Contraception and the Sin of Onan

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Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
Of course they are... Was the Catholic Church pagan in the 4-5th centuries? Did they have popes? I don't think that had started yet, and if it had it was just a bishop (nothing like what you see in a pope today). The Catholic Church in Augustine's time was not heretical. It was THE VISIBLE CHURCH.

Seems like you need to study church history a little more or at least understand that all pre-1000AD Catholics aren't all that bad...

Are you going to call all of the Church Fathers 'papists'? Anselm, Thomas Aquinas? (They are praised by RC).
To the best of my knowledge they believed in 7 sacraments, sacerdotal grace of holy orders, praying to the saints, and that the bishop of Rome was the successor of Peter and was the Vicar of Christ over the Church universal....so I probably would call them papists. I think the Church of Rome was corrupt almost from the beginning and truely advanced it's corruption under the Emperor Constantine.

I have these books at home in regards to views of the ECFs. It seems most of them were very diverse and very Catholic.

Faith of the Early Fathers, 3 Volumes: William A. Jurgens: 9780814610251: Christianbook.com
 

MLCOPE2

Puritan Board Junior
This may not fall into this argument but I think that it provides a unique perspective.

(I apologize in advance if this is too revealing, but I will proceed anyway)

My wife recently found out (about six months ago) that she had a blood clot in one of her ovaries. She was advised by her hematologist that if she were to get pregnant before it dissolved that she ran a serious risk of dislodging it and sending it either to her heart or brain. Both of which could result in serious ailment including stroke, heart attack, or death. She was placed on blood thinners and pain relievers (as it caused tremendous pain at times) and ordered to rest as much as possible.

Now, having said that, my question is this: Should we have not taken every precaution (which we did in limiting our marital activity and using prophylactics) or should we have run the risk of not taking said precautions and allowed whatever would have been?

It also would seem to me that some issues of stewardship should be considered when dealing with this matter! :2cents:
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
But when is it that "closing wombs" is ever described as a blessing? So the God who opens and closes wombs is akin to saying "the God who blesses (opens wombs) and withholds (closes wombs)."

Either way (and take this with a grain of salt from an unmarried man), I'm not sure that the idea that we are to try to have as many kids as possible isn't itself an over-reaction to the birth control mentality. Are we really supposed to shoot for "lots" as opposed to "few"? Or are we just supposed to have normal marital relations and leave it to our God to decide whether to grant us many or few? It seems that when we place an emphasis on having as many kids as possible, it creates a feeling of shame or inferiority in those who do not attempt to prevent pregnancy, but simply have normal marital relations, and have only a few children or no children "to show for it."
I am not settled on the matter, so you can also take what I say with a grain of salt, but aren't "normal" marital relations the very thing that would be used by God to make babies?
Also, I do believe that some people having many children can cause pride in the "quiverful" family, or shame in the barren (or less children) family. Or it can also cause joy in the QF family and sadness in the barren family. Or it can cause sadness in the QF family, and joy in the barren family. And any other combination of any other emotions. But our response to this is to love. The family with many children should love, and not judge or esteem itself above, the family with fewer children. The family with fewer children should love, and not be embittered against, the family with many children.
I think what you are speaking of is the result of sin in the hearts of the people involved, and not the necessary reaction to either scenario. Many people have one child and consider their quiver full and fully blessed. And those who don't can pray to God for his help to recognize the ways that he has blessed them. On the contrary, those with many children may not feel blessed, as they may be always striving for more and focused on what they don't have or they may be weary from having so many children, etc. They too can pray and ask God for his help to see all that he has given as a blessing.
Jessi, unless I am misreading you, I believe we may have a misunderstanding. The point of my post was that I'm not sure the "strive after as many kids as you can have" mentality is right: rather, I was suggesting that it may simply be better to just have normal, sexual relations (without birth control). And in doing so, even if it is only one child granted by the grace of God (or 20), we may all still find ourselves blessed by the LORD. In other words, I don't think birth control is good; but I'm not necessarily sold that our goal should be to have as many kids as we can, either: rather simply to "be married," so to speak, and let come what children will come.

