-important and the unimportant–why such a creature merits contempt as hearty as any visited upon the soldier who runs away in battle, or upon the man who refuses to work for the support of those dependent upon him, and who though able-bodied is yet content to eat in idleness the bread which others provide. 55

Rodney Turner

Speaking of those who deliberately “practice devices” to keep their families small, President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

#1:

“Unfortunately this evil doctrine is being taught as a virtue by many people who consider themselves cultured and highly educated. It has even crept in among members of the Church and has been advocated in some of the classes within the Church. It should be understood definitely that this kind of doctrine is not only not advocated by the authorities of the Church, but also is condemned by them as wickedness in the sight of the Lord.”  56

#2:

While it is true that some statements have been made by certain authorities which seem to justify artificial birth control for family planning, the writer is unaware of a single direct statement from any of the presidents of the Church supporting such conduct. To the contrary, they have consistently opposed the use of contraceptives except where the physical or mental health of mother or child was threatened. This exception would not affect five percent of all women.

Still, some maintain that the Church has taken no position on the issue and that the statements of various general authorities are simply their own opinions. This is incorrect on both counts. An official statement signed by the First Presidency of the Church was issued April 14, 1969. Then too, the pronouncements of those sustained as prophets, seers and revelators are, by definition, “the mind and will of the Lord” when they are inspired by the Holy Ghost and are in harmony with the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophet. If no counsel is to be accepted until it is issued by the First Presidency, what is the purpose of having other prophets and apostles-or, for that matter, general conferences? But aside from the right of the authorities to declare the Lord’s will on all established doctrines, there is another consideration: the Lord may permit a practice which he does not condone. As in the case of divorce, God may allow his people to do something because of the hardness of their hearts which is displeasing to him and which robs them of precious blessings. If the Lord were to authorize his servants to permit the use of alcohol and tobacco, alcohol and tobacco would still be harmful to the body. Likewise, artificial birth control is spiritually, if not physically, harmful irrespective of the “stand” of the Church. It is intrinsically wrong.

The following statement by President Joseph F. Smith has been quoted with approval by many of the general authorities:

“I regret, I think it is a crying evil, that there should exist a sentiment or a feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. I think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe that this is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.”  57

#3:

The virtual incorporation of this statement into that of the First Presidency in 1969 is evidence of the unchanging unanimity of opinion of the highest authorities of the Church:

We seriously regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity. Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by. 58

#4:

Only the Lord can accurately measure the varying capacities of men and women; only he knows what we are really capable of doing. Sometimes our supposed limitations are due more to the eradicable dross in our characters than to any functional deficiencies. In other words, the weakness is much more of the spirit than it is of the flesh.

A comparison of these declarations suggests that the truth of the matter has been established in the mouth of two prophetic witnesses speaking more than fifty years apart.

Although the normal woman is theoretically capable of producing thirty or more children during her childbearing years, nature and social custom combine to reduce the actual number she will have to considerably less than half that figure. Also, the average varies from class to class and culture to culture. The poor tend to have more children than the rich, backward nations out perform the technologically advanced ones, etc. Broad averages are really quite misleading. Then too, women are not equally blessed with the physical endurance and emotional stability motherhood requires. Some have large families with the seeming ease of the accomplished artist while others apparently lack the skill and temperament to properly care for even two or three children. Only the Lord can accurately measure the varying capacities of men and women; only he knows what we are really capable of doing. Sometimes our supposed limitations are due more to the eradicable dross in our characters than to any functional deficiencies. In other words, the weakness is much more of the spirit than it is of the flesh. Still, there are women who for various legitimate reasons must limit their offspring.

Understanding this, the Lord’s servants do not presume to suggest, much less dictate, the number of children any given woman should have. This decision can only be made by the couple themselves. However, to guide the saints in the implementation of that decision, the Lord’s servants have counseled modern Israel to rely upon self-control, periodic continence and the processes of nature rather than resorting to the easy, undemanding, spirit-stifling use of contraceptives. In this way, and this way only, can the saints be a light to the world in this matter.

