12.02.2005

The Contraceptive Age: Again More Fruit?

I remember sitting down with some members of my family, about two years ago now, and the topic of conversation was homosexual marriage.

We all shared concern over the issue and it didn't take long before one of us voiced the Battle Cry of the right-leaning Christian Republic: They have no right to redefine marriage.

I was even surprised by what came out of my mouth in the next moment: More and more I am led to believe that the homosexual community is not redefining marriage. Rather, they are simply taking advantage of the redefinition of marriage that has taken place in the past several decades at the hands of heterosexual community.

And what is that redefinition? Whereas once children were understood to be a prime blessing/good of marriage, under the contraceptive age children have been made optional and removed as a prime blessing/good leaving "commitment and mutual love" as the central pillar of the institution.

The problem is that "Commitment and mutual love" are no respecters of gender. If they are made the core of marriage and children are made to be optional (which they are by the contraceptive age) then we are left with little ground upon which to deny homosexuals entrance into our institution of "commitment and mutual love." The pronouncement of the Word that the Lord made them male and female no longer has any bearing on marriage. Certainly it is still for the moment helpful for the continuance of the human species, but it has little or nothing to do with the essence of marriage. Or so the reasoning goes.

Are we seeing here another contraception connection - one that ties our contraceptive age to the current push for homosexual legitimacy and marriage? I look forward to your comments.

Check out the following links:
Logic, Weed-eaters, Homosexuality & Contraception - written by Janet E. Smith
Love and... Marriage and the Meaning of Sex - written by Jennifer Roback-Morse

49 comments:

Eric Phillips said...

Here's the chain of causation:

Modern contraceptive methods MAKE POSSIBLE the purposefully childless marriage, which then shifts the majority definition of marriage a little in the direction that is useful for advocates of gay marriage.

But of course, the problem is the step from 1 to 2. Guns make murder a lot easier too, but they don't _make_ people murder. Most people who use contraceptive methods are not trying to have a childless marriage.

And the main factor in the widespread conception today that love is all that is required isn't contraception, but romanticism. A society with arranged marriages wouldn't fall into that particular trap no matter how many of them used condoms.

rmgc said...

Hi, Eric--What would you say is the primary purpose of marriage, or do you identify one primary purpose? Thanks! rmgc

Eric Phillips said...

rmgc,

I like St. Augustine's three goods of marriage: procreation, fellowship (which includes preserving each other from sexual sin), and _sacramentum_--i.e. the mystery of Christ and the Church. I see no reason to elevate any of those above the other two.

Devona said...

...and _sacramentum_--i.e. the mystery of Christ and the Church.

I agree with this. And I know that I am no theologian, but this is specifically why I cannot be a part of a contracepting marriage. Let me try to explain why. And let me tell you, I am nervous even trying because it is way over my head.

When we are baptised we are put into Christ, and we become His bride. Then when we commune, He is put into us, and we consumate our salvatory marriage relationship with our Groom. This produces the fruit of faith in us, the communal Bride of Christ. This is replicated in our human relationship of marriage.

We, as Lutherans, cannot have a merely symbolic supper when we consume the elements because symbols do not produce fruit, the only work to help us remember our Lord. We feast on Him in His flesh, just like He promised to come to us, nothing between us. A true, fruit-bearing communion.

If I am communing with Rob, and he is using a condom, it is not a replication of my marriage to Christ any longer. There is something between us, and he is not giving me his true, fruit-bearing communion. It is only by giving me the fullness of himself, and all that comes with it-- the suffering, the joy, the children-- that he is truly sharing himself with me the way my Lord shares Himself with the Church.

Caspar said...

Whoah! That is so awesome a post, Devona! I don't think this is over your head. You are soooo right!

A+++ !!!

This pearl of a comment will give me hours and hours worth of Godly meditation.

Thank you,

Erich

Eric Phillips said...

I agree with Caspar (it does happen). That was a great post, Devona. The connection between becoming one flesh in marriage, and becoming one flesh in the Supper ("you are what you eat") isn't one I'd thought about before.

