Saving the West – 17 Reasons to have married sex with no pills or condoms.

Birth control in the Christian West is largely a modern, 20th Century phenomenon. But this is not because Christians were unaware of contraception before that time or had no access to it. They certainly did. Rather, they had large families with many children because Christian leaders taught that contraception was wrong.

Accordingly, the Christian West was a growing civilization until the 20th Century, but is now dying and surrendering to a culture of death. It is clearly fair to connect these two phenomena, and it is fair to ask if our forefathers got it right, and we got it wrong.

1. Let’s start with Forgiveness and Mercy.
2. Is the West really dying?
3. What does the Bible say about birth control?
4. The Early Church and Church Fathers clearly condemned birth control.
5. The Early Church knew all about oral contraception and condoms.
6. The Early Church clearly distinguished between contraception and abortion.
7. The Early Church did not believe each sperm contained a “tiny baby.”
8. Revisiting Onan who “spilled his seed.” Why was he killed?
9. Male seed is viewed as very precious, even if not a child.
10. Luther and Calvin say Onan was killed for abusing seed.

11. Why do the Church Fathers call contraception “murder”?
12. Birth control pills cause abortions. The science is settled.
13. After 2000 years, the Orthodox Church now allows for contraception.
14. Hope for the future of Christendom—Ethiopia

15. Why is Satan so intent to stop creation of more people?
16. What next? Some practical tips for the feeble.
17. Sincere questions for Bishops and Christian leaders.


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1. Let’s start with Forgiveness and Mercy.

There will be almost no one who reads this article who has not practiced contraception at some point. When we get to the sin of “wasting seed,” there will likely be few to no male readers who are without guilt. (As the old locker room joke goes: “Nine out of ten guys masturbate, and the tenth is a damn liar.”) Many readers have likely used the pill regularly, which we will show without question causes abortions over time.

My purpose for this article is not to heap condemnation upon you (and me). God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness is greater than all of our shortcomings. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8). Jesus told the sinful woman she loved much, because she had been forgiven much (Luke 7:47). We are instructed like Peter to forgive our brother 70 times 7 times a day (Matt. 18:22), and certainly God is willing to do the same for us. My purpose is to suggest a clear path back to life, to steer our ship away from the culture of death that we live in and toward a society—at least in our Christian circles—that reflects the fruitfulness, health, and hopeful future that our forefathers once practiced.

Mozart right) was the last of 7 children. Beethoven was the 3rd of 8 children.

This ship may not turn around for a long time. It may sail to other countries beyond the West. Our small efforts at this point in our lives to reverse the effects of contraception may resemble the final plea of the thief on the cross. Yet, his prayer has resounded around the world for all generations. So also can our humble efforts of repentance make a difference in this area of sexuality—one that can be so difficult for us to inspect, both in our own lives and that of our society. I sincerely ask you to read further, examine the evidence, and ask God for wisdom for what is true—and the courage to act on it.

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2. Is the West really dying?

Yes. As the saying goes, “Demography is destiny.”

In 1913, Europe had more people than China. At that time, Europe and the U.S. comprised 33 percent of the world’s people. In 2003 that number declined to 17 percent. Today it is 12 percent. Not a single Western nation has a birth rate to sustain the population (2.1 children per woman). Some countries have a rate as low as 1.2 children. The U. S. birth rate of 1.9 is deceptive, skewed by non-indigenous, migrating families that birth many children.1

From now until 2050, Europe will lose 33 million of its current population. Greece will fall below 10 million while neighboring Turkey will grow from 80 to 95 million. Africa alone will add 1.3 billion people to the world population.2

“Europe will continue to shrink, which is worsening it’s economic problems,” declares the Washington Post, which notes that even China is in trouble. “The Asian century could be followed by the African century. As China shrinks, it’s workforce will get smaller precisely when it needs them most.”3

Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the United States as well as the world. They are projected to comprise 25 percent of the global population by 2030. 

The past two generations have witnessed an “epochal event: the fall of Christendom,” writes Pat Buchanan in Suicide of a Superpower. Europeans, once Christian, are being replaced by people of another faith.4

The slow but sure-to-be victorious immigration process of Africans and Asians into Europe was predicted in 1974 by Algerian president Houari Boumedienne. “They will burst in to conquer,” he said. “Victory will come to us through the wombs of our women.”5

The prospects are grim for stopping the conquest. Low birth rates cause a “vicious circle” according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “Fewer children today imply fewer women of childbearing age twenty years from now, so the cumulative momentum of current low birth rates will be difficult to reverse.” Though still mathematically possible, “such a recovery would be unprecedented in human history.”6

Fewer young workers means fewer people supporting the pensions and health care of the older generations. Riots in Greece and other parts of Europe are rooted in these now lopsided Western economies. The U.S. may not be far behind. “You can’t keep going with this completely upside-down age distribution, with the pyramid standing on its point,” said a spokesman for the Population Reference Bureau. “You can’t have a country where everybody lives in a nursing home.”7

Unlike the West, Russia is keenly aware of their predicament, as they strive to recover from a 1.16 birth rate when Communism was overthrown in 1991. The government now offers incentives for children, the equivalent in U.S. dollars to a lower middle-class income. Parents of seven children are awarded a medal, The Order of Parental Glory. Russia has instituted a national holiday on Sept. 12, Day of Conception or Procreation Day—colloquially “Make a Baby Day”—where citizens get the day off to produce children. The birth rate rose to 1.71 in 2013 and continues to increase. About 1.9 million babies were born in Russia in 2015, up from 1.5 million in 2005. “The rise is slight, but it is still a rise,” said a hopeful President Vladimir Putin.8

Western Christians have been quick to point to a “culture of death” for the cause of our imminent decline and repose. Abortion, assisted suicide, moral decay have all been targeted, and rightly so, as contributors to the problem. However, ending all abortions in the West would hardly begin to solve our demographic crisis.9 The root of the problem is contraception. 

We all are familiar with the biblical maxim, “Ye shall know them by their fruit.” What is the fruit of 20th Century Christians breaking with 2000 years of tradition and adopting birth control as an option? Did we really know more than our “backward” forbearers? Or were our parents right all along?

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3. What does the Bible say about birth control?

On the surface, not so much.

There is the strange and anomalous story of Onan, who was killed by God after “spilling his seed on the ground.” We will examine that in detail later.

Beyond that, there are only positive commands to have children—and curses associated with those who don’t. But there is no specific commandment in the bible not to use contraception in and around, and during, the time you follow God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.”

Dwight Eisenhower (left) was the 3rd of 7 boys. When a reporter asked if she was proud of her son, Mrs. Eisenhower replied, “Which one?”

Nevertheless, the Church Fathers are quite clear in their condemnation of contraception, without exception. And so were Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley. (I have two audiences when I write: those from my Protestant heritage and those in my now Orthodox tradition. Please work with me as I strive to serve both.)

Protestants can say the Fathers don’t matter, just go with the bible. However, that won’t get you very far. (More on that subject here.)You won’t be able to prove that polygamy is a sin—the bible doesn’t condemn it, but the Fathers do. The Fathers also condemn slavery, but the bible is not so vocal on it. For these reasons, and many others, Christians have historically relied on the Tradition to understand how to live. And, as we will see in the next section, the Tradition has been very clear on contraception. (And so were the Protestant founders, who otherwise bucked tradition.)

And remember, these same Fathers declared to us the teachings of the divinity of Christ, the full humanity of Christ, the divinity of the Holy Spirit, which books are in the bible, and other foundational doctrines. They are obviously worth listening to.

