12.13.2005

Discussion Pt. # 3.

It appears time to keep the discussion moving along - though we will certainly rehash even previous posts in the time to come. This then brings us to Discussion Pt. # 3.

Make a thee-part case for NFP:

a. What distinguishes NFP from contraceptives?

b. Put forth a case on how to respond to those who level the objection that NFP is no different than contracepting because the married couple is still exercising their will over God' (There are certainly different variations on this objection, sometimes put in question form).

c. Make a case based upon 3a. and 3b. why NFP is to be preferred.

I invite all contributors to author original posts on the topic and I look forward to the comments from the readers of this blog as our discussion continues.

13 comments:

Sarah said...

This is a great topic. It seems that those who see no difference between NFP and contraception cannot hear the argument and those who view NFP not as contraception cannot understand why those who do. I am interested to see how this discussion turns out.


I, for one, see sexual intercourse as an act of the human will that can and often leads to the creation of new life. Prior to being married, I was completely protected against pregnancy because I did not engage in this behavior. If we do not have intercourse then we cannot get pregnant, simple as that. However, when we use contraceptive devices we engage in sex, but remove its natural procreative elements, thus changing God's design. By abstaining we do not change God's design, but rather work with it. Anyhow...

Caspar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Caspar said...

I have just reposted my comments due to a typographical error I found.

Pr. Rufner,

Let me address these points from my perspective:

a. The intercourse which does occur is SUPPOSEDLY open to the possibility of procreation.


b. Let me better clarify the objection from my own viewpoint.

1. NFP is contraceptive.

The intercourse which does occur happens intentionally only on the (approximately) 25 days of the month when the wife is almost certainly not open to life. Seed is intentionally being sown only on infertile soil, which is no different from the sin of Onan. Properly practiced NFP is the most effective method of preventing conception available today. As a method, it is contraceptive (against conception), even if the couple deludes themselves into believing that they are open to life on the other 25 days of the month. They don't just decide to use NFP on the five days of the month when the wife is fertile. NFP requires daily attention and forethought. Everyone (yes, including myself) falls into sin when it comes to the issue of procreation (sometimes I don't desire another child, even though I do not practice any overt birth control). There is not a single aspect of God's law that we are capable of keeping perfectly. But there is a big difference between falling into sin, and living in sin. Purposefully employing a contraceptive method which requires daily attention and affirmation is premeditated contraception, lived in constantly.

2. NFP violates 1 Corinthians 7:5.

I will post the evidence for this as a separate exegetical post. Let me just summarize that this verse prohibits abstinence for any purpose other than for the purpose of fasting and prayer, and must be by mutual consent. The purpose of abstinence in NFP is the fact that the couple desires to avoid the conception of a child, even if they secondarily engage in a special period of prayer (which some of my RC friends do).


c. NFP is only morally superior to abortifacient birth control methods, and this only if casuistry requires the use of contraception. I see no difference in the intended action and heart of those using barrier methods, spermicide, or withdrawal. Actually, if they know the scientific facts, those who use the these methods are more open to life than those who use NFP. The use of barrier methods, spermicide, or withdrawal leads to many more conceptions than NFP. These methods also may represent a falling into sin rather than the living in sin which NFP always represents.

Again, all these questions melt away if one is convinced that Scripture prohibits family planning, which always employs the use of some method against conception at a given period of time. I am anxious to present the biblical evidence of the prohibition of all family planning, but I go on vacation tomorrow (actually, the next day I will check in here late because I go to an out-of-town clerical Confessions study group every third Thursday of the month with my pastor and then return to work for a couple hours). I intend to begin this exegetical excercise with all of our readers in January as time permits.

P.S. Pr. Rufner, I hope you will consider attending the Confessions study at Hope Lutheran Church in Dewitt Thursday at 10:00am.

Caspar (Erich)

12/13/2005 5:46 PM

Eric Phillips said...

Caspar's got the goods on NFP. I don't agree with him that contraception is a sin, but there can be no doubt that NFP is contraception.

And I hadn't considered before how NFP violates I Cor. 7:5, and how using a condom actually _increases_ the chances of conception relative to NFP. Good points.

Sarah said...

But NFP doesn't change the sex act, it is just that no sex takes place. The means to the same end can have differing levels of morality.

I am concerned about the Temple of the Holy Spirit when talking about this debate. The Pill is dishonoring the Temple because it alters otherwise normally functioning hormonal systems of women. Anyhow, that is my take on it.

Eric Phillips said...

If you can dishonor the Temple chemically, then can you dishonor it by eating sugar and processed foods, or by smoking a pipe?

As for "changing the sex act," NFP does that also. It is not natural for every sex act to have zero procreative potential.

Caspar said...

Sarah,

You wrote: "The means to the same end can have differing levels of morality."

As I said in my comments, NFP is only morally superior to abortifacient birth control methods. Abortifacient methods potentially add the sin of murder to the sin of contraception.

Contraception isn't a sin "because it alters otherwise normally functioning hormonal systems of women." There are all kinds of sinless reasons to alter the hormonal system of women.

Contraception is sinful because it alters the system of procreation ordained by God in such a way as to prevent the primary purpose of this one flesh union. God says "be fruitful and multiply." Contracepting goes directly against this divine ordinance.

