1.20.2006

I thought I'd post these questions here, since I can

Caspar, I agree with you on so many levels. I want to say that first.

We are pregnant with number two right now, and Liv is only 15 months old. And like Rob has said before, he came from a family of 7. And for the most part I intend to use extended breastfeeding as a means to space children, since this is both what is best for my body and for my babies. In fact, I have heard that with every year that you breast feed your risk of cancer is decreased. And the decrease is a dramatic one when you go from year four to year five (I'm not the kind of person who keeps these sorts of things for future reference, so you'll just have to take my word for it, I read it somewhere.)

I guess my only concerns with the whole of your argument are the two questions which will follow. They are disjointed and fragmented since I have only been married for two years and haven't spent any time before engagement thinking about these issues. This is all new to me.

Also, I apologize but I have not read your last post in depth since I am deathly ill and exhausted with morning (all day) sickness. I promise I will get to it. These questions have been burning in my head and it kept me up from 2:30 to 5 am last night, and I just needed to ask.

Anyways... My first question:

Is it sinful (since you propose that all contraception is sinful) to contracept in order to adopt, in your opinion? The adoption process takes up to two years, and even longer if you intend to do so internationally. One of the stipulations of most, if not all adoption agencies is that you cannot become pregnant during the adoption process.

This isn't just some far fetched out there question to slip you up. I very much desire to adopt internationally. In order to do so most countries require that you have 4 or less natural children. So I will be at four children around 30, God willing, and far from done with my fertile years. In order to adopt I will need to contracept for at least two years.

If this is not a sin, then what other circumstances are not sinful contraception?

If it is a sin, and just "the lesser of two evils" then that leads me to my next question:

When one says something is less of a sin than another thing, aren't we just comparing specks and logs?

It sounds like the guy in the temple thanking God that at least he's not like that tax collector. "Sure I sin God, it's unavoidable, but I always try to choose the lesser of two evils."

I do not mean to be sarcastic. I agreed with you at first, but the more I think about these things the more what your saying sounds to me like a sort of negative pietism (which I say with the most respect that I can).

Thanks for the deviation from your systematic argument... We can now continue with your regularly scheduled blog...

12 comments:

P. Softly said...

What type of "answers" do you come up with when you pray about this? It makes more sense to me to pray for guidance than to ask another human.

Having adopted two children internationally, I can tell you that it takes less time to do that than to adopt domestically, unless one wants older children with handicaps or social problems. I am not trying to say that these are "lesser" children, but that they take special parents. And I am of the opinion, for myself only, that regular parenting is hard enough. But it depends on one's situation, one's spouse, one's income, and one's health insurance. And the health insurance is a big one if you have a child (by any means) who has problems.

Adopting internationally adds a special dimention to the family, but it adds complications as well. It takes more time and money to engage in the cultural issues regarding the foreign country, and possibly to travel to that country. The parents have to be able to give the kids some of their foreign culture so that they are not just American kids on the inside even though they may look different on the outside. They have to be prepared for racial issues if necessary.

Agencies ask their clients to use "birth control" because they want the people to be committed to the adopted child. They would prefer that you committ wholeheartedly, which could mean that if a couple has been infertile and is in the midst of adoption, but finds out they are pregnant, and then they back out of the adoption, then they weren't really committed to the adoption, ie the birth child seems like a better choice.

I've always felt that scripture confirms what we observe: that people have different talents and strengths. Also different circumstances. I don't see how it is possible to know ahead how we would deal with X number of children when we are at the point of having only none or one.

Having kids is a great, incredible, perilous, scarey journey. You can't plan it ahead. God be with you: step by step.

Caspar said...

Thanks for the questions, Devona. BTW, every member of this blog is free to post whatever, irrespective of my systematic argument. You need not consider your post a deviation. This is all one big interconnected subject. I'm just glad to finally get to the heart of the matter.

Now, to answer your questions, yes I believe contraception is always a sin.

