Re: Some points of clarification and defense - BIRTH CONTROL
- G'day Shawn.
I appreciate your reply here. It is also interesting to note that
both Jews and Muslims referred to spilling the seed as "the lesser
child murder" before they adopted the same modernism as the churches.
All the best,
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Shawn Anderson"
> Thanks for the reply. I appreciated some of your comments, and have
> submitted responses between yours. I also want to thank you for the
> charity in which you have responded and hope that I can communicate
> the same respect.
> Chris: Greetings! Without knowing more regarding the specific
> would answer your above question as follows: I certainly would nothold to
> split a presbytery over what I believe to be such an extra
> confessional matter, no matter how strongly I might personally
> a given position. I believe that the WCF, WLC, and WSC are specificissues
> enough to cover practical theology we all agree upon and which the
> church incorporates into it's constitution. As I understand the
> Westminster Standards, I would suggest that extra confessional
> outside of the purview of what is covered by the WestminsterStandards
> should not be the cause of such division.things,
> Shawn: I would say that Birth Control is of a moral nature first of
> all (6th commandment) and therefore does stand in the purpose and
> teaching of the Scripture as well as the Westminster Standards. But
> the final Authority, which I know you agree, is the Word
> of God. As you point out, the Standards cover a broad view of
> and certainly they did not intend to cover every moral right andremain
> wrong, that would be impossible.
> The elders do have a duty to judge on moral issues that still
> in the scope of the Standards because they seek to lay out theare
> principles of the moral law. Birth Control is a moral issue. You
> seeking to prevent the life of another, which does not promotelife.
> It cannot be any other way, hence the name to "control one'sbirth, or
> lack thereof"! If there be a fundamental disagreement on what isGood
> vs. what is Evil, and there is no resolution, how can you have asplit,
> Presbytery disagree over a moral issue and continue to rule rightly
> and consistently?
> C: I am not at all glad that you all had to go through such a
> but I am glad to hear that the case which lead to the split was inpurely
> fact an actual case. To think of a presbytery splitting over a
> hypothetical case did not speak very well as to the likelihood ofthe
> possibility of future unity or stability of the involved parties.But
> S: I agree. In fact if there had not been a real case that needed
> ruling, then the elders would have kept the issue quiet and
> deliberated privately, trying to work toward a unified resolution.
> unfortunately that is not what took place here (which is how theyseek
> to deal with individual members as well).private
> C: Just for clarification, and without divulging any names or
> or protected information, are you saying that this case took placeside of
> within the bounds of the RPNA Presbytery, involving those directly
> under the authority of the RPNA courts?
> S: Yes.
> C: I may be misunderstanding the specifics of the hypothetical
> the case. If so, please let me know and correct mymisunderstanding.
> With that provision I ask: could you point me to where you believeWestminster
> that the issue of the use of non-abortive birth control for
> therapeutic purposes to protect the life of a woman, is so
> specifically articulated, worked out, and contained in the
> S: The Scriptures is where we begin this discussion (a quite long
> discussion). The Standards are simply an aid, but the Assembly as
> as other Theologians of Church History expect that when it comes toAbortion,
> issues of morality, you would make inference or take the principles
> set forth and apply them to the circumstances.
> This is exactly what is done in the Acts of the General Assembly,
> which is just as binding to the circumstances it deals with as the
> ruling in Acts 15 was binding to those Christians in their day.
> For Example, nowhere in the Standards does it speak against
> disciplining your children, an exhaustive list of acts you may ormay
> not do on the Sabbath, etc; None of these examples are "soWestminster
> specifically articulated, worked out, and contained in the
> Standards". But rather the ministry is to make inferences to thosetheir
> types of issues, and many more to apply to the particular
> circumstances of the day. And these rulings are binding due to
> moral nature.passions,
> I would draw the inference from the Larger Catechism:
> Question 136: What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
> Answer: The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking
> away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public
> justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; THE NEGLECTING OR
> WITHDRAWING THE LAWFUL AND NECESSARY MEANS OF PRESERVATION OF LIFE;
> sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive
> distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, andOF ANY.
> recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarrelling, striking,
> wounding, and: WHATSOEVER ELSE TEND TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE LIFE
> I do intend to give you the argument though, below.
