jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

onan has no future

Are you familiar with this passage?

“Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.’ Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also (Gen. 38:8-10). This is the prooftext used by the Roman Catholic church to argue against the use of contraceptives. Irregardless of that application of the passage, I believe that there are other applications for us.

One of my very good friends likes to occasionally remind me that, “Life’s all just a scramble for the credit and the blame.” There are times when I think that he has hit the nail on the head with his observation. Unfortunately, I often feel that way in church. Sometimes people’s motives are questionable. Sometimes it seems that people and churches are doing good things, but only for the purpose of getting attention, gaining some “name recognition.” It’s this issue of “name recognition” that brings me to Onan.

The passage tells us that Onan spilled or wasted his seed on the ground because “he knew that the offspring would not be his.” He knew that the child would not be recognized as his offspring. Said another way, he knew that the child would not bear his name, but would bear the name of his brother. Did God judge Onan because he spilled his seed, or because he was not willing to “sow” when it seemed he would not get recognized for the sowing? Perhaps both, but I suspect it’s that latter aspect of motivation that brought God’s judgment.

If we are to find our future I believe that we will have to rid ourselves of our “Onan temptation.” We need elders who are willing to sow into spiritual children without trying to make ultimate identity claims on those children. We need churches who are willing to sow into areas where others will reap the fruit. We need servants who are willing to labor without recognition. And we need enough humility to not only let go of a lot of the credit, but also to take responsibility for a lot of the blame.

13 comments on “onan has no future

  1. lovin' austin
    March 11, 2008

    i take all the credit for this post:) i mean, the blame.

    wait a minute, i’m confused?

    jon-let’s talk sometime:)
    jeremy self

  2. lovin' austin
    March 11, 2008

    i take all the credit for this post:) i mean, the blame.

    wait a minute, i’m confused?

    jon-let’s talk sometime:)
    jeremy self

  3. m.d. mcmullin
    March 11, 2008

    We have to take credit in the Church of God…that’s how you get promoted. You will never be General Overseer (Presiding Bishop) with talk like this.

  4. Jonathan Stone
    March 11, 2008

    Mike, even so, if I do not become Presiding Bishop I am going to blame you.

  5. Jonathan Stone
    March 11, 2008

    Jeremy, I did not know you were in Austin. Austin Rocks! You’re blog rocks too. I’ll email you my cell number so we can catch up.

  6. Steve Wright
    March 11, 2008

    Wow! You can really tell I taught you well while we both were in California. I’m blow away by how smart your have become because of all the wonderful things I poured into you. Thanks for making me feel good about myself Jonathan. I can’t wait to step on your head on the way to Presiding Bishop. LOL LOL LOL LOL

    Good stuff my brother. You always make me think. I miss you bro. Bring yourself to Charlotte and let’s get our heavy on. The food deep fried and waiting.

  7. lovin' austin
    March 11, 2008

    i emailed you my #. let me know when you get it.
    js

  8. lovin' austin
    March 11, 2008

    i emailed you my #. let me know when you get it.
    js

  9. Dennis J Adams
    March 11, 2008

    Good word Jon, I am loving your approach to type out words of truth that grips the hearts of the enormous constituency that we have blogging today. My hope is that we get some leaders in the COG to express their opinions!

    It seems when you “sow” toward the truth people want to blame so they can gain credit. Think about it for a moment it makes sense.

    Amen, to the elders getting involved. Read my latest post at my blog site.

    D

  10. Louis Morgan
    March 12, 2008

    Jonathan,
    I once wrote an article titled “The Perils of a Seed Planter”. Absolutely no pun intended here!!! 🙂 But, it is about being in a ministry where we plant seeds that are harvested by someone else. Much of my ministry has been pouring into others and nurturing them, but they are ready for harvesting after they have moved on. It is not easy, because others tend to rank our ministerial effectiveness on the harvesting– not the seed planting. But I believe scripture validates the importance of both the seed planter and the harvester.
    Maybe I’ll dig up the article and post it on my blog. Thanks for reminding me that faithfulness and obedience is the requirement.

  11. Jonathan Stone
    March 12, 2008

    Steve, I’m not surprised by your comment. After all, I’ve watched you climb the ladder by using benevolence ministry for so many years now!

  12. Jonathan Stone
    March 12, 2008

    Thanks Dennis. And I you’re right, I had to think about it, but it does make sense–kind of disturbing though!

  13. Jonathan Stone
    March 12, 2008

    Louis, please post the paper. I’d love to read it. Also, though you intended no pun, I think we could carry that analogy a long way! 🙂

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This entry was posted on March 11, 2008 by in faith, intergenerational.
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