SEED AS SEMEN OR CHILDREN
“9. And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10. for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” Hebrews 7: 9-10
“8. Thy hands fashioned and made me altogether, and wouldst Thous now destroy me? 9. Remember now, that Thou hast made me as clay; and wouldst Thou turn me to dust again? 10. Didst Thou not pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese; 11. clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews?” Job 10:8-11
If a person looks up the word “seed” in the Old Testament, an interesting fact will pop up.
Namely, the Hebrew word “zerah” is used of human seed in two different ways: a) semen (as in Gen. 38:9 and Lev. 15:18,32), and b) children of people after birth (as in Gen. 46:6 and Lev. 22:13).
Some may say, “So what does that prove? The word ‘house’ can be used of a man’s building or of a man’s family. Likewise, just because the word for semen and offspring is the same word, this doesn’t prove that they are the same thing.”
To oppose this view we have reason and Scripture. The reason that Scripture uses the same word for semen and children is because all humans at one time existed in semen form. Without semen, no children are possible. So, viewing children as a continuous process, we can see that the word “seed” applies well to both stages of human life, before and after conception. Further, what is the reason that most methods of birth control seek to prevent the seed from uniting with a female egg? Is it not to prevent the birth of real people who may result from the semen produced by the sexual act? (Obviously, birth control does not seek to prevent the birth of imaginary babies! Imaginary babies do not need to be prevented!)
Next, the Scripture in Hebrews 7: 1-10 proves the subservience of the Levitical priesthood to the prophesied Melchizedek priesthood of Christ by using the following logic: Levi is less than Abraham, and Abraham is less than Melchizedek – therefore, the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ (prophesied by Psa. 110) is greater than the Levitical priesthood of the Mosiac Covenant. During the argument of Hebrews, there occurs the following statement (7: 9-10): “and, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.”
Note that Hebrews says that Levi, in some real (not imaginary) way, was in the loins of his great-grandfather (!) Abraham. Now, if Abraham had practised birth control and “succeeded”, would he not have eliminated the real person Levi who was born some hundred years later, according to this verse?
Here is what John Owen said when commenting upon the Scripture, “for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him”: “The force of this proof seems to depend on a double principle. 1. That children, the whole posterity of any one, are in his loins before they are born. And this principle is sure in the light of nature and common reason; they are in them as the effect in its cause; nor have they any future existence, but with relation unto their progenitors, even the remotest of them.” (By the way, Owen was opposed to birth control, as may be observed from his comments upon Hebrews 13:4)
Those who practise birth control should realize that what they are doing not only eliminates semen (which nobody seems to be concerned with), but thereby also eliminates future people. These eliminated people exist in the loins of those who practise birth control, and are subsequently destroyed by birth control.
We have encountered people who disagree with the above view because of what the Bible says about predestination. Such persons reason like this: “Well, God decides who will be born on earth. Therefore, if I practise birth control, and God gives me two children, that must be how many children God wants me to have. Therefore, since nothing can hinder God’s mighty will, birth control is OK.”
What shall we say to this? Well, we say that if this line of reasoning is correct, then nothing is a sin at all! For example, you could shoot your neighbor in the head and say, “Well, God could have stopped me from pulling the trigger, or he could have made the bullet miss. Therefore, since nothing can hinder God’s mighty will, murder is OK.” Or perhaps you might set houses on fire and say, “Well, since everything that happens is according to God’s mighty will, then arson must be OK.” Who is there among Christians who accepts such incredible sophistry when it comes to murder or arson? But – many Christians swallow reasoning like this in order to justify conduct with which they already agree, like with Birth Control!
