1.31.2009

Obama and The Culture of death


"...it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of "the strong" against the weak who have no choice but to submit".
John Paul II ,1995

"For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us ... I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate."
Barack Obama, 2009

Read the whole thing.

1.29.2009

There is nothing new under the sun



It turns out that Speaker Pelosi's proposal to use contraception to deal with an economic crisis is not an idea new to her. The following is from Time magazine:

"Joyous Boys and Girls"

In London last week the Most Rev. Dr. Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, spoke in open, frank, explicit terms upon a secular subject which some Protestants and nearly all Catholics consider unmentionable.

"We must deplore," said Dr. Lang, "the increasing use by young, unmarried people of birth control knowledge; but we must welcome freedom of the sexes in other directions."

A bachelor himself, the Primate continued: "We want to liberate the sex impulse, which is part of the heritage of humanity, from the impression that it is always to be surrounded by negative warnings and restraints, and put in its rightful place among the great creative and formative things of every healthy, joyous boy and girl. I would rather have all the risks from free discussion of sex than the greater risks run by a conspiracy of silence."

On the day of Dr. Lang's address several delegations from a large number of public bodies waited upon Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald, urged him to put through Parliament a bill permitting the widest possible dissemination of birth control information "as an economic measure . . . as a most effective means of relieving unemployment . . . the population of Great Britain has increased beyond the country's resources. . . ."

From Economic Stimulus to 21st Century Eugenics?


WorldNetDaily reports:
Economic stimulus? Feds want your medical records

Twila Brase, president of CCHC, said at the time the problem is that "researchers already are looking for genes related to violence, crime and different behaviors."

In an extensive interview with WND at the time, she said, "In England they decided they should have doctors looking for problem children, and have those children reported, and their DNA taken in case they would become criminals."

The group proclaims in its vision statement a desire to see newborns screened for 200 conditions. It also forecasts "every student … with an individual program for education based on confidential interpretation of their family medical history, their brain imaging, their genetic predictors of best learning methods. …"

Further, every individual should share information about "personal and family health histories" as well as "gene tests for recessive conditions and drug metabolism" with the "other parent of their future children."

Still further, it seeks "ecogenetic research that could improve health, lessen disability, and lower costs for sickness."

"They want to test every child for 200 conditions, take the child's history and a brain image, and genetics, and come up with a plan for that child," Brase said at the time. "They want to learn their weaknesses and defects.

The next step, said Brase, is obvious: The government, with information about potential health weaknesses, could say to couples, "We don't want your expensive children."

"I think people have forgotten about eugenics. The fact of the matter is that the eugenicists have not gone away. Newborn genetic testing is the entry into the 21st Century version of eugenics," she said.

1.27.2009

"Birth Control" Discussion on Wittenberg Trail

It's been going on since Thursday.

Update on Stimulus Pkg and Family Planning

The Associated Press reports: Family planning money may be dropped. Excerpts:
House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.

"How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives how does that stimulate the economy?" House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio said on Friday after congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House. "You can go through a whole host of issues that have nothing to do with growing jobs in America and helping people keep their jobs."

Several Democrats said Monday night that Obama had spoken personally with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., about removing the provision. Waxman is chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over Medicaid and a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The Democrats who described the likely reversal did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to disclose developments not yet made public.

The WSJ on Aunt Nanny's "Stimulus" Plan



From the Op/Ed section of the January 27, 2009 WSJ (see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123302034881718073.html):

One of the more curious items in the $825 billion House "stimulus" is $87 billion to help states with Medicaid, specifically including an expansion of family-planning services. The implication is that more people mean less economic growth.

* * *

[Pelosi stated]: "The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now, and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help states meet their financial needs. One of those -- one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception -- will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

The notion that a larger population will produce a lower standard of living can be traced to the 18th-century economist Thomas Malthus. But during Malthus's own lifetime, his prediction was proved false, as he later acknowledged. Population and living standards rose simultaneously, and have continued to do so.

