Effective oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, barrier methods, and surgical sterilization have been in use for millenia! The Old Testament and New Testament Churches continually, firmly, and unanimously opposed all of these until just 75 years ago. Have we indeed become wiser than all of our teachers?
I've added a few 20th century quotations consistent with the historic testimony of the Church. I'll add more suitable quotations as I find them.
What Does Scripture Say?
Church History and Birth Control
The historic Church universally condemned birth control until into the twentieth century. The first church which refused to continue this condemnation was the Anglican Church. At its Lambeth Conference of 1930, it concluded, "Each couple must decide for themselves, as in the sight of God, after the most conscientious thought, and, if perplexed in mind, after taking competent advice, both medical and spiritual. The question which they must put to themselves is: Would conception be for any reason wrong? If [conception] would be clearly wrong, and if there is good moral reason why the way of abstinence should not be followed, we cannot condemn the use of scientific methods to prevent conception."
It sounds so broadminded and generous to allow for the judicious, conscientious use of birth control, doesn't it? However, not everything that seems good is good. The Bible teaches that there is a way that seemeth right [morally upright, pure, holy, above reproach] unto a man but that the end thereof is the way of death [death or destruction].
We have rejected what the Word of God teaches about conception and we are reaping death and destruction as a result. The Anglican Church failed to condemn birth control in 1930 and other Protestant denominations have followed fast on their heels with increasingly liberal views. Over the past 69 years, Christians have wickedly and foolishly succumbed to the teachings of Margaret Sanger and her peers, even to the extent that birth control is applauded as a virtue and abortion is sometimes even regarded as an unfortunate necessity!
What a rejection of the teaching of the Bible and of the historic Church!
I offer the following quotations for our instruction and encouragement. Some of these were quoted in The Bible and Birth Control by Charles D. Provan (Zimmer Books, 1989), some I found at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and others in my own home library.
[Speaking of Onan] "An unkind, and most unnatural [act]; to spill the seed, which by God's blessing should serve for the propagation of mankind."
Athenagoras of Athens,
A Plea for the Christians
"Therefore, having the hope of eternal life, we despise the things of this life, even to the pleasures of the soul, each of us reckoning her his wife whom he has married according to the laws laid down by us, and that only for the purpose of having children. For as the husbandman throwing the seed into the ground awaits the harvest, not sowing more upon it, so to us the procreation of children is the measure of our indulgence in appetite....because in the beginning God made one man and one woman, and dissolving the strictest union of flesh with flesh, formed for the intercourse of the race."
"You [Manicheans] make your Auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of your law [against childbearing] . . . they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it, then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the Apostle predicted of you so long ago [1 Tim. 4:1-4], when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps"
"For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only to propagate progeny"
The Good of Marriage
"For what gratification is there (except perhaps for lascivious persons, and those who, as the apostle says with prohibition, "possess their vessel in the lust of concupiscence") in the mere shedding of seed as the ultimate pleasure of sexual union, unless it is followed by the true and proper fruit of marriage--conception and birth?"
"[We] also assert, that God forms man of human seed."
"[They must] not turn away from them the mercy of God . . . by changing the natural use into that which is against nature, which is more damnable when it is done in the case of husband or wife. For, whereas that natural use, when it pass beyond the compact of marriage, that is, beyond the necessity of begetting, is pardonable in the case of a wife, damnable in the case of a harlot; that which is against nature is execrable when done in the case of a harlot, but more execrable in the case of a wife. Of so great power is the ordinance of the Creator, and the order of creation, that . . . when the man shall wish to use a body part of the wife not allowed for this purpose, the wife is more shameful, if she suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman."
The Morals of the Manichees
"In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion."
On Concupiscence and Marriage
"[This] is God's own work--the human being which is born of marriage."
"For thus says the Scripture: 'Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other; except it be with consent for a time, that ye may have leisure for prayer; and then come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.' ...the cohabitation for the purpose of procreating children, which must be admitted to be the proper end of marriage, is not sinful, what is it which the apostle allows to be permissible, but that married persons, when they have not the gift of continence, may require one from the other the due of the flesh--and that not from a wish for procreation, but for the pleasure of concupiscence? This gratification incurs not the imputation of guilt on account of marriage, but receives permission on account of marriage. This, therefore, must be reckoned among the praises of matrimony; that, on its own account, it makes pardonable that which does not essentially appertain to itself. For the nuptial embrace, which subserves the demands of concupiscence, is so effected as not to impede the child-bearing, which is the end and aim of marriage."
"For although propagation of offspring is not the motive of the [particular] intercourse, there is still no attempt to prevent such propagation, either by wrong desire or evil appliance. They who resort to these, although called by the name of spouses, are really not such; they retain no vestige of true matrimony, but pretend the honourable designation as a cloak for criminal conduct.... Sometimes, indeed, this lustful cruelty, or; if you please, cruel lust, resorts to such extravagant methods as to use poisonous drugs to secure barrenness.... Well, if both parties alike are so flagitious, they are not husband and wife; and if such were their character from the beginning, they have not come together by wedlock but by debauchery. But if the two are not alike in such sin, I boldly declare either that the woman is, so to say, the husband's harlot; or the man the wife's adulterer."
