Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Sin of Onan: A Case Against Contraception?

Most recently I was on another blog http://pilgrimsdaughter.blogspot.com/ discussing reproductive issues as it relates to Christianity with fellow Catholic and Protestant believer friends. The question of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) came up, and a Catholic blogger was against IVF because it dissociates the unitive aspect of reproduction (copulation) from procreation, which is a sin for Catholics. For Catholics, sex and procreation go together, and must not be separate. One blogger who was not Catholic, cited the passage in Genesis 38 as proof that copulation without procreation was forbidden in scripture - the sin of Onan. Below is the scriptural account:


Genesis 38:6-10, NIV:

6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the LORD's sight; so the LORD put him to death.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, "Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother." 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also.


My question is this: Did God strike down Onan because he practiced contraception (withdrawal method) or did God strike him down because he disobeyed the law regarding raising up seed for the dead? What are your thoughts?

71 comments:

Moonshadow said...

Opting for the latter interpretation effects what?

In other words, what is the implication of Gen. 38:6-10 for those who are today bound by the whole word of God?

My suspicion is that proclaiming the second interpretation results in an admission that the levirate marriage obligation is no longer binding on Christians, so these verses reveal only man's sinful nature - thanks be to God who freed us in Christ! - we can otherwise ignore these verses.

In the face of this near worthless option, at least the Catholics try to make these verses meaningful for today ... and some actually find their interpretation compelling. Given the choice between the two, I would favor it myself.

But I'm going to hunt for third option! :-)

Peace of Christ.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Moonshadow said:

My suspicion is that proclaiming the second interpretation results in an admission that the levirate marriage obligation is no longer binding on Christians, so these verses reveal only man's sinful nature - thanks be to God who freed us in Christ! - we can otherwise ignore these verses.

Hi Teresa! Welcome to this discussion. You are right to proclaim our freedom in Christ. The levirate marriage obligation was a law where the brother of the husband of a childless widow was obligated to marry that widow to raise up offspring for the dead husband (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). This was all part of the old Mosiac law, which laws governed the Ancient nation of Israel.

So the question remains: Did God strike down Onan for practicing contraception or did He strike him down for not adhering to the law of Moses? Also, what lesson can we learn from this account that is relevant to modern day Christians?

Jennie said...

Ya'll don't forget that Judah and his sons lived well before the Mosaic law. So what law was Onan breaking? Was there a law of God that was understood by the people of God back then? We know that people understood the worship of God, and there may have been laws that God gave to man way back in Adam's time, such as sacrifice.
The entire story in Genesis 38 is very interesting, with Judah and Tamar, and her twin sons, and the scarlet thread. There is alot of foreshadowing there.
I tend to think Onan was killed because he broke God's law of giving offspring to his brother, AND because he wasted his seed. His whole attitude was one of rebellion and selfishness.
Also this parallels the death of Ananias and Sapphira in the beginning of Acts. When God is establishing anything (here the line of Judah, and in Acts, the Church) He is much more harsh in punishing crimes by death, so as to show people they must fear Him and obey Him in their hearts as well as their actions.

Moonshadow said...

So what law was Onan breaking?

Moses wrote the Pentateuch.

Jennie said...

Yes, but Moses was hundreds of years after Judah, so Onan wasn't breaking Mosaic law.

Moonshadow said...

Moses was hundreds of years after Judah, so Onan wasn't breaking Mosaic law.

Now you're kidding.

What do you think Moses is doing, writing history or teaching theology?

Or both.

Then Onan was breaking the Natural Law, just as Cain did. But you won't allow that. So you tell me.

Moonshadow said...

I should say, Jennie, that I agree exactly with your take on "rhythm method" - I have that same criticism - and that I have broached the matter with Elena on her blog (I think) but she wasn't open to discussing it.

Peace.

Jennie said...

Teresa,
I said:
I tend to think Onan was killed because he broke God's law of giving offspring to his brother, AND because he wasted his seed.

I don't call it natural law, but maybe it means the same thing. I think there was an understood law that God had given earlier.
Of course Moses, or God, is teaching something, but it still wasn't Mosaic law yet.

The crime may have been punished so severely because of what I said earlier, that God was establishing the line of Judah, from which the Messiah would come, and first Er was killed because of wickedness, and then Onan refused God's command by rebellion and selfishness, so he was killed. Then Tamar finally took things into her own hands and had 2 sons by Judah.

Jennie said...

Teresa,
It must have been Hillary or someone else who mentioned the rhythm method, because I haven't been in on the birth control discussion until now.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Jennie said:

Ya'll don't forget that Judah and his sons lived well before the Mosaic law. So what law was Onan breaking? Was there a law of God that was understood by the people of God back then? We know that people understood the worship of God, and there may have been laws that God gave to man way back in Adam's time, such as sacrifice.

Hi Jennie! Welcome to the discussion! Glad for your input. Yeah, you're right. Onan lived before Moses and the Mosaic law, but in law, there is a thing called Precedent. Many of the laws of the Mosaic law were based upon precedent and practices that were established in society before the time of Moses. For example, we see precedent in the law of animal sacrifices in the time of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4: 3-4). We see precedent in the law of clean and unclean animals in the time of Noah (Genesis 7:2), and we see precedent in the law of tithing in the time of Abraham (Genesis 14:20). Apparently these laws existed prior to Moses as accepted standards of Morality for society. It should be noted however that other 'moral' standards of society such as marrying one's blood relatives, polygamy, etc. were NOT incorporated into Mosaic law (even though some of God's people practiced these prior to Moses). The fact that God killed Onan for spilling his seed showed His endorsement of the levirate law which existed in society back then.

Jennie said...

Ok, what's levirate law?
It sounds like 'levitical' but there was not levitical law yet, so I assume that's not what you mean?

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Yeah Teresa. I was the one who mentioned the rhthymn method. Here was my exact statement:

"I think your church endorses the rhythmn method which is based upon a woman's cycle; but do you realize that people who observe the rhythmn method as a form of birth control are making a conscious decision to engage in the unitive without being procreative?"

Since some Christians think it is a sin to engage in non reproductive sex, what about the rhythmn method? Are not those who use this as a form of birth control avoiding pregnancy by practicing the rhythmn method? Natural law teaches that a woman can only conceive 3-5 days of the month. The other days of the month, she is UNABLE TO CONCEIVE, and yet no restrictions to maritial sex exists in the Bible, except for when a woman is menstruating, or for a time after childbirth, according to Mosaic law (Leviticus 12: 1-6;15:19).