Ms. Pelosi's remarks ignore the importance of human capital, which is the ultimate resource. Fewer babies would move the U.S. in the demographic direction of Europe and Asia. On the Continent, birth rates already are effectively zero, and economists are predicting labor shortages in the years ahead. In Japan, where the population is aging very fast, workers are now encouraged to go home early to procreate. Japan is projected to lose 21% of its population by 2050.

The age and growth rate of a nation help determine its economic prosperity. A smaller workforce can result in less overall economic output. Without enough younger workers to replace retirees, health and pension costs can become debilitating. And when domestic markets shrink, so does capital investment. Whatever one's views on taxpayer subsidies for contraception, as economic stimulus the idea is loopy.

1.26.2009

Japan's Stimulus Program

Maybe someone should tell Nancy Pelosi about the following:

From CNN.com

Workers urged: Go home and multiply

By CNN's Kyung Lah

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Even before one reaches the front door of Canon's headquarters in Tokyo, one can sense the virtual stampede of employees pouring out of the building exactly at 5:30 p.m.

In a country where 12-hour workdays are common, the electronics giant has taken to letting its employees leave early twice a week for a rather unusual reason: to encourage them to have more babies.

"Canon has a very strong birth planning program," says the company's spokesman Hiroshi Yoshinaga. "Sending workers home early to be with their families is a part of it."

Japan in the midst of an unprecedented recession, so corporations are being asked to work toward fixing another major problem: the country's low birthrate.

At 1.34, the birthrate is well below the 2.0 needed to maintain Japan's population, according to the country's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Keidanren, Japan's largest business group, with 1,300 major international corporations as members, has issued a plea to its members to let workers go home early to spend time with their families and help Japan with its pressing social problem.

One reason for the low birth rate is the 12-hour workday. But there are several other factors compounding the problem -- among them, the high cost of living, and social rigidity toward women and parenting.

In addition, Japan's population is aging at a faster pace than any other country in the world.

Analysts say the world's second-largest economy faces its greatest threat from its own social problems, rather than outside forces. And the country desperately needs to make some fixes to its current social and work structures, sociologists say.

Canon says its 5:30 p.m. lights-out program is one simple step toward helping address the population problem. It also has an added benefit: Amid the global economic downturn the company can slash overtime across the board twice a week.

"It's great that we can go home early and not feel ashamed," said employee Miwa Iwasaki.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/01/26/canon.babies/index.html

Copyright (c) 2009 Cable News Network

Nancy Pelosi says that birth control will help the economy.



On DRUDGE this morning:  http://www.drudgereport.com/flashpbc.htm

Even if I did not oppose birth control, I would still be left speechless by her.  
 
Wow.

I nominate Jennifer Roback Morse for Speaker of the House.

1.23.2009

Effect of Smaller Families on Our Economy

Population Control on Issues, Etc.

Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute speaks about the state of the economy, population control, and the effect America's smaller families are having on our country.

1.22.2009

A Day of Mourning

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. To mark this day, Dr. Ryan MacPherson offers us an enlightening book review at the Hausvater Project about how Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) became a Christian and now opposes abortion:

How a Christian Child's Love Won Jane Roe's Heart


A review of Won by Love by Norma McCorvey (with Gary Thomas) Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998

Christ's love, communicated in actions and not just in words, transformed America's most infamous abortion advocate into a Christian defender of purity and life. Wouldn't it be wonderful if no one could ever hear the phrase "Roe v. Wade" without remembering "Jane Roe's" repentance and Christ's forgiveness?

1.19.2009

“What Jesus has to do with your body”

video

The text of this sermon on 1 Corinthians 6 is reprinted here by permission of the vicar who wrote it and told us about it in a comment here.
Epiphany 2B
1 Cor 6v12-20
“What Jesus has to do with your body”

One common bumper sticker these days reads, “Keep your laws off my body!” It’s a sentiment the Corinthian church of St. Paul’s day would echo whole-heartedly. They write to him asking, in effect, “What does Jesus have to do with my body?” This is a question that, in various forms, has engaged Christians through the centuries. If grace be true, if the freedom of a Christian is real, if God has indeed redeemed our souls—what’s to keep us from living however we wish? Who’s to say otherwise? What does Jesus have to do with my body?

