Moral Issues

Contraception: Sexual Idolatry Revealed

by John Pacheco

Many faithful Catholics who are knowledgeable about the Church's teaching on contraception are also aware of some of the Old Testament passages condemning it. The case of Onan, for instance, is well known:

"But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also." (Genesis 38:9-10)

The substance of Onan's act has been understood throughout Christian history to be a contraceptive and unnatural act of sexual frustration; namely, the deliberate manipulation of the sexual act for pleasure apart from openness to life.

From the early Church Fathers through the Protestant Reformation all the way to the disastrous Anglican conference at Lambeth in 1930 which legitimized the use of contraceptives for the first time in Christian history, the traditional understanding of this passage has been to view God's punishment as a result of Onan spilling his seed. Onan's act and all contraceptive acts have always incurred the Catholic Church's unanimous condemnation from the very beginning of the Church's inception. In fact, the teaching on human sexuality has been less controversial than some of the Christological dogmas which even nominal Catholics have no problem accepting.

Even the Protestant Reformers vigorously condemned contraception and Onan's action in particular:

"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 and hoped-for offspring". (John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis).

Dissenters from the traditional understanding of this passage suggest instead that what is really being condemned is not a contraceptive practice at all, but rather Onan's neglect in fulfilling the duty of every Jew to carry on the lineage of his dead brother, otherwise known as the Levirate. However, not only is this understanding not in keeping with the traditional understanding, it falls in a major internal inconsistency since the actual penalty for refusing the Levirate was not death (as Onan experienced) but rather humiliation (Cf. Deuteronomy 25:5-9). Clearly, therefore, if we are to compare apples with apples, God would not have killed Onan for refusing to carry on his brother's lineage as the passage in Deuteronomy shows. Therefore, what did God strike Onan down for? For the first and most apparent reason: he spilled his seed or he "withdrew" from the consumation of the act. This is otherwise known as contraception.

Another fact of the Old Testament prohibition against contraception is that all infertile methods of intercourse incurred the death penalty, not just withdrawal:

a. Bestiality: "If there is a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal. 16'If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them." (Leviticus 20:15-16 )

b. Sodomy: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them." (Leviticus 20:13)

c. Vasectomy: "No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 23:1-2)

d. Withdrawal: "But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also." (Genesis 38:9-10)

The aforementioned sexual acts were not merely condemned for an arbitrary reason by God. All were condemned precisely because they involved unnatural sex which was contraceptive in nature. Like Onan and the other transgressors in the Old Testament who received the death penalty, we as a whole civilization are receiving the same death penalty which these individuals received. The only difference today from yesteryear is that we are so blinded and corrupted by sin, we simply refuse to see our sin even though it is our gods of science and empiricism who are telling us that the demographic end is coming soon for the western world.

Nothing New Under the Sun

The bible makes a distinction between sorcery proper and sorcery involving drugs and potions.

In Galatians 5:20, Revelations 9:21, 21:8, and 22:15, although it is typically translated as "sorcery" or "magic arts", the Greek word employed is "pharmakeia" from which our modern English dictum of "pharmacy" is derived. It means to use or the administer a drug or poison. This is to be distinguished from the other kind of sorcery in the bible, like "mageiva" or magic which appears in Acts 8:9 and 8:11 in describing Simon the magician.

Now since simple medicine for the purpose of legitimate health was obviously not condemned, what kind of pharmaceutical was? Well, it would be no different than a drug which would be condemned today which enhances pleasure at the expense of reality. Hallucinatory drugs would certainly qualify, as would contraceptives.

Why do we think these hallucinatory drugs were condemned? They were condemned principally because they sought to alter the reality that God created us to observe. That is, they sought and still seek to create something other than the reality God had ordained through nature. And what is contraception but creating a sexual reality other than the reality God has ordained through nature? A hallucinogen and a contraceptive do the same thing in that respect. They create a reality other than God's reality. Is it just a coincidence that people engaged in the occult hold contraception to be their ultimate sacrament? Are taking drugs that seek to damage the body and alter our reality today a sin? Of course they are. What Christian would say otherwise? And yet that is precisely what contraception does today as well. It alters the reality of our bodies, God's creation and His very image, and, in many cases, attacks the body. The Catholic position is the biblical one. It is the historical one. It is the one that respect God's reality in nature. And therefore it is the correct one. The other position is the one that comes from and is practiced by sorcerers and devil worshippers along with the duped and ignorant among the Christian community.

