I saw this today at a grocery store and took a pic. Don't these people know that they will sell lots more diapers and such if they sell less of the "family planning"? Wouldn't "Big Grocery" make more money that way?

All in all, I think that it is pretty sick to put the condoms across the aisle from the baby food. Crazy, I say.


Anglicans, Married Priests, and Contraception

For an interesting aspect of the recent efforts of the Catholic Church to make conversion by disaffected Anglicans more palatable, see Anglicans, Married Priests, and Contraception at http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=5076.

As the writer of the article observes:
If Anglicans are fleeing their communion because they reject the ordination of practicing homosexuals, they need to see that the Roman Catholic Church rejects contraception for much the same grounds that it rejects homosexual acts.
Will Anglicans tempted to swim the Tiber be willing to trace back to its source the train of events that has led to its current crises and repudiate their communion's abandonment of the historic Christian teaching on contraception which took place 80 years ago next summer?

Baseball & Babies

An old post from Mere Comments related to the subject of this blog, available in full at http://merecomments.typepad.com/merecomments/2006/04/baseball_babies.html, with a brief excerpt as follows:
First day of the 2006 Major League Baseball Season. I am sitting in the back of a taxicab riding past the baseball stadium of the Philadelphia Phillies (I don't know its corporate brand name, and even if did I wouldn't give them the plug). "Have you been to a baseball game there?" I ask the driver. As soon as I ask, I realize my mistake; my brain is impaired by the early hour, too little sleep, the latter made all the worse by the unanticipated (when I booked the flight) fact that I would have to move my clock forward an hour before going to bed.

To my stupid question the cab driver, in an Arabic accent, said, "No, sir." Of course not. I doubt the reason he gave--"It's too expensive"--explains it all, but I would not wager a nickel on the likelihood of any immigrant from the Middle East bothering to pay to attend a sporting event as foreign to him as curling must be to a Sudanese Anglican.

But I was on the same page with him when he said, "Too expensive." I thought about it for a minute and said he was right, it's way too expensive. Indeed, one must shell out a small fortune to bring a couple of sons or more to watch the national pastime.

You know what's coming next: it didn't use to be that way. I'll be brief: when I was a teenager I could attend 21 Detroit Tiger home games in the summer of 1967 and hardly notice an adverse effect on my modest bank account, which grew week by week through profits made delivering newspapers. For one thing, doubleheaders were abundant, and that helped a lot.

Now you have to bring the credit card. I don't have much sympathy any more for the steroid-enhanced egos and paychecks of major league players turned into multi-bulti-millionaires when tickets to a game for many families with kids, if they choose to go, really can be managed once a year, if at all. For us, baseball games were attended when we got freebie tickets from school when the children got good grades.

So I thought about "the kids" and realized, looking back, just how limited our disposable income was by having them. I told the driver I knew what he meant about "too expesive." I doubt he believed me at first, me with my suit and tie (I was heading to church--in Chicago), being picked up at a nice downtown Philadelphia hotel.

But when I said my wife and I had six children, he became animated and said, "You are blessed by God!" He said he had five children (so far)

* * *

I knew I stood on familiar ground with the cab driver when it comes to welcoming and desiring children. He knew it, too, and was both surprised and eager to talk to this unusual, to him, American. Sadly, it's a ground that has been rapidly abandoned by many of my fellow Christians, and the taxi driver (and his friends) know it. I wish I could have told him that millions of American Christian families are having large families.

We inject chemicals both to drive up batting averages (and thus bank accounts) and to suppress the birth rate. More is better seems to be an American creed, but more of what? Not children, and certainly not virtue--or so it would seem to those who view America from afar through the images we export in order to grow our bank accounts, but not our families.
My own smaller family than either the cab driver or Jim Kushiner (four children) also enjoy sports, generally going to free games at the college where I work (or on cheap season passes for the kids for the games that are not free -- football, basketball and baseball), usually taking along a few friends of my children as well, and with an occasional minor league baseball game thrown in for good measure. Somehow, I find watching college athletes and hopeful minor league professionals more satisfying when surrounded by children than I ever found attending major league sporting events without them. I guess it comes down to what you value more.


Conscience, Courage, and Children With Down Syndrome

From the First Things blog, available in full at http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2009/10/conscience44-courage44-and-children-with-down-syndrome

Oct 22, 2009
Charles J. Chaput

What kind of people are we becoming, and what we can do about it?

