It appears the NFP discussion has stalled for the time being. Let us now begin where I think this entire blog should have started: the greater biblical argument against ALL forms of family planning (a.k.a. "birth control"). Stated in the positive form, this is the biblical doctrine of procreation.
For purposes of this discussion, let's lump all "birth control" methods into one term: "family planning" (a.k.a. "planned parenthood"). This term includes "natural" family planning (NFP) and other non-abortifactient contraceptive methods (e.g. barrier, withdrawal, and spermicide), all potentially abortifacient contraceptives (e.g. hormonal and IUD), voluntary abortion, whether chemically or surgically induced, and voluntary sterilization. These all are "means." But the problem of sin is a problem of the heart.
The sin of family planning in the heart is believing we have a right to "plan" our families, whether that is 12, 6, 3, 2, or no children, and a right to have sexual pleasure without the burden of children popping up whenever God desires them to. This is where the sin of "contraception" begins in the heart, and then it bursts forth in a plethora of acts of of immorality, from masturbation to sodomy and even murder (abortion), all because we think we have a right to sexual pleasure without the possibility of procreation. The reasons given by Christians to justify the planning (or banning) of one's family are almost always based upon myths, selfishness, materialism, hedonism (love of pleasure), convenience, or postmodern reasoning, and may indicate a distrust of God and His Word.
Those who look at the subject of family planning only from the perspective of "means" miss the point of this sin entirely, because they are looking at actions rather than at what the state of the heart is. As I tried to explain in the immediately previous post which was limited to NFP, the problem of sin is not the sin itself, but the condition of one's heart. Whoever keeps the Law outwardly and yet stumbles at just one point in his heart is guilty of breaking the ENTIRE Law. What you do certainly matters, but if you look at actions in isolation from the heart, the outside of the cup may look clean while the inside is filthy.
The title of this blog is "Lutherans and Contraception." So, now let us investigate what God has to say about the matter of procreation from a Lutheran perspective of Scripture. I would like to present the entire biblical evidence first in short form in this post and then move through it point by point in subsequent posts according to individual biblical arguments.
The best brief presentation of the historical biblical position from a confessional Lutheran position I have ever seen is the doctrinal statement of the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation (LCR). I will now present it here, unaltered, as it was adopted by them at their 1989 convention:
God is the Creator of all human life (Gen. 30:2; 1 Sam. 2:5f; 2 Kgs. 5:7; Acts 17:25,28) and desires to create spiritual life in all sinful human beings, that everyone come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Married couples1 should reproduce in observance of the following Biblical principles:
1. The command of God to be "fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28; 9:1,17; 35:11; 1 Tim. 5:10,14; AC XXIII, #5 & 8, Triglot p. 612; AP XXIII, #7-8, Trigl. p. 365-73; LC 6th Comm., # 207, Trigl., p. 6394).
2. Children are a blessing from the Lord (Gen. 1:28; 15:2-5; 17:5f.; 24:60; 33:5; 48:9; 49:25; Lev. 26:9; Deut. 28:4; Josh. 24:3; Ruth 4:11f.; Psalm 107:38; 127:3-5; 128:3-6; 147:13; Prov. 5:18; 17:6; LC 4th Comm., # 105, Trigl. p. 6115).
3. It is God who opens or closes the womb (Gen 16:1-2; 17:15-19; 20:18; 21:1-2; 25:21; 29:31; 30:2-6, 23f; Deut. 32:18; Lev. 20:20f; Judg. 13:3; Ruth 4:13; 1 Sam. l:19f; 2:21; Job 10:8-12; Psalm 22:9-10; 113:9; 139:13-16; Eccles. 11:5; Isa. 8:18; 43:1,7; 44:2,24; 49:1,5; 66:9; Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:36f, 57f; Heb. 11:11).
4. Having children is a good work for Christians (1 Tim. 2:15; AP XXIII, #32, Trigl. p. 3736).
5. Christians are to be mindful that they are not only to be fruitful and populate the earth, but they are to bring up their children as Christians and thus populate heaven (Prov. 3:21f.; 4:3f., 20-22; Mk. 10:13-16; Acts 2:38f.; Eph. 6:1,4; Heb. 2:10).
6. In Scripture barrenness is regarded as an affliction (Gen. 11:30; 15:2; 16:2; 18:11f.; 25:21; 30:1,22f.; 1 Sam. 1:2,5-7,l0f.; Prov. 30:15f; Luke 1:7,24f.,58).
