Dr. Montgomery resists a blanket condemnation of birth control but restricts it to marriage and the couple's consideration of their own physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual situation. "However he is led to fulfill his personal responsibility before the Lord of the church, the Christian stands free from the shackles of legalism and from the chaos of libertarianism. He suggests we present our bodies in a reasonable act of worship.
On the whole, Montgomery is condemning of both Rome for its view of marriage as "a means to the end" of procreation, and also of liberal Christianity which views marriage as "an end" unto itself.
Understood in the light of New Testament fulfillment [Eph 5:22-33], marriage cannot be regarded as simply a means ("Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth") or unqualifiedly as an end ("They shall be one flesh"). Rather, it is seen as an analogy - indeed, ss the best human analogy- of the relationship between Christ and his church... When, and only when, marriage is viewed as the type of which Christ-and-church are antitype can we avoid the Hegelian-like dialectic extremes of the Roman and liberal Protestant views of marriage and birth control."To summarize, his following points highlight how Christ-and-church antitype inform the type of marriage. Namely:
- Marriage is not viewed as simply procreative. Birth control can aid in "subduing the earth". Yet, NFP is rejected for its Manichean and Neoplatonic depreciation of the flesh and the psychosomatic wholeness of marriage and the woman's cycle.
- The human love relationship is not an end in itself. "The love relationship between male and female must never be absolutized. It is truly meaningful only insofar as it reflects the Christ-relationship. Apart from this it becomes idolatrous, taking on demonic quality despite its lack of genuine ultimacy."
- In light of the divine analogy, children are central to the marital union. "As the union of Christ and his church does not exist for its own sake, but to bring others to spiritual rebirth, so the marital union is properly fulfilled in natural birth. And since natural birth precedes spiritual birth, as creation precedes redemption, so the Christian home can be the greatest single agency for nurture in the twofold sense... The burden of proof rests, then, on the couple who wish to restrict the size of their family; to the extendt possible and desirable, all Christian couples should seek to "bring many sons unto glory."" (25)
- "Sexual relations outside of marriage are unqualifiedly to be condemned, not for naturalistic (and logically questionable!) reasons... but because they violate the high analogy of Christ-and-church.
While we may find his permissive approach to birth control objectionable, Montgomery is right to caution against the extremes of legalism and libertarianism. Montgomery urges us to not condemn those who reject the antitype of Christ-and-church where they honestly believe it will afford a better human relationship, either in the family or community. (He has here in mind overpopulated areas though not in Malthusian terms.)
Yet, He states we should encourage couples to do all they can to make their marriages "evangelistic- generatively and regeneratively." Rightly, he encourages adoption, not at the expense of childbearing. Here the infertile couple is offered "a superlative privilege and opportunity." (27)
The text is an interesting read and worth the trip to the library.
- Montgomery, John Warwick. Slaughter of the Innocents: Abortion, Birth Control, and Divorce in Light of Science, Law, and Theology. Westchester, Ill: Cornerstone Books, 1981.