1.24.2006

What Does This Mean?

"We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need."

Notice that the negatives are understood better from the perspective of the positives.

I believe it is safe to assume that most who are reading this blog already believe that there is something wrong with contraception, though it has become obvious that there are disagreements as to why. Is it simply a natural law matter of not separating the individual act of sexual relations from procreation, or are there even greater Christian principles involved here? What does God's Word say about it?

The Word addresses the issue we have been discussing on this blog mostly from the positive perspective of God's perfect will of fruitfulness rather than the violation of God's will. It should therefore be the primary intent of this study of Scripture to examine God's positive intent with regard to procreation. There is no possible way one could list all of the potential violations of that perfect will.

Just like in the explanation of the Commandments in Luther's Small Catechism, we better understand how to identify what we are forbidden to do by examining what we should be doing to fulfill God's will. For example, if we think of the Fifth Commandment only in the negative terms of murder, hurt, and anger, and all the things we could possibly do which are forbidden by this commandment, we miss the main point that what God means for us to do is to help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need.

If we are not fulfilling God's will in a positive sense, we are just as guilty of the negative violations of it as the murderer or the adulterer. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Did you ever notice how Luther's explanation of that commandment doesn't list any of the negatives we are to avoid? "We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse." If you understand the positive expectations, the innumerable negatives are readily recognized when they show themselves.

So, to better understand what we are NOT supposed to do according to God's will, let us first learn what God would have us do with regard to procreation. With that in mind, let's go ahead and follow the the evidence as presented in the LCR document. I will begin with point one in a subsequent post.

Any thoughts so far?

Blessings,

Caspar

3 comments:

P. Softly said...

If we are not to harm a neighbor, I assume that it would also mean to not harm a family member, especially a spouse. There are many ways that pregnancy can be harmful to a spouse, especially to the woman spouse. And repeat pregnancies can be very harmful in some cases. I don't see how this could be a supporting argument for no contraception. It would certainly be an argument FOR abstention from sex in certain cases.

So I don't understand your point, I guess.

I also don't understand your reply to anonymous regarding the woman suffering during pregnancy as something that has to happen. For a lot of women it is joyous. I taught childbirth classes so I know the ups and downs. But for certain circumstances, pregnancy is dangerous.

You seem to link this to the man having to support the family (supposed to support the family) and that being a kind of suffering. However, if the man or woman is truly discerning God's calling for him/her, then the particular job would probably not involve suffering. Well, yes, if the man, for example, was called to be a pastor, but the wife got pregnant three times in three years, so he had to go work in a factory, he might find that he wasn't following his calling, and so the factory work was a burden, maybe he would be suffering. But the woman who had a calling along with being a mother would also suffer if she was ignoring God's call.

Caspar said...

Pounding,

Yes, you have entirely missed the point of this post. What I have tried to explain here, using the example of Luther's Small Catechism, is that to better understand what we are NOT supposed to do according to God's will it is important first to learn what God would have us do. I'm trying to turn this discussion around to the positive rather than the negative until we have seen what God's perfect will is.

Of course we are not to "harm" our spouse, children, or neighbor. However, there is such a thing as just war, and we are told that if we spare the rod we will spoil the child. The fact that the penalty of pain still accompanies childbearing does not make the husband guilty of violating the fifth commandment when he impregnates his wife.

As for my answer in another post to anonymous, there is ALWAYS pain and danger in childbearing. This is a medical fact. Pregnancy is not a safe condition. Of course there is joy. Of course some pregnancies are more painful and dangerous than others. However, for the vast majority of recorded history pregnancy was exponentially more painful and dangerous than it is today. A high risk pregnancy today is relatively low risk compared to almost any pregnancy in Luther's day.

Listen again to Luther on this question:

"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." [Luther commenting on 1 Timothy 2:15, Luther's Works, Vol. 28, p. 279]

Yes, "suffering during pregnancy is something that has to happen." It will happen until the second coming.

As for concerns that a pastor's wife might have "too many" children for the husband to support, listen to Luther's opinion of this lack of trust in the Lord:

"Although it is very easy to marry a wife, it is very difficult to support her along with the children and the household. Accordingly, no one notices this faith of Jacob. Indeed, many hate fertility in a wife for the sole reason that the offspring must be supported and brought up. For this is what they commonly say: “Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.” But this blame is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper." [Luther's works, vol. 5: Lectures on Genesis, page 332]

You think that if we "truly discern" God's calling we can avoid suffering. This is a serious misunderstanding of the life of the Christian. This is the lie of modern "Evangelicalism." The truth is, the life of the Christian is full of crosses we must bear. Modern Evangelicals tell people that if they live their lives according to God's will that they will eliminate suffering. It is true that there are many negative consequences to violating God's law, but Christians have always found that the more they try to follow God's will, the more suffering they endure.

Genesis 3:

16 To the woman he said,
"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you."

17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return."

This penalty of temporal suffering pronounced upon mankind at the fall will remain on this earth until the second coming.

Caspar

Anonymous said...

text out of context is pretext for trouble....

can we as sinners living in an fallen world really "see God's perfect will"?

isn't God's will for us to live in heaven with Him? isn't that the point of sending Christ?

can we not hope and trust in the Lord while using the brain that God has given us? i believe that God has blessed us to use our brains and common sense.

birth control has other benefits. for example, women who have too much testorone in their bodies will not be able to conceive. however, through the use of birth control, estrogen can reach appropriate levels and that woman can conceive....

i'm split on how i feel about NFP and birth control. i don't know yet if i feel like it's murder...but i also know that God wants me to use my brain too...this is a struggle for me as i am approaching marriage...