Friday, February 28, 2014


I'm going to comment on a few recently claims by Catholic apologist Scott Windsor.  
I found the article interesting, and even almost Catholic in many places, however... you knew that was coming :-) ... when it comes to Onan's sin - the writer makes a very definitive statement that Onan was not slain for spilling his seed, but in reality - it is precisely for what Onan DID (spilling his seed) and not his MOTIVE (not wanting to produce children for his brother). 
i) Evangelical converts to Catholicism like Windsor and Dave Armstrong resort to traditional prooftexting. A more sophisticated Catholic apologist would skip the fanciful prooftexting and justify his denomination's teaching by appealing to the theory of development as well as attempting to mount a natural law argument.
ii) As is typical of evangelical converts to Rome, Windsor is out of touch with Catholic scholarship on his locus classicus. This, again, betrays the fact that apologists like Windsor and Armstrong remain outsiders to their adopted denomination. But here's some examples of modern Catholic scholarship on the issue at hand:
Onan is commissioned to raise seed to his brother's wife, according to the levirate law; cf. Deut 25:5-10. Oanan's offense is obvious: he selfishly refuses the responsibility of fulfilling his duty to his brother, as the law provided. That is the point of his offense. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Prentice Hall 1990), 38.  
Moreover, from the biblical author’s point of view, Onan’s sin was his refusal to fulfill the important responsibility involved in the levirate law (cf. Dt 25:5-10). New Catholic Encyclopedia (CUA, 2nd ed., 2003), 9:315b. 
In common usage often taken to mean improperly completed intercourse or even masturbation. The word is taken from the story of Onan in the Book of Genesis...This was in accordance with the custom of Levirate marriage...Popular usage of the term onanism is based on the assumption that the evil for which the Lord took Onan’s life was his unchastity. This, however, is by no means clear from the text, in which his refusal to conform to the prescribed marriage custom can be seen as the wickedness that brought vengeance upon him. Consequently, no certain argument can be based upon this text to prove the sinful character of either improperly completed intercourse or masturbation. Evidence for this must be sought elsewhere. Ibid. 10:600a.

iii) Windsor shortsightedly excludes Onan's motivation. Yet that runs contrary to Catholic teaching on contraception, where intent is a key consideration. Conjugal relations should always be open to the possibility of conception:

2366 it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.
Continuing with Windsor:

It was here that for the first time a major Protestant communion opted for some limited use of contraception, so long as the motives were not selfish, based in luxury or mere convenience.  Now, honestly ask yourself, for what other reason, outside of a personal health issue, would have been considered acceptable by such limitations?  Not many, if any!  Yet less than 100 years later it is precisely for selfish, luxury or mere convenience reasons that contraception is practiced!  Today's practices by most who participate in contraception would be condemned by the 1930 Lambeth Conference!  It should be noted as well, than more than a third of the voting members of this conference voted against acceptance of the resolution.

The church of Roman supports "limited use of contraception." It simply draws a makeshift distinction between "artificial" contraception and "natural" methods of birth control. 

Well, as an article in Salon puts forth, the anti-contraception movement (primarily Catholic) had not caught hold among Evangelicals, but that all changed in 2011.  The "HHS Mandate" was passed on July 19, 2011 and according to Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on July 20 said: “HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has recommended mandatory coverage for ‘emergency contraception,’ which is a euphemism for the morning-after pill, which often kills a newly conceived child by not allowing the embryo to implant on the wall of the mother’s womb.”  In September of 2012 the founder of Hobby Lobby sued Kathleen Sebelius and based on the fact that his company was founded upon Christian principles, they should be exempted from the mandate.

Passage of Obamacare was made possible by support from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, colluding with Catholic politicians like Bart Stupak and Nancy Pelosi. Sebelius is another Catholic official. 

While recognizing the abhorrent sins here, the Catholic Church has recognized, perhaps moreso recently than previously, that we must recognize the sinner and the sin are not the same.  While the Church has more openly embraced sinners - she has not changed her position on the sinful acts and/or lifestyles.  While the cliche may be a bit overused, it does ring true - "Love the sinner; hate the sin."  Pope Francis relates the Church to a "field hospital," and you really can't treat those who need you if you don't first bring them into the hospital!
Well, you can read the exchange yourself and see - but essentially, I can only assume here, that those respondents are supporters of ABC and/or participants in it - and thus have a vested interest in arguing for such methods, but do they realize they are so, so much in the minority of the historic Christian viewpoint?  Even among their own fore-fathers (for which they can only go back about 500 years, at best) ABC was by and large condemned.  In their relatively short history, only the last (less than) 20% of their existence as protesting (Protestant) Christians can be seen as supportive of the modern (or Modernist) views on ABC.  One would think this SHOULD cause them at least SOME concern! 

To the contrary, Rome used to take a very different position on the nature of conception. Based on Aristotelian embryology, abortion before ensoulment wasn't deemed to be homicide. That's documented in John Noonan's classic monograph on Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists (Belknap Press, enlarged edition, 1986). 

By Windsor's nostalgic logic, we should return to the good old days when abortion in the first trimester wasn't classified as homicide by Rome's leading theologians and canon lawyers. 

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