Others contend that a person can be fruitful even though she uses birth control in order for the couple to build up some income first, get ahead in their career, and/or buy a home, etc., as long as she still conceives at least one child later. As in the parable, God's Words to this person would be: "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you, then where will your earthly treasures be, and how will you produce the good fruit God desired in you?"

What fruit does God desire from women in the one-flesh union of marriage?

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Malachi 2:15 And why one? He [God] seeks godly offspring.

1 Timothy 2:15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

Martin Luther on 1 Tim. 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)

Psalm 127:

3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Devona said...

Eric,

I am forseeing that you will end up in complete agreement with Caspar. Haha, I could be wrong. But I was an English Major, so I'm big on dramatic irony. Right now I'm letting the audience in on the future, when you and Caspar say "amen" even though neither of you can see it now.

Sarah said...

I don't see that contraception is always a sin.

The Pill, for example, dishonors the Temple and changes the sex act, not to mention may cause abortion. I think we can all agree on that.

NFP does not alter the act, it does not dishonor the Temple.

I think the "sin" comes in with our reasons for contracepting. Not "feeling ready" is very different than being in the middle of a war, for example, and things not being safe to have a child.

My husband and I have no reason to contracept, even though many folks think us "not ready" since we have only been married 2 months.

I would agree with whomever said that "Be fruitful and multiply" is a blessing rather than a command.

Caspar said...

Sarah,

"I don't see" and "I think" are weak premises from which to make conclusions. In order to conclude that contraception is or isn't always sinful, we need to examine the Word of God, the source of Truth. I am convinced by God's Word that contraception is always sinful. I have studied God's Word extensively on this subject, and I have also studied the consistent exegesis of theologians throughout Christian history on this subject.

Perhaps you will see that God's law prohibits contraception once the biblical evidence and historical support of its exegesis is presented here sometime in January.

It was not until the last century that theologians began interpreting Scripture as silent on the issue. The history of that change shows that it was in direct response to the demands of the cultural sentiments stimulated by feminism and the eugenics movement, with Margaret Sanger as the principle mover and shaker of the protestant denominations.

The conservative LCMS was the sole hold-out on this for a while. It was not until LCMS theologian Alfred Rehwinkle, an admirer of Sanger, began advocating birth control in his writings that the LCMS began to cave-in. This position was finally put forth in the 1983 CTCR document on human sexuality, although it was never adopted as the official position of the LCMS.

There are still some theologians and pastors in the LCMS who maintain the historic Christian position on contraception. God praise them for their loyalty to the Word of God and to our fathers throughout history who passed down the proper doctrine of procreation from all antiquity.

Once one sees all the evidence, to believe contraception is not a grave sin is nothing less than to believe that Christians came to understand God's law properly only in the last century, and that it took the likes of Margaret Sanger to show us the light.

Modern theologians claim that they have finally interpreted the Bible correctly on the issue of baptism. They ask us to show where the Bible says to baptize infants. We ask them to show us where the Bible excludes infants and show them the 2000 year history of the Christian church in baptizing them.

Well, the same argument is made by modern theologians regarding procreation. They ask us to show them where the Bible says that all people are commanded to "be fruitful and multiply and to become great in number."

As to the fact that this divine ordinance applies to all marriages of fertile couples, let us again listen to Luther, who writes:

"For this word which God speaks, 'Be fruitful and multiply,' is not a command. It is more than a command, namely, a divine ordinance which it is not our prerogative to hinder or ignore. Rather, it is just as necessary as the fact that I am a man , and more necessary than sleeping and waking, eating and drinking, and emptying the bowels and bladder. It is a nature and disposition just as innate as the organs involved in it. Therefore, just as God does not command anyone to be a man or a woman but created them the way they have to be, so he does not command them to multiply but creates them so that they have to multiply. And wherever men try to resist this, it remains irresistible nonetheless and goes its way through fornication, adultery, and secret sins, for this is a matter of nature and not of choice.

In the third place, from this ordinance of creation God has himself exempted three categories of men, saying in Matthew 19:12, 'There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.' Apart from these three groups, let no man presume to be without a spouse. And whoever does not fall within one of these three categories should not consider anything except the estate of marriage. Otherwise it simply impossible for you to remain righteous. For the Word of God which created you and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply,' abides and rules within you; you can by no means ignore it, or you will be bound to commit heinous sins without end."


[AE 45, p. 18]

So, yes, there are a select few who have been exempted from this divine ordinance: eunuchs (i.e. those with the gift of celibacy). To all the rest, the divine ordinance applies. When God speaks his Word, it applies to everyone except those he specifically exempts from it.

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

That's some good irony, Devona. Not good foreshadowing, but good irony.

Sarah said...

Caspar- I see you live in Hillsdale. I graduated from Hillsdale College in 2000!

neat-o

Caspar said...

Sarah,

Actually, it is my beggarsall blog partner, "Tim the Beggar," who is a Hillsdale resident. I live in Marshall, Michigan, always have and probably always will. My great-grandfather brought our family here when he was called to Zion Lutheran Church here in Marshall in 1896. He was pastor of our church for 50 years, through two world wars.

I have another good friend you likely knew of at Hillsdale, Dr. Mark Kalthoff, chair of the history department and currently dean of faculty at Hillsdale College.

It is an honor for you, and tribute to you, to have graduated from Hillsdale College. I am quite sure you received a thorough and splendid education in the western tradition.

Caspar