I’m celibate. I follow historic Christian teaching on sexual ethics by default. Straight people who practice contraceptive sex don’t.
A lot of ppl get angry when I make this observation. They feel like they’re being judged. Like I’m telling them that they’re living in sin just for having sex with someone they love. That’s interesting, because it reminds of how gay ppl feel.
To be clear, I’m NOT saying that you’re living in sin for having contraceptive sex with your spouse, so no worries. I don’t think you’re living in sin! Birth control is a human right, & denying access to contraceptives leads to horrendous abuses, most often toward women.
Notice how that last tweet made you more comfortable?
Why do straight Christians immediately loosen up and feel relieved when they’re given permission to ignore 2 millennia of near-unanimous church teaching on a topic that impacts heterosexuality? But if I say that I don’t think gay ppl are living in sin either, many freak out.
Right about now, you’re probably running through your mind all excuses you can think up for why contraceptive sex doesn’t play by the same rule book as gay sex. The Bible is clear on homosexuality after all, no such clarity exists for contraception.
Well, think again. Sexual orientation didn’t exist as a concept until the 19th century, whereas contraception has been around for as long as people have been making babies. So actually, the Bible has been just as clear, if not more so, on contraception than it is on homosexuality
Modern Christians have reinvented the “sin of Onan” (Gen. 38:8-10) to be a condemnation of masturbation. But in fact, from the early church up until the 20th century, this passage was understood to be a condemnation of birth control and proof that contraception equals murder.
In other words, up until the 20th century, the Bible was “clear” on contraceptive sex.
Clement of Alexandria, early church father, said, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted. To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature.”
Another early church father, Epiphanius, who was known for correcting heresy and promoting orthodoxy, said, “They [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."
Jerome: “Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception.”
Augustine: "Although they be called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but use the respectable name [of marriage] to cover a shame. ... Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even use sterilizing drugs."
Luther: “This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin.”
Calvin: “Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born...” (cont)
Calvin (cont) “...When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime.”
Wesley, speaking of the sin of Onan, “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. "
In other words, condemnations of contraceptive sex are not just a “Catholic thing.” The church was unanimous on this topic from the early church through Protestantism up until the 20th century.
The Protestant embrace of contraceptive sex in the 20th century can be directly traced to changes in Western sexual behavior that foreshadowed the sexual revolution in the 1960s.
Once more, I’m not trying to say that contraceptive sex is a sin. Instead, I’m pointing out a great inconsistency in modern church teaching.
Modern evangelicals must engage in a vast, whole-scale reinterpretation of Scripture in order to justify contraceptive sex, but then they look at gay people and cry foul when gay people apply the same reinterpretive methods.
Modern evangelicals will go to great lengths to find every possible excuse in the book for why traditional biblical teaching on heterosexual sex is no longer valid or was never valid at all, but then point the finger at gay ppl and accuse THEM of doing hermeneutic gymnastics.
It amounts to a shocking double standard that few straight Christians ever sit with. The truth is: Many want gay people to follow historic Christian teaching on sexual ethics without ever needing to follow themselves.
The point is not to walk away and conclude that straight people who practice contraceptive sex are living in sin. The point is to consider the interpretive grace we claim for ourselves and give it to gay people. “For with the measure you use, you will be measured” (Matt. 7:2).

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More from @TravelingNun

12 Sep
“If you don’t vote in this election it’s because you’re a selfish, privileged elite who can’t understand the needs of the oppressed.”

This is a bald-faced lie fabricated (ironically) by political elites in order to bully other ppl into voting. [thread]

The older richer & whiter you are the more likely you are to vote. There’s a multitude of reasons for this but most pertinent is that ppl are more likely to feel represented by our two-party political system if they are older richer & whiter. nytimes.com/interactive/20…

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Have you wept over the death of someone killed by the police in your immediate circle?
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18 Jul
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“I was a druglord & gangbanger...”

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Few things do more to reinforce dominant cultural pathologies than the Christian Testimony™
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12 May
“Why do you get judged for gay sex if you’re celibate?”

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Christians inherently sexualize gay people. It’s a problem that has been going on for generations, and it functions to maintain gay people’s status as “perverts” in the church. They refuse to see us as people. We’re sex demons and nothing else.
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