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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    That’s what I always thought as well. Although it appears most church fathers are against contraception for some weird reason. The Torah actually acknowledges the whole “pull out” thing and labels it as ceremonially unclean, aka not a sin. I wonder why most of them interpreted Onans sin as being “pull out” and not the selfishness which he did it with? It seems my interpretation is at odds with most of the historical ones. Yet I can’t find it in me to interpret it any other way.
     
  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I'd rather not delve into specific examples. I think you have to start with common sense and then work your way from there. Belief without sense is fanaticism.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2021
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I've highlighted the key element in your statement. Penance is never able to contribute toward receipt of God's forgiveness. But in past times penance was required by the church in order to be received back into the congregation (Hippolytus of Rome described this). You see, man doesn't forgive so readily as God forgives; and man acts suspicious and wants outward signs to confirm that repentance is genuine (the latter is reasonable in light of mankind's general deceitfulness). But God sees the heart, and if a man's repentance is genuine, at that very moment he is forgiven by God. And (lo and behold) the man doesn't need to run to a priest for absolution, either, if he knows God's promise and trusts in Him to keep His word.

    So if a 'return to the congregation' is the context in which you intended for the introduction of penances into the discussion, I apologize for jumping to the wrong conclusion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2021
  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think if we disentangle the (almost insurmountable) Roman brambles from this and other topics, then the answers become a lot clearer. It's hard when you have 1.2 billion people who have tainted the well for so long, that one no longer knows the left hand from the right, and everything is a hall of mirrors.

    I'm not willing to let Rome corrupt my understandings of penance, absolution, (which, you're so right with citing Hyppolytus, have an unimpeachable pedigree). Without Rome to be afraid of, I'm not triggered by these topics. I let them stand on their own merits. I understand why someone else would be triggered by them, however.

    We're overcoming a 500-year old PTSD syndrome. I'm okay with letting another 500 years pass before we fully recover. The church thinks in centuries and millennia.
     
  5. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Honestly I think it’s almost wrong to not require penance for certain things nowadays. We’ve had people in our church openly committing adultery and they get mad for being taken out of the membership (baptist church btw). Which is one of the reasons i dislike the baptist church government. People do whatever they want with the Pastors and get mad for being punished by the church when they’re flagrantly sinning.
     
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  6. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Well why did they all teach against contraception then? That’s my question. Were they all just fanatics? Uneducated on science? Influenced into thinking sex is wrong for anything other than procreation?
    When the beliefs of Christians centuries before me differ from my own, the only logical question is to ask why. Which is partly why I made this thread, to know what people think and how the church fathers play into that.
    I can’t think of a common sense reason as to why contraception is wrong so I’m trying to look at it in a theological way… still have yet to find it. But the early Christians disagree with me for some reason so I’m curious as to why
     
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  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    You've got it!!! And yeah, even Baptists have a version of penance. It's a normal healthy part of living being in the Body of Christ.
     
  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Bingo.

    The Church Fathers were noble examples of fortitude in the face of persecution, but most them did not have access to the Scriptures in the original languages and in any event they were oftentimes not particularly reliable exegetes by modern standards. Many of their interpretations and emphases should be taken with a grain of salt. Educated people in those days did not have a concept of what we would call historical-literal exegesis. You should read James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible for an exhaustive and fascinating treatment of this very issue.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2021
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Let me put it to you this way. There was a philosopher called Immanuel Kant in the late-18th century. He's easily among the top-5 most influential people in all of human history, because (to make things short), he was the guy who undid the whole Christian world, and basically gave us modernity. Among some philosophers (who value traditional philosophical views) he is considered one of the most evil men in history for how much negative impact he's had on Western civilization. So you'd think that everything he wrote is pure evil, toxic poison, right? Not at all. This guy who unchained human morality from all foundations, nevertheless had this to say about masturbation:

    "That such an unnatural use (and so misuse) of one's sexual attributes is a violation of one's duty to himself and is certainly in the highest degree opposed to morality strikes everyone upon his thinking of it. Furthermore, the thought of it is so revolting that even calling such a vice by its proper name is considered a kind of immorality"

    Why would the father of modernism say such surprisingly non-modern things? Because even he, living in his comfortable 18th century Germany, resonated with certain unnamed and almost-invisible threads of a Christian worldview. He valued the procreative act of the man and the woman so much (by inertia of the Christian civilization around him), that this useless act to him was more revolting than a vice. More revolting that a vice.

