Cross-posted at my longer-form blog. Note: This post does not address whether a business owner can enforce his religious ideas on his employees, that’s clearly an unconstitutional horrible awful bad idea. I’m simply trying, as a Christian myself, to understand a rule that other Christians follow and consider important. And I disagree with them.
These verses have been debated for thousands of years, but I can’t help giving my two cents…
Genesis 38:8-10 (KJV)
And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
That’s it. That is the entire passage upon which denial of birth control is based. (and masturbation as well— which actually sounds more relevant)
So what is happening in this scene? Onan is King Judah’s son. Er, the eldest, was struck down by God for being horribly wicked. That’s why it says “slew him also.” The Lord didn’t have a lot of patience with Judah’s boys; He had important business and they weren’t right for it.
Onan, as Judah’s second son, was to take Er’s wife Tamar as his own to provide Er with heirs, and he does, but Onan doesn’t want his kids to be considered Er’s. As Er’s rival he wouldn’t have children of his own, and perhaps he wanted his own tribe to propagate. At any rate, Onan was apparently denying the Jewish people their next king by doing this.
(Ultimately, Judah himself sleeps with Tamar because he mistakes her for a prostitute—she tricks him because she wasn’t given the third son to marry as was required—and she has twin boys.)
So what does all this have to do with birth control?
Nothing. There is literally nothing in these verses that says Tamar couldn’t have told Onan she wanted to have sex but didn’t want kids. There is also nothing that implies “spilling seed” would be a problem if he wasn’t supposed to father the next king. It appears from Tamar’s later actions that she did want to have children and to be the mother of the future king, but that Onan just wasn’t cooperating.
So there is simply no reason why this passage is about God wanting women to have children every time they have sex.
The issue discussed in these verses is clear: God wanted an heir to the king, and Onan didn’t want to provide one. So God took him out. These verses are about men doing what God commands, NOT about women having sex. This is not about birth control or abortion at all.
Why am I not surprised that an all-male hierarchy would shift it around to justify their ideas for female behavior? The all-male hierarchy is in fact the root of the entire problem: Men get stuck on the minor issue of sex and their own desires, instead of on the incredibly huge deal of the creation of the Kingdom of Judah.
Why are Onan and Er even important? There’s a lot of disagreement on that, but some scholars say the two men are an etiological representation, intended to establish the relation of two other extinct tribes to Judah. That makes some sense, especially in regard to Onan not wanting to provide Er with heirs.
There is a bit more in the Bible that gets called out on occasion to oppose birth control (and abortion), namely that children are referred to as a “gift from God” —which they truly are—and that to deny God’s gift is to oppose Him. But it’s worth noting that the Bible also calls a wife a “gift from God” —which mine truly is, others may not be so lucky—yet there is no church requirement against resisting marriage. In fact we have just the opposite with celibate priests.
So that’s how I read it. What’s your opinion?
Dear Uncle Lou,
That receipt reminds me of Reagan’s old speeches about “young bucks,” But then again I guess it’s supposed to.
(I wonder why they wrote a D in front of EBT. Makes it sort of not make sense.) Here’s another receipt you might appreciate on a different level; check out that tip.
After you look at this one, that $140 doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Cheaper than a few bottles of water!
Fw: Receipt Found in a Parking Lot
- JON STEWART, on the media declaring that the GOP had “overreached,” resulting in the defeat of Mississippi’s “personhood” legislation and Ohio’s anti-union bill, as well as the recall of a GOP pol in Arizona who sponsored an anti-immigrant law, on The Daily Show (via inothernews)