HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
1703 Macomber St., Toledo, Ohio 43606
Phone: 419-206-2190 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY THE CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH OPPOSES CONTRACEPTION
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
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.
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
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
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
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).
[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]).
[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]).
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).
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]).
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]).
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]).
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).
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]).