However, just under the surface, the bible strongly insinuates that birth control should be avoided. The scriptures are deafening in their praise of God’s blessing through children, and the curse of few children and barrenness.

Let’s not forget that the very first command in the bible is to “be fruitful and multiply.” Did that end? Did the New Testament rescind this command? Isn’t the first of anything pretty important?

Consider these verses for demonstrating the blessing of being obedient to the First Commandment:

Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”

1 Chronicles 25:4-5 “Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer to exalt him according to the words of God, for God gave fourteen sons and three daughters to Heman.”

1 Chronicles 26:4-5 “And obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the first-born . . . Peullethai the eighth; God had indeed blessed him.”

The lack of children is clearly a curse:

Deuteronomy 7:12-13: “God will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb…. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you….”

Hosea 9:14: The prophet says of the fallen Ephraim: “Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.”

Genesis 30:1: Rachel pleads to Jacob not to be cursed: “Give me children, or I’ll die!”

Why does God bring husband and wife together?

Malachi 2:15: “But did he not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.”

 

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4. The early church and Church Fathers clearly condemned birth control.

I’m going with “early” Church Fathers, because anything in the West after the schism in A. D. 1054 will be suspect to the Orthodox. I’m also going sparingly with Augustine, the most vocal of those against contraception, because he’s “too Catholic” for Protestants. And some Orthodox aren’t too crazy about him either.

As you read these, be prepared for the upcoming sections:

  • The early church was very aware of contraception, which was prevalent in Rome.
  • The early church made clear distinctions between contraception and abortion.
  • The early church did not believe “tiny babies” were in each sperm.
  • We also discuss why the Fathers use the term murder in relation to birth control.

The procreation of children is not in itself the sole purpose of marriage, but a marriage without the desire for children, and the prayer to God to bear and nurture them, is contrary to the ‘sacrament of love.
—St. John Chrysostom 
Homily on Ephesians 20 (4th Century)

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?
St. John Chrysostom
Commentary on Galatians (4th Century)

Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd of 10 children.

They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption.
—St. Epiphanius
Medicine Chest Against Heresies (4th Century)

Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented.
St. Augustine
Commentary on Genesis 38 (5th Century)

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.
Clement of Alexandria
The Instructor of Children (2nd Century)

Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [oral contraceptive] so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fertile? 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.
Caesarius of Arles
Sermons 1:12 (6th Century)

On the last quote, please read my comments on Forgiveness and Mercy if you skipped over them. The point is not to condemn, but to communicate how seriously the Fathers took the matter of contraception.

Also keep in mind that there are no competing views among the Early Church Fathers—or any Fathers or saints for that matter—advocating for the use of birth control in any form or for any occasion. These quotes are only samples, but they sample a single opinion in the Orthodox Tradition of not approving contraception.

 

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5. The Early Church knew all about oral contraception and condoms.

In fact, contraception was very prevalent in the Roman Empire and a serious issue. The ancient world had been using contraceptives for thousands of years. The earliest written documentation appears in a 1900 B.C. Egyptian document.

“The Kahun papyrus has three different formulas,” writes John T. Noonan, a U.S. Appellate Court Judge, Ninth Circuit, who authored Contraception: A History of its Treatment by Catholic Theologians and the Canonists (Harvard, 1968)—considered the definitive work on the subject. Noonan points to several formulas: “Pulverized crocodile dung in fermented mucilage; honey and sodium carbonate to be sprinkled in the vulva” and long lists of potions in the ancient world involving iron rust, barrenwort, bark of white poplar, the kidney of a mule, rose oil, aloes, and many other medicines of the time. 1

Jonathan Edwards, 18th Century revivalist, had 11 children with his wife Sarah. He himself was the 5th of 11 children.

Condoms were in use in 3000 B.C. when King Minos of Crete used the bladders of goats to block conception. In 1000 B.C. there is record of Egyptians using a linen cloth around the penis. Other surviving illustrations point to use of condom-like devices in Rome and ancient Europe.2

Ancient Greece knew of contraception. Hippocrates—who gave us the Hippocratic Oath—writes about a contraceptive known as misy, which is “clearly distinguished from an abortifacient,” says Noonan. Aristotle cites the use of frankincense and ointment of lead, noting that “if the lips of the cervix are smooth, conception is difficult.” Pliny cites various types of plants for contraception.3

Birth control became such a problem in Rome that Emperor Augustus passed laws rewarding childbirth and punishing those choosing not to have children. Childless adults could not hold high offices and childless spouses were punished in the will. Nevertheless, “childlessness prevailed,” wrote Tacitus, condemning an age where “even one child is thought a burden preventing the rewards of childlessness.”4

In this context, the early church forged its longstanding commitment to childbearing and its condemnation of birth control.

 

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6. The Early Church clearly distinguished between contraceptions and abortion.

Quotes from the Church Fathers make it clear that they made a distinction between contraception and abortion.

Say St. John Chrysostom: “That which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome [having] mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live.”

Archduchess Maria Theresa had 16 children, including Maria Antoinette, Queen of France, the Queen of Naples and Sicily, the Duchess of Parma, and two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II. Depicted at age 13, the flowers she holds represent her fertility and expectations to bear children in adulthood.

These medicines carry out “murder which precedes coming into being,” Chrysostom continues. “Indeed, it is something even worse than murder, for it does not abort a pregnancy, but prevents impregnation.” (Homilies on Matthew 28:5)

The Fathers’ use of the term murder for contraception will be discussed later.

“Some drink sterility before sex and commit the murder of a man yet unsown.”
St. Jerome
Letters 22:13, (4th Century)

John IV Nesteurtes, the 6th Century Patriarch of Constantinople, known as “St. John the Faster,” also makes the clear distinction between contraption and abortion. According to Tikhon Alexander Pino, from St. John’s writings “two kinds of anti-pregnancy medications are explicitly distinguished—contraceptives and abortifacients, the one preventing conception (νὰ μὴ ἐγγαστρωθοῦν), the other killing the child after conception (ὅταν τὰ συλλάβουν)—the latter being more sinister.”1

A Greek penitential ascribed to St. John the Faster states: “If someone to satisfy his lust or in deliberate hatred does something to a man or woman so that no children be born of him or her, or gives them to drink (pharmakon), so that he cannot generate or she conceive, let it be held as homicide.”2

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7. The Early Church did not believe that each sperm contains a “tiny baby.”

The Church Fathers followed Aristotle, who did not believe each sperm contained a tiny baby that needed only to find rest in a woman’s womb. This is a theory known as preformationism, more popular in the 18th Century then in early church times. Aristotle held to epigenesis, the belief that seeds go through various stages. He believed that a man did not become human until 40 days after conception. (History of Animals 7:3). For Aristotle, this was also the time of ensoulment. Tertullian believed the embryo, after conception, has a soul. (The Soul 25.2, 37.2)

The Casons have 18 children (2017) and are trying for their 19th. They moved from California to Indiana, and are not driven by religious convictions. They “just like it what way.”

Writes Noonan: “That no classical writer literally identified semen with man is clear from a consideration of the leading theories on ensoulment.”1

Then why do the Church Fathers so often equate contraception with “murder”? To help understand their mindset, we need to look at the Old Testament story of Onan who “spilled his seed on the ground,” and why the Fathers considered this such a grievous sin. 

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8. Revisiting Onan who “spilled his seed.” Why was he killed?

Seasoned biblical aficianados will know the usually given answer to why Onan was killed. First, let’s review his story:

Onan was the son of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah’s twelve children and one of the future patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel. Judah is an ancestor of the Messiah, and so his story is told in great detail, even the actual gory details of the sex acts involved in the passing along of his seed. This graphic episode about Onan’s seed is oddly placed right in the middle of the long, exciting, dramatic story of Joseph. It never did seem to fit, but it was apparently that important.