My point about the feelings of inferiority and shame was that if we have the mentality that we're supposed to be having as many kids as we can, then those couples who are simply regularly having sex (still without birth control), but not intentionally trying (through careful timing, etc.) to have kids have the potential to be looked down upon.

[Note, however, that this is *not* to say in anyway that I think endeavoring to have children through whatever method is wrong at all! For those who have had difficulty having children and accordingly have a deep desire for the same, they can surely be out there using whatever prudent methods and means are at their disposal to aid in the process!]
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
Augustine also had some crazy views on sex (not a real good source to go to on this one)...

Part 3: I'm okay with some forms of birth control. However, I am not for NFP (natural family planning) or the Rhythm Method.
What would be your argument against using NFP or Rhythm Method?
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
Is that what He used in Scripture? No. It is His hand directly.
When the Bible talks about God as the one who heals all your diseases it does not mention he used Tylenol. Should we avoid it?
If God heals our diseases, and we use Tylenol, then presumably we are using the means appointed to His desired end.

If God opens the womb, and we use our marriages to fill our quiver, then we are using the means appointed to His desired end.

If God opens the womb, and we are using birth control, then we are not using the means appointed to His desired end.

It appears that your argument refutes itself.

Cheers,

Adam
Conversely, if God closes the womb, and we are using birth control, then we are using the means appointed to his desired end.

It cuts both ways.
 

MLCOPE2

Puritan Board Junior
It also would seem to me that some issues of stewardship should be considered when dealing with this matter!
In what way?
Certainly my wife's health is more important than the possibility of conception. I have a responsibility to care for all that has been entrusted to me as a steward of God. Therefore taking precautions to prevent potential harm would fall under being a good steward, In my humble opinion.

Similarly, if we are to be wholly in the hands of God in this matter, child rearing (and negate our God given ability to think, reason, and make sound biblical decisions as stewards) should we also avoid taking necessary precautions when driving, i.e. not wearing our seat-belts, reading while driving, talking on our cell phone's; or not taking precautions in our everyday environments, like looking before we cross a busy street (or any for that matter), learning to swim before jumping into a deep pool, etc.? After all we are in the hands of a sovereign God and if it is our time then it is our time. It seems that we have no problems making these types of decisions daily but deny any possibility that God in his infinite wisdom could possibly allow us to make decisions regarding our famiy's size.

Side Note: Don't get me wrong, I have six children and would love any God gives me above and beyond that, but that doesn't mean that I can't make a prayerful, reasoned decision as a steward of my family to stop where I am and focus on my responsibility to raise the children that I do have in the care and instruction of the Lord.
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
But when is it that "closing wombs" is ever described as a blessing? So the God who opens and closes wombs is akin to saying "the God who blesses (opens wombs) and withholds (closes wombs)."

Either way (and take this with a grain of salt from an unmarried man), I'm not sure that the idea that we are to try to have as many kids as possible isn't itself an over-reaction to the birth control mentality. Are we really supposed to shoot for "lots" as opposed to "few"? Or are we just supposed to have normal marital relations and leave it to our God to decide whether to grant us many or few? It seems that when we place an emphasis on having as many kids as possible, it creates a feeling of shame or inferiority in those who do not attempt to prevent pregnancy, but simply have normal marital relations, and have only a few children or no children "to show for it."
Actually, in the case of both Sarah and Hannah God's closing of their wombs could be considered a blessing: both needed barrenness for their spiritual maturity. Sarah needed the development of faith, while Hannah needed to wait until her heart was willing to have a child for God, not for herself. Note that Hannah was "no longer sad" before she became pregnant, not after. The blessing was the assurance of God's presence and resting in Him, not the temporal blessing of a child...
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
On the whole, contraceptives have done massive damage to our society. They have certainly done much more harm than good.

One situation where I don't think it's wrong to use them is when the wife has a medical condition such that she would likely die from another pregnancy.