A number of my friends have children with disabilities. Their problems range from cerebral palsy to Turner’s syndrome to Trisomy 18. But I want to focus on one fairly common genetic disability to make my point. I’m referring to Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is not a disease. It’s a genetic disorder with a variety of symptoms.

* * *

Currently, about 5,000 children with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. They join a national Down syndrome population of roughly 400,000 persons. But that population may soon dwindle. And the reason why it may decline illustrates, in a vivid way, a struggle within the American soul. That struggle will shape the character of our society in the decades to come.

Prenatal testing can now detect up to 95 percent of pregnancies with a strong risk of Down syndrome. The tests aren’t conclusive, but they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are now terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes—a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, merely undesirable.

* * *

Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective. Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential. They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits of parental love and faith. Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with Down syndrome can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends, and create joy for others. These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect. They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.

Raising a child with Down syndrome can be hard. None of my friends who have a daughter or son with a serious disability is melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about it. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism. It’s a realism flowing out of love—real love, the kind that courses its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God. And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love, but also real courage.

The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. The real choice is between love and unlove, between courage and cowardice, between trust and fear. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.

* * *

I am the father of a special needs child, who has a rare chromosomal abnormality knowns as Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. I have always opposed abortion for any reason, but I now have personal reasons to oppose the abortion of unborn babies with special needs. We are at a frightening place, having hardened our hearts to the point that we murder our own children when they need us most.

May God have mercy.


Was Having Kids Ever a Paying Venture?

Friday, October 16, 2009, 9:00 AM
Joe Carter

Full post available at http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/10/16/was-having-kids-ever-a-paying-venture/
Bryan Caplan asks and answers:

One popular story about the decline in family size over the last two centuries goes like this: Back in the old days, having kids paid. Children started working when they were quite young, and provided for their parents in their old age. Then industrialization and/or the welfare state came along and changed everything. Young children ceased to contribute much economically to their families, and once Social Security, Medicare, and so on were in place, people stopped supporting their aging parents.

It turns out that this story is only half true.
Upon reading Mr. Carter's full blog post, I sent the following email out to the person who forwarded it to me and a few others:
For those who believe that until the industrial revolution, children were viewed as an economic assets and they only became seen as an economic burden in the last couple of hundred years, I offer two quotes, each of which would be meaningless under this commonly held understanding:

Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius, Divine Institutes 6:20 (A.D. 307):
[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife.
Martin Luther, Luther's Work, Vol. 5, p. 332:
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 his 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.
So, apparently, contraception was being used in the fourth and sixteenth century because couples (or men, at any rate) saw children as too great an economic burden. Otherwise, Lactantius and Luther wouldn't have addressed that excuse.

Having made this observation, I do believe that it is true that having children is much more of an economic burden today than it need be. Without question, the federal income tax code was much more favorable to having children in the late 1940s and the 1950s than it is today. Further, our Social Security and Medicare systems favor the childless and those with few children over those with many, allowing the former to free ride on the latter. In addition, in recent decades, the phenomenon of small families who spend the money saved by having few or no children on luxury homes and automobiles, exotic vacations, etc. has put further economic and social pressure on those with more children. In each case, however, it is the public and private choices we have made which have pushed up the relative cost of children. We could make different public policy choices and live different lifestyles and afford to have more children. In the end, we choose not to because we love things that rust, rot, burn down and are soon forgotten over children.


Sex Ed: Hazardous to Your Child’s Health?

Sex Ed: Hazardous to Your Child’s Health?
The primary goal of sex education is not eradication of disease, it’s social change.

An [National Review Online] Q&A

Is sex-ed hazardous to your child’s health? The industry line is, argues Dr. Miriam Grossman, a psychiatrist who has worked on college campuses and seen too much pain and illness that the sexual revolution has wrought. She’s the author of the new book You're Teaching My Child What?: A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Ed and How They Harm Your Child, and took questions earlier this week from National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.

For the interview, see http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTQwY2U1ZDExN2QxNjAxYjlhYjE5MWFkOWE1YjcwZmI=&w=MA


Family Retreat August 2010

Head up! The second annual family retreat at Redeemer-Fort Wayne is scheduled for Tuesday August 3, 2010 through Thursday August 5, 2010. Don't miss it!!! Make sure you schedule around this if at all possible, and figure out your housing ahead of time. Details below.

2010 Retreat Theme- The Catechism: the Heart of the Lutheran Home

Main Speaker: Rev. Peter Bender

Cost: $25/adults, $20/18-12, 11 and under free, maximum cost per family: $90.
2 meals and Square Dance and lesson included, daily eucharist, activities for all ages.