Benjamin Franklin was the 15th of 17 children. His father was a candlemaker.

Judah’s oldest son Er was “killed by the Lord.” We aren’t told why. According to Old Testament law, the next brother in line, Onan, was required to raise up children for his deceased brother by impregnating his brother’s widow. Her name was Tamar.

According to Genesis: “But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.” (Gen. 38:6-10)

Most modern theologians interpret this stern action by God, not as a punishment for spilling semen or practicing a form of birth control, but for refusing to obey the law requiring that he raise up a son for his brother. This is a handy interpretation for the 10 out of 10 mentioned earlier in this article. But there is a real problem. The law in Leviticus requires nothing near the death penalty for disobeying it. Deuteronomy 25: 8-10 cites the punishment:

Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, ‘I do not want to marry her,’ his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, ‘This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.’ That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.”

Losing a shoe or being killed? I think I know which one Onan would have chosen.

And so, the Church Fathers seem to interpret Onan’s offense as a combination of begrudging his brother, using coitus interruptus as a form of birth control, and the sin of masturbation.

In case you missed the earlier section on Forgiveness and Mercy, I suggested you read it now, especially my male readers, before reading the next quote. I may review it myself.

“Masturbation is a sin so abhorrent to God that on account of it He put to death Onan, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, because he was the first to commit the act upon the earth . . . So then, this sin is like a pestilence and corruption of the human race, and causes masturbators to live here and now a disgraceful and miserable life, and to be tormented eternally in the next life in the fire of hell.”
—Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite
Homily on I Thessalonians (18th Century)

Again, the point here is not to judge or condemn or depress. The point is to know what the standard is for us. The standard is total sexual purity. Failure to reach that level requires confession, repentance, receiving forgiveness and launching a new effort for purity, even if those efforts are 70 x 7 times a day. (Well, maybe 7.) There is a reason we pray “Lord have mercy” hundreds of times in the liturgy.

One may ask why Onan was killed for wasting his seed, and yet the 10 out of 10 men in modern America are not killed. I don’t know the answer, but I will offer an insight. In the New Testament, Ananias and Saphira were killed when they lied to the apostles about giving a large financial gift to the church (Acts 5:1-11). That’s sounds pretty rough as well. No one today seems to get killed by God for embezzlement, much less simply lying.

I will suggest that the Spirit of God was very active and powerful during those initial years with the Church. Miracles were common. Major themes were being formed for generations to come. A small sin in the midst of that purity and power had more ramifications. So also, an early seed bearer for the Messiah—from the child of the promise, Isaac, Onan’s great grandfather—may have had similarly strong ramifications. This is just my speculation.

For those of you with pastoral concerns regarding how to counsel young men with the raging desires and sexual frustrations so prevalent in our modern day, I will admit that we live in tough times. A hundred years ago, our great grandparents knew better, and the men were often married off at 17 or 18 and the women as early as 13 or 14.

Young men should be directing their extraordinary energy toward carrying out the First Commandment, siring children, laboring to provide, and helping others in the community do the same. Instead, we place them in situations to place banana peels on door knobs late at night, haze one another, bring life to the frat party, race each other on the highways, or, even worse today, kill each other in gang warfare.

Did our ancestors have a better idea for how to handle sexual energy?

 

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9. The male seed is viewed as very precious, even if not a child.

It is difficult to get a sense of the Church Fathers’ condemnation of contraception without understanding their overall sense that the male seed is something precious, something more important than simply another bodily fluid. As noted earlier, the Church Fathers did not believe an actual human being resided in the semen. But, at the same time, they understood—in a less scientific way than we do today—that the potential for a human being resided in some way in the sperm. And this potential was deserving of special and sacred treatment.

Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children.

Hints of this can be seen in Hebrews 7:5, where the Apostle Paul argues that Jesus is a greater high priest than the Old Testament Levitical priests—because Jesus is in the line of Melchizedek, the Priest-King who blessed Abraham after a great battle. Since Levi, the distant descendent of Abraham was “in the loins of Abraham,” then Levi was inferior to Melchizedek. There was something special about that seed in Abraham’s loins.

It is worth nothing that several Old Testament laws requiring the death penalty prohibited activities that waste seed, including male to male homosexual sex (Lev. 20:13) and bestiality (Lev. 20:15). No penalty is proscribed for lesbianism—not that is was allowed, but it was not deemed worthy of mention in the levitical law.

Wasting seed provides a clue for understanding another levitical law that is quite odd to this generation. Sex during menstruation required the severe penalty of both the man and the woman “being cut off from among their people.” (Lev. 20:18) This strict precept makes more sense when realizing that the ancients viewed menstruation as the most sterile part of the the woman’s monthly cycle. Therefore, seed was wasted.

Similarly, the historic church required penance for sins of wasting the seed. For example, the Church of England in the 7th Century required penance (no eucharist) for sex between the thighs (1 year), anal sex (7-15 years), and oral sex (7-22 years). The steeper penalty for oral sex, according to some writers, was due to the mouth being the intended receptacle for Christ’s body and blood.1

It is within this larger context of viewing the seed as special and sacred that perhaps the overall reason for banning contraception by the Church Fathers can be best understood: conception is part of the “life-giving process,” and any interruption of such a process is a grave sin.

Noonan, considered the expert by Christians and secularists alike on the church’s historical teachings on contraception, explains it this way:

“St. Lactantius treats homosexuals as parricides: his implication is that they destroy potential human beings. It is entirely in keeping with this approach to treat the users of contraception and abortifacients as parricides or homicides. The description is neither biological nor legal, but moral.”

After quoting Tertullian on abortion, Noonan writes: “The protection of life leads to the prohibition of interference with life at the fetal stage. It is only one step to extend this protection to the life-giving process. The need to protect life, the need to defend procreation—these are the needs which guide the development of Christian thought on contraception.”2

In his article “Sacred Seed, Sacred Chamber,” Orthodox priest Joseph Gleason gives a more positive and poetic summation of the Church’s position: “In the entire universe, there is only one place where a Christian may legitimately issue his seed. His seed is intended for the wife of his youth. She has a sacred chamber, and that chamber is the only place where sexual activity may take place in a holy way.”3

 

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10. Luther and Calvin say Onan was killed for spilling seed.

Martin Luther has much to say about the blessings of children and fertility:

“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. “1

Regarding Onan, he pointed to his sin of spilling seed: “Therefore Onan, unwilling to perform this 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.”2

Susannah Wesley was the mother of John and Charles Wesley, founders of Methodism. She had 19 children and was the youngest of 25 children.

And in another place he points to Onan’s act as a crime of nature: “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.”3

Calvin’s views on Onan can be difficult to obtain. Some editions of his commentary on Genesis omit this passage! But the commentary edited by Dr. Ford Battles provides Calvin’s rather strong denunciations, which align with the early Church Fathers’ equating of spilling seed with abortion and murder:

“The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For 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 ground the off-spring of his brother, torn from the maternal womb. Besides, in this way he tried, as far as he was able, to wipe out a part of the human race.”4

John Wesley provides a similar view of Onan’s sin, and an admonishment to “single persons” to beware:

Those sins that dishonor the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. 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.”5

 

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11. Why do the Church Fathers call contraception “murder”?