Of course, God has the ability to give couples children whether they practice Birth Control or not, but this proves nothing at all. According to Holy Scripture, God can make children out of rocks – but if you are waiting for God to make kids for you this way, we think that you’ll be waiting a long time. Those who use such reasonings to justify themselves need to realize that God has appointed godly means to accomplish godly ends. God wants to give us food, but he has willed that we should work to get it. Likewise, God wants to help us when we are in trouble, but he wants us to pray first. Now, God feeds lots of people who are lazy, and helps lots of people who don’t pray as they should, but does this justify laziness or people who don’t pray? Of course not! Likewise, God sometimes gives people children in spite of condoms, spermicides and withdrawal (and even abortion). This fact does not justify any of these unnatural activities! It is God’s command that we have children, and therefore it is God’s will that we have natural sexual intercourse to accomplish this goal.
Let us now examine God’s Word concerning Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. (Isaiah 37:21-29) Sennacherib had invaded and destroyed Judah, as God himself had ordained long before the event (37:26). Yet does this fact of predestination show that Sennacherib’s conduct was morally defensible? Absolutely not, as one may see from reading Isaiah 37: 28-29. God was angry with Sennacherib for his ungodly conduct, even though God pre-ordained the event! This is, needless to say, a mysterious concept, but it should be apparent that predestination does not justify forbidden conduct. It is not without reason that Moses says in Deut. 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”
As further proof that our view of birth control does not contradict the Biblical doctrine of predestination, we now quote from the writings of John Calvin, who, as we all know, surely believed in predestination:
“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 the hoped-for offspring. This impiety is especially condemned, now by the Spirit through Moses’ mouth that Onan, as it were, by a violent abortion, no less cruelly than filthily cast upon the ground the offspring of his brother, torn from the maternal womb. Besides, in this way he tried, as far as he was able, to wipe out a part of the human race. If any woman ejects a foetus from her womb by drugs, it is reckoned a crime incapable of expiation and deservedly Onan incurred upon himself the same kind of punishment, infecting the earth by his semen, in order that Tamar might not conceive a future human being as an inhabitant of the earth.” (Calvin’s Latin Commentary on Genesis – 38: 10)
Though Calvin certainly believed in predestination, yet he condemned birth control as the murder of future human beings. He certainly did not think that God’s secret purposes justify conduct which the Word of God forbids.
As for our second Scripture passage, Job 10: 8-11, we have included it because it is one of the few passages (if not the only one) in the Bible to describe the sexual act itself and relate it to the creation of an individual person. Verses 10 and 11 describe the emission of semen and its formation into a baby in the mother’s womb. What is noteworthy about the verse is this: Job specifically says that it was him (Job) present in the semen of this father. Observe: “Didst thou not pour ME out like milk, and curdle ME like cheese?”
Having read anti-abortion literature published by Christians, we have noticed that a sizable portion of Bible texts cited to prove that children in the womb are human beings are passages like this: “Before I formed YOU in the womb I knew you. And before YOU were born I consecrated you….” (Jeremiah 1:5) Yet many who correctly oppose abortion also favor birth control, in spite of Job 10:10 which proves that human life is present in human semen. (If human life is not in human semen, then why do people use “spermicides”, that is, “sperm killers”?) If it is wrong to destroy life in the womb, then it is wrong to deliberately kill semen.
Someone might say, “Oh, who is there in the Church who adopts such a ridiculous unscientific view of semen?” To which we would reply: “Martin Luther!” While commenting on Genesis 2: 21, he said, “Thus it is a great miracle that a small seed is planted and that out of it grows a very tall oak. But because these are daily occurrences, they have become of little importance, like the process of our procreation. Surely it is most worthy of wonder that a woman receives semen, that this semen becomes thick and, as Job elegantly said (Job 10:10), is congealed and then is given shape and nourished until the fetus is ready for breathing air.” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 1 pg. 126) By the way, Calvin agreed with Luther’s view, as one may see by examining his comments upon the same verse.
Let us also take the time to point out that the Church of Christ should not get its moral standards from the pseudo-god of “modern Science”, but from the Holy Word of God, the Bible. The Bible and real science do not contradict each other at all, and where modern scientists draw erroneous conclusions from observations of the natural world, their conclusions are to be rejected. So, when “great medical authorities” declare that a baby in the womb is not to be regarded as a human being, we must toss their views into the trash. And we must do likewise with their views on birth control.