Contraceptives and sin

Discussion in 'Family, Relationships, and Single Life' started by Jellies, Jul 25, 2021.

  1. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Why are contraceptives a sin?
    I understand that it somehow messes with Gods natural plan, but then why is NFP allowed? Isn’t that sort of exploiting your body? Exploiting it for the purpose of avoiding pregnancy? Isn’t Gods natural plan then, that you don’t try and prevent pregnancy?
    Idk why contraceptives are a sin then. They accomplish the same purpose: to prevent pregnancy.
    Also does NFP even work?
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    That contraceptives are in every instance a sin was a doctrine introduced by the Roman church in the 19th century. Even in Rome they were not condemned to that extent in prior centuries. You had doctors sell these mixtures and potions which, in case a girl was raped after war or something, she could take the next day and hope it didn’t result in a pregnancy.

    The real problem today is not the existence of contraceptives but that we approach them with a modern industrial mindset. Whereas that girl in the scenario above might take the potion once in her life, and even that instance was looked down upon; today she might take it every month for years and years, and even be celebrated for it. The Christian culture is gone, so the controls on contraceptive mentality are gone. The contraceptive mentality, the mindset is the problem; but the chemicals have existed in Christian societies for thousands of years.
     
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Contraception is not mentioned in the Bible or in the early church writings, so far as I know. So I would not be inclined to conclude that it is a sin 'per se'. However, there is another factor: some contraceptives cause a fertilized egg to die.

    Abortion is wrong. And I can say this even from a strictly scientific standpoint. The embryo, even a fertilized egg, is not merely a part of the woman's body. Every cell in a mother's body contains her unique DNA, like a 'fingerprint' ID of her. But the embryo does not contain the mother's DNA. The embryo has his or her own DNA, unique and different from either the mother or the father. It is human DNA. And the embryo is not dead tissue; it is alive. Therefore by definition the embryo is a live human.

    Now, what if a woman takes a pill that causes the fertilized egg to die? A living human (undeveloped and immature, but still human and alive) is killed. What do we call the killing of another living human being?
     
  4. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Yes but what about condoms? They don’t affect the embryo, because, well, it’s a barrier method.
    I was under the impression that BC pills caused the woman to not release an egg at all, not to abort. Isn’t that the difference between an abortifacient and a contraceptive? the only thing I’ve read is that some scientists say that BC pills “may” make it harder for the egg to implant. But even then they’re not sure. I’ve seen conflicting information.

    and I would like to say, most people in the early church were actually against contraception. I think it was John chrysostom or Jerome who said that contraception “kills” the baby before it’s even conceived. Like you’re murdering it with your thought or something…
    Also Augustine (I think) says that having sex with contraception or with men that sterilize themselves on purpose is like treating your wife as a prostitute lol.
    I mean, don’t get me wrong, the church fathers are an important source of church tradition, but it’s confusing why they’re so dramatic about it. I’m sure the Israelites used contraceptive methods and God never said anything about it. Moreover, under the old covenant law, if a man had a “secretion” whether in his sleep or during sex outside of his wife’s vag, he was deemed impure and had to do some ritual washing. Women with periods also were impure and had to do washing after it ended. Isn’t this proof of God acknowledging the so called “sin of Onan” as not sinful and rendering that interpretation wrong? I thought Onans sin was selfishness.
    On a related note, what doesn’t the Anglican Church teach contraception is wrong?
    And do you think permanent sterilization is a sin?
     
  5. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    So contraceptives are ok with a Christian mentality in Christian marriage? I also dislike the contraceptive mindset in the modern times. It’s just I have never seen it be mentioned as some terrible sin. It’s not even in the Bible. Apparently Lutherans think it’s a sin also.
    The early church all the way up to the reformers always condemned contraceptives, no idea why. I think many, like Augustine and Jerome, had a terrible view of sex. All the asceticism and self denial was evident pretty early on. Virginity was seen as superior to marriage. I think they all misinterpreted Paul.
    You can see for yourself:https://www.catholicbridge.com/catholic/contraception-early-church-fathers.php
     
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I really haven't studied this issue much, and what I expressed so far on the subject has been my opinion. But you do bring up an interesting point about Onan, because it's possible to view his sin as an unwillingness and failure to fulfill a procreative duty that he owed. And how to view that duty is something that could be debated one way and another. That scripture passage isn't entirely clear.

