Pre-Holiday Links and Resources -Advent 2018 and Christmas

With Thanksgiving this week, Advent is following quickly behind it!

But besides the busy preparation for Christmas, there are a lot of things we can do to really observe the season of Advent! Over the years I have collected links and resources for the holidays that I thought would help me and my family prepare our hearts and spirits to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus.  I haven't done everything on this list.  Some of it is a wish list, but there was something in every link that I thought was worthwhile.

Perhaps first on the list is actually getting our homes ready for the holidays:
Holiday Grand Plan or join their Yahoo Group E-mail List Declutter and Clean!
Also DeClutter and Organize on Facebook. 

and get your planner ready~  Advent and Christmas Planner from Catholic Icing or Advent Planner from Wildflower and Marbles. 

 This content uses referral links. Read our disclosure policy for more info. This means if you make a purchase, I get a little change to keep up my Diet Coke habit.…

Poor Onan

I've been having a discussion with Bonnie, the author at the Off the Top Blog, regarding contraception. See Bonnie's five part series on her blog. She opines in my comment boxes below:

On Onan: obviously, he either didn’t want to go through the humiliation of being known as “Unsandaled,” or he wanted to enjoy coitus with his brother’s wife without giving his deceased brother children by her. Or both. He wanted no children that would not be his. Yes, he performed an act of contraception. However, it was in a certain context. The passage in Genesis clearly states that God slew him because of his failure to consummate his marital union with Tamar, in the context of the levirate law.

The penalty of being spit upon and de-sandaled was for failing to take as wife one’s sister-in-law for the purpose of fulfilling the Levirate law. Onan did “go in to” Tamar (take her as wife). But he failed to fulfil that act within the contract he was bound to. His was not just any marital contract; it was a levirate one.

If the penalty for breaking the Leverite law was to have your sandal pulled off and being spit at, why would God break his own law and kill Onan? Why would the writer go into such explicit detail that Onan was engaged in the act and pulled out? and how then does this show that Onan wasn't killed for contracepting?

Because he was killed for contracepting within the context of a levirate marriage. The first requirement of his circumstance was to either be known as desandaled & be spat upon, or accept the sister-in-law as wife. He did the first part. But he didn’t follow it up with the second, which was to give his brother-in-law children.

Well I think Bonnie is sure stretching it to say he agreed to be desandled and be spat on. That sure isn't in the scriptures. However, I think Bonnie's explanation that he was slain because he used contraception within the leverite marriage, and he was slain for contracepting in that context is way off base.

In my research, I found this very good article by Brian W. Harrison. It's well worth the read.

Mr. Harrison brings forth four points that I think anyone who supports the modern interpretation (Bonnie's) needs to answer.

1. Indeed, a further problem faces this conventional modern reading of the passage. If simple refusal to give legal offspring to his deceased brother were, according to Genesis 38, Onan's only offence, it seems extremely unlikely that the text would have spelt out the crass physical details of his contraceptive act (cf. v. 9). The delicacy and modesty of devout ancient Hebrews in referring to morally upright sexual activity helps us to see this. As is well-known, Scripture always refers to licit (married) intercourse only in an oblique way: "going in to" one's wife, (i.e., entering her tent or bedchamber, cf. vv. 8 and 9 in the Genesis text cited above, as well as Gen. 6: 4; II Sam. 16: 22; I Chron. 23: 7) or "knowing" one's spouse (e.g., Gen. 4: 17; Luke 1: 34). When the language becomes somewhat more explicit - "lying with" someone, or "uncovering [his/her] nakedness" - the reference is without exception to sinful, shameful sexual acts. And apart from the verse we are considering, the Bible's only fully explicit mention of a genital act (the voluntary emission of seed) is in a prophetical and allegorical context wherein Israel's infidelity to Yahweh is being denounced scathingly in terms of the shameless lust of a harlot (Ez. 23: 20).