You then ask: If it is a sin, and just "the lesser of two evils" then that leads me to my next question:

When one says something is less of a sin than another thing, aren't we just comparing specks and logs?


I do not believe the lesser evil makes it a lesser sin. There are no lesser sins. The one you choose just happens to cause less earthly evil. If you break the law in one small part, you have broken the entire Law. The one who chooses the lesser evil does not congratulate himself. He throws himself on God's mercy!

And, yes, it is negative pietism. It is the exact opposite of pietism to recognize that we cannot fulfil any of God's law, even in the smallest letter of it. Does this mean that we go ahead and sin all the more so that grace may abound? NO! We flee from sin. And when we flee from it, we flee to the Cross.

Good questions. I hope those answers help.

Blessings,

Caspar

Caspar said...

P.S.,

Sorry about your pregnancy sickness. My wife had it bad for the first two trimesters this time around, and not just in the morning.

Blessings to you,

Caspar

Anonymous said...

I am wondering about another aspect of the broader issue of "family planning" which is the other way to look at so called contraception and so called birth control, which doesn't control birth at all.

If there is something wrong with contraception, such as going against God's order, wouldn't it also be wrong to plan when to have children and how far apart to space them? Or think WE can plan this? [Not to many people I know of actually had any "control" over this irregardless of their view of or use of "birth control."]

Would it not also be wrong for a husband to want sex with a wife who suffers during pregnancy? Or with a wife who turns out isn't really a very good mother?

Would it not make more sense to abstain from sex as the most natural form of contraception?

Caspar said...

"Would it not also be wrong for a husband to want sex with a wife who suffers during pregnancy?"

Are there women who don't suffer during pregnancy? As I understand Scripture, the penalties of pain and tribulation in childbearing will continue until judgment. Are there men who, if they support their children, do not do it through blood, sweat, and tears? That penalty also remains.

"Or with a wife who turns out isn't really a very good mother?"

God calls us to be parents. If you have children, you are called to be a parent. He never said we'd be "very good" at it, or necessarily even like it. He also didn't say that only those who are thought of as being good at it should have children.

Because of original sin, we all fail miserably as parents - just as we fail miserably at living up to the perfection God's Law requires in all areas of life. Thanks be to God for the imputation of Christ's righteousness!

Caspar

Anonymous said...

God also gives us many other talents and duties and the parable tells us not to bury our talents, etc. So if a woman (or man, for that matter) ignores her God given talents, she would be the unwise servant. In certain situations, for the woman to be "stuck" home would be to ignore the Gifts God has given to her. I know of many women who have been able to figure out a work situation that enables them to follow the calling God has given them in a job, often part time, as tell as their calling to be mothers, spending lots of time with their children.

We also need to confront the fact of life: if we do too much for our children or for our husbands, they actually aren't served, but become spoiled and selfish. Some husbands not only work outside the home, but go off on other jaunts a lot, because the mother has the role of child rearing. That father is actually less of a father than he could be if he had more responsibility in the home. [Likewise, pastors who do too much for their parishioners (the "do it all pastors") prevent them from growing into the Servants that Jesus calls us all to be.]

These problems can appear when we follow some rule that we inherit rather than seeking God's will in a particular situation. I think we sin when we tell someone that they can't do something that he/she clearly know is God's calling, confirmed by other Christians. When God calls, He doesn't let go; He is patient, but persistant.

I am, BTW, a SAHM (stay at home mom), who has been able to follow a number of calls through the years, working out a balance for my family's needs. Currently, I am the cook for the youth groups, which I KNOW is God's call because I felt His nudge during a church service AND especially because this job is so far from what I would normally comfortably volunteer for, that I know I didn't come to it by selfish desire.

So I guess my point is that Christian or not, I don't think it is right to prescribe a role for other people.

Caspar said...

Would it be OK with you if God prescribed a role for people?

Anonymous said...

When I write something I can't tell if it taking or going into a cyber wastebasket....

Answer: Yes, God gives each of us many roles to follow in life.

