Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday: Onan Revisited

In my last post, a letter to my Bishop, I seem to have created a bit of a controversy by using the term "Sin of Onan". I feel there should be a further explanation. I tried to get a Bishop to help with the explanation but today is Palm Sunday and they are all very busy.

Perhaps we should ask the young and the feeble to leave the room now so we can have a frank and open discussion about this topic.

First of all, go read the Book of Genesis, Chapter 38 for the background story.

Onan was the son of Judah. Onan's older brother died having been struck down by the Lord. Onan's obligation under Jewish law was to impregnate his widowed sister-in-law. This was not a task he was obviously enthusiastic about since as you can see in the Bible text he committed the flagrant sin of coitus interuptus. This is the first time this was mentioned in the Bible and the Catholics elevated the story to a vast and far reaching condemnation of birth control. Thus, over time, the Sin of Onan, came to mean the practice of having sex without having children.

So that is the first meaning of the metaphor, a rather sharp warning against family planning.

The second meaning, which is quite often used by Catholics, is the sin of (okay this is where it gets a little raw) self pleasure. Yes, we're talking about masturbation. AKA spanking the monkey. AKA shaking your fist in anger, etc etc. And please don't write me with your favourite euphemism. This is difficult as it is.

Anyhow, this was certainly the meaning we got in those lectures from Sister Brigette Madolyn of the Holyrood Academy of Boys Woodworking, which I attended one semester. I doubt sister Brigette was talking about the first of the meanings to a bunch of geeky 12 year old boys.

And that was certainly not the meaning I intended when referring to my member of Parliament. (Oops! I meant "A" member of Parliament.) Frankly, I don't see that man engaging in any kind of coitus, interuptus or otherwise. At least not with a sentient person.

I hope this clears up the original letter. Its just one of those cases where Catholics use a Bible story to condemn many different things.

Anyway, I hope you all have a Happy Palm Sunday. Please recommend this post

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