Edit: It should be understood that abortifacients are not in view in the above exception.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
But when is it that "closing wombs" is ever described as a blessing? So the God who opens and closes wombs is akin to saying "the God who blesses (opens wombs) and withholds (closes wombs)."

Either way (and take this with a grain of salt from an unmarried man), I'm not sure that the idea that we are to try to have as many kids as possible isn't itself an over-reaction to the birth control mentality. Are we really supposed to shoot for "lots" as opposed to "few"? Or are we just supposed to have normal marital relations and leave it to our God to decide whether to grant us many or few? It seems that when we place an emphasis on having as many kids as possible, it creates a feeling of shame or inferiority in those who do not attempt to prevent pregnancy, but simply have normal marital relations, and have only a few children or no children "to show for it."
Actually, in the case of both Sarah and Hannah God's closing of their wombs could be considered a blessing: both needed barrenness for their spiritual maturity. Sarah needed the development of faith, while Hannah needed to wait until her heart was willing to have a child for God, not for herself. Note that Hannah was "no longer sad" before she became pregnant, not after. The blessing was the assurance of God's presence and resting in Him, not the temporal blessing of a child...
This is true, but such secret counsels and purposes of God are hidden from us, and we cannot base any of our actions upon them. Even though (of course!) these are different classes and sorts of events, we could just as easily say, "God purposed for Paul to persecute and destroy the church for a time, that his grace might be more grandly seen!" This is, in fact, true. But it is also irrelevant to the manner in which we are supposed conduct ourselves. Paul was never *supposed* to persecute the church. So likewise, we could say, that God did close Sarah's womb for a time for his own purposes: but this in no way implies that we should say, "Maybe he has purposes to close my womb for a time, and so I will help and use birth control." The closing of the womb is simply never presented in scripture as a blessing in itself; and we can only base our actions upon what has been revealed -- not upon the hidden counsels and purposes of the Almighty. [And neither Sarah nor Hannah were trying to not have kids!]
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Certainly my wife's health is more important than the possibility of conception. I have a responsibility to care for all that has been entrusted to me as a steward of God. Therefore taking precautions to prevent potential harm would fall under being a good steward, In my humble opinion.
And if the Lord knows that conception will harm her, He will ensure that your wife does not conceive. (And I think He does know!) Nowhere does scripture tell us to cross the street without looking but it does tell us that man and wife are to love one another freely.

-----Added 11/18/2009 at 06:28:18 EST-----

Good things will happen!

 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
But when is it that "closing wombs" is ever described as a blessing? So the God who opens and closes wombs is akin to saying "the God who blesses (opens wombs) and withholds (closes wombs)."

Either way (and take this with a grain of salt from an unmarried man), I'm not sure that the idea that we are to try to have as many kids as possible isn't itself an over-reaction to the birth control mentality. Are we really supposed to shoot for "lots" as opposed to "few"? Or are we just supposed to have normal marital relations and leave it to our God to decide whether to grant us many or few? It seems that when we place an emphasis on having as many kids as possible, it creates a feeling of shame or inferiority in those who do not attempt to prevent pregnancy, but simply have normal marital relations, and have only a few children or no children "to show for it."
Actually, in the case of both Sarah and Hannah God's closing of their wombs could be considered a blessing: both needed barrenness for their spiritual maturity. Sarah needed the development of faith, while Hannah needed to wait until her heart was willing to have a child for God, not for herself. Note that Hannah was "no longer sad" before she became pregnant, not after. The blessing was the assurance of God's presence and resting in Him, not the temporal blessing of a child...
This is true, but such secret counsels and purposes of God are hidden from us, and we cannot base any of our actions upon them. Even though (of course!) these are different classes and sorts of events, we could just as easily say, "God purposed for Paul to persecute and destroy the church for a time, that his grace might be more grandly seen!" This is, in fact, true. But it is also irrelevant to the manner in which we are supposed conduct ourselves. Paul was never *supposed* to persecute the church. So likewise, we could say, that God did close Sarah's womb for a time for his own purposes: but this in no way implies that we should say, "Maybe he has purposes to close my womb for a time, and so I will help and use birth control." The closing of the womb is simply never presented in scripture as a blessing in itself; and we can only base our actions upon what has been revealed -- not upon the hidden counsels and purposes of the Almighty. [And neither Sarah nor Hannah were trying to not have kids!]
I disagree with this - as I said in an earlier post, we make decisions like this all the time. Why is it any different with children?

