Contraception Contradiction

Interesting article by Karen Edmisten over at  She brings up a great point.  Why do we protestants very nearly idolize certain reformers (especially Calvin), classical authors, etc. but have no idea where they stood on the issue of abortion, contraception, sex– which are all tied up in the topic of marriage.  Instead our understanding of marriage fits better under modern cultural/secular topics.  Why is that?  Catholics have taken a very biblical approach in at least the area of being fruitful and multiplying.

Biblically speaking and as one conservative Presbyterian pastor (David Bayly) put it– man does not have the right to say, “Today I am having sex for pleasure and intimacy, but not for children. In another year I will do it for children.”

Calvin’s Contraception Contradiction

By Karen Edmisten

“Children. They used to be known as the “fruit of marriage,” but these days they have become an “issue.” It is an issue that faces every married couple from the wedding night on. To have and to hold . . . but how many? One or two? Five or six? More? Many couples consider only what kind of contraception they will use, foregoing entirely the question, “Should we contracept at all?”

For a Catholic couple, the answer to the contraception question should be simple. The Church’s teachings on marriage and family are profoundly beautiful. Once these teachings and the authority of the Church are understood, the contraception “issue” should vanish.

But it’s not as easy for many Protestants. Take the case of John and Jane. They are faithful Protestants who believe they are saved through their faith in Christ and belong to a church that adheres to a Calvinist theology. They have two children, and they’ve decided it would be financially imprudent to have any more. They use birth control and believe they are merely employing modern medical means to achieve a reasonable and moral goal. Are they sinning?

A look at their theological tradition can help us determine the answer to that question. Let’s assume that in general they wish to follow John Calvin’s basic teachings. Calvin, like all Christians until the twentieth century, opposed contraceptive acts. Read his harsh condemnation of Onan’s actions in Genesis 38, which have long been interpreted by all of Christianity as a contraceptive act:

“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” (Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis, vol. 2, part 16).

Clearly, Calvin saw contraceptive actions as disordered and sinful. But modern-day Calvinists who contracept are living in harmony with two of Calvin’s other teachings: total depravity and double predestination. …”

Continue reading at

~ by Majestic on April 6, 2011.

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