Anglo-Catholic view of deliberately childless marriage?

Discussion in 'Family, Relationships, and Single Life' started by Reed, Apr 8, 2020.

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Is a deliberately childless marriage valid/morally acceptable?

  1. Yes

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  2. No

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  3. It depends

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  1. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    What do Anglicans, particularly Anglo-Catholics, think of using birth control or sterilization within marriage, not to limit the number or frequency of children, but to avoid having children altogether?

    As late as 1948, the Bishop of Canterbury spoke on behalf of the entire Church of England, saying that deliberately childless marriages were not marriages at all and could be annulled. I read some report from an Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue which may have been from even later than this that expressed the same view, on behalf of the Anglican tradition. In 2000, the Bishop of Rochester said that married couples have a duty to have children, though he didn’t go so far as to deny the validity of deliberately childless marriages, and stressed that it was his personal opinion.

    What do Anglicans of 2020 think of the issue? I’m particularly asking for the opinions of Anglo-Catholics, because that is the stream of Anglicanism I am most interested in, and because the Anglo-Catholics are interested in upholding patristic views, and I doubt ANY of the Fathers would have supported a deliberately childless marriage (though they were nearly unanimous in the view that married sex without the specific intent of procreation was sinful, a view which NO CHURCH today, not even Rome, affirms).

    The Declaration of Intent used for Anglican/Episcopalian weddings still requires the couple to recognize that their church teaches that one of God’s purposes for their marriage is the raising of children “when it is God’s will.” Could a couple say, “We’ve discerned that it’s not God’s will for us, so we’re going to always prevent it by getting sterilized or always contracepting?” Or does affirming that it may be God’s will mean that you can do nothing to prevent it? I guess it depends on whether you think God’s will can be done through your own contraceptive actions.

    I understand that, in practice, the vast majority of laypeople and clergy have no problem with deliberately childless marriages. I even read something in the marriage materials on the Episcopal Church’s website about couples deciding “whether” to have children, not “when.” But I’m wondering what faithful/conservative Anglicans, particularly Anglo-Catholics, think. Is a deliberately childless marriage a contradiction?
     
  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    It is God's will for us to be fruitful and multiply (within the bounds of marriage).

    Birth control in marriage is undertaken to allow pleasure without procreation. At its root, willingness to thwart the primary reason why God gave humans their sex drive (procreation) while still receiving the pleasure aspect is essentially selfishness. Is selfishness godly or is it sinful? Consider what God thought of Onan, who 'spilled his seed on the ground' specifically so that he might avoid producing offspring.

    When I 'point the finger' on birth control, I have 3 fingers pointing back at myself because my wife and I used those methods in our younger days, and I don't feel good about it. Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness; my past mistakes have been erased through the blood of Jesus!

    The act of intercourse validates the marriage, for it is meant to be a blood-covenant event (God designed the hymen for a reason). So I see no reason why a childless marriage would be invalid, unless they have never consummated. If anyone wishes to read more about blood covenants in the Bible and cultures, and how this impacts the consummation of marriage, I suggest the book, The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread, by Booker. https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Scarlet-Thread-Expanded-Revelation-ebook/dp/B01N4G3159/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1UT2AA1GYRDMC&dchild=1&keywords=miracle+of+the+scarlet+thread&qid=1586443939&sprefix=miracle+of+th,aps,230&sr=8-1

    I don't know if this is the "Anglo-Catholic" view, but I believe it is the Biblical view.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
  3. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

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    They are valid but morally wrong. It is the rise of birthcontrol and childless marriages that have led to the legalization of gay marriage. Once you take children and make them an option in marriage not something that naturally arises out of marriage for most part you destroy one of the key tenets of marriage and make marriage only about the self and self gratification. I say for the most part because not all people can have children and this is not talking about them
     
  4. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    Then what do you think of the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement in 1948 that “consummation, which means completion, has not been reached, if, by the use of artificial means, procreation has been willfully and deliberately prevented.” Can a man with a vasectomy ever really consummate a marriage?
     
  5. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

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    He can, and now this is only my view, if he has repented of that vasectomy and hopes that somehow it no longer works. Sometimes that does happen. He also can try to get it undone if that is even possible which I believe it is.
     
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    My answer would be that consummation is the act of physical intercourse. But you have a point, because I think historically there is a lot of precedent for equating consummation with impregnation. You reminded me of this just now; I think I've read that, long ago, when a couple could not conceive the marriage might be annulled. I never have viewed that as morally correct.
     
  7. Reed

    Reed New Member

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    It was, and in the Roman Catholic Church, undisclosed infertility is still grounds for annulment.
     
  8. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

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    I believe, as an Anglo-Catholic, that all the following are wrong: having a deliberately childless marriage, use of contraception, sterilisation, abortion, surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation.

    I am treating the ballot as secret but just the same as if I had put 'Vote Labour' posters in my window, I believe there is not much secrecy regarding how I voted. :D
     
    Rexlion and bwallac2335 like this.
  9. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

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    I agree with all of what you said.
     
  10. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

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    I understood impotence to be grounds. Indeed, in the Roman Catholic Church it is considered an impediment to marriage. I was not aware that sterility was grounds for annulment.
     

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