Several early Church Fathers call birth control “murder,” as seen in earlier quotes. And no others refute those claims. Even the most balanced and “moderate” of the Church Fathers on sexuality and marriage, John Chrysostom, makes the indictment of murder. In fact, he calls it “worse than murder.” After condemning “medicines of sterility” he writes:

“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.” (Homilies on Romans 24)

London surgeon Thomas Greenhill was the last of Elizabeth Greenhill’s 39 children. His father William died before Thomas was born in 1669.

Noonan concludes that Chrysostom is being somewhat rhetorical with the term murder. The penitentials of the Church over the centuries (ordinances for how many years communion is prohibited after confessing a certain sin) actually provide a mixed bag in terms of whether conception is “worse than murder.” Noonan studied 18 penitentials of the Church, all before the schism. Two assign a lighter penance for contraception than homicide. One actually assigns four years for murder and seven years for contraception.1

“It is somewhat beside the point to work out if we really have to take St. John Chysostom literally in saying that contraception is worse than murder,” writes author Christos Hayward. “But it is not beside the point that the Fathers seem to treat a great deal of continuity between contraception, abortion, and infanticide … I can’t think of a way to read the Fathers responsibly and categorically deny that contraception is cut from the same cloth as abortion and infanticide.”

“Contraception attacks life,” concludes Noonan, “a contention with much claim to be heard when embryonic life needed protection, but not intended literally. Beyond this protection of intended life lies the assumption that the life-giving process itself is sacred, a cooperation with God immune from interference.”

 

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12. Birth control pills cause abortions. The science is settled.

Birth control pills cause abortions. You don’t believe this? Consider that you live in a culture that lies about an aborted “fetus” being a baby.

If you or your partner is using the pill, or has in the past, the point is not to condemn (see section on Forgiveness and Mercy). The point is to inform and improve our culture—and to have more kids.

The pharmaceutical industry’s PR literature lies about birth control pills being abortifacients—but not in their scientific literature, which the government requires be submitted. If your Christian doctor tells you differently, he or she is uninformed. Let’s look at the facts:

According to the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR), the health care industry’s standard authority, the pill works in the following three ways:

1. Preventing ovulation

2. Preventing the sperm from reaching a released ovum due to a thickened cervical mucus.

3. “changes in the endometrium, which reduce the likelihood of implantation.”1

“Implantation” is the newly conceived baby looking for it’s first food and nutrients to continue to live and grow. The baby searches for several days to find this food. The birth control pill changes the lining of the uterus so that the child cannot “implant.” So it dies after approximately seven days.

Dr. J. Richard Crout, president of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said birth control pills “inhibit ovulation and change the characteristics of the uterus so that it is not receptive to a fertilized egg.”2

The Handbook of Obstetrics & Gynecology lists the first two methods of the pill, and then the third: “ … endometrial maturation is modified so that implantation is unlikely.3

In its 1984 publication Facts About Oral Contraceptives, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that birth control pills “make it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant, by causing changes in fallopian tube contractions and in the uterine lining.”4

Some couples may think that today’s pills do not cause these abortions, especially pills with “higher dose” estrogen. However, these statements by the FDA and HHS were made when the estrogen level averaged 150 micrograms of estrogen. Today’s pills average 35 micrograms and those considered “higher” average 50. The lower the estrogen, the higher chance of unintended ovulation, leading to more failed implantations (abortions).5

A spokesperson for Ortho, one of the largest manufacturers of the pill, confirmed the science: “The lining of the uterus does not become fully developed so that even if an egg does ripen and is fertilized, there is little likelihood that it would become implanted.”6

Syntex, another major pill-manufacturer, says this of the six pills it produces (two types of Brevicon and four of Norinyl): “Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus), and the endometrium (which may reduce the likelihood of implantation).”7

Wyeth, another major manufacturer of pills such as Lo/Ovral, Ovral, Nordette, and Triphasil says the following: “other alterations include…changes in the endometrium which reduce the likelihood of implantation.”8

Award winning author and researcher Randy Alcorn, who wrote, Does the Abortion Control Pill cause abortions?, was never able to find a scientific label for a birth control pill in the Physician’s Desk Reference that did not cite implantation (abortion) as one of its methods. This was in 1997, and pills have only increased since then in their percentage of unintended ovulations.

Writes Alcorn: “As of October 1988, the newer lower dosage birth control pills are the only type available in the U.S., by mutual agreement of the Food and Drug Administration and the three major Pill manufacturers: Ortho, Searle and Syntex.”9

Icon of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, 2,000 children slain by King Herod (Matt. 2:16-18)

Medical journals also confirm the science, including Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, a standard medical reference: “The production of glycogen by the endometrial glands is diminished by the ingestion of oral contraceptives, which impairs the survival of the blastocyst in the uterine cavity.” (The blastocyst is a fertilized embryo.) The medical textbook Williams Obstetrics states, “progestins produce an endometrium that is unfavorable to blastocyst implantation.”10

With the science so settled, it is not surprising that the enemies of life and proponents of abortion use the abortion effects of the pill as arguments. When the abortion industry faced the reversal of Roe v. Wade during the Supreme Court’s consideration of Webster vs. Reproductive Health in 1989, attorney Frank Sussman argued, “The most common forms of…contraception today, IUDs and low-dose birth control pills…act as abortifacients.”11

Arguing against a Louisiana pro-life law, Tulane Law School Professor Ruth Colker wrote, “Because nearly all birth control devices, except the diaphragm and condom, operate between the time of conception…and implantation …the statute would appear to ban most contraceptives.”12

In 1966 Dr. Alan Guttmacher, former director of Planned Parenthood, said this about the pill’s effect on the uterine lining: “The appearance of the endometrium differs so markedly from a normal premenstrual endometrium that one doubts it could support implantation of a fertilized egg.”13

How often will abortions occur? Every other year, according to J. C. Espinoza, M.D.: “Today it is clear that in at least 5% of the cycles of women on the combined Pill ‘escape ovulation’ occurs. This fact means that conception is possible during those cycles, but implantation will be prevented and the ‘conceptus’ (child) will die. That rate is statistically equivalent to one abortion every other year for all women on the Pill.”14

Researcher and author Randy Alcorn provides a more conservative estimate: “If a fertile and sexually active woman took the Pill from puberty to menopause, she would have a potential of 390 suppressed ovulations. Eliminating those times when she wouldn’t take the Pill because she wanted to have a child, or because she was already pregnant, she might have 330 potentially suppressed ovulations. If 95% of her ovulations were suppressed, this would mean she would have sixteen breakthrough ovulations. If she is fertile and sexually active, a few of those ovulations might end up in a known pregnancy because the second and third mechanisms both fail. Of the other fourteen perhaps nine would never be fertilized, some prevented by the number two mechanism, the thickened cervical mucus, and some attributable to the normal rate of nonpregnancy. And perhaps, as a result of the number three mechanism, she might have five early abortions because, though conception took place, the children could not be implanted in the endometrium. If the same woman took the Pill for only ten years, she might have one or two abortions instead of five. Again, we don’t know the exact figures.”15

Alcorn relates a conversation he had with a direct source: “On March 24, 1997, I had a lengthy and enlightening talk with Richard Hill, a pharmacist who works for Ortho-McNeil’s product information department. (Ortho-McNeil is one of the largest Pill manufacturers.) I took detailed notes. … I asked Hill one more time, ‘So you’re saying this is an actual effect that happens, not just a theoretical one?’ He said, ‘Sure—you can actually see what it does to the endometrium and it’s obvious it makes implantation less likely. The only thing that’s theoretical is the numbers, because we just don’t know that.’”