Also, I may like to add: What about post menopausal women and women past childbearing age? Should they abstain because they are unable to engage in procreation? What about infertile women/couples? The Bible is filled with accounts of infertile (barren) women who engaged in the sexual act with their husbands even though it was known that the women could not conceive. A great example of this was Rachel. Rachel was barren but still enjoyed conjugal visits from her husband. Nowhere here did God promise Rachel any children as a consequence. As a matter of fact, Leah was jealous of Jacob spending so much time with Rachel and neglecting her.

1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!" 2 Jacob became angry with her and said, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?" ...14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes." 15 But she said to her, "Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son's mandrakes too?"
"Very well," Rachel said, "he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes." 16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. "You must sleep with me," she said. "I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." So he slept with her that night. 17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, "God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband." So she named him Issachar. 19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, "God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons." So she named him Zebulun. 21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. 22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. (Genesis 30:1,2,14-22).


Do you see how some of these restrictions which we have placed on human sexuality that are not found in scripture, can severely limit us?

Daughter of Wisdom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daughter of Wisdom said...

"Levirate" is the name used to describe the act of marrying the widow of one's brother. It was a common, legal act back then.

Moonshadow said...

Alright, then, it's Hillary I agree with. :-) I have trouble figuring out who's speaking the way Leo quotes.

it still wasn't Mosaic law yet.

You are almost single-handedly helping me see the pitfalls of the historical-critical approach to Scripture. I should thank you.

Let's say you're Moses. You've seen the burning bush, the plagues and exodus, experienced Sinai and the wandering. You set down to write out a traditional story that everyone already knows, about Judah, his sons and a daughter-in-law. But you have now the eyes of God's Law and you bring that twist to the traditional story that everyone already knows. (Think Good Samaritan story here).

Unless the context says, "Now remember Moses hadn't received the Law yet," we ought to suppose that Moses (and God through Moses) would take every opportunity open to him to teach God's People the Law. Redeem the time and all that (Eph. 5:16).

How could Moses have written Genesis 38 without God's Law influencing him? Doesn't knowing Christ thoroughly influence everything about us?! Imagine Paul writing Romans as if the Road to Damascus hadn't happened yet.

Onan was killed because he broke God's law of giving offspring to his brother, AND because he wasted his seed.

That's fine. I don't have a problem with that.

Peace of Christ to you.

Jennie said...

Teresa,
I agree with you that Moses was teaching something here; I was just stating that at the time Onan wasn't breaking the law of Moses, but could have been breaking a law that was known then. Hillary brought that out the levirate law was in effect then, which I think might have been something God had taught the people way back to Adam. So, I think we agree.:)

Sue Bee said...

Did God strike down Onan because he practiced contraception (withdrawal method) or did God strike him down because he disobeyed the law regarding raising up seed for the dead?

While I agree that Onan’s actions were despicable, I tend to believe he was struck down for: 1) Greed 2) Deception and 3) To be an example to others who would try the same practice.

Spilling seed wasn’t punishable by death. Lev 15:16-18: “If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until the evening. 17 And every garment and every skin on which the semen comes shall be washed with water and be unclean until the evening. 18 If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water and be unclean until the evening.”

Refusal to enter the levirate marriage wasn’t punishable by death. Deut 25:7-10 “And if the man does not wish 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 perpetuate his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.’ 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ 9 then his brother's wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.’ 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’”

The underlying motivations, however, condemn his actions.
This leaves me to question the underlying motivations for using contraception in the world today. I would answer that the primary reason is greed. There certainly are other issues as well, but mostly it is about more money, more time, more stuff, less work for me, if I limit the number of children I have. It is usually a materialistic motivation (self-pleasing) rather than a spiritual (God-pleasing) decision. Just like Onan’s decision.

So while I don't believe the account forbids contraception altogether, I do believe it condemns it for selfish reasons.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Thanks Sue Bee for your input. You are absolutely right! Using contraception for selfish purposes is wrong. For example, a couple decides to have children, but the wife secretly takes birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Onan could have opted out of the marriage. Yes, it would have been dishonorable, but it would have been far better to opt out of the marriage, than deceptively take his brother's wife under the false pretence of raising up seed to his dead brother. Little did he know however was that God was watching him play out this deception on his brother's widow.

I am also glad you brought up Leviticus 15:16-18. This was one of the sexual hygiene laws of Israel. Notice that the spilling of the seed was not condemned, only that they should take a shower or bathe afterwards for cleanliness sake.

God is the one who made our bodies and the laws that govern our bodies. We know from natural law that not every seed (sperm) that is emitted from a man results in conception. Of the multitude of sperms emitted in one act, only one will attach to the egg of the female (if the female is ovulating). The remainding sperms are 'spilled' or go to waste. In the same way, if the woman is not ovulating, or is infertile, all seed emitted from the man is wasted, because none of the seed goes for conception. The 'spilling of seed' is therefore not a sin. Can you imagine us spending time worrying if the seed was wasted or not? That would certainly rob us of any joy or peace of mind we were to receive.

It is obvious from the account of Onan that people back then knew the Birds and the Bees pretty well. They knew what to do to prevent pregnancy within the limited choices they had. The choice was either - abstain or 'spill seed.' The question now is: Do we as Christians have a right to purposely limit reproduction? Or should we just mate as much as we want and bear as many children as we possibly can?

Anita C. McCants said...

Hi Hillary,
To answer your question
concerning Onan, I consulted
a study Bible. And after given
it much thought, I realized that
I am in agreement with it's
interpretation.

According to the interpretation
of Genesis 38:6-10 in The
MacArthur Study Bible "Two
sons were executed by the Lord,
one for unspecified wickedness
and one for deliberate and
rebellious rejection of duty to
marry a relative's widow, called
a levirate marriage."

Levirate marriage (The marriage
duty of the surviving brother)
is explained in Deuteronomy
25:5-6: “If brothers dwell
together, and one of them dies
and has no son, the widow of the
dead man shall not be married to
a stranger outside the family;
her husband’s brother shall go
in to her, take her as his wife,
and perform the duty of a
husband’s brother to her. And
it shall be that the firstborn
son which she bears will succeed
to the name of his dead brother,
that his name may not be blotted
out of Israel."

The following Scripture is
taken from Genesis 38:8-10:
“And Judah said to Onan,
“Go in to your brother’s
wife and marry her,and raise
up an heir to your brother.”
But Onan knew that the heir
would not be his; and it came
to pass, when he went in to
his brother’s wife, that he
emitted on the ground, lest
he should give an heir to his
brother. And the thing which
he did displeased the LORD;
therefore He killed him also.”

