Catholic Medical Quarterly

The Journal of the Catholic Medical Association (UK)

Building knowledge. Building faith. Protecting the vulnerable.

Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 63(4) November 2013

The Lambeth Conference of 1930 and the redefining of marriage.

From Dr Margaret Sealey


The full logical implications of the decision of the Lambeth Conference in 1930 to allow contraception must be examined. Human sexuality is about procreation. Marriage is about children and about bringing them up in the safe and secure environment provided by their parents’ deep, committed and self giving love for each other. It is procreative and unitive.

To allow for contraception is to allow that human sexuality is not necessarily about children. Marriage was redefined at the Lambeth Council (or, rather, further redefined, its indissolubility demolished courtesy Henry VIII).

Marriage having been degraded to sexual bodily connection with children as an unwanted by-product led to abortion on demand. ‘The products of conception’ (we do not hear the term ‘with child’ for the pregnant woman these days) seen as the disposable/manipulable result of human sexuality led to embryo experimentation.

The separation of the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage led to procreation taken out of marriage: in vitro fertilisation; then to donors of sperm or ova, third parties to a marriage, now redefined.

The next development in this relentless logic is ‘gay marriage’: sexual bodily connection with in vitro techniques and third parties to provide children if wanted.

In future developments we may see polygamy and bestiality brought into law.

Dr Margaret Sealey (Anaesthetist)