11.08.2005

Roma-phobic Conjugal Dispensationalists?

Could somebody please tell me why Lutherans know next to nothing about Natural Family Planning - NFP? I'm one of them, or at least I was.

Why is it that we will tell our daughters, sisters, soon-to-be-brides that 'The Pill' is the way to go - treating their fertility like a malady to be remedied? Medicating them for something that is neither a sickness nor disease. Telling our young brides effectively, "Honey, you know I love everything about you right... that is except your womb."

Why is it that the sage advice that so many young people have received from our parents is, "Do yourselves a favor... give yourselves time, several years, before having kids. You deserve it. You'll need that time to get to know each other..."? Why do we give that advice to young married couples for the supposed health of their marriage when the statistics tell us that those marriages that are blessed with children during the first two years of marriage are statistically healthier and longer lasting than those that wait?

Why don't we commend our daughters, sisters, soon-to-be-brides and their soon-to-be-husbands to consider NFP? It treasures and celebrates the marriage bond and the God given fertility therein from the wedding day on and this turns out to be healthy as demonstrated by the fact that couples who use NFP experience divorce at a much lower rate than contracepting couples! NFP does not lead us to be dispensationalists in the marriage bed- for a time overcoming and trumping/tricking their fertility only to make a radical shift at another time in an attempt to fully cherish and embrace that which we just sought to overcome!

Why then do most Lutherans know next to nothing about NFP? Could it be that we laugh with some 70 plus % percent of contracepting Catholics at their official church stance against contraceptives? "When will Rome get current with the times," we ask? (Interestingly this is the same form/line of questioning that is happening within the ELCA as they work on their 'Journeying Together Faithfully' study on 'sexuality and the role of same gender unions in the church.') Are we Roma-phobic? Well, yes, I believe that to some degree that is the case. But I believe that there is something worse yet at play...

Question: Are you ignorant or apathetic?
Answer: I don't know and I don't care!

Of the two, ignorance is the lesser problem. Ignorance can be remedied with good information and clear instruction – something Lutherans have always prized themselves on. Ignorance is real and yet there is no reason that it be anything other than temporary.

Apathy... there's the bugger, and from my perspective it is forever more difficult to deal with. How do you deal with a person who doesn’t know and worse yet doesn’t care to know? How do you deal with a church that is much the same?

With one voice we groan at the unhealthy state of marriage in our world today. And yet we ourselves participate so fully and so uncritically in the very same culture that has given rise to this sad state of affairs.

As Confessional/Sacramental Lutherans will we take the time to learn why prior to 1930 every Christian Church, including our own, stood along side the Roman Church in condemning contraception and espousing a better way? And the bigger question is this: When this path before us is illumined by the Cross of Christ will we care to do anything about it in our own marriages? In the church?

13 comments:

Tim's Ghost said...

Pastor Rufner:

Beggars All appreciates this new blog. It is very much needed.

We will certainly add you to our blogroll, and I'm sure that Caspar will be leaving comments! ;-)

Blessings from from your fellow Michiganders, Caspar and Tim

Christopher Gillespie said...

As a Lutheran practicing NFP, I am finding you blog a true god send. We have used NFP since our marriage. We have been blessed by 4 children in this time. No, this weren't a result of the ineffectiveness of the method but rather an open embrace of the blessing of children.

Keep up the work. I can't dedicate as much time to researching the Lutheran stance on this apart from my wife and I knowing in our hearts from the beginning that chemical contraceptives were not a solution but a problem. I look forward to the future discussion.

I too will post a link on my blog in appreciation.

Chris

Pr. David Rufner said...

Chris, so great to have you aboard... I hope you and your family are doing well. On Thursday I will have a 3 hour Amtrak layover in Chicago on the way down to the Lutherans For Life conference. This will allow me to stop in on good ol' St. James and have lunch with Bob Donovan. Keep in touch and please consider writing some posts yourself for this blog.
David

J. Conner said...

Dave,

Thanks for the blog. It's great to see.

You mention commending NFP to soon-to-be brides/husbands. I have had the opportunity to do this on a couple of occassions and I have recenly completed a 6 week marriage enrichment seminar in which we discussed contraceptives after we first discussed the Biblical purpose for sex: babies and bonding, the blessings of children, the responsibilites of parents, and the vocation of parent. Then we talked about contraceptives. Each couple received "The Christian Marriage and Contraception" booklet Rebecca and I put together (which I'm happy to share w/ whomever). It was a great discussion. Several women expressed their concern over their ignorance of the pill and many of them eagerly shared the information with other women.

Anyway, what I wanted to ask you and anyone else, are we doing our daughters and sons any favors by telling them they can be anything they want to be when they grow up? Is it really helpful to tell them they can have a high paying, prestigious career and raise babies at the same time? The reality is babies need time (and lots of it) with mom and dad. When mom and dad both are pursuing their careers, the children suffer (as well as the parents). I just wonder what message we're sending.

