6.10.2010

Are You Done?



From what I understand mothers are asked this question all the time following the births of their children, sometimes even in the delivery room. Until today, I have never been asked.

This morning I went to my Doctor for a regular checkup. The Lord blessed us with our third child and first son in April, so the receptionist, nurse and doctor all greeted me with congratulations - very nice. Everyone in there knows I'm a pastor and I look like one too when I arrive, dressed in clericals and such - currently too hot for a cassock to wear 'round town.

As I was getting my blood drawn (lousy cholesterol) the nurse asked, "So, now that you have the boy are you done?"

I honestly did not know how to respond other than, "I certainly hope not. The Lord has given us these and I pray He gives us more." No reply to that.

The contraceptive mind must run like this. One has children to get what he wants. Now that I have a masculine child there be no need for anymore, right? I have the BOY, my hunting buddy, the guy to teach how to play baseball, football etc. MY little man, MY guy. There can only be so much attention and love (AND MONEY) to go around. Happy! Content! Finished! Desires Fulfilled! So, Done! Time for the snip snip appointment, or perhaps get my wifey to her doctor to get the tubes put in a knot or whatever other method the human mind has concocted to disrupt or destroy.

Note also the assumption that the Christian pastor must have the mentality of everyone else. He and his bride can only take so much - 2 girls, 1 boy, enough is enough. Done. But then why the question- "Are you done?"

I think it has to be the law written on the heart of all these people who ask. They know that they should not be saying, "I'm done." It has been put into their conscience by the Lord Himself to be fruitful and multiply. Let it be said once again, as with all posts of this nature, we are not dealing with the hard and difficult cases. And so that denial of Life must have company, not only with the spouse but with everyone else. If only we all say that we are DONE, than it will be OK. If only we all together reject the gifts that God Himself gives we will be OK. Safety in numbers; safety then in our choices. Choices that reject God's gift of the lives of human beings. Choices that say "No thanks God, I'm done with You giving me things that you call blessings. I am done with you creating life, people, human beings, children that you fearfully and wonderfully make through the means of the union of husband and wife. I'm done with your Son Jesus wishing the little children to come to Him. Done with Him putting His hands on them and blessing them at the font. I'm done with the very purpose of marriage itself, not by your choosing but by mine. No thank you God, I AM DONE."

I say no thanks to that. The Blessed Holy Trinity is the giver of Life, so let's let Him decide when we're done. No thanks to saying "no thanks" to the Father, (the Maker of Heaven and Earth) to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, (In him was life; and the life was the light of men) and to the Holy Spirit, (the Lord and Giver of Life). Let's let it be up to the Blessed Trinity whether we are done, or not. Or whether we'll be given sick children, or healthy children. Let's let Him decide whose going to be living and who is going to be born. Let's even let Him decide when we should die. Let's let Him decide when our parents should die. Let's even let Him decide when our children should die - long after we are dead, d.v. Let's let Him be God, and us be creatures. Let's believe that He really is the one who makes children, that they really are His, and He seems not to be done yet. As of this writing, the Father has not sent His Son to return on the clouds with all His Holy angels.



Plus, who wouldn't want some more of those people up in that picture?

38 comments:

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Indeed! And I think you hit the nail on the head with regard to a common reason for this question. It's an observation of human nature, and I'm sure we can all recognize versions of it in our own sinful self. There is a feeling of safety in multiplying the number of those who have made your same mistake.

Being a dentist, I can tell of one prime example. Denture wearers know very well that what they have in their mouth is far from ideal. Yet, they never cease trying to talk other people into making the same mistake:

"Oh! Having my teeth taken out and getting falsies was the BEST THING I EVER DID!!! Stop putting all that money into fillings and crowns, and get some nice teeth like mine!!!"

Somehow they make themselves feel better in their misery by dragging others into the same pit. In some cases, these people may have even deluded themselves into believing it was a great decision to get all their teeth pulled.

