The Law and the Christian (and life)

I guess I see two ways of looking at the Law (with variations on those themes).

1) Everything is legal, unless the Bible tells us it is not
2) Everything is prohibited, unless the Bible tells us it is not.

There are those who will show you in the Bible what you are supposed to be doing, and there are those who will attempt to put you under a law that does not even exist. If you believe that God wrote the Law,. and think you need to add to it, because God forgot a few things, that puts you in a dangerous position of trying to be more righteous than God - and I'm sure not going to try that!

I grew up in a church that pretty much took the second way of looking at things. Drinking was sin, as was smoking, dancing, playing with a regular deck of cards, etc. The strictness varied with the pastor. I remember one that prohibited his wife from buying their children clothes from the store if they could be made at home, and also prohibited her from using an electric sewing machine. Another kept his daughter away from youth group on an evening that I led devotions (as a female, I wasn't supposed to do that). I think it was that same pastor that eventually agreed to perform a marriage for a divorced woman (it was a "Biblical" divorce), but not in the sanctuary - it had to be done in his office (I never quite understood why, if the marriage was permissible, it couldn't be fully permissible. If it was not "good enough" to be done in the sanctuary, should he have done it at all?) These days, it's homeschooling, Christian schooling, quiver-full, even delaying marriage.

Take alcohol specifically. My mom and dad are teetotallers - as are other members of my family. I am not - I have a bottle of beer once in a while - more often, I'll have a glass of red wine. That is not a lifestyle of drunkeness. If you can show me in the Bible where having a drink is a sin, we'll talk again. But I will not put myself under bondage to a Law that does not exist. My dad and I disagree. But he does not condemn me for my occasional drink, and I respect him and don't drink around him - or even mention it.

Or, more recently - the "quiver full" debate. There is a difference between a quiverfull lifestyle (which I cannot do, but wish I could), a quiverfull mentality (which I probably have) and a quiverfull theology (which I cannot find). Yes, children are a gift from God and I'd love to have more - the Bible never says that we should not steward our resource and our health - in order that we can spit as many of those babies out as we possibly can.

God is pretty eloquent and I think that if He wanted to prohibit contraception, He could have spelled it out. He gave the Jews 613 laws - do we really think that He just "forgot" birth control?

I know - some will say that it was just a "given" that contraception was wrong. Excuse me, but the Jews needed something in the Law that laid out the penalty for having sex with animals!!! If they couldn't figure that one out, I'm guessing a prohibition against birth control would have had to be spelled out pretty clearly.

And then there's Onan...which many scholars today recognize as something a little deeper than birth control.

The fact is - these two things (and many others), alcohol and contraception is not in the Law. Any law against it is arrived at by methods other than God's Word. And that puts in the category of all the laws of all the teachers of the Law that put further yokes on the people. By the time Christ arrived, they "tied up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders" and they traveled over land and sea to win a single convert, only to make him twice as much a son of hell as they were.

What God has spelled out for us, we should obey. What God has put on our hearts, we must follow. But we are under no obligation to follow another person's heart, if it is following a Law that does not exist.

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21 thoughts on “The Law and the Christian (and life)

  1. And then there's Onan...which many scholars today recognize as something a little deeper than birth control.

    Hardly deeper. It's actually a more shallow/superficial and certainly unscholarly exegesis. I gave you 5 examples of how on my blog.

    That said there is a happy medium between the QF folks, and the secular pro-contraception mind set. It's moral and licit! It's what the Catholic Church readily teaches.

    BTW there are two questions left hanging for you back at my place. I hope you don't leave those commenters hanging.

  2. I suppose I could ask about your view on the law (the subject of the post)...

    I agree with you on the quiver-full and there being a medium. Now try to convince the quiver-full types!

    On's circular logic. The church has always said it was this way, so it's this's this way, so the church has always said it was this it's this way.

    I don't accept that. Period.