I have taken on some of the roles he has give me with joy, others with reluctance. Some I've tried to ignore but then I'm sorry. Some roles seem obvious, some are revealed step by step. Some come at certain seasons in life, some are life long.

I've been blessed to have learned to hear God's calling a number of times. This also helps me to say No when people want me to do something that I don't think I'm called to do. I know when God is nudging me about something because it is usually something completely out of my normal thought pattern, but it is there and it is strong. And in retrospect, I see the blessings that have resulted. Also the hard work. !!!!

I am a wife, mother, grandmother. I have been married 33 years, used ABC only at first, but it made me feel ill, been pregnant twice, given birth once, and I'm mother to three children. I've held at least 12 positions at my church, and I am currently supporting a school for needy children (AIDS orphans) in Africa. God has richly blessed me.

Caspar said...

Anonymous,

"I've been blessed to have learned to hear God's calling a number of times. This also helps me to say No when people want me to do something that I don't think I'm called to do. I know when God is nudging me about something because it is usually something completely out of my normal thought pattern, but it is there and it is strong."

This position of yours is called "entusiasm."

"In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon, and it is the source, strength, and power of all heresy, including that of the papacy and Mohammedanism. Accordingly, we should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through his external Word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word and sacrament is of the devil (In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon, and it is the source, strength, and power of all heresy, including that of the papacy and Mohammedanism. Accordingly, we should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal with us except through his external Word and sacrament. Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word and sacrament is of the devil." [Smalcald Articles Part III, Article VIII, 313.9-10]

I always shudder when I hear someone claim they have learned to hear God's voice outside of the divine Word.

According to God's Word, which I am in the midst of presenting on this blog, I hope to show that if you do not have the gift of celibacy you are called to marriage, and that if you are called to marriage you are called to give your body to your spouse, through which you are called to parenthood if and when God chooses to bless that one-flesh union with a new life.

Caspar

Anonymous said...

I did not say I heard God's voice; I said I heard his call. A difference. Calls are almost always confirmed by other Christians. I have also done things in my life deliberately NOT praying about them because I didn't want the answer to be NO. I was very stubborn. In those cases, I've suffered for this.

Are you not in your profession or marriage, etc. because God had a part in putting you in those places? Or maybe you just did this on your own, without prayer? Is being a dentist mentioned in the Bible?

Is praying only a one way street? Why pray if we aren't "listening?" See Psalm 46, especially verse 10. This involves listening.

I've found it interesting that you quote others, theologians, etc. especially Luther, (whom I hold in high esteem also, but not equal to the Bible), but your final statement is that we don't hear God apart from his Word and the sacraments. If so, why quote any theologians or pastors? Why listen to a sermon? Why participate in liturgy if it isn't straight out of the Bible? Does a pastor only read the Bible and give communion when he visits a grieving person? Of course not. And yes, we have the right and duty to check anything a pastor says against the Bible. See 1 Cor.: 1-3.

Peerhaps it would be right to ask you a fundamental question: Do you believe that God is STILL working in the world?

Anonymous said...

That was supposed to be 1 Cor 8: 1 - 3.

Caspar said...

This is turning into a red herring. Let's get back to the point.

You said you don't think it is right to prescribe a role for other people.

I asked if you thought it would be alright if God prescribed a role for people.

You answered yes, but have explained that you believe the way people should hear God's prescription of a role is through learning to hear God's call through prayer.

My contention is that we must first look to God's Word and see if our roles are prescribed there. Of course there is a place for prayer in cases of casuistry, but we hear God's voice in the only certain way through his Word.

In contrast, you said: "I know when God is nudging me about something." You can never be sure if it is God or Satan who is nudging you unless you look to the Word and/or for confirmation through his appointed means of confirmation (ordination, marriage, etc.).

So, let us look to the Word to see if God prescribes a role for us regarding procreation. THAT is the subject of this blog, not your mission work, etc.

This discussion is continuing in the posts since this one. I believe this question will be answered in the progression of those arguments.

Caspar