2.Was Onan perhaps slain merely for refusing to give offspring to his deceased brother's wife, as most contemporary exegetes maintain? In answering these questions one must take cognizance of the following significant fact: the penalty subsequently laid down in the law of Moses for a simple refusal to comply with the levirate marriage precept was only a relatively mild public humiliation in the form of a brief ceremony of indignation. The childless widow, in the presence of the town elders, was authorized to remove her uncooperative brother-in-law's sandal and spit in his face for his refusal to marry her. He was then supposed to receive an uncomplimentary nick-name - "the Unshod." But since he nonetheless became sole owner of his deceased brother's house and goods, it is evident that his offence was scarcely considered a serious or criminal one - much less one deserving of death. Death, however, is precisely what Onan deserved, according to Genesis. It follows that those who say his only offence was infringement of the levirate marriage custom need to explain why such an offence was punished by the Lord so much more drastically in the case of Onan than than it subsequently was under the Mosaic law. If anything, we would tend to expect the contrary: i.e., that after the law was formalized as part of the Deuteronomic code its violation might be chastised more severely than before, not more mildly. Indeed, while it is clear from the Genesis narrative that the practice of levirate marriage already existed in Onan's time, there is no biblical evidence that he would have been conscious of any divine precept to observe that practice. This problem seems to have been simply ignored, rather than confronted, by those exegetes who cannot or will not see in this passage any Scriptural foundation for the orthodox Judæo-Christian doctrine against masturbation and contraception and unnatural intercourse between a man and woman, is not exactly a pleasant theme to write about.

3.It should be remembered also that we are here dealing here with a culture which so abhorred that other form of "wasting the seed" - the homosexual act - that it prescribed the death penalty for this offence. In the light of this and the other factors we have considered, I submit that it would be not only exegetically unwarranted, but quite anachronistic, to suggest that the Genesis author, in line with the 'political correctness' of late twentieth-century Western liberalism, would have taken a relaxed, indulgent view of Onan's method of preventing conception - his "spill[ing] the seed on the ground." We should note also the parallel between the description of homosexual acts as a "wicked" or "abominable" thing in the Leviticus texts and the similar qualification of what Onan did in Genesis 38: 10.

4. Moreover, in the view of revisionist exegetes, Onan's sin is presented here as being essentially one of omission. We are asked to believe that, according to Genesis, Onan committed no sinful act; rather, that his sin was to refrain from acting appropriately toward his deceased brother because of some sort of selfish interior disposition. But why, in that case, does the text describe Onan's sin as a positive action ("he did a detestable thing")? Coming directly after the author has mentioned what is certainly an outward act (i.e., "spilling the seed"), these words in v. 10 plainly indicate a causal link between that sexual act as such and the wrath and punishment of God.

After all, it is not as if the Old Testament vocabulary was lacking in concepts or words to express sins of interior attitude, when that is the kind of sin the authors had in mind. The "heart" of man - whether righteous or wicked - is a rich and important term of moral reference in Hebrew anthropology, and to the extent that Onan's fault was indeed this siof omission, such lack of piety toward his dead brother would have been an example of what the Israelites called "hardness of heart" (cf. Ex. 7: 13, 22; 8:15; Ps 95:7f), perhaps motivated at bottom by personal vanity (not wanting to father any child who would not be legally his), or even by that sheer covetousness for his brother's property which was forbidden in the Tenth Commandment and in numerous other Old Testament passages.

Once again, however, we must ask what evidence there is that this degree of "hardness of heart" would have been seen in Onan's time as sufficient to merit death. If today's revisionist exegetes are right in claiming that "spilling the seed on the ground" is not, per se, censured in this text, it would follow that even if Onan had simply declined to marry Tamar and so abstained from intimacy of any kind with her, this complete abstinence would have been viewed by the Genesis author as no less offensive to God than the course of action which Onan chose in reality - and which earned him a divine death sentence! But we have already pointed out that such a conclusion leaves unexplained the relative leniency of Deuteronomy 25 in penalizing such offences against the levirate marriage custom.

On the other hand if, as Judæo-Christian tradition has always insisted, "wasting the seed" by intrinsically sterile types of genital action violates that natural law to which all men, Jew and Gentile alike, have always had access by virtue of their very humanness, (cf. Rom. 1: 26-27; 2: 14), this will explain perfectly why Onan's sexual action in itself would be presented in Scripture as meriting a most severe divine judgment: it was a perverted act - one of life-suppressing lust. Indeed, over and above its prohibition by natural law, such deliberately sterilized pleasure-seeking could well have been discerned as a form of contravening one of the few divine precepts which already in that pre-Sinai tradition had been solemnly revealed - and repeated - in positive, verbal form: "Increase and multiply" (Gen. 1: 27-28; 9: 1).

5.until the early years of this century, when some exegetes began to approach the text with preconceptions deriving from the sexual decadence of modern Western culture and its exaggerated concern for 'over-population.' Sad to say, these preconceptions have since become entrenched as a new exegetical 'orthodoxy' which can no longer see even a trace of indignation in this passage of Scripture against intrinsically sterile forms of genital activity as such.

I'm happy to engage any further discussion on this, but it really needs to address these 5 points.

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