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Male continence was the method of birth control practiced by the members of the Oneida community. In more modern terms, we would call it coitus interruptus. In 1849, the leader of the Oneida community, John Noyes, published a pamphlet on the subject of male continence. Although I have not been able to find the pamphlet itself, the abstract is widely available, and I have included it here:

I was married in 1838, and lived in the usual routine of matrimony until 1846. It was during this period of eight years that I studied the subject of sexual communion, and discovered the principle of Male Continence. The discovery was occasioned and even forced upon me by sorrow. Within six years my wife went through the agonies of five births. Four were premature. Only one child lived. After our last disappointment I pledged my word to my wife that I would never again expose her to such fruitless suffering. I made up my mind to live apart rather than break this promise. This was in the summer of 1844. At that time the solution came to me as an inspiration, that the social function could be separated from the procreative. I found that the self-control required was not difficult. This was a great deliverance. We had escaped the horrors and the fear of involuntary propagation, and our married life was happy as never before. During the next two years 1 studied all the bearings of the discovery. In 1846 we commenced Complex Marriage at Putney, and in 1849, soon after our removal to Oneida, I published the new theory in a pamphlet.

So long as the amative and propagative functions are confounded sexual communion carries with it physical consequences that take it out of the category of purely social acts. If a man under the cover of a social call upon a woman should leave a child for her to care for, he would do a mean wrong. But the man who under the cover of sexual communion commits the propagative act leaves his child in a meaner and more oppressive way. It is not to be wondered that women often look upon sexual communion as a stab at their life. But let the act of fellowship stand by itself and sexual communion differs only by its superior intensity and beauty from other acts of love. The self-control, retention of life and ascent out of sensuality that must result from making freedom of love a bounty on the chastening of physical indulgence will elevate the race to new vigor and nobility.

Male Continence not only relieves us of undesirable propagation but opens the way for scientific propagation. We are not opposed to procreation But we are opposed to involuntary procreation. We are opposed to excessive and, of course, oppressive procreation, which is almost universal. We are opposed to random procreation, which is unavoidable in the marriage system. But we are in favor of intelligent, well-ordered procreation. The time will come when scientific combination will be freely and successfully applied to human generation.

The common objection to Male Continence is that it is unnatural and unauthorized by the example of the lower animals. But cooking, wearing clothes, living in houses are unnatural in the same sense. In a higher sense I believe it is natural for rational beings by invention and discovery to improve nature. Until men and women by moral culture elevate their sexual life above that of the brutes they are living in unnatural degradation.

The real meaning of this objection is that Male Continence is an interruption of a natural act. But every instance of self-denial is an interruption of some natural act. The man who contents himself with a look at a beautiful woman, the lover who stops at a kiss are conscious of such an interruption. Must there be no halt in this natural progression? Brutes, animal or human, tolerate none. Shall their ideas of self-control prevail? Nay, it is the glory of man to control himself, and the Kingdom of God summons him to self-control in all things.

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