And we also have to remember the historical context of the Old Testament. In that time, childbearing was crucial to every culture and every family - thus everyone wanted as many children as possible. That's no longer the case today. From a economic and cultural perspective, NOT having children is often a blessing today.

I do believe we should be fruitful and multiply - I just don't think we can make the argument from silence that because God never "blesses" a woman by closing her womb it means birth control is sinful. I don't think that's a leap we can make...
 

Hebrew Student

Puritan Board Freshman
ColdSilverMoon,

Conversely, if God closes the womb, and we are using birth control, then we are using the means appointed to his desired end.
That does seem to be the key issue. In all of the texts which say that God opens and closes the womb, does it ever say that he must always do so apart from human means?

God Bless,
Adam
 

MLCOPE2

Puritan Board Junior
Certainly my wife's health is more important than the possibility of conception. I have a responsibility to care for all that has been entrusted to me as a steward of God. Therefore taking precautions to prevent potential harm would fall under being a good steward, In my humble opinion.
And if the Lord knows that conception will harm her, He will ensure that your wife does not conceive. (And I think He does know!) Nowhere does scripture tell us to cross the street without looking but it does tell us that man and wife are to love one another freely.

-----Added 11/18/2009 at 06:28:18 EST-----

Good things will happen!

I'm not sure that you, or anyone else for that matter, are qualified to say that God would prevent that from happening. What if it were God's will for her to get pregnant and die as a result to bring about a greater good? (Praise God that that didn't happen!) Who are we to say what is in the mind of God or what he will use to bring about his will in our lives and the lives of all of his children?

Certainly God could have prevented it, and did for that matter, but it is very dangerous to say that He would have. That is somewhat akin to jumping off of a cliff and saying God will save me as opposed to God could save me if it is according to His will.

P.S. Don't jump off of a cliff!
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Actually, in the case of both Sarah and Hannah God's closing of their wombs could be considered a blessing: both needed barrenness for their spiritual maturity. Sarah needed the development of faith, while Hannah needed to wait until her heart was willing to have a child for God, not for herself. Note that Hannah was "no longer sad" before she became pregnant, not after. The blessing was the assurance of God's presence and resting in Him, not the temporal blessing of a child...
This is true, but such secret counsels and purposes of God are hidden from us, and we cannot base any of our actions upon them. Even though (of course!) these are different classes and sorts of events, we could just as easily say, "God purposed for Paul to persecute and destroy the church for a time, that his grace might be more grandly seen!" This is, in fact, true. But it is also irrelevant to the manner in which we are supposed conduct ourselves. Paul was never *supposed* to persecute the church. So likewise, we could say, that God did close Sarah's womb for a time for his own purposes: but this in no way implies that we should say, "Maybe he has purposes to close my womb for a time, and so I will help and use birth control." The closing of the womb is simply never presented in scripture as a blessing in itself; and we can only base our actions upon what has been revealed -- not upon the hidden counsels and purposes of the Almighty. [And neither Sarah nor Hannah were trying to not have kids!]
...And we also have to remember the historical context of the Old Testament. In that time, childbearing was crucial to every culture and every family - thus everyone wanted as many children as possible. That's no longer the case today. From a economic and cultural perspective, NOT having children is often a blessing today...
I think the crux of this discussion is whether or not the cultural change you have highlighted is a biblical one or not and whether we should bow to what the culture considers a blessing.
 

