Why was Onan killed?


Lucifer was cast out of Heaven because he knew exactly what he was doing and knew all about God in a way that we do not.

If we choose to we could make the same sin as he did everyday without being killed so why was he taken so swiftly?



Catholics do not teach a particular measurement of time outside of the temporal world. So it may well be an anthropomorphization to say Satan got the boot “swiftly” while we don’t. Additionally, according to theological opinions, the angels have acute awareness of the truth of God’s, an intellect that far surpasses the human intellect. Thus for an angel to reject God is in a sense more severe than a human being, for the angel’s understanding of God is superior. In Pope John Paul II’s Catechesis on Angels, he says, “How are we to understand such opposition and rebellion against God in beings endowed with such profound and enlightened intelligence?”


Onan is hardly the only example or the most alarming. Consider the many youth that were mauled to do death by a she-bear.

There are several things to consider with this question.

  1. We don’t know as a matter of fact that Onan is a reprobate, though it does seem that way. We only know that God struck him dead for his crime, and thus we learn that what Onan did was a very serious matter.

  2. God holds the power and the authority of life and death, and as he is outside of time, he knows who his sheep are or aren’t. So if God chooses to act, we are not in a position to protest otherwise. Each of us may die at different times in our life, whether in the womb, as infants, as children, as adults, or in old age, and we cannot predict when that will be. But each person is accountable for whether they are with God or against him.

  3. A person that commits a mortal sin is indeed deserving of capital punishment (though that isn’t to say that capital punishment ought to be carried out, and certainly not by one sinner to another). St. Dismas at the cross understood this in his final moments. So we actually aren’t as unique from Onan as you might think.


Onan was killed because he refused to give Tamar a child as God had instructed. It was “not” the act of “Coitus interruptus” and “spilling his seed” that merited his death, it was defying the will of God by deception. What a fool to think God wouldn’t notice!:eek:


Just to extend on what Didascalia said, Onan is another example in history (beginning with Adam and Eve) of people who refuse to cooperate with God’s will. Spiritually, we can see the fruits of this in the doctrine of hell: refusal to cooperate with God brings spiritual death, just as it brought physical death to Onan.


Why is the title of this thread different from the subject matter?


Tell me more.


I disagree.

I believe that coitus interruptus was the objectively “detestable” thing that Onan did. While you rightly claim his disobedience as a reason, it was only part of the reason for judgement, I do not think it was the primary reason. It is one thing to be disobedient, its wholly another to do it in such a disgusting fashion to flout God’s will. God has a lot of patience with men who make mistakes, but this act was the pinnacle of arrogance and the culture of death.


His death was because he “spilled his seed”…in those times, a man’s “seed” was considered to be the “seed” of a complete human being. All it needed was “fertile” ground to grow in. At that time it was not understood that a woman contributes half of the child’s DNA thru the fertilization of her ovum…no one knew about “eggs” back then.

He “killed” the child he was to place in the womb…it had nothing to do with “coitus interuptus”…but “spilling his seed upon the ground”…the biology of reproduction was not understood.


Where did you get this novel idea from? It certainly isn’t Scripture because Scripture says Onan was slain for “what he DID”, not what he refused. In fact, what he refused to do already had a punishment associated with it as we read in Deuteronomy…and it had nothing to do with capital punishment, but public humiliation.

Oh, so God slew him becaue God mistakenly though that his “seed” was a full human being? Science had not yet shown God the biology of repreoduction?

God slew him for coitus interruptus…unless you are about to revel how God didn’t understand something.


this may help… rtforum.org/lt/lt67.html

God Bless


It certainly is from Scripture! What Onan did was to “avoid giving offspring to his brother”… in an attempt to avoid the punishment specified in Mosaic law! (You seem to be aware of the relevant Scripture passage (Deuteronomy 25:5ff), so I’m surprised at your assertion here!) Rather than admit that he refused the obligations of Levirate marriage, Onan instead decided to pretend that he was fulfilling his obligations; as you mention, Onan didn’t want to be outed – and humiliated – as a brother-in-law who refused to allow his dead brother to have an heir, so rather than following the Mosaic law’s prescription, which would have publicly shamed him, he made a mockery of the Law by simply making it seem that he was doing his duty. His mockery of the Law was what merited his loss of life.


There are several things going on here. And we need to understand also the implications for the “actors” in this “play” given the circumstances that they lived with.

The only thing that guaranteed you a peaceful old age was to have progeny.
Therefore a woman that had lost the husband and had no offsprings was doomed to utter misery and poverty.
The LAW in order to address this gave a “solution” considering the circumstances.

If the widow had Brothers in law she could ask her father in law to allow for the oldest brother to provide the seed for offsprings which would be considered son and daughters of the deceased husband.

Now let’s see what Onan did.

He obbeyed his father and went to the woman (However he did not intend to keep the law)
So he took sexual advantage of the woman but denied her the possibility of having children.
The means he accomplished this was by not completing the sexual act and spilling the seed as the Bibble tells us.

So how many things did this man do wrong? apart from “spilling the seed”
He was killed because of the egregious manner he decided to defy God’s law.

He could have said no to his father request, He would be breaking the law but probably he would not have been killed.
By saying yes, he lied to his father, slandered the law of God, fornicated with the woman and denied his dead brother the continuation of his name. Not to mention the sustent of the widow in her old age.

Any one has any questions WHY God took his life?

Peace :thumbsup:


Good point – I meant to come back here and add this to my post, but I see you’ve beaten me to the punch! :thumbsup:

(Notice that in acting in this way, Onan avoided the only legitimate means by which he could have had relations with his sister-in-law …)


Concur, excellent explanation. :thumbsup:


Concise, accurate, true.:slight_smile:


God cannot contradict himself and so this cannot possibly be true.

Both law and the punishment for breaking the law were divine commandments of God. For God to have commanded public humiliation as punishment for transgression of a specific law, and then for that same God to have taken the life of someone who transgressed that law is an injustice and God cannot be injust. God is perfectly just.

God cannot command one punishment and then hand down a different and harsher punishment in direct contradition of himself. God cannot say X and then do Y. God cannot contradict himself.

The punishment for not giving offpsring to your brother’s wife was public himiliation. That was the punishment. If Onan recieved a harsher punishment then it was for something different because God cannot contradict himself.



No. False.

God is perfectly just and God cannot contradict himself.

The punishment for not giving offspring to your brother’s widow was public humiliation. That punishment was a divine commandment of God.

For God to command that the punishment for not giving offpsring to your brother’s wife was public humiliation, and then for that same God to take a man’s life for that crime is an injustice. God cannot be injust. And God cannot contradict himself. God cannot say A and then do Y because God cannot contradict himself.

If Onan recieved a different, harsher punishment than that perscribed by God for not giving offspring to his brother’s widow then it was because his crime was different. That’s all there is to it.



That sounds great and all, but it’s not what Scripture says. Is you interpretation of that passage fallible, or infallible? The position I am putting forward happens to be in accord with Catholic Doctrine on contraception, and happens to be the understanding of all the available Christian writings I’ve read from history. What Christian writings do you have to support you assertion that Onan was slain by God because of his lack of abiding by Leverite Law as opposed to committing coitus interruptus? And if you view is contradictory to the infallible Church, what makes you think you have it right? Did the Holy Spirit forget to lead the Church to a proper understanding of this verse?


:thumbsup: Our God…He’s so logical sometimes. :rolleyes:

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