There are a number of housing options available in and near Fort Wayne for those who are attending the conference:

Downtown Hotels are the closest to Redeemer and include the Fort Wayne Hotel (a Clarion Hotel) and the Hilton. These are about five minutes from the church. There is also a reasonable bed & breakfast downtown, the LaSalle B&B. The number for the LaSalle is: (877) 422-0851.

Hotels at Interstate 69 & Hwy 24 are about 15 minutes from Redeemer and those at Interstate 69 & Lima Road are 15-20 minutes, depending on traffic. These two locations have most of the national chains. The Marriott on Coldwater Rd. is about 20 minutes away, and is fairly close to the seminary, for those who want to get in a visit.

The closest nice hotel with a pool is the Hilton downtown. The Ft. Wayne Inn is also downtown and has a pool, but it doesn't come highly recommended. The Hilton is 5 minutes.

There is a new Holiday Inn across from the IPFW Coliseum, with a pool. It had only been open a couple of months when we stayed there for the first retreat so everything is very nice. It is only 10 minutes from Redeemer, but we found it difficult during heavy traffic to return small kids there for naps.

The Marriot on Washington Center/Coldwater is also very nice. It is 15-20 minutes from Redeemer. They have a nice pool.

There are also a couple nice places southwest, in Aboite township, on or off Jefferson Blvd, near Lutheran hospital, that have pools and are nice. However, they are also about 20 minutes from Redeemer.

For those who wish to camp, Johnny Appleseed Campground on Coliseum Blvd. is an oasis in the middle of the city. There are camper hookups and facilities. The phone number is (260) 427-6720‎. There was also a local homeschool family last year who was willing to have people camp on their property. If you are interested in more information about that option, email secretary.redeemer - at - gmail - dot - com.

Plan to attend in August 2010!!! I highly recommend this retreat. Lots of large families attend, and it's a great time for our kids to develop lasting friendships with people who share their beliefs. You'll be nourished with Christ’s Body and Blood every day. I guarantee lots of great preaching, teaching, group discussions, and socialization time. If you want to see the schedule of the extra sectionals we enjoyed in 2009, click here.

See you in Fort Wayne August 3rd !!!


The Marriage and Family of God

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! This sermon by one of this blog's authors, Rev. Dr. Rick Stuckwisch, provides an amazingly clear and faithful exposition of this past Sunday's pericope (Genesis 2:18-25; Psalm 128; Hebrews 2:1-18; Mark 10:2-16). Thanks be to God for His faithful servant, Rev. Stuckwisch.

Audio here.