Hebrew Student

Puritan Board Freshman
Christusregnat,

You may want to start reading some new books. Gnostics would be against having sex and having children; they are both fleshly.
Christusregnat, you are knocking down a strawman. What I said is that this position came out of Christian polemics against the gnostics because they shared elements of their neoplatonic dualism [expecially with regards to sexuality]. I agree, they were inconsistent to argue in this fashion. They should have gotten rid of the dualism, instead of getting rid of the contraception.

God Bless,
Adam

-----Added 11/18/2009 at 07:10:52 EST-----

Prufrock,

Even though (of course!) these are different classes and sorts of events, we could just as easily say, "God purposed for Paul to persecute and destroy the church for a time, that his grace might be more grandly seen!" This is, in fact, true. But it is also irrelevant to the manner in which we are supposed conduct ourselves.
However, it seems like that is exactly his point. Whether or not something is a blessing is something that is irrelevant to behavior. Even things that we think, from our perspective as bad, can, in fact, be a blessing. His point is that it is irrational to argue:

1. x is a blessing.
2. Therefore, it is immoral to willfully decide not to have x.

That is a non sequitor.

God Bless,
Adam
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
From a world's perspective, the cost of raising a child for 18 years, (not counting college), is $249,000 per child
Cost of Raising Kids Table: Family & College - MSN Money, so my 4 kids will cost me nearly $1,000,000 over 18 years according to the world. Then you have college:eek:.

Using my CPA brain, these number don't add up. We can't "afford" to have 4 or more kids. But God has and will provide for us. It may not be according to our wants and wishes, but it will be according to His.
:offtopic:You didn't take into account the economies of scale. There are certain costs associated with having a child. Many of those costs can be amortized over additional children. So the average cost per child should decline as the number of children increases.

-----Added 11/18/2009 at 07:31:59 EST-----

And if the Lord knows that conception will harm her, He will ensure that your wife does not conceive.
That's poor logic and worse theology.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Even things that we think, from our perspective as bad, can, in fact, be a blessing.
This is incorrect. Bad things are overruled by God and made a blessing. They are not a blessing in themselves. It is libertine to argue, Let us do evil that good may come. It is biblical and reformed to teach, Obedience is our business while Providence is God's business. To obey is better than sacrifice.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Augustine also had some crazy views on sex (not a real good source to go to on this one)...

Part 3: I'm okay with some forms of birth control. However, I am not for NFP (natural family planning) or the Rhythm Method.
What would be your argument against using NFP or Rhythm Method?
I am against all methods which would refrain from marriage bed. :)


I believe the both agreeing for a time not to be together and pray lest they be tempted...is not for methods of birth control, and is very dangerous to do it, hence the praying part. I advise against all non-marriage bed methods. Except on rare occasions.
 

Hebrew Student

Puritan Board Freshman
armourbearer,

This is incorrect. Bad things are overruled by God and made a blessing. They are not a blessing in themselves. It is libertine to argue, Let us do evil that good may come. It is biblical and reformed to teach, Obedience is our business while Providence is God's business. To obey is better than sacrifice.
I wasn't trying to argue that we should just do evil. The only thing I need for the argument is that they are, in some sense, a blessing, even if God overrules them to make them such. If they are a blessing then, according to this logic, because God makes the evil a blessing, it is wrong for us to avoid evil.

The problem is with the logic:

blessing=you cannot willfully avoid having them.

God Bless,
Adam
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If they are a blessing then, according to this logic, because God makes the evil a blessing, it is wrong for us to avoid evil.
God makes the death of Christ a blessing. Wicked hands crucified and killed Him. On the reasoning being offered in this thread, the wicked hands should not have avoided doing the evil they did. This is a libertine error which fails to distinguish human responsibility and divine sovereignty.
 

Daniel Haley

Puritan Board Freshman
There are many syndromes out there that doctor's prescribe "the pill" for. One case would be Yasmin (the pill) for PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).

Is this sin? Should the woman just deal with the hormonal imbalances, weight gains, and increased risk of cervical cancer?

