Monday, January 22, 2007

Luther: Contraception a "most disgraceful sin"

The first of several voices from church history, from Martin Luther's Lectures on Genesis, on Genesis 38:

Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment.... He preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother.

As found on BaylyBlog.


jamie said...

Yes, this (Onan) is a biblical example that the Catholic Church uses against contraception as well. (I'm Catholic.) I just read another website authored by a Protestant who was trying to justify contraception using Paul's writings as an example, saying that "husbands and wives are not to deny each other--except for a short time-- lest they fall into temptation." However, in Paul's day, I really don't think contraception was the issue it is today--in fact, I would say that in Paul's day, the majority of the population viewed children and large families ("a quiver of arrows") as a blessing. Surely, there was no pill, no condoms, etc. Furthermore, there is biblical evidence (Paul?) warning against the use of pharmakeia (many Biblical scholars cite pharmakeia as the use of herbs, etc. as a primitive form of contraception linked also to abortion.) My husband and I just had our third baby a few months ago, and up to now, we have been open to life (children). It is only recently (I'm nursing our son) that it has become a more difficult issue. (We use natural family planning, but with nursing, it's difficult to read cycles accurately.) So for the time being, we are just abstaining. Not necessarily fun, but not the end of the world either. It's a sacrifice we are making for our family and for the sanctity of our marriage. It's not that we are completely opposed to more children, but we feel it's just too soon while our third son is still a baby. At some point, though we may feel that we shouldn't have any more, and that will be difficult. I wish the world were more like it was in Paul's day (minus the martyrdom, perhaps!) and that we as a society were more open to large families, etc. I truly feel that a big part of the problem is that society paints the sacrifice of abstaining as a bigger sacrifice than it really is. Our society is so sex-driven and disordered that the "world" tells us it is impossible to abstain. What a joke! We are intelligent human beings. We are not animals. When we put things in perspective, we realize that in the natural God-ordained order of things, sex has its place and it is awesome and sacred and important. But there are other things that are also awesome and sacred and important. Sex does not trump everything else, as society would have us believe. We must keep everything in proper perspective and order our lives toward the goal doing God's will, finishing the race, and keeping the Faith. We must look to the example of those saints who have gone before us and did not even have recourse to contraception, who often died in childbirth, lost children at a young age, and suffered persecution and death for their Faith. When I consider all our predecessors had to go through, in life in general,and for their Faith, I realize how lucky we are today and how small our sacrifices really are. (As a side note, I have to admit that in many ways our marriage has matured and become stronger through this sacrifice and through NFP.) I hope this helps!

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