Bible quotes were taken from
the Holy Bible (New King James
Version)

Thanks for your feedback on
Are Self-Help Books Helpful,
or Not? It was truly appreciated.

Congratulations on publishing
your book ‘Surviving a
Global Economic Crisis‘.

I read a preview of your book,
and found it very interesting.
I'm going to pick up my copy
(or order if not available)
from Barnes & Noble today.
God bless you. I wish you
much success. -Anita

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Anita,

Thanks for your input on this question. I appreciate your answer very much. Your answer is definitely in line with scripture and the circumstances. Onan's actions stemmed from his refusal to raise up an heir for his dead brother, which he was obligated to do under the levirate marriage law(vs. 9). Clearly, God struck him down for his rebellion and not because he emitted his seed to the ground.

Thank you for your kind support. I pray that you will be blessed as you read my book.

Peace and blessings. :-)

Hillary

Anita C. McCants said...

I forgot to comment in regards to
contraception. The Bible does not
address the issue of
contraceptives. And after reading
1 Corinthians 7:8-9, I could see
how one would think that sex is
not meant for reproduction
only: “But I say to the unmarried
and to the widows: It is good for
them if they remain even as I am;
but if they cannot exercise self
-control, let them marry. For it
is better to marry than to burn
with passion. (New King James
Version)

Thanks Hillary for responding to
my previous input. I ordered you
book from Barnes & Noble
yesterday. They should have it
this week. I am looking forward
to reading it. I could tell from
reading the preview that it is
inspiring and insightful.

Be well,
Anita

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Anita,


Another great passage is found in Proverbs 5:15-20 (note the euphesims, very delicately put!:-))

Proverbs 5:15-20 (New International Version)

15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.
20 Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?


Again thank you for your support.

Peace and blessings :-)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

The question now is: Do we as Christians have a right to purposely limit reproduction? Or should we just mate as much as we want and bear as many children as we possibly can?


I am now going to attempt to answer my own question, since no one has helped me with this one :-).


I think everything all boils down to a matter of CHOICE. God is pleased whichever way we choose. To those of us who like to keep the wife "bare foot and pregnant" the Bible says:

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate" (Psalm 127: 3-5).


To the person who does not want to
have children, God says:

12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” (Matthew 19:12).

Most of us, by far, fall somwhere in between the two extremes (very fruitful/fertile versus fruitless/completely infertile). Most people want to have children, but at the same time limit the number by controlling their fertility. Most do not want to give up on sex, but many want to have the ability to control their fertility. It should be noted however that controlling your fertility DOES NOT INCLUDE destroying the products of conception. The fact that one can conceive DEMONSTRATES one's fertility, thus destroying the evidence of fertility (embryo/fetus) DOES NOT control fertility. The real test of fertility control is the ability conceive or not conceive. As Christians though, whatever decisions we make concerning our own fertility, and whatever we choose to do, everything should be done in a way that brings glory and honor to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

I welcome any other thoughts that anyone else may have.

Peace and blessings :-)

Jennie said...

You may be right that God can be pleased either way people choose, BUT He is not pleased if we do anything with a selfish and rebellious motive, as Onan did. We need to seek God and submit to Him in whatever we do, and be as sure as we can that we are doing God's will. On the other hand, I don't know that the eunuch passage could be applied to married people, since he commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, and not to deprive each other.
As you said, Hillary, the methods of contraception must also not destroy life, or have the potential to do this. This severely limits the choices to abstinence (which is not acceptable for married people for long periods), a rhythm type method, or a barrier type method. I don't think there are any other choices. The pill can allow conception, but prevent implantation, which kills the new embryo. This is not acceptable.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Jennie,

Glad you took the time from your busy day with the girls' first day back to school. Yeah, the status of eunuch is an interesting one. Jesus describes three types of enuchs: 1) Those who were born barren/unable to reproduce or with low libido, 2)those who were made into eunuchs through castration/surgery, and 3) those who decided to become celibate for God's kingdom. The status of eunuch represents one EXTREME in limiting reproduction/fertility, while the 'bare foot and pregnant' status represents the other EXTREME in reproduction/fertility. Most people fall somewhere in between - we want sex and/or kids but we also want to limit fertility.

I did a post on September 7 last year called "Birth Control and the Creator," that dealt with birth control from a Biblical perspective. Please see

http://daughterofwisdom.blogspot.com/2008/09/birth-control-and-creator.html

Also, you can read other blog posts under the label "sex and spirituality" for more, if you like. Just click on the label "sex and spirituality" on the bottom of this post for all the posts I have written on this topic. I am not saying I am right, but all my posts are based off both Biblical plus clinical education.

Peace and blessings. :-)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Jennie, I am no expert on 'the pill,' but from what I understand, the pill produces hormonal changes that prevent ovulation; but that is debatable in some circles. What we need to do is study the data OBJECTIVELY ourselves, and not bring in any preconceived biases.

As a Biblical Health Coach, my preference would be something that does not disrupt the natural harmony of body processes, or at least mimicks a natural cycle. Many of these pills have side effects that can be harmful if taken over long periods of time. In nature, one can find natural plant estrogens and progestins that have beneficial effects to the body, but I won't get into that right now. Anyway, this a topic worth further study, especially for women.

Leo said...

Hillary,

The idea behind all sexual activity being open to the unitive as well as the procreative, follows the natural law. Artificial contraception forbidden by Jewish law and this teaching has continued through the present day in the Church.

It is a sin of grave matter and is one of the reasons that Catholics now get divorced at the same rate as other Christians.

You may be surprised to learn that it was forbidden by EVERY Christian denomination until the beginning of the 1930's. The Anglican church was the first to allow it in rare circumstances and it became commonplace throughout all Christian denominations.

It is only the Catholic Church that has held fast to this Moral absolute and this can never change. Truth is truth.

Unfortuantely, many priests and bishops hated Humana Vitae when Pope Paul VI issued it, and this has caused significant division with the dissenters. When the Holy Father prophesied what would happen, many laughed at him. He said that the world would see a huge increase in abortion, divorce, sex outside of marriage, homosexual behavior and a general diminution of the human being, particularly women.

They are not laughing now.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Leo,

Welcome to my blog. Glad to see you here. Thanks for your input from a Catholic perspective. It is the sharing of ideas that helps us to understand each other and our differences.

