2.01.2006

Fruit and Multiplication Beyond Genesis.

One comment to the previous post cast doubt as to whether the Lord's command to "Be fruitful and multiply.." was one that extended beyond Adam and Eve (Gen1:28), Noah (Gen 9), and Jacob (Gen 35:11). Such arguments have been made elsewhere and in other circles.

I would like to take note of another pericope that the LCR document fails to take into account. It is one more instance of the Lord's Word on the matter and it furthermore offers a serious challenge to the comment on the last post that is mentioned above.

And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. "For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless. Malachi 2: 13-16 (ESV)

And what was the One God seeking from marriages some 1400 years after Jacob during the time of Malachi? He was still seeking Godly offspring. He was still looking for His people to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve have accomplished the starting of the human race. Noah and his wife have replenished the earth. And Jacob and family have successfully given rise to the Lord's promised Israel. Yet the Lord still wants more Godly offspring here in Malachi. As a brother once said, "Now, that MIGHT be just a coincidence, but I find it hard to believe in coincidences that big."

We can draw a line after the patriarchs of the faith and declare that the command to be fruitful and multiply has been fulfilled. Yet to do so we would have to ignore the Lord's clear word on the topic as it comes to us from Malachi (and elsewhere). We can even join some in liberal bastions throughout the church who commend us to simply look at the world around us and see that we have sufficiently multiplied, subdued, and filled the eath. It certainly would be another line we could draw between us and the Lord's clear word to "be fruitful and multiply." Unfortunately, to do so is to draw a line between the Lord and us - the fruits of His Gospel.

13 comments:

Caspar said...

Excellent reference, Pr. Rufner, you beat me to it. I was just going to post on that verse, which is one of my favorites! It validates the Augsburg Confessions' statement quoted in the LCR document that "God created man for procreation..."

I want to hightlight that important statement from Malachi again, just in case anyone glossed over it:

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

The primary (but not sole) inviolable purpose of that one flesh union God established, and which we call marriage, is procreation.

Cheers!

Caspar

Devona said...

This is interesting, everyone. I'm taking the position as student so far.

Eric Phillips said...

David,

Okay, here's a little challenge for you. Find one place where I've questioned the idea that godly offspring are good and desireable. You won't find it. In fact, you _will_ find that I have posted several times _against_ voluntary childlessness, and agreed consistently with your emphasis on the importance of godly procreation.

I wasn't making the ridiculous claim that God stopped being interested in procreation as soon as the human race hit a particular size. I was pointing out that "be fruitful and multiply," the specific command Caspar for which Caspar is arguing universal applicability, occurs only at the beginning of things, when a handful needs to be turned into a race. The fact that God still wants godly offspring 1400 years later doesn't have a speck of relevance to that observation. Sometime down the line, Caspar is going to argue from the words "fruitful" and "multiply," both of which are conspicuously absent from this passage you raise.

When the argument in question is one that attempts to prove, very specifically, the universal legal applicability of "be fruitful and multiply," it's very sloppy argumentation to produce a verse that says nothing more than "God desires godly offspring" as "proof" of that argument. It's not.

Sarah said...

I still hold that "be fruitful and multiply" is said as a blessing to mankind.

My parents have produced "Godly offspring," but only two. The text does not specify how much a couple ought to multiply. The whole earth would be filled and expand if every couple had merely three children.

Pr. David Rufner said...

Eric,

I will most certainly grant that you have consistently upheld your stance "against_ voluntary childlessness..." The converse of voluntary childlessness, however, is fruitfulness, is it not? I fail to see your distinction between the Lord's initial command/promise to "be fruitful and multiply" and "the fact that God still wants godly offspring..."

Would you please parse out further the dillineation you make between the two? You suggest that it is very "sloppy" to place the two next to eachother and yet I would suggest to you that the burden of proof is on you to show that they do not belong together.

And why is the burden of proof on you? Because to this day orthodox christendom (and orthodox Lutheranism at that) still understands that the command/promise to "be fruitful and multiply" extends beyond the patriarchs of Genesis to the present and goes hand in hand with the Lord's desire for "godly children".

One example of this would be the LC-MS CTCR document on 'Human Sexuality: A Theological Perspective' from 1981. It reads in part (pg. 17): "The Biblical injunction to 'be fruitful and multiply' is to be understood as a blessing as well as a command. It is one of God's good gifts to His people, for procreation is an an actual sharing in God's ongoing creative activity. We may even speak of the blessing as a kind of natural promise embedded within the creation: a sign and manifestation of the truth that genuine love is lifegiving and fruitful..."

The rite of Marriage found in the LW Agenda reads in part: "The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy, for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity, and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord..."

The first quote demonstrates that our theology of marriage still leans on the Lord's command/promise to "be fruitful and multiply". The second quote demonstrates that our subsequent concern is to raise our children in the "knowledge and love of the Lord". It would have been helpful if I could have found a contemporary example from either our rites or official theological studies that places the two directly together (one exists I am sure), but it does not negate that fact that the both are seen as being of one cloth. So again, Eric, I believe that the burden of proof goes to you to show that to place "to be fruitful and multiply" alongside the Lord's desire for "godly children" is somehow "sloppy".

Caspar said...

We are discussing this as Lutherans, correct? And Lutheranism is defined as adherance to the Confessions "BECAUSE" they are a correct exposition of Scripture (as opposed to "INSOFAR AS" they agree with Scripture).

The Apology to the Augsburg Confession states:

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).

I posted this in the below post, as quoted in the LCR document, but some people who are commenting on this blog hold the un-Lutheran ELCA position that the Confessions are only correct "insofar as" they agree with Scripture. They prefer to pick and choose which statements of the Confessions they agree with and which they don't. This is NOT Lutheran.

