Contraception?


#1

I forgot the verse and chapter in the bible but its where a man lays down with his dead brothers wife. Many say that the sin was not laying down with his brothers wife but the act of spilling his seed. If I understand this correctly if the man layed down with his brothers wife to bring forward new life than there would be no sin, but the sin was the man had lust for his dead brothers wife and had no attention of making babies, when that time came he stopped and spilt his seed.

My first question is was the sin spilling the seed? Or the reason for doing this act? i.e. lustful act of sex

If he was married to this woman and wanted to enjoy the act of love with his wife, would it be a sin for him to spill his seed? ie not finishing the act of love?

My challenge is this sex is two fold, it is the process that we procreate and in the same act it is love between a man and a wife. So how do we unite the two and how do we seperate the two?

To my understanding it is a sin to use contraception because within the love act we have to be open to life and we cannot have something unnatural preventing this outcome, now NFP is a natural process that will allow us to decide when to pursue procreation, it is a natural process that each woman goes through.

I have read and researched the history of contraception from the Church view point and from the bible and I fully support the Catholic Churches take on this issue, I hope to gain further insight on this topic and a few topic points to the questions I have asked above.


#2

The offender was Onan. The incident is recounted in Genesis 38:8-10:

8Then 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.” 9But 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. 10And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and he slew him also.

Later in Deuteronomy 25:7-10, the penalty for a man who will not raising up children to a dead brother is described:

9then 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.’ 10And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, The house of him that had his sandal pulled off.

Since the penalty of refusing to do his brotherly duty was a spit in the eye, the severity of Onan’s punishment (death) seems to me to imply that he was being punished for more than that. It seems to me that Onan was punished for practicing contraception.

The commentary in the 1970 New American Bible on Genesis 38:8 understands it differently, saying:
The ancient Israelites regarded as very important their law of levirate, or “brother-in-law” marriage; see notes on Dt 25, 5; Ru 2, 20. In the present story, it is primarily Onan’s violation of this law, rather than the means he used to circumvent it, that brought on him God’s displeasure (vv 9f).


#3

Hi Todd,

  I’d like to throw in a few comments and I’m sure I’ll be shot down for some of them.

A bit of history (as I remember it). At the start of Vatican II the curial cardinals expected to dominate all the committees & wrap up the council very quickly. The other cardinals rejected this and didn’t allow this to happen. One of the senior curial cardinals (whose name I can’t remember) didn’t like this. At some point he made a speech which went on too long (they were allowed I think it was a max of 10 mins). He was cut off effectively by the conclave clapping him to indicate he had finished. He was so miffed he walked out and didn’t return.

The Pope Paul VI took the issue the issue of marriage and contraception out of the council and reserved it to himself. He set up a commission to look into the matter headed by the said cardinal. There were complaints that the commission despite being about marriage included no married people and so it was enlarged and one married couple included. They took many submissions from ordinary lay men and women as well as theologians. Eventually they produced a report which has never been published, although heavily leaked. It included a recommendation that contraception be considered licit for married couples.

The cardinal who headed the commission disagreed and put in a minority report (I’m not totally sure about this last point). He persuaded Paul VI not to make any decision. He then set up his own private commission whose members were all clergy, hand picked by him. This finally advised the Pope that to make any changes from previous teaching would undermine the authority of the Church. The Pope went along with this and eventually produced Humane Vitae.

Unfortunately (I think) he gave no arguments for rejecting contraception other than referring back to “Casti Conubii” which itself gave no arguments but just affirmed previous teaching.

The previous arguments generally put forward had been the sin of Onan and Natural Law. The sin of Onan was, by this time, generally rejected as an argument because ofr the point about it being disobedience to God concerning raising up children for his brother rather than the method he used.

Natural Law was supposed to be obvious to any reasonable person. But it seemed that it was only obvious the catholic clergy.