As a matter of note, everything here about sex is for married folks only. Nothing here should be construed as being okay for non Biblical unions/relationships. Worldly people will sin and continue sinning until the end of time. We Christians ought to be the light, and must carry ourselves circumspectly in this and every age.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Leo said:

"Unfortuantely, many priests and bishops hated Humana Vitae when Pope Paul VI issued it, and this has caused significant division with the dissenters. When the Holy Father prophesied what would happen, many laughed at him. He said that the world would see a huge increase in abortion, divorce, sex outside of marriage, homosexual behavior and a general diminution of the human being, particularly women."

Leo, do you think that the increase in abortion, divorce, etc. could have been caused by other factors and not contraceptives?

Increase in abortion - development of surgical procedures in a hospital/clinical setting and the legalization of abortion.

Increase in divorce - increase ease in which divorce can be granted, eg. incompatability.

Sex outside of marriage - this might be due to contraceptives, but also due to changed attitudes and moral values.


Homosexual behavior - contraceptives not a factor. Increased general acceptance by society is a factor.

Diminution of women - An agelong struggle. Nothing new.

Peace and blessings. :-)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Is there anyone out there still feeling uncomfortable about sexual expression within marriage? Look no further than in the "Songs of Solomon" for a vivid description of sacred erotica.

Peace and blessings.

Sue Bee said...

The reality of the contraceptive age is that European & American Christians have stopped reproducing. Yes, even the Roman Catholics.

2.10 children per woman is considered replacement rate (or zero growth). Of the top 25 predominately RC countries (80 to 95% RC), over half fall below the replacement birthrate. The lowest birthrates of RC countries are Italy 1.30, Spain 1.30 and Poland 1.27. These are some of the lowest fertility rates in the world. The countries with the highest fertility rates are predominately Muslim. Very few "Christian" countries are at or above replacement rate - and those that are, are among the poorest (high infant mortality). The US rate is just above replacement due to our large immigrant population.

The evils that the pope predicted and that Leo listed are indeed the by-products of humanist thinking regarding our sexuality. When reproduction became our "decision" rather than a blessing we receive from God, we have, by our sinful nature, been enable to invent endless excuses for not having babies.

As I see it:

Increase in abortion - attitude that children are either planned or accidental, and widely held belief that children are a burden.

Increase in divorce - the family is optional. A choice. When it doesn't make us happy we have the option to leave it.

Sex outside of marriage - Able to get away with it because of contraception.

Homosexual behavior - part of change of attitude toward sex as being outside the realm of faith (not a moral issue).

Diminution of women - you see this by the thriving sex industry and widespread media depictions of women as sex objects.

--Sorry to be so long-winded! :-)

Moonshadow said...

I didn't think Lev 15:16-18 is given in the context of sexual relations. See Wiki.

This conversation might become too graphic for me.

You all probably read Christianity Today's cover story this month.

The bottom line seems to be that there are fewer mature Christian men than women at a ratio of 2:3 so Christian women wait longer ... for the men to mature and get serious ... and may miss their peak fertility years. And delayed marriage is a reason why a high percentage of professing Christians admit to unchastity.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Sue Bee,

Thanks for your comment and analysis of the situation. The statistics do show declining birth rates in European countries and high fertility rates among developing countries. I think this has all to do with balance. What is deficient in one area of the world is made up for in another area of the world, and so it all balances out. Generally speaking, high mortality rates in developing countries are balanced out by high birth rates, and low mortality rates in developed nations are balanced out by low birth rates.

Another factor is cultural attitudes towards sex and reproduction. In some developing countries, sex and reproduction is seen as sign of male prowess and power, and there may be less restrictions to sex than in European countries. For example, Muslim women tend to marry earlier, and are encouraged to have large families. The men may view having a lot of children as a sign of virility, and in some cultures polygamy is acceptable. In European countries, negative attitudes toward sex and our love-hate relationship and discomfort with it may be a factor in limiting reproduction. Male virility and largeness of family is just not something that is traditionally celebrated in European culture. Sex is seen as a 'dirty act' and unnecessary religious restrictions are often placed on sex such as celibacy, abstinence during marriage, and unBiblical restrictions on re-marriage. In European culture, a person who has a lot of children may be seen as 'out of control.' It should be noted that in the Judaic culture (the culture from which Christianity is derived), very little restriction is placed on marital sex, and family is seen as an extension of oneself and a signal blessing from God.

Again, I think reproduction is a highly personal matter, and should not be left up to what society thinks is appropriate, but what the individual determines is appropriate for him/herself, within the bounds of God's Word. Both singleness and marriage are endorsed by the Bible, and God has left this choice up to the person to decide as it best fits their circumstances. For the Christian, it is a matter of calling. While some are called to singleness, others are called to be highly reproductive, others are called to limited reproduction, and others are called to take care and nurture what has been reproduced by others.

Thanks for your input!

Peace and blessings. :-)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Teresa,

Thanks for your references. I read the Wiki article. I think they missed the point entirely. If you read Leviticus 15:16-18, in various translations, you will see that the sexual act is being described here. There is nothing unclean about sex. The marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrew 13:4). What is being detailed in Leviticus are hygiene laws to prevent these body fluids from becoming a medium to breed germs.
There is nothing nocturnal about these emissions. Sex can occur any time of the day. Also, they cited Deuteronomy 23:9-11 as support for their theories, but that passage is dealing with nocturnal uncleaness, such as bedwetting. If you read further (and between the lines) you will see instructions pertaining to bowel movements as well (vs. 12-14).

The article in Christianity Today dealt with a big problem that is plaguing the church - pre-maritial sex. Our search for the ideal soul mate, or the pursuit of material success has led to the delay in marriage for some, and hence delay in the possiblity of sex. Some Christians have taken matters into their own hands and engage in sex before marriage to fulfill a natural desire. What we need to do is find a way where young people can date in a wholesome way, so that marriage is not put off unneccesarily. I remember growing up being forbidden to date, even when I was eighteen years old! Dating was viewed in a negative light, and God help the young man who dared to show up at my door! Maybe that's why I am an ardent believer in young people's ministry. I believe that young people should be allowed to socialize in a non sexual way, and develop friendships and self-control in a controlled environment, with the hope some of them will develop wholesome relationships that will eventually lead to marriage.

Yes I agree with you about the graphic conversation. I don't think it is necessary.

Peace and blessings. :-)

Sue Bee said...

Just a really quick thought - Christians by ceasing to reproduce are left to grow our churches via evangelism alone.

Also, the #2 baby name in Britain last year was Muhammad. You can see the article here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1890354.ece

Have a blessed day!