Anthropological studies are replete with evidence which conclusively show that contraceptive herbs and potions existed throughout antiquity. Many writers have observed that various contraceptives found on medical papyri reach back as far as China 2700 BC and in Egypt in 1850 BC. For centuries, historians paid no attention to ancient accounts that claimed certain plants provided an effective means of birth control. . . . Modern laboratory analysis of various plants [including silphium, asafoetida, seeds of Queen Anne's lace, pennyroyal, willow, date palm, pomegranate, inter al.], however, gives us reason to believe that the classical potions were effective, and that women in antiquity had more control over their reproductive lives than previously thought. { John M. Riddle: Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance (1992), and Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West (1997) p. 30}

Byzantine medical writers, esp. Paul of Aegina in the 7th C., transmitted the theories and techniques of contraception outlined by the 2nd-C. Gynaikeia of Soranos, which recommended vaginal wool suppositories and the application of olive oil, honey, cedar resin, alum, balsam gum, or white lead to prevent sperm from passing into the uterus. Paul, however, provided only one herbal contraception recipe, whereas Dioskorides had 20. In the 6th C. Aetios of Amida recommended magical protection such as wearing an amulet of cat's liver or a womb of a lioness in an ivory tube. {The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. A.P. Kazhdan (Oxford, 1991, 3 vols.), s.v. "Contraception"}

[I]t has been argued that many of the remedies given as general gynaecological cures in the ancient medical tradition did in fact contain substances, mostly of plant origin, effective both as contraceptives and as early-stage abortifacients. Some substances were sued as barriers; for example, sponges soaked in vinegar or oil, or cedar resin applied to the mouth of the womb. These could have acted as spermicides. Others could either be taken orally or used as pessaries, and included pomegranate skin, pennyroyal, willow, and the squirting cucumber, which forcefully ejects its seeds. {The Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. S. Hornblower & A. Spawforth (3d ed., 1996), s.v. "Contraception"}

Other medical texts discovered in ancient times show contraception had some very unsanitary elements as well. One particular contraceptive was the mixture of straw and camel dung which was inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse.

Furthermore, of the passages which mention "pharmakeia" in the New Testament (i.e. sorcery or witchcraft or magic arts), they are invariably placed along side some kind of sexual immorality or context:

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21)

"Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts." (Revelation 9:21)

"The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world's great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray." (Revelation 18:23)

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 )

"Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:15)

Sex As Worship

In the past, when Christians would read passages in the bible, especially the New Testament, which mentioned sorcery or idolatry, conventional images of magical incantations or golden calves would come to mind. However, strictly speaking, the bible is much more liberal in its application of these things. As pointed out above, the sorcery mentioned in the New Testament passages really referred to unnatural means which sought alter reality or creation. This is also the case with idolatry. Consider St. Paul's teaching in Romans 1:

"For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." (Romans 1:25-27)

Notice that St. Paul starts out with the claim that people exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Contraception, of course, before it breaks any of the Ten Commandments breaks the 8th commandment first. Contraception is first and foremost a lie not with our lips but with our bodies because it seeks to represent something which God did not create; namely, a sterilized man or woman. St. Paul goes on to explain that they worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator. Contraception does that too since we end up worshipping ourselves by manipulating the image of God in our bodies. We put our sexual desires over the law of creation, and by so doing, we place ourselves in the place of the one and only Creator and usurp His role in Creation. That makes us, for lack of a better word, "idolaters", worshipping ourselves, "the creature".

The Apostle then goes on to write: "For this reason, God gave them over [to homosexual relations]." Can it really be denied that contraception has provided the foundation for gay "marriage"? By stripping fertility from the person (which in turn blurs the distinction between men and women), contraception has succeeded in separating fertility as a constituent element of the human person. Since the sexual revolution, this psychological war has advanced to where we are now in this country. Same-sex "marriage" did not appear over night. It needed a foundation. First, contraceptive sex had to be sold to the population as a placebo of sexual utopia: all the fun and none of the responsibility. After that, the contraceptive movement just had to keep widening the envelope of the contraceptive black hole: heterosexual contraception first, masturbation next, same-sex "marriage", and now, of course, in Massachusetts laws concerning bestiality are beginning to fall.

"For this reason, he gave them over...", St. Paul later writes. What reason is he talking about? Those engaged in contraceptive sex were "given over" to homoerotic sex. St. Paul is describing a natural progression from contraception to homoerotic sex. This is more probable than the rather strained understanding of conventional idolatry of worshiping a golden calf or something of that sort, although admittedly, the worshipping the golden calf had a lot of sexual debauchery around it too. Nevertheless, there is no immediately apparent connection between "statue idolatry" and homoerotic sex, but there is a rather clear connection between mere forms of the same contraceptive sin i.e. heterosexual contraception vs. homosexual sex acts.