Alcorn also shares his interaction with two drug reps that sold the pill: “On July 2, 1997, I interviewed Karen Witt, who worked for Whitehall-Robins, sister company of Wyeth-Ayerst, from 1986 until August 1995. Both companies are divisions of American Home Products, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical corporations. Mrs. Witt was a sales representative who called on doctors, providing them with product samples and medical information….’we were expected to explain how they worked to physicians. But the approach to the birth control pills was completely different—the approach was, “don’t worry about how they work, the point is they do; don’t ask questions, just give out the samples.”‘ Mrs. Witt said to me, ‘I am not at all quick to use the term “conspiracy.” But I believe there is a definite conspiracy of silence on the part of the manufacturer about the abortive effects of the Pill.’”

Another anonymous rep: “What you’re saying about the Pill is true, and my manufacturer knows it. Management takes pride in the fact that our pills excel at the ‘prevention of nidation’—that exact phrase is routinely used in our product training sessions. They never use the word ‘abortion,’ but by preventing nidation [implantation], that’s what the pills do.”16

Current literature on the pill is deceptive, as they insist the pill only “prevents conception” and does not cause abortions. However, the definition of conception was changed from fertilization of the egg to the time of implantation.

Dr. Eugene F. Diamond, M.D., writing in Focus on the Family’s Physician magazine, states: “Prior to 1976, a ‘contraceptive’ was understood to be an agent that prevented the union of sperm and ovum. In 1976 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), realizing that this definition didn’t help its political agenda, arbitrarily changed the definition. A contraceptive now meant anything that prevented implantation of the blastocyst, which occurs six or seven days after fertilization. Conception, as defined by Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary (27th Edition), became “the onset of pregnancy marked by implantation of the blastocyst.’ The hidden agenda in ACOG’s redefinition of ‘contraceptive’ was to blur the distinction between agents preventing fertilization and those preventing implantation of the week-old embryo.”17

In 1998, 26 OB/GYN specialists, members of the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), signed a public statement: “[We] believe that the facts as detailed in this document indicate the abortifacient nature of hormonal contraception. This is supported by the scientific work of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which can, in no way, be confused with a right-to-life organization. We also want to make it clear that we have no desire to cause confusion and division among prolife forces. However, we do want to make it clear that we do desire that all women using the Pill are truthfully and fully informed about all its modes of action [including causing abortions].”18

“Typically, the new person attempts to implant at six days after conception,” writes Alcorn. “If implantation is unsuccessful, the child is flushed out of the womb in a miscarriage that may appear to be nothing more than a normal, even if delayed, menstruation. While there are many spontaneous miscarriages, whenever the miscarriage is the result of an environment created by a foreign device or chemical, it is an artificially induced miscarriage, which is, in fact, an abortion. This is true even if the mother does not intend it, is not aware of it happening, and would be horrified if she knew.”19

Why are doctors, even some pro-life doctors, approving of the pill? Alcorn, who could not find the full scientific documentation from the labels of pill manufacturers, could only get the full explanations from the Physician’s Desk Reference, which drug companies are required by law to notify regarding their complete findings and techniques. Alcorn spoke to a Wyeth employee, who asked not to be identified. In a letter dated August 11, 1997 this person told Alcorn: “Many, probably most, birth control studies are not published. They are never published in their entirety. This is a very competitive business. Companies are not obligated to publish proprietary information.”20

Add money to the root of this evil. Again, if you or your partner have used the pill, remember Forgiveness and Mercy, and go and sin no more.

 

 

***

13. After 2000 years, the Orthodox Church now allows for contraception.

The morphing of the Orthodox Church on contraception can best be demonstrated from the revisions and updates to the book The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (now Metropolitan Kallistos Ware), considered an authoritative primer for Orthodoxy and at one time perhaps the only book of its type in English.

1963: “Artificial methods of birth control are forbidden in the Orthodox Church.” p. 302

1983: “Some bishops and theologians altogether condemn the employment of [artificial birth control]. Others, however, have recently begun to develop a less strict position.” p. 302

1993: “In the past birth control was in general strongly condemned, but today a less strict view is coming to prevail.” p. 296

Islam, the fastest growing religion, also has the highest fertility rate of all religions.

In 1984, Ware said the Church left the matter of contraception “to the discretion of each individual couple, in consultation with the spiritual father.” But even the spiritual father was abandoned in 1993. Contraception is “best decided by the partners themselves, according to the guidance of their own conscience.”2

One of those more recent theologians to allow for contraception, Fr. John Meyendorff, writes in Marriage: an Orthodox Perspective: “The Orthodox Church, has never committed itself formally and officially on the issue … it has never been the church’s practice to give moral guidance by providing standard formulas claiming universal validity on questions which actually require a personal act of conscience.”3

Of course, neither has there been a formal, universal statement condemning abortion, yet the Church does not relegate that decision to a personal act of conscience. The question is whether the church through its Fathers, saints, statements and penitentiaries has, like with abortion, made itself clear regarding contraception.

For now, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is comfortable with its 1992 statement: “Married couples may express their love in sexual union without always intending the conception of a child. But only those means of controlling conception within marriage are acceptable which do not harm a fetus already conceived.”4

This contrasts starkly with another 20th Century statement by the Greek Orthodox Church in 1957: “The use of contraceptive devices for the prevention of childbirth is forbidden and condemned unreservedly by the Greek Orthodox Church.”5

In 2000, the Russian Church issued its own statement on contraception, condemning its use for “egoistic” reasons. This is a term that has been used to justify various types and instances for birth control, but the definition is difficult to parse. However, in reading the full paragraph, the overall sense is one of reluctance:

“In defining their attitude to the non-abortive contraceptives, Christian spouses should remember that human reproduction is one of the principal purposes of the divinely established marital union. The deliberate refusal of childbirth on egoistic grounds devalues marriage and is a definite sin. At the same time, spouses are responsible for the comprehensive upbringing of their children. One of the ways to be responsible for their birth is to restrain themselves from sexual relations for a time.”6

 

 

***


14. Hope for the future of Christendom—Ethiopia

There does exist one nation on the earth with a 2000 year Christian tradition and a healthy birth rate. Ethiopia, with five children per woman, has one of the world’s highest fertility rates. Greece’s birth rate is a dismal 1.3 with little hope of restoration. Russia’s rate was 1.16 in 1991 but has recovered to 1.71 in 2013 with hopes of continued growth.

Known by many for their insistence that they protect the Ark of the Covenant in their ancient city, Aksum, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is in communion with the Coptic, Armenian, and Indian Church. With 105 million people and 53 million Orthodox Christians, Ethiopia is by far the largest of the “Oriental Orthodox.” In 2050, Ethiopia’s 188 million people will surpass Russia by 50 million people.1 

Ethiopia will soon be the largest nation in Christendom.

The church in Ethiopia is currently experiencing a major renewal of interest among young people. And they have a lot to teach us. Their roots begin with the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 and his baptism by the Apostle Philip. The Russian Orthodox Church cites Ethiopia as the country where Matthew was martyred. By A.D. 325, Ethiopia’s coins describe a Christian government, which continued for millennia.  They have over a thousand monasteries. The history of Ethiopia and the history of its Orthodox Christian Church have been deeply intertwined. 

The church officially condemns birth control. But efforts are underway by the West to bring contraception to Ethiopia. The use of birth control by Ethiopian women has increased from 8 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2014.2 Ethiopia was the largest recipient of family planning assistance in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000. The global health world, which convened in Addis Ababa in November 2013 for an international family planning conference, celebrated Ethiopia as a model of success.3

 

***

 

15. Why is Satan so intent to stop creation of more people?

Most Christians would agree that Satan is behind the abortion industry. But why would he be so interested in preventing the conception of human beings?

