What do a 2000 year old Christian Tradition, the Anglican Lambeth Conference and English author Aldous Huxley have in common?…
Twenty-Five Years Before the Pill was Invented, It was Parodied as the Anti-eucharist
by Stephen Kellmeyer | Sept/Oct 1998 Envoy Magazine
In 1930, the Anglican Church made a decision that proved tragic for the entire world. About the only two voices that realized the problem were, of course, the Catholic Church, and surprisingly, an agnostic.
The year is 1932. On the Continent, Adolf Hitler is still 11 months away from gaining control of the German government. Though he continues to search for a way to gain the electoral majority necessary to rule Germany, he has already won a major victory in England, a victory that will continue to grow and metastasize long after he lies dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a burning bunker in Berlin 13 years in the future.
Yet, even as English Churchmen nurture the seed of Hitler’s philosophy on their isle, another voice has risen from among the inhabitants of that gallant land. This voice has spent the last two years forming one of the most insightful and strident attacks on Nazi philosophy ever concocted, and it is now, in February, 1932, that the author releases his work into the stream of history. The battle between the philosophies continues to be fought down to this very day: the battle between the eugenics, advocated in seminal form by the Church of England, and the natural law, upheld by an agnostic who saw the preposterous conclusions to which the contraceptive philosophy must inevitably lead.
The agnostic was Aldous Huxley; his book, Brave New World, would constitute not only an incredibly prophetic description of the contracepting society, but also a deft parody of the Christian church which first legalized the idea. Prior to 1930, contraception had been uniformly condemned by every Christian denomination in the world since the death of Christ.
Unfortunately, Darwin’s work between 1854 and 1872 had a profound influence on European and American society. His “survival of the fittest” argument soon produced the idea that some human beings were less fit, less worthy to procreate than others. Both sides of the Atlantic forged ahead with applications of this “breakthrough” in scientific understanding. Scientific journals devoted to eugenics, the breeding of a better human animal, soon became common throughout Europe. Francis Galton, the man who coined the word “eugenics,” established a research fellowship in University College, London in 1908, and his Eugenics Society began work in the same year.
By the early 1920s, Margaret Sanger and several of her English lovers were touting contraception and involuntary sterilization as a way to limit the breeding of the “human weeds,” as Sanger called them: the insane, the mentally-retarded, criminals, and people with Slavic, Southern Mediterranean, Jewish, black or Catholic backgrounds (ironically, Sanger was herself raised by a Catholic mother).
Though most supporters of atheistic rationalist scientific progress don’t advertise it, Hitler’s racial purity schemes were nothing more than the application of 1920s “cutting-edge” biology. When this attitude encountered Christianity, the results were uniformly explosive. Ever since 1867, Anglican bishops had been meeting roughly every ten years at Lambeth Palace, London, in order to discern how best to govern their Church. Mounting eugenics pressures had required the bishops in both the 1908 and the 1920 conferences to fiercely condemn contraception. But the constant eugenics drumbeat would not let up.
The 1930 conference brought even greater internal challenges; many of the people advising the bishops were eugenicists, indeed, at least one attendee, the Reverend Doctor D.S. Bailey, would be both a member of the International Eugenics Society and an active participant in the conference.
Between the general mood of society and the insistence of advisers, the Anglican bishops were placed under extreme pressure to allow some form of artificial contraception. On August 14,1930, after heated debate, they voted 193 to 67, with 14 abstentions, to permit the use of contraceptives at the discretion of married couples. The decision rocked the Christian world — it was the first time any Christian Church had dared to attack the underlying foundations of the sacred marital act, the act in which another image of God was brought into creation through the parents’ participation in co-creation with God. Pope Pius XI, deeply saddened, issued Casti Connubii, just four short months later on December 31, 1930, reiterating the constant Christian teaching that artificial contraception was forbidden as an intrinsically evil act.