Bavinck, H. quoted
by J. Norval Geldenhuys in The Intimate Life
"Children are the luxury of marital life, the treasure of the parents, the wealth of the family life. Their presence develops a great number of virtues in the parents, the father and mother--love, devotion, and self-sacrifice, the care for the future, interest in the community, the art of education. Children check selfishness in parents, reconcile the contrasts, soften the differences, bring the hearts of the parents ever closer to each other, give them a common interest that lives outside themselves, and opens their eyes and hearts to their surroundings and posterity. They uphold to the parents, as if in mirrors, their own virtues and defects, force them to reconsider their lives, soften their criticisms, and teach them how difficult it is to rule a human being. Out of the family life there proceeds a reforming power toward the parents. Who recognizes in the sensible, industrious father of a family the boisterous youth of former days, and who ever suspected the lighthearted maid of being changed, through her first-born, into a mother who willingly makes supreme sacrifices with cheerful patience? Family life turns the selfish into servants, misers into heroes, coarse men into considerate fathers, and tender mothers into courageous fighters."
Caesarius of Arles,
"Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a women does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman."
"That [Onan] must have been a willful, desperate fellow, for this is always a shameful sin, yet much more atrocious than a case of incest or adultery: we call it a sin of the effeminate, indeed, even a sin of Sodomy. He was completely enflamed with evil envy and jealousy, and that is why he would not permit himself to be forced to bear this simple service. Therefore, it is quite right for God to kill him."
Commentary on Genesis
"[The] blessing of God may be regarded as the source from which the human race has flowed. And we must so consider it not only with reference to the whole, but also, as they say, in every particular instance. For we are fruitful or barren in respect of offspring, as God imparts his power to some and withholds it from others....The question, however, is proposed, whether fornicators and adulterers become fruitful by the power of God; which, if it be true, then whether the blessing of God is in like manner extended to them? I answer, this is a corruption of the Divine institute; and whereas God produces offspring from this muddy pool, as well as from the pure fountain of marriage, this will tend to their greater destruction. Still that pure and lawful method of increase, which God ordained from the beginning, remains firm; this is that law of nature which common sense declares to be inviolable."
"Besides [Onan] not only defrauded his brother of the right due him, but also preferred his semen to putrify on the ground, rather than to beget a son in his brother's name.... I will contend myself with briefly mentioning [Onan's act], as far as the sense of shame allows to discuss it. 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, by defiling the earth with his seed, so that Tamar would not receive a future inheritor."
Calvin, John, Calvin's
Commentary on the Psalms
"The majority of mankind dream, that after God had once ordained this at the beginning, children were thenceforth begotten solely by a secret instinct of nature, God ceasing to interfere in the matter; and even those who are endued with some sense of piety, although they may not deny that He is the Father and Creator of the human race, yet do not acknowledge that his providential care descends to this particular case, but rather think that men are created by a certain universal motion. With the view of correcting this preposterous error, Solomon calls children the heritage of God, and the fruit of the womb his gift; for the Hebrew word rks, sachar, translated reward, signifies whatever benefits God bestows upon men, as is plainly manifest from many passages of Scripture. The meaning then is, that, children are not the fruit of chance, but that God, as it seems good to him, distributes to every man his share of them. Moreover, as the Prophet repeats the same thing twice, heritage and reward are to be understood as equivalent; for both these terms are set in opposition to fortune, or the strength of men. The stronger a man is he seems so much the better fitted for procreation. Solomon declares on the contrary, that those become fathers to whom God vouchsafes that honor."
Calvin, John Calvin's
She shall be saved through childbearing: "To censorious men it might appear absurd, for an Apostle of Christ not only to exhort women to give attention to the birth of offspring, but to press this work as religious and holy to such an exent as to represent it in the light of the means of procuring salvation....whatever hypocrites or wise men of the world may think of it, when a woman, considering to what she has been called, submits to the condition which God has assigned to her, and does not refuse to endure the pains, or rather the fearful anguish of parturition, or anxiety about her offspring, or anything else that belongs to her duty, God values this obedience more highly than if, in some other manner, she made a great display of heroic virtues, while she refused to obey the calling of God. To this must be added, that no consolation could be more appropriate or more efficacious than to shew that the very means (so to speak) of procuring salvation are found in the punishment itself."
Caryl, Joseph, 1602-1673,
quoted in Spurgeon's Treasury of David
"Hence note, 'tis one of the greatest outward blessings to have a family full of dutiful children. To have many children is the next blessing to much grace. To have many children about us is better than to have much wealth about us. To have store of these olive plants (as the Psalmist calls them) round about our table is better than to have store of oil and wine upon our table. We know the worth of dead, or rather, lifeless treasures, but who knows the worth of living treasures?...But though all things are of God, yet all things are not alike of him: children are more of God than houses or lands."
Chesterton, G. K. "Sex and Property"
"For instance, there were throughout antiquity, both in its first stage and its last, modes of idolatry and imagery of which Christian men can hardly speak. 'Let them not be so much as named among you.' Men wallowed in the mere sexuality of a mythology of sex; they organised prostitution like priesthood, for the service of their temples; they made pornography their only poetry; they paraded emblems that turned even architecture into a sort of cold and colossal exhibitionism. Many learned books have been written of all these phallic cults; and anybody can go to them for the details, for all I care. But what interests me is this:
"In one way all this ancient sin was infinitely superior, immeasurably superior, to the modern sin. All those who write of it at least agree on one fact; that it was the cult of Fruitfulness. It was unfortunately too often interwoven, very closely, with the cult of the fruitfulness of the land. It was at least on the side of Nature. It was at least on the side of Life. It has been left to the last Christians, or rather to the first Christians fully committed to blaspheming and denying Christianity, to invent a new kind of worship of Sex, which is not even a worship of Life. It has been left to the very latest Modernists to proclaim an erotic religion which at once exalts lust and forbids fertility. The new Paganism literally merits the reproach of Swinburne, when mourning for the old Paganism: 'and rears not the bountiful token and spreads not the fatherly feast.' The new priests abolish the fatherhood and keep the feast - to themselves. They are worse than Swinburne's Pagans. The priests of Priapus and Cotytto go into the kingdom of heaven before them.
