It Takes a Congregation

From David Goldman at First Things:

It Takes a Congregation

Jun 26, 2009
David P. Goldman

Contrary to what we hear incessantly, marriage is not a right; it is an estate, a condition. There are conditions of life that have nothing to do with rights. One doesn’t have a right to go through puberty. One either does or doesn’t. What is the condition of being married, and what makes it possible to attain it? Franz Rosenzweig’s anthropology—in which religion is a response to man’s sentience of death, and the sentience of death is not only an individual but also an communal characteristic—may help answer that question. Humankind fights mortality in two ways. The first is to raise children who will remember us, and the second is to seek eternal life through divine grace. The estate of marriage involves both.

“Why do men chase women?” asks Rose Castorini in Moonstruck. “Because they want to live forever.” The data suggest that we marry and have children for just that reason. When we cease to hope in eternal life, we no longer marry and no longer have children. That is the terrible lesson that the triumph of secularism has taught us. In industrial countries where atheism triumphed in the form of communism, fertility rates have fallen to levels barely half of replacement. . . .

For the rest of the article, see http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2009/06/it-takes-a-congregation


Phony Matrimony

Oh, and this one too, sent to me by a fellow quiverfiller:

Phony Matrimony

Here is an quote from it:

Christopher Oleson in Jan./Feb. issue of
Touchstone mag,:
”…Our society has preserved the label ’marriage’ while having
lost all living contact with what that word originally and
essentially signified. When a modern American couple, oblivious as
they are to the procreative and indissoluble nature of the marital
covenant, goes to the altar or courthouse and commits to living
together for life, they are not actually getting married in the
original sense of that word. They are entering into a contractually
formalized ’couplehood’.
What passes for marriage in the Western world these days, both in
terms of our cultural sensibilities as well as in law, is what I
described above, namely, two people who are really crazy about each
other and want to be a ’couple’ for life. Typically, this vision is
not repudiated even by more conservative Americans with ’traditional
The problem with this ’conservative’ acceptance of marriage as
contractual couplehood is that two men or two women can also fit
this description.”
Thus, even the church has vacated most of its argument against gay


Meaningful Intercourse

In case readers here missed this article from Touchstone:

Meaningful Intercourse
By Allan Carlson

"God's Purpose for Marriage"

I found the brief article below, "God's Purpose for Marriage", in the current "Focus on the Family" bulletin insert. For some strange reason these non-Lutheran brochures find their way into some LCMS congregations (how does that happen?).

Please read the article below asking yourself this question: Does this author explain "God's Purpose for Marriage" in a way that homosexuals would necessarily disagree with it?

I don't necessarily disagree with the content of the article, per se. In fact, it's an excellent message. But if "God's Purpose for Marriage" can be boiled down to "teaching me how to love", why should we wonder when
people argue that homosexuals should be allowed to marry?

If this article had been titled "One of God's Purposes for Marriage," and perhaps even briefly mentioned all the purposes so as not to elevate one above the others, I probably wouldn't have any problem with the content.

It also seems strange that this particular aspect of marriage was singled out on Father's Day. It just doesn't fit. It wasn't Husband's Day we celebrated this Sunday, for Pete's sake. What really made this stick out like a sore thumb was the author's statement that "marriage is about much more than managing... kids ...Those aspects are merely natural outcomes of a much greater purpose..."

Funny, I thought God joined husband and wife as one for the purpose of bringing forth godly offspring. Malachi 2:15 seems to imply that marriage is about much more than "teaching me how to love". In fact, from my
experience, I would describe learning how to love as a potential outcome of the greater purpose of begetting children.

How sad that the rich and beautiful biblical understanding of marriage has been so watered down that I could just as well petition the state for a marriage license for my dog and cat to get married. Strange as it seems, they really do show more love for each other than many couples I know. If that's what marriage is about, why can't they get married?