> C: or surgery for other therapeutic purposes which has the
> effect of rendering a women unable to conceive, in such extremecases
> as was discussed in this case is so specifically articulated,worked
> out, and contained in the Westminster Standards?classified
> S: Though the Presbytery did bring up this hypothetical case, all
> agreed that the definition of Birth Control would determine whether
> this and other acts would fit under it's definition or be
> as something else. Just as an aside all were agreed it would not beall
> defined as Birth Control in certain contexts.
> C: If not in the Westminster Standards, then where in the RPNA
> constitution would one have found such language prior to this case?
> S: Again, not all moral situations are found in the standards, yet
> moral situations can be judged according to the Word of God. Icase?
> actually was asked in my communicants exam which commandment I
> believed Birth Control to be violating. So it was covered prior to
> membership for me personally.
> C: BTW another question of clarification, whatever happened to the
> church and officers which split away from the majority in this
> What do they call themselves now, and are we still to understandthe
> remainder as constituting an RPNA Presbytery?either
> S: I don't know that they call themselves anything? They have
> abandoned Covenanter principles altogether, or simple worship athome.
> Because you are curious about the historical testimony regarding
> view of Birth Control here is a list for you.order
> THE TESTIMONY AND CONSENSUS OF CHRUCH HISTORY AS TO ONAN'S SIN
> Because there have always been various means of contraception which
> involved the intentional spilling of the seed of copulation in
> to prevent the conception of a child, faithful Churches andministers
> took occasion to speak against the act of Onan as a grievous sinlawful
> forbidden by the Word of God.
> AUGUSTINE is clear in his denunciation of Onan's sin:
> "For it is illicit and shameful for a man to lie with even his
> wife in such a way as to prevent the conception of offspring. Thisis
> what Onan, son of Judah, used to do; and for that God slew him" (Deintentional
> adulterinis coniugiis ad Pollentium 1b.IIc.12 (PL 40 479).
> JOHN CALVIN, when considering the case of Onan, likens the
> spilling of a man's seed of copulation in order to preventconception
> to abortion:coitus
> "The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man
> and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from
> in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. Forground
> this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is
> born the hoped-for offspring. This impiety is especially condemned,
> now by the Spirit through Moses' mouth, that Onan, as it were by a
> violent abortion, no less cruelly than filthily cast upon the
> the offspring of his brother, torn from the maternal womb. Besidesin
> this he tried, as far as he was able, to wipe out a part of thehuman
> race. If any woman ejects a fetus from her womb by drugs, it isincurred
> reckoned a crime incapable of expiation and deservedly Onan
> upon himself the same kind of punishment, infecting the earth byhis
> semen, in order that Tamar might not conceive a future human beingas
> an inhabitant of the earth" (Calvin's Latin Commentary on GenesisBirth
> 38:10, as cited in Charles Provan's book entitled, The Bible and
> Control, p. 26).for
> THE SYNOD OF DORDT in 1618 commissioned annotations to be written
> the whole Bible (which was completed and published by authority ofthe
> Reformed Church of the Netherlands in 1637). In _The DutchAnnotations
> Upon The Whole Bible_ we note the following comments on the Onanon
> incident wherein Onan`s sin is likened to premeditated murder:
> "This was even as much, as if he had (in a manner) pulled forth the
> fruit out of the mother's womb, and destroyed it."
> ANDREW WILLET ( a minister in England) wrote a massive commentary
> the book of Genesis entitled _Hexapla in Genesis_ (which waspublished
> in 1632). He states that the sin in intentionally spilling theseed in
> Genesis 38 consisted in the following several sins:for
> "[It was] against the order of nature, using the act of generation
> pleasure only, and not for generation; it was against God, whosefruit
> institution he brake; against his wife, whom he defrauded of the
> of her womb; against himself, in preventing his issue; againstsin
> mankind, which should have been increased and propagated... this
> of envy [was] against his brother, to whom he should have raisedseed."
> WILLIAM GOUGE, Presbyterian minister and member of the Westminster
> Assembly, addresses the due benevolence that a husband and wife
> one another (according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:3) and mentionsthat
> the sin of Onan is to be avoided in marriage:and
> "To deny this duty being justly required, is to deny a due debt,
> to give Satan great advantage. The punishment inflicted on Onan(Gen.
