As some of you might know, I have been for several years a copy editor for the journal Methodist History. This peer-reviewed journal regularly has articles on the history of global missions, various aspects of the Wesley families, stories of defunct colleges, and interesting stories about preachers in the Methodist tradition, broadly defined. A few years ago I published an article in the journal on the Methodist Bishop’s declaration of Altizer’s theology as heresy. In the new issue, I was very much impressed with Ashley Boggan’s article, “A God-Sent Movement: Methodism, Contraception, and the Protection of the Methodist Family, 1870-1968,” a link to the article is below. In particular I appreciated the fresh approach to the history of sexuality being told here within the context of the history of Methodism, particularly in the post-Civil War period, especially in light of the national press that the United Methodist Church has received in the past two years about its teachings on homosexuality. I asked Ms. Boggan if she would like to write a guest post for AUFS to introduce her research to a wider and different audience. Ashley Boggan is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at Drew, with a focus on American religious history, and is working as an intern with the United Methodist denomination’s Human Sexuality Task Force. The following is her introduction to the article.
Methodists, Family Life, and Contraception: A History
When one discusses the United Methodist Church and its position regarding human sexuality what most likely comes to mind is the denomination’s current impasse regarding homosexuality. For over forty years now, the UMC has upheld its position in the Book of Disciple which states that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” However, by looking at a larger notion of human sexuality, one that moves beyond the homosexual/heterosexual binary, academics, clergy, and lay persons can learn what historical events and reasonings, both secular and theological, led to particular stances on human sexuality, why denominations still uphold these stances (or why some have changed their stances), and why many Americans hold certain (and often differing) ideologies of family life and constructions of human sexuality. Read the rest of this entry »