Anyhow, here is the text of the article in question:

By Mitch Temple
(From the Father's Day bulletin insert from Focus on the Family)

Like a lot of men, I jumped into marriage with the thought that being happy was the ultimate goal. As I look back, many of the struggles my wife, Rhonda, and I encountered in the early years stemmed from my misconceptions about her and about marriage in general. My expectations, tone of voice, requests and responses to her all reflected my selfish heart, which considered my wife as a producer of my happiness.

One day, I listened to a sermon on the high calling of marriage, I became extremely emotional and saw my wife and marriage in a totally different way. I hugged Rhonda and said, "I finally got it about this thing called marriage."

The sermon convicted me with the truth that my marriage is about much more than managing intimacy, conflict, kids and finances. It's about more than simply meeting needs and making one another happy.

Those aspects are merely natural outcomes of a much greater purpose — glorifying God and reflecting His sacred truth to one another and to the world. When we become one in our marriage, we reflect the unity of God to the world. When we are not one, when we do not follow His pattern, it affects our relationship with Him and with each other.

When I began to look at Rhonda through God's eyes, it changed the way I saw her: She was His creation, fearfully and wonderfully made, a precious gift. I no longer looked at her with my own selfish agenda. She was no longer somebody who couldn't meet my expectations; she was an expression of God's love and grace. God had freely forgiven her shortcomings and imperfections, so why couldn't I?

Yes, it's sometimes difficult to maintain this heavenly perspective. Whenever I lose it, I go before the Father. I ask, "Lord, help me to see her again through Your eyes. Help me to treat her the way You treat her."

Then God faithfully reminds me that Rhonda isn't in my life to make me happy, but to teach me how to love.

Natural Law Revisited

Sex, without babies? Behold the origin of our conundrums in reproductive ethics! Our culture developed the technology to separate the sexual act from procreation, classically with the extramarital use of the Pill (in the sexual revolution), and thus was unleashed a host of problems that have plagued us ever since. So the argument goes. We would have no reproductive ethical dilemmas had we kept together the sexual act and procreation.

So writes Hans Madueme, a research analyst for the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity in "Natural Law and a Reformed Bioethics: Another Look." Citing a few recent books that seek to revive a natural law tradition among Reformed theologians, Madueme concludes that "when it comes to reproductive ethics, Protestant ethics has typically dropped the ball." He attributes this ball-dropping primarily to Protestantism's departure from natural law.

I wonder if Lutheranism fits a s similar pattern. Some folks at The Hausvater Project pointed out "that the Lutheran Confessions at times also appeal to natural law, natural rights, and the like, even while still maintaining the sola scriptura principle (e.g. Apol. XVI, 11; Apol. XXIII (XI), 6-12, 60). This is possible because natural law, properly construed, will not contradict Scripture." That's looking back to the sixteenth century. Today, many people (Lutherans included) seem more comfortable appealing to personal preferences than articulating their viewpoint in terms of natural law. From Madueme again: "One benefit of recognizing natural law (or with Lutherans, the 'order of creation') is that it recovers a much more robust, ontological, moral realism." It's not just about what I want sex to be, but what God created sex to be, and both nature and scripture reveal that creation plan. Madueme continues:

Properly defined, natural law and biblical revelation are ontologically connected by divine design and that should inform our moral and ethical lives. Bioethics then is not just an intriguing sideshow, a sometimes curious footnote to our otherwise routine lives. The integrity of God's moral order is fundamentally at stake.



You'd think the case for 'choice' at the end of life might be stronger... since the life at stake is likely to be able to participate in making that choice....
Writes Mickey Kaus, fretting about the end-of-life decisions the government may very well take over for us under ObamaCare.

Now, as you may know, the Supreme Court denied the existence of a federal constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, but the opinion (by Chief Justice Rehnquist) shows deep concern for the interests of the individual who might suffer from untreated depression or who might be vulnerable to "abuse, neglect, and mistakes." The Court worried that family and medical personnel might subtly pressure someone to choose death to save money, and that, even uncoerced, some people might think it is the decent, honorable choice to spare their families the cost of medical care.