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Sue Bee,

Muslims have higher birth rates than Christians because they do not have as many hang-ups about sex as we do. The family structure is highly valued, and family does not only consist of the nuclear unit, but also the extended family as well. Many of us have gotten caught up in materialism and have sacrificed family at the altar of pursuing worldly goals. For many Muslims, however, family is part of their most valued possessions on earth. The Latter Day Saints also have a healthy concept of family and what the family unit can be. A lot of emphasis is placed on grooming children to become good parents later in life, and to value the family structure. What we Christians have done is put up man-made inhibitions within the family unit, that threaten to really rob us of the joy and blessing of family.

You are right about church growth. Church is grown in two ways - children born into the church and evangelism. Of the two however, evangelism is the greatest because evangelism brings in 'fresh blood' within the Body and increases the genetic pool from which our Christian singles can choose from for future marriage partners. The problem arises however when these couples choose not to reproduce; but I think many will, if their churches teach them to value family as a gift from God, and the bedrock of society. Also, even children born within the church need to be evangelized, because if they aren't, they will leave the church.

Great thoughts and great points Sue.

Peace and blessings. :-)

Leo said...

Hillary,

You said
"
Leo, do you think that the increase in abortion, divorce, etc. could have been caused by other factors and not contraceptives?"

A. The problem is the contraceptive mindset and that it's not really about family. It's about selfishness. Children become viewed as a possession and a right...like buying a car.

"Increase in abortion - development of surgical procedures in a hospital/clinical setting and the legalization of abortion."

A. Again, by contracepting, we have chosen not to have a child and so we abort because this child did not have a right to be here anyway. The abortion industry has lied about how many illegal abortions there ever were in the first place. It has been admitted that the pictures widely circulated of women who died in back alleys were all fabricated. This is not to say there were zero issues, but it was propoganda just like the kind used for Darwinism.

"Increase in divorce - increase ease in which divorce can be granted, eg. incompatability."

A. I have several friends who have admitted privately to me that their marriages began to fail when they began contracepting, had vasectomies, decided they were done with children, etc. Children really are sent by God to teach us how to love and to rid us of our selfishness.


"Sex outside of marriage - this might be due to contraceptives, but also due to changed attitudes and moral values."

A. This separates the act from procreation and changes our attitudes and moral values. It reduces the sacredness of it. The major reason people got married younger was precisely because they had to wait for intimacy.


"Homosexual behavior - contraceptives not a factor. Increased general acceptance by society is a factor."

A. Let's think about that for a second. If intimacy is okay between two loving people with no regard to natural law, what difference does it make what gender they are? Sodomy is practiced as a form of artificial birth control in many places, and the leap is not great to say, why not two of the same gender?

"Diminution of women - An agelong struggle. Nothing new."

A. Yes and no. Our society has placed women on a pedestal for a long time, and rightfully so. The concept of chivalry is true to natural law but is dying because women have destroyed it by trying to be like men. We are equal in dignity but not the same. Women have attained earthly status in the secular world by destroying their fertility and children. This has had a horrific effect on society.

In the order of creation, God increased the complexity as the six days went on. Woman was created AFTER man, and was given the innate understanding of love. Just as a man is the head of the home, the woman is the heart of the home. In essence, women teach men how to love.

Contraception has turned the natural order on its ear. Did you know that the womb is the most dangerous place in this country? It is far safer to be on the streets of Harlem at night, or even in Baghdad, for that matter. One out of every three children in the womb will never see the light of day.

Satan has successfully turned what God created to be the safest place into a place of death. Our society is now filled with men and women who have gravely sinned by destroying innocent life. They are also often decision makers, which is what is rapidly leading us to creating hell on earth. Those who have killed their consciences are Satan's pawns in this end game.

Leo said...

Hillary,

Also, here is another point on contraception/abortion.

In a statement issued on Tuesday by the Diocese of Youngstown, Bishop Murray said the bill is “based on the mistaken belief that greater access to contraception reduces abortions.”

“Numerous studies as well as life experiences have shown that taxpayer support of contraception does not reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions,” he continued. “For example, a 2006 study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute presents evidence that those states which are aggressive in promoting contraception also have the highest abortion rates.”

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Leo,

First, I want to thank you as the only man who dared to join in this discussion with us women.

You are welcome to comment here but I had to delete one of your comments which was pretty graphic. The one about nocturnal emissions.

Please keep your comments respectful in this public sphere. We are trying here to have a decent conversation about something that God has given to us as gift and that is a blessing. Something we need not be ashamed of. Derogatory remarks about something that is meant to be a blessing is just not godly.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Leo said:

"The problem is the contraceptive mindset and that it's not really about family. It's about selfishness. Children become viewed as a possession and a right...like buying a car."

Leo, all I can say is"judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:1-3).

You accuse people who practice contraception as being selfish, but what of the priests who refuse to reproduce by becoming celibate? How are they obeying the command to be "fruitful and multiply?" Do you know that there are a lot of Christians who limit their family size so that they can serve God better in their church or community?

We need to be careful how we judge the motives of others, and not cast everyone in the same boat. Only God can judge correctly the intents of the heart.

Peace and blessings.:-)

Leo said...

Hillary,

You said, "You are welcome to comment here but I had to delete one of your comments which was pretty graphic. The one about nocturnal emissions."

Sorry, but I was just responding to your comment in a medical way. My apologies...I didn't realize there was anything graphic about it. I just used the same two words...no fear, I will stay off the subject.

Leo said...

Daughter of Wisdom said...
Leo said:

"The problem is the contraceptive mindset and that it's not really about family. It's about selfishness. Children become viewed as a possession and a right...like buying a car."

Leo, all I can say is"judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:1-3).

A. Hillary, Really? In what way was my statement incorrect? If it was, show me where. If not, why the protest? Is or is not the contraceptive mindset all about having the pleasure and treating fertility as a disease? Would you react the same way if I said that abortion is a selfish act? In that case, it's the mindset that it's okay to take a life to solve a problem. Incidentally, the people who murder abortionists are just like the pro-aborts. They also feel it's okay to take a life to solve a problem.

You accuse people who practice contraception as being selfish, but what of the priests who refuse to reproduce by becoming celibate? How are they obeying the command to be "fruitful and multiply?" Do you know that there are a lot of Christians who limit their family size so that they can serve God better in their church or community?