I have to agree that sex _sans_ condom is a fuller image of Christ and the Church

rmconner said...

Eric--
I like Augustine's "triune" goods of marriage as well. But (just thinking out loud here) doesn't the introduction of contraception into marriage necessarily privilege the bonding/relational aspect over the procreative/sacramental? Basically this is what Devona said, only she said it so much more poetically :) . I'd be interested in hearing your reaction to that.

Eric Phillips said...

RMConner,

If contraception is used to remove the procreative aspect, then yes. If it is used to limit it, or schedule it, then no. The fact is, even without contraception, marriage goes on as true marriage long after the couple has stopped being fertile; and even before then, there are really only a few days each month that conception could occur. If every occasion of intercourse has to be equally procreative, unitive, and "sacramental" in order for the overall marriage to be equally all three, then _no_ marriage is equally all three.

Rob said...

The image that Devona is talking about is something she and I have discussed often over the last year. We wrote about on our blog a bit, and perhaps some of the things we were thinking might prompt some more reflection:

More than Words
Medium, Message, Marriage

Pr. David Rufner said...

Yes, Devona, thanks for an excellent post.

Here is a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Naumann that also cuts to the core:

"It is in the Christian congregations if at no other spot of the world that the truth of God's will and commandment must be clearly seen. All children are souls intended for God's kingdom. Any drive for missions is made ridiculous by the talk of birth control. As the church is to propagate itself by the power of the Gospel so are Christians to increase the family of God by increasing in the place where love and missions should start—in the family. Raise the average of the Lutheran family and you would have a natural and God-given increase of the church without counting the souls won by the preaching of the testimony among unbelievers."

We give prayers of thanks every Sunday morning - and the other six days of the week - that the Word of the Lord in Christ Jesus is efficacious and brings increase to the Lord's church. God help us if we ever contracept His Word. God help us for contracepting our marriages the very icon of Christ and His bride the Church.

jconner said...

Eric,

I am also interested in hearing your response to rmconner. While you consider your response, let me offer a critique of your position. Please know that I offer critique not as criticism, but as a way to help both of us to grow. I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss this important issue.

First, let me make sure I fully understand your position.

Here are your words from two different posts:

Now, obviously someone who contracepts all the time is probably ultimately going to fail to "be fruitful and multiply," and that's a shame, especially if that person is a good Christian, and therefore likely to produce more Christians. But if someone uses contraception only to delay having children, or to help space them out, that does not at all prevent him from being fruitful and multiplying.

I like St. Augustine's three goods of marriage: procreation, fellowship (which includes preserving each other from sexual sin), and _sacramentum_--i.e. the mystery of Christ and the Church. I see no reason to elevate any of those above the other two.

You fully agree God has commanded married couples to be fruitful and multiply. You also understand the goods of marriage to be procreation, fellowship/unity, and sacramentum (in accordance with St. Augustine’s teaching, which reflects Scripture’s teaching). In addition, you believe none of these goods of marriage is to be elevated above the other – in other words, no hierarchy.

Having said that, you do see room within marriage for the responsible use of contraceptives (which I assume you truly mean contraceptives and not abortifacients. In other words, by contraceptives you mean barrier methods, which truly prevent sperm and egg from meeting.) as long as the command “to be fruitful and multiply” is kept.

In summary, you see a place for contraceptives within marriage as long as the command “to be fruitful and multiply” is followed in principle. In addition, you do not believe contraceptives hinder a couple’s one flesh union. I hope I have accurately understood your position.

Let me attempt to respond.

First, I appreciate your understanding of the goods of marriage. I have not settled in my own mind whether there is a hierarchy of goods or whether they are all on the same level. For now, I will go with your proposal because I believe it’s defendable from Scripture.

Second, I do not believe it is possible to be open to procreation “in principle” while using contraception in practice. By definition, not excluding procreation in principle means not excluding it in reality. It is true, couples who use contraception may “be fruitful and multiply,” (in other words, they may have a boat load of children) the question, however, is whether the means they use to achieve that end are morally licit.