Of course one might follow the counsel of the prophets and still be recreant in their duty. The unwarranted prevention of life is indefensible no matter what method is employed. Then how many children should a Latter-day Saint couple have—assuming that the choice is theirs to make? Brigham Young’s answer would be: “It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. . . .” He was not alone in this belief.

Elder Rudger Clawson:

Woman is so constituted that, ordinarily, she is capable of bearing, during the years of her greatest strength and physical vigor, from eight to ten children, and in exceptional cases a larger number than that. The law of her nature so ordered it, and God’s command, while it did not specify the exact number of children allotted to woman, simply implied that she should exercise the sacred power of procreation to its utmost limit.

Elder George F. Richards:

My wife has borne to me fifteen children. Anything short of this would have been less than her duty and privilege. Had we received and obeyed the doctrine of three or four children to the home, we would have cut ourselves short of blessings more valuable to us than all the wealth of this world would be, were it ours. We might never have known in this life what our loss had been, but it would have been just as great as we now see it, and sometime we would know as we now know. Then consider the joy and value of life to others. What of our eleven children born to us in excess of the four to which such as these magazine writers would limit us? Can the value of such a mission and service be estimated? Will not these our children and their husbands, wives and children, for generations after us, if they are duly appreciative, rise up and call us blessed forever and ever?

Elder Orson F. Whitney:

I believe in large families, though I am aware, of course, that it is easier to feed, clothe, educate and rear a few children than many. But these considerations, so conclusive to some minds, have never had weight with me, contemplating as I do the eternal rather than the mere earthly phases of marriage and procreation.

Bishop David A. Smith:

I bear testimony of God’s mercy to me. I was married in my youth and started with nothing but enough furniture to comfortably fill two little rooms which were rented, and with an income of $30 a month. I may belong to the poor and ignorant class, but I am grateful to Him to whom we must all look for final judgment, for His mercies, for my father, his family, and for the wife and nine children the Lord has given me.

Elder Melvin J. Ballard:

May none of the mothers of this Church slight nor neglect those anxious ones, but open the door and give to those worthy sons and daughters of our Father the glorious privilege of coming to earth to obtain glory, honor, blessing, immortality, and eternal life in the presence of the Father, with the sanctified and the redeemed. Let not the mothers of the present nor those of the future, be swerved from the right path by any environment or circumstance that seems to mitigate against the performance of this duty. Let not poverty bar the way, for if poverty had been a consideration on the part of the mothers of the past, many of us would not be here.

The ideal is one thing, man’s ability to attain it another. Married couples must decide for themselves how close to that ideal they are willing and able to come. In doing so, they should call forth all of the faith and the integrity at their command. And whatever the decision, husband and wife should make it together, they should be united in it. Division on family size can lead to serious marital difficulties. It is unwise for the wife to attempt to carry the admitted burdens of motherhood without the support of her husband. She needs his cooperation and is entitled to it. If he will not give it, the responsibility for the consequences will largely be his. fn She should not act in defiance of her husband’s will in a matter which so clearly calls for mutual commitment and support.

However, it is as unjust for a man to deny his wife children as it would be for her to deny him the right to a vocation or to honor his duties in the priesthood. The husband who dams his wife’s desire for children dams himself. He cannot be true to his calling as a son of Abraham if he denies her right to be true to her calling as a daughter of Sarah. Marriage is meant to fulfill the natures and callings of men and women, not frustrate them. Such men run the grave danger of having the “talent” taken from them as well as seeing their faithful wives given to those who have respected the unalienable right of women to have the children they desire. Every gift the Lord bestows upon us is given conditionally until we demonstrate our appreciation of it. Only then can we claim it for our own. In connection with the above masculine failing is that of castigating one’s wife—or co-partner—for conceiving. Such an infantile attitude is contemptible. The burden of responsibility for the act and its consequences must be borne by both parties to it unless some form of coercion was involved.

Why Birth Control Is Practiced

Why do men and women trample the gift of parenthood under their feet? There are many reasons. Selfishness is the one most frequently cited by the prophets. This human failing is so obvious and so far-ranging in its effects on the attitudes and conduct of men and women as to make elaboration at this point unnecessary. The writer is convinced that many Latter-day Saints could and would surmount this weakness were it not for another factor: lack of understanding. Conflicting voices at almost all levels of Mormon society have given the trumpet of truth an uncertain sound “What is right? Who are we to believe?” Such are the questions many youth are asking of their teachers and leaders today. Certainly, they cannot “govern themselves” if the “correct principles” they are taught are contradictory.