A. Hillary, you completely misunderstand me. First of all, there is nothing wrong with being celibate. The only point is that every act must be open to life. It is perfectly okay to abstain during the time of fertility, as long as there is a serious reason to do so. An extra car, or nice vacation is NOT a good enough reason. By the way, this is one of the reasons for the celibate priesthood. It allows a priest to focus 100% on the needs of his parish. As Paul said, it is a good thing to those to whom it has been given.
There is also a HUGE difference between abstinence and artificial contraception. It is just like the difference between bulimia and fasting. Bulimia allows the pleasure without the consequences of the calories. Fasting requires sacrifice to avoid the calories.




We need to be careful how we judge the motives of others, and not cast everyone in the same boat. Only God can judge correctly the intents of the heart.

A. It is not only acceptable but required to judge actions. If an action is disordered, it is so no matter how hard a person tries to convince themselves it is okay. I am not judging you or anyone else. I never judge the state of a person's soul...not even my own. This is strictly within God's jurisdiction

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Sorry, but I was just responding to your comment in a medical way. My apologies...I didn't realize there was anything graphic about it. I just used the same two words...no fear, I will stay off the subject.

Thanks Leo. I accept your apology.

Peace and blessings :-)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

All points of view on this thread have been well taken. The different variety of views expressed on this thread shows the different levels of understanding that exists within society, about this very delicate topic. May God continue to open our understanding, as we continue to search for His truth.

Peace and blessings to all.:-)

Elena said...

What is being detailed in Leviticus are hygiene laws to prevent these body fluids from becoming a medium to breed germs.

Yet, it is interesting to note with Onan, that the only contraceptive act mentioned in scripture meets with such swift, sure and fatal consequences. I looked into this in great depth a few years ago and am absolutely convinced that this is the biblical precedent for the case against contraception. I have tons of info on the topic in my Del.icio.us links. Any other interpretation simply misses the mark.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Elena,

Thanks for visiting my blog. Thanks for your comment from a Catholic perspective. After much studying of the Bible and all the associated scriptures, however, many of us Prostestants on this thread opted for the other interpretation, which is, God struck down Onan because he disobeyed the law regarding raising up seed for the dead - the Levirate law. We tried to put away our own preconceived ideas and just let the scriptures speak for itself. We tried not to bring in none of our denominational values into this process, although such values DID affect our attitudes and responses to the passage.

Please feel free, if you have the time, to look at how it all worked itself out, just using scripture.
Again, thanks for stopping by.

Peace and blessings :-)

Elena said...

Thank you,

I did follow the thread and I have actually debated this before with other Protestants.

The punishment for breaking the Leverite law was not death. It was humiliation. If God is unchanging, it seems unlikely that he would change the punishment just for Onan's sake.

And since this is the only explicit contraceptive act explicitly mentioned in the scriptures I think it is very noteworthy that the consequence was death.

As Leo mentioned, all Christian denominations held to the sinfulness of contraception until the 1930s, and then they started falling like dominoes starting with the Anglicans.

But as I said before, any interpretation that does not meet with that conclusion falls short.

Leo said...

Well said, Elena!

You know, it's funny how all devout Catholics believe exactly the same things in the deepest part of our hearts and we can back it up from scripture. These posts show that Protestants rarely find true agreement on anything in scripture. The only thing that Protestants consistently agree on is that we Catholics must be wrong in our interpretation.

When Jesus prayed that all who come to believe in Him "through the Apostles" would become truly one just as He and the Father are one, it is abundantly clear that this is simply not so outside of the Catholic Church...

Daughter of Wisdom said...

The Levirate Law

Deuteronomy 25:5-10, NIV

5 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. 6 The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

7 However, if a man does not want to marry his brother's wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, "My husband's brother refuses to carry on his brother's name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me." 8 Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, "I do not want to marry her," 9 his brother's widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, "This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother's family line." 10 That man's line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.


For the sake of clarity, I have posted above the Levirate law. Under the law, the brother of the dead husband must marry the widow of his dead brother, but HE CAN OPT OUT OF ENTERING INTO THE MARRIAGE. The penalty for NOT MARRYING is PUBLIC HUMILIATION.

If he does however go ahead and get married, he is BOUND to fulfill his obligations.

Disobedience in not following his obligations under the law, resulted in Onan's death. Just imagine what a terrible sin it would have been if Samson's father, or John the Baptist father, or Abraham, decided they were not going to have children in defiance to God. The blood line of Judah needed to be continued and Onan was defiant and uncooperative. He was struck down for defiance and rebellion against God.

It's time to wrap up this thread now. I have heard from all sides on this matter. All need to be fully persuaded in their hearts and be convicted of what is right and what is wrong. Let your conscience and the Word of God be your guide.

Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Rebellion against God is a great sin, and the penalty for rebellion is death. Let us all therefore strive to live our lives in obedience to God.

Peace and blessings to everyone.:-)

Elena said...

Just one small point of clarification. "Marriage" in the old testament = intercourse. By perverting the act of intercourse, he was in a sense side stepping the marriage, and that was why he was killed. There really is no other compelling argument - it was the contraceptive act that led to his death.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I agree Elena. It WAS the contraceptive act that led to his death. He should have raised up seed to his dead brother, according to the law, instead of trying to avoid his responsibility within the marriage.

Biblical marriage was set up different from marriage today. In Biblical times, there was a betrothal period, a kind of engagement, where the wife was spoken for. Such an engagement could not be broken except formally through a divorce (see the story of Joseph and Mary, Matthew 1:19). At the end of the betrothal period the marriage was consummated. It is interesting to note in this story that after Onan was killed, Judah betrothed Onan's brother Shelah to Tamar, but Judah broke the betrothal by not giving Shelah to Tamar for a husband (Genesis 38:14,26). Tamar then took matters into her own hands, and had twins by Judah - Pharez and Zarah (vs. 27-30). It should also be noted that when Tamar slept with Judah, no one thought of her as being his wife. As a matter of fact, she was considered a whore (Genesis 38:24).

Elena, I know this Bible inside out. There is hardly anything here that I am not familiar with. You have said your piece and have given your point of view, and I respect that. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience is foundational to the free exercise of religion without fear of persecution.

The two sides have been presented here, and now it is up to the individual to make their own decisions, based upon their consciences and the Word of God. Not all of us are steeped into denominational doctrine. Some of us just want the plain word of God. I believe that God's word stands, and will stand for all eternity. If we stand upon the truth of God's word, and allow God to lead us, we will stand.

"To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:4).

Peace and blessings.

Elena said...

The fall back to conscience is a rather liberal position. Most of the time that argument leaves out the fact that the conscience must be properly formed and educated. In fact failure to do so can be considered a sin of omission at some point.