Third, if I understand your position correctly, you believe contracepting couples give the gift of self in the same measure as couples who use NFP. In other words, the barrier doesn’t hinder their one flesh union. I differ with you. A sexual union in which contraception is used and thus in which the procreative good is actively thwarted is not a one flesh union at all. While the act performed may be sexual, I do not believe it is marital; a barrier is present.

I assume your next question will be, “How is NFP any different if the end result can be the same: no conception?” Here’s my answer: the difference isn’t in the end, but the means. Contraception (as a means) actively subverts the progress of sex toward its end and completely detaches the procreative and unitive goods of marriage. NFP (as a means), however, is never contraceptive. Having said that, NFP can be used as a legitimate means to achieve an inappropriate end.

To sum that up: NFP (as a means) is never contraceptive, contraceptives always are. NFP (as an end) can be used inappropriately if it is used to avoid the command to be fruitful and multiply. The problem here lies not with NFP, but with the human will.

I hope I have accurately reflected your position and I welcome your response and critique of the position I have offered. Again, I appreciate all the thought you have given to this topic and your willingness to discuss it.

J.Conner

rmconner said...

Eric:
I understand what you're saying, that there are times of infertility in every marriage (including most days of a woman's cycle, those who have problems with chronic infertility or are past the point of fertility) during which NFPers and I assume also those who don't believe in using even NFP to limit/space children, would agree that intercourse is morally permissible/God-pleasing. Yet the instances of infertility that you cite are natural/God-ordained--shouldn't we make a distinction between that and the deliberate choice to introduce a barrier (much less possible abortifacient) into the marital act?

Tina said...

Devonna, I agree, that was a wonderful post. I've been contemplating the Lord's Supper and contraception lately, but my thoughts are scattered still.

I've also been thinking about how marriage is a picture of Christ and His church. I am unable to reconcile how a husband and wife contracepting (limiting and spacing) fits into this picture. I have bits and pieces, but can't put it into a thoughtful whole. Anyone wish to help me develop this thought?

Also, I've been wondering if the 'dominion mandate' is also merely a blessing to those who do not consider 'be fruitful and multiply' to be a command. The 2 were given to Adam and Eve in the same sentence.

Tina

rmgc said...

I, too, am only an egg as a theologian, so I hesitate to introduce some faulty hermeneutic. But here's a possible parallel I've thought about, another positive, open-ended mandate: our Lord issues the Great Commission to his apostles, the heads of his Church--go make disciples, teach, baptize. Would it be faithful of our pastors to say things like,

"I've made enough disciples. I'm here for the ones I've made, but I've done my share. It's my turn to take some time for me."

"I'm just not cut out for teaching. I don't see why I should have to just because I'm a pastor."

"I've baptized so many people. I want to spend time with the ones I've baptized rather than just baptizing more. I can't believe all I'm good for is a baptism factory."

Fathers Rufner and Conner, if I've plunged myself into some heresy here please rescue me. rmgc

Caspar said...

Excellent parallel, rmgc!

Contraceptors often dismiss the creation madate to fill the earth by making the faulty conclusion that the earth is already filled.

The big cities might seem full, though they're not. Here in my region of Michigan there's room for an entire New York City! I live on 25 acres and am surrounded by a few hundred more acres that have no homes on them.

Doesn't look to me like the earth is full. I think it's obvious that the filling is supposed to continue until Christ comes again.

If we Christians don't get busy, the world is going to be filled with Muslims when Christ comes back. They typically do not contracept, since Islam condemns it.

Tina said...

Ok, I'm going to tread into the parallels I've been thinking about re: the Lord's supper, and if I've crossed any boundries, please correct me.

Christ commanded us to partake of His supper with, "This do", but never specified how often. Because there are great blessings attached, it is something that we *wish* to do often (if we truly understand those blessings). I feel blessed to be in a congregation that communes weekly. Now, if communion is offered, and I am not there that week, or if I don't go forward for whatever reason, am I sinning?