"Now it is not unnatural that this unnatural separation, between sex and fruitfulness, which even the Pagans would have thought a perversion, has been accompanied with a similar separation and perversion about the nature of the love of the land. In both departments there is precisely the same fallacy; which it is quite possible to state precisely. The reason why our contemporary countrymen do not understand what we mean by Property is that they only think of it in the sense of Money; in the sense of salary; in the sense of something which is immediately consumed, enjoyed and expended; something which gives momentary pleasure and disappears. They do not understand that we mean by Property something that includes that pleasure incidentally; but begins and ends with something far more grand and worthy and creative. The man who makes an orchard where there has been a field, who owns the orchard and decides to whom it shall descend, does also enjoy the taste of apples; and let us hope, also, the taste of cider. But he is doing something very much grander, and ultimately more gratifying, than merely eating an apple. He is imposing his will upon the world in the manner of the charter given him by the will of God; he is asserting that his soul is his own, and does not belong to the Orchard Survey Department, or the chief Trust in the Apple Trade....Now the notion of narrowing property merely to enjoying money is exactly like the notion of narrowing love merely to enjoying sex. In both cases an incidental, isolated, servile and even secretive pleasure is substituted for participation in a great creative process; even in the everlasting Creation of the world."
Chesterton, G. K. The
Well and the Shallows, "Babies and Distributism"
"I despise Birth-Control because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly thing....my contempt boils over into bad behavior when I hear the common suggestion that a birth is avoided because people want to be 'free' to go to the cinema or buy a gramophone or loud-speaker. What makes me want to walk over such people like doormats is that they use the word 'free.' By every act of that sort they chain themselves to the most servile and mechanical system yet tolerated by men....Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect....He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated, and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilisation to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilisation. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world."
Homily on Matthew 28:5
"[I]n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [covetousness] are wearied even of their father's old age; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live."
"[T]he man who has mutilated [sterilized] himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul says, 'I would that they who trouble you would cut the whole thing off' [Gal. 5:12]. And very reasonably, for such a person is venturing on the deeds of murderers, and giving occasion to them that slander God's creation, and opens the mouths of the Manicheans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as they that mutilate themselves among the Greeks. For to cut off our members has been from the beginning a work of demonical agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon the works of God, that they may mar this living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security as being irresponsible, and doubly harm this living creature, both by mutilating the members and be impeding the forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds."
Homily on Romans 24
"Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit? Where there are medicines of sterility? Where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. Do you see that from drunkenness comes fornication, from fornication adultery, from adultery murder? Indeed, it is something worse than murder and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you contemn the gift of God, and fight with His laws? What is a curse, do you seek as though it were a blessing?"
Homily on I Corinthians 7:3-5
"Wherefore he says, 'Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me.' For they had written to him, 'Whether it was right to abstain from one's wife, or not'....Now what is the meaning of 'the due honor'? The wife hath not power over her own body; but is both the slave and the mistress of the husband. And if you decline the service which is due, you have offended God. But if thou wish to withdraw thyself, it must be with the husband's permission, though it be but a for short time. For this is why he calls the matter a debt, to shew that no one is master of himself but that they are servants to each other....
"What then can this mean? 'Let not the wife,' says he, 'exercise continence, if the husband be unwilling; nor yet the husband without the wife's consent.' Why so? Because great evils spring from this sort of continence. For adulteries and fornications and the ruin of families have often arisen from hence. For if when men have their own wives they commit fornication, much more if yon defraud them of this consolation. And well says he, 'Defraud not; fraud' here, and 'debt' above, that he might shew the strictness of the right of dominion in question. For that one should practice continence against the will of the other is 'defrauding;' but not so, with the other's consent: any more than I count myself defrauded, if after persuading me you take away any thing of mine. Since only he defrauds who takes against another's will and by force. A thing which many women do, working sin rather than righteousness, and thereby becoming accountable for the husband's uncleanness, and rending all asunder. Whereas they should value concord above all things, since this is more important than all beside.
"We will, if you please, consider it with a view to actual cases. Thus, suppose a wife and husband, and let the wife be continent, without consent of her husband; well then, if hereupon he commit fornication, or though abstaining from fornication fret and grow restless and be heated and quarrel and give all kind of trouble to his wife; where is all the gain of the fasting and the continence, a breach being made in love? There is none. For what strange reproaches, how much trouble, how great a war must of course arise! since when in an house man and wife are at variance, the house will be no better off than a ship in a storm when the master is upon ill terms with the man at the head. Wherefore he saith, 'Defraud not one another, unless it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer.' It is prayer with unusual earnestness which he here means. For if he is forbidding those who have intercourse with one another to pray, how could "pray without ceasing" have any place? It is possible then to live with a wife and yet give heed unto prayer. But by continence prayer is made more perfect. For he did not say merely, "That ye may pray;" but, "That ye may give yourselves unto it;" as though what he speaks of might cause not uncleanness but much occupation."
Commentary on Galatians 5:12
"Where then are those who dare to mutilate [sterilize] themselves, seeing that they drawn down the apostolic curse, and accuse the workmanship of God, and take part with the Manichees?"