Then too, the world at large and a surprisingly large number of those in the Church simply do not grasp their part in the great plan of salvation. Their vision is myopic when it comes to seeing beyond this brief segment of eternal time. Because their understanding is limited, their feelings are contracted and their commitments are less than total. Not all of those in the Church who are aware of the doctrinal arguments against birth control have a personal testimony of those arguments. Having ears, they hear not. The truth has not been internalized in them; it hovers above their hearts in the summits of the mind. Reason enables us to know, in part, about the truth, but it can never provide us with the truth. We cannot know any principle we do not live. As Moroni observed: “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” fn In the doing is the knowing.

Some practice birth control because they have been taught that it is wrong or unseemly to have large families. They fear man rather than God. The taunts of those who dwell in the large and spacious building of Lehi’s vision are too much for them. fn Others fear the unknown, forgetting that it does not exist for God. If, with his knowledge of the future, the Father is not afraid to send his children into this world, and they are not afraid to come, why should we fear? He fully understands that many will be born under less than optimum conditions.

Many a pioneer woman brought forth only to bury the infant somewhere along the trail west of Nauvoo. If ever women had the right to avoid childbearing, it would seem to have been those stalwart souls. Yet they did not falter. They endured what had to be endured, trusting that the important thing was not that their little ones had died, but that they had lived. Real tragedy does not lie in death, but in the denial of life. Notwithstanding its pain to the living, the Prophet Joseph Smith considered early death something of a blessing.

The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again. . . . All children are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and the moment that children leave this world, they are taken to the bosom of Abraham. The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope.

The terrible conditions under which millions of spirits enter mortality strongly suggests that they consider no circumstance too hard, no suffering too great if only they can claim a physical body and, thereby, assure themselves of that fulness of joy made possible by the resurrection. fn Spirits will take any body.

The spirits which are reserved have to be born into the world, and the Lord will prepare some way for them to have tabernacles. Spirits must be born, even if they have to come to brothels for their fleshly coverings, and many of them will take the lowest and meanest spirit house that there is in the world, rather than do without, and will say, “Let me have a tabernacle, that I may have a chance to be perfected.”

Barriers

Apart from parenthood, marriage has no eternal validity. In other words, marriage is not warranted in the life to come if its benefits are limited to husband and wife. It must serve others as well; it must be productive of life. When it is not, it loses its essential reason for being. Pre-marital relations and the unwarranted use of contraceptives in marriage have two things in common: both are self-serving and both are offensive to God. When the seed of life is illicitly planted or unjustifiably destroyed, the union is despiritualized, God is shut out and the act is stripped of its sanctity. We cannot tamper with the fountain of life without offending its Source. In writing of those who favored small families, Elder David O. McKay said:

Such parents may be sincere, even if misguided; but in most cases the desire not to have children has its birth in vanity, passion and selfishness. Such feelings are the seeds sown in early married life that produce a harvest of discord, suspicion, estrangement, and divorce. All such efforts, too, often tend to put the marriage relationship on a level with the panderer and the courtesan. They befoul the pure fountains of life with the slime of indulgence and sensuality. Such misguided couples are ever seeking but never finding the reality for which the heart is yearning.

Men and women are permitted the privilege of sexual fulfillment because they are willing to accept its concommitant responsibilities. President J. Reuben Clark has said:

As to sex in marriage, the necessary treatise on that for Latter-day Saints can be written in two sentences: Remember the prime purpose of sex desire is to beget children. Sex gratification must be had at that hazard. You husbands: be kind and considerate of your wives. They are not your property; they are not mere conveniences; they are your partners for time and eternity. fn

That conjugal rights cannot be separated from conjugal responsibilities including due respect for a wife’s autonomy over her own body is further attested to by President David O. McKay:

. . . Let us instruct young people who come to us, first, young men throughout the Church, to know that a woman should be queen of her own body. The marriage covenant does not give the man the right to enslave her, or to abuse her, or to use her merely for the gratification of his passion. Your marriage ceremony does not give you that right.