To better understand where the Corinthians are coming from we need a brief church history lesson. In the first couple centuries of the church, a heretical movement snuck in called Gnosticism: G-N-O-S-T-I-C-I-S-M. From the Greek gnosis, knowledge. Gnostics held that

  • The soul, not the body, is man’s essence
  • That soul is in fact imprisoned by the body, but freed from that imprisonment—redeemed—by “knowing the right things”, secret things
  • Since the soul is what matters and what has been redeemed and what will be set free, the body should be treated accordingly: either whip it like a trained monkey or indulge it like a spoiled grandchild. Typically the latter.

This ancient heresy of Gnosticism is a perpetual heresy, afflicting the church both then and now. It pops up whenever believers would pride themselves on knowing the right things, contenting themselves with nebulous “spirituality”, to the neglect of concrete life in the world. Gnosticism exists wherever the soul is prized over and against the body. Hence the question: “What does Jesus have to do with my body?”

The quotes in our text this morning are Corinthian slogans that Paul is repeating back to them; these are the arguments the Corinthians were offering Paul:

  • “All things are permissible for me”—What good is “grace”, what good is “freedom”, if it doesn’t mean I can do whatever I want?
  • “Food for the stomach…God will destroy them both” and “Every sin…the body”—all that matters is my soul, and this body’s just a shell; what difference does it make how I live in it, what I do to it?

It’s like this. I know many of you went to college. Did any of you stay in a rental house or apartment during your time in college? Let’s just say, these are not the finest dwellings one can live in—but my junior year of college a few friends and I decided to do just that. We were moving into Haslett Arms apartments in East Lansing, and our first day seeing the place, the out-going tenant showed us around.

Now, this was one of those apartments that is furnished, so it had desks, bunk beds, chairs, and so forth. And it had a couch: a sagging, worn, coffee-stained-teeth colored couch. And the former tenant says to us, “Do not—do not—under any circumstances or for any reason whatsoever, sit on or lay on this couch. Trust me on this one.”

The Corinthians’ attitude toward the body is like a college kid’s attitude toward his apartment: it’s just a rental, so what do I care? I am just a stranger here; this is not my true home. I will live as I please, with no one to tell me otherwise. Such is the so-called “freedom” of the Corinthian—and college freshman. It’s a freedom to do whatever I darn well please with my body.

And so the Corinthians, in the name of Christian freedom, were engaging in some stereotypical college freshmen revelry, if you catch my drift. Their bastardized pseudo-gospel held that they could live however they wanted. It doesn’t matter: our souls are redeemed. That’s the Christian message. Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die—and our stomach’s gonna be destroyed, so we might as well enjoy it!

Is such an attitude unique to the Corinthian church? Hardly. Among Lutherans, it’s not uncommon to eat like an ox and drink like a fish—as signs of how orthodox you are! But Paul addresses the issue of sexual immorality specifically, and so let’s stay with him for a moment.

The Corinthians justified taking prostitutes with their laissez-faire attitude toward their bodies. I doubt many among us would stoop that far, but that doesn’t mean other aspects of our sexual ethic are above reproach. The Gnostic inclination is a weed that bends to reach light wherever it may be. To offer only a few examples:

  • A recent study found that teens who took a “virginity pledge”—a promise to abstain from sex until marriage, taken almost exclusively by Christians—were no more likely to remain abstinent than those who did not.
  • Statistics vary, but according to several sources no less than half of Christian men view pornography on a regular basis.
  • And at risk of sounding too Roman Catholic: the uncritical acceptance of birth control methods and the contraceptive mentality propagated by our culture is a mark against the Church. We are called to “be fruitful and multiply”, and though sex is not merely for procreation, attempts to sever the God-ordained connection between sex and procreation are sinful. Though we oppose abortion, we neglect the silent abortion perpetrated everyday by IUDs, hormonal methods of birth control, and other abortifacients.