Clarke, Adam quoted
in Spurgeon's Treasury of David
"To many God gives children in place of temporal good. To many others he gives houses, lands, and thousands of gold and silver, and with them the womb that beareth not; and these are their inheritance. The poor man has from God a number of children, without lands or money; these are his inheritance; and God shows himself their father, feeding and supporting them by a chain of miraculous providences. Where is the poor man who would give up his six children with the prospect of having more, for the thousands or millions of him who is the centre of his own existance, and has neither root nor branches but his forlorn, solitary self upon the face of the earth? Let the fruitful family, however poor, lay this to heart: 'Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.' And he who gave them will feed them; for it is a fact, and the maxim formed on it has never failed, 'Whenever God sends mouths, he sends meat.' 'Murmur not,' said an Arab to his friend, 'because thy family is large; know that it is for their sakes that God feeds thee.'"
Clement of Alexandria,
The Instructor, Paedagogus
"We must regard the woman's crown to be her husband, and the husband's crown to be marriage; and the flowers of marriage the children of both, which the divine husbandman plucks from meadows of flesh. 'Children's children are the crown of old men.'"
"Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted."
"To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature."
"Marriage in itself merits esteem and the highest approval, for the Lord wished men to 'be fruitful and multiply.' He did not tell them, however, to act like libertines, nor did He intend them to surrender themselves to pleasure as though born only to indulge in sexual relations.... Why, even unreasoning beasts know enough not to mate at certain times. To indulge in intercourse without intending children is to outrage nature, whom we should take as our instructor."
"For many think such things to be pleasures only which are against nature, such as these sins of theirs. And those who are better than they, know them to be sins, but are overcome by pleasures, and darkness is the veil of their vicious practices. For he violates his marriage adulterously who uses it in a meretricious way, and hears not the voice of the Instructor, crying, 'The man who ascends his bed, who says in his soul, "Who seeth me? darkness is around me, and the walls are my covering, and no one sees my sins. Why do I fear lest the Highest will remember?"'"
The "Comstock" Law, US Federal Law, passed unanimously in the United States Congress in
"All persons are prohibited from importing into the United States, from any foreign country, any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, writing, advertisement, circular, print, picture, drawing, or other representation, figure, or image on or of paper or other material, or any cast, instrument, or other article of an immoral nature, or any drug or medicine, or any article whatever, for the prevention of conception, or for causing unlawful abortion. No invoice or package whatever, or any part of one, in which any such articles are contained shall be admitted to entry; and all invoices and packages whereof any such articles shall compose a part are liable to be proceeded against, seized, and forfeited by due course of law. All such prohibited articles in the course of importation shall be detained by the officer of customs, and proceedings taken against the same as prescribed in the following section: Provided, That the drugs hereinbefore mentioned, when imported in bulk and not put up for any of the purposes hereinbefore specified, are excepted from the operation of this section." (This was standing law of the United States of America until rejected by the Supreme Court in 1964, just eight years before Roe v. Wade.)
Cyril of Jerusalem,
"Let those also be of good cheer who are married and use their marriage properly; who enter marriage lawfully, and not out of wantonness and unbounded license; who recognize periods of continence so that they may give themselves to prayer...who have embarked upon the matrimonial estate for the procreation of children and not for the sake of indulgence."
"Although, I say, this sin [destruction of seed] is considered insignificant, indeed, a speck of dust, in the eyes of the world and of the whole of Babylon, it is still in the holy and chaste eyes of God an exceedingly abhorrent and shameful atrocity, more offensive than common whoredom and adultery; because it is more monstrous and runs contrary to nature and God's order. This sin is really an advance murder of that which could have been born of it. Indeed, such filthy persons thereby offer a Molech-sacrifice to the god of the whorish spirit, as the heathen in previous times sacrificed their seed to the idol Molech."
Stepping Heavenward, 1869
"I celebrated my little Una's third birthday by presenting her with a new brother. Both the children welcomed him with delight that was itself compensation enough for all it cost me to get up such a celebration. Martha takes a most prosaic view of this proceeding, in which she detects malice prepense on my part. She says I shall now have one mouth the more to fill, and two feet the more to shoe; more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure for visiting, reading, music, and drawing. Well! this is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her life- long prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!"
Elton, Edward, 1637
Regarding Colossians 3:5, "Now the second sin here named is uncleanness. This sin is an outward breach of the Seventh Commandment. And by it we are to understand every actual defilement of body against nature....that which is most unnatural and was in part the sin of Onan (Genesis 38:9). Now these defilements of the body are most foul and grievous sins in that they are not only against the law of God and against the very light of nature--they are commonly punishments of some other horrible sins and ever follow a very profane and dead heart."
Ephraim Syrus, The
Nisibene Hymns, Hymn 3
"While on the Cross He quickened the dead, so while a Babe He was fashioning babes. While He was slain, He opened the graves; while He was in the womb, He opened wombs. Come hearken, my brethren, concerning the Son of the Secret One that was revealed in His Body, while His Power was concealed! For the Power of the Son is a free Power; the womb did not bind it up, as it did the Body! For while His Power was dwelling in the womb, He was fashioning infants in the womb! His Power compassed her, that compassed Him. For if He drew in His Power, all things would fall; His Power upholds all things; while He was within the womb, He left not His hold of all."