I've talked to several women who say, "I respect your wife for staying home with your children, but I just couldn't do that." What are they really saying? "I want to do something important with my life (and babies just don't rank)"? Are they saying, "I only want to be a part time mom because being a full-time mom takes too much work"?

Being a full-time mom or dad does take a lot of work. That's the point! Children demand a lot of work so that our attention will be forced away from ourselves and our career and our glory and our posistion in life to the well-being of another person. Children are God's way of ripping our self-centeredness out of us.

I just see this a lot. Parents claim they both work because they "need" the money, but I don't think it's the whole truth. I think it's what they tell themselves to justify being away from their kids. They say they "need" the money for their kids. Kids don't want money, they want parents. I really think people find working easier than raising children and more glorious.

This mindset makes it really difficult for us (especially my wife) to make the sacrifice she makes. She feels like other people look down on her for not doing something important with her life.

I think it's time we started extolling the virtues of the vocation of motherhood and fatherhood and the sacrifices involved therein. This will require taking a strong stance against contraceptives, which only enlarge the problem (my life, my wants, my way first and then when I choose, I'll schedule children into my life).

Thanks again for the blog, sorry I got a bit long winded.

J. Conner

rmgc said...

Dave, great blog. Thanks.

Jon, good points. Everybody makes fun of girls who go to college looking for an MRS., but I find myself thinking that they're the ones who really get it. Their priorities are right (not to mention that I think a lot of guys hope to come out of college married or close to it too, but it's ok for them since they'll still, presumably, be "using" the degree they earned in the way and to the extent that society deems appropriate). College costs are a high price to pay for a backup plan, to be grossly pragmatic, but planning first and foremost to have a family is true obedience to God, who tells that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and to be fruitful and multiply.

I always like it when someone with cable and matching furniture tells me they can't afford not to work. I know I'll never face the annoyance of making small talk with them while I'm at the thrift store.

As for your wife, she's a hero. Anyone staying at home with as many advanced degrees as babies deserves a huge prize. Go get her one right now, in fact (doing the dishes counts). ;) rmgc

Tina said...

Jon, I've been a stay-at-home mom for 12 1/2 years, since my first child was born. I'm now a homeschooling mom as well. I can relate to what you wife goes through. I actually have a master's degree, and had a REALLY good job when I quit. I heard a lot how I was 'wasting' my education. WHAT?! By investing my time and energy into the lives of my children? How is that a waste?

Even in the Church, the vocation of motherhood is looked down upon. But then, children are seen as burdens rather than blessings too. My vision was clouded in this regard for many years. I only wish I'd 'seen the light' years ago. I regret the children we might have had.

Keep encouraging your wife that she has the best job on earth, one of the few with eternal consequences. With God's help and blessing, our dear children are the only things on this earth that we can take with us into eternity.

J. Conner said...

You know how people always ask, "So, what do you do?" It's a question Rebecca hates to hear because she knows how people will respond when she says she is at home with her son and child-to-be.

I think the appropriate answer would be something like this, "I am bringing souls to Christ to change the world now and for all eternity. What do you do?"

J.Conner

Tina said...

I love it! Mind if I steal it?

jconner said...

Steal away!

jconner said...

RMGC,

Your "do the dishes" comment brought something to mind.

one of the things I teach in my marriage enrichment seminar is the meaning of biblical love - it's an action verb - something we do for / show our spouse. So when I tell husbands to love their wives, I tell them to SHOW their love through visible actions. Love must be more than sincere, it must have substance.

So, the example I use is of the way I express my love to Rebecca. I tell them that when I tell Rebecca I love her, I demonstrate that love for her by doing the one thing she hates to do more than anything else in the world: clean the toilets. It's a comical example, but it gets the point across. (and yes, I wash dishes too.)

And by the way, Rebecca shows her love for me by doing the one thing I hate doing more than anything in the world: cooking.

I know we're strange, but it works.

What does this have to do w/ NFP? Not much, other than the fact that I believe NFP is an excellent way to show love to your spouse too.

J.Conner

Tina said...

Jon,
I wonder if you could share some points from that marriage enrichment seminar you conducted.

I think it would be beneficial to the discussion to see what the Bible has to say about marriage, the blessings of children and the vocation of parent.

I've read comments on some of these discussions that would imply that there are times when children are NOT blessings. But I don't think the Bible supports this.

I'd also like to see that booklet you put together. How can I get a copy?

jconner said...

Tina,

i'm happy to share whatever you like, but I'm not sure how to do it.

Dave,
is there a way to post a file on the blog?

Tina,
I could always email it to you, but I don't know if you really want your email posted on-line.

Dave,
any suggestions on this?

J.COnner

Tina said...

Jon, I wonder if you could start a thread (or email it to Dave to post) that discusses the issues of marriage, children and parents.

It would allow a place for discussion of these issues. I think it's important groundwork for the discussion of contraception for all the players to have an understanding of what God intended for marriage, what He thinks of children, and perhaps even how He provides for His children.

As to the booklet, I'm not really comfortable in the blog world as far as making my email that public, so if you can post a file, that would be great!

Tina