I offer the following thoughts as a means for inspiration. It is my own. I do not speak for the Church.

Start with the premise that angelic beings are everywhere, by the billions, maybe trillions—who knows? Daniel 7:10 speaks of “10,000 x 10,000.” In other words, too many to count. Calvin says that “all creatures are animated by angelic motion,”1  so that would mean an angel for every man, woman, animal, and insect.

If the earth has fallen to the Evil One, then all or many of those angels are fallen angels. This adds more meaning to God’s command to Adam to be fruitful and multiply and also to take dominion over the entire earth. It’s going to take a lot of people.

The anonymous wife of 18th Century Russian peasant Feodor Vassilyev had 69 children (16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets). 67 of them survived infancy. Vassilyev’s first wife set the record for most children born to a single woman. Vassilyev also had 18 children with his second wife, making him a father of 87 children in total. (This picture is a representation. No actual photos available.)

“Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” Paul asks the Corinthians (I Cor. 6:3). One way to look at the overall purpose of human history is the changing of the guard from angels to men. In the old covenant, angels ruled God’s people using the law and animals as the tools of instruction. In the new covenant, God is no longer veiled as the Angel of the LORD, but is revealed as Son of Man. Jesus, the God-Man, teaches us face to face.

In the garden, Adam learned from animals. In the law, we learned from animals. (I Cor. 9:9) The angelic creatures have three faces of animals: ox, lion, eagle, and only the fourth is human. “In the Old Testament, it is animal imagery and animal sacrifices,” says James Jordan, who has written extensively on biblical imagery. “When we were children, in the nursery, we had our stuffed animals and the angels were teaching us through them.”2

The book of Revelation captures the transfer from old to new. In the early chapters, the angelic cherubim and seraphim are in the throne room with “10,000 x 10,000” angels in the audience (Rev. 5:11). In Chapter 14, we instead have a host of tens of thousands of people in the air with Christ. Angels decrease and people increase as the book moves forward.

“He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven,” we are told in the book of Hebrews. (1:4) “So he became superior to the angels.”

This great triumph of victory by the humans over the angels is captured in the ancient verses still sung today in the Orthodox Church during the Feast of the Ascension:

The angels were amazed/ seeing a Man more exalted than they.
The Holy Spirit commands the angels:/ “Lift up your heads, O gates!

The cherubim were amazed by Thine Ascension!
They beheld the God of Angels ascending on clouds.

The angelic hosts were amazed with awe,
seeing Thy great love for mankind!

Using similar throne room imagery, the historic church regularly esteems the first of those who crossed through the threshold past the angels to stand with Jesus Christ—Mary, the Mother of God. The church at every service proclaims that she is “more honorable than the cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim.”

The historic church’s Divine Liturgy describes during the priest’s prayer before communion the continuing transfer of leadership, as the following join the mother of God: “forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics, and for every righteous spirit made perfect in faith.”

More saints and more godly Christians into the throne room make for a transfer of leadership that surprises but pleases the good angels. Yet it must terrify the angels who hate mankind and are willing to use all attempts to prevent their entering this throne room—or better yet, prevent them from ever being conceived.

***

 

16. What next? Some practical tips for the feeble.

We live in a culture of death. All of us, myself included, are victims of the sin and deception. My purpose in writing this article is not to condemn, but rather to raise again the standard of the historic church and move us slowly back to a culture of life.

I don’t expect everyone to change overnight. Some of us can only take small steps. Here are a few to consider:

For those who still cannot yet choose to have more children, for those sterilized, past childbearing age, or those who used the pill and birth control in years past:

1. If you meet someone with a large family, congratulate them.

2. If you must make a crack about messy, irritating, or inconvenient children, make it one for every ten positive comments.

3. Lovingly bear with noisy children in the church service.

4. Encourage your friends to have more children with gentle, subtle, but loving asides.

The Thief on the Cross’s simple and feeble effort of repentance has resounded throughout history.

5. When you condemn our culture of death, add contraception to abortion as a cause.

6. Pray that our culture will have more children.

7. Acknowledge that we are losing economically to the non-Christian East for failure to be fruitful and multiply.

8. Don’t mock the Church Fathers for being ridiculous. Ask sincerely if they may know something you don’t.

 

For those still able to conceive:

1. If you or your spouse is on the pill, switch to something that does not cause abortions.

2. If you are using condoms, switch to Natural Family Planning.

3. If you are using Natural Family Planning, consider having sex during those days that the woman will have the most fulfillment, not just when the man can be gratified.

4. Men, take your sins of spilling seed to confession, receive God’s love and forgiveness, and strive for sexual purity.

5. Try to multiply—which according to math means at least three children.

6. If you have several children already, ask God for the faith and strength to have more.

7. Remember Jesus’s promise that if we do the right thing (“seek first the Kingdom”), he will provide: “Don’t worry about what you will eat, drink, or wear. The pagans chase after these things, but your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matt. 6:33)

8. Remember the Martyrs, who because of their obedience were (and are) destitute, imprisoned, flogged, tortured, disfigured, beheaded, and sawn in two. Is having children such a sacrifice for doing the right thing?

***

17. Sincere questions for Bishops and Christian leaders.

I am only a layman. I have chosen to submit to the leadership of the Orthodox Church—for me, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). I love and respect my leadership, and I believe they have the best of intentions. But I am troubled by our treatment of the issue of contraception.

Honestly, I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that I believe the current allowances for contraception are wrong. I am certainly troubled by the changing (declining?) position in the past half a century. And I am open to being persuaded that all contraception should be disallowed, especially in light of the science on the pill as an abortifacient and the consistent witness of the Fathers against wasting seed and protecting the “life-giving process.” But I’m not there yet.

I have a young colleague in my church, age 24, who has committed to having as many children as God gives him and his wife. They just conceived their third. He comes from a family of eleven children. He believes all contraception is wrong. One of his arguments is that phrases like “egoistic reasons” simply serve as an excuse and justification for birth control to be practiced wholesale in the church.

He’s right. That does appear to be happening. But that, in itself, is not a reason to declare something sinful.

Instead, I will appeal to my Christian leaders from the heart, not the letter:

  • Are we truly addressing this issue with all concern and alarm, appropriate to the crisis in our culture?
  • Why do we not identify the pill as a method that causes abortion? Have you seen studies that show differently? Have you pushed hard enough on this question?
  • Do you see in our parishes a culture of “increase and multiply,” or has modern convenience and personal fulfillment and self-actualization replaced the priority of growing large families?
  • Are our priests instructing young couples to conceive children? Or are degrees and career paths “non-egoistic”?
  • If the allowance for contraception in extenuating circumstances has been twisted to permit birth control at the whim of the individual, how can this be turned around?

Or … is it possible that the more difficult and “hardcore” position of the Church Fathers is the better position, and always has been?

 

 

Joachim and Anna tried for 50 years to conceive. They only had one child—Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CITATIONS:

** Special thanks to Levi Crawford, research assistant for this project.

2. Is the West really dying?

1. Patrick Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower (St. Martin’s Press), 2011, 164.

2. www.populationpyramid.net; Population stats and birth rates also taken throughout this article from World Statistics Pocketbook 2016 edition, United Nations, New York, 2016. 

3. “The Amazing, surprising, Africa-driven demographic future of the earth, in 9 charts,” Max Fisher, Washington Post, July 16, 2013.

4. Patrick Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower, 164, 176.

5. Edward Bennett Glick, “Who will be at the top on top at the end of the century?” American Thinker, Dec. 27, 2010.

6. “Can Policies boost Birth Rates? Policy Brief, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Nov. 2007, cited in Patrick Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower, 166-167.

7. Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower, 172.

8. “Russia Demographics Are Now Reasonably Healthy. Birth Rate the Highest in Europe,” Russia Insider, March 22, 2016; “Russia May Have Turned the Corner in Demographic Crisis,” Breitbart, June 14, 2017; Russia’s rising birth rate gives new life to health care providers,” CNBC, March 20, 2017; “‘We’re OUTBREEDING you!’ Putin taunts West as he unveils drive to boost Russian birth rate.” London Express, Dec. 1, 2016.

9. The highest abortion rate in the U.S. was 29 per 1000 women in 1980. Contraception has prevented many children for every woman. see http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/17/509734620/u-s-abortion-rate-falls-to-lowest-level-since-roe-v-wade


5. The Early Church knew all about oral contraceptives and condoms.

1. John T. Noonan, Contraception: A History of its Treatment by Catholic Theologians and the Canonists (Harvard, 1968), 9-14.

2. John M.Riddle, Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance); Megan L. Evans, A Desire to Control: Contraception throughout the ages. (The George Washington University School, Volume 1, Issue 1) E08.

3. Noonan, Contraception, 15.

4. Noonan, Contraception, 23.


6. The Early Church clearly distinguished between Contraception and Abortion.

1. Tikhon Alexander Pino, Contraception and the Orthodox Church: Contemporary Theology and the Source of Tradition, OrthoChristian.com. He cites for St. John the Faster: Rudder, ed., Hieromonk Agapios and Monk Nikodimos (Athens, 1886), 572.

2. Penitential (PG 88:1924A): quoted. by Noonan, Contraception:, 168n.

 

7. The Early Church did not believe each sperm contained a “tiny baby.”

1. Noonan, Contraception, 89.

2. Noonan, Contraception, 91.

3. Fr. Joseph Gleason, Sacred Seed, Sacred Chamber, May 18, 2015, theOrthodoxLife.wordpress.com.

 

10. Luther and Calvin say Onan was killed for spilling seed.

1. Luther’s Works, Vol. 5, p. 325.

2. Martin Luther, Commentary on Genesis, p. 250-251.

3. Luther’s Works, Vol. 7, p. 20-21.

4. This translation of Calvin’s comments from Charles Provan, The Bible and Birth Control (Monongahela, PA, Zimmer Printing, 1989), p, 20. For Provan’s search to find Calvin’s comments on Onan, see the online pdf of his book: http://www.mayblossom.org/Publications/Bible%20and%20Birth%20Control%20PDF.PDF

5. John Wesley, Commentary on Genesis 38.

 

11. Why do the Church Fathers call contraception “murder”?

1. Noonan, Contraception, p. 165.

2. Christos Jonathan Seth Hayward, Morality of Contraception: An Orthodox Opinion: A commentary. Jan  6, 2016.  www.cjshayward.com

3. Noonan, Contraception, p. 105-106.


12. Birth control pills cause abortions. The science is settled.

1. The Physician’s Desk Reference, 1995, 1775.

2. Dr. J. Richard Crout, FDA Consumer, HEW publication number 76- 3024, reprinted from May, 1976.

3. Handbook of Obstetrics & Gynecology, (6th edition, 1977), 689-690.

4. Facts About Oral Contraceptives, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1984

5. Dr. Walter Larimore and Randy Alcorn, Using the Birth Control Pill Is 205 Ethically Unacceptable, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2000), 179- 191.

6. Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, A Guide to Methods of Contraception, (Raritan, NJ: Ortho, 1979), 8.

7. The Physician’s Desk Reference, 1995, 2461.

8. The Physician’s Desk Reference, 1995, 2743.

9. Pharmacists for Life, Oral Contraceptives and IUDs: Birth Control or Abortifacients?, November 1989, 1.

10. Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1994, 7th edition) 626.

11. Frank Sussman, representing Missouri Abortion Clinics, New York Times, National Edition, April 27, 1989, 15 & B13.

12. Ruth Colker, The Dallas Morning News, February 6, 1992, 23A.

13. Dr. Alan Guttmacher, Prevention of Conception Through Contraception and Sterilization, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol.1, C. H. Davis, ed. (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1966), 8.

14. J. C. Espinoza, M.D., Birth Control: Why Are They Lying to Women?, 28.

15. Randy Alcorn, Does the birth control pill cause abortions? (Eternal Perspective Ministries, Sandy, OR: 1997, revised 11th edition 2011), 104-5.

16. Randy Alcorn, Does the birth control pill cause abortions? (Eternal Perspective Ministries, Sandy, OR: 1997, revised 11th edition 2011), 58-60.

17. Eugene F. Diamond, Word Wars: Games People Play about the Beginning of Life, Physician, November/December 1992, 14-15. For more on this also see DA Grimes, RJ Cook, Mifepristone (RU-486)—an abortifacient to prevent abortion? New England Journal of Medicine, 1992;327:1088-9 and DA Grimes, Emergency contraception—expanding opportunities for primary prevention, New England Journal of Medicine,” 1997;337:1078-9.

18. Wm Colliton, Jr., Birth Control Pill: Abortifacient or Contraceptive? LinacreQuarterly, November, 1999, 35.

19. Randy Alcorn, Does the birth control pill cause abortions?, 35.

20. Randy Alcorn, Does the birth control pill cause abortions?, 107.

 

13. After 2000 years, the Orthodox Church now allows for contraception.

1. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church. (London: Penguin, 1963, rev. 1964, 1967, 1969, 1980, 1983, 1993).

2. Ware, The Orthodox Church (1984), 302; Ibid. (1993), 296.

3. John Meyendorff, Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: Crestwood, NY, 2000) p. 61, 62. online at https://stnoufer.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/marriage-from-an-orthodox-perspective-john-meyendorff.pdf

4. OCA Synodal Affirmations on Marriage and Sexuality and The Procreation of Children: https://oca.org/the-hub/two-become-one/session-6-like-olive-shoots-around-your-table-the-blessing-of-children

5. Greek Archdiocese Yearbook—1957, p. 50-51.

6. Russian Orthodox Church, The Basis of the Social Contract, XII.3. https://mospat.ru/en/documents/social-concepts/xii/

 

14. Hope for the future of Christendom—Ethiopia

1.www.populationpyramid.netWorld Statistics Pocketbook 2016 edition, United Nations, New York, 2016.

 

2. Ethiopia Mini Demographic and Health Survey, Central Statistical Agency, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 2014, 5.2.1,  p. 34.

3. “Ethiopians Seeking Birth Control: Caught Between Church And State,” National Public Radio, Dec.30,2014. 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/12/30/301425396/ethiopians-seeking-birth-control-caught-between-church-and-state

 

15. Why is Satan so intent to stop creation of more people?

1. John Calvin, Commentary on Ezekiel 10.

2. James B. Jordan, Revelation in Detail—204 lectures, #37: “The black and green horse rider,” Wordmp3.com

5 Replies to “Saving the West – 17 Reasons to have married sex with no pills or condoms.”

  1. The worst part is that the hardcore position proves the greatest joy to families most of the time. Everyone sees the exceptions because, like the news, that’s what stands out. But children are overwhelmingly a blessing *if* they are received with joy and gladness. Otherwise, people just are resentful that they can’t afford that trip to Aruba or BMW 7 Series.

  2. Though much can be said, I have only time right now for a couple of comments.

    “Birth control in the Christian West is largely a modern, 20th Century phenomenon.” Only with the lack of post birth infanticide (which still happens in the modern 20th Century Christian West-our former President, and the rare moments he took a stand on an issue in the IL Senate, voted for it).

