Previous | Next

Fall 1988 · Vol. 17 No. 2 · pp. 26–41 

Voluntary Childlessness

Diane Payette-Bucci

There are many ethical questions raised by modern life that were not issues within ancient cultures and therefore were not explicitly addressed in any particular biblical passage. The need to present some kind of answer to these questions is felt by the Christian who desires to close the gap between theological-biblical concepts and human experience. The issue addressed in this paper is that of voluntary childlessness.

. . . not all couples are called to have children.

Adulthood is often described around the task of parenting and understandably so, since 95 percent of Americans marry and expect to have children in the course of their married life (Turner & Helms, 347). The reality in the United States is that conception is not possible for 10 to 15 percent of married couples. Another 5 to 10 percent experience repeated spontaneous abortions or miscarriages and approximately 5 percent of married couples simply decide not to have children (Hansen, 44). As more women choose careers, this number will increase. It is predicted that within this generation even more couples will consider remaining childless. The question for the Christian is: Is voluntary childlessness an ethically and morally acceptable choice?

Although there are a variety of {27} individual verses and passages (especially in the Old Testament) which treat the themes of procreation and infertility (Gen. 1:28-29,11:30f., 20:17,21:1, 29:31,1 Sam. 1:2-2:21, Judg.13:3, Ps. 113:9f., Isa. 49:19, 54:1), there are no texts dealing with voluntary childlessness.

Only 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 appears to address the issue of choosing a particular status (i.e., celibacy) as a way of life over against another (i.e., marriage) within the family structure. To choose celibacy is also to choose childlessness. Still, it is very clear that the selected biblical text does not address the question of voluntary childlessness. The passage does, however, offer an analogous situation to that question in so far as the central character of this passage deals with the element of choice with regards to the structure of marriage. In order to bring biblical principles to bear on the question of voluntary childlessness, we must clarify the four principles which Paul applies to the question of celibacy and apply them to our question. The themes of gift and call, implicit within this passage, will also be addressed.


1 Corinthians 7:25-40 is a subunit of 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, which contains Paul’s recommendations regarding marriage related issues. Verses 25-40 deal specifically with virginity and celibacy as a viable option for first century Christians. The issue behind this sexual problem was asceticism. The issue behind the sexual problems discussed in the previous two chapters was libertinism. The context for both of these extremes was the infamous city of Corinth.

The Issue Addressed (vv. 25-28)

25 Now about virgins, I have no command from the Lord, but I have a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

This third “now” of the chapter (vv. 1, 8) introduces another matter on which the Corinthians had asked Paul a specific question. It is not clear what the issue at hand was; but since we are concerned to draw out the principles of Paul’s treatment of that issue and apply them to another issue, that of childlessness, it need not occupy us here. {28}

Paul’s words on the subject of “virgins” represent his own judgment, (gnomen), and are not a command, (epitate), from the Lord (cf. vv. 10, 12, 16; 2 Cor. 8:10), though pronounced with Apostolic authority. It is helpful to describe the present statement as a case of “permission” in which either course of action is right and good. There is simply no absolute; though, as in the case of his advice to the unmarried (vv. 1-9), Paul will recommend one course of action. As we will see throughout the exegesis, Paul is scrupulously fair in regard to both single and married individuals in this passage.

26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are (or, it is best for a man to be as he is).

In view of the asceticism present at Corinth, Paul highlights the goodness of the celibate state but offers a very different reason for it. Celibacy is particularly inviting in the context of the “present crisis” (enestosan anagke, cf. Rom. 8:38; 1 Cor. 3:22; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 5:15 The word literally means “necessity.”). It is not clear what crisis Paul is referring to here. We may assume that his readers knew whether Paul was referring to specific disturbances, to the expected end-time events, or to the tribulations that every Christian experiences at all times. Because this time would be particularly harassing for those with family responsibilities, the apostle writes that it is good to remain single.

The Corinthians might have been surprised, however, that the apostle was not attributing any moral superiority to virginity. Celibacy is good (kalon); it is suitable because of the presence of the crisis. In light of the present circumstances it is an appropriate alternate lifestyle for Christians.

27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.

