Mark Steyn on anti-natalist environmentalism:
Not if you love the planet
Hat tip to Gene Edward Veith of Cranach
The "Comstock" Law, US Federal Law, passed unanimously in the United States Congress in 1873:
All persons are prohibited from importing into the United States, from any foreign country, any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, writing, advertisement, circular, print, picture, drawing, or other representation, figure, or image on or of paper or other material, or any cast, instrument, or other article of an immoral nature, or any drug or medicine, or any article whatever, for the prevention of conception, or for causing unlawful abortion.
This was the law of the
On December 7, 1964, an infamous date in the history of our nation, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Griswold vs. Connecticut, which challenged the Comstock Law. The hearings took place on March 29 and 30th of 1965. On June 7, 1965, a decision based upon "privacy rights" was handed down, repealing this last remaining criminal status of contraception from the law books. And then in 1973 these privacy rights formed the basis of the Court's decision in Roe vs. Wade.
See what Seminarian Christopher at Fort Wayne has to say about Contraception within Christian Marriage.
"For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'" Luke 23:29
I know this is firstly seen as pointing to the final destruction of Jerusalem, which was only a matter of a few years away, because in times of great tribulation and punishment it is the mothers that suffer most heavily. Yet notice how this verse doesn't just say those without children they must care for, but rather those whose wombs have NEVER born children and breasts that have NEVER nursed.
It certainly is true today that the barren are those our present world calls the most blessed. But, the fact that Christ prophesied that people would call the barren blessed does not necessarily indicate that he believed they would be. God refers to barrenness as a curse, and children always as blessings. I believe this verse ("the time will come when you will say...") is referring to the mistaken perspective of fallen man.
And this sinful perspective seems to be approaching its zenith in our postmodern world.
Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly
Thank you for the work you do on your blog site Lutherans & Contraception. I humbly submit the attached document for publication on your site.
May God bless you and yours.
Sem II Student
Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne, IN
"We preach Christ crucified!" (1 Corinthians 1:23)
Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother's wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother's wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. And what he did was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also.
Many Christian advocates of birth control are not persuaded by the “positive” scriptural evidence of the goodness of having children. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5). “I still don’t see any prohibition against birth control,” one might say. After all, the Eleventh Commandment is not “Thou shalt not use birth control.” While I do think that the previously mentioned “proof passage” is in and of itself sufficient testimony against one’s deciding how many children God will bless him with, I here resurrect the story of Onan to provide what had been regarded as a “negative” example against birth control by Christendom until the 20th century. 
In an age when theologians debate “the faith of Jesus Christ” vs. “faith in Jesus Christ” or whether an imperfect verb should be translated habitually or inceptively, the story of Onan remains in the shadows, if not completely absent from the minds of many Christians. For example, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Genesis 12-50 has no comments for Genesis 38:1-11. I find it difficult to believe that no fathers commented on the Onan incident, particularly in light of the following statements.
St. Epiphanius of Salamis: “They exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption.” (Medicine Chest Against Heresies c. 375 A.D.)
Augustine of Hippo: “The doctrine that the production of children is an evil, directly opposes the next precept, ‘Thou shall not commit adultery;” for those who believe this doctrine, in order that their wives may not conceive, are led to commit adultery even in marriage. They take wives, as the law declares, for the procreation of children, but from this erroneous fear of polluting the substance of the deity, their intercourse with their wives is not of a lawful character; and the production of children, which is the proper end of marriage, they seek to avoid.” (Against Faustus c. 400 A.D.)
How does the Hebrew text (Genesis 38:8-10) describe the Onan incident? Onan’s father, Judah, commanded him to “perform the duty of a brother-in-law” on behalf of his deceased brother Er. The verb ~by is used only here and in Deuteronomy 25:5 in the Old Testament. In both cases it refers to the duty of levirate marriage. Since Genesis 38 historically precedes Deuteronomy 25, levirate marriage must have been a law of the patriarchs before the Law of Moses was given. Onan spilled his semen upon the ground. The verb txv is used here in the sense of “to make ineffective.” In describing Onan’s sin, Moses writes that what he did was evil in Yahweh’s eyes. The verb hf[ is important here.  Note that it is not what Onan failed to do, his levirate marriage duty, which displeased Yahweh; rather, what he did do, making his semen ineffective, was the evil deed. Finally, Moses notes that Yahweh put Onan to death (~G;). This reminds the reader of Onan’s deceased brother who had been previously put to death by Yahweh for alsobeing evil (Genesis 38:7). Yahweh’s destruction of Er is unrelated to levirate marriage. He kills these two brothers for their wickedness in His sight. Luther agrees, “The end of both men testifies that their evildoing was outstanding. For the Lord killed both of them in the same year” (LW 7:19).
For Yahweh to have killed Onan for failing to abide by the law of levirate marriage would be inconsistent on His part. And although God may do as He pleases, the punishment for failing to “perform the duty of a brother-in-law” in Deuteronomy 25:7-10 is far from the death penalty enacted by God in Genesis 38:8-10. The text from Deuteronomy reads:
7 And if the man does not wish to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, “My husband's brother refuses to perpetuate his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.” 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, “I do not wish to take her,” 9 then his brother's wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, “So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.” 10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, “The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.”
