HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH

1703 Macomber St., Toledo, Ohio 43606

Phone: 419-206-2190 - E-mail: amdg@bex.net

http://www.celticorthodoxchurch.com

 

WHY THE CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH OPPOSES CONTRACEPTION

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Few realize that up until 1930, all Protestant Denominations agreed

with the Celtic Orthodox Church’s teaching condemning contraception as sinful.

The Roman Church to this day agrees with us and officially teaches the same thing.

 

At its 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church, swayed by growing

social pressure, announced that contraception would be allowed

in ‘some’ circumstances. Soon the Anglican Church completely caved in,

allowing contraception across the board. Since then, all other

Protestant denominations have followed suit. Today, the Catholic Church

and Biblical Orthodoxy alone proclaims the historic Christian position on contraception.

 

Evidence that contraception is in conflict with God’s laws comes from a

variety of sources that will be examined in this tract.

 

Contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design

God built into the human race, often referred to as "natural law." The

natural law purpose of sex is procreation. The pleasure that sexual

intercourse provides is an additional blessing from God, intended to

offer the possibility of new life while strengthening the bond of

intimacy, respect, and love between husband and wife. The loving

environment this bond creates is the perfect setting for nurturing

children.

 

But sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful

to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the

basic purpose of sex, which is procreation. God’s gift of the sex act,

along with its pleasure and intimacy, must not be abused by deliberately

frustrating its natural end—procreation.

 

Birth Control has been around for millennia. Scrolls found in Egypt, dating to 1900 B.C.,

describe ancient methods of birth control that were later practiced in

the Roman empire during the apostolic age. Wool that absorbed sperm,

poisons that fumigated the uterus, potions, and other methods were used

to prevent conception. In some centuries, even condoms were used (though

made out of animal skin rather than latex).

 

The Bible mentions at least one form of contraception specifically and

condemns it. ‘Coitus interruptus, was used by Onan to avoid fulfilling

his duty according to the ancient Jewish law of fathering children for

one’s dead brother. "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.’ But 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. And what he did

was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also" (Gen.

38:8–10).

 

The biblical penalty for not giving your brother’s widow children was

public humiliation, not death (Deut. 25:7–10). Onan actually was guilty of a

form of Masturbation but Onan received death as punishment for his crime.

This means his crime was more than simply not fulfilling the duty of a brother-in-law.

He lost his life because he violated natural law, as Jewish and Christian commentators have always understood. For this reason, certain forms of contraception have

historically been known as "Onanism," after the man who practiced it,

just as homosexuality has historically been known as "Sodomy," after the

men of Sodom, who practiced that vice (cf. Gen. 19).

 

Contraception was so far outside the biblical mindset and so obviously

wrong that it did not need the frequent condemnations other sins did.

Scripture condemns the practice when it mentions it. Once a moral

principle has been established in the Bible, every possible application

of it need not be mentioned. For example, the general principle that

theft is wrong was clearly established in Scripture; but there’s no need

to provide an exhaustive list of every kind of theft. Similarly, since

the principle that contraception is wrong has been established by being

condemned when it’s mentioned in the Bible, every particular form of

contraception does not need to be dealt with in Scripture in order for

us to see that it is condemned.

 

The biblical teaching that birth control is wrong is found even more

explicitly among the Church Fathers, who recognized the biblical and

natural law principles underlying the condemnation.

 

In A.D. 195, Clement of Alexandria wrote, "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" (The

Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2).

 

Hippolytus of Rome wrote in 255 that "on account of their prominent

ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful [certain Christian

women who had affairs with male servants] want no children from slaves

or lowborn commoners, [so] they use drugs of sterility or bind

themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been

engendered" (Refutation of All Heresies 9:12).

 

Around 307 Lactantius explained that some "complain of the scantiness of

their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more

children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . .

or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if

any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children,

it is better to abstain from relations with his wife" (Divine

Institutes 6:20).

 

The First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council and the one

that defined Christ’s divinity, declared in 325, "If anyone in sound

health has castrated himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled

among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from

henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that

this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume to castrate

themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their

masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon

admits to the clergy" (Canon 1).

 

Augustine wrote in 419, "I am supposing, then, although you are not

lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are

not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer

or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and

wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a

respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel

lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral

contraceptives]" (Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17).

 

The apostolic tradition’s condemnation of contraception is so great that

it was followed by Protestants until 1930 and was upheld by all key

Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther said, "[T]he exceedingly foul deed

of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is

far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes,

a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and

copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the

semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of

nature established by God in procreation should be followed.

Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime. . . . Consequently, he

deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God

punished him."

 

John Calvin said, "The voluntary spilling of semen outside of

intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to

withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is

doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to

kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring."

 

John Wesley warned, "Those sins that dishonor the body are very

displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the

thing which he [Onan] did displeased the Lord—and it is to be feared;

thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still

displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls." (These passages are

quoted in Charles D. Provan, “The Bible and Birth Control”, which

contains many quotes by historic Protestant figures who recognize

contraception’s evils.)  

THE TEACHING OF THE EARLY CHURCH  

 

The Early Church Fathers were undivided in their condemnation of birth control. In fact, all Christian churches were in agreement on this until 1930.

 

Saint Clement of Alexandria

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 (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 [A.D. 191]).

 

Saint Clement of Alexandria

To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature (ibid. 2:10:95:3).

 

Saint Hippolytus

[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, they use drugs of sterility [oral contraceptives] or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered [abortion] (Refutation of All Heresies 9:7 [A.D. 225]).

 

Lactantius

[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife (Divine Institutes 6:20 [A.D. 307]).

 

Lactantius

God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital ['generating'] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring (ibid. 6:23:18).

 

Epiphanius

They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption (Medicine Chest Against Heresies 26:5:2 [A.D. 375]).

 

Saint John Chrysostom

[l]n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [the sin of covetousness] are wearied even of their father's old age [wishing him to die so they can inherit]; and that which is sweet) and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live [sterilization] (Homilies on Matthew 28:5 [A.D. 391]).

 

Saint John Chrysostom

Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth?. . . Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and Fight with his [natural] laws? (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).

 

Saint Jerome

But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? (Against Jovinian 1:19 [A.D. 393]).

You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink sterility [oral contraceptives] and murder a man not yet born, [and some commit abortion] (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).

 

Saint Augustine

This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her, is joined to the man to gratify his passion (The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 [A.D. 388]).

 

Saint Agustine

You [Manicheans] make your auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of your [religious] law [against childbearing] . . . they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it, then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the apostle predicted of you so long ago [I Tim. 4:1-4], when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps (Against Faustus 15:7 [A.D. 400]).

For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only to propagate progeny (ibid. 22:30).

 

Caesarius

Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive or an abortifacient] so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a women does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman (Sermons 1:12 [A.D. 522]).