The Marriage and Family of God

You cannot know what it is or what it means to be a man, woman or child, apart from Christ Jesus and His Church. Nor can you comprehend the significance of marriage and family, except by way of Christ and His Bride, the Church. For man is made in the Image of God, which is to say, in Christ Jesus; and marriage and family belong to that divine Image.
From the beginning of creation, God created man, male and female, to live in communion with Himself, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and to live in loving communion with one another within one Body and Bride of Christ Jesus, the beloved Son. That is the point and purpose and significance of holy marriage; and that is the higher purpose and ultimate reality to which even marriage and family are subordinate.
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who attempt to build their own. And yet there remains a larger household and family to which the Bride of Christ and all the sons of God in Christ belong; not only here in time, but hereafter in eternity.
The intimacy of male and female within the lifelong union of husband and wife, is an icon, a confession, and a testimony of the divine, eternal unity of the Holy Triune God, and of the loving intimacy and holy communion of Christ Jesus and His Bride, the Church.
Consequently, fornication on the one hand (sexual intimacy outside of marriage), and divorce on the other hand (the breaking of the marriage bond), and all other forms of adultery, are false confessions of a false Christ, which contradict the Gospel.
Within marriage, the children God may give to husband and wife not only point to the fruit-fulness of Christ’s Church in conceiving, bearing, giving birth to and nurturing the children of God; but children who are born to Christian parents and brought to Christ in His Church (through Holy Baptism and the catechesis of His Word) belong precisely to that fruitfulness.
To avoid or reject children, on the other hand, is to reject the Kingdom of God in Christ.
But here we do not speak of any competition or supposed merit in attempting to maximize the number of children anyone has. It is rather to speak of faith and love, by which you look to God for all good things, trust in Him in every circumstance, and receive from His hand whatever He may give you; and by which you live graciously and generously toward your neighbors, beginning with your own family and household.
It is in this way that Christian families are called to live, because it is in this way that God the Father gives life to the household and family of His Church, in Christ; and it is the way that Christ Jesus lives for His Bride and gives His life to and for the children of God.
Thus, husbands are called to sacrifice themselves in order to give life to their wives. And wives are called to trust Christ in their husbands, to receive life from Him through them, and so to bear in faith and love the children that God the Father gives.
And fathers and mothers together bring their children to Christ in His Church, and to God the Father in heaven, understanding that children are created and born for life with God, both now and forever. Withholding them from Christ and His Church, in order to make a life for them in this world instead, would be a grave offense and a serious stumbling block.
But so it is, with our children, as they grow up and leave our homes to establish households of their own, that we are reminded of what remains true for each and all of us: Here we have no permanent home, but we are strangers and aliens on earth, sojourners in a foreign land, on our way to our eternal dwelling in the city of God.
Hence, our children do not remain with us forever; and even the sacred institution of holy marriage is not eternal, but only as permanent as our temporal life on earth. In heaven we are neither married nor given in marriage, but, like the holy angels, our whole delight shall forever be in the one true God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In truth, there is finally and forever one God and Father, one heavenly Bridegroom, one holy Bride, adorned and radiant with His Holy Spirit and His Righteousness. But there are and remain many sons and daughters of God, many brothers and sisters of our one Lord, Jesus Christ. So it is that marriage and family and every other human relationship is taken up into the unity of the Spirit and the bond of Peace in the holy communion of one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all.
Already now, that divine fellowship is a present reality within the one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church; even here on earth, though we cannot see the perfect unity of the Church except by faith in Christ, our Husband and Head. We do not yet experience the loving unity of the household and family of God, because we do not care for one another as we should.
All manner of things intrude upon the Church and interfere with her unity in Christ Jesus. Envy and jealousy and a spirit of competition, even among His disciples. Hardness of heart, even among the people of God. Sin and death. Frailty and finitude. The burdens and obli-gations of mortal life in a fallen world.
Give thanks to God, and Christ be praised, that marriage and family, husbands and wives, parents and children, all point beyond themselves to something more, to something even more blessed, to something divine, eternal and holy.
For that very reason, and also for the sake of the Church on earth, God has not called every-one to be a spouse or a parent, but He establishes other vocations and stations in life, which serve His household and family here and now, while also pointing beyond themselves to His heavenly Kingdom in their own proper fashion.
Perhaps it is to such a vocation that God has called you, or will call you. Discerning your place in life is largely a matter of listening to your parents and other authorities, whom God has placed over you. So, if you are a child or a young person, talk to your father and mother, and to your pastors and teachers, about the path that you should pursue. Even if you are an adult, do not despise or disregard the counsel and guidance of your parents, but talk to them and listen to them, as well as to your pastors and teachers, your peers and colleagues. All of this belongs to living in the Kingdom of God like a little child, that is, by faith in His Word.
If you are not married or given in marriage, be patient and proceed in faith, but also consider and discuss whether you may be given the vocation of celibacy. That is to say, perhaps you are given to live the heavenly life already here on earth, devoted to the service of Christ and His Church, and to your neighbors in the world, in purity and chastity, faithfulness and love.
Likewise, if you have been widowed, perhaps there is then an opportunity for you to serve the household and family of God in ways that you would otherwise not have been able to do.
In these circumstances, whether as unmarried or widowed, you are able to live unto your heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, in the service of His Bride, the Church; whether you are male or female, young or old, rich or poor. You thereby anticipate the consummation of all things in the Resurrection of the faithful departed to the life everlasting.
Similarly, if the Lord has not granted you the blessing of your own children, or if your children are already grown and out of your home, you have the opportunity to receive and care for the children of God within the household and family of His Church.
Especially by those Christians who are unencumbered by the responsibilities of their own marriage and family, the Church is able to care for orphans and widows in their distress, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and to visit the sick and imprisoned, the lonely and forsaken.
Whether married or unmarried, and with or without children, you are called to live by faith toward God and in love for your neighbor. You are called to live as belonging to the Bride of Christ, and as a child of the heavenly Father, whether within or without a family on earth.
You are called to repent of your sins, and to live by faith in the forgiveness of your Lord Jesus Christ.
So then, if you have been lazy or unfaithful in your marriage; if you have committed adultery or gotten divorced, repent of your sins, and be joined to Christ, who cleaves to you in love and does not cast you off or send you away.
And if you have refused to receive the little children in His Name and for His sake — even if you have put them to death by abortion — or if you have neglected the children God has given you, repent of your sins and return to the waters of your Baptism. Be drowned and die in the depths of that great sea, and be born again as a little child of God.
Have you heard how Jesus takes them in His arms and blesses them? So He does for you. His hands are stretched out to you here at His Altar, in love, to receive you to Himself like a little child. It does not matter how old you are, how big or small you are, how smart you are, whether you are a boy or a girl, a man or a woman.
The Kingdom of God belongs to such as you, because it belongs to Christ Jesus, who gives Himself entirely for you.
So has He cleansed you and sanctified you by the washing of water with His Word in Holy Baptism. He has clothed you in His righteousness and holiness, His innocence and blessed-ness, without any spot or wrinkle or blemish or flaw. Beautiful, that is what you are. And you are His, and He is yours forever. He has given you His Name, and He will never leave you nor forsake you. His God and Father is now your God and Father.
Do not shy away from this, that you are now one flesh with Him: bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, blood of His blood, and a member of His own Body and Bride. For God the Father has caused Him to sleep the sleep of death upon the Cross, and from His wounded side, by the water and the blood, the Lord your God has recreated you to be His companion. The Father walks you down the aisle in this new Garden of Eden, and gives you to this Groom, the most handsome of men, to be His very own.
Dearly beloved, here He receives you to Himself, to have and to hold unto eternal life. With His own wounded hands, and by the bloody sweat of His brow, He has built you a house that shall remain. His labor has not been in vain, but He shelters you with His good work and His perfect righteousness. Whatever hardness of heart you have harbored, He has opened to you and given to you His own beating heart of flesh and blood. In this there is the love of God the Father, which is from the beginning to the end, even from everlasting to everlasting.
Even death shall have no power to part you from Him, for He has tasted death for you and for all, and He has been vindicated, raised from the dead, and exalted high above the highest heavens, to the right hand of God the Father, forever and ever.
If you shall be like the angels in heaven, neither married nor given in marriage, but wholly devoted to Christ; nevertheless, in Him, in His flesh and blood, you are crowned with glory and honor exceeding that of all the angels. For He is not the Savior and Bridegroom of angels, but He is your Savior and your Bridegroom; here in time, and hereafter in eternity.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Thanks Duggars