Thus, God does not kill the man who refuses to procreate with his brother’s widow, but He does kill the man who makes his semen ineffective. The man who refuses his levirate duties gets a mere slap on the wrist, public humiliation from the woman with whom he was supposed to have had intercourse. What is more, Judah was not killed by God when he refused to fulfill this duty for Tamar (Genesis 38:11-30). Onan was not punished for being deceitful, for Jacob and Abraham were not punished with death because of their deceit of Abimelech (Genesis 20 and 26). Onan was killed not for failing to produce a son for Er. He was killed by God because he divorced procreation from intercourse.
Martin Luther agrees. Many dismiss his commentary on the Onan incident as if he had been drinking too much Wittenberg beer when he stumbled upon Genesis 38. Luther repeatedly acknowledges the reality of the situation, that of levirate marriage. Yes, it was Onan’s duty to give his deceased brother a son by sleeping with his widow. However, Onan preferred the pleasure of his responsibility over its burdens. Luther describes Onan’s sin as “the exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches” (LW 7:20). Luther’s characterization of Onan and his wasting of semen seems incredibly harsh:
Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed (LW 7:20-21).
Note that levirate marriage is not the issue for Luther in his condemnation of Onan. Rather, his making his semen ineffective is a worse sin than a father sleeping with his daughter or a husband cheating on his wife. At the point of insemination, Onan ought to have followed the order of nature established by God in procreation. Is this true only because this was a levirate marriage? No! This order has been established by God to be followed in all instances of insemination. It is the order established by God when He first blessed Adam and Eve saying, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
Luther writes that Onan polluted himself with a most disgraceful sin instead of raising up offspring for his brother (LW 7:21). How is it that Luther could call Onan’s sin worse than homosexuality? It is because both Onan and homosexuals share the common desire for sexual pleasure without the blessing of parenthood that God has attached to it. Sexual intimacy is integral to a godly marriage. Procreation is not to be divorced from intercourse. Thus, willful frustration of God’s plans to bless a marriage with children violates the core of a godly marriage. God gives the marriage gifts, sexual intimacy and children, as a two-in-one package. Even the CTCR admits: “Once the nature of the union of husband and wife is made a question from that of the relationship of parents and children, then separatethe essence of marriage can be significantly obscured” (Christians and Procreative Choices: How do God’s Chosen Choose?).
For those who require a “negative” example in opposition to birth control, the Onan incident is the clearest Word from our Lord that He disapproves of avoiding parenthood while embracing sexual pleasure. No, not one of the Ten Commandments reads “Thou shalt not use birth control,” but one of them does say something about having no other gods.
1 Another negative example would be that of 1 Sam. 1:6-11 where barren Hannah is considered cursed. Scripture always considers it a blessing to have many children, but being barren is never a good thing.
2 It is not merely the intent, but also the action, that is singled out by the Hebrew text.
The Nose Knows… at least it used to.
Perhaps you've heard this before... According to the book Taking Sex Differences Seriously (a very well researched book, albeit from an evolutionary perspective), "Research indicates that the birth control pill may interfere with a deep, unconscious mechanism involving the sense of smell by which women have ensured that the partners they choose can help them produce healthy offspring... women... regularly prefer the smell of men whose immune system is unlike theirs in terms of key proteins that detect and attack invaders... Moreover, a woman's sense of smell is most keen around the time that she ovulates and is most fertile.
The birth control pill changes all this. Women on the Pill do not have a heightened sense of smell at any part of their cycle. And as science writer Deborah Blum explains... when on the Pill, women have smell preferences that are "reversed... almost completely." Women taking oral contraceptives prefer the smell of men with immune systems similar to theirs.
Scientists are beginning to wonder if the birth control pill has led to a whole generation of marriages that have had more difficulty producing offspring, or that have produced more vulnerable offspring..." (109-110)
Oh, how our lives would be transformed and our perspective on being fruitful and multiplying would be enlightened if only we were to live out the meaning of Luther's words below:
"Every man is created and born for the sake of others." WA 21, 346
The hearts and minds of the married man and wife (whether contracepting or not) say for much of their married life: "No, we do not want this gift of marital bliss to result in the creation and birth of another human being right now - we want it to serve only our pleasure - we have the right to want what we do in the privacy of our own bedroom to serve only our gratification and to nurture only our own one-on-one relationship - we only want this gift of marital bliss to result in the life of another person when we believe it best serves our purposes and desires as a couple - only if and when WE want a baby."
In our sinful hearts we must all confess that we do not want our entire lives to serve others, and we do not want to create and nurture more lives to serve others unless it fits into our own selfish plans for our own fulfillment. I confess this myself, even though my wife and I employ absolutely no means of contraception, including NFP. Sin is in the heart, and my heart is full of it.
If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. [Luther's supposed "sin boldly" letter to Melanchthon]
From his preface (1952?) to Mere Christianity - emphasis mine:
So much for my omissions on doctrine. In Book III, which deals with morals, I have also passed over some things in silence, but for a different reason. Ever since I served as an infantryman in the first world war I have had a great dislike of people who, themselves in ease and safety, issue exhortations to men in the front line. As a result I have a reluctance to say much about temptations to which I myself am not exposed. No man, I suppose, is tempted to every sin. It so happens that the impulse which makes men gamble has been left out of my make-up; and, no doubt, I pay for this by lacking some good impulse of which it is the excess or perversion. I therefore did not feel myself qualified to give advice about permissable and impermissable gambling: if there is any permissable, for I do not claim to know even that. I have also said nothing about birth-control. I am not a woman nor even a married man, nor am I a priest. I did not think it my place to take a firm line about pains, dangers and expenses from which I am protected; having no pastoral office which obliged me to do so.