This led to Pope John Paul II calling for theologians to find new grounds for banning contraception (which seems an admission that previous grounds were inadequate). Thus came forward the “open to life” argument which as far as I know is a novel (i.e. new argument).

Whatever the righst and wrongs of contraception the way it has been handled has been a disaster for the Church.

Another point is that unit Vatican II (or perhaps Humane Vitae) there were seen to be two aims of marriage - procreation, which was the primary aim, and the good of the relationship (I can’t remember the proper term for this being a secondary aim). But at this time the two were considered equal which has led to argumants about whether every act must be open to life, or whether the good of the relationship take precedence, and we should look at the totallity of the marriage acts.


#4

your version of the history of Humanae Vitae left out some vital facts and also made some unverfired statements. HV was the work of Pope Paul VI teaching on faith and morals and is binding on all Catholics. If you want to tell a detailed story like these please bring your references and proofs for the historicl details provided.


#5

Steve,
Even if your review of what happened during and after Vatican II was historically accurate (which I question), the fact is that the Holy Spirit was working even in spite of anyone who wanted to change the teaching of this core doctrine and teaching of the Church. If you 1) look at the historic teaching including the early Church fathers, 2) look at every Christian denomination’s position on artificial birth control up to 1930, 3)really read Humanae Vitae, JPII’s Theology of the Body, 4) Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical Deus Caritas Est, there is no way the Church would or could have submitted to what “some” were proposing in terms of a change in teaching around VII.

I also take issue with your suggestion that the Church has handled this issue poorly. The fact that many looked for loopholes to Humana Vitae was their fault, not the Church’s teaching. The Church has always been clear in this teaching, its our willfulness and sinfulness that has brought the chaos.
May God Bless you!


#6

To those questioning the authenticity of Steve99’s account; he is largely correct. You can find out more in Robert Blair Kaiser’s The Politics of Sex and Religion.

One significant point: All of that is meaningless. To change the teaching which was a deposit of faith (which cannot be done) or even to change something so strongly held WOULD undermine the authority of the Church.

But the teaching was always valid. It took time to more effectively articulate it, naturally, and today we have a most cogent theological explanation thanks in part to writings such as Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body.

The reasoning behind the objecting married couples on that commission or the theologians were merely poor theology and indicative of the Hans-Kung type era of dissident, liberalized, Protestant-like theology.

None of it stood to reason or to the Tradition of the Church or to Scripture or to theology or to the fruits of married life. It is unfortunate that this time period is so much more well known that the Church’s current understanding of the matter.

I know a priest who gave a homily about this and began with a question about how many people had actually ever heard the Churhc teaching or knew what it was. Very few knew.

We hear about 92% of US Catholics disobeying the teaching. Evangelization is needed, and then that 92% will be responsible for the grave mortal sin committed with every contraceptive act. Nitpicking about uncertainty on the part of the commission is wasteful and is time better spent evangelizing improperly catechized Catholics who need to know in a BAD way that what they are doing in their marriage with respect to contraception must be in line with Church teaching (i.e., not using it).


#7

[quote=Mike O]To those questioning the authenticity of Steve99’s account; he is largely correct. You can find out more in Robert Blair Kaiser’s The Politics of Sex and Religion.

One significant point: All of that is meaningless. To change the teaching which was a deposit of faith (which cannot be done) or even to change something so strongly held WOULD undermine the authority of the Church.

But the teaching was always valid. It took time to more effectively articulate it, naturally, and today we have a most cogent theological explanation thanks in part to writings such as Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body.

The reasoning behind the objecting married couples on that commission or the theologians were merely poor theology and indicative of the Hans-Kung type era of dissident, liberalized, Protestant-like theology.

None of it stood to reason or to the Tradition of the Church or to Scripture or to theology or to the fruits of married life. It is unfortunate that this time period is so much more well known that the Church’s current understanding of the matter.

I know a priest who gave a homily about this and began with a question about how many people had actually ever heard the Churhc teaching or knew what it was. Very few knew.