He also declared: “In the realm of wifehood, the woman should reign supreme.”

The Lord is a harvester of life. Contraception permits us to sow without reaping. fn This violates the principle of justice. The use of contraceptives has been specifically denounced by Church authorities on many occasions. The following are representative statements. Wrote John A. Widtsoe:

Birth control as generally understood implies the use of physical or chemical means to prevent conception. A large number of these devices, known as contraceptives, are on the market. None of them is certain to accomplish the purpose desired. Besides, any contraceptive is unnatural and interferes in one way or another with the physiological processes of life. All of them are in varying degrees injurious to those who use them, especially to women. That may be safely contended. The ill effects may not be felt at once, but in time will overtake the parents to their detriment.

From President David O. McKay:

Seeking the pleasures of conjugality without a willingness to asume the responsibilities of rearing a family is one of the onslaughts that now batter at the structure of the American home. Intelligence and mutual consideration should be ever-present factors in determining the coming of children to the household. When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and disease that might be transplanted with injury to their offspring, the use of contraceptives is to be condemned.

From President Joseph Fielding Smith:

I regret that so many young couples are thinking today more of successful contraceptives than of having a posterity. They will have to answer for their sin when the proper time comes and actually may be denied the glorious celestial kingdom.

The use of contraceptives cannot help but detract from the sacredness of the relationship.

Prevention, both by mechanical and chemical means endangers the health of women who indulge it, impairs vitality, shatters nervous energy and deteriorates the race. The moral effect of such methods of living is nothing less than disastrous. It brutalizes and makes a shame of sexual pleasure itself, and kills the sentiment of love which alone refines the act to endearment. It ministers to the gross desire for sexual promiscuity; for with a felt security, through knowledge of a preventative nature, from consequences that would expose infidelities to the marriage covenant, temptations to fornications and adulteries are greatly multiplied, and the moral tone of a community greatly lowered if not destroyed.

The possibility of subtle character modifications was also recognized by Elder Widtsoe:

Moreover, since birth control roots in a species of selfishness, the spiritual life of the user of contraceptives is also weakened. Women seem to become more masculine in thought and action; men more callous and reserved; both husband and wife become more careless of each other, and increasingly indifferent to the higher duties and joys of living.

Thus the practice may be both a cause and an effect of psychological or spiritual barriers between husband and wife. Some couples who remain together for reasons other than mutual devotion do not want any tangible tie to bind them together. Not really caring for one another, they avoid the ultimate testimony of married love—a child. Many an unwanted child has suffered severe emotional damage in being rejected by one or both parents who viewed it as a living reminder of the despised mate.

On the other hand, there may not be any deep-seated antipathy between husband and wife, they may be simply bored with each other and, therefore, reluctant to further cement the marriage with a child. Needless to say, boredom is the sure sign of a dying—if not dead—romance. Love and boredom are as antithetical as faith and doubt. The practice of contraception is increasing along with the rise in marital disharmony, desertion, separation, and divorce. While a causal relationship is yet to be established for these facts, it appears that those marriages in which the risk of unwanted children has been all but eliminated via contraception and/or abortion are characterized by instability.

The principal reason for marriage is to rear a family. Failure to do so is one of the conditions that causes love to wilt and eventually to die.

A marriage is no stronger than the spiritual, emotional, and physical ties which bind it together. As society cuts and eliminates more and more of these ties, we can anticipate a steady decline in the duration and quality of more and more marriages.

Something precious is lost when a couple build a contraceptive wall between themselves. The act becomes a contradiction. For how can the ultimate expression of marital love be damned at the very moment of its consummation? Indeed, in its completeness, consummation is not a thing of the moment—it is eternal. Only when an immortal soul lies in its mother’s arms has there been a perfect consummation. It is the willingness of husband and wife to allow for this possibility which hallows the act.

