LCMS clergy family size decrease from 1890-1920

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.


Another article about the "no period" pill

My Mother-in-Law sent me this article, and it has such a good quote in it that I felt I should post it too, even though Erich (I still want to call him Caspar) has beaten me to the punch.

"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.

FDA Approves 'No-Period' Birth Control Pill

Lybrel, the first low-dose contraceptive pill that gives women an option to stop their menstrual cycle for an indefinite period of time. This newest form of birth control, developed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, contains 90 micrograms of levonorgestrel and 20 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol -- a combination similar to that found in other low-dose oral contraceptives. The difference here: Lybrel replaces the four- to seven-day placebo pill with continuous daily dosing for nonstop birth control with no menstrual periods.

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.


Issues, Etc. does Contraception

Pr. Todd Wilken interviews Dr. Allan Carlson then has open lines on the subject. Click here for the MP3. The interview and beginning of the open lines segment go quite well. But then near the end of open lines the question of "how many is enough" is brought up by a caller and then Pr. Wilken makes a weak analogy regarding crop management. Then, thankfully, producer Jeff Schwarz (father of four) jumps into redeem the program, injecting the issue of trusting God into the conversation. The open lines continues for the first half of the next hour. Overall, it was a great conversation - better than previous coverage of the issue by Issues, Etc. on the subject. Pr. Wilken handled the callers' questions pretty well. I did not get a chance to call in, however. By the time I did, the program was over. I did get to say hi to Jeff, though. :-)
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.


Happy Mother's Day!

My old Beggarsall blogging buddy "Tim" sent me this article this morning: The Decline of Motherhood.

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!


Children 'bad for planet'

Article from The Australian
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.