When Christ insituted this meal, He had some specific requirements for how it was to be celebrated. The bread and wine must be present, and a recognition of His body and blood in, with and under the elements must also be present. He specified that this meal was for the forgiveness of our sins. There are many who partake wrongly of this meal because they leave out something that God has said must be there. The Catholic church for many years (still?) withheld the wine. Many congregations deny the real presence and say the meal is simply symbolic of Christ's body and blood. And others deny the forgiveness received and say it is simply a meal of remembrance.

So, by seperating that which God had joined, they sin against the body and blood of our Lord.

The parallel, as I see it, is that God has joined procreation to the sex act (bonding and the sacramentum too-but no one is arguing those points here). If we separate that which He has joined, are we sinning against what He has created?

It seems the old, old question, "Did God really say....?"

Am I in the ballpark?

Lauren said...

It seems as though a different parallel could be drawn from the Lord's Supper concerning our present conversation. The Lord said, "Take and eat." He didn't say when or how often. And again, the Lord said, "Be fruitful and multiply." He didn't say when or how often. Many people try to put up additional requirements to what the Lord has said. We need to be silent where Scriptures are silent.

Pr. David Rufner said...

Lauren,

Yet He did say, "This do.... for the forgiveness of sins..."

As Nagel would say, "Gift received!"

We see a time in the past when the Lord's Supper was offered 4 times a year in many churches. Yet, as we rejoice in the gift received in His Supper we see many/most churches where it is offered now every other week. And we have many Confessional Lutherans and Confessional Lutheran Churches who are saying, "If the Lord offers us here His gifts, then why are we not receiving it every week? Why would we refuse them, even for a time?"

We could press the Lord's Supper upon God's people in such a way as to be received in the Law. Of this you are correct.

Or, teaching and confessing before them the blessing found within the Lord's Supper we may be led to receive the gift weekly. This is in the way of the Gospel.

Now the parallel to children: Are we teaching and confessing before our own children that children within marriage are a blessing (gift received!) from the Lord (even as we suffer to care for them under the burden of our old Adam, in a world with many burdens)? I would contend that we do not teach our children well concerning this blessing. Nor do we teach our children that children within marriage are a central gift of the Lord to His institution of marriage. We may at times do so with our lips, but our conjugal practice and promotion of divorcing our marriages from children for good - or for a time - speaks differently in many, many cases.

Devona said...

this is good dialogue. I'm still here. I'm just reading at this point. :)

Caspar said...

Lauren,

Though there was no specific frequency stated, Christ did say "often."

Here's how the parallel can be made...

In regard to the Lord's Supper Gospel mandate, we do this as oft as we drink it in remembrance of Christ.

Regarding the Procreation Gospel mandate, we do this as oft as we enjoy it, "in faith, love, and holiness, with propriety," remembering the Lord's creation ordinance and blessing to "be fruitful and multiply."

1 Timothy 2:15 - Nevertheless, she will be saved through bearing children, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with propriety.

Martin Luther on 1 Timothy 2:15 -

"15. 'SHE WILL BE SAVED.' That subjection of women and domination of men have not been taken away, have they? No. The penalty remains. The blame passed over. The pain and tribulation of childbearing continue. Those penalties will continue until judgment. So also the dominion of men and the subjection of women continue. You must endure them. You will also be saved if you have also subjected yourselves and bear your children with pain. 'THROUGH BEARING CHILDREN.' It is a very great comfort that a woman can be saved by bearing children, etc. That is, she has an honorable and salutary status in life if she keeps busy having children. We ought to recommend this passage to them, etc. She is described as 'saved' not for freedom, for license, but for bearing and rearing children. Is she not saved by faith? He goes on and explains himself: bearing children is a wholesome responsibility, but for believers. To bear children is acceptable to God. He does not merely say that bearing children saves: he adds: if the bearing takes place in faith and love, it is a Christian work, for'to the pure all things are pure (Titus 1 :15).' Also: 'All things work together,' Rom. 8:28. This is the comfort for married people in trouble: hardship and all things are salutory, for through them they are moved forward toward salvation and against adultery.... 'IN FAITH.' Paul had to add this, lest women think that they are good in the fact that they bear children. Simple childbearing does nothing, since the heathen also do this. But for Christian women their whole responsibility is salutary. So much the more salutary, then is bearing children. I add this, therefore, that they may not feel secure when they have no faith."