Paul has previously stated and illustrated his general principle that a man should abide in the status he had at the time of his conversion (v. 19). Now he speaks to both sides of the issue. Although celibacy is inviting, the presence of the crisis would not justify dissolution of a marriage; but it is a reason why all unmarried persons should remain so. {29}

28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

Verse 28 is meant to prevent a misunderstanding to which the second part of verse 27 might give rise. Paul maintains that while circumstances might encourage celibacy as a favorable option, marriage is a normal state. There is nothing sinful about it. Paul would prefer believers not to invest their efforts and energy into a marital relationship because of the immediacy of the crisis. Those who are married will have to endure not only their own individual sufferings but the pain and grief of seeing husbands, wives, or children suffer as well.

1. First Argument in Favor of Remaining Unmarried: Eschatological Woes (vv. 29-31).

29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives “should live as if they had none.”

What is meant by the shortening time here? Paul does not use kronos which denotes time in respect of its duration, but kairos, time in respect to its character. There is something about the time that has been changed; it has been compressed in some way. The future events are now closer to the present age and Christians are facing a definite new perspective which could radically alter values as to what counts and what does not (Fee, 339).

Paul’s words about the marital relationship in the last part of this verse are not to be understood in their absolute literal sense, for doing so would obviously contradict what he just wrote in verses 3 and 5 as well as what follows in verse 33.

30 Those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep;

31 Those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

The reason “for” is this new perspective on Christians’ relationship to the world. The use of the progressive present indicates that “this world” (skema) is already in the process of passing away. Bruce comments: “The world (kosmos) with its {30} resources and its opportunities is there to be used, but it is unwise to put all one’s eggs into the basket of an order whose present form is passing away (1 John 2:15-17)” (75). Paul’s advice about marriage and celibacy, joy and sorrow, and possessions all illustrate the new value system which is appropriate for Christians.

2. Second Argument in Favor of Remaining Unmarried: Day-to-Day Care (vv. 32-35)

32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.

Celibacy is good not only because it is an inviting option in the present circumstances (vv. 26, 29); it is also good in terms of availability for service to the Lord. The key word of this subsection, “concern,” is used five times in three verses. The basis for the Greek word is meros (distractions, anxieties). A more positive translation of the term is “care.” Freedom from family responsibilities reduces the Christian’s preoccupation with otherwise legitimate things of this world.

33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—

34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.

There is a difference in the focus of attention between the single and the married man. The married man needs to put his energy on the responsibilities already at hand. This verse seems to point to the idea that there can be no such thing for a married man as squeezing family life between church activities. “The apostle recognized the responsibilities of family as valid claims upon the attention of the believer, even taking precedence over service for Christ (1 Tim. 5:8)” (Boyer, 83). The same verb (aresko) is used to describe pleasing God as well as pleasing one’s spouse. Aresko includes the thought of service in the interests of another: in this case, of God and of one’s spouse (Morris, 118). This might imply that the married person should seek to please her or his spouse with the same {31} quality (or intensity) as the unmarried person seeks to please God.

Verse 34 tells us where the real difference lies; not that the married person is all committed to worldly affairs and the unmarried to spiritual affairs, but rather that the married person who pleases both the Lord and spouse is divided, and the unmarried is not—at least not in that regard.

There is a contrast here between being “free of concern” (v. 32) and “being divided” (v. 34), between availability for ministry for the Lord and the chores of family life. This truth applies to both genders. Women also have similar options and will experience this same kind of “fragmentation” when they marry; for once they do, their attention will be divided as well. Therefore, because of the day-to-day care required by marital relationship and family life, celibacy is Paul’s choice for both men and women in light of the present circumstances.

35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Paul does not want to impose another restrictive (brochos, “noose”) ascetic teaching on the Corinthians that would create more personal hardship for them. Only when there is a special gift, the gift of continence, should a person choose celibacy as a way of life (v. 37). Celibacy as a form of asceticism might be acceptable, but only if the person who is being consecrated feels a personal call to that status, and even then there is no superior holiness attributed to this state. This sub-section ends with a clear restatement of the apostle’s preference towards celibacy, based on certain present circumstances and certain advantages and preferences, but not based on moral grounds. He will now present two cases to test his argument.

Two Applications of the Instruction Regarding Celibacy and Marriage (vv. 36-40)

36 If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.

37 But any man who has settled the matter in his own {32} mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry a virgin—this man also does the right thing.

