CASTRATION AS A BLEMISH
PART A. ANIMAL CASTRATION AS AN INJURY/BLEMISH
“19. And if a man INJURES his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: 20. fracture for fractured, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he INJURED a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.” Leviticus 24:19-20
The Lord laid down a judicial principle for Israel in the above verses: every crime committed against a person was to be punished by an equal penalty against the criminal.
It is not here our concern to explain the present day application of this particular set of verses – suffice it to say that inflicting an “injury” on a fellow human being is clearly sinful. We intend rather to focus in on the word “injure”, which occurs in both verses.
The word in Hebrew is “mum,” which means “blemish.”
If you examine the various verses in which this word occurs, you will find that the Scripture contains listings of different types of blemishes. Here they are (with the English words translating “mum” being capitalized):
“17. Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a DEFECT shall approach to offer the bread of his God. 18. ‘For no one who has a DEFECT shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, 19. or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, 20. or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.” Leviticus 21:17-20
“20. Whatever has a DEFECT, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you. 21. And when a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord to fulfill a special vow, or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no DEFECT in it. 22. Those that are blind or fractured or maimed or having a running sore or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord, nor make of them an offering by fire on the altar to the Lord. 24. Also anything with its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the Lord, or do in your land, 25. nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a DEFECT. They shall not be accepted for you.” Leviticus 22:20-22, 24-25
Note that in addition to blindness, crippledness, broken limbs, eczema and running sores, there also occurs bruised or crushed or torn or cut testicles! God here declares that damaged or destroyed testicles are a bad thing. We think that all would agree that the lists in the above verses are bad things; we have never seen anyone declaring the great benefits of being crippled or blind, or of having running sores! Once again, though, exceptions are made for birth control.
We are told in the news media and in sex manuals about the “quick and easy, virtually fool-proof method of birth-control – vasectomy.” Once again, what is a bad thing in Scripture is a “good thing” in our culture. But we Christians should seek to find out what the Bible says, not what the latest point of view is. And the Bible says that anyone who gets a vasectomy is injuring themselves, something forbidden by the Bible.
(As an aside, take a look at Lev. 22:24. This verse forbids offering defective animals to God, but according to a number of translators and interpreters of the Bible, it forbids the castration of animals as well. We see from numerous Bible passages that God cares about animals; some view Lev. 22:24 as a protective law for them. If this is the case, then we would say that if castration is forbidden for animals, it is certainly forbidden for people.
But this point is not essential for our position; we throw it in because it is a possible argument against birth control.)
No matter what one thinks of the argument of the previous paragraph, he or she is still faced with the fact that the Scripture calls castration a blemish in animals. And if a destroyed or damaged reproductive system is a blemish for animals, how much more so for human beings, made in the image of God! Therefore neither permanent sterility (vasectomies) nor partial sterility (condoms) are permissable. Castration destroys the seed before it is made. Birth control destroys the seed after. It is only a matter of timing, and both do the same thing, namely, waste seed. (Tubal ligation, which is merely female castration, is by implication forbidden also.)
PART B. EUNUCHS IN ISRAEL
“1. No one who is emasculated, or has his male organ cut off, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 23:1
We see that the Scripture points to the badness of castration in Deu. 23:1. If a person who was a eunuch involuntarily was not allowed to be a full Israelite, what would God’s view be towards someone who did this awful thing to himself because he wanted to prevent God from sending children into the world?
PART C. PUNISHMENT FOR POTENTIAL DAMAGE TO THE MALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM
“11. If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her and seizes his genitals, 12. then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.” Deuteronomy 25:11-12
This law is even more pointed than the previous one on eunuchs: in order that she may stop a man who is fighting with her husband, a lady grabs her husband’s opponent by his sexual organs. What does God say to do with her? Do you reward her? Do you commend her for saving her husband? No. Rather, the civil authorities are commanded to take the lady and cut off her hand. They cannot cancel the punishment or change it. The lady gets her hand cut off whether she hurt the man or not.
We can observe that God is extremely angry with such a lady. If there is a fight and the woman grabs the man’s hand or foot, she suffers no punishment, but if she grabs his sexual organs, she gets her hand cut off. God is, by these verses, showing that interfering with the sexual organs’ job is strictly forbidden. And these verses become a proof text for forbidding birth control, because birth control prevents the sexual organs from carrying out their duties, just the same as grabbing the sexual organs in a fight has the potential to do. If God forbids the potential on pain of getting a hand cut off, how much more does God forbid the actual?