(Luther's Works, Vol. 28, p. 279)

Lauren said...

Casper:
So what's your point? I agree that Christian marriages produce children (unless there is infertility). What I disagree with are these *additional* regulations and requirements that man adds to what God has said.

Lauren said...

David,
I agree that Christian parents ought to teach their children that Christian marriages produce children. And yes, each child is a "gift received" from God.

Caspar said...

Lauren,

You say: "What I disagree with are these *additional* regulations and requirements that man adds to what God has said."

Would you please list the "additional regulations and requirements" that you are referring to here?

Thanks!

Erich

Lauren said...

Erich/Casper,
I have yet to be proven by Scripture that birth control is a sin. The Lord simply says to "be fruitful and multiply," but doesn't define what that looks like for us. Therefore, when I'm told that the Pill and barrier methods are sinful and that NFP is the only "Biblical" form of birth control, those are the additional regulations to which I am referring.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am supportive of large families (provided the children are supported by their parents), of being a stay-at-home mom, of teaching our children that Christian marriages produce children.

It seems as though man tries to define exactly what "be fruitful and multiply" looks like, and that is what causes me concern. Hope that helps.

Tina said...

Lauren, in the second paragraph of my last post, I mentioned exactly what you said, that God never specified how often we are to receive His supper. But because of the great blessings we receive there, we wish to receive it often.

I like what David added about how when we teach those gifts, the desire increases to experience them more. It's what happened in our church. Our pastor really wanted weekly communion, but the congregation had thoughts of, "church will take longer", "every other week is enough", etc. UNTIL he spent a lot of time showing the benefits we receive there. Then everybody eagerly said YES to weekly communion.

But, while God does not specify "how often", he does specify "HOW". When you do commune, there is a right way, and a wrong way. And that was the point I was trying to make with the rest of my post.

I see parallels to marital intimacy. God does not specify "how often", but it seems He does specify "HOW". Specifically, I can think of 1)marital only, 2)male and female only, 3)to join spouses in the one-flesh union, 4) to produce children. (There may be more, feel free to add).

The world has systematically tossed out each and every one of these. To the world, sex can (and should) be engaged in by whomever, with whomever, for whatever reason (casual is in right now), and recreation is key. The church tries to cling to 1, 2, and 3, but having tossed out 4, it doesn't seem to me that we have much of a leg to stand on in opposing the tossing of the first 3.

Tina

Lauren said...

Tina,
I have not noticed that the church has "tossed out" your point #4, which is that marriages produce children. I honestly have not heard in any Lutheran churches or Lutheran writings that Christian marriages ought not produce children.

You agree that the Bible doesn't talk about 'how often', and yet I am hearing that those who DO decide 'how often' in their marriage are sinning. This is where I think man is speaking where God has kept silent.

Caspar said...

Thanks for clarifying, Lauren.

I am still waiting for the go ahead to discuss the biblical prohibition of contraception. This discussion is following a preconceived path described in the early post called "beginnings." Here is my summary of that path laid out by Pr. Rufner. This is designed to take the reader through the progression of thought many of those who once used the pill have gone through.

1. Showing that the Pill is potentially abortifacient.

2. Anectotal explanations of the thought process individuals have gone through in moving from the Pill to non-abortifacient forms of contraception.

3. Why NFP is to be preferred to all others.

4. Why NFP is also sin (this point was added at my suggestion).

I am under the assumption that the biblical arguments against all forms of contraception will be presented when we reach point #4. Your last post shows the danger of following this prescribed line of reasoning.

I still believe that the biblical arguments against all forms of birth control need to be addressed first. Otherwise intelligent people such as yourself, who have not been thus convinced by Scripture, see the points which are currently being made on this blog as pietistic extrabiblical rules and regulations.