Our culture teaches us that our bodies are our own, and that we should do whatever we desire to maximize our pleasure. Nothing could be more hazardous than our culture’s licentiousness met with a Gnostic view of the body. Go ahead: stuff your body—or starve your body. Do what feels good. “Food for the stomach…” Just so long as your soul is okay, your body may do as it pleases.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are not edifying exercises of Christian freedom. You are not being more “spiritual” by neglecting and denigrating life in the body. We Lutherans have never been ones to shy away from boasting in our Christian freedom, but we need to take heed, for neither were the Corinthians. A “freedom” that boasts of its license to do as it pleases, confident that the soul will escape unscathed, is not Christian; it’s Gnostic. We’re that college kid throwing up on the carpet and sleeping on a bed of pizza boxes and punching a hole in the wall: eh, what’s it matter? All things are permissible! Food for the body and the body for food—and they’re both gonna burn!

Paul has a word for both the Corinthians and us: not so fast. “All things are permissible for me”? No: you are a member, a limb, of Christ’s body. You belong to Him and to your fellow limbs in the Body of Christ. “Food for the stomach, and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both”? No: God will not “destroy” our bodies; He raised Jesus’ body, and will raise ours, too—emphatic evidence that the body is of utmost importance.

You are not your own, Paul says; you were bought at a price. That body, which you are so wantonly abusing, happens to be a body Christ purchased with his blood. It is not just some dump you can let rot; it houses the Holy Spirit. Yes: Jesus has everything to do with your body.

[Recount scenes from Les Mis.]

And you and I are not our own, Paul says; we were bought at a price. Like Fantine, like the Corinthians, like humans through the ages, we prostitute ourselves and become slaves to sin. We abuse this body, which is a gift, and we place it in low esteem. But your body, your very self—you—are a person for whom God is willing to fight for. Our Lord Jesus shed His own blood to redeem you from your sinful way of life, to give you the fairy tale ending. Jesus has everything to do with your body: it belongs to him.

Your body is not your own, and so you are also not at liberty to ridicule it, despise it, loathe it. You might look in the mirror and see a body that’s too ugly, too fat, too skinny, too short, too old, too decrepit. That’s not what your Heavenly Father sees. He sees his child, whom he made, whom he gave His Son for to reclaim. He sees the jewel in his crown, the apple of his eye. You may wonder why God made you, but God says you’re fearfully and wonderfully made.

And I don’t just mean your soul; it’s no less stained than your body. No: body & soul, Jesus died and rose for you. Our God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is so enamoured with you, body & soul, that he will raise you, too. He thinks that that supposed “decrepit old shell” of yours isn’t a college-campus rental; it’s a Holy Spirit palace. Like the old poster says: God made you, and he doesn’t make junk. And he bought you—and there is no more savvy shopper than Him.

So what do we do? Having been freed from that old way of life, do we go back to it? Does Fantine return to the streets? No! Of course not! Like Eric Liddell knew, the Scottish Olympian of Chariots of Fire fame, Jesus gave His body to redeem our bodies, and so we feel His pleasure when we run, or exercise, or live chaste and disciplined lives, or whatever: we glorify with our body the one who has bought it. You and I are not our own. Thanks be to God!

Now may the peace of God, etc.

1.18.2009

Revised LCMS Report on Contraception

Last summer we discussed an LCMS position paper. Entitled "Christ in Your Family", the paper was published in June, 2008, by the World Relief and Human Care Sanctity of Human Life Committee in answer to LCMS Resolution 6-10, which requested: "That the Board for Human Care Ministries review the various birth control products, clarifying which ones act sometimes or all the time as abortifacients."

The committee's original report was in error on many points of fact. However, as of January 9, 2009, I am pleased to report that the original paper has now been replaced by a vastly improved document entitled: "
Guidance on Contraceptive Methods". Thanks be to God!