> 38:9,10) shows how great a wrong this is. From that punishment thethe
> Hebrews gather that this sin is a kind of murder. It is so much
> more heinous when hatred, stoutness, niceness, fear of having toomany
> children, or any other like respects, are the cause thereof"(William
> Gouge, _Domestical Duties_, p.223, original spelling altered tolust, of
> conform to modern standards).
> VARIOUS PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS IN LONDON in 1657 completed
> _Annotations Upon All The Books Of The Old And New Testament_ . The
> comments on Genesis 38:9 are as follows:
> "V.9 On the ground] The lewdness of this fact was composed of
> envy, and murder; the first appears, in that he went rashly uponit,
> it seems he stayed not till night, for the time of privacy forsuch a
> purpose, else the bed would have been named as well as the ground;the
> second is plain by the text, he envied at the honor of his deadshould
> brother, and thereupon would not be father of any child, that
> be reputed his [brother's], and not his own; the third, in thatthere
> is a seminal vital virtue, which perisheth if the seed be spilt;and
> by doing this to hinder the begetting of a living child, is thefirst
> degree of murder that can be committed, and the next unto it is thenow
> marring of conception, when it is made, and causing of abortion:
> such acts are noted in the Scripture as horrible crimes, because,of
> otherwise many might commit them, and not know the evil of them."
> MATTHEW POOLE'S remarks likewise coincide with the above teachers
> the Church on this text of Scripture:and
> "Two things are here noted:
> 1. The sin itself, which is here particularly described by the Holy
> Ghost, that men might be instructed concerning the nature and the
> great evil of this sin of self-pollution, which is such that it
> brought upon the actor of it the extraordinary vengeance of God,
> which is condemned not only by Scripture, but even by the light ofit
> nature, and the judgment of heathens, who have expressly censured
> as a great sin, and as a kind of murder. Of which see my Latinof
> Synopsis. Whereby we may sufficiently understand how wicked and
> abominable a practice this is amongst Christians, and in the light
> the gospel, which lays greater and stricter obligations upon us tospirit.
> purity, and severely forbids all pollution both of flesh and
> 2. The cause of this wickedness; which seem to have been eitherhatred
> of his brother, or envy at his brother's name and honor, springingthe
> from the pride of his own heart."
> In the Minutes Of THE GENERAL MEETING OF THE REFORMED PRESYBTERIAN
> CHURCH (which met in 1888, the year after David Steele's death),
> following is listed as one of the Causes Of Fasting,forms,
> "We believe that uncleanness, in all its polluting and debasing
> is increasing. We fear that many, who are members of the Church,gratify
> employ means to prevent offspring, using the marriage bed to
> their lusts, destroying their own lives, and bringing on themselvesand
> the wrath of a holy God."
> Points of argument:
> (1) God commands all husbands and wives in Adam and Eve "to be
> fruitful and multiply" (and repeats the same command again to Noah
> his descendants).multiply."
> Genesis 1:28; 9:1,7
> (2) God has never rescinded the command "to be fruitful and
> (3) God commands us not to kill, but to intentionally prevent the
> conception of a child is to intentionally take away the future
> a real human being.cursed).
> (4) God declares that children are a heritage from Him and that the
> man who has his quiver full of them is greatly blessed (and not
> Gen 15:4-5; 48:4; Deut 28:4; Psa 127:3-5; 128:3-4; Prov 17:6
> (5) God never warrants (in precept, approved example, or good and
> necessary inference) the intentional abstention from sexual
> or spilling of the seed in order to prevent conception, but on theviewed
> contrary God EXALTS parents (such as the parents of Moses) who
> the commandment of God ("be fruitful and multiply") more importanttheir
> than even the future risks to their own lives or to the life of
> baby and God EXECUTES Onan for intentionally wasting his seed inorder
> to prevent the conception of a child.has
> Exodus 1:15-22, 2 Kings 8:12 cf. 2Ki 10:32,33; 12:17; 13:3,7; Hosea
> 10:14,15; 13:16
> (6) The universal testimony of the Church until the 20th century
> also viewed the practice of intentional birth control to preventthe
> conception of a child to be contrary to the light of nature and tothe
> will of God in Scripture.
> Genesis 38:9ff
> Thanks for the questions, hope that helps,