    Gen 38:7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.
    Gen 38:8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.
    Gen 38:9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
    Gen 38:10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

    If Onan impregnated the woman and she bore a son, that son would have been able to inherit Judah's property (possibly all of it) because Er was firstborn. Without such a son, Onan would inherit and then his own firstborn son would inherit after him. So Onan appears to have been motivated by greed, yet not so much that he declined to 'fool around' and have his fun with the woman. Greed compounded by wrongful lust and irresponsibility. That's how I take it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Now I would affirm that virginity is superior to marriage. I think protestants got a bit too cavalier on this point. We live in a sex-filled culture, where everyone believes it is right and good to aspire for as much sex as is possible to get. This is ruining us, because the sex drive is maybe the most powerful impulse in human nature. The only way to put the genie back in the bottle, before this destroys us, is to return to the patristic teaching that no, actually, not having sex is better than having sex. You can do it as a last resort, and only within the most chaste bonds possible, but otherwise it is a terribly destructive force that is best contained rather than unleashed.

    Without studying every saying minutely, looking at them more broadly I see very salutary and healthy teachings. But neither do I see a prohibition of contraception “as a sin”, or “in all instances”. What I see is the immense effort to contain the demon of sex within the bottle, in the normal course of human life.

    "Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor to Children, 2:10:91:2, 191 A.D.)


    Amen, and amen.

    However this says nothing about extreme circumstances such as rape, in which cases I highly doubt that St Clement would be too concerned about preserving the seed.

    These are healthy and wholesome teachings about the role of sex in human life, under normal conditions. We would do well to get back to them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
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  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I think the recovery of this point of view would help resolve a number of problems that Protestants have inherited from the Reformation.
     
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  9. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    I don’t know, if God created us to procreate how could virginity be superior ? It’s a noble calling for certain, but I would hesitate to say virginity is superior.
     
  10. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The teaching regarding the superiority of virginity is derived from the “evangelical counsels” from Matthew 19 (and a few other passages in the Gospels), which in turn formed the basis of the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience:
    An analogy is that there are plenty of great mountain climbers, but few who have scaled Everest. According to the traditional, pre-Reformation interpretation, Jesus is saying, in effect, if one wants to “scale Everest”, these are the disciplines that are needed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    He made us to procreate, but he didn’t make us to get “freaky as much as possible, in as many different ways as possible”, which is how most people live today. Even married people these days do freaky things with each other because they feel like, hey, chastity is for losers.

    The question is, how to recover chaste relations within marriage, and recover virginity outside of marriage? That’s where the celebration of virginity becomes so important. Once that returns as an important value for us, the rest of it will follow.

    As for procreation, have you ever wondered why traditional families (who admire virginity, believe in chastity, etc), end up having like 4, 6, 8 children? It’s because they lack contraception (see above). Once contraception isn’t a regular part of family life, the normal course of events will happen, and there will be more kids than were thought possible. But they’ll be had chastely. Win-win.
     
  12. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It will take a generational change. Modern men and women are far too inculturated with the notion of sex being a recreational act rather than a procreative one to be changed. At some point there'll be a horrible, incurable STD that kills off a bunch of people, and people will re-learn the reasons (beyond the obvious religious ones) that humans have to practice sexual hygiene. The culture in the United States at this point is more pagan and sexually immoral than it was in Corinth or Ephesus in Paul's day. (And that's really saying something.)

    Another thing Christians need to do is stress the importance of lineage, but this runs profoundly against the grain of the modern egalitarian western societies. Nobody cares who your parents or grandparents are, so the genetics argument doesn't carry much weight either. In America, the biblical commandment to "honor your father and mother" is probably the most flouted commandment God has ever given. The role of fathers generally has become so degraded in modern times that a re-assertion of male authority in the family would probably lead to a civil war (and no, I'm not exaggerating for effect).

    Basically, western liberal culture is a complete tear-down. It's irredeemable in any larger sense. Christians must operate as a remnant, in opposition to the culture. We must teach our children to be dissidents who are zealous for the Lord.
     