An observational study of Yasmin in the management... [J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2004] - PubMed result
what did women do before Yasmin?
Androgen-blocking (anti-androgen) medications can be used to treat several PCOS symptoms, including excess or unwanted hair growth and, to a limited degree, acne and scalp hair loss. Spironolactone, flutamide, finasteride and cyproterone acetate (which is not available in the United States) can help to relieve the symptoms of excessive facial and bodily hair, as well as thinning hair on the scalp and acne. These medications can be taken along with oral contraceptives. Note that although there is extensive worldwide experience with their use in PCOS, none of these medications have been approved for use in the treatment for PCOS by the FDA.

Insulin-sensitizing medications used to treat adult-onset diabetes are useful for many women with PCOS. While these medications have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for the treatment of PCOS, they seem to improve the regularity of menstrual cycles by lowering insulin levels. Metformin is the most commonly used drug, but doctors should prescribe it with caution. There is not enough research at this time to recommend this drug for all women with PCOS.

Birth control pills, or oral contraceptives, contain female hormones that help to regulate menstrual cycles. Contraceptives also help to lower levels of androgens, reducing abnormal hair growth and improving acne.
 

Hebrew Student

Puritan Board Freshman
armourbearer,

God makes the death of Christ a blessing. Wicked hands crucified and killed Him. On the reasoning being offered in this thread, the wicked hands should not have avoided doing the evil they did. This is a libertine error which fails to distinguish human responsibility and divine sovereignty.
Exactly. To argue that a blessing can never be refused is to argue that we must receive [or give, for that matter] every evil so that God can turn every evil into a blessing, because those blessings cannot be rejected. Such is absurd.

God Bless,
Adam
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think the use of "contraception" that destroys new life is clearly wrong.

Those couples that avoid having any children without good reason are also going against part of God's will for marriage.

There seems to be no injunction against all contraception in Scripture, as there is against theft, murder or Sabbath-breaking. If it was such an issue, why is there not?

If someone is in favour of natural methods of contraception, I don't see why they should be against artificial methods, as the purpose is the same: to stop or reduce the likelihood of conception. The RC Church takes this contradictory position, in its tradition of adding to Scripture.

Those married Christian couples who are fit and healthy and fertile should not feel bound by current societal norms respecting family size. Others may believe that it would be unwise for them to have a larger family.

"All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient." (I Cor. 6:12)

It is God who gives or witholds blessing from the farmer when he plants his crops, but God still uses the secondary means of the Christian farmer's sanctified common sense in planning what he is to sow and how he is to do it.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
And we also have to remember the historical context of the Old Testament. In that time, childbearing was crucial to every culture and every family - thus everyone wanted as many children as possible. That's no longer the case today. From a economic and cultural perspective, NOT having children is often a blessing today.
That is part of the cancer that has infected the church today. Couching it in these terms shows just how far it has gone. Whose context are you using in this particular argument to define a 'blessing'?

I'm not sure that you, or anyone else for that matter, are qualified to say that God would prevent that from happening. What if it were God's will for her to get pregnant and die as a result to bring about a greater good? (Praise God that that didn't happen!) Who are we to say what is in the mind of God or what he will use to bring about his will in our lives and the lives of all of his children?
If He does not, then such is His will for His people. Amen. Don't waste it.

(See Piper's quote on cancer in an earlier thread - sorry, can't find it, but here is a link to the quote: Don't Waste Your Cancer :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library )

And if the Lord knows that conception will harm her, He will ensure that your wife does not conceive.
That's poor logic and worse theology.
Please expand on your position. That's quite a statement to make.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
I know that my above post seems like a harsh post, but I feel uniquely qualified to make it. I have seen my wife's life be threatened by her pregnancy, but have seen God's hand in saving her and providing for her each time. Obey His word and the blessings will come, in one form or another.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think what is wise should be followed here.

It's not always wise to follow the standards of our age and limit our family to 3, 2, 1, or none.

But it's not always (never?) wise/sanctified common sense for a couple, to try to have as many children as possible.
 
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