Some of us just want the plain word of God.

I would submit that the "plain" word of God in the context you are using it does not exist. And it's probably why there is such a division in the Protestant branch of Christianity which on this particular issue of contraception includes everything from abortion being a morally licit and even prayerful act to the quiverfull folks. From where I stand on, with all the splintering, it's not much to stand on.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

The fall back to conscience is a rather liberal position

Elena, lets not bring political labelling into this discussion. Just because others do not believe as you do does not mean they are 'liberal.'

Most of the time that argument leaves out the fact that the conscience must be properly formed and educated. In fact failure to do so can be considered a sin of omission at some point.

It is true that the conscience must be properly formed and educated, but it must be educated in the Word of God, and not the philosphies of men. The Word of God has the power to discern the inner workings of the soul, through the conscience.

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

I would submit that the "plain" word of God in the context you are using it does not exist.

I know sometimes some passages are more clearer and easier to understand than others. That is why having these discussions to hear various points of views, and DEPENDING upon the Holy Spirit and God's Word to guide the process is essential. We can all learn from each other.

And it's probably why there is such a division in the Protestant branch of Christianity which on this particular issue of contraception includes everything from abortion being a morally licit and even prayerful act to the quiverfull folks. From where I stand on, with all the splintering, it's not much to stand on.

I can assure, that every wrong and immoral act is not of God. Many times people deceive themselves into thinking that an immoral act is okay as long as they pray about it. Prayer is however not the basis for our actions - the Word of God is. Prayer helps us to understand God's Word when we sincerely and honestly ask God to teach us; but we must be willing and open to receive His teaching, even if it conflicts with our pre-conceived ideas. God's way of thinking and our way of thinking is not always the same.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).




Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Just a quick word about freedom of conscience.

Politically speaking, freedom of conscience was one of the founding principles of the United States of America. Freedom of conscience is needed for the free exercise of religion without fear of persecution. It was religious persecution in Europe that drove many here to these shores at the founding of our nation. America is unique in that the right to religious expression is enshrined in the Constitution, unlike other countries. All peoples then, including Catholic and Prostestants can pursue their faith peacefully in this land.

Biblically speaking, the freedom to worship God without persecution or interference from others has been the long struggle of God's people from the beginning of time, until now. God is sovereign in the life of the believer, but others compete against this right, in order to bring our consciences into bondage to them rather than to God.

Peace to all.

Leo said...

Daughter of Wisdom said...
"Just a quick word about freedom of conscience.

Politically speaking, freedom of conscience was one of the founding principles of the United States of America. Freedom of conscience is needed for the free exercise of religion without fear of persecution. It was religious persecution in Europe that drove many here to these shores at the founding of our nation. America is unique in that the right to religious expression is enshrined in the Constitution, unlike other countries. All peoples then, including Catholic and Prostestants can pursue their faith peacefully in this land.

Biblically speaking, the freedom to worship God without persecution or interference from others has been the long struggle of God's people from the beginning of time, until now. God is sovereign in the life of the believer, but others compete against this right, in order to bring our consciences into bondage to them rather than to God."

Hillary, spoken like a true Catholic! ;-) Just kidding...
That was beautifully said!

True freedom is being able to live according to God's law. We must continue to pray that we do not lose that right in this country.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

Elena said...

The fall back to conscience is a rather liberal position

Elena, lets not bring political labelling into this discussion.



I wasn't thinking politically per se. But it does seem in the Christian realm that the "let my conscience guide me" position does tend to be more on the liberal, contemporary, unorthodox, nontraditional end of the spectrum. Of course "conscience" is a big part of Christianity, but indeed it must be an educated and properly formed conscience. It is still possible to sincerely follow ones own conscience, but still be wrong.


It is true that the conscience must be properly formed and educated, but it must be educated in the Word of God, and not the philosphies of men.

I am going to assume that you are referring to the written word of God, and I would then submit that at this point in history it would be absolutely next to impossible to read printed scriptures without being exposed to some degree or another to the taint of the "philosophies of men."

The Word of God has the power to discern the inner workings of the soul, through the conscience.

That's a false dilemma. The question isn't whether or not God had the power to discern the inner workings of the soul through conscience, but rather can the inner workings of the soul through conscience discern the will of God.


I would submit that the "plain" word of God in the context you are using it does not exist.

I know sometimes some passages are more clearer and easier to understand than others. That is why having these discussions to hear various points of views, and DEPENDING upon the Holy Spirit and God's Word to guide the process is essential. We can all learn from each other.


Amen. However that's not quite what I meant. The "plain" word of God would be the original writers putting pen to paper under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Anything after that gets more un-plain. Add centuries and geographical differences and we much of the subtle nuances of culture, custom and language. And eventually it's not so "plain" any more.


I can assure, that every wrong and immoral act is not of God. .

I agree. yet how many Christians perform immoral acts based on their unformed, uneducated or misinformed consciences?

Many times people deceive themselves into thinking that an immoral act is okay as long as they pray about it.

Yep. I totally agree.

Prayer is however not the basis for our actions - the Word of God is. Prayer helps us to understand God's Word when we sincerely and honestly ask God to teach us; but we must be willing and open to receive His teaching, even if it conflicts with our pre-conceived ideas.

Yep. Totally agree on this too.


God's way of thinking and our way of thinking is not always the same.


Absolutely.

And yet - on just this one particular part of life - contraception, how is it possible that so many Christians can read the "plain word" and come away with so many different points of view? And why do you think that until 1930 all Christians were united in believing that contraception was sinful?

Moonshadow said...

It is still possible to sincerely follow ones own conscience, but still be wrong.

But not morally culpable.

Gen. 20:6; 1 Cor. 4:4; Rom. 2:14-15, in the NIV which uses the word "conscience."

Elena said...

Possibly. Of course there can be other culpabilities instead, such as failure to form ones conscience or to sincerely seek God's will.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Thank you Leo for your kind commendation.

Peace and Blessings :-)

Sue Bee said...

...returning to the topic...

Why is natural family planning (NFP) not contraception?

My conscience says it is.

Moonshadow said...

The operative word is "artificial."

If we push definitions of "artificial," we might find that everything is ultimately "natural." Or "artificial."

But I probably shouldn't comment for, while I'll follow the teaching, I smell a loophole.

Leo said...

Sue Bee said...
"...returning to the topic...

Why is natural family planning (NFP) not contraception?

My conscience says it is."


Sue Bee, NFP can, in fact, be used with a contraceptive mindset and this is also sinful.

