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Be Fruitful & Multiply

Genesis 38:8-10 reads: “Juda therefore said to Onan his son: Go in to thy brother’s wife and marry her, that thou mayst raise seed to thy brother. He knowing that the children should not be his, when he went in to his brother’s wife, spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother’s name. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing” (Douay-Rheims).

According to Allan Carlson, a Lutheran, in an article titled “Children of the Reformation” (Touchstone, May 2007), “the Protestant churches maintained unity with the Catholic Church on the contraception question for four centuries, only to abandon this unity during the first half of the twentieth century.” Carlson opposes contraception.

As Carlson reports in his article, Martin Luther wrote in Commentary on Genesis: “Onan must have been a most malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin…. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed.” John Calvin wrote in Commentary on Genesis: “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 [human] race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring.”

According to Carlson, “A few decades later, the Synod of Dordt [the Dutch Reformed Church] would declare that Onan’s act ‘was even as much as if he had, in a manner, pulled forth the fruit out of the mother’s womb and destroyed it.'”

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