Epiphanius of Salamis,
315-402, Medicine Chest Against Heresies
"They exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption"
First Council of
Nicea, First Canon, 325 AD
"If anyone in sickness has undergone surgery at the hands of physicians or has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain among the clergy. But if anyone in good health has castrated himself, if he is enrolled among the clergy he should be suspended, and in future no such man should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this refers to those who are responsible for the condition and presume to castrate themselves, so too if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians or by their masters, but have been found worthy, the canon admits such men to the clergy. "
Fritz, John H. C.,
"Two things a pastor should impress upon married people: 1. that God would bless their marriage with children; 2. that God holds parents responsible for the Christian training of their children. A husband and wife should according to God's will become the father and the mother of children. One of God's purposes of marriage is the propagation of the human race. God says: "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth," Gen. 1:28; Ps. 127 and 128; Fourth Commandment. A Hebrew married woman considered it an affliction to be childless, I Sam. 1:1-20. The Jews had large families; so did our German forefathers. The one-, two-, or three-children family system is contrary to the Scriptures; for man has no right arbitrarily or definitely to limit the number of his offspring (birth control), especially not if done with artificial or unnatural means, Gen. 1:28; Ps. 127:3-6; Ps. 128:3-4; Gen. 38:9-10. Such restrictions as uncontrollable circumstances, natural barrenness, or the ill health of wife or husband put upon the number of offspring are the exceptions to the rule. Child-bearing is both a natural and healthful process, while any interference with natural functions is injurious."
Notes, on Psalm 128:3
"Because God's favor appears in no outward thing more than in the increase of children, he promises to enrich the faithful with this gift."
1660-1731, On Secret Unchastity
"Did we not instruct our people all too little so that the common man did not know what was sin? ...I ask whether it is not necessary to warn the people against Onanitic and other mute sins, especially since the Holy Spirit Himself does not pass over such sins in silence but has them shown in the case of the godless Onan, Gen. 38:9. What else certain Christian wives have complained to me about, how their husbands were accustomed to act with them, I should not report here because of modesty."
"Most Hebrew and Christian commentators conclude [from the grammar] that the sin of Er was of the same type as the sin of Onan, which they call effeminacy. Augustine in book 22, Against Faust Chap. 84, concluded that this Er had sinned in this offense severely because that sin impedes conception and destroys the foetus in its own seed.
"God detests and punishes sinful acts....the...voluntary pouring out of seed is contrary to nature: this in intself is compared by the Hebrews to homicide. Thomas argues that it is more serious than homicide."
Gill, John, 1697-1771
"Onania [is] a sin condemned by the light of nature, as well as by the word of God, and very prejudicial to mankind, as well as displeasing to God."
Henry, Matthew Commentary
on Genesis, 30:1
"[Rachel] did not apply to God by prayer, but to Jacob only, forgetting that children are a heritage of the Lord, [Psalm 127:3]. We wrong both God and ourselves when our eye is more to men, the instruments of our crosses and comforts, than to God the author."
Henry, Matthew Commentary
on Genesis, 38:7
"Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet, to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife that he had married, and of the memory of his brother that was gone, he refused to raise up seed unto his brother, as he was in duty bound. This was so much the worse because the Messiah was to descend from Judah, and, had he not been guilty of this wickedness, he might have had the honour of being one of his ancestors. Note, Those sins that dishonour the body and defile it are very displeasing to God and evidences of vile affections."
of All Heresies
"Reputed believers began to resort to drugs for producing Sterility and to gird themselves round, so as to expel what was conceived on account of their not wanting to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time."
Hughes, George, 1603-1667
"Destruction of future seed" was one of "Onan's horrid crimes."
"Nor is it impossible but that uncleanness may be between married couples, when the use of the marriage bed is in a season prohibited, or in a measure not moderated, or in a manner not ordained, or to an end not warranted."
"But I wonder why he [Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?"
"They drink potions to ensure sterility and are guilty of murdering a human being not yet conceived."
"[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . .or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife."
"God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring."
F. K., 1877-1962, "Arguments Against Birth Control"
"1. It is sinful.
"A. It is willfully seting aside God's will and command, Gen. 1:28; I Tim. 5:14; 2:15; Gen. 38:9, 10.
"B. It is despising His promises and is depriving onesself of a blessing, Ps. 127 and 128....
"C. It is usurping for onesself an exclusive privilege of God, that of giving or withholding children, Ps. 127:3; Gen. 29:31-30:6; 30:22; 33:5; 16:2; 20:18; Lev. 20:20-21; Job 42:12-13; Luke 1:58; I Sam. 1:10-11.
"D, Birth control by the means of anticonceptuals, coitus interruptus, etc. is ruthlessly interfering with God's method of creating a living being. Hufeland, one of the most noted physicians of Germany, 1762-1836, says, 'The first question undoubtedly is, "When does life begin?" There can be no doubt that the act of copulation is to be regarded as the beginning of the existance of the future being and that the very first, even though invisible, germ of his being has the developed man... A human being is being murdered in his incipiency. I am not going to answer sophistic, even Jesuitic, cavils. I appeal to sane reason and to the pure, unspoiled moral feeling of every man... The product presupposes producing, and if it is wrong to kill the product, then it goes without saying that it is wrong to render futile the act whereby it is being produced, for thereby is its first beginning.' ....This is undoubtedly the Scriptural view. Cf. Ps. 139:13-16; Job 10:8-11, especially v. 10 (the act of copulation described).
"E. Marriage degenerates from a holy estate to mere gratification of carnal lust, Heb. 13:4; I Thess. 4:4.
