the thinker

Birth Control

Back to Mormon Quotes Index

Prophet Brigham Young (1801 – 1877):

“To check the increase of our race has its advocates among the influential and powerful circles of society in our nation and in other nations. The same practice existed forty-five years ago, and various devices were used by married persons to prevent the expenses and responsibilities of a family of children, which they must have incurred had they suffered nature's laws to rule preeminent. That which was practiced then in fear and against reproving conscience, is now boldly trumpeted abroad as one of the best means of ameliorating the miseries and sorrows of humanity. Infanticide is very prevalent in our nation. It is a crime that comes within the purview of the law, and is therefore not so boldly practiced as is the other equally great crime, which, no doubt, to a great extent, prevents the necessity of infanticide. The unnatural style of living, the extensive use of narcotics, the attempts to destroy and dry up the fountains of life, are fast destroying the American element of the nation; it is passing away before the increase of the more healthy, robust, honest, and less sinful class of the people which are pouring into the country daily from the Old World. The wife of the servant man is the mother of eight or ten healthy children, while the wife of his master is the mother of one or two poor, sickly children, devoid of vitality and constitution, and, if daughters, unfit, in their turn, to be mothers, and the health and vitality which nature has denied them through the irregularities of their parents are not repaired in the least by their education.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 12, pp. 120-121

Prophet John Taylor (1808 - 1887):

“If we notice the situation of the nations of Europe at the present time, we see the land burdened with an overplus population, and groaning beneath its inhabitants, while the greatest industry, perseverance, economy, and care, do not suffice to provide for the craving wants of nature. And so fearfully does this prevail in many parts, that parents are afraid to fulfill the first great law of God, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth;' and by desperate circumstances are almost forced to the unnatural wish of not propagating their species; while, corrupted with a correspondent depravity with that which reigns among nations, they are found using suicidal measures to prevent an otherwise numerous progeny from increasing their father's misery, and inheriting his misfortunes. And yet, while this is the case, there are immense districts of rich soil, covering millions of square miles, inhabited only by a few untutored savages, or the wild beast of the forest; and such is the infatuation of man that in many districts of country, which were once the seats of the most powerful empires, and where flourished the mightiest nations, there is nothing but desolation and wildness. Such are Ninevah and Babylon, on the Asiatic Continent; and Otolum, and many others discovered by Stephens and Catherwood, in Central America; and recently discovered ruins -- unequaled in the old world -- a little above the head of the California Gulf. Not only their cities, but their lands are desolate, deserted, and forsaken, and the same evils that once existed there are transferred to another soil, all bespeaking plainly that we want a great, governing, ruling principle to regulate the affairs of the world, and assist poor, feeble, erring humanity.”

- Prophet John Taylor, The Government of God, Chapter 2

Apostle Erastus Snow (1818 - 1888):

“The Latter-day Saints do not imitate the examples of the Eastern cities and the old commonwealths of the Atlantic seaboard in destroying their offspring. They do not patronize the vendor of noxious, poisonous, destructive medicines to procure abortion, infanticide; child murder, and other wicked devices, whereby to check the multiplication of their species, in order to facilitate the gratification of fleshly lust. We are not disposed to imitate these examples, nor to drink in the pernicious doctrine once uttered in Plymouth Church by the noted Henry Ward Beecher--that it was a positive evil to increase families in the land beyond a limited extent, and the ability of the parents to properly educate and maintain them, sustaining the idea of small families; in effect, justifying the mothers--the unnatural mothers--of New England, and their partners who sanction their efforts in destroying their own offspring, and in preventing the fecundity of the race. Fancy such a doctrine justified by the noted orator of the nineteenth century, and re-echoed by the smaller fry throughout the country! The Latter-day Saints are taught to reverence the words of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, concerning the multiplication of their species, and are called as His children to multiply and replenish the earth. “

- Apostle Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses, v. 25, p. 110-112

Apostle George Q. Cannon (1827 - 1901):

“There is one thing that I am told is practiced to some extent among us, and I say to you that where it is practiced and not thoroughly repented of the curse of God will follow it. I refer to the practice of preventing the birth of children. I want to lift my voice in solemn warning against this, and I say to you that the woman who practices such devilish arts, or the man who consents to them, will be cursed of God. Such persons will be cursed in their bodies, cursed in their minds, cursed in their property, cursed in their offspring. God will wipe them out from the midst of this people and nation. Remember it. Mothers, teach this to your daughters, for I tell you it is true. I need not pronounce any curse, whatever my authority may be, but I say to you that women who take this course, and men who consent to it, will be cursed of God Almighty, and it will rest upon them until their generation shall be blotted out, and their name shall be lost from the midst of the Saints of God, unless, as I have said, there is deep, thorough and heartfelt repentance.”

- Apostle George Q. Cannon, Collected Discourses, v. 5, October 7, 1894

Prophet Joseph F. Smith (1838 - 1918):

“Those who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of wedded life should see to it that they do not abuse the course of nature; that they do not destroy the principle of life within them, nor violate any of the commandments of God. The command which he gave in the beginning to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force upon the children of men. Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel than to prevent or to destroy life in the manner indicated. We are born into the world that we may have life, and we live that we may have a fullness of joy, and if we will obtain a fullness of joy, we must obey the law of our creation and the law by which we may obtain the consummation of our righteous hopes and desires -- life eternal.”