The second point is the fact that St. Paul goes on to condemn UNNATURAL relations: women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural. While it is true that he is speaking in the context of lesbianism in the verse, we cannot rule out that ANY FORM OF UNNATURAL SEX would not also be condemned. We don't have St. Paul around to ask, but does it make much sense to condemn one form of unnatural sex and allow another form of unnatural sex? Lesbian sex was condemned precisely because it was unnatural, and that would therefore extend to ANY FORM of unnatural sex, which would, of course, include contraceptive sex.

Contraception is merely another form of masturbation since both parties seek the same pleasure without the possibility of procreation. St. Paul teaches that the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that indeed it is possible to sin against our own bodies:

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Cor 6:13-19)

If the body is truly a temple of the Holy Spirit, how can contraception be said to honour that temple when it seeks to change a fundamental element of it?

A few verses previously in the chapter, St. Paul warns the Corinthians that the sexual immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God:

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6:9-11)

It is not a coincidence that the idolaters mentioned by St. Paul in the passage above is placed within the context of sexual sin? And that is why contraception is ultimately sexual idolatry.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)

It is clear that sex, love and life go together. To separate any elements from the other is to re-create man in another image which is a blasphemy against the image of God Himself. It is false act, a mocking of the sexual act. That's what the devil does. He mimics the real thing but leaves out one substantial part just like the sorcerers did in Pharaoh's court with Moses.

As St. Paul reveals, sex can be a form of worship because we are participating in God's creative power through the mutual sacrifice of one spouse to the other, and therefore giving glory to our Creator in our bodies. A partial gift to God was found unacceptable to God when Ananias and Sapphira withheld part of their gift to the Christian community (Cf. Acts 5:1-11). There is no reason to believe God has changed His mind on that issue, and even less so when it concerns partial (and in fact false) gifts between spouses.

Conversely, contraception is also a form of worship but since it does not respect God or His creation or involve a complete and total self giving from one spouse to another, the object of worship is no longer God but oneself. Because the sex act is no longer respectful of the natural order, it cannot be said to be a legitimate form of worship and witness to God's creation. Therefore it is idolatrous in nature. Hence, attaching the phrase "sexual idolatry" to contraception is very apropos and necessary.

A Corruption of the Image of God

Contraception is the foundation for all of the social ills and problems our culture is experiencing since it ends up providing the beachhead for the war on the family. Along with abortion and pornography, same-sex "marriage" did not mysteriously appear. It found its footing in contraception since homosexual acts are also contraceptive in nature. Once the culture accepted the principle that heterosexual contraception was licit, it was only a matter of time before homosexual acts which are the logical extension of heterosexual contraception would also be accepted. Man cannot live in a contradiction for long. Either he will accept further evil to remain consistent with the first evil or he will revert back to his original view. But there cannot be two opposing rules for too long. If a heterosexual can have contraceptive sex, well, then, so can homosexuals. Both acts are unnatural and both acts are closed to life. It took same-sex "marriage" nearly forty years to enter Canadian society after contraception was legalized, but it happened. Indeed, if there has been a coherent and direct explanation of how same-sex "marriage" appeared virtually over night, it has not been explained very much or very convincingly to the Canadian public by those who believe contraception is benign.

How can we say that contraception has led to the recognition of gay sex? Contraception removes what makes a woman who she is - her fertility. And when one removes fertility from a woman during sex, one makes her - in a certain sense - another man. That is how, psychologically and morally, our culture has been able to slide into accepting same-sex "marriage", as its collective attitude and consciousness toward homosexuality was weakened by its acceptance of contraception. After all, there's nothing like the pot calling the kettle black to settle moral questions rather quickly.

A male sex partner is basically a sterilized woman.

Contraception and sodomy are essentially the same thing since they both involve ejaculation in an environment that is CLOSED TO LIFE. And that is the reason that God condemns both acts. For the great majority of couples who contracept, of course, they do not consider it sodomy. But that does not change the fact that it is sodomy. A man having anal sex with a woman is not all that different from a man having anal sex with a man. The receptacle is an anus. Both acts are sodomy. And if the vagina is made a defacto place not all that different from her anus? What then? Is this not sodomy which goes by another name?

A man having sex with a sterilized woman is, in fact, not having sex with a woman as God created her. He is having sex with a woman who has manipulated her fertility and created something else. And so, just as the devil apes God's miracles, so does contraceptive sex ape real sex. It looks like real sex, but it's not real. It is a lie with our bodies, just like pornography looks real but is a lie as well. One wonders how pornography, for instance, could ever exist without recourse to contraception.

Contraception also provides the foundation for abortion. The statistics bear this out as well. Wherever contraception is introduced, abortion follows. That reason alone should give us reason to pause. Contraception allows the mentality of "no to life" to eat away at the couple like a cancer. When they engage in contraception, the sexual act is saying "no to life". Therefore, if the woman gets pregnant, the very act which was saying "no" is now faced with the biological reality of "yes". And so there is disunity and strife between the act and will of the couple during sex on the one hand and the result on the other. There is no unity between the act (contra-life) and the fruit of that act (life). Creation is superseded and the results are usually disastrous. While not always true, abortion is the logical answer to failed contraception. The "no" in sex does not usually give way nine months later to the "yes" in birth.