    Your portraits bring up an aspect often forgotten if not totally ignored by natalists: how we live-and have children-differs from that of our forebears only a few centuries ago. Mozart indeed was the last of 7 children, but the second of only 3 to survive infancy. Beethoven was the 3rd of 8 children, he was the first of only 3 to survive infancy. Family planning when you expect to bury half or more of you children differs from when you expect to keep every one to give you grandchildren. If you see in the Bible, Jacob’s 13 (through 4 women) as an outlier, you notice the average family size hovers around 4 or 5 including parents, the average household through history until the rise of the technical age (and its medicine and hygiene) in the 18th century. After that rise in means resulting in a baby boom such as the Victorian family historic abnormality, birthrates went down but the population continued to climb.

    “Let’s not forget that the very first command in the bible is to “be fruitful and multiply.” Did that end? Did the New Testament rescind this command? Isn’t the first of anything pretty important?” Should this question be posed to the validity of the monastic vocation?

    “If you have several children already, ask God for the faith and strength to have more.” Why? I personally like the “one more than you think you should have” standard, but that number differs from couple to couple.

    “Christians are made, not born,” Tertullian long ago observed in a land that used to put the local abortifacient on its coinage. Though I support “be fruitful and multiple,” I cannot support it replacing “go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

    “consider having sex during those days that the woman will have the most fulfillment”-there are no competing views among the Early Church Fathers—or any Fathers or saints for that matter—advocating for that in any form or for any occasion. I take it as good advice anyways, especially as many Early Church Fathers and saints did not have a wife, and did not think much of them (e.g. Jerome’s judgement that “even the blood of martyrdom does not remove the stain of marriage.”).

    Refraining from “spilling seed” does not save it: after thirty days or so the body starts breaking it down. This context of use it or lose it should temper conclusions about labeling its worth and waste-and its gravity.

    “Of course, neither has there been a formal, universal statement condemning abortion”-yes, the Church has issued Ecumenical canons against it, and the testimony on it, as opposed to contraception, is unequivocal and unanimous. The Feast of the Annunciation makes clear when human life-and hence what constitutes murder-begins.

  3. I’m so glad you commented Isa. This article owes a great deal to you, believe it or not. When Dean and I first began our project and the birth control issue came up in the Orthodox Theology and Apologetics group, your comments were the most interesting on the pro-contraception side. You clearly have a pretty good grasp of a lot of the early Orthodox teachings, and the comments really made me go and do my research.

    That being said, I found several things troubling about your initial comments that show a fundamental ignorance of this topic (which actually surprised me). I’ll deal with those quickly before addressing your current comment above.

    If memory serves, you mocked the Fathers (and early monastics in general) for having an erroneous scientific view of conception. It turns out that they did not in fact believe that a tiny man was contained in the seed. Furthermore, they did not universally condemn pleasure in marriage, Jerome’s comments aside. Instead of providing arguments for contraception, you simply tried to deconstruct the Fathers’ views (which are the only consensus we have to go by). Furthermore, the Church universally condemned birth control until very recently – the varying editions of Ware’s legendary work are one great example of this – and so the consensus was upheld. There is ZERO contradicting evidence that the Church ever taught otherwise. And since the pro-contraception advocates are the innovators, we are waiting for you to satisfy the burden of proof that we should accept birth control for Scriptural or Patristic reasons. I’ll wait.

    In all of this, you have continually advocated for couples to NOT follow the COMMANDS of the Lord Jesus Christ: “be not anxious for what ye shall eat or drink or wear,” and the clear testimony of Scripture which states that children, and especially many children, are a blessing. The chorus of Scripture is deafening. You cannot explain how children are to be avoided for selfish financial/mental/emotional reasons without running afoul of Scripture.

    I also really hate the false dichotomy posed by pro-contraception advocates constantly, namely, that high birth rates are almost an illegitimate way to grow the church – as if only adult converts count! We should be doing both. There is no either/or here. Furthermore, a large family naturally generates conversation about religion in almost any setting. I come from a family of eleven children, and people often came up to ask us what our religion was. They could see that my parents had rejected the world’s wisdom on having children and it intrigued them. We had excellent witnessing opportunities. Convert, but also seek the blessing of God through children.

    The command to be fruitful and multiply was issued to a married couple. There are plenty of ways to be a monastic or to serve the Lord in other walks of life without this command being applied to you. It would be ludicrous to suggest, for example, that this command applies to a young, unmarried Christian (you would never tell him to have unprotected sex with as many women as possible, for example).

    The seed is sacred – I’ve noticed that our opponents have really backed off the Onan story after reading this article. The sophistry which was once used won’t work when clear analysis of Scripture comes into the picture. Yes, the seed is released and destroyed naturally through wet dreams and the like, which the Levitical law goes out of its way to explain (it is no sin). To turn this fact into an indictment of the idea of the seed as sacred seems a bit of a stretch – sort of like using natural miscarriage as a way to denigrate the status of a child in the womb (and allowing for abortion).

    All in all, I really enjoyed some of your comments on other topics. You’re smart. But on this issue I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall trying to explain an obvious truth. Perhaps I can slightly resolve this by saying that my personal feelings run as follows: if a couple came to a priest and said, look, we’ve already have six or seven kids and we just can’t handle anymore for xyz reasons, what should we do?, I’d lay out the facts: don’t use the pill (it causes abortions), the seed is sacred, so if you must, use NFP and do penance. However, that’s not what I’d like to see codified into church law. The bishops and priests apply and interpret the canon law, and I would rather have a blanket statement to fall back on to protect the Church while letting the bishops and priests use their best judgment.

  4. “I’m so glad you commented Isa. This article owes a great deal to you, believe it or not.”
    Glad to oblige.

    I forgot a paragraph, but there is no edit, so I decided to wait until it was posted.

    Now, I see that was a mistake:” I’ve noticed that our opponents have really backed off the Onan story after reading this article.”

    My original comment to this-
    ““Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, ‘I do not want to marry her,’ his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, ‘This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.’ That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.”
    Losing a shoe or being killed? I think I know which one Onan would have chosen.”
    Evidently not loosing a shoe, as he did not say “I do not want to marry her.” Instead he defrauded his father, his brother and her to use her as a sex toy.
    IOW, Deuteronomy’s punishment does not apply to Onan, and hence carries little to no relevance to the question at hand. Odd that Clement of Alexandria, whose Stoicism didn’t wash out in baptism (including the Stoics worship of semen and sacred seed), although talking about Judah and Tamar, does not speak of Onan, although the story could have served his Stoic beliefs.
    I must admit, however, my amusement at the zeal to defend the sanctity of every last spermatozoon, while leaving poor Tamar (who, btw, the Fathers focus on) to fend for herself.

    “The sophistry which was once used won’t work when clear analysis of Scripture comes into the picture.”
    Indeed ^.

    ” Yes, the seed is released and destroyed naturally through wet dreams and the like, which the Levitical law goes out of its way to explain (it is no sin).”
    Oh? Where does it go out of its way?

    As for the rest of that paragraph and the rest of the post, I’ll have to return, Lord willing, later, but I’d like to point out something now-

    “If memory serves, you mocked the Fathers (and early monastics in general) for having an erroneous scientific view of conception. It turns out that they did not in fact believe that a tiny man was contained in the seed. ”
    I don’t recall mocking anyone pre-20th century on the matter, the limits of scientific knowledge being what they were (and God not revealing the detailed specifics), unless one equates pointing out the fact of that lacuna in knowledge with “mocking.”

    I’ll address their belief in the “tiny man” later.

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