    The Hebrew language leaves the reason open. Period. Like it or not, accept it or not...Onan does not make your point.

    By the way...I told you why I was leaving that conversation. I've changed my theology more in a rather drastic way before, I'd do it again. But the lack of charity toward those that do not accept the quiver-full theology is astouding.

    I'll come and look...

  3. However Ellen, I didn't give you a circular argument on Onan. I gave you 5 good points on why the historical interpretation of those verses was the correct one. And I invited you to challenge me on how they could be wrong,or at the very least questionable. You haven't.

    I'm unclear about what you are referring to as a lack of charity on the quiverful issue. I do not accept the Quiverful Theology!! It's flawed. I'm merely challenging you on your interpretation of Genesis 38: 9-10.

  4. Elena (your name strikes a chord with me - I lost a baby at 18 1/2 weeks that would have been named Elena, had she been carried to term - her twin had already died and this was my 3rd failed pregnancy),

    I explained the difference (as I see it) between quiver-full mentality, lifestyle and theology. I made it clear that it is only the theology that I reject.

    As far as Onan - let's go from trying to prove a negative, to the more accurate way - proving a positive. (I want a Biblical interpretation, not a historical one. Prove it to me, Sola Scriptura, that the wicked thing Onan did was contraception, in the face of all the other wicked things he did.)

    As I said in a previous post - there is a family history of brothers screwing each other over. Jacob and Esau; Judah and Joseph. Er and Onan are the third generation of jealous brothers.

    Here are the verses from Genesis 38.

    8Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother." 9But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother's wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10And what he did was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also.

    Here are some things that are wicked (I hope we agree on these).

    - to defraud a covenant partner (break the conditions of a covenant) is a wicked thing.
    - to disobey your father is a wicked thing.
    - to be greedy is a wicked thing.
    - to covet is a wicked thing.

    Let's go over, point by point, what happened.
    1) Judah gave Onan an instruction (do your duty to your brother)
    2) Onan entered into a Levirite marriage with Tamar (a covenant intended to do one thing - provide an heir for the dead husband)
    3) Onan was greedy and wanted his own heir (keep in mind that Er was the first born and would have inherited the bulk of Judah's estate, as would his heir, leaving Onan out in the cold).
    4) Onan defrauded his Levirite wife, by not living up to his end of the covenant agreement.

    These are the positive things that Onan did
    - disobeyed his father
    - falsely entered into a covenant
    - coveted his brother's heir
    - defrauded his Levirite wife.

    I am not the one that claims there is a sin specifically regarding contraception in this passage. There's enough sin to go around, here, without adding contraception!

    Given that this is the only passage that you can point to naming birth control as a sin, if you want to put people under the yoke of this law (naming contraception as sin), then the onus is on you, to prove Biblically, in this passage - grammatically and linguistically - that contraception is the wicked thing, in the face of greed, jealousy, disobedience and fraud.

    Sola Scriptura - prove the point.

  5. Given that this is the only passage that you can point to naming birth control as a sin

    Grammatically, this should have read, "Given that this is the only passage that you can point to that you claim names birth control as a sin"

  6. I'm sorry about your babies Ellen. I lost a 2nd trimester son; it's a heart ache. His story is on my blog side bar and his name was Raphael.

  7. "I explained the difference (as I see it) between quiver-full mentality, lifestyle and theology. I made it clear that it is only the theology that I reject."

    See we really do have a lot in common. I reject the QF theology too!

