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Questions specifically on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) faith on contraception:

  1. Does LDS church allow contraception?
  2. What forms do they allow?
  3. What are their arguments for allowing (or not allowing) contraception?

On question #2 I would like to know the LDS take on what the Bible describes Onan as doing in Genesis 38:8,9. Is that allowed or not and why?

Genesis 38:8,9:

Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.

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2 Answers 2

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Church policies on such day-to-day issues are typically found in a policy manual called the General Handbook. A quick search of the General Handbook turns up section 38.6.4: Birth Control

Physical intimacy between husband and wife is intended to be beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife (see 2.1.2).

It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear (see 2.1.3). The decision about how many children to have and when to have them is extremely personal and private. It should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.

The Church discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization includes procedures such as vasectomies and tubal ligations. However, this decision is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of the husband and wife. Couples should counsel together in unity and seek the confirmation of the Spirit in making this decision.

Surgical sterilization is sometimes needed for medical reasons. Members may benefit from counseling with medical professionals.

As for the story of Onan, it does not apply here, as the levirate duty that Onan sinned by deliberately flouting is no longer relevant.

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  • Can you expand to include the non surgical methods of birth control like iud and oral or implantable hormones?
    – 007
    Commented Feb 18 at 3:10
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    @Kris The quotation I gave is the entirety of the General Handbook's guidance on the subject. That's all the policy we have, and it's consistent with D&C 58:26-28, that it's not good for us to be commanded "in all things," but rather "men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves."
    – Mason Wheeler
    Commented Feb 18 at 20:06
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    The church-owned insurance company which insures church employees did not provide coverage for any form of birth control until 2023 and does not cover surgical sterilization except in certain circumstances.
    – 007
    Commented Feb 19 at 14:29
  • @kris All right, and...?
    – Mason Wheeler
    Commented Feb 19 at 14:59
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    Strongly discouraged = strictly forbidden for faithful Mormons?
    – 007
    Commented Feb 20 at 13:53
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The Family: A Proclamation to the World states:

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.

This has been the constant aspect of parental responsibility despite changing social trends and means of contraception. The church continues today to counsel against elective operations that would induce permanent sterility as well as against elective postponement of child-bearing and rearing without good cause before the Lord, while recognizing that for medical reasons and to respect the propriety between couples, the decision of when to have children and how to space them is left between them and the Lord.

My personal view is that contraception equals "people prevention" and is contrary to the Lord's commandment when used as such. However, there are also medical and physical realities as well as questions of faith that can affect the ideal timing. Given the account of Abraham and Sarah, we recognize that the fulfillment of the Lord's promises as well as the capacity of couples to receive children in this life can vary significantly.

In order for God's plan for the happiness of His children to be sustained, we recognize the extremely damaging effect out-of-wedlock births and intimacy have on children and parents alike:

Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

The integrity of the family unit is a key. Elective abortions are also counseled very strongly against in the church. All life-preserving options are highly preferred, including adoption into intact families.

I have a different personal perspective about Onan. The account of Onan is not limited to levirate duties. Even though his brother Er was a wicked man, the Lord commanded Onan to raise up seed unto his brother, ostensibly also so that his father's lineage would not die out. It is not specified what Er's wickedness was. Children honor their parents by having children of their own, and bringing them up in light and truth. Failure to honor one's parents and failure to multiply and replenish the Earth within honorable marriage are grounds for cursing. This is corroborated for example in Exodus 4 of the Lord seeking to slay Moses if he did not fulfill the law to rear up circumcised posterity for Israel. In so saying I recognize that not everyone has the blessing of an intact marriage in this life, regardless of how worthy or personally prepared they might be for it. If anyone is persecuted for inability to have children in such a context through no fault of their own, those doing the persecuting may be heaping up afflictions on the likes of Abraham and Sarah, whom the Lord blessed beyond measure.

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