Remember that Lewis wrote this at a time when the transition in the world's culture and in Christianity was just beginning to take shape with regard to contraception. Though a change in thinking was occurring, there were still plenty of pastors preaching and teaching against birth control in the 40s and 50s. I wonder if he wouldn't have felt compelled to speak on this matter if he lived on into the 70s and beyond.
But it is that "pastoral office" point that caught my attention in this quote. Teaching in the church is, in fact, the job of the Office of Holy Ministry. I have, myself, wondered sometimes if I have, or currently am, overstepping my bounds in speaking about this subject now that there are pastors doing so. There are, after all, pastors who are authors on this blog, and I am increasingly reading pastors speaking out on their blogs and other discussion boards against contraception. The majority of pastors still see no problem with contraception, but I am much more optimistic than I used to be regarding this subject.
Things were not always the way they are today. There was a time just a few short years ago when I never heard ANY Lutheran pastor say anything against birth control. When I asked questions and expressed my concerns, I was labeled a pietist or legalist, nicknamed "The Hammer of God," and told with pastoral authority that the church doesn't have an official position on the subject. So I began researching the subject and found the Biblical historical teaching to be consistent with the natural law that convicted me against birth control.
When pastors turn from the Word of God and preach perverted doctrines, it is the DUTY of laymen to speak up. Perhaps those times are over with regard to birth control, yet I still feel that the historic position of the church on procreation is far from what I hear the majority of pastors preaching and teaching. Until I see that the tide is turned, I feel it is my duty as a layman to continue to speak on the historic position of the church on this issue. And I try my best to do most of that speaking by parroting what Luther and others in the Office of Holy Ministry have said before me - hence all the lengthy quotes in my posts.
What do you think?
Now, before I leave you with the thought that Lewis had nothing to say on the subject this blog deals with, let me provide just a couple other quotes:
Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, "Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence." Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong. But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.
[Mere Christianity, p. 49]
Or, how about this one:
...what we call man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.
It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science her given them. But that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called 'Man's power over Nature' must always and essentially be ... All long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones.
[The Abolition of Man, p. 69]
And in his space trilogy, Lewis provides numerous allusions to the subject of the limiting of procreation. Most notably, in That Hideous Strength, the third book, the character Merlin refers to the woman who used contraception as the “falsest lady of any.”
… the Stranger was speaking and pointing at her as he spoke.
She did not understand the words; but Dimble did, and heard Merlin saying in what seemed to him a rather strange kind of Latin:
‘Sir, you have in your house the falsest lady of any at this time alive.’
And Dimble heard the Director answer him in the same language:
‘Sir, you are mistaken. She is doubtless like all of us a sinner; but the woman is chaste.’
‘Sir,’ said Merlin, ‘know well that she has done in Logres a thing of which no less sorrow shall come than came of the stroke that Balinus struck. For, Sir, it was the purpose of God that she and her lord should between them have begotten a child by whom the enemies should have been put out of Logres for a thousand years.’
‘She is but lately married,’ said Ransom. ‘The child may yet be born.’
‘Sir,’ said Merlin, ‘be assured that the child will never be born, for the hour of its begetting is passed. Of their own will they are barren…’[That Hideous Strength, 275-276]
Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D.
Dept. of History
Bethany Lutheran College
Mankato, MN 56001
We must distinguish between the Glory of the Word of God ... and fair-seeming works. ...
Saul seems to be doing the right thing (1 Sam. 15) when he does not kill all the cattle of the Amalekites but keeps the choicer animals for worship. But because God had clearly given the command that all had to be killed, this deed provokes Him to extreme anger. Therefore the fair-seeming work is nothing but an abomination, because it was undertaken against the Word of God.
(Luther's Works, vol. 2:355, as quoted in Steinbronn, Worldviews, CPH 2007, p 125)
Abraham "obeys God's command without arguing." (LW 3:173) He simply cuts the throat of this baneful "Why?" and tears it out of his heart by the roots. He takes reason captive and finds satisfaction in the one fact that he who gives the command is just, good, and wise; therefore, he cannot command anything but what is just, good, and wise, even if reason does not make any sense of it.
(Steinbronn, Worldviews, CPH 2007, p 128)
I'm interested in hearing how others would apply this truth regarding faith to what we might call cases in which casuistry allows for family planning in some instances. Also, how does this apply to the Roman Catholic argument from reason regarding "separating intercourse from procreation" leading to the praise of NFP in exceptional cases. If the Word of God is clear that family planning is an abomination in God's sight, can these cases of casuistry be anything but "fair-seeming" works?
Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found. The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver.
Scholars said that the name’s rise up the league table was driven partly by the growing number of young Muslims having families, coupled with the desire to name their child in honour of the Prophet.
Overall, Muslims account for three per cent of the population, about 1.5 million people. However, the Muslim birth rate is roughly three times higher than the non-Muslim one.
It would seem that even if they consider the Torah as from God, but presently corrupted by man, some of Father Abraham's children do still take seriously the exhortation to "Be fruitful and multiply."
In London last week, the Optimum Population Trust called for Britons to have "one child less" because the United Kingdom's "high birth rate is a major factor in the current level of climate change, which can only be combated if families voluntarily limit the number of children they have."
Story by Mark Steyn.