- Prophet Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 276

“Officers, members of the Relief Society, herein you have the word of the Lord, on this subject. Can anything be clearer or more emphatic? It is a very strange thing that people can believe that the Lord of Life could countenance for one moment, the refusal of his children to comply with the first commandment given to Adam and Eve. It is so easy to avoid parenthood, if people wish to do so, and that, too, innocently, even if selfishly. Men and women can remain unmarried. That is all there is too it.”

- First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose), Relief Society Magazine, v. 4, no. 2, February 1917, pp. 68-69

Apostle John A. Widtsoe (1872 - 1952):

“… since birth control roots in a species of selfishness, the spiritual life of the user of contraceptives is also weakened. Women seem to become more masculine in thought and action; men more callous and reserved; both husband and wife become more careless of each other, and increasingly indifferent to the higher duties and joys of living.”

- Apostle John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 310-314

Prophet David O. McKay (1873 - 1970):

“Seeking the pleasure of conjugality without a willingness to assume the responsibilities of rearing a family is one of the onslaughts that now batter at the structure of the American home. Intelligence and mutual consideration should be ever-present factors in determining the coming of children to the home.”

- Prophet David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1969, pp. 5-6

“True motherhood is the noblest call of the world, and we look with sorrow upon the practice here in our own United States of limiting families, a tendency creeping into our own Church.”

- Prophet David O. McKay, Church News, June 11, 1952

“When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and diseases that might be transmitted with injury to their offspring the use of contraceptives is to be condemned.”

- Prophet David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1943, p. 30

“Any effort or desire on the part of a married couple to shirk the responsibility of parenthood reflects a condition of mind antagonistic to the best interests of the home, the state, and the nation. No doubt there are some worldly people who honestly limit the number of children and the family to two or three because of insufficient means to clothe and educate a large family as the parents would desire to do, but in nearly all such cases, the two or three children are no better provided for than two or three times that number would be. Such parents may be sincere, even if misguided; but in most cases the desire not to have children has its birth in vanity, passion, and selfishness. Such feelings are the seeds sown in early married life that produce a harvest of discord, suspicion, estrangement, and divorce. 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. Such misguided couples are ever seeking but never finding the reality for which the heart is yearning.”

- Apostle David O. McKay, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916 (note: McKay was an apostle at the time)

“Presidents of Stakes, Bishops of Wards, and Presidents of Missions
Dear Brethren:
The First Presidency is being asked from time to time as to what the attitude of the Church is regarding birth control. In order that you may be informed on this subject and that you may be prepared to convey the proper information to the members of the Church under your jurisdiction, we have decided to give you the following statement:
We seriously should 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.
However, we feel that men must be considerate of their wives who bear the greater responsibility not only of bearing children, but of caring for them through childhood. To this end the mother's health and strength should be conserved and the husband's consideration for his wife is his first duty, and self control a dominant factor in all their relationships.
It is our further feeling that married couples should seek inspiration and wisdom from the Lord that they may exercise discretion in solving their marital problems, and that they may be permitted to rear their children in accordance with the teachings of the gospel.”

- First Presidency (David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner ), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Office of the First Presidency, April 14, 1969

Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith (1876 - 1972):

“Those who attempt to pervert the ways of the Lord, and to prevent their offspring from coming into the world in obedience to this great command, are guilty of one of the most heinous crimes in the category. There is no promise of eternal salvation and exaltation for such as they, for by their acts they prove their unworthiness for exaltation and unfitness for a kingdom where the crowning glory is the continuation of the family union and eternal increase which have been promised to all those who obey the law of the Lord. It is just as much murder to destroy life before as it is after birth, although man-made laws may not so consider it; but there is One who does take notice and his justice and judgment are sure.
“I feel only the greatest contempt for those who, because of a little worldly learning or a feeling of their own superiority over others, advocate and endeavor to control the so-called ‘lower classes' from what they are pleased to call "indiscriminate breeding."
“The old colonial stock that one or two centuries ago laid the foundation of our great nation, is rapidly being replaced by the ‘lower classes' of a sturdier and more worthy race. Worthier because they have not learned, in these modern times, to disregard the great commandment given to man by our Heavenly Father. It is indeed, a case of survival of the fittest, and it is only a matter of time before those who so strongly advocate and practice the pernicious doctrine of ‘birth control' and the limiting of the number of children in the family, will have legislated themselves and their kind out of this mortal existence.”

- Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916

Prophet Harold B. Lee (1899 - 1973):

“[W]e declare it is a grievous sin before God to adopt restrictive measures in disobedience to God's divine command from the beginning of time to ‘multiply and replenish the earth.' Surely those who project such measures to prevent life or to destroy life before or after birth will reap the whirlwind of God's retribution, for God will not be mocked.”