We hear about 92% of US Catholics disobeying the teaching. Evangelization is needed, and then that 92% will be responsible for the grave mortal sin committed with every contraceptive act. Nitpicking about uncertainty on the part of the commission is wasteful and is time better spent evangelizing improperly catechized Catholics who need to know in a BAD way that what they are doing in their marriage with respect to contraception must be in line with Church teaching (i.e., not using it).
[/quote]

Mike,
Exceptionally well said. The Holy Spirit, regardless of attempts by man to the contrary, will not be thwarted.
May God Bless you!


#8

[quote=byHisGrace]Steve,
Even if your review of what happened during and after Vatican II was historically accurate (which I question), the fact is that the Holy Spirit was working even in spite of anyone who wanted to change the teaching of this core doctrine and teaching of the Church. If you 1) look at the historic teaching including the early Church fathers, 2) look at every Christian denomination’s position on artificial birth control up to 1930, 3)really read Humanae Vitae, JPII’s Theology of the Body, 4) Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical Deus Caritas Est, there is no way the Church would or could have submitted to what “some” were proposing in terms of a change in teaching around VII.

I also take issue with your suggestion that the Church has handled this issue poorly. The fact that many looked for loopholes to Humana Vitae was their fault, not the Church’s teaching. The Church has always been clear in this teaching, its our willfulness and sinfulness that has brought the chaos.
May God Bless you!
[/quote]

I was going to come back and say that the history I gave was based on a television documentary of several years ago on the Catholic Church (called The Absolute Truth). I thank Mike O for his support on this, and giving more verifiable reference since you can’t see the documentary yourslves.

On the point about the way the Church handled this issue we can of course all have our points of view. I lived through it, and remember the furore. Three points I would make:

  1. There were leaks about the recommendations of the commissions which I can’t remember the Vatican doing anything to correct. As a result huge expectation built up. This should not have been allowed to happen.

  2. I think HV was weak on argument, relying too much on just referring back to Castii Connubii and Trent. As a result the authorities, including Bishops, came across as very weak in their defence of its teachings. They just didn’t have answers, or at least ones that they could put across well.

  3. Mike O said *“I know a priest who gave a homily about this and began with a question about how many people had actually ever heard the Church teaching or knew what it was. Very few knew.” *We have to remember that pre-Vatican II there were no homilies - at least in my experience, just the occasional appeal for money. So we weren’t getting the Church’s teaching. There was no CCC, no catechetics.

Thank goodness the Church has been trying to put this right.


#9

I read somewhere that while Pope Paul VI was studying the issue prior to writing Humanae Vitae he was reading a book called Love and Responsibility written by a Polish priest, Fr Karol Wojytla. :cool:


#10

[quote=steve99]We have to remember that pre-Vatican II there were no homilies - at least in my experience, just the occasional appeal for money. So we weren’t getting the Church’s teaching. There was no CCC, no catechetics.
[/quote]

I know we had sermons back then because my parents often discussed points of the sermon on the way home from mass with us children to make sure we understood. It was one way they catechised us.


#11

The interesting thing with Onan is that was this a one time type event. Allright we know he did not want to father children to his dead brothers wife so he spilled his seed on the ground, Obviously the context behindit was that Onan by spilling his seed on the ground ensures that the woman cannot get pregnant.

It is indicated that it is Onan’s contraception that is the main point behind the extent of the punishment.

Can someone now tell me what is the difference wiht NFP when we deliberately go about learning the biology of the body ( which was not known for the previous 1900 years) so that we can frustrate the act of conception, by deliberately finding out when we can and can not get pregnant and then using this knowledge to ensure that wedon’t get pregnant, have we not spilled our seed in vain, knowing that no conception can take place becasue we have deliberately ensured such a thing.