    Can you today present an apologetic against masturbation that would paint it in such colors? Probably not, and it's a struggle to find chapter and verse against it. Many Christians indulge in it no less than any unwashed heathen. Yet this father of modernism was so steeped in the unnamed and almost-invisible threads of the Christian worldview, that even his stomach revolted against it.

    What are some of those unnamed and almost-invisible threads? Well that the unitive act of the man and the woman is that special. Today it's nothing super-special to us. And it wasn't very special to the pre-Christian greeks and romans either. People were getting it on left and right; what's the big deal? It was only these Christians in the corner, these silent mystical types, who saw it as so very special.

    And that's a big component of why the church fathers saw contraception as a problem. It wasn't something that required a treatise of apologetics. Its logic flowed out of the harmonic music of the universe, a music which only a Christian ear could hear.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2021
  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Some folks think that the RCC opposed contraceptives so strongly because they wanted large RC families, and thus more RCs in the world. More RCs meant more donations, more power and influence, etc.

    My parents caught me masturbating when I was 7 years old. They shamed me by not letting me pull up my underpants, and then my father (extremely angry) yelled at me that if he ever caught me doing that again, he would cut my hands off! Knowing my father, I believed he would really do it, too.

    No explanation as to why I was not to do it. Just that horrible threat. I grew up not knowing any reason why. I certainly wasn't about to ask!! :no:

    You can be very sure, they never caught me at it again!
     
  11. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Here we hit upon another problem. What is the heart? In the religious matter of ensoulment who decides what the heart means?

    The structure that pumps in the three-week-old embryo is nothing you would recognise as a heart.
     
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  12. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This, about ten thousand times.

    That's ridiculous. That's like saying euthanasia is a treatment for cancer. Contraception is prevention of a pregnancy, not a termination of it.
     
  13. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Contraceptives are not a sin per say. It is how we, as Christians, have just accepted them whole sale and as normal that has led to the problems. Once we started to really mainstream the decoupling of sex from possible pregnancy is when we started to get all these problems. We can basically make hetero sex about as sterile as homo sex. I actually see a thing line from birth control to legalizing gay marriage. I don't think you get gay marriage without the whole sale adoption of birth control.
     
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  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Whatever happened to a married couple praying to God and asking, "Lord, is it Your will that we should conceive? Or may we use contraceptives and delay having a child?"
     
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  15. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The problem with that is twofold:
    (1) how are they supposed to know what the ‘answer’ is, and
    (2) doesn’t the question presuppose that it hasn’t been answered already? - That would seem to be a logical question to ask first.
     
  16. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    They could listen :)
     
  17. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    To what?
     
  18. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I'm still researching the question, and would just ask all of us to research it further, from this important angle of ensoulement. If we don't use this angle, what we have to fall back on are matters of biology. But biology (or any science) isn't sophisticated enough to give answers on questions of what constitutes humanity, as thousands of years of Christian thinking on this question have taught.

    As for why the heart: that's just a heuristic proxy for when the soul enters the body. When does the creature begin to live as a human being? Let's begin to have long-term discussions on that question, is all I'm saying.
     
  19. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Honestly I think it’s all about control with them and keeping up appearances of unchanging doctrine. Something like 80% of the leaders present in the RCC contraception meeting in the 60s voted pro birth control pill. Of course the supreme pope can do whatever he want and ignore the votes, and that he did.
    When I look at why the RCC bans abortion, it’s a convoluted process of natural law and over analyzing things in typical RC fashion. Instead of just saying Christians need to be open to life, that Christian life is about sacrificing and that abstinence is the best form of contraception for a Christian family because it encourages sacrifice while still allowing you to plan your kids, they go and just say it’s an evil sin to wear a condom. I think the Orthodox Church does it better. On one of their websites I read that it’s kind of like eating chocolate cake. Eating is meant for the intake of nutrients. A chocolate cake has 0 nutrients, and yet eating some once in a while isn’t a sin. Using artificial contraception for very valid reasons isn’t a sin. I agree.
     
  20. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    That’s very true. I’ve read about numerous things Augustine interpreted wrong, for example, because he only read Latin and was very bad at Greek. But a lot of people will get themselves into a tizzy when Protestants mention new ways to interpret something that is more true to the original meaning. Like imputed vs infused righteousness. Actually I think I will make a thread about this issue:laugh:
     
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