Wow! 2 posts in 1 day!
Here are some thoughts on Natural Family Planning I would like to share. I received these in an email. Micah and I practice Natural Family Planning. We are against birth control, but believe that there are times in a marriage that are going to be better than others for having children.
In Genesis 38 we have the story of Onan. Onan is one of the sons of Judah. Onan had an older brother named Er. Er married Tamar. Er died before he could bring forth any offspring with Tamar. So, the custom of the day was that if a married man died before bringing forth a male heir, then his brother should “lay down” with the man’s widow to hopefully bring forth a male heir. If a male heir was born, he would be raised as the deceased brother’s son, rather than the son of his biological father. This was called the Levirate duty of a brother – bringing forth offspring on behalf of his dead brother.
Well, since Onan’s brother Er had died without an heir, it was Onan’s duty to produce an heir for him, by having intercourse with Tamar. Onan did so, but did not want to have a child that would be considered Er’s son. So, at the moment of copulation, he withdrew from Tamar and spilled his seed on the ground. This is the only time that I can think of, in all of Scripture, that a contraceptive practice is mentioned. And, what happens to Onan as a result of engaging in this contraceptive practice? Scripture tells us that what Onan did was “displeasing” in the sight of the Lord, so God slew him.
Notice very carefully that Scripture records that it was what Onan “did” that cost him his life, not what he didn’t do. He did not fulfill the Levirate duty of a brother. He did commit a deliberate act of contraception. He was killed for spilling his seed, not because he didn’t fulfill his duty. We can be sure this is true because in Deut 25, we find the penalty, given by Scripture, for the punishment of someone who does not fulfill the Levirate duty. Is the punishment death? Far from it. It is public embarrassment and humiliation. In Deut 25:5-10, we see that the punishment consists of the widow of the first brother pulling a sandal off of the non-compliant brother and spitting in his face. Not exactly the death penalty. So, non-compliance with the Levirate duty was punished by being publicly embarrassed. Which means Onan was killed because he contracepted, not because he refused to fulfill his Levirate duty, as some have argued.
For further evidence from Scripture, I would go to Ephesians 5:31-32 – “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church.” What’s going on here? St. Paul is quoting from Genesis 2:24, the very passage I quoted above, regarding the marital relationship between Adam and Eve…between man and woman. But St. Paul takes it one step further and uses this verse to describe the relationship between Jesus and His bride…the Church. In other words, the relationship between husband and wife is analogous to the relationship between Jesus and the Church. Which means the relationship between husband and wife should mirror the relationship between Jesus and the Church. Scripture tells us this is indeed the case. “As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:24-25)
So, the relationship between husband and wife should reflect…should be patterned after…the relationship between Jesus and His bride, the Church. Married couples should pattern their love on the love of the 3 persons of the Trinity for one another, and on the love of Jesus for His Church…His bride. Question: Does Jesus ever hold back anything of Himself from us? Does Jesus ever hold back the life-giving aspects of His love in His relationship with us? In other words, in His relationship with us, does Jesus ever contracept? (By the way, contraception simply means contra conception…against conception…against life, and in regards to God I am obviously speaking on the spiritual plane – about spiritual life – and not on the physical plane.) Does Jesus ever hold back His life from us? No!
Does God – Father, Son, or Holy Spirit – ever hold back any life-giving aspect of their love for each other…or for us? Does any person of the Trinity ever hold back the life-giving aspects of their love in their relationship with one another? In their relationship with us? In other words, does any member of the Trinity ever contracept? No!
Never does Jesus hold back the life-giving aspect of Who He is in His relationship with us. Never do the 3 persons of the Trinity hold back the life-giving aspect of Who they are in their relationship with one another. Never do the 3 persons of the Trinity hold back the life-giving aspect of Who they are in their relationship with us. God loves and so He gives life. We were created in His image and likeness, so our love should give life.
Why then, if we are to pattern our love for our spouse, our relationship with our spouse, after the relationship of the persons within the Trinity; after the relationship of Jesus Christ with His Church…why then is it ever suggested that contraception be allowed and be considered a good thing? If Jesus doesn’t ever hold back life from us…if the Trinity doesn’t ever hold back life from one another nor from us…then why should one spouse hold back the life-giving aspect of who they are from the other?
I would encourage anyone to look up Natural Family Planning. I know the Couple to Couple League has information and I know there are books and other resources. Natural Family Planning is much more than what the title implies!