If Scripture prohibits all forms of birth control, then discussions about which form would be acceptable for Christians is simply foolish. That is, unless we are talking about the rare circumstances in which casuistry might indicate contraception would be the lesser evil (just as early abortion is the lesser evil in cases of tubal pregnancies). In such rare cases (if they truly exist) I would not hold up any of the non-abortifacient means above another, including sterilization, except in how successful they are at lowering the deadly risk of such a conception.

Blessings, and thanks for your participation here!

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

RMConner asks:

"Yet the instances of infertility that you cite are natural/God-ordained--shouldn't we make a distinction between that and the deliberate choice to introduce a barrier (much less possible abortifacient) into the marital act?"

Yes, there is a difference, and that difference needs separate discussion. But the question you asked is whether contraception demotes the good of procreation beneath the good of fellowship. I was pointing out that the good of fellowship _already_ has a huge upper hand if we're going to connect importance to frequency, because every sex act contributes to the marital bond, while only a small percentage are even potentially procreative.

In other words, we can't use a quantitative measure to determine whether we are privileging one good of marriage above another.

Eric Phillips said...

rmgc,

There's a significant difference between the pastor and the parent in your analogy, in that the pastor doesn't have to worry whether he makes enough money to provide for all the people he baptizes.

Eric Phillips said...

JConner says,

"I do not believe it is possible to be open to procreation 'in principle' while using contraception in practice."

Well, it certainly is. There are thousands of couples out there who are contracepting for the present, but would welcome a baby if one unexpectedly showed up. And there are thousands more who would be upset at first, but quickly get used to the idea. And of course, I wasn't even talking about those situations. I was talking about people who contracept for a few years and then stop, or who use it to space their children. Obviously _they_ are open to procreation, or they would contracept all the time.

JConner again:

"A sexual union in which contraception is used and thus in which the procreative good is actively thwarted is not a one flesh union at all."

Huh? The two become one flesh when they join together. That is the clear meaning of the metaphor.

JConner once more:

"Contraception (as a means) actively subverts the progress of sex toward its end and completely detaches the procreative and unitive goods of marriage. NFP (as a means), however, is never contraceptive."

1. Contraception attempts to prevent ONE of the ends of sex, not all three.

2. It "detaches the procreative and unitive goods" only while it is being used. Over the course of most marriages, that certainly does not amount to a "complete" separation. Otherwise there wouldn't, you know, be any kids.

3. NFP is 100% contraceptive. It's the only reason anyone ever uses it. There isn't a shred of difference between pouring my seed into a condom, and purposefully waiting until my wife is infertile to pour it into her. Both "separate the procreative and the unitive good" to the same extent and in the same way.

Caspar said...

Correction of fact,

NFP is contraceptive when it is used for the purpose of preventing conception. That is not the only reason anyone ever uses it. NFP is also an excellent technique to use for procreating in that it identifies the fertile period for the sowing of seed!

Caspar

Tina said...

Lauren, point taken. Perhaps a better phrasing would be that the church has made #4 'optional', much as the way the world has made the other 3 points optional. But I don't think God made any of them optional. And if we concede children are optional and can be a part of the act or not at our choosing, why not marriage or male/female?

And I'm not sure we're talking of the same thing when we say 'how often'. I was referring to how often a man and wife come together, but I believe you were referring to how often they allow that joining to result in children.

My point was, that if they decide to come together (just as when we decide to commune), it seems we should do so in the way God intended for it to be. Whether that means we are *naturally* fertile at the time or not.

I guess that's where I see a potential difference in NFP and other contraceptives. It alone does not attempt to alter (or work against) the natural condition of the woman's fertility. It allows one to not take advantage of it (or to purpose to take advantage of it as Caspar pointed out), but it accepts it for what it is. I would agree that in motive, it is (if used to prevent the joining of sperm and egg) completely contraception.

(In anticipation that my phrase 'natural condition of the woman's fertility' be construed to mean that I don't believe an infertile woman should seek any treatment-it doesn't mean that at all. Infertility is a result of the fall and medicine is a legitimite use--to a point--in trying to restore our bodies closer to the way God intended them).

jconner said...

