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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Biible and Contraception

Because it is such a hot topic today, I thought that I should provide a defense for anyone who is interested in the five minute version.

So why do Catholics say that using contraception is sinful?

Catholics say that using contraception is sinful because God says that it is sinful. Now before you turn the program off give me a minute because this is reasonable.

God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. That means have babies:

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Our first parents are called to fill the earth. Now it doesn’t say to trash it, filling it and trashing it aren’t the same. The conditions on the earth at that time were, al least for a little bit – perfect. Plenty of food, water, and land to go around.
Yet they fell into sin, and the earth now is less than perfect.

Finally things get into such a terrible state that God floods the earth and begins again with Noah.

Now to Noah he gives this command:

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

God gives Noah the same command, in now what is most definitely an imperfect world. Does this mean that God wants every single person in the world to have as many children as possible, no. People aren’t even designed for that. There are certain times given to men and women for the conceiving of children, and because we are imperfect, this doesn’t always work out.

Now in Genesis 38 we have an a clear case of contraception and what God thinks of it.

Here is the situation, Judah has some sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Judah finds a wife for Er and her name is Tamar. Er marries her, but because he is wicked, God kills him. Now at that time, if your brother had a wife, yet had no children, the new brother in line would marry her, have children with her, but the children would be considered the dead brothers children.

Now that Er is dead, it is Onan’s duty to marry her and try to have children with her for his dead brother, so they could continue his name.

Genesis 38:8-10 Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother." But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother's wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and he slew him also.

Now some people have an objection here: Hey, God isn’t killing him because he spilled his seed on the ground, but because he didn’t want to give his brother children.

Now this is a legitimate objection, because it seems as though God could be punishing him for that very reason. Yet if we continue reading the Bible, we see there would latter be laws concerning giving your brother children. There would also be laws concerning what would happen if you didn’t want to do that for your brother like Onan.

Deuteronomy 25:7-10 "But if the man does not desire to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.'  "Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, 'I do not desire to take her,'  then his brother's wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, 'Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.' "And in Israel his name shall be called, 'The house of him whose sandal is removed.'

So when you do not give your dead brother children, you get your sandal taken off and spit in the face and called a name. This is clearly not the death penalty. So when we revisit Onan back in Genesis 38, we see that he was struck down by God, not for not desiring to give his brother a child, but because he spilled his seed on the ground.

This is now called Onanism. Whenever you put the seed in place it isn’t suppose to go in scripture, that is a deadly sin. Today, a mortal sin.

The Jews, and the Christians have taught this for over three thousand years until 1930 at the Lambath conference, the Anglicans said that contraception could be used in certain circumstances. Thus the protestants opened the door to contraceptives and the flood has not ended. Now not all protestants teach that contraception is ok, but like many catholics, it isn’t even on the list of things to consider bad.

What should we do?

We need to talk about it. I recently saw an add in the paper that suggested over 90% of catholic women favored contraceptives. So I called the creator of the add and told them in a charitable tone that the church is not a democracy, but a monarchy. We have a king, who is in Heaven, whom we must obey first. I then asked – so who should I choose to follow, this 98% or Jesus? The receptionist said that she didn’t understand my question. I said, I would explain it again. So called 98% of women want contraceptives, but Jesus said that using them is sinful – So who do I choose to serve? Who do I follow? She recommended that I look on their website for answers. I said – I am asking you Betty, I am asking you.
She didn’t answer. But we must keep trying, we must keep calling, we must be vocal, but overall, prayerful, charitable, and blameless


Mary said...

If 98% jumped off a bridge...

Erin Garlock said...

I find the Onan argument the weakest argument for any Christian theology, especially Catholic. Maybe you can point out the flaw for me.

Should we do as Judah said - i.e. is he some sort of prophet? No, since in Gen 37 Judah convinced the brothers to sell Joseph into slavery.

Are we supposed to follow all the old testament laws? No, since Jesus fulfilled the (old-testament) law that separated Jews from Gentiles (Eph 2). Do we eat pork, shave our beards, shout "unclean, unclean", etc? Still no.

Are we supposed to supposed to reenact all the stories told in the bible? No, most of us have never gone to Nineva, nor have we attempted to sacrifice our sons, nor walked in the fiery furnace.

Now, I understand the risk of making a logical argument against a theological statement, but this is one case where the current teaching diverges from treatment of all others. Do I believe in the sanctity of life? Absolutely, but I also believe that the covenant of marriage and the good stewardship of family life is equally important

Erin Garlock said...

I forgot to mention, the story of Onan is also in the context of providing children for his brother's wife. And Gen 38 said , "he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight" (pick your favorite translation)

Contraception isn't usually talked about in terms of providing for our deceased brothers.

Daniel Egan said...


Thank you for the comment. To begin with your last comment first. Onan could have just refused to perform his duty and that would have been that. But he, like those who contracept wanted the pleaseures of sex without its fruit. This is lust.

Concerning certain laws of the Old Testament being followed while others today are ignored sometimes there doesn't seem to be a reason. Some laws were given as punishments - like most of the animal sacrifices were punishments. Jesus takes these and fulfills them in his sacrifice. Other laws were practical - if someone is sick, remove him from the camp. Some laws seem completely usless - don't make certain garments with two different types of materials. This doesn't make sense until you study that in scripture that garments represent more than just clothes. Finally with stuff like the spilling the seed on the ground, when you find out that God wants to give himself completely to us with no barriers in between. And we are made in His image and should give ourselves to our spouses likewise - with no barriers in between. Besides this, scripture is clear that when you put 'seed' where is isn't suppose to go, the penalty is always death. For us that means mortal sin.

As far as good family stewardship, women can't get pregant at any time, they have a cycle, and if you study Natural Family Planning, you see there is a natural way to either avoid pregnancy or try to concieve while being open to God's plan for you.

If you have any more questions or comments let me know.


Cheryl Jones said...

I've been reading your blog and like your explanations and writing style.

Anonymous said...

Are you on crack? What kind of bullsh*t interpretation of this passage are you trying to justify?

Daniel Egan said...

No, I don't use crack. How is the interpretation incorrect?

Anonymous said...

i agree with brother Daniel,..very well said and explained/ as for the person stating about the crack issue,..I pray the Blood of Jesus is with you my brother, get into the Bible and do your research before you respond.