However, simply put, with NFP there is nothing preventing conception except abstinence. In other words, there is sacrifice involved and desire is usually greatest during peak fertility. Compare it with fasting to lose weight, where you abstain from food when you are hungriest.

Artificial contraception, on the other hand, is like losing weight with bulimia. There you get the pleasure of the food but not the weight gain.

We are not to artificially block the fertility of our bodies.

At the same time, however, we are to open ourselves to children according to God's will. We may abstain for serious reasons, but not for frivolity. The bottom line is that you are trusting God and leaving Him the ultimate option with each intimate act.

It's easier to trust God with our finances than with our bodies.

Elena said...

Yea, what Leo said. I handled this topic myself back in 06 here.

Sue Bee said...

Leo said: "It's easier to trust God with our finances than with our bodies."

LOL! I know what you mean.

Sue Bee, NFP can, in fact, be used with a contraceptive mindset and this is also sinful.

Yes. The "mindset" is always the key to whether contraception is sinful or not. If we reject God's gift of fertility/children for selfish reasons, then we are no different than Onan regardless of what contraception method we use.

I agree with what you are saying about NFP. In theory it sounds very noble, almost as if one is a martyr for practicing NFP. But, in reality, its purpose is to deliberately avoid conception.

The bottom line is that you are trusting God and leaving Him the ultimate option with each intimate act.

If that were truly the case, then one wouldn't use NFP nor ABC.

Elena said...

But, in reality, its purpose is to deliberately avoid conception.

That's the question. Is it morally licit to deliberately avoid conception?

From the Catholic perspective the answer is yes. It can be morally licit to deliberately avoid conception for grave reasons and those reasons are left to the couple, with well formed consciences to decide. Those can be life and health of the mother, finances, a sick older child, grief , and the list goes on.

But it is supposed to be the exception to the rule, not a way of life which is a point I think many young Catholics miss today and many priests don't reiterate because they're just happy to have couples using NFP instead of artificial birth control.

That said, if it is morally licit to deliberately avoid pregnancy then what is the fuss about artificial birth control? I like to use the analogy that it is licit to withdraw money from the bank by going in and filling out a withdrawal slip or going to the ATM. It is not licit to withdraw money by holding a bank robbery!

NFP acknowledges and respects the God's design for the body and for the marital act. It uses the normal fertility and infertility of the woman's body and accepts the normal consequences of the action.

With ABC, the marital act is still enjoyed but the egg or sperm is killed or maimed, normal body parts are mutilated or rendered dysfunctional. God's design for the body is something to be overcome instead of respected. And the marital act is perverted much like binging and purging where the act of eating is enjoyed but the food regurgitated to avoid the consequences.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

With ABC, the marital act is still enjoyed but the egg or sperm is killed or maimed, normal body parts are mutilated or rendered dysfunctional. God's design for the body is something to be overcome instead of respected.


Okay, lets not spread misinformation here. I understand that some feel strongly that sperm and egg should not be killed as is the case in some forms of birth control. For example, spermicides kill sperm, but I do not know of any birth control methods that kills eggs, except maybe surgery to remove the ovaries or tying off of the fallopian tubes. We see no evidence of condemnation in the Bible for people who 'fix' themselves so that they cannot reproduce, e.g. eunuchs. We see no condemnation in the Bible of females who allow their eggs to go to waste during the monthly cycle, or for sperm to go to waste during non-reproductive sex, such as occurs with an infertile woman. Hey, if you have educated your conscience to believe that destroying egg or sperm is a sin, then you should not do it.

As for body parts being mutilated, this only happens in abortion, which is a SIN.

Peace and blessings.

Elena said...

but I do not know of any birth control methods that kills eggs,

Birth control pills and IUDs can kill the fertilized egg by preventing its implantation into the uterine wall.


We see no evidence of condemnation in the Bible for people who 'fix' themselves so that they cannot reproduce, e.g. eunuchs.

Eunuchs either have no testicles or had them removed so that they have no desire to have sex. The purpose was to not be sexually active at all, not for contraception. And Paul alludes to not being sexually active for the sake of the kingdom of God as a good thing in Matthew 19.


We see no condemnation in the Bible of females who allow their eggs to go to waste during the monthly cycle, or for sperm to go to waste during non-reproductive sex, such as occurs with an infertile woman.

We know that in fact God blessed unions of postmenopausal women like Sarah and infertile women like Hannah - because they eventually conceived.


As for body parts being mutilated, this only happens in abortion, which is a SIN.


Vasectomy and tubal ligation are mutilations of normal body tissue with the intent of destroying their natural purpose.

The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. It is to be respected. It is wonderfully made. Artificial does not respect the normal function and purpose of the body. JPII spoke at great length on this in his Theology of the Body.

Leo said...

Elena, well written...

I did have one small clarification. You said,"Birth control pills and IUDs can kill the fertilized egg by preventing its implantation into the uterine wall."

Let's be clear that this is an abortion. You have correctly identified the fact that birth control pills often result in abortions. The fertilized egg is actually no longer an 'egg' but an embryo. This is one of those linguistic facades that pro-aborts use, like 'choice' and 'fetus', so as not to refer to what it really is.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi guys, sorry to interpose this question here, but lately I have been reading JPII homilies on the "Theology of the Body." I have access to the full transcript online. Very interesting stuff!

I have also seen some of Christopher West's videos on You-tube. How about a discussion on some of the aspects of the Theology of the body? Elena, would you like to do this on your blog, or would you like me to do this on mine? Please guys let me know if you all think this is worth discussing.

We have argued about a lot of things but we might some have common ground here (and disagreements, as we cannot help ourselves, LOL!).

Peace.

Anonymous said...

We have no burden to do everything we can to generate as many children as we possibly can. Our only duty in this area is to follow the guidelines given and to do nothing purposely or negligently to thwart procreation.
Some of the guidelines:
No homosex - contrary to the natural order, impossible in principle to procreate
No autosex - impossible to procreate
No "mutual" manosex - impossible to procreate
No anusex - contrary to the natural order, unlikely to procreate, unclean, impure
No oralsex - contrary to the natural order, impossible to procreate, impure, unclean
No zoosex - contrary to the natural order, "confusion," impossible to procreate, unclean, impure
If a man has two or more wives, concubines, handmaidens, if one is infertile and another is (may be) fertile, he should not waste his seed in the infertile (menstruating, pregnant, lactating, menopausal) one.
Polygamy and slavery are contrary to the law of the land in much of today's world but when the people of the Lord live in lands where they are lawful they are not prohibited by God from these relationships.