This is virtually the same advice that appears in verse 9. If a couple agrees to abstain from sexual activities, they can do so. Celibacy is presented as an acceptable option when there is control of the will in matters of sexual compulsion. The word for “will” (thelema) is used of a man’s sexual impulses, as in John 1:13 (Bruce, 77).

38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.

This is the first conclusive statement regarding options available to the male believers in relationship to the female virgin. Paul explicitly states his preference. Although both options are acceptable, celibacy is favored.

39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as she lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

In this second case, Paul presents the possibility of a widowed woman who has the option to remarry. First, the marriage covenant is affirmed. For the one who is married, the covenant lasts until death parts the couple. If there is to be a second marriage, Paul insists that such a covenant should occur only between believers. Again, the theme of not being “divided” in order to serve the Lord emerges.

40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

This is the second occasion on which Paul indicates his preference for the celibate state. Here, however, and for the first time, he appeals to personal happiness as a motive for remaining single. He does not mention why he thinks the widow will be happier and what this happiness will consist of but allows reasons of personal well-being and fulfillment to justify her singleness.

The central point of this whole passage is not that celibacy is better or holier than marriage—as asceticism claims—but rather that one should consider both the present circumstances and the practical implications before making a {33} long-term commitment such as marriage. This decision should be based on principles of integrity and responsibility. There is a choice to be made between remaining single and getting married. Paul’s hesitation towards marriage is purely functional. It does not even have anything to do with his own singleness—if, indeed, he was.


There is a parallel between choosing to marry (or not) and choosing to produce children (or not). First, celibacy and childlessness both affect one’s lifestyle. Because a marital relationship or children are not at the center of their lives, singles and childless people carry a different set of interests, priorities, and responsibilities than married and parenting people. Second, celibacy and childlessness are both considered as deviant from the social norm of marrying and producing children. Third, both single and childless people do not participate in the multiplication of the human race—although there are more and more exceptions as singles conceive outside of marriage or are allowed to adopt children.

We may also note two elements which make the Corinthian situation comparable to ours. First, the Christians in Corinth manifested a desire to live faithfully within a pagan society. Fee suggests that Paul’s Corinth was at once the New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas of the ancient world (3). Their questions to Paul tell us that despite failures and mistakes they were intent on living out this new faith, to be the Christian church in Corinth.

The second element we share with the Corinthians is a concern with sexual ethics. The Corinthian church was dealing with matters of incest (5:1), adultery, prostitution, and homosexuality (6:9). Evidently they had not been able to integrate their sexual attitudes and behaviors with their new faith. Paul reminds the Christians at Corinth that their appropriate sexual conduct is a sign of their belonging to the Kingdom (6:9) and that they should flee from sexual immoralities (6:18).

In terms of human sexuality and questions of fertility, our situation is also not that different from the one in the Greco-Roman world, in which producing children was a civic duty (Yarbrough, 60). In Judaism, marriage was a duty and its {34} purpose was the procreation of children. The obligation of a married woman was to bear children for her husband, particularly male children (Callaway,13). Barrenness could black out a man’s name (Deut. 25:6). Child-bearing, on the other hand, was exalted (Ps. 127:3-5).

Today, there is the predominant attitude that it is “the Christian thing to do” for a married couple to produce children. Lifespan development theories interpret the birth of a first child as the official entry into responsible adulthood. The formula, “May God bless you with children,” is still part of the traditional wedding ceremony and indicates to the young married couple that “fun” is not the only thing God wants them to get out of their sexual intercourse. The dualistic nature of human sexuality—pleasure versus procreation—has a genesis of its own:

And God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28).

There has long been a moral imperative associated with the procreative aspect of sexuality. This imperative has been sanctioned for centuries through cultural expectations and by the legal and moral institutions of Western cultures, including the church. Before Vatican II, it was not possible for Catholics to receive the Eucharist after confessing sexual intercourse in which contraceptives had been used to prevent a pregnancy.* Religious beliefs often undergirded cultural and political pressures that encouraged fertility (Blockwick, 10).

The Genesis text has often been understood as a mandate for procreation directed to all married couples. I would agree with Boice that dominion, and not reproduction, is the real focus of this mandate (81). The implication of human responsibility in this dominion mandate made sense, especially at the beginning of the creation. Women and men needed to be taught the responsibility that goes with the wonderful gifts of creation. But it is difficult to reconcile our 1 Corinthians passage with the claim that procreation can be demanded of all humans, since Paul suggests that celibacy was a valid option for Christians. Nor did the incarnate Christ fill that mandate.