Allan Carlson comments in his e-mail newsletter:
The Optimum Population Trust’s hysteria is occasioned by a recent blip in British child-bearing, which rose from 1.8 children per woman in 2005 to 1.87 in 2006. Demographers attribute the increase to more career women having children later in life.This is still far below the post-World War II high for Britain, 2.93 in 1964. More significantly, it’s well below replacement level of 2.11. Even if the current rate is maintained, the United Kingdom will still see its population decline in every generation, absent massive immigration.
The report takes a comprehensive look at a myriad of birth-control options, offering both medical and spiritual perspectives. It was prepared by the Sanctity of Human Life Committee, a program of LCMS World Relief/Human Care, in response to Resolution 6-10, approved at the 2004 LCMS convention. The resolution requested a review of birth-control products and methods — including clarification on those that can act as abortifacients — and asked that this information be made available to LCMS pastors and laypeople.
The report examines everything from abstinence to the latest hormonal products and intrauterine devices. It opens with a discussion of “God's original design for the beautiful vocation of marriage and how that vocation has often been negatively affected and influenced by our sinful society,” said LCMS Life Ministries Director Maggie Karner.
The Sanctity of Human Life Committee charged three members with writing the report for committee approval. In addition to Karner, the report's authors are Rev. Dr. Kevin Voss, director of the Concordia Bioethics Institute and a Concordia University Wisconsin professor, and Dr. Sherry Prowatzke, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Waukesha, Wis.The report will be available as a free download at http://worldrelief.lcms.org by mid-July.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 13, 2007; Page A01
The popularity of the morning-after pill Plan B has surged in the year since the federal government approved the sale of the controversial emergency contraceptive without a prescription.
Plan B sales have doubled since the Food and Drug Administration authorized the switch for women 18 and older last August, rising from about $40 million a year to what will probably be close to $80 million for 2007, according to Barr Pharmaceuticals, which makes Plan B.
When we say that God is the giver of life, that He blesses us with children through the means of procreation, how are those words being understood? Are we understanding them to mean that God is actually doing the knitting in the womb, or do we understand them to mean that he has put a process in motion that men and women make use of? If it is the latter, then NFP, for instance, may make sense to some.
That's a wise perspective on the topic. Of course God is actually doing the creating. The error we fall into first in almost every sin is thinking that, while God started the ball rolling, we in the world are now in charge (the now "hands off" God having retreated back into His heavenly realm to watch at a distance what his creatures might do with what he has created). This is unfortunately a common worldview among Christians. I've often reminded my opponents in the contraception debate that, as with our spiritual (second) birth, the only thing we can do in procreation is reject God's gift of life. God alone creates life, spiritual and physical. Life is created through the unregenerate as well as the regenerate, and we know the unregenerate are incapable of initiating anything good. In the unregenerate, it is clear that God alone does the good work of procreating through the means of unregenerate man. Yet procreation for the Christian still must be looked at similarly from this perspective:
65] From this, then, it follows that as soon as the Holy Ghost, as has been said, through the Word and holy Sacraments, has begun in us this His work of regeneration and renewal, it is certain that through the power of the Holy Ghost we can and should cooperate, although still in great weakness. But this [that we cooperate] does not occur from our carnal natural powers, but from the new powers and gifts which the Holy Ghost has begun in us in conversion, 66] as St. Paul expressly and earnestly exhorts that as workers together with Him we receive not the grace of God in vain, 2 Cor. 6, 1. But this is to be understood in no other way than that the converted man does good to such an extent and so long as God by His Holy Spirit rules, guides, and leads him, and that as soon as God would withdraw His gracious hand from him, he could not for a moment persevere in obedience to God. But if this were understood thus [if any one would take the expression of St. Paul in this sense], that the converted man cooperates with the Holy Ghost in the manner as when two horses together draw a wagon, this could in no way be conceded without prejudice to the divine truth. (2 Cor. 6, 1: Sunergou'te" parakalou'men: We who are servants or coworkers with God beseech you who are God's husbandry and God's building, 1 Cor. 3, 9, to imitate our example, that the grace of God may not be among you in vain, 1 Cor. 15, 10, but that ye may be the temple of God, living and dwelling in you, 2 Cor. 6, 16.)
[FC, SD, Free Will]
The problem today is belief in the common erroneous sentiment the "God helps those who help themselves." NO! God does it all. He helps us because we CAN'T help ourselves. Everything we do that is of any good is entirely by the power of God, the God who HASN'T retreated to watch from afar, but rather has stayed in intimate relation with us and does not withdraw his gracious hand from all good works that we do - works which were prepared for us to do from the foundations of the world. The shame is that we so often slap his loving hands away with our flailing arms due to our misguided attempts to be in charge ourselves. Nowhere is this more obviously true than in procreation, because no other human activity is so clearly God's business than the creation of souls. As Luther said of the divine ordinance to be fruitful and multiply:
"For this word which God speaks, 'Be fruitful and multiply,' is not a command. It is more than a command, namely, a divine ordinance [werck] 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 creates 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."
[Luther's works, vol. 45, The Christian in Society II, The Estate of Marriage, pp. 15-21]
Obviously they don't even know what God meant when he said "Be fruitful and multiply!" Who's twisting Scripture for their own purposes here?
This shirt would mean something completely different than the liberals intended if my wife or I were to wear it in the company of our six children.