Among other positive changes, this revised document no longer addresses the broader issue of contraception in general. For that reason, it is two pages shorter (18 rather than 20). While I am happy to report that the revised document is significantly better than the original, it still contains serious errors.

The most egregious error that remains, in my opinion, is a one-sentence statement claiming that the anti-implantation effects of ECPs ("emergency contraceptive pills") have been "refuted" by an endometrial study. This is NOT a factually true statement. Studies of ECPs thus far still cannot fully explain ECP's rates of "success" without taking anti-implantation effects into account. There are anti-implantation effects that the endometrial study wouldn't even address. Some of the research suggests abortifacient effects arrising not from failed implantation, but rather from such things as luteal phase dysfunction. The whole section on ECPs should have been re-written.

For this reason and others, this new report is still not a document I would direct anyone to for an accurate evaluation of the abortifacient properties of various birth control methods. However, it is not as grossly misleading as it was before on most counts.

Below is an important excerpt from the new report showing a vast improvement in the language of this revision as compared to the original document. While the third (one-sentence) paragraph in the snippet below is absurd (as I already abundantly informed them), it is at least offset by the context.
Concluding Remarks on hormonal contraception

Insofar as no hormonal contraceptive can suppress ovulation all the time there is some risk, whether great or small, of breakthrough ovulation, thus creating a scenario in which the egg may or may not be fertilized. If fertilized (which would lead to a pregnancy) it may or may not be able to successfully implant in an altered endometrium (which would either lead to a pregnancy or a chemical abortion).

The LCMS has historically determined that human life begins at conception. This position is firmly grounded on the science of embryology and on Holy Scripture.[1] Because of this confession on human life, some people have ethical concerns about the use of hormonal contraception. Some pro-life medical organizations have not taken a stance against hormonal contraception.[2] Other pro-life medical organizations emphasize “that the pill and similar birth control products act, part of the time, by design, to prevent implantation of an already created human being. These products clearly cause an early abortion and are - despite the semantic gymnastics of their ardent apologists - abortifacient.”[4] Nearly all scientists and medical professionals agree that this is a possible action of the pill; however, scientific data does not exist to state with certainty how frequently such events occur. Therefore, the scientific data does not allow one to state definitively that hormonal contraceptive methods are abortifacients, but the possibility that this can occur must be acknowledged.

There are also some pro-life health care providers and theologians who believe that the Pill works solely by preventing ovulation.

The LCMS Sanctity of Life Committee following the mandate given to it by the Synod in Convention, cannot state definitively that hormonal contraception does not at least some of the time cause a chemical abortion. The medical and scientific community acknowledges this possibility but cannot state how frequently or if in fact this does occur. In light of this, some Christian couples may have concerns about hormonal contraception. Rather than defaulting immediately to the Pill or other hormonal methods, they should keep an open mind and make themselves aware of all forms of contraception including natural family planning, barrier methods, and sterilization in certain exceptionally difficult situations.
So, read the new report and then comment below as to what you think of the revision.

1.09.2009

Birth-control pill linked to male infertility

Catholic News Service reports:
The birth-control pill is causing "devastating" environmental damage and plays a role in rising male infertility rates, said the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

"We have sufficient evidence to argue that one of the considerable factors contributing to male infertility in the West -- with its ever decreasing numbers of spermatozoa in men -- is environmental pollution caused by the byproducts of the pill" released in human waste, the article said.

Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the Vatican-based World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, wrote the article that appeared in the paper's Jan. 4 edition.
In another article, also linked in the post below about Djerassi, we read:
...the Spanish doctor pointed to the Federation's recent document commemorating the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, which "irrefutably shows that the most widely used anti-ovulatory pill in the industrialised world, the one made with low doses of estrogen and progesterone, in many cases works with an anti-implantation effect; that is, abortifacient [effect], because it expels a small human embryo.