Everyone from Roman Catholics to Mormons can take that position. People who call themselves Lutheran and take this loose opinion of the Confessions are Lutheran in name only. This is an agreed upon premise to this discussion: that we agree with the Confessions on all points.

In the above right corner you will read the tag line for this blog:

"This is an open blog for thoughtful, reasonable, confessional Lutherans to discuss, consider, talk, and wrestle with contraception, contraceptives, and the contraceptive age - all through The Theology of the Cross."

There can be no argument among true Lutherans that the "commandment" to "be fruitful and multiply" stands today just as it did when it was first spoken.

The point of Pastor Rufner's post is a given fact.

Caspar

Devona said...

The issue, Caspar, is not necessarily that people don't agree with the Lutheran Confessions, or that they wouldn't.

I have only been a Lutheran for 2 and a half years. So I don't know all of what the confessions say yet.

I think that it is a little unfair to call someone un-Lutheran, assuming that they know the confessions and reject them, when it could be that we are mostly Laymen and Women, and don't have the luxury of spending ages reading.

I can be a Lutheran, and one that desires to know more, without being fully educated at this moment. And I'm sure that that accounts for many of our readers as well.

Caspar said...

Devona,

I apologize if I was unclear. I also am a Lutheran who desires to know more and who is not "fully educated at the moment." That is a good definition of a Lutheran. When one becomes a Lutheran, typically he has only read and agreed with the Small Catechism. There is no way that anyone can be fully educated in the short life we have here on earth. I've read and studied the Confessions several times over and, like Scripture, I still don't understand or grasp everything that is to be found in them. I'm sure I never will. There is more than a lifetime of study there.

What I was calling un-Lutheran is the attitude of not accepting what the Confessions say when you are aware of what they say. I have posted that Confessional quote at least twice on this blog. Those who are reading what it says and still denying it are being un-Lutheran. I quoted it immediately before the charge, which leaves the matter quite unambiguous.

Thanks,

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

David,

I've already answered the question you ask. Caspar will argue from the words "fruitful" and "multiply" for a procreative maximalist position. He can't do that with a verse that says simply that God desires godly offspring.

Eric Phillips said...

Caspar,

Do you think the quotation will have more force the fifth time you post it than it did the first time? No matter how many times you post it, it means the same thing, and that's a problem for you, because what it says is that "be fruitful and multiply" is hard-wired into human beings via the sex drive, and cannot be eradicated by vows of celibacy. It doesn't say a blamed thing about contraception.

You say something new too, though: "some people who are commenting on this blog hold the un-Lutheran ELCA position that the Confessions are only correct 'insofar as' they agree with Scripture."

Who are you talking about, out of curiosity? I haven't detected any evidence of this from any of the posts I've read here.

Caspar said...

Eric,

Pr. Rufner said: "One comment to the previous post cast doubt as to whether the Lord's command to 'Be fruitful and multiply..' was one that extended beyond Adam and Eve (Gen1:28), Noah (Gen 9), and Jacob (Gen 35:11). Such arguments have been made elsewhere and in other circles."

The comment he was referring to was, as well you know, YOURS, as follows:

Did you notice how ALL THREE of your "be fruitful and multiply" verses occur at the beginning of a race, when there are only a few forebearers, but God wants to make many? The first is said to Adam and Eve: two people who need to make a whole human race. The second is said to Noah and his family: eight people who need to replenish the whole human race. The third is said to Jacob: one man who needs to beget the whole Israelite race. Now, that MIGHT be just a coincidence, but I find it hard to believe in coincidences that big.

Devona agreed:

I actually think that Eric has a good point. I was thinking this earlier today before I read his comments. God commanded some men and women to "be fruitful and multiply" and it was for specific reasons.

Those comments clearly espouse the position refuted in the Confessions in the quote I have continued to emphasize, and which was quoted in the post to which those comments were made:

"The adversaries cavil at these arguments; they say that in the beginning the commandment was given to replenish the earth..."

Furthermore, Eric, I would greatly appreciate it if you would stop predicting what arguments I will make. You are obviously using this rhetorical technique to preempt potential arguments by your prejudicial sentiments. Wait and see if the argument is made, and then deal with it.

You are building up straw men and dragging red herrings all over the place, attempting to confuse the readers who sincerely wish to hear and evaluate the arguments Pr. Rufner, I, and others are making.

Your attitude would have one believe that you have no intent of learning anything from this discussion, and only seek to disrupt, discredit, and obfuscate a position you have already decided you will never agree with.

I am sincerely open to debate, but from open minded, reasonable, Confessional people. I am MORE than open to someone biblically refuting my position, as it would be a great relief to my wife and I to believe we have a right to plan our family. My sinful nature seeks a loophole!

If you continue here, PLEASE try to be more constructive in your criticism of the arguments presented here.

Blessings,

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

"Those comments clearly espouse the position refuted in the Confessions in the quote I have continued to emphasize."

No, you see, they DON'T. This passage you keep quoting has nothing to do with position Devona and I have articulated. Every time you quote it, I point out the obvious, i.e. that it is an answer to Roman Catholic insistence on vows of celibacy, and locates the continuing relevance of the command "Be fruitful and multiply" IN THE HUMAN SEX DRIVE, as a part of our constitution that we cannot ignore, not a law we can choose to obey or disobey.

If you are truly open to debate with "open minded, reasonable, Confessional people," prove it by actually engaging the criticisms I've made (as an open-minded, reasonable, and confessional Lutheran), instead of simply repeating yourself ad nauseam. When you refuse to move beyond the initial declarations stage of the "discussion," it's just ridiculous to turn around and label your _opponents_ as "close-minded."

Caspar said...

I have engaged you, but will not again. Discussions with you are fruitless. I'll let you have the last word.