I finally got with Dr. Carlson regarding his Touchstone article mentioning LCMS clergy family size decrease from 1890-1920. He pointed me Alan Graebner's scholarly study entitled, "Birth Control and the Lutherans: The Missouri Synod as a Case Study," as the source of his figures. I pulled out my copy of the original Graebner paper from the Journal of Social History [vol. 2, no. 4, 1969] and, sure enough, there was the chart on the second to last page (331).
I don't know why or how I forgot reading this before, and I've read the Graebner article several times in the past. This does not, after all, represent something I've never encountered before in my studies of this issue as I previously indicated in the post below.
Graebner does qualify his figures relative to my questions. In the graph he identifies the figures as the "mean number of children by decennial marriage cohort," specifying even the number of children born in the first ten years of marriage. These factors eliminate my concern for the veracity of these figures in describing an increase in contraception among the LCMS clergy. The figures speak for themselves and he went to a great deal of trouble to tabulate them, as evidenced in a lengthy footnote.
Thanks to Dr. Carlson for bringing up this important precipitating factor in the change in teaching within the LCMS. Very enlightening (though equally disheartening).
The change in teaching obviously followed a change in personal belief and practice among the clergy. We shouldn't be surprised to see the same incipient pattern being followed toward various other false teachings today. First error seeks tolerance, then equality of footing, and finally supremacy.
"For women [with painful or otherwise difficult periods], I certainly can understand the benefits of taking these kinds of medications, but for most women menstruation is a normal life event -- not a medical condition," said Elson, who researches the sociology of gender and medical sociology. "Why medicate away a normal life event if we're not sure of the long-term effects?"
What other normal life events are we medicating away? Let me see here. Hmmmmmm. Oh that's right, being pregnant! How could I have forgotten that normal life event?!
Taking a pill to stop pregnancy or even your period because it is inconvenient is about the medical (and moral?) equivalent of giving my infant a pill that prevents her teeth from coming in because it's painful for her and keeps me up at night.
I hate to be so crass and angry sounding, but I can't help it. That this pill exists makes me angry. How many women are going to be four or five months pregnant and still taking this pill because they never knew they'd conceived, since there was no missed period to indicate pregnancy? How may birth defects will result? Why has medicine become a way to make life more convenient rather than a way to treat illness?
It makes me angry.
Of course the media doesn't even talk about the abortifacient nature of this form of "contraception" - nor the increased risk of breast cancer and other health problems.
Dr. Carlson had an excellent article in the most recent issue of Touchstone magazine, which is what spurred this interview. Interestingly, in the article Carlson implies that the LCMS clergy began artificially limiting their family sizes between 1890 and 1920, citing a change in average family size from 6.5 to 3.7. I wonder about this implication, from which he further implies that since they thus ceased to be models of a fruitful home this contributed to the change in attitude for their congregations and the broader culture, precipitating the acceptance of contraception by the culture at large.
I'm going to contact Dr. Carlson to find out 1) the source of these figures he gave in the article, and 2) if he considered the possibility of factors other than contraception which may have contributed to this change in average family size among LCMS clergy. I would consider it possible (even probable) that during this period of substantial growth in the LCMS (especially post WWI) when so many young men were entering the ministry that the figures are more a reflection of an increased percentage of young pastors in the LCMS who had not yet fathered all their children.
If this factor is already controlled for somehow in the figures Dr. Carlson provided, then these figures represent a VERY interesting finding that I have not personally encountered thus far in my studies about this subject. In the interview (above), Dr. Carlson even broadens his comments in this regard to include the clergy of other denominations as having smaller families on average even before the official change in church teaching began to occur in 1930.
The author begins rightly decrying the pitiful rates of motherhood in the western world and the societal effects it is causing, but in answering her own question "How did it come to this?" she begins by emphasizing the least blameworthy factors: "In Canada, one answer is infertility. ...the two biggest factors are delayed childbearing and sexually transmitted diseases(STDs). ...Industrialized food production and environmental degradation are taking their tolls. ...hormone-treated beef. ...obesity and ovulatory cysts."
The author doesn't seem to want to identify contraception as the number-one cause of our pitiful fertility rates. However, she finally gets around to mentioning Mark Steyn's take on the problem, "...abortion, gay marriage, endlessly deferred adulthood," and then sums up:
So we pump our young with pills, wrap them in condoms and, coming soon, jab them with vaccines hoping to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STDs and, now, cervical cancer. This in the name of denying their capacity for personal responsibility by advocates who wouldn't shake hands with each other if they had a cold.
...Oh, and have an especially happy Mother's Day. Soon, there may be few mothers left to celebrate.
Motherhood is a blessed estate that blesses the world. Here is a final quote from Martin Luther commenting on 1 Timothy 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]
So, to all you Christian mothers who are submitting yourselves to God's command to be fruitful and multiply, Happy Mother's Day! May God bless you richly as he continues to bless us and the world through you!
By Sarah-Kate Templeton
May 07, 2007 12:00am
HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.
John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights. "The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child."
Read the rest of the story here. And the press release from OPT here.
I just finished reading both this and the 1936 edition of For Better, Not For Worse by Walter Maier (also published by CPH). It's absolutely amazing to see the change in attitude which occurred in the span of two decades, where CPH would then publish a book which praised Margaret Sanger and her "Planned Parenthood" clinics.