These elements which link us to the Corinthian Christians as well as the three similarities which make celibacy an analogous case tell us that we can return to 1 Corinthians 7 for {35} guidance on the issue of voluntary childlessness. Although the specifics of this text are not pertinent for all times (i.e., asceticism, arranged marriages, betrothed daughters), the principles Paul presents are universal in that they are applicable to issues like this. A similar hermeneutic has traditionally been applied to 1 Corinthians 8. There the text addresses the debate of eating or not eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. The ethical principle of modifying one’s own behavior for the sake of someone else’s growth has been applied to modern questions of smoking or drinking alcohol.


Is voluntary childlessness an acceptable option for a Christian couple? Paul emphasizes throughout his response that both options, celibacy and marriage, are good. Marriage is good; celibacy is even better in his opinion. The principle to be remembered here is that there is more than one option when it comes to deciding on marital status.

The Pauline Principles

Paul responds to the Corinthian query by outlining the criteria by which one makes that decision. If one is to choose to remain celibate, the motives will have to be somewhat different than what the Corinthians thought. There is no spiritual gain in being single, even though one achieves a greater availability to minister. Ascetic values which diminish the beauty and goodness of human sexuality should not be at the basis of the Christian life. If one chooses not to marry, the ethical principles leading to this choice will be eschatological and functional rather than spiritual in nature. There appear to be at least four such principles within our passage.

The first principle is eschatological (vv. 26, 29, 31). Paul anticipated trying times for Christians. He encourages believers to live “as if” the Kingdom of God were already here, but not yet fully. Their confident hope in the return of Christ transformed their former attitudes and values.

Today’s Christians are still living with the same eschatological perspective that Paul conveyed to the Corinthians. We know that this present life is temporary and we are called to live a life that proclaims this provisionary state. In light of the eschatological principle, the ancient command “to multiply {36} and replenish the earth” is hardly to be heeded when the form of the world is passing away (Baird, 71). Prior pointed out that there are many people in the 1980’s who are choosing not to have children and who are opting out of the acquisitive existence expected in today’s materialistic society (135).

The second principle to which Paul draws his readers’ attention relates to the day-to-day care that family life requires (vv. 32-35). Paul made the point that the more commitments a person has, the more fragmented her or his life will be.

Since Paul argued that it was beneficial for believers to remain unmarried because it allowed them to be free from distraction for the service of the Lord, he would not have seen a wife and children as beneficial. . .thus, it would appear that Paul’s silence about children and the benefits of married life was due not simply to the imminence of the end of the age, but also to the inappropriateness of most of the common arguments in favor of being married and producing children (Yarbrough, 108).

It is not uncommon to witness the life of a married man who lives as if he was not married; his schedule, his working hours are those of the unmarried. This text is an exhortation for the married person, whether female or male, to establish the right priorities when it comes to personal life and ministry.

There is a third principle implicit in our passage which relates to the eschatological freedom “to remain as you are” (v. 26). Earlier in the chapter, Paul encourages the men to remain as they are in relation to circumcision (v. 20), and to slavery (v. 24). Paul’s point is that no status, whether high or low, is a barrier either to acceptance or usefulness in the church of God.

Finally, Paul surprises his readers by presenting happiness as an acceptable reason for remaining single. The idea of doing something because it will make us feel happier is somewhat rare within the New Testament. This, to me, is a refreshing idea. There are times when we need to set aside cultural expectations and ask what it is that will make us happy. Paul’s sudden reference to personal well-being in the present context also reaffirms our suspicions of his strong commitment to the celibate life. {37}

Applying the Principles

What could be the legitimate reasons for deciding to remain childless? There are, of course, many wrong reasons. But we cannot condemn voluntary childlessness because it is chosen for selfish reasons any more than we condemn parenthood because that is also often chosen out of selfishness or insecurity. The four principles revealed in 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 allow us to discern the question of voluntary childlessness from a more positive perspective.