"2. It undermines the State. It is race suicide. Even the two-children system will rapidly lead to extermination of a people, for 10 per cent of all marriages are naturally childless, and unmarried people do not contribute to the growth of a nation, while the two-children system replaces only the parents...hence a decrease in population, and the nation will die out. At least four children to a family to prevent this dying out, five children to bring about an increase in population.
"3. It undermines the home. Parents become selfish, incompatible. Children idolized, pampered, egotistic, self-important, undesirable citizens in many instances. A Supreme Court Justice is quoted as saying: 'It is my conclusion that childless homes are responsible for the almost complete absence of real home-life. I cannot help but reach the conclusion that, if our women had children, there would be more happiness and fewer divorces. Presence of children attracts the husband to his home and keeps the mothers from the gossiping neighbors and bridge parties. Absence of children promotes discord. Their presence makes for harmony.'"
Lange, Johann Peter,
"Onan's sin, a deadly wickedness, an example to be held in abhorrence, as condemnatory, not only of secret sins of self-pollution, but also of all similiar offences in sexual relations, and even in marriage itself. Unchastity in general is a homicidal waste of the generative powers, a demonic bestiality, an outrage to ancestors, to posterity, and to one's own life. It is a crime against the image of God, and a degradation below the animal. Onan's offence, moreover, as committed in marriage, was a most unnatural wickedness, and a grievous wrong. The sin named after him is destructive as a pestilence that walketh in darkness, destroying directly both the body and soul of the young. But common fornication is likewise an unnatural violation of the person, a murder of two souls and a desecration of the body as the temple of God. There are those in our Christian communities who are exceedingly gross in this respect; a proof of the most defective development of what may be called, the consciousness of personality and of personal dignity."
In Onan's act "there was palpably involved the sin of complete perversion of the purpose of marriage, that divine institution. What he did is described as 'taking preventative measures.' The original says: 'he destroyed (i.e., the semen) to the ground.' From him the extreme sexual perversion called onanism has its name. The case is revolting enough. But plain speech in this case serves as a healthy warning."
Lewis, C. S., The
Abolition of Man
"As regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument."
Luther, Martin Commentary
"Then Judah urged his son Onan to take Tamar for his wife to raise up seed to his brother. Moses here uses the Hebrew word 'jabam,' which we find also in Deuteronomy 25:5 and which properly means 'to marry in order to beget children for the deceased brother.' This was a very disagreeable duty and many sought to escape it, as we read in Ruth 4:1 ff., for it is indeed hard to live with a woman whom one does not love, to continue the inheritance of the brother, and to submit onesself to ceaseless toil and labor in his interest. Therefore Onan, unwilling to perform his obligation, spilled his seed. That was a sin far greater than adultery or incest, and it provoked God to such fierce wrath that he destroyed him immediately."
Luther, Martin Luther's
Works, Volume Three
"...saintly women have always regarded childbirth as a great sign of grace. Rachel is rude and exceedingly irksome to her husband when she says (Gen. 30:1): 'Give me children, or I shall die!' She makes it clear that she will die of grief because she sees barrenness is a sign of wrath. And in Ps. 127:3 there is a glorious eulogy of offspring: 'Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward (that is, a gift of God).' Surely it is a magnificent name that children are the gift of God! Therefore Hannah laments so pitiably (I Sam. 1:10), and John's aged mother Elizabeth leaps for joy and exults (Luke 1:25), 'The Lord has taken away my reproach.' Thus when the world was still in a better state, barrenness was considered a sign of wrath; but childbirth was considered a sign of grace. Because of the abuses of lust, however, this remnant of divine blessing gradually began to be obscured even among the Jews, just as today you could find many greedy men who regard numerous offspring as a punishment. Saintly mothers, however, have always regarded this gift--when they were prolific--as a great honor, just as, conversely, they have regarded barrenness as a sign of wrath and as a reproach."
Luther, Martin Luther's
Works, Volume Five
"...fertility was regarded as an extraordinary blessing and special gift of God, as is clear from Deuteronomy 28:4, where Moses numbers fertility among the blessings. 'There will not be a barren woman among you,' he says (cf. Ex. 23:26). We do not regard this so highly today. Although we like and desire it in cattle, yet in the human race there are few who regard a woman's fertility as a blessing. Indeed, there are many who have an aversion for it and regard sterility as a special blessing. Surely this is also contrary to nature. Much less is it pious and saintly. For this affection has been implanted by God in man's naure, so that it desires its increase and multiplication. Accordingly, it is inhuman and godless to have a loathing for offspring. Thus someone recently called his wife a sow, since she gave birth rather often. The good for nothing and impure fellow! The saintly fathers did not feel like this at all, for they acknowledged a fruitful wife as a special blessing of God and, on the other hand, regarded sterility as a curse. And this judgement flowed from the Word of God in Gen. 1:28, where He said: 'Be fruitful and multiply.' From this they understood that children are a gift of God."
"...from this [the account of Rachel] it is clear that the very saintly women were not lustful but were desirous of offspring and the blessing. For this was the cause of envy in Rachel, who, if she had been like other women whom our age has produced in large numbers, would have said: 'What is it to me whether I bear children or not? Provided that I remain the mother of the household and have an abundance of all other things, I have enough.' But Rachel demands offspring so much that she prefers death to remaining sterile. I do not remember reading a similar statement in any history. Therefore she is an example of a very pious and continent woman whose only zeal and burning desire is for offspring, even if it means death. Thus above (Gen. 16:2) Sarah also showed a similar desire for offspring. And in both this feeling is decidedly praiseworthy. 'If I do not have children, I shall die' says Rachel. 'I prefer being without life to being without children.' ...Consequently, she determines either to bear children or die. Thus later she dies in childbirth. This desire and feeling of a godly woman is good and saintly."