  8. Biblical Evidence Against Contraception
    The Lord commands us to be fruitful ("fertile") and multiply. We cooperate with the Creator's love. Gen 1:28, 9:1,7; 35:11
    Isaac's prayer over Jacob shows that fertility and procreation are considered blessings from God. Gen. 28:3
    Onan is killed by God for practicing contraception (withdrawal) and spilling his semen on the ground. Gen. 38:8-10
    Judah (like Onan) also rejected God's command to keep up the family lineage, but he was not killed. Gen. 38:11-26
    penalty for refusing to keep up lineage is not death, like Onan received. Onan was killed for wasting seed. Deut. 25:7-10
    The usage of the graphic word "seed," uncharacteristic for Hebrew writing, highlights the reason for death. Gen. 38:9
    God promises blessings which include no miscarriages or barrenness. The family reflects the Blessed Trinity. Exodus 23:25-26; Deut. 7:13-14
    Wasting seed with non-generative sexual acts warrants death, according to Jewish Law. Lev.18:22-23;20:13
    Crushed testicles are called a defect and a blemish before God. Deliberate sterilization is intrinsically evil. Lev. 21:17,20
    Whoever has crushed testicles or is castrated cannot enter the assembly, according to Jewish Law. Deut. 23:1
    Punishment for potential damage to testicles. Hence, vasectomies are gravely contrary to the natural law. Deut. 25:11-12
    God exalts His people by blessing with many children. Contraception = not your will God, but my will be done. 1 Chron. 25:5
    Children are a gift of favor from God and blessed is a full quiver. We must be open to God's gift of life. Psalm 127:3-5
    Fertility is a blessing. Hosea 9:11; Jer. 18:21
    Marriage is not a contract. It is a covenant - a supernatural exchange of persons with children as the fruit of the union. Mal. 2:14
    What does God desire? Godly offspring. Contraception = God may want an eternal being created, but I say no. Mal. 2:15
    Jesus said a husband and wife shall become one. They are no longer two, but one, as God is three persons, yet one. Matt. 19:5-6
    Contraception prevents God's ability to "join" together. God's love for the Church is selfless and sacrificial. Matt. 19:6; Eph. 5:31
    Ananias and Sapphira were slain because they withheld part of a gift. Fertility is a gift from God and cannot be withheld. Acts 5:1-11
    Sexual acts without the possibility of procreation is sinful. Self-giving love is life-giving love. Rom.1:26-27
    The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; thus, we must glorify God in our bodies. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
    Natural family planning (NFP). Do not refuse each other except perhaps by agreement for a season, naturally. -1 Cor. 7:5
    God is not mocked for what a man sows. If to the flesh, corruption. If to the Spirit, eternal life. Gal. 6:7-8
    Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church - by giving his entire body and holding nothing back. Eph. 5:25
    Childbearing is considered a "work" through which women may be saved by God's grace. 1 Tim. 2:15
    sorcery = "pharmakeia" = includes abortifacient potions such as birth control pills = mortally sinful. Rev. 9:21; 21:8; 22:15; Gal. 5:20

  9. Natural family planning (NFP). Do not refuse each other except perhaps by agreement for a season, naturally. -1 Cor. 7:5

    This is easy...this verse also gives the only reason for refusing one another - and it isn't family planning. It's for prayer and fasting, not birth control. If that's the way you are using this verse, you are misusing the Word of God.

    Childbearing is considered a "work" through which women may be saved by God's grace. 1 Tim. 2:15

    Does this mean that the more babies you have, the more saved you are?

    Seriously - Until you can prove that Onan's sin (and only sin) was contraception, I have no need to say anything else. You haven't proved your point.

    and seriously - until you can prove from Greek (the original language) that pharmakia was only used for immoral purposes, I have no need to say anything else - You haven't made your point.

    I maintain that there are good and Godly reasons for delaying, and in some circumstances remaining childless.

  10. Very thoughtful posting...very good thinking. I was reading a lesson about Joseph today (Mary's Joseph). If he had done what the Bible said, Mary would have been dead and Jesus would not have been born. Instead he did what was consistent with the heart (character and nature of God).
    BTW - on Onan, his sin, in my pea-picking little opinion was that Tamar was left without resource and recourse (except with Judah) and she ends up in the lineage of Jesus. Onan has nothing to do with I see it.

