4.19.2009

"'Anti-Abortion' is Only the Beginning" Part 2

Last month, I posted my request to LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick that he clarify his statement that "LCMS congregations and leaders ought to encourage prevention of unintended pregnancies".

I asked by email:

"What, exactly, do you mean by "unintended pregnancies"? Also, please
explain how congregations and leaders should encourage their prevention."

I received the following reply on Maundy Thursday, April 9:

Dear Dr. Heidenreich,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

President Kieschnick received your email and has asked me to respond to
you on his behalf.

The one certain method for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies is
abstinence. Congregations and leaders should encourage and teach
abstinence, within the context of the Sixth Commandment with its
explanation in Luther's Small Catechism and other Biblical teaching in
that accord.

Blessings,
Rev. Larry Krueger
Assistant to the President

I have replied as follows:

Rev. Krueger,

Thank you for your reply. However, with all due respect, you did not even attempt to answer my primary question: What, exactly, does President Kieschnick mean by 'unintended pregnancies'? On this question, your email leaves me more confused than I was before.

You have substituted the term "unwanted pregnancies." Is this what President Kieschnick meant to say rather than "unintended pregnancies"? Whether a couple "intended" to conceive a child or not, subsequently considering any "pregnancy" (i.e. baby) as "unwanted" is a blatantly sinful attitude, whether the couple is married or not.

In talking about "unintended pregnancies" was President Kieschnick referring only to out-of-wedlock conception? If so, then why did he speak only in terms of preventing pregnancy rather than unambiguously condemning the sin of fornication?

If, on the other hand, President Kieschnick was not only referring to out-of-wedlock conception, your answer to me would appear to suggest that he believes married couples should abstain for the purpose of preventing "unintended pregnancies." If this is the case, is he suggesting the use of Natural Family Planning, or is he suggesting complete abstinence?

Above all, I question this whole notion of "unintended" pregnancies. Such language fails to confess the fact that the creation of human life is an act of God. There is, therefore, no such thing as an "unintended" pregnancy. God is the one who "intends" to create life, and it is He alone who opens and closes the womb. No life can be created if God does not intend a life to come into being. We are simply His instruments.

In Genesis 30:2, we read: "Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said: 'Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?'"

Luther comments on this passage as follows:

“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, page 332]

So, again, I ask what President Kieschnick meant by the term "unintended pregnancies."

Blessings to you in our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Erich Heidenreich, DDS
Zion-Marshall, MI

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

A free resource for learning NFP is the 156-page manual Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, available at www.NFPandmore.org. This manual teaches all the signs of fertility plus the rules associated with them. It also includes the why of NFP and teaches God's plan for spacing babies through eco-breastfeeding or the Seven Standards. On the left side bar is info titled "Not Just for Catholics." Sheila Kippley, volunteer for NFP International

Rev. Robert Franck said...

President Kieschnick's entire sentance reads, "For example, LCMS congregations and leaders ought to encourage prevention of unintended pregnancies and provide support—physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual—for those who are dealing with a pregnancy out of wedlock in a way that demonstrates as much love and concern for the one who is carrying a child as for the unborn child itself."

I think the unintended pregancies he wants to prevent are those "out of wedlock," but you are right, his wording is pretty unclear, and the response only muddied it further.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

A good and charitable point, Rev. Frank.

What concerned me the most was President Kieschnick's focus on contraception rather than addressing the sin of fornication.

Even when fornicating, contraception is a sin.

Sin added to sin equals double sin. Two negatives don't make a positive.

Judah fornicated with Tamar, yet God saw fit to bless Tamar through that sinful union with a child, Perez, and...

"...Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife[a] of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.[b] 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon,[c] and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ."

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Sorry, that should be Rev. FRANCK.

Rev. Robert Franck said...

By the way, Dr. Heidenriech, I thought both your original and second questions posed to President Kieschnick were excellent. His original statement was vague, and you have to almost do an injustice to English grammar to make it apply to out of wedlock couples. And then, as you point out in your follow up question, if that is the point of his comment, why focus on pregnancies rather than the immoral sexual relations.

