Commentary on social and moral issues of the day Contraception and Chastity Elizabeth Anscombe Roman Catholic thinker Elizabeth Anscombe relfects on the theological implications of contraception and chastity. Writing as a Roman Catholic, Anscombe offers a penetrating moral analysis of marriage and sexuality that will benefit any reader who rejects the secularist reduction of marriage as merely a union that sanctions sexual activity between partners. Text is 16 pages.
Jul 7th, By Matt Yonke Category: Blog Posts The Catholic Church has stood, since its inception, firmly against the use of any artificial methods of contraception.
In fact, it is the only Christian institution that, as a whole, has held this teaching consistently for all of Christian history. It can be a difficult issue for pastors to dictate what ought and ought not happen in the bedroom affairs of their parishoners.
Tim Challies has also weighed in with a two-part post on contraception here and here. For those unfamiliar with the issue, the pill works by making the womb inhospitable to a pregnancy.
If conception does take place, it becomes very difficult for the brand new baby to attach to the walls of the uterus and begin its gestation. In essence, the baby, only a few cells big, would starve to death. There is no solid medical evidence that this does actually happen, but the manufacturers of the pill acknowledge it as a possibility in the instructions that come with the drugs.
But even if the chance is remote, Christians have no place putting the lives of their children in jeopardy and I applaud these Reformed pastors for taking a stand against it for that reason.
Thus, Wilson states that a newly married couple avoiding children so they can make more money are in a problematic situation, while the couple with seven kids who are using contraception to postpone a pregnancy for a short time are doing just fine.
This seems to be a pretty common line in Reformed Christianity. The pill is perhaps to be avoided, but contraception in and of itself is not morally wrong, largely because Scripture does not say it is. If contraception other than the pill is considered wrong by modern Reformed theologians, it is not because of the nature of the act itself, but rather the motivations behind it.
What Does the Scripture Say? Scripture is, of course, notoriously silent on contraception, at least in explicit terms. The go-to passage is the sin of Onan in Genesis 38—the only passage that explicitly mentions contraception.
But I, along with many scholars on both sides of the Tiber, find this passage insufficient for building a case against contraception by itself. But instead of doing that, Onan practiced coitus interruptus and spilled his seed on the ground, thus affording him sexual pleasure and releasing him from the obligation to take care of any children the union might produce.
For this, Onan was struck dead by the Lord. This does seem to be the case and for that reason I think the passage is not capable, on its own, of providing Christians with an air-tight ban on contraception.
But, fortunately, the passage is not on its own. But more about Onan in a moment. What Did the Reformers Say?
It should be noted that the Reformers stood united with the rest of the Christian tradition in opposing all forms of contraception.
Indeed, as noted above, no Christian group of any kind approved of contraception till the early 20th century. Calvin had this to say in his commentary on Genesis: It is a horrible thing to pour out seed besides the intercourse of man and woman. Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible.
For this means that one quenches the hope of his family and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born.
This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth.
Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race. When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime. Onan was guilty of a similar crime. 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. The ecclesial chaos caused by every man being his own arbiter of spiritual truth led, slowly, to the Lambeth Conference allowing for married couples to use contraception in extreme circumstances.
Thus, the ancient teaching of the Church on this subject was breeched by a small exception. As is nearly always the case with such breeches, a small exception was soon opened into the wide corridor we now see where no institution as a whole will decry contraception as an objective evil except the Catholic Church.
The reason the Catholic Church is able to take such a stand is because of its view of Sacred Tradition as another sure source of knowledge of the things of God.Below are samples of my writing, preceded by a list.
Most of the pieces are taken from a philosophy club's now-defunct website, where members posted comments and arguments on various topics. Gary Gutting is a Notre Dame philosophy professor who thinks that what counts about arguments is whether they “work.” And so his complaint against natural-law arguments for Catholic teachings about sex is that they “no longer work (if they ever did)”.
Join now to read essay Abortion and Infanticide - Potentiality Principle Michael Tooley's article, "Abortion and Infanticide" raised some points about the morality of abortion. He discussed the conservatives' ethical objection against abortion which states that fetuses and infants have a right to life/5(1).
Roman Catholic thinker Elizabeth Anscombe relfects on the theological implications of contraception and chastity. Writing as a Roman Catholic, Anscombe offers a penetrating moral analysis of marriage and sexuality that will benefit any reader who rejects the secularist reduction of marriage as merely a union that sanctions sexual activity between partners.
Abortion and Infanticide - Potentiality Principle Words | 8 Pages Michael Tooley's article, "Abortion and Infanticide" raised some points about the morality of abortion. The case you are viewing is cited by the following Supreme Court decisions.