The eschatological principle presents us with a first set of reasons, circumstantial in character, that would seem to make childlessness an acceptable option for the Christian couple. A consideration of the present state of affairs in this world might motivate a couple not to produce children. There are people who simply cannot resign themselves to bring a person into a world torn by wars or threatened by pollution and nuclear disasters. Some choose to commit themselves to caring for the growing number of abandoned, exploited, or abused children and see procreation simply as an expression of self-centeredness and individualism. In the context of the present circumstances, choosing to remain childless is a good option. At the same time, choosing to produce children in these circumstances would also represent a good option, as Joyce Clemmer Munro (1984) puts it: “Being childed is banking on the ‘evidence of things not seen’. . .It is denouncing the power of evil in this world (the inequitable distribution of wealth and hunger, the violence of nuclear power and bombs)” (10).

A second set of reasons for remaining childless can be based on the principle of day-to-day care. Parenting is a time-consuming activity. Some couples choose to remain childless in order to have more freedom for a particular ministry, whether expressed through the church or through a career. Because of all the energy one needs to invest in parenting, some couples do not believe they have the emotional or physical resources for such a task and this needs to be taken seriously. We do not want our children to grow up in an impoverished environment—whether emotionally or financially—if it is possible to prevent this. Most of all, children should not have to grow up not being wanted. Ideally there could be a discerning process, especially in the church, that leaves couples the freedom to remain childless if they wish to stay so. {38}

The third type of reason can be stated simply: remain as you are. You do not have children, you can remain as such. This does not cancel the fact that a discernment process should precede this kind of decision, but it announces that the voluntary childlessness that most married couples impose on themselves during the first few months or few years of their marriage can become a permanent decision.

A fourth reason is happiness, or personal fulfillment. Each couple needs to consider how having children versus remaining childless will affect their level of personal and marital satisfaction. Sharon Houseknecht (1979) found that women who were childless by choice scored higher in overall marital adjustment (consensus, cohesion, satisfaction, and affection expression). Another study, comparing the intentionally childed with the intentionally childless couple revealed that the level of marital satisfaction for the two was similar but that childless couples tended to have less traditional attitudes towards women and to interact more with each other than the couples with children (Feldman, 593).

Implications for Contemporary Christians

Parenthood has a good deal to be said for it, but it cannot be required of all Christians because it fails to take into account all the facts of the human situation (i.e., perspective on life, political and socio-economic environment, emotional and physical status, degree of intensity of desire for children, level of satisfaction—or dissatisfaction—with a childless state). In addition, not all couples are called to have children or have the gift of parenting.

Voluntary celibacy is a gift from God (7:7b). By arguing that not all have this gift, Paul shows that the whole discussion on marriage and celibacy should be seen in terms of spiritual gifts (Yarbrough, 120). One of Paul’s main concerns with the believers in Corinth was that they were being pushed into a lifestyle—asceticism in their case—that was not according to their gift. For Christians today this means that our orientation in life is to be based on an evaluation of the presence or absence of certain gifts and not on socio-cultural expectations that are present not only in society at large, but in the church as well.

This means that we really need to listen to the doubts of the woman in relation to her abilities to mother. {39} Unfortunately, it is often assumed that “it is a woman’s biological destiny to bear and deliver, to nurse and to rear children” (Chodorow, 11). We also need to counsel the man who does not consider his fathering aptitudes an important factor since “his wife will stay home with the kids.” Children need both a mother and a father figure. If one of the spouses, or both, are uncertain about their parenting gift, it would be appropriate to take time to process those feelings with a trusted and competent person before they conceive.

To live according to our gifts might also mean to have the capacity to live a fulfilling and satisfying life without producing children. To live accordingly, despite the pressures and expectations, can be part of being faithful.

The idea that if one is without children one is “less” is at the basis of the understanding of the non-parent condition traditionally labeled as “childless.” A different term—not found in dictionaries as yet—has sprung up in defiance to this negative view: childfree! This new term promulgates the idea that parenthood is not a prerequisite to a full life (Peck & Senderowitz, 250). To say that one is childfree, rather than childless, is not a statement about the value put on children but rather an affirmation of the non-parent state.

This paper does not deal with the questions of single people who would rather be married and childless couples who are desperately wanting a child. Those people do not feel that they are either “gifted” or “called” to remain as they are. Still, they need to be affirmed in their present state, not as needy people, but as individuals on a journey seeking to understand their role within God’s design. These also, along with the deliberately celibate and the “childfree” couple, are assets to the church because they can offer a gift of time and availability without the limitations parents experience. Nonparenthood, like celibacy, demands involvement with other people—adults and children—not withdrawal or narcissism. Remaining childless is not the equivalent of avoiding commitments and responsibilities:

A marriage without children can be one alternate lifestyle of commitment. The possible experiences missed—the joys/struggles/sorrows traded off—are hardly the point. The point is—am I part of a lifestyle of commitment—to {40} the church, to my spouse, to the ongoingness of life (Clemmer, 10)?