  11. Couple things Ellen,

    I agree with you, always have, that there are good and Godly reasons for delaying or avoiding pregnancy in a marriage. And guess what, that's a rather "Romanish" perspective that you share there!!! 🙂

    Where we differ is in how that is to be attained. The only licit means of avoiding or delaying pregnancy is abstinence.

    I disagree that NFP is not licit in 1 Corinthians. Couples who abstain to avoid pregnancy should be doing so prayerfully - very prayerfully.

    Artificial contraception is illicit scripturally, morally and historically. Sorry I could not convince you. I gues it's something you will need to research for your self.

    Keep checking my blog. It is one of my favorite topics and I frequently post articles and papers on it. Perhaps one of them will give you a different perspective and stir your heart and mind in a way that I was unable.



  12. Elena, you need to read the verse - I mean read it, not just take somebody else's word for it.

    A dear friend and I just did an in depth study on it - it's actually very beautiful - I cried.

    I'll do a post on it...

  13. harbour light - thanks!

    Something you said triggered a memory...

    On one of my "poor me" days (there were more than a few) a dear friend challenged me to find out how God feels about widows. Here are many, many references to God making sure that the widows are taken care of. There's a special place in God's heart for those who cannot take care of themselves, and widows (at that time in history) had a special place in God's heart.

    If Onan did nothing else, he messed with the wellbeing of one of God's special ones.

  14. Ellen, I have read these verses. Many many times in fact.

    About 15 years ago when I was just starting to come back to my Catholic Faith, I was driving around in the car with my then 1 year old son. WHAT A KID!

    He was my first so I had no comparison, but he was strong-willed, always in motion, always into stuff - and I was losing my mind.

    I knew the Catholic church taught against artificial birth control, but I did not understand why and I was beginning to feel that I couldn't have any more kids if they were all going to be like this one!

    That's when someone gave me some tapes by Scott and Kimberly Hahn. Kimberly Hahn had a bible study on this very topic and it was with great interest that I heard her for the first time give this exegesis on Onan. But what really touched my heart was when she used Malachi 2:15. What God wants from a convental marriage is Godly offspring. Children that know Him and love Him.

    I have since read and re-read, done other studies and my own bible has lots of yellow highlights and black ink underlines.

    It is very beautiful I agree, and I went on to have 6 more children.

    I believe when the verses are understood correctly, we see God's true mind on the matter. Children are only and always a blessing. The one outright contraceptive act meets with deeply offending God so much that it results in death. I find it chilling, even if you do not agree that Onan was killed for that (which is again beyond me how in the face of the overwhelming evidence you can deny that) that the only act of contraception mentioned in the bible meets is near a verse that says God was offended. That was enough to keep me away from it. When we love, we try not to offend.

    The verse in Malachi put it over the top for me. Being a mother is a big part of my role as a Godly woman and I have been rewarded for it.

    But as I say, perhaps you will find someone else's scholarship or witness will be more compelling for you.

  15. So then, to you - a Pauline mandate to harmoniously consent to a time apart in order that you can give yourself to prayer and fasting - becomes birth control?

    Elena, when you take that "time off", do you set it aside for prayer and fasting?

    Are you firmly committed to spending that entire time that you are denying your husband - in fasting?

    Do you pray and fast the entire time?

    That's what the verse says.

  16. The way the Catholic Church teaches NFP Ellen, it is a time of mutual self denial. The couple is in agreement and it is done with some regret at not being able to be open to a new life. It is prayerful and respectful of the life giving power that comes from that expression of married love.

  17. So, you're saying that it is done for the express purpose of (prayerfully) denying God the opportunity of giving you a child (birth control).

    You are denying each other in order to prevent conception. You're just doing it prayerfully.

  18. That and more. There has to be a grave or serious reason for it, to be determined after a thorough examination of conscience.

  19. Elena, I am at peace with accepting the Bible as my sole authority.

    I give you a lot of credit for raising all of your children - I'm sure you're doing a great job. I have no condemnation of you for your choice.

    Let's leave it at that, ok?

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