Here are some selected excerpts from this fateful volume by Prof. Rehwinkel. First, he defines the term which is the title of his book, one which he borrowed from Margaret Sanger:
"Planned parenthood, then, means to apply to the function of begetting children and the establishment of the family the same intelligence, experience, judgment, and careful weighing of all the consequences for those concerned as a man would normally apply to any other life situation where an important decision must be made. ...That to this end they voluntarily regulate the frequency of pregnancy and set limits to the number of possible offspring by the use of artificial devices recommended for that purpose by the medical profession, governed in their decision by the exigencies of the existing circumstances." [page 9]
Remember that this is said in a positive context!
"The emerging but still groping and uncertain public opinion on birth control found an enthusiastic champion in the person of a brilliant young woman by the name of Margaret Higgens Sanger." [page 32]
He then proceeds to tell her life story and boast of her brave struggle to see the legalization of birth control.
"This state of affairs became a nightmare for the sensitive soul of Margaret Sanger. Fear of another pregnancy filled the heart of every poor woman that she came in contact with. The question that met her was always the same: 'What can I do to keep from it?' or 'What can I do to get out of it?'
"These appalling conditions haunted Margaret Sanger day and night. She appealed to the doctors to do something about it, but they refused... The struggle was a hard and a bitter one. Very few men or women had the courage to share with her the odium of public disapproval, though they might share her general ideas. She was harassed by law enforcement agencies, repeatedly suffered imprisonment, and even her husband had to go to jail for a considerable time merely for having handed to an investigator a pamphlet published by his wife on the use of contraceptives. But Margaret Sanger was determined to carry on until Anthony Comstock laws had been repealed or modified and the public opinion had been enlightened." [pages 34-35]
What a heroine!
"And it is a noteworthy fact that approximately 60% of those who answered the questionnaire prepared by Rev. Paul G. Hansen of Denver, Colo., for the Family Life Committee of the Board of Parish Education of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (ca. 1953) favored a judicious practice of birth control, which seems to indicate that the position of the church is no longer convincing for a great many of its members" [page 44]
Ahhh! Theology by public opinion.
"And what complicates these difficulties still more is the fact that the Bible is not as specific in these matters as it is in other areas of Christian life. It is no wonder therefore that pious and learned theologians from the great Saint Augustine to present-day Christian scholars have wrestled with this problem and have arrived at conflicting conclusions." [page 47]
It is a wonder to me that a supposedly learned theologian such as Prof. Rehwinkel would make such an ignorant statement as this. Was he simply unaware of the unanimity of exegetical conclusions found on this issue among our fathers in the faith? One would be hard pressed to find an issue about which all previous generations have spoken with more of one voice.
"And now, if we turn to the Sacred Scriptures for a clear and definite word or directive regarding birth control, we discover to our discomfort that the Bible is surprisingly silent on the subject." [page 48]
Only because he refuses to see what all those who came before him saw Scripture saying. Such blindness is what leads Rehwinkel to conclude that:
"...children may not always and under all circumstances be a blessing and therefore be desired by man." [page 56]
That's exactly the attitude that comes from not listening to the countless places Scripture contradicts Rehwinkel's assertion on this very point.
"Can planned parenthood or birth control as defined in Chapter II ever be considered right and permissible for Christian parents, or is it wrong and sinful in its very nature?
...The answer to the second part of the question is no." [page 88]
Then he proceeds to give unproven conclusions as to why the answer to the first part of the question is yes. Proceeding from there, he writes:
"When and under what circumstances are Christian husbands and wives free to exercise that liberty and resort to the use of contraceptives in marriage with a good conscience?" [page 92]
Now where do you think a good Lutheran theologian would direct a Christian couple for advice in such a situation of casuistry?
"Husband and wife confronted with such a decision are urged to consult a competent physician and under circumstances also a psychologist or a psychiatrist and their spiritual adviser. Attention may also be called to planned parenthood clinics found in most of the larger cities of the United States. They are staffed with a professional personnel and are ready to serve with expert advice and aid. In most cases they will be listed in the telephone directory under 'Planned Parenthood Association.'" [page 92-93]
Now, after all that HORRIBLE advice, Prof. Rehwinkel writes:
On the other hand, to fix the size of a family at the very outset, at one, two, or possibly three would be a presumptuous arrogating to themselves prerogatives that belong to God. In the first place, they must remember that they are not alone in this but copartners [sic] with God himself. It is God who creates new lives. Husbands and wives are merely the agents through whom God performs this miracle. We confess in the explanation of the First Article of the Apostles' Creed: 'I believe that God has made me and all creatures.'
In the second place, they are not even free to make such a decision. They are not absolute masters of their own lives and destinies. God may withhold all children from them.
Without this final sentence, I would have thought Rehwinkel was reversing everything he had said previously in this book. He seems on the verge of correcting himself when he says that to "fix the size of a family at the very outset, at one, two, or possibly three would be a presumptuous arrogating to themselves prerogatives that belong to God." Since he believes Scripture does not address this, where does he get this conclusion? If limiting family size to one, two, or three, is arrogating prerogatives that belong to God, then why isn't intentionally limiting family size to five or six?
Regardless, perhaps the final sentence of this excerpt reveals Rehwinkel's purpose in saying this. He has indicated thus far in his book that it is perfectly fine for people to limit their family size (with the exception of being voluntarily childless). Perhaps here he just wants them to realize that God may limit it even more than they intended!
On this next point, Rehwinkel shows his ignorance of the inevitable outcome of what he is promoting:
The opponents of birth control also raised this objection, that it would have disastrous consequences on the population and the economic conditions of the country.