Anderson and Guernsey (1985) proposed that the covenant relationship of the believers can be understood as a paradigm for family where giving and receiving takes place. The church could be an image of that covenant family. Within this context, non-parent couples can participate in the lives of children. Let me make a suggestion at this point based on a Roman Catholic tradition. At baptism, the parents of the infant choose a couple—most often immediate members of the family—that will serve as the god-parents of this newborn child. They are intended to be the spiritual mentors of the child and will adopt the child into their family in case the parents die. The principle embodied within this tradition is that parents cannot ensure that they will always be there to provide all that is necessary for the child.

Within the church community, a similar tradition could be developed so that couples who are childfree by choice still have an opportunity to give to and interact with children. It would be an ideal situation for the infertile couple to give their love, time, and experience to the child they could not conceive. Single people, too, could benefit from a such a tradition if they were considered potential god-mothers or god-fathers. One of the first benefits of having god-parents is to alleviate the parenting task for mom and dad.


We come back to our initial question: “Is it acceptable for a Christian couple to decide to remain without children?” I believe so. The analogous situation of the 1 Corinthian passage, the study of the four Pauline principles and the consideration of personal gifts and call to live faithfully have indicated to us that parenting, like marriage, is an optional condition and that therefore childlessness, like singleness, can be affirmed by the Christian community.


  • Anderson, Ray S. and Dennis B. Guernsey. On Being Family: A Social Theology of the Family. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985.
  • Baird, William. 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1980. {41}
  • Blockwick, Jessma O. You, Me and a Billion More. Nashville: Abingdon, 1979.
  • Boice, James M. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary of Genesis 1:1-11:32. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982.
  • Boyer, James L. For a World Like Ours: Studies in First Corinthians. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971.
  • Bruce, F.F. 1 & 2 Corinthians. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1971.
  • Chodorow, Nancy. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
  • Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987.
  • Feldman, H. “A Comparison of Intentional Parents and Intentionally Childless Couples.” Journal of Marriage and Family 43 (Aug. 81): 593-599.
  • Gould, Robert. “Wrong Reasons to Have Children:” New York Times Magazine, May 3, 1970, 83.
  • Hansen, James C. Sexual Issues in Family Therapy. Rockville: Aspen System Corporation, 1983.
  • Houseknecht, S.K. “Childlessness and Marital Adjustment.” Journal of Marriage and Family 41 (May 79): 259-264.
  • Munro, Joyce Clemmer. “The Impact of Childbearing/Childlessness: Story #9,” MCC Committee on Women’s Concerns Report, May-June 1984, 9-10.
  • Morris, Leon. 1 Corinthians. London: The Tyndale Press, 1958.
  • Peck, Ellen and Judith Senderowitz. Pronatalism: The Myth of Mom and Apple Pie. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1974.
  • Prior, David. The Message of First Corinthians. Downer’s Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985.
  • Steiner, Sue Clemmer “The Impact of Childbearing/Childlessness: Story #10,” MCC Committee on Women’s Concern Report, May-June 1984, 10.
  • Turner, Jeffrey S. and Donald B. Helms. Lifespan Development. New York: Holt Rienhart and Winston, 1983.
  • Yarbrough, Larry. Not Like the Gentiles: Marriage Rules in the Letter of Paul. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985.

*Editor's note: The author’s statement is misleading. The Catholic view is that where there is genuine contrition and determination to give up particular sins, confession restores sinners to the church and they are then welcome to receive the Eucharist. Before Vatican II, Catholics who confessed to using contraceptives to prevent a pregnancy might well have been denied the Eucharist if the priest believed they were not serious about discontinuing their practice. Vatican II did not change church teaching that artificial birth control is a sin, but the 1968 encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, encouraged priests to be patient and compassionate with those who appeared determined to continue their contraceptive use. This led priests to deny the Eucharist to the recalcitrant less and less. [Return]

Diane Payette-Bucci is a Clinical Pastoral Education intern at the Kings View Hospital, Reedley, California.

Previous | Next