and the Catholic Church
Why do Catholics insist that
artificial contraception is wrong?
I am not sure you are aware of the
history of artificial contraception, but the entirety of the Christian church held that it
was wrong, until 1930, when first the Anglican Church first allowed it's use, and then the
other Protestant churches followed suit.
Until that time it was considered wrong for ALL Christians... not Roman Catholics only.
Life in it's entirety was respected. Many do not realize that most current methods of
birth control are simply abortificants, such as the IUD, and others destroy the potential
for life by other methods. All are deliberate attempts to control procreation, and thus
circumvent the will of God. That, in essence, is why the Catholic Church is firmly against
Honestly, think about it, to spill one's seed into a diaphragm, or condom, is no
different, scripturally, than spilling one's seed onto the ground. The seed, or semen, was
considered life-bearing essence. In fact, to offer it as sacrifice was common practice
amongst pagans, and is specifically prohibited in Leviticus. The punishment for such acts
Both barrier and chemical
contraception "wastes the seed", and spills the "seed" onto
"barren ground" in some form or another, either directly into a container, or by
making the womb an inhospitable "ground" for the seed.
Think of it this way... If
contraception was all fine and dandy, why didn't Moses talk about how to do it
"right"? Moses gave a LOT of very specific rules for a lot of different things
in Leviticus, even things as mundane as how to properly clean mold off walls, or cleanse
oneself after having their menses... but no where at all does he mention proper ways to
use contraception. Not with herbs, not with any of the other methods and techniques that
were common with the Greeks, Romans, Persians Egyptians and Babylonians ...
Many point to the passage regarding the sin of Onan, who was put to death by God, for
spilling his seed on the ground, and say that it merely had to do with his refusing to
impregnate his brother's wife, according to law at that time. Well, for one thing,
punishment at that time for that offense, that is, the breaking of the leverate law, was
not death, it was a public shaming, but not death. But God put Onan to death, why?
It is also the ONLY time a sexual act is graphically depicted in the Bible. Euphemisms are
used at every other instance. Yet, in this case, the inspired author of Genesis is
graphically specific about what is occurring. Why?
The implications of this for Genesis 38:9, where Onan's sexual act is described in
extraordinarily explicit terms, are pretty clear. At least to me, and apparently for one
thousand nine hundred and thirty years of Christians... the passages regarding Onan were
NOT about masturbation, or ancient quaint laws, as many like to believe. Onan's spilling
of his seed upon the ground was his method of CONTRACEPTION, and for this, God put him to
death. God did... not the Jews, God...
Many like to paint the "sin of Onan" as a sin of "omission", or a
refusal to follow an ancient and quaint Hebrew law that is no longer even practiced... but
that is not the case at all. Onan's sin was not only graphically and rather specifically
described, but I would assume that most folks have noticed that the Bible doesn't really
have a problem using words to describe concepts of "inner attitude" - Onan's sin
was not "hardness of heart" towards his dead brother, or his widowed sister in
law, or lack of piety towards the law ... can you see that? The inspired author rather
specifically describes the sexual act, not Onan's "feelings" or
"intent"... that is significant.
If, as Judeo-Christian tradition has
always insisted, "wasting the seed" by intrinsically sterile types of genital
action is against the law of God, then this will explain perfectly why Onan's sexual
action in and of itself would be presented in Scripture as deserving the most severe
divine judgment, that of death. In that view, we can only understand this scripture by
seeing that it was a perverted act - one of life-suppressing lust. Deliberately selfish,
There are many layers here. The heart of the matter is that he was
having sex with a woman, and chosing deliberately to use coitus interuptus as
contraception. He didn't want to have a child by this particular woman. He was
vain, selfish, and seeking to please himself while decieving everyone else. Bottom line, then is that Onan's sexual act, as such is condemned as sinful in Gen.
38:9-10 and this was the interpretation held not only by the Fathers and Doctors of the
Roman Catholic Church, but also by the Protestant Reformers, and by nearly Christian
denominations until the early years of this century.
Then why aren't there gazillions of
teenaged boys getting zapped today, you ask? See, I really can read your
mind! There are times God lets people make their own choices and their own mistakes,
and there are times God makes an example of the sinner and punishes him for all to see and
learn from. The lesson once given, and recorded, why give it again and again? Like
Jesus said in His parable about the rich man, and Lazarus, it's written in Scripture, all
we have to do is follow it. We don't need special miracles or messengers.
Another point, to think about, Augustine said is that during sexual orgasm as it is now,
the temporary suspension of reason - which he considered an indignity, like a momentary
delirium or drunkenness - it is a temporary loss of voluntary control over the body and
its movements during intercourse. No one would argue that drunkenness was acceptable,
would they? Why then do we argue that sexual intercourse using contraception, and thus
purely intended to procure orgasmic sensation, is somehow acceptable?
Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure. I am not saying that it is not! Hardly! The
Creator himself established that spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body
AND spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment.
They accept what the Creator has intended for them, when sexual union is shared in it's
intended generative, that is, procreative, function.
Marriage is NOT about folks living
together and having a good time. You would agree with that, correct? It was created by
God, as a sacred union, for the purpose of creating a family. A child does not somehow
come from outside as something added onto the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from
the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. Procreation is not a
kind of peripheral add-on, like a Voodoo video card! My church teaches that this doctrine
is based on an inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative
may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are
both inherent to the marriage act. It's not an "opinion" that sex is both for
unity and procreation, it is basic Christianity.
The custom of the last sixty some odd years does not, in any way eliminate the wrongness
of sexual behavior purely intended to procure orgasmic sensation, scripturally... that is
NOT my opinion, it is simple fact, based on an honest reading of scripture.
Personally, the level of
trust required, scripturally, on this issue, scares me to death! We each have to
walk our own walk, and pray for strength and guidance. And the Lord will grant us
strength and grace to be able to deal with what he sends us.
In His Love,
Lisa M. Alekna
Monday, June 07, 1999
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