...There is no evidence in history that birth control had an adverse effect on the economic status of a country. ...Besides, birth control is not synonymous with race suicide. It is not intended to limit families to one, two, or three children... [page 104]
If Rehwinkel could have only seen what a few decades would bring (see the figures I provided in my earlier post below) perhaps this book would never have been written, or maybe he would have written AGAINST planned parenthood as he should have. We are now at only replacement level fertility (at best), with man and wife having on the average about two children. Our economy is also in great danger because of the aging population and the lack of young workers to support it. And it's becoming virtually impossible for Lutheran young people to find other Lutherans to marry! In his forward to Planned Parenthood, Rehwinkel writes:
"My only plea is that the reader, whoever he or she may be, follow the argumentation calmly and without prejudice to the end. If he does so, one of two things is bound to happen. Either he will be convinced that the position here presented is reasonable, sane, and in harmony with Christian ethics, or he will be confirmed more than ever before in the view that birth control in every form and under all circumstances is an evil and must therefore be opposed to the bitter end. A half-way position hardly seems possible."
Amen. But unfortunately those who read his words found it much easier to take the path of least resistance.
To the right is a photo of Professor Rehwinkel with his wife, Dr. Bessie Lee (Efner) Rehwinkel and their daughters Dorothy and Helen.
Delaying starting a family, and reducing the number of children one bears and nurses, may be the greatest factors in the modern epidemic of female cancers. Breast cancer was known as "nuns disease" prior to the age of family planning (about 1964 forward). Each five-year increase in a woman's age at her first full-term pregnancy raises her breast cancer risk by 7%. There is also a 7% reduction in breast cancer risk for each child a women bears to full term. And for every year of her life spent breastfeeding, a woman's risk breast cancer drops by 4.3%.
Moral of the story for young ladies: Marry early and have lots of kids! Who would have thought of it? ...uhhhh, God: "Be fruitful and multiply!" Children are a blessing in more ways than one. Just calculate the benefits my wife has gained thus far just from carrying six children to full term and nursing them all on average for 1-2 years.
I should take this opportunity to point out, however, that there is no way of achieving 100% protection against any cancer. Following God's will does not make one immune to the effects of living in a fallen world. More importantly, we must also remember that cancer is NOT a punishment for those who have not tried to follow God's will or not succeeded in the attempt.
There are temporal consequences to the way we live our lives, but Christ took ALL our punishment upon himself. Original sin brought disease, suffering, and death into this world, and it won't end until Christ comes again at the Resurrection of all flesh (come Lord Jesus, come!). But suffering is NOT a punishment from God for our personal ("actual") sins.
God has absolutely NO punishment left to offer. All our guilt was placed on Christ, 100% of the punishment was suffered by Him on the cross, and all our sins were left buried in the grave when he rose! Praise be to Christ!
Small numbers are particularly difficult when it comes to youth social activities. The very nature of the early years of adolescence and adulthood by necessity includes difficulty socializing with peers who do not share your interests. Only once we get married and have kids does the playing field of social interaction seem to all level out. While sin certainly plays a part in this behavior, there is also an aspect of this sociology which is simply utilitarian and natural. People gravitate toward those who share similar interests, which leads to associations which are functional and fruitful (especially those that lead to marriage!). Forcing young people with disparate temperaments to behave as close friends is no more fruitful than forcing a marriage between two people who share little in common.
There are aspects of Christian fellowship among our young people which are independent of such social similitude. Worship, joint prayer, and catechesis, are easily shared by people from all walks of life, as long as they are of the same confession. Social activities, however, cannot be limited to these universally shared activities. It is inevitable that young people will group themselves at least somewhat according to common interests. To deny this fact is to ignore an unavoidable fact of life, even though sin surely plays a part in this partial segregation. This tendency should not automatically be labeled as cliquish or antisocial behavior. It's simply a matter of practical necessity that young people seek out the company of those who share their interests and values.
What activities are necessary for our our unmarried young people, and what purposes do they serve? Why do we want them to have church-related activities outside of those which we married adults typically participate in (church work, worship, and bible study)? Well, I think we all would agree that the influence of peers affects teens more than adults. Young people are often not as firmly set in their beliefs and convictions as older adults. The unmarried typically have a great deal more time on their hands than we married adults do. And, for good or bad, that time is most often spent in the company of other young people.
What is the effect when this social activity is mostly in the presence of those who, though they share secular interests, do not share the same religious convictions? Does the company our teens keep have any influence on who they may find to be a lifelong companion in marriage? I would argue a strong affirmative. We offer little competition to the societal lures of our culture (dances, sports, extracurricular activities, etc.) and then we wonder why we are losing our youth to other churches and even unbelief.
In addition, I'd like to point out that when we segregate our youth activities too much by age, we limit the interaction of those at the fringes (such as high school seniors and college freshmen, or high schoolers and those in Junior High) who would benefit from frequent social interaction. If these social activities are to foster potential introduction of marital prospects (yes, that's a valid and important reason for these activities), we must remember that we put young ladies at a disadvantage when we segregate them into a group where they are among the oldest. Our young men also are at a disadvantage when they graduate to the next segregated age group, being the youngest of the bunch. Just ask them!
In times past, organizations such as the "Walther League" fostered positive social activity and support among young Lutherans. While these times have come and gone, such regional gatherings are possibly more needed today than ever. Why? Because congregations today often have too few young people to allow for adequate association between those who share common interests. During the baby-boom, each church had its own "Walther League" of sorts. It is probably less of an issue in larger congregations as well.
