The purpose of this page is to track the evolution of Mormon doctrine on the subject of birth control. It is apparent that the church has come a long way since the turn of the century. Unfortunately, there are still many changes that still need to be made for the church to become globally responsible (and accountable at the individual family level as many families are being created because of command when the parents can't afford the children or aren't mentally able to adequately care for the numbers of offspring being produced).


"Birth Control

Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have a great responsibility not only for bearing children but also for caring for them through childhood. Husbands should help their wives conserve their health and strength. Married couples should seek inspiration from the Lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel."
(1989 General Handbook of Instructions, Chapter 11)


"Birth Control:

It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear. The decision as to how many chldren to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.

Married couples also should understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife."
(1998 Church Handbook of Instructions)


"Surgical Sterilization (Including Vasectomy)

The First Presidency has declared, "We seriously deplore the fact that members of the Church would voluntarily take measures to render themselves incapable of further procreation.

Surgical sterilization should only be considered (1) where medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health, or (2) where birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the person or persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop (or branch president) and receive divine confirmation through prayer."
(1989 General Handbook of Instructions, Chapter 11)


". . .in most cases the desire not to have children has its birth in vanity, passion and selfishness. . . 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."
(David O. McKay, "Birth Control," Relief Society Magazine, July 1916, p. 366)


"Children are a 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. . . We have been better taught than they."
(George Albert Smith, "Birth Control," Relief Society Magazine, Feb. 1917, p. 72)


"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."
(J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report 1949, Oct: pp. 194-95)


"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."
(David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1943, p. 30)


"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."
(First Presidency {David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner} Letter to presidents of stakes, bishops of wards, and presidents of missions, 14 April 1969)


"I have told many groups of young people that they should not postpone their marriage until they have acquired all of their education ambitions. I have told tens of thousands of young folks that when they marry they should not wait for children until they have finished their schooling and financial desires. Marriage is basically for the family, and there should be no long delay. They should live together normally and let the children come. . ."
(Spencer W. Kimball, "Marriage is Honorable," Speeches of the Year, 1973, p. 263)


"The tendency for many of our girls and many of our married women to put off or to reduce their families is not pleasing to your Heavenly Father, for He said, 'multiply and replenish the earth,' and He knew what He was doing, and any of our personal opinions don't amount to much as compared to the wisdom of God. And he said as he concluded this great effort of creation, 'And I . . .saw everything that I had made, and behold, all things which I had made were very good . . .' He stood off and looked them over. He had made no errors; He had made no mistakes; He had created man and woman for a purpose. That purpose was not fun; that purpose basically was to live together in harmony and peace and to rear children in righteousness . . ."
(Spencer W. Kimball, Address to Special Interest Fireside in Tabernacle, 29 Dec. 1974, pp. 4-5)


"The practice of elective abortion is fundamentally contrary to the Lord's injunction, 'Thou shall not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it' (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6). We urge all to preserve the sanctity of human life and thereby realize the happiness promised to those who keep the commandments of the Lord."
(1991 Supplement to the 1989 General Handbook of Instructions, p. 1)


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