7. There are many examples in Scripture of fruitful parents among the godly (Gen. 3:20; 4:1,25; 5:4; 24:60; 30:1-24; Judg. 13:2f; Job 1:2; 42:13-16).
8. The Word of God prohibits us to "put asunder" marriage (Matt. 19:4-6), including its purposes (1 Cor. 7:2,5; Gen. 2:24).
9. The Bible exhibits the wrath of God upon those who defy His will (Gen. 38:8-10; Exod. 21:22; Rom. 1:18).
10. God desires that we put our trust in Him in all matters, also in His will and ability to provide for the children that He gives us (Exod. 23:20,26; Psalm 30:7; 37:25f.; Phil 4:13; 1 Pet. 5:7).
Pastors should counsel families both publicly and privately to observe these principles. The churches and ministers should not take it upon themselves to investigate the private practices of their members (Eighth Commandment). Refusal to reproduce should be treated first by patient instruction and counsel. Nevertheless, when a situation becomes a public scandal then evangelical discipline is in order (Matt. 18:17).
While we allow for exegetical differences and exceptional cases (casuistry), we must also maintain and teach the principles relating to this issue (Matt. 28:20; Acts 20:27). Such was the united teaching of Dr. Martin Luther and the "Old Missouri" fathers (C.F.W. Walther, F. Pieper, A.L. Graebner, C.M. Zorn, W.H.T. Dau, J.T. Mueller, W. Dallman, F. Bente, E.W.A. Koehler, L. Fuerbringer, T. Engelder, Th. Laetsch, G. Luecke, W.A. Maier, M.J. Naumann, et al.) and LCR leaders such as P.E. Kretzmann and W.H. McLaughlin.
The reasons given to justify the prevention of conception are often based upon myths, selfishness, materialism, hedonism (love of pleasure), convenience, usurpation of God's prerogative, or humanistic reasoning and generally indicate a distrust of the Almighty God and His Word.
1. The unmarried are not to reproduce, since they are unable to engage in legitimate sexual intercourse.
2. "God created man for procreation, Gen. 1:28 ... No man's law, no vow, can annul the commandment and ordinance of God."
3. "First. Gen. 1:28 teaches that men were created to fruitful and that one sex in a proper way should desire the other. For we are speaking not of concupiscence, which is sin, but of that appetite which was to have been in nature in its integrity, which they call physical love. And this love of one sex for the other is truly a divine ordinance. But since this ordinance of God cannot be removed without an extraordinary work of God, it follows that the right to contract marriage cannot be removed by statutes or vows.
"The adversaries cavil at these arguments; they say that in the beginning the commandment was given to replenish the earth, but that now since the earth has been replenished, marriage is not commanded. See how wisely they judge! The nature of men is so forced by the Word of God that it is fruitful not only in the beginning of the creation, but as long as this nature of our bodies will exist; just as the earth becomes fruitful by the word, Gen. 1:11: Let the earth bring forth grass, yielding seed. Because of this ordinance the earth not only commenced in the beginning to bring forth plants, but the fields are clothed every year as long as this natural order will exist. Therefore, just as by human laws the nature of the earth cannot be changed, so, without a special work of God, the nature of a human being can be changed neither by vows nor by human law (that a woman should not desire a man, nor a man a woman)."
4. "Therefore, He also wishes us to honor it (matrimony), and to maintain and conduct it as a divine and blessed estate; because, in the first place, He has instituted it before all others, and therefore created man and woman separately (as is evident), not for lewdness, but that they should (legitimately) live together, be fruitful, beget children, and nourish and train them to the honor of God."
5. "To this estate of fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction above all estates that are beneath it that He not simply commands us to love our parents, but to honor them. .. He separates and distinguishes father and mother above all other persons on earth, and places them at His side."
6. "...that woman is saved by the conjugal works themselves, by conjugal intercourse, by bearing children and other duties. But what does St. Paul mean? Let the reader observe that faith is added, and that domestic duties without faith are not praised. If they continue, he says, in faith. For he speaks of the whole class of mothers. Therefore he requires especially faith, by which a woman receives the remission of sins and justification... Thus the duties of the woman please God on account of faith, and the believing woman is saved who in such duties devoutly serves her calling."