Castellvi also pointed out that "this anti-implantation effect is acknowledged in scientific literature, which shamelessly speaks of an embryo loss rate. Curiously, however, this information does not reach the public at large."
I can't find the original source article in L'Osservatore Romano, so if anyone has a link, please post it in the comments.

Austrian Chemist Carl Djerassi, Co-creator of the Pill

CathNews reports: Eighty five year old Carl Djerassi the Austrian chemist who helped invent the contraceptive pill now says that his co-creation has led to a "demographic catastrophe."

He described families who had decided against reproduction as "wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it."

The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an "epidemic" far worse, but given less attention, than obesity. Young Austrians, he said, were committing national suicide if they failed to procreate.

1.08.2009

Whoever Sows Sparingly Will Also Reap Sparingly



Complete article available at http://www.crosswalk.com/news/commentary/11597904/

Japan: Attack of the Senior Citizens


Chuck Colson

BreakPoint


January 9, 2008

Japan has a well-earned reputation as one of the most orderly societies on earth. Its crime rate, while rising in recent years, is still low by Western standards. When crime does spike, many Japanese are quick to blame foreigners.

But a recent crime wave is undeniably home grown—in more ways than one.
The surge in lawlessness involves not only property crime such as shoplifting, pick pocketing, and embezzlement, but also a rise in violent crime. In response, the government is planning three new prison wards—complete with “metal walkers and support rails.”

Metal walkers and support rails? Oh, did I mention that the new “usual suspects” are Japanese senior citizens?

* * *

If more senior citizens don’t explain the phenomenon, what does? A popular explanation is “financial hardship.” Koichi Hama of Ryukoku University spoke for many experts when he said that “it’s very difficult to live on their small pensions.” They shoplift to make ends meet, and then it escalates.

While this may be part of the explanation, Japanese elderly are hardly unique in their economic vulnerability. Around the world, economic downturns hit pensioners living on fixed incomes especially hard. Yet we don’t read about crime waves among European and North American elderly.

An important part of the explanation lies in the increasing isolation of Japan’s elderly. Japan’s microscopic birthrate has produced an aging population with no one to care for it, whether children or paid caretakers. Japanese elderly are so starved for companionship that they buy talking dolls they think “are actual grandsons and granddaughters,” according to the manufacturer. [See Erich's post related to this phenomenon below.]

* * *

No society that devalues marriage, that ignores the importance of child rearing, and that rejects the foundational role of families can sustain itself over time.

While we may not experience a geriatric crime wave like Japan’s, unless we change our ways, our future will be just as bleak—and lonely.


"Reborn" babies

Have any of you heard of this disturbing new trend?

"One woman in the BBC documentary [My Fake Baby], married and in her 40s, said she wanted a real baby, but was too busy to commit to caring for a real one. A reborn doll satisfies her maternal instincts, she said, without all the carrying on and mess."

How long do you think it will take before we hear stories about these "babies" being baptized?

1.07.2009

"You show us there was never a wrong time to have you. Only a right one."


At Letchworth State Park in New York

("You are Germany") was a social marketing campaign in Germany. Its aim was to achieve positive thinking and a new national feeling. It was created by the initiative "Partner für Innovation" consisting of 25 media corporations and was co-ordinated by Bertelsmann. The large-scale campaign caused much controversy and discussion.
The second campaign seems to encourage to procreate:
In 2007 the campaign appeals for more child friendliness in the German society because of the steadily falling birth rate in Germany. In the manifesto this becomes clear especially by the last verses: “Wir brauchen mehr von deiner Sorte, weil ohne dich die Gegenwart keinen Spaß bringt und die Zukunft bereits vergangen ist. Du bist Deutschland.” (We need more of your kind because without you the present brings no fun and the future has already passed. You are Germany.)
Here is the ad with English subtitles:


At 1:17 into the ad, there is this line:  "You show us there was never a wrong time to have you.  Only a right one."  