The reaosn I bring it up is becasue NFP is allowd under some cirumcumstances but not others. By the very fact that the circumstances are limited in their availability for use, is it not an automatic agreeance that NFP is in fact unlawful in gods eyes, due tot he deliberate intention of avoiding pregnancy knowing that if used at the right time, pregnancy would occur most likley.

thanks

Tim


#12

[quote=Texan in DC] I forgot the verse and chapter in the bible but its where a man lays down with his dead brothers wife. Many say that the sin was not laying down with his brothers wife but the act of spilling his seed. If I understand this correctly if the man layed down with his brothers wife to bring forward new life than there would be no sin, but the sin was the man had lust for his dead brothers wife and had no attention of making babies, when that time came he stopped and spilt his seed.

[/quote]

Others have provided the story of Onan from the OT so I won’t repeat that. I do point out it doesn’t matter what “many say”, it matters what the Church says. And, the Church says the sin is contraception.

[quote=Texan in DC] My first question is was the sin spilling the seed? Or the reason for doing this act? i.e. lustful act of sex
[/quote]

The sin was contraception, an incomplete sex act without ejaculation into the woman.

[quote=Texan in DC] If he was married to this woman and wanted to enjoy the act of love with his wife, would it be a sin for him to spill his seed? ie not finishing the act of love?
[/quote]

Yes.

[quote=Texan in DC] My challenge is this sex is two fold, it is the process that we procreate and in the same act it is love between a man and a wife. So how do we unite the two and how do we seperate the two?
[/quote]

We do not. That is exactly the point. EVERY act must be both unitive and procreative. A loving act and a life giving act (objectively speaking). By objective I mean that the act may not actually result in conception, but nothing was done to prevent it from doing so.

[quote=Texan in DC] To my understanding it is a sin to use contraception because within the love act we have to be open to life and we cannot have something unnatural preventing this outcome, now NFP is a natural process that will allow us to decide when to pursue procreation, it is a natural process that each woman goes through.
[/quote]

Well, sort of. It’s not “natural” versus “unnatural”. The determination is this: if the couple has sexual intercourse that intercourse must be objectively unitive and procreative. It must be an unaltered and completed act of intercourse. You can choose to not have intercourse at all, but if you do choose to engage in the marital act it must be unaltered and it must be complete.

I hope my answers helped.


#13

Hello,

This is a good topic, one that should be talked about in churches and the class rooms.
My feelings are that it goes back to our covenant with God.
We give ourselves to Him totally and He to us. The act of making love is wonderful and should be enjoyed. This is reserved for married couples only. Since marriage is a Sacrament, we receive graces from this union by placing our trust in God. When a man lays with his wife, he gives himself to her completely and she to him. If one portion is held back then a person is not completely sharing with their spouse. We place our trust in God that He knows best.
When using NFP and only for serious reasons we are always open to life. There is never a time that conception cannot take place. The body is a wondrous thing and completely unpredictable! There is a couple we know who have conceived while using NFP and they are very happy about it as they see it as an act of God and a blessing. It happened during a time when she should not have been fertile. So this is a prime example of the will of God going before our will.
The problem begins when we no longer place our trust in God. To think that we know what’s best for us is pushing God out of our lives. The Church upholds this belief. So, I can only speak for my wife and I, but since we started placing our trust in God we enjoy our sex life more then ever. We don’t have as much sex as we used to but now it’s much better. For us it’s an understanding that I have a gift which I give freely and she accepts it; she has a gift which is given freely to me which I accept and if the good Lord wishes to bring a new soul into this world then we say, ‘fiat’.(be it done unto me according to thy will)

Before we came to this understanding, sex was reduced to a mere physical act. It was made perverted by what we saw on TV and everywhere else, by what we were conditioned to believe about human sexuality and a false need to engage in this act.

Pope John Paul II writes: “The two dimensions of conjugal union, the unitive and the procreative, cannot be artificially separated without damaging the deepest truth of the conjugal act itself.” (Letter to Families)
I hope this helps.

Your brother in Christ,

Scott


#14

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