Eric,
Thanks for your reply.

Obviously, we don’t agree on everything, but that’s what makes this blog great. We have the opportunity to discuss freely and openly where we differ.

I agree with you that people may come around to the idea of children if they _unexpectedly showed up_. However, I still can’t see how a couple can be open to children if they are actively taking steps to prevent them. I don’t understand how a couple can honestly say, “We’re open to children, but we’re doing everything we can to prevent them.”

Even the couple who uses contraceptives to space children I have questions about. Janet Smith, who is well known for her lectures on contraceptives, ask a useful question in this regard (and this is from memory, so not an exact quote), she asks, “If you don’t want to go to Cleveland, why are you on the train?” In other words, “If you don’t want babies, why are you having sex?”

As for the one flesh union: I don’t see how the two can truly join together if they place a barrier between them.

And in regards to contraceptives and NFP as means, I think we were talking past one another. I agree with you that the end result may be no children and that the motive or reason for using them may be the same, but that wasn’t my point. I was focusing on the means. NFP as a means is not contraceptive. When a couple using NFP wishes to delay pregnancy, they abstain from sex. In order for a means to be contraceptive, a couple has to engage in sex. Therefore, NFP as a means is not contraceptive.

Also, you hit the nail on the head when you said _ Contraception attempts to prevent ONE of the ends of sex _. This is the problem with contraception as a means; it separates/prevents one (and I would argue more than one) of the ends of sex. You also said _ It "detaches the procreative and unitive goods" only while it is being used _. Exactly, which is why it shouldn’t be used.

Dave has written a more on this in a new post, so perhaps it would be useful to continue the discussion there.

JConner

Eric Phillips said...

Caspar,

That's true, but it wasn't the way JConner was using the term.

Eric Phillips said...

Tina,

If I jump out of a plane, I don't want to go down "the way God intended." I want the option of a parachute.

Heck, if we let the natural design govern things just because it was the natural design, we wouldn't have planes at all.

Eric Phillips said...

JConner,

"I don’t understand how a couple can honestly say, 'We’re open to children, but we’re doing everything we can to prevent them.' "

It's not hard. There are plenty of bachelors, for instance, who avoid the social situations where they might meet women, but would still happily fall in love if the opportunity reached out and grabbed them by the back of the neck.

“If you don’t want to go to Cleveland, why are you on the train?” In other words, “If you don’t want babies, why are you having sex?”

Um... Maybe because the train also goes to Columbus? Or Toledo? How many goods of marriage are there again?

And again, you inistence that the means of NFP are not contraceptive makes no sense at all. I don't even know what that statement could mean. Contraception is an _end_, not a _means_. If your intention is to avoid children, then you are contracepting plain and simple, no matter what method you're using to achieve that result.

rmgc said...

Eric,

Then wouldn't God have said, "Be fruitful and multiply as long as you have what you perceive to be a steady and sufficient income?" And, eg, shouldn't a pastor have enough time to hear all the confessions of every baptized person in his parish? Every person baptized into his flock becomes his spiritual responsibility ("Feed my sheep"); why not keep the numbers reasonable? rmgc

(A happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception to all, btw.)

Tina said...

Jumping out of a plane without a parachute has an end that is 'bad' (a badly mangled body or death). Having sex without a condom has a (possible) end that God proclaims 'good' (a baby). Scripture claims in many places that children are a 'blessing' and a 'reward'. I've never seen a situation where they are 'bad'. In fact, the Israelites were quite prolific in many circumstances that we would feel quite justified in contracepting--slavery, under the threat of having their boys killed and in bondage to an enemy to name a few.

Your analogy is faulty because the 2 things being compared are more different than similar.

Tina

Eric Phillips said...

Tina,

You're confusing two different arguments. The argument that children are good, and therefore we should not try to avoid them, is different from the argument that conception naturally follows sex, and it is rebellion against God to tamper with nature. The first argument has some merit. The second argument has none at all, and the first one cannot be called upon to bail it out.