Duggar Economics: The Costs of 19 Kids


available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203917304574413792994350108.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs%3Darticle

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar made headlines recently when the Arkansas couple announced that they are expecting their 19th child. The news about the reality-show stars was met with quiet condescension by polite society and impolite mockery in the trendier parts of the Internet. The dirty jokes write themselves.

* * *

There are scores of reasons for society's decreased fertility.

* * *

Even as economic incentives for childbearing have diminished, costs have grown. The welfare state required an enormous new tax burden, for instance. When Social Security was first instituted, in 1937, only 1% of earnings up to $3,000 were taxed. Today Social Security and Medicare eat up 7.65% of earnings up to $106,800. According to a study by the Tax Foundation, the median American family in 1955 paid 17.3% of its income in taxes. By 1998, the median two-earner family paid 40.9%. All of which makes family formation much harder. As demographer Phillip Longman observes, young white men since the 1970s have seen a 40% decline in income relative to their fathers—for young black men the figure is 60%.

While the government started taking more of a family's money, the expense of raising a child shot to the moon. The Agriculture Department estimates that the costs of raising a child from birth to age 18—that is, clothes, food, health care—averaged $207,800 in 2007. In real dollars, that's a 15% increase since 1960. But the department's numbers leave out three big-ticket items: child care, college tuition and forgone salaries.

* * *

During the past 35 years, the real-dollar cost of college has increased by 1,000%. That's not a misprint.

Finally, there is the opportunity cost of a parent not working. Every family's situation is different, but demographer Phillip Longman gives us an illustrative example: If a parent making $45,000 a year stays home with a child until the child begins school, and then returns to work part time until the child graduates from high school, she is forgoing more than $800,000 in lost wages (counting normal inflation and raises).

When you add it all up, it's not uncommon for a single child to cost a normal, middle-class family something like $1.1 million, from birth through the undergrad years.

* * *

The Duggars have mortgaged their financial futures for their children. Yet we're the ones who will benefit. In 1940 there were 160 workers paying the tab for each person collecting Social Security. By 2006, there were just 3.3 workers supporting each pensioner. The Social Security Administration estimates that by 2034, there will be only 2.1 workers for each person collecting a government retirement check.

In an era when it is rare for a bourgeois couple to have even three children, the Duggars are helping subsidize our retirement at considerable costs to themselves. Instead of mocking them, we ought to thank them.