Progressivism’s Effects on Marriage and Family

American Protestants have a legacy of preaching whatever cultural norm they decide to embrace during any given era.

In the West, Christianity is recast to conform to Western, market-driven, materialist; consumeristic, social norms and evangelicals are no different. The gospel in U.S. Protestantism has not proven yet to be more powerful than the American Dream. One could easily argue that Protestants gave marriage over to the American Dream 120 years ago or so and that passing laws in Congress on the meaning of marriage won’t change that fact. American Protestants have a legacy of preaching whatever cultural norm they decide to embrace during any given era.

 

Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement, Christine Rosen. Oxford University Press.

The common use artificial birth control and abortion was driven by eugenics (first to limit procreation among poor whites and then minorities). We have to do a better job of studying America from 1870 to 1940. Progressivism was a dark era unless you were a part of the elite WASPy class.

Here’s what you’ll learn early on in this book: the proliferation of vasectomies, artificial birth-control for women, and abortion among the masses were all eugenic-related initiatives. The widespread use of contraception in the 1960s was (cleverly) re-cast as issues of sexual freedom and expression but that is not the original context. When the Anglicans officially opened the door for Protestants embracing artificial birth control (Lambeth, 1930) it was in full harmony with the adoption of social Darwinism within Protestantism. The other mainline denominations followed and now Protestant evangelicals and Protestant progressives don’t even question artificially preventing pregnancy.

Here’s what happened: during the Progressive era, Protestants in the US and UK began to value material “quality of life” more than anything else. Marriage and family were put on the altar of maintaining a certain material lifestyle. This material lifestyle standard sanctioned the Protestant promotion of eugenics among the poor via vasectomies, artificial birth control for women, and forced sterilizations as well as the promotion of the wide-spread use of artificial contraceptives among the masses post-1930.

In 1840, the average American family had 6.14 children, by 1900 that number had dropped to 3.56, and today that number is about 2.01. American Protestantism died, some argue, in the West when material lifestyle preferences, wedded with Protestant work ethic, determined how Christians defined marriage, family, vocation, residential housing patterns, caring for the poor, where to establish churches, and so on.

In the West, Christianity is recast to conform to Western, market-driven, materialist; consumeristic, social norms and evangelicals are no different. The gospel in U.S. Protestantism has not proven yet to be more powerful than the American Dream. One could easily argue that Protestants gave marriage over to the American Dream 120 years ago or so and that passing laws in Congress on the meaning of marriage won’t change that fact. American Protestants have a legacy of preaching whatever cultural norm they decide to embrace during any given era.

Anthony Bradley, from his Facebook page.