Today we see some of our youth desiring to bring their non-Lutheran friends to youth activities. Otherwise they would feel alone and without adequate social interaction in such activities. While there's not necessarily anything wrong with that, the main point I'm making here is that today's circumstances call for a different approach. To gain the numbers necessary for effective youth activities, I believe smaller congregations with an increasingly dwindling youth population must now think regionally rather than locally. While Higher Things and our Synod provide opportunities for annual national youth gatherings and one or two regional retreats, this still leaves a huge hole for the rest of the year for those seeking edifying associations for their unmarried Lutheran young people.
Today's parish youth groups think nothing of meeting at the church and then traveling a half-hour to an hour (and sometimes much more) to some activity. Why not have those from several regional churches gather at a convenient location and then share a common Bible study, fellowship, meal, and activities? This would provide our young people a greater possibility of finding those with shared interests among fellow Lutherans with whom they can enjoy the companionship of more than once yearly - or even more often than this new group I'm talking about would meet! It would foster fellowship amongst all our teens and the parents of neighboring parishes. This fellowship would approach the value which used to be enjoyed in the day when we were blessed with the presence of many young people in our congregations.
Let me jump to the chase. I have proposes to some area LCMS pastors the formation of a regional "Luther League" (or whatever you want to call it). One which I have humbly volunteered to chair. I suggest the organization of at least two formal educational youth retreats per year, and additional monthly youth gatherings for Bible study and fun activities to be shared between those of the one true faith. I propose that these activities be open to ALL unmarried young people who wish to participate, mainly between confirmation-class age and recent college graduates. Some activities would be geared toward older youth, some toward younger youth, and some of interest to all.
Some of these activities could be coordinated with "Higher Things," but having organized a youth retreat with HT last year, I can tell you from experience that doing all of what I propose under the umbrella of HT would be problematic. They have a specific well-tailored mission. They are more focused on national events and national projects, as well as "Christ on Campus" programs. They are working on developing some regional "retreats" like the one we hosted last year, and perhaps we could organize one or two of these a year for our churches. But as you can see, what I am talking about is a bit more local. I do plan on running this all past Pr. Klemet Preus and others I know at Higher Things.
The region open to taking advantage of this proposed regional organization could be limitless -- as far as someone would be willing to travel for this fellowship. Why would we exclude any Lutherans who share our confession and who wish to travel the distance for this opportunity? However, it obviously would usually work out to be more for neighboring parishes for the more frequent activities, practically speaking. We should, however, plan activities in different areas of our region -- depending on how broad the interest is.
Parents would also be welcome to chaperone and/or possibly participate in adjunct social activities planned for them. Training in proper chaperoning could be provided (I recommend this), policies and guidelines would be set, and I'd suggest that those who chaperone would be required to take advantage of this training and agree to the policies of this youth organization. The risks of bringing younger and older youth of both sexes together would be offset by a strict code of conduct and more than adequate chaperoning by qualified and dedicated parents who have been trained to do so, and who would be role models for the youth to emulate.
There were many Lutherans who met their spouses at Walther League activities. Wouldn't it be gratifying in the future to hear that people met and came to know their spouses at these regional Lutheran youth activities I suggest?
So, I throw it out to all you here on L & C as well. What do you think??? Do you have small numbers in your youth activities? I'm looking for as much input into this as possible.
In 1930, the Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops became very the first Judeo-Christian authority in ALL of history to deny the biblical prohibition of contraception taught in God's church since He Himself said to Adam and Eve, "Be Fruitful and Multiply," and he killed Onan for practicing it in Genesis 38:10.
From the late 1940s through the late 1950s, the birth rate in the LCMS hovered around 37 per 1000 members, not much different than a half century earlier. At this point, the Missouri Synod still held fast to the biblical teaching, vociferously condemning the acceptance of contraception by the general culture and by the Anglicans.
But in 1959, Concordia Publishing House published a book called "Planned Parenthood" by Professor Alfred Rehwinkel (an otherwise conservative theologian) of Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis. This book marked the beginning of the acceptance of contraception within the Missouri Synod. In the book, Rehwinkel praised Margaret Sanger's "brilliance" and "God-given talents." Sanger was the mother of birth control and remains the patron saint of abortionists (as well as eugenics, and euthanasia).
By the late 1960s, the birth rate in the Missouri Synod had dropped by a third to less than 25 per 1000 members.
In 1960, the LCMS baptized 82,000 babies.
In 1981, the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations report on "Human Sexuality" (never adopted in convention) stated: "...in the absence of Scriptural prohibition, there need be no objection to contraception within a marital union which is, as a whole, fruitful." Insert whatever you like into the phrase "as a whole, fruitful" -- whatever that means outside of "childless." This CTCR report did not even attempt to refute the Scriptural prohibition of contraception taught consistently by Christians and OT Jews since the beginning of time.
While total LCMS membership has remained relatively static since 1960, the LCMS baptized only 31,700 children in 2005, a drop of 66% since 1960. We are now, like the rest of the general population, at replacement level fertility levels (about two children per family).
Currently, the casual observer sadly knows the average Lutheran family consists of one or two parents with one to three children (often with various last names). The effect of contraception obviously explains our dwindling Lutheran youth.
I thought you might find these facts illuminating.
P.S. Aaron Wolf has another good article on this in Chronicles Magazine this month (not online). I drew a couple of these figures from that article.