Wednesday, March 10, 2010

LCMS Reporter posits "An 'educated" response to membership loss"

We received the March 2010 issue of the LCMS Reporter today, with a commentary entitled An 'educated' response to membership loss. Author Mark Blanke laments "a 15% decline in baptized members between 1976 and 2006" and asks "To what might we attribute this loss?" He postulates that parish education is to blame...but I think he might be missing something a bit more obvious: the advent of modern birth control.

A few key dates (source: Birth Control Timeline from

  • 1965 - The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Comstock laws that banned contraception.
  • 1976 - A T-shaped IUD is approved by the FDA.
  • 1980s -The modern, low-dose, two- and three-phase birth control pills become available. 1992 - The FDA approves the first hormone shot to prevent pregnancy for several months at a time -- Depo Provera.
  • 1998 - The first emergency contraception is approved by the FDA. Women can take Preven pills up to 72 hours after sex to prevent pregnancy.
  • 2000-2002 - Four new birth control products are approved by the FDA a birth control "patch," slowly releases hormones through the skin; NuvaRing, a small, flexible ring is inserted into the vagina and releases hormones for three weeks. Lunelle is a monthly hormone injection. Mirena is an IUD effective for 5 years.
  • 2003 - The first continuous birth control pill, which women take every day to suppress their periods and provide birth control, was approved in September. Seasonale schedules four menstrual periods a year.
Blanke cites "a loss of more than 400,000 individuals". Though I don't have the resources to compile numbers, I would not be surprised to see that this overall loss could be accounted for by our failure to honor the vocation of motherhood - we are simply not replenishing "all the saints, who from their labors rest."

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