- Prophet Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1972, p. 63

Apostle George Franklin Richards (1861 - 1950):

“The efforts on the parts of Eastern magazine writers to educate the people of the United States, particularly parents, to the doctrine that they limit the number of their offspring to three or four children, and how this can be accomplished, is both pernicious and an abomination in the sight of the Lord; and it robs both man and his Maker of their glory and increase.”

- Apostle and Patriarch George Franklin Richards, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916

Apostle Orson F. Whitney (1855 - 1931):

“The only legitimate ‘birth control' is that which springs naturally from the observance of divine laws, and the use of procreative powers, not for pleasure primarily, but for race perpetuation and improvement. During certain periods—those of gestation and lactation—the wife and mother should be comparatively free to give her strength to her offspring; and if this involves some self-denial on the part of the husband and father, so much the better for all concerned.
“‘Birth control,' under God's law, is a problem that solves itself. I have no faith in the sophisms of those who reject His law, and try to substitute therefor their own vain theories for sex regulation. The eugenists may mean well, but they don't know enough to lead the world out of the wilderness.

- Apostle Orson F. Whitney, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916

Prophet Heber J. Grant (1856 - 1945):

“Another of the great evils of the age is race suicide. This also is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Providing opportunity for the spirit children of our Father in Heaven to come to earth and work out their own salvation is one of our sacred privileges and obligations. We teach that among the choicest of eternal riches are children.”

- Prophet Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 154

Apostle Hugh B. Brown (1883 - 1975):

“The problem of birth control and voluntary barrenness is poisoning the very fountains of life and defying God's injunction to multiply and replenish the earth.”

- Apostle Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life, p. 244

“The Church has always advised against birth control and that is the only position the Church can take in view of our beliefs with respect to the eternity of the marriage covenant and the purpose of this divine relationship.”

- Apostle Hugh B. Brown, The Way of the Master, pp. 114

Apostle Mark E. Peterson (1900 - 1984):

“In this birth control effort man places himself in direct opposition to the plan and laws of God. The Almighty made this world, and He made us. All human beings are His children, His spirit offspring, and it is His intention to provide each one of us with a body of flesh and bones. This body is essential to eternal progress. With this in mind He gives us the powers of procreation and permits us to join with Him in a divinely sponsored act. But by preventing or aborting legitimate births, we oppose this plan. His spirit children are born into bodies of flesh and bones by His own design. Then who are we to prevent it?”

- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, The Way to Peace, p. 266

“Some who have been perfectly healthy and able to bear children have avoided this responsibility, and in doing so have resorted to the use of harmful practices and devices resulting often in physical injury to the wife and demoralization to both parties. Some have wondered if the Church would approve such practices. Of course it never has and never could.”

- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, Your Faith and You, p. 121

Prophet Spencer W. Kimball (1895 - 1985):

“It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so.”

- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1979, p. 6

“Many good people, being influenced by the bold spirit of the times, are now seeking surgery for the wife or the husband so they may avoid pregnancies and comply with the strident voice demanding a reduction of children. It was never easy to bear and rear children, but easy things do not make for growth and development. But loud, blatant voices today shout ‘fewer children' and offer the Pill, drugs, surgery, and even ugly abortion to accomplish that. Strange the proponents of depopulating the world seem never to have thought of continence!”

- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1971, p. 7

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie (1915 - 1985):

“Today the cry is heard in some quarters that these statements calling upon parents to provide bodies for the spirit hosts of heaven are outmoded. Massive birth control programs are being sponsored on a national and international scale. Fears are expressed that the earth cannot support the number of people that unrestricted births will bring. But God's decree and the counsel of the prophets remain unchanged. The real need is not to limit the number of earth's inhabitants, but to learn how to care for the increasing hosts which the Lord designs should inhabit this globe before the last allocated spirit has been sent here to gain a mortal body. Amid all the cries and pressure of the world, the position of the true Church remains fixed. God has commanded his children to multiply and fill the earth, and the earth is far from full.”

- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 86

Prophet Ezra Taft Benson (1899 - 1994):

“The world teaches birth control. Tragically, many of our sisters subscribe to its pills and practices when they could easily provide earthly tabernacles for more of our Father's children. We know that every spirit assigned to this earth will come, whether through us or someone else. There are couples in the Church who think they are getting along just fine with their limited families but who will someday suffer the pains of remorse when they meet the spirits that might have been part of their posterity.”

- Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1969, p. 12

“True to form, many of the people who desire to frustrate God's purposes of giving mortal tabernacles to His spirit children through worldwide birth control are the very same people who support the kinds of government that perpetuate famine. They advocate an evil to cure the results of the wickedness they support.”

- Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 539

Seventy J. Ballard Washburn (1929 - ):

“It is contradictory to this covenant to prevent the birth of children if the parents are in good health.
“Thirty-five years ago when I first started practicing medicine, it was a rare thing for a married woman to seek advice about how she could keep from having babies. When I finished practicing medicine, it was a rare thing, except for some faithful Latter-day Saint women, for a married woman to want to have more than one or two children, and some did not want any children. We in the Church must not be caught up in the false doctrines of the world that would cause us to break sacred temple covenants.”

- Seventy J. Ballard Washburn, April 1995 General Conference