Luther, Martin Luthers
Works, Volume Seven
"[The] exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches follows [Genesis 38:9, 10]. Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. 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 to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment. He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred. Therefore he did not allow himself to bear that intolerable slavery. Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him....That worthless fellow...preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother."
Luther, Martin Lectures
" Today you find many people who do not want to have children. Moreover, this callousness and inhuman attitude, which is worse than barbarous, is met with chiefly among the nobility and princes, who often refrain from marriage for this one single reason, that they might have no offspring. It is even more disgraceful that you find princes who allow themselves to be forced not to marry, for fear that the members of their house would increase beyond a definite limit. Surely such men deserve that their memory be blotted out from the land of the living. Who is there who would not detest these swinish monsters? But these facts, too, serve to emphasize original sin. Otherwise we would marvel at procreation as the greatest work of God, and as a most outstanding gift we would honor it with the praises it deserves."
Maier, Walter Arthur,
1893-1950, "The Blight of Birth Control"
"To pass over other objections to birth control, -objections so weighty that these sections of the Federal Penal Code make [disseminating birth control information or devices] a criminal offense...-we come to the basic objection, which, if all other argumentation were swept aside, would be a complete denunciation. We refer to the evident indictment of birth control contained in the statements of Scripture.
"The majority report of the Committee on Birth Control appointed by the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America states that the Church and the Bible are "silent upon the subject." This is a bold statement. When the first human parent pair was created, the divine commandment enjoined: 'Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.' (Gen. 1:28). After the Deluge, when the world was to take its second start, the blessing for Noah and his sons again required them to 'be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth' (Gen. 9:1) In Ps. 127:3 we read: 'Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, And the fruit of the womb is His reward." The picture of the ideal home is described in Ps. 128:3: 'Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house, Thy children like olive plants round about thy table.'....In spite of extended argument not a single passage can be adduced from Scripture which in any remote way condones birth conrol; and no one acquainted wih the Bible should hesitate to admit that it is a definite departure from the requirements of Scripture. See Gen. 38:9, 10."
The Pure Nazirite
"It is time for me to tell you that the crime against which I warn you is that self-pollution which, from the name of the only person that stands forever stigmatized for it in our Holy bible, bears the name of ONANISM."
"Let all those be absolutely terrified by [Onan's] example who thus relieve their lust, so that by no means, neither for themselves nor for others, especially not for anyone other than themselves, do they desire to bring forth offspring. Those who practice forbidden lust are most like the evildoer Onan. For they want nothing less than children. This type of person couples in various and unspeakable ways so as not to get the woman pregnant: and if she should get pregnant, somehow the foetus in her either in the womb or at birth is killed. Woe, woe on these lewd women -- woe, I say, on the prostitutes of the Sodomites, among whom no one is expected to be procreated. and what they do most wickedly is displeasing in the eyes of the Lord."
1934, Birth Control for Saints and Sinners
"There is no other exegesis of Scripture possible but to place contraception in the same category with prostitution, free love, homosexuality, coitus interruptus...and all other forms of unnatural coition that are indulged in simply for the purpose of play, against which both the laws of the land and those of the Church have with varying severity been enforced, beginning with Onan in Chapter 38 of Genesis and extending to our own day among all civilized countries.
"Birth Control is cursed of God as a sex crime, and, in the one case of which we have record, in Gen. 38 was punished with death."
1534-1604, Commentary on Genesis
"[Onan's act] was an abhorrent thing and worse than adultery. Such an evil deed strives against nature, and those who do it will not possess the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10). The holier marriage is, the less will those remain unpunished who live in it in a wicked and unfitting way so that, in addition to it, they practice their private acts of villainy."
Paraeus, David, 1548-1586
"Detestable was the deed of Onan, who in sexual intercourse preferred to waste his seed rather than procreate children, lest he raise up offspring for his brother.... This was not only wicked jealousy for his brother but also savage cruelty, which God considered on the same level as parricide [the murder of parents]. For what is it to waste the seed other than to kill the foetus and the human being that is to be born from it? Because of this, he was justly killed by God, by a sudden blow, it seems, or by a fatal disease.
"On the other hand, we learn how much God hates every abuse of genital seed, illicit emission and wasting it: and we learn that we are to live chaste and holy lives before God in marriage just as much as in the celibate life. For God sees and punishes every impurity, even those which are committed in secret."
Poole, Matthew, 1624-1679
Onan's "sin itself...is...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, and which is condemned not only by Scripture but even by the light of nature and the judgement of heathens who have expressly censured it as a great sin, and as a kind of murder.... Whereby we may sufficiently understand how wicked and abominable a practice this is amongst Christians, and in the light of the gospel which lays greater and stricter obligations upon us to purity and severely forbids all pollution both of flesh and spirit."
Richter, J. Heinrich,
"Whoever [destroys seed] cannot inherit the kingdom of God. I Cor. 6:9 and 10:8. Onan's behavior was punished by God with death because it happened contrary to the purpose of marriage and out of devilish jealousy and was also murder. Such silent sins always draw down the wrath of God. But even such atrocious sinners, of whom the world is now full, can still receive grace in the blood of Christ, if they come to Him in repentence, according to Tit. 3:3; Eph. 2:3."