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  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yes, and that is a tall order in this present culture. (Warning: tangential rambling ahead.) ;)

    I saw it happen. I grew up in the '60s and '70s, and I saw how the tear-down unfolded. Neo-liberal, anti-God sexual liberation was mass-produced in books, movies, and (eventually) tv shows for general consumption, and over time it affected the thoughts of entire generations. For me, it started when my brother-in-law (who had studied for RC priesthood but left the seminary and married my sister instead) gave me some of Robert A. Heinlein's science fiction novels. Time Enough for Love made an extremely convincing case for a communal, extended-family, free-sex society in which women were eager to have babies with virile men of good genetic stock and everyone in the extended relationship pitched in to raise the kids. It made quite an impression on a young teenager's mind. And plenty more works of fiction followed to reinforce the idea that if it feels good to 'do it' and you're not hurting anyone else, why not enjoy yourself? (Of course, those books and movies usually ignored the fact that such wanton pleasure-seeking very often does wind up hurting people!)

    These ungodly, selfish views of human relations were introduced slowly at first, then they became more and more overt and raunchy as the years passed. Young, impressionable minds gobbled it up. It sounded so gratifying and, unless they were sufficiently grounded in the word of God, they were easily swayed by their hormone-enhanced desires as they fed upon the lies. Then they acted upon those lies. They lived in accordance with the false beliefs they'd picked up. Single-family households soon became the norm. And the kids raised in those households were even more susceptible to the lies. It has snowballed to the point where the problem is so big and prevalent, we can't see how to break it down.

    There is a way, though, to break up the snowball. Every individual heart must be met with, and melted by, the truth of God's redemptive gift. That task will require "all Christian hands on deck" working actively to communicate the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen for each snowflake's salvation.
     
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  14. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    That assumes the male sperm count does not continue to decline. My wife and I are open to as many kids as possible but we don't want them all at once. We try to be careful around her fertile times. We just have a 3 month old and are hoping to at least not actively try again until around Christmas. Until then we are open to i t happening but hoping not.
     
  15. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    My wife and I had an unpleasant experience with a Roman Catholic chaplain at our Navy base. He was an advocate of NFP to such an extent that it was cultish. I learned much about the system without ever asking a question because he was more apt to discuss NFP than the Scriptures.

    Anyhow, the effectiveness of that method depends quite a lot on the regularity of the woman's cycle.
     
  16. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    One of the aspects of the purity laws of Moses is that they are designed to promote fertility. Intimacy is forbidden in the week that the woman is on her period. Afterwards, she is unclean for another week. Thus, the acceptable times for intimacy in the Mosaic law are the 2 weeks when she is most likely to be fertile. And if the man is actually abstaining for 2 weeks out of the month, his sperm count is going to be very high when he is permitted to have her again.
     
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  17. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I, too, disagree with abortion. However, I'm afraid your science is quite wrong.
     
  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    In what way? Please elaborate.
     
  19. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Okay, I didn't want to take the thread of on a tangent of a biology lesson. Therefore, I shall try to be brief. However, that can be an issue as it may mean I don't fully explain things.

    First, DNA cannot be 'unique' or there would be no similiarities between us.

    DNA is simply a comparatively large molecule composed of a number of smaller molecules. DNA is built up from nucleotides and there are basically only five different types. An embryo shares DNA with both its parents. We inherit genes from our parents and genes are composed of DNA.

    In addition, we all have DNA in a structure in cells called mitochondria. This we inherit directly from our mothers.

    Of course, an embryo is not dead tissue. But, is it a human? Indeed, this is not a question for science to answer. Technically, it is only an embryo until the eighth week of gestation and would never survive outside the mother's body at such an early stage.

    I hope that answers you because I don't want to derail the thread.
     
  20. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I disagree with it in most circumstances, but I don’t think there’s any biblical warrant for considering it murder. There is no definition of ‘personhood’ in the Bible. The body/soul dualism that Christians take for granted postdates the Scriptures, and abortion is specifically treated as a property crime rather than a homicide in the Mosaic law. There’s no death penalty prescribed for it. Later Jewish Law retained the distinction: it’s generally prohibited (though there are exceptions), but it is not treated as murder. The NT doesn’t address the issue at all. The ambition of later ecclesiastical standards of discipline on the matter far outran whatever biblical or philosophical basis may have existed for them. The modern Roman Catholic Church’s elevation of the matter to a sort of “super-issue” almost in a class by itself is nothing short of a pathology. The best way to address the issue socially is to address its causes.