When the pure love of Christ flows between a man and his wife who somewhat understand the mystery of “one flesh,” they do not want any walls, any barriers to stand between them. fn They desire complete consummation. Anything, whether tangible or intangible, whether of the mind or of the body which might frustrate that goal is cast aside. They consider their full acceptance of both the privileges and the responsibilities of their union to be an act of faith and, therefore, an act of love. Such love leaps walls. It risks. It does not doubt. It does not fear. Indeed, it wants to prove itself by the sacrifices it is willing to make and the uncertainties it is prepared to face.  59


References:

  1. The Family, A Proclamation to the World
  2. Letter of First Presidency: David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, to mission, stake and ward leaders, April 14, 1969. See “Message of the First Presidency,” CR, Oct. 3, 1942, p. 12
  3. First Presidency: Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, James E. Faust, as read at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995
  4. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 194
  5. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197
  6. 4:56
  7. Brigham Young, October 8, 1861, The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 3:1916.
  8. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 21:57
  9. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 7th ed., pp. 278, 279. See also CR, October, 1965, p. 29 and RSM 4:318
  10. Joseph F. Smith, 1916
  11. Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 154
  12. George Albert Smith
  13. President David O. McKay, CN 6/11/52
  14. David O. McKay, CR 10/43:30
  15. David O. McKay, Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life, p. 313-4
  16. Joseph Fielding Smith, 1955, Doctrines of Salvation 2:85-89
  17. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 239
  18. Harold B. Lee, 1972
  19. Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 324-331
  20. Spencer W. Kimball, 1971
  21. Spencer W. Kimball, 1979
  22. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, p. 224
  23. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, p. 257
  24. Ezra Taft Benson
  25. Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood, Women and the New Race, Eugenics Publ. Co., 1920, 1923
  26. Margaret Sanger, “Plan for Peace,” Birth Control Review, April 1932
  27.  Margaret Sanger, What Every Girl Should Know, Max Maisel, Publisher, 1915
  28.  Planned Parenthood News, Summer 1953
  29. “Is Pregnancy Really Normal?” Family Planning Perspective, Planned Parenthood, vol. 3, No. 1, Jan. 1971, pg. 9
  30. Family Planning Perspectives (a Planned Parenthood publication), June, Oct. 1970
  31. Faye Wattleton, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 17, 1986
  32. Planned Parenthood advertisement, Dallas Observer, Jan. 30, 1986
  33. Planned Parenthood employee lecturing students of Ramona High School, Riverside, Calif., April 21-22, 1986
  34. George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses 17:102
  35. George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p. 379
  36. July 15, 1895, JI 30:451
  37.  George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p. 379
  38.  George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p. 379
  39. Oct. 7, 1894, DW 49:739
  40. Julie Beck, General Relief Society President for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, General Relief Society Conference October 2007, and Ensign November 2007
  41. Stephen L Richards, Conference Report, October 1941, Third Day—Morning Meeting 108
  42. Stephen L. Richards, CR 10/51:112-3
  43. Melvin J. Ballard, Sermons, p. 207-8; Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, 206 – 208.
  44. J. Ballard, Seventy, 1995
  45. Orson F. Whitney, Relief Society Magazine, 3:367, July, 1916
  46. Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 2:80.
  47. Sept. 14, 1942
  48. Genesis 1:28
  49. John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 314
  50. John A. Widtsoe, Understandable Religion, p. 161-164
  51. Susa Young Gates, Relief Society Magazine, June, 1921, pp. 370-371
  52. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 21:57
  53. Orson F. Whitney, Relief Society Magazine, 3:367, July, 1916
  54. Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life, 244
  55. Theodore Roosevelt, speech given March 13, 1905, before the National Congress of Mothers
  56. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:87
  57. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 7th ed., pp. 278, 279. See also CR, October, 1965, p. 29 and RSM 4:318
  58.  Letter of First Presidency: David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, to mission, stake and ward leaders, April 14, 1969. See “Message of the First Presidency,” CR, Oct. 3, 1942, p. 12
  59. Rodney Turner, Women and the Priesthood, p. 221

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1 Response

  1. James G says:

    Wholly smokes! This post is searing. But it makes a lot of sense that if we want eternal increase in the eternities how can we make a conscience choice to do anything but embrace that way of life right now? To do anything else is to choose to put our backs to the fathers example and commandment. It’s like living “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. If that’s good enough for Heavenly Father and Mother then why wouldn’t it be for us?

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