Within the contraceptive act, the couple is lying to one another about who they are. Instead of communicating themselves to one another as they were created, they are communicating to each other in a way they are NOT. In other words, the man is not giving himself over to his wife the way God had intended. He is giving himself over to his wife the way he wants to i.e. without his fertility. And just as few marriages can survive with one spouse continually telling the other spouse lies, neither can a man continually lie about who he is within the sexual act with no adverse consequences resulting within the relationship with his wife. Is it any wonder that divorce rates in Canada ballooned shortly after contraception was legalized? That is no mere coincidence, but rather an acknowledgement that few relationships can survive without respecting the truth of the human body as God has created it.

Opposed to this, the Church teaches that we must respect the natural sexual order of fertility because She believes that God created us in His image which includes the power to pro-create; that is, to participate in His creation. As long as one respects the human body and its fertility as it was created by God, then one can choose to have sex when and how one wills, provided, of course, an openness to human life is present. Because contraception strikes at the heart of the conjugal act as God created it and because it strikes a the Trinitarian conception of who God is, the recourse to contraception is, in fact, an attack on the very image of God Himself and has therefore been rightly condemned as a grievous sin since the very beginning of Creation itself.

Medical Consequences of Contraception

In an NCI-sponsored study published in 2003, researchers examined risk factors for breast cancer among women ages 20 to 34 compared with women ages 35 to 54. Researchers analyzed data from 2,202 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 1992, and 2,209 women who did not have breast cancer. The results indicated that the risk of breast cancer was significantly increased for women ages 20 to 34 who had used Oral Contraceptives (OC) for at least 6 months. The risk associated with OC use was strongest for women who had used OCs within 5 years of breast cancer diagnosis. Although also elevated, the risk was weaker for women over age 35 and those who used OCs for longer periods of time... (Source: U.S. National Cancer Institute).

As reported by, another study found that oral contraceptives increase the risk of breast cancer by an average of 44 percent, a comprehensive analysis of world studies on the link between breast cancer and contraceptives has found. Published in the journal of the Mayo Clinic this month, the key article examines findings from a careful analysis of international studies conducted between 1980-2002. Entitled “Oral Contraceptive Use as a Risk Factor for Pre-menopausal Breast Cancer: A Meta-analysis, the article finds an increased risk for breast cancer of 44 percent, in pre-menopausal women who took or were taking oral contraceptives prior to their first pregnancy, compared to women who had not used oral contraceptives. (Source: Mayo Clinic Report)

For other risks of oral contraceptives, click here:

In the early 1980s, Dr. Richard Ablin, researcher at the Hwektoen Institute in Chicago, hypothesizes that prostate cancer could be caused by unejaculated sperm. A decade later, epidemiologists reported an "unexpected association " between vasectomy and prostate cancer. One study found the risk of this cancer increased between 3.5 to 5.3 times;14 a separate study found an overall risk 1.7 times greater beginning 12 years after vasectomy, rising to 2.2 times (more than double the risk) between 13 and 18 years later. (15) Two large studies of vasectomized men were conducted through the Harvard Medical School and published in 1993. They found the overall risk of prostate cancer increased between 56 and 60%, increasing to 89% for those who had vasectomies 20 or more years earlier. (16) Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American men, claiming some 30,000 lives per year. Although these studies did not prove any conclusive link between vasectomy and prostate cancer, the American Urological Association urged that patients be informed of the risk on the basis of these papers. (17)

Increased risks of lung cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma were noted among men 20 years after vasectomy.(18) The Coronary Artery Surgery Study, analyzing 1106 men, found a two-and-a-half times higher risk of kidney stones among vasectomized patients 30-35 years old. (19) An association with testicular cancer has also been noted. (20) A healthy immune system is our day-to-day defense against cancer. The authors of the Harvard studies hypothesized "the immune response to sperm antigens following vasectomy may enhance tumor growth by blocking of antibodies of tumor suppresser cells by sperm antigens." (21) - Source:


For these past forty years, Christians have been duped into accepting the biggest lie of the twentieth century. As a result, our culture is in a virtual moral and social free-fall. The time has come to come clean on sex and realize that this current culture of death did not come about without our co-operation and assistance.

Repentance is at hand, but are we courageous enough to do what it takes?

Do we have the humility and courage to reject sexual utopia precipitated by a condom?

Time will tell.

John Pacheco
The Catholic Legate
May 4, 2007