Rivet, Andre, 1573-1651
"...any abuse of the seed...is a most serious sin; and it is necessary to guard against the suggestions of an impure spirit, with which Satan lies in ambush for many,,,, Therefore those who, by the same forbidden lust or violent abortions of offspring, destroy it before it is born, are like wicked Onan and involve themselves in the same type of crime and sin.... For although every sin is evil and displeases God, they are still not all expressly said to be the same, so that some are more to be detested. That is even shown by the most immediate punishment, that God did not permit him to live any longer who deprived a generation of life and killed off the fetus in its own seed."
Sixth Annual Message to Congress
"When home ties are loosened, when men and women cease to regard a worthy family life, with all its duties fully performed and all its responsibilities lived up to, as the best life worth living, then evil days for the commonwealth are at hand. There are regions in our land, and classes of our population, where the birth rate has sunk below the death rate. Surely it should need no demonstration to show that willful sterility is, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the national penalty is national death, race death--a sin for which there is no atonement."
W. J., 1617-1696
"Onan's sin a murder."
"The sin of Onan, unnatural, destructive of God's holy ordinance, is even yet so displeasing to the Lord that it gives birth to bodily and spiritual death."
Sexton, M. H. Matrimony
"Had the Pilgrim fathers and mothers disregarded the multiplication precept hurled from the eternal throne, at the dawn of man, into an unpeopled world, who would have thrown the tea of the oppressor into the ocean of liberty, who would have fought the colonial battles, whence would have come the three millions of unconquerable men and women, who would have rocked the cradle of liberty in which reposed an infant republic, and who would have guarded and nurtured that infant to a stately manhood, represented in 'Uncle Sam,' who now proclaims to the world that he rules the greatest nation, the most versatile people and the best governed republic that the sun has ever smiled on since thrown into space from the majestic hand of God? . . .When Babylon, Sparta, Greece, Rome, and many other nations which have long since perished from the earth, had attained the zenith of their greatness and culture, they sought the widest possible sexual liberality, but set bounds to their offspring, and willfully permitted their children to die or be eaten by beasts, thus unwittingly sapping their manhood and womanhood, and numerically weakening their nationality by ill attention to progeny, thereby hastening the approaching day when they were to lay the crown of centuries of glory in the lap of the invader."
"Sounding brass, tinkling cymbals, church organs, vesper bells, the hope of heaven and Christ crucified should lead this nation to the shrine of William Albright at Clearfield, Pennsylvania, who, on March 3, 1917, at the age of sixty-five, offered himself and fourteen sons to President Wilson for service in the army and also his seven daughters for Red Cross work in case of war."
"Let our own national and state governments make haste to war perpetually on every enemy of offspring, whether in the form of doctors, diseases, deceits, devices, devils, or disciples of Sappho, remembering that no nation, yet, has long endured under the spell of sexual wile-weaving. The weasel-souled women, who dole canned technique for fencing the ovarian fields against fertility, peddle scandal itch and seminal germicides on the theory that God, at last, has heard the cries of the poor mother in travail, should be cantoned by the government and condemned as Herodian descendants, uterus burglars and vampires of the innocent.
Synod of Dort, Dutch
Annotations on the Whole Bible
"[Onan's act] was even as much as if he had, in a manner, pulled forth the fruit out of the mother's womb and destroyed it."
Tozer, A. W., "The
Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches," quoted in The Best of
A. W. Tozer, compiled Warren A. Wiersbe
"The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole church and over all its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians....The beliefs, the practicers, the ethics, the activities of our group are equated with the Christianity of the New Testament. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. It is assumed that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group. In doing so we are keeping the commandments of Christ....In the conduct of our public worship where is the authority of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our group....What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for an authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters? ...the causes back of the decline in our Lord's authority are many. I name only two.... One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition.... The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals...not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned."
Vent, C. F., 1876
"But there is a practice so universal that it may well be termed a national vice, so common that it is unblushingly acknowledged by its perpetrators, for the commission of which the husband is even eulogized by his wife, and applauded by her friends, a vice which is the scourge and desolation of marriage; it is the crime of Onan....
"Who can doubt that Almighty God, in [Onan's] terrible punishment, wished to impart to man a positive moral instruction which should endure to the end of time, for the crime of Onan will have imitators while the world endures--as what crimes will not? But that these should be found among men of respectibility would surpass belief, if the thing were not notoriously true. At any rate, the conjugal onanists in this age and country are more numerous than the exceptions. Ministers of the Gospel, prominent Church members, the very elite of society, well-nigh monopolize the art, for it is far less common to find repugnance to offspring in the lower classes than in 'upper-tendom.'"
Wesley, John Commentary
"Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married, and the memory of his brother that was gone, he refused to raise up seed unto his brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile actions. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord--And it is to be feared, thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls. "
1657, by John Ley of the Westminster Assembly
"...there is a seminal vital virtue, which perishes if the seed be spilled; and by doing this to hinder the begetting of a living child, is the first degree of murder that can be committed, and the next unto it is the marring of conception, when it is made, and causing of abortion: now such acts are noted in the scripture as horrible crimes, because, otherwise many might commit them, and not know the evil of them: it is conceived, that his brother Er before, was his brother in evil thus far, that both of them satisfied their sensuality against the order of nature, and therefore the Lord cut them off both alike with sudden vengeance; which may be for terror...to those who, in marriage, care not for the increase of children, (which is the principle used of the conjugal estate) but for the satisfying of their concupiscence."
quotes A. Lapide:
"The Hebrews and the Christians agree that Er committed the same kind of effeminate sin and retraction as Onan, which is contrary to the nature of procreation and marriage, for it destroys the fetus...and is called detestable."
What Does Scripture Say?