It almost seems as if the leadership of "Partner für Innovation" immediately responded to pages 109-110 of America Alone (2006), in which Mark Steyn dismissed its first campaign, by producing in 2007 this second, more controversial campaign which actually encourages Germans to value and have children.  I wonder if the political and business leadership of Europe is secretly reading Steyn...

Servus!



1.06.2009

Virginity Pledges, Abstinence Education, Law and Gospel, Take 2



From the Opinion page of the JANUARY 6, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal, we read:

Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex
Yes, attitudes do make a difference in behavior.


By WILLIAM MCGURN

The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don't. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers: most do not make it to the marriage bed as virgins.

Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in.

"Virginity Pledges Don't Stop Teen Sex," screams CBS News. "Virginity pledges don't mean much," adds CNN. "Study questions virginity pledges," says the Chicago Tribune. "Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds," heralds the Washington Post. "Virginity Pledges Fail to Trump Teen Lust in Look at Older Data," reports Bloomberg. And on it goes.

In other words, teens will be teens, and moms or dads who believe that concepts such as restraint or morality have any application today are living in a dream world. Typical was the lead for the CBS News story: "Teenagers who take virginity pledges are no less sexually active than other teens, according to a new study."

Here's the rub: It just isn't true.

* * *

The real headline from this study is this: "Religious Teens Differ Little in Sexual Behavior Whether or Not They Take a Pledge."

* * *

Most parents appreciate that a pledge of virginity -- a one-time event that might be made at an emotional moment in a teen's life -- is not some talisman that will magically shield their sons and daughters from the strong and normal desires that grow as they discover their sexuality. What these parents hope to do is direct these desires in a way that recognizes sex as a great gift, which in the right circumstances fosters genuine intimacy between a man and a woman and at its freest offers the possibility of new life.


To read more, see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123120095259855597.html

1.03.2009

A Common Fallacious Argument

We've perhaps all heard this argument:

Non-abortifacient contraception is fine because if it's God's will for you to have a baby he'll just see to it that the contraception doesn't work.


This argument is wrong on so many levels that it is hard to begin assessing them all: Calvinist assertion of inviolability of God's will, begging the question, putting the Lord your God to the test, basic stupidity, etc.

So, I'd like to ask for further exposition of everything that is wrong with this statement. And, more importantly, what would be the best pastoral response to such an erroneous assertion?

1.01.2009

Virginity Pledges, Abstinence Education, Law and Gospel

Perhaps you saw the recent headline: Many Teens Don't Keep Virginity Pledges. It would seem that a recent study apparently found that abstinence pledges don't work. The study also apparently found that those who make virginity pledges are less likely to use birth control. Liberals would have us believe that this study is evidence that we should be providing birth control to teens rather than preaching abstinence to them.

All of the mainline media stories I saw claim that this new study provides a direct indictment of abstinence programs. Mollie Hemingway has posted a good analysis of the wrongheaded media coverage of the story. It appears from Mollie's post that this study cannot rightly be used to support such a claim.

However, regardless of what this study means or doesn't mean, let's entertain a Christian ethical analysis of the hypothesis. What if it is true that abstinence education and/or virginity pledges are proven to be ineffective means of reducing teen sexual activity? What would this tell us? That we should stop telling teens they shouldn't have sex before marriage? That teens should stop making resolutions to lead a sexually pure life? That we should just accept the fact that teens are going to engage in premarital sex and provide the necessary means of preventing disease and "being punished with a child?" I hope the Christian answers to these rhetorical questions are obvious.

More to the point, from a Lutheran Law/Gospel perspective, I'd like to ask:

Would the "failure" of abstinence education tell us that preaching and teaching on the Sixth Commandment is useless?

Answering this question right depends on whether or not you understand Law and Gospel from a truly biblical (Lutheran) perspective. Rather than answer this question myself by expounding on the three uses of the Law, I'd like our readers, and perhaps the pastors who are authors on this blog, to give their perspective. Perhaps another question is: What enables the Christian to live more in accordance with the Sixth Commandment?