Rev. Robert Franck said...

Any response yet from the President's office?

You know, even if you don't view contraception as itself a sin, I don't know why so many times Christians will focus on avoiding PREGNANCY outside of marriage rather than the immoral behavior itself.

Perhaps because we don't take seriously the eternal consequences of unrepentant sinful behavior. Near the end of the Bible, we read in Rev. 22:15: "Outside are ... the sexually immoral." That's outside, meaning eternally away from God.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

No further response yet.

I share your incredulity. Another potential reason for the incorrect focus is that people view children as such a negative consequence - a sentiment shown in the current U.S. President's comment about not wanting one of his daughters to be "punished with a child." If a pregnancy is "unintended" (i.e. not planned), it is "unwanted" - a point shown by Rev. Krueger's apparent interchangeable use of these terms.

With all the negative earthly consequences of immoral sexual behavior that could be listed as disincentives, I would never include the creation of life as a negative.

GL said...

The full verse for Rev. 22:15 reads: "Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

The word translated "socerers" is the Greek word "Pharmakos." Does this relate to contraceptives and/or abortifacients? Some think so. I suggest Googling the terms "Pharmakos" and "contraception" and reading some of the results.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

It's certainly not enough to hang an argument on, but it is interesting to compare Rev. 22:15 with 9:21 and 18:22-23.

Regarding 18:22, Lenski writes:
Third, no millstone longer grinds flour, no baking is done to sustain life. Who is left to eat it? Fourth, no lamp is lighted at night. Every night is dark. No eyes are left to see. Fifth, even in the dark no bridegroom and bride longer whisper to each other. There is not one couple, not one that might produce children and begin to introduce a start of life again.Regarding vs. 23, Lenski writes:

Why, - why? The reason for this silence of the grave has already been given. No need to mention "the kings of the earth" (v.9, etc.) or the men connected with the sea (v. 17, et.). Two short ├Âti are enough, the one taking us back to "the merchants of the earth" (v. 11-16), the other to the whore's cup (17:2) and to the wine in which she served her pharmakeia - the word meant administering drugs and was used in an evil sense for "poisoning" and finally for baleful "sorcery."Food for thought.

GL said...

Indeed, the exact meaning which the inspired authors of Scripture intended when using pharmakos and related words in certainly to uncertain to give a definitive argument on the point.

Having said that, Rev. 9:20-21, which reads:

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries [pharmakeia], nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.is quite applicable, though, of course, not directly on point. Here we live in an age in which abortion, sodomy, human embryonic stem cell research and same-sex "marriage" have all become increasingly accepted. Moral decline was predicted by those who opposed denying the sinfulness of contraception and it has come. The legal and spiritual connection between contraception and these phenomenon of our age are obvious. Yet, otherwise conservative and orthodox Christian who are appalled by all of these developments and declare their intense desire to reverse these trends refuse to give up their contraception (i.e., their pharmakeia).

In the Didache we fine the pharmakeia being condemned by the early Christians immediately before the condemnation of abortion and infanticide, as if pharmakeia is related in some way with what follows. Could it be what was being condemned was contraception (by which one seeks to prevent new life from being conceived), then abortion (by which new life which has been conceived is prevented from ever being born), and then infanticide (by which new life which is born is prevented from ever maturing beyond infancy), the three acts manifesting the same hatred of new life along a continuum?

As Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon has put it, we abort in the flesh because (with our contraceptive attitudes) we have aborted already in our hearts and minds. And with partial birth abortion, it could be argued that we commit infanticide because through abortion we have already committed infanticide in our hearts and minds. I would also add, that we commit sodomy (sexual acts which by their nature cannot be procreative) because we first committed sodomy (by contraception) in our hearts and minds. And that gets back to the point here.

I think there is a lot to the Scriptural use of the word pharmakeia in close proximity to references to sexual immorality. I doubt they are just two unrelated sins which just happen to often be mentioned in conjunction with one another. Acceptance of contraception leads to acceptance of fornication and sodomy because the mindset which leads to the acceptance of the former leads to the acceptance of the latter.