Eric Phillips said...

rmgc asks,

"Then wouldn't God have said, "Be fruitful and multiply as long as you have what you perceive to be a steady and sufficient income?"

Uh, maybe if God were a lawyer...

And another difference between the pastor and the parent is, people can go days--weeks--at a time without confession or counseling, etc. Children can't go without food that long.

One more thing: Lutherans don't believe in the immaculate conception.

rmgc said...

Eric,

Such a grump. I never said I did either. ;) But as long as we're talking about it, Luther did (personal prayer book 1522, also Von Schem Hamphoras 1543).

Shouldn't have gotten pulled into your standard trick of changing ground in a debate (not your argument, but the position from which you're making it), and just pointed out that I brought it up as a potentially informative parallel. Naturally I didn't expect you to agree.

Back to my Feasting,
rmgc

Tina said...

Eric, if my argument is faulty because it confuses the outcome with the event, then so is yours. There is nothing inherently wrong with jumping out of a plane without a parachute. In fact, it might be somewhat pleasant at first--kind of a rush. It is the end, the sudden stop, the natural conclusion, that makes the jump without a parachute "bad".

Also, you added a straw man in that you exaggerated my position to say it is rebellion against God to tamper with nature in any and every situation. That is not what I said. But I do think there is a difference in tampering with our bodies when they are functioning correctly, and strapping a parachute on.

And finally, you said earlier:

"There's a significant difference between the pastor and the parent in your analogy, in that the pastor doesn't have to worry whether he makes enough money to provide for all the people he baptizes."

According to scripture and our Lutheran confessions, we don't have to 'worry' about this either. "He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life." Wouldn't he richly and daily provide for the children He gives us? Isn't *worry* really unbelief?

jconner said...

Eric,

I have posted my reply to you in the _Let's Get Physical_ section. Please go there to continue the discussion.

J.Conner

Lauren said...

Tina,
Yes, God provides for us...through means. The means by which children are supported is through the occupation of a parent(s) by which they earn a paycheck. Are we worrying, or not trusting in God, when we have plan out our budget, put money in savings, and have health insurance? Rather, you are simply making the best use of the gifts God has given. I think that is the point being made.

Tina said...

Lauren, no those things are good to do. As long as we don't rely on our budget, savings and life insurance as our provisions. They are the "means" God uses to provide for us. But, having budgeted personally and professionally, I know they are notoriously fallible.

My point was, can we see the future? We may, with the information we have now, think that we cannot afford a child. But we cannot see 9 months down the road, or 5 years, to know what our financial position will be then. By the same token, we may think we are perfectly positioned to add to our family, and then lose a job.

But, if we believe in a God who knows how to give good gifts to His children, and the Bible proclaims children as good gifts and blessings. Is it possible for God to give us a child that will hurt or harm us? They might test us, stretch us, and drive us to our knees when we realize we don't have the strength to do the task God has given us. But is that bad? Perhaps that is the very thing God intends.

Tina

Eric Phillips said...

Tina,

Actually, jumping out of a plane without a parachute _is_ inherently bad. It is inherently suicide, which is bad.

You claim,
"Also, you added a straw man in that you exaggerated my position to say it is rebellion against God to tamper with nature in any and every situation. That is not what I said."

It isn't? Let me quote you:
"...God has joined procreation to the sex act.... If we separate that which He has joined, are we sinning against what He has created?"

That argument doesn't make any sense unless you are assuming that it is inherently wrong to contravene nature.

Caspar said...

Lauren,

Making the best use of the gift of Children is called "bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." [Eph. 6:4] Contraception is simply refusing what God wishes to give you. Those who budget their money still would accept all that God desires to bless them with. Those who use contraception wish to limit what God blesses them with.

There's a big difference between making the best of what God gives you and asking him not to give you so much.

Caspar

Pr. David Rufner said...

Great discussion here, but is anyone willing to engage the original content of the post?

Eric Phillips said...

David,

See the first post in this comments section.