9.09.2006

Chemnitz on Contraception

This is from the Loci Theologici, Preus translation, vol. II, p.
406, first column (Thanks to a friend, Pr. William Weedon for
pointing me toward this quote). The topic is the fifth commandment:

"The first and most heinous kind is the external deed itself.
Scripture speaks of the shedding of blood, Rom. 3:15; Gen. 9:6.
In Ex. 21:18-20 and Num. 25:7 certain instruments or weapons are
mentioned, such as iron, rock, or club. Rev. 18:23 and Gal. 5:20
mention sorcery [actually Chemnitz notes here the Greek word
pharmakeia, 'potions' - this was also an ancient word used for
chemical contraceptives like silphium - +HRC]. But in the
Decalog it simply says, 'Thou shalt not kill,' without
mentioning either the instruments or the circumstances of the
crime. In Judg. 20:5 the wife of the Levite who was ravished by
a mob of Gibeanites was said to have been 'murdered.' [I don't
think the quotes are appropriate - Chemnitz doesn't use them -
+HRC] Pertinent here also are those things which hinder
conception, Gen. 38:9. Likewise, the matter of destroying the
fetus in the womb, Ex. 21:22, 'If a pregnant woman is struck. .
. .' I Kings 3:19 refers to those who in their sleep lie on and
smother children."

The Latin can be found on page 68 of the Pars Secunda. The
sentence that especially interests us here reads: Pertinent
igitur huc, qui conceptionem impediunt, Gen. 38. v 9.

Here Chemnitz demonstrates that he knows exactly what's going
on. He differentiates between contraception and
abortion/infanticide and notes that Gen. 38 forbids the former.
He takes it up under the 5th commandment because it is an action
against the good of life - not the taking of a life already
present, but the 'impeding' of the process through which God
gives life.

And all this from the "second Martin," the chief author of the
Formula of Concord.

+HRC
--
Pr. H.R. Curtis
Trinity - Worden, IL
Zion - Carpenter, IL

2 comments:

Caspar said...

Excellent find, Pr. Curtis. Thanks for the reference.

Caspar said...

Thanks to Pr. Weedon, that is!