Monday, June 22, 2009

Change We Can Believe In: Contraception and Protestantism

All major Protestant denominations before 1930 believed that using contraception was immoral, and their conclusion was based on their interpretation of Scripture Alone. (Genesis 38)

How and why did their interpretations change after 1930? What gives these Protestant denominations the authority to change the earlier and correct interpretation of this passage of Scripture?

Fact. Martin Luther's Lectures on Genesis 38 interprets the sin of Onan as equivalent to a contraceptive act, which was viewed by Luther as a disgraceful sin:

"Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This 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 to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment."

Question 2
Why do those Protestants today that hail Luther as a great Christian, and a great leader, now reject his interpretation of this passage, and now say that it does not refer to contraception at all?


Ben M said...

“Why do those Protestants today that hail Luther as a great Christian, and a great leader, now reject his interpretation of this passage, and now say that it does not refer to contraception at all?”

Very simply, because Luther opposed and condemned Rome! For this he is held up to be a hero and virtually infallible. But beyond this, however, he serves little purpose.

You see, all that really matters is opposing Rome! That is the essence of the Reformation. Whether or not this or that teaching is correct is of quite secondary importance.

And why did the original reformers oppose Rome to begin with? Primarily because of their ungovernable lust.

"Chastity is not in our power. All are created for marriage. God does not permit that one be alone,” Luther wrote to Wolfgang Reissenbusch, March 27, 1525.

See also: Luther and Lutherdom, H. Denifle, Introduction, p. 9.

Further, in some instances, Luther even advised taking a second wife! An example from his Table Talk (Tischreden).

Cases of Conscience Pertaining to Marriage. December, 1532. No. 414

“It is asked, Ought he to be allowed a second wife? I reply that one or the other of two things must happen: either he commits adultery or he takes a second wife. It is my advice that he take a second wife; however, he should not abandon his first wife but should provided for her sufficiently to enable to her to support her life….

“In such cases in which the conscience was troubled I have often offered counsel not according to the pope but according to my office, according to the gospel. Nevertheless, I warned the persons involved not to make this judgment of mine public.

“I said to them, ‘Keep this to yourselves. If you can’t keep it secret, take the consequences.’”

Luther's Works, Volume 54: Table Talk (Tischreden), Theodore G. Tappert, ed., Helmut T. Lehmann, ed., Fortress Press, Philadelphia, ISBN 0800603540, pp. 65-66.

And then there’s Zwingli:

“Hence it is clear, as we hinted above, that for a Christian there is nothing between chastity and marriage. He must either live chastely or marry a wife. The third passage is in the same chapter, verse 9: "If they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." Therefore if one cannot contain one's self, if one burns, let him marry.

"We have been so on fire from passion - with shame be it said!- that we have done many things unseemly, yet whether this should not be laid upon those to some extent who have forbidden marriage we refrain from saying now, thinking it enough that the fire of passion alone (and that so frequent and violent as to threaten the mind) is pronounced sufficient reason for marriage.”


Selected works of Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531), the reformer of German Switzerland, 1901, Samuel Macauley Jackson, pp. 24-35.

So it would seem that, for the most part, our Protestant brethren’s rejection of the constant teaching Christendom against artificial contraception is just the natural out-working of the lust and spirit of rebellion which gave birth to the reformation to begin with. I only wish our Protestant brethren would see what a truly terrible evil the Reformation in fact was.

How men could willfully follow lustful and violent reformers in opposition to the holy and gentle apostle, who praised the Catholic Church at Rome (Romans 1:8) is beyond me.

It's certainly not the kind of "change" I could ever believe in!

Matthew Bellisario said...

I just think it is so funny that all of these guys like James Swan, James White, Turretin Fan and the like all run when this topic comes up. They know they can't substantiate why they now disagree with their Protestant founders on this doctrine.