But all of that supports Kaus's point. It's one thing to deny the choice to die, quite another to deny the choice to live. The individual may not have a right to get killed, because the state's interest in protecting people from coercion and abuse is a good one. But Kaus is concerned about a government that wants you dead — perhaps not by actively offing you, but by maintaining full control over the medical treatments you need in order to fend off death.
Indeed. Perfect Storm is brewing: Aging boomers, economic turmoil, moral relativism within a culture of death, rising health care costs, and Those Who Know Best taking over.

Lord, have mercy.

It is Impossible to Both Love Your Child and to Wish Her Dead

Father Baker's post on "Parents sue for pre-natal misdiagnosis of Down syndrome" on his blog site, Bioethike deserves comment. See http://bioethike.com/2009/06/15/parents-sue-for-prenatal-misdiagnosis-of-down-syndrome/. I left a similar comment to the following on the site (with some editing which I should have made before I posted there), but wanted to post it here as well:

The Levys are heartless. As a father of a special needs child, I find preposterous the assertion that parents love their Down Syndrome child as much as their other children, but would have killed her had they known before she was born that she had Down Syndrome. We do not kill those whom we love nor do we sue others for giving us inaccurate information which prevented us from killing someone whom we now claim to love. Put simply, it is a lie.

I can understand that the Levys may find themselves in financial need given the extra expenses often involved in caring for a special needs child. Fortunately, God has given to me a well-paying job with excellent benefits and a wife who is a health care profession who has a good understanding of how to manage the needs of our special needs child. I may not, therefore, face all the problems they face. However, to file what is called a wrongful life suit arising out of their failure to kill their child but for the inaccurate information is not the way to solve those problems. If they are Christians, one hopes that they are part of a community of family and friends who will help where needed. If not, then we can pray that they become part of such a Christian community.

Were I their two older children, I would find frightening the assertion that their younger disabled sibling is just as dear to their parents as they are. What that says, even if they don't intend it, is that none of their children are so dear to them that they wouldn't have killed them had they known before their birth that they would be disabled.

Hopefully, the Levys will learn that God gives us burdens as blessings, not as curses. Special needs children require special effort, effort that changes their parents. Those changes can be for the better, and become a blessing, or for worse, and become a curse. The mother and father, through the grace of God, largely determine which it is. May God melt their hard hearts and give them the grace to be sanctified through the life of this special needs child, the child with which He blessed them.


Hopeful Signs in the SBC


A Southern Baptist Turns Catholic on Birth Control

available at http://blogs.theledger.com/default.asp?item=2388560

Contributed by Cary McMullen - Posted: June 11, 2009 1:56:14 PM

See the following excerpt:

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., has attracted a good bit of attention lately in Southern Baptist circles as the primary author of a proposal called the Great Commission Resurgence, intended to shore up flagging membership and baptism numbers.

One of the points in that document calls for Baptists to have "gospel-saturated homes that see children as a gift from God and as our first mission field." That's a pretty generic statement that most Baptists would go along with, but apparently, Akin has in mind larger families.

Associated Baptist Press reports that Akin said in an April 16 chapel address, "Southern Baptists have been seduced by the sirens of modernity in a very important place. We have been seduced in how we do family and how many we should have in the home." Akin recalled a former missionary who declared that birth control is a sin and said, "You say, 'What are you saying?' I'm saying you need to have a bunch of kids. It has a missiological motivation."

For a more extensive article on this same post, see http://www.churchexecutive.com/newsprint.asp?print=1&mode=4&N_ID=1938

For an earlier related post see http://lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/2009/04/different-denomination-same-story.html

For a related video about a Southern Baptist seminary professor who delivered a sermon at the seminary chapel which included a message against birth control, see http://www.swbts.edu/dashboard.cfm?dateString=20081007&dateToLoad=October%2007,%202008