NOTA BENE: Excluded from my dental comments are the truly unfortunate who had no choice but to have all their teeth pulled, though such cases of necessity are much more rare than you might think. Hard cases, again, should never define the rule.)

GL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GL said...

Imagine the disbelief and questions my wife and I faced when we announced that we were expecting our fourth child. Our third child, a beautiful loving daughter, who is a blessing to her family and all who meet her, is special needs. She has a very rare chromosomal abnormality. Not only that, but I was in my mid-40s and my wife was in in her early 40s.

"Are you crazy? Don't you believe in birth control?"

Number four is now a delightfully, extremely intelligent 2-year-old. We can't imagine life without him. What a blessing we would have missed had we not been open to his conception. What blessings we undoubtedly have missed because we were not open to conception of children earlier in our marriage.

And what do those rude and, yes, hateful, comments say about what those making them think about our disabled daughter? What do they say about those commenter's faith in God and His word?

Rebekah said...

The thing I find weird about this conversation is that after someone asks me if I am, and then shares that she is, she often goes on to tell me why.

Why bother explaining if it doesn't matter?

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Exactly! Why would you need to provide a reason if the action is morally neutral in and of itself? Offering a reason is tacit acknowledgment that there is something inherently askew with the action.

GL said...

"Hard cases, again, should never define the rule."

Exactly. The abortion proponents always bring up life-of-the-mother, when well over 90% of abortions are performed for convenience, not to save the life of the mother. Assuming, for argument sake, that abortions are justified in hard cases, that doesn't justify them when those hard cases don't exist.

And the same is true of contraception.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Oh... and how about the loaded statement: "I could never handle that many."

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

GL,

The life of the mother is never a valid reason to kill a baby.

GL said...

"Why bother explaining if it doesn't matter?"

Exactly. If an action is morally neutral, there is no need to justify it. Justifying an action is needed only when it would be immoral but for a justifying circumstance. T.S. Eliot saw this problem nearly 80 years ago, when he criticized the Anglican Communion's then new position on contraception. He wrote:

"'When is it right to limit the family and right to limit it only by continence?' and 'When is it right to limit the family by contraception?' . . . 'It is exactly this matter of ‘spiritual advice’ which should have been examined and analyse . . . . Here, if anywhere, is definitely a matter upon which the Individual Conscience is no reliable guide; spiritual guidance should be imperative."

Yet how many of those who justify their use of contraception sought spiritual advice before using it and how many relied on their individual conscience? I think we know the answer.

GL said...

"The life of the mother is never a valid reason to kill a baby."

Erich, I agree. That's why I said "for argument sake".

I re-examined this issue recently when the bishop declared the nun who authorized an abortion to save the mother to have excommunicated herself. It presented the case starkly. My wife and I discussed it. Our conclusion was reached by asking the following question: If we could save our own life by sacrificing one of our existing children who would die whether we sacrificed him or not, would we kill our own child to save our life? The answer was a resounding no. Both of us agreed that we would rather die than to kill our own child even if he would die in any event. If that is the answer for a child already born, why would it differ if the child was alive in his mother's womb. It wouldn't, unless you believe a child in the womb is less human and less worthy of life than a child already born. If you believe that, then the whole pro-life argument loses its foundation. The answer was clear, it is immoral to kill your unborn child to save your own life, even if the child will die anyway.

GL said...

One more post. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I watched an episode of the new Dr. Who series on PBS. It involved "weeping angels" who are out to murder humans, but turn to stone when looked at so that they cannot be killed while watched (in which state they look like statutes of weeping angels, hence their name). In the episode, a crack in time appears, which removes from having ever existed anything or anyone who encounters it. It ultimately destroys the weeping angels.

While the story line may be fanciful, the story had a very pro-life and anti-contraception message in it (intentional or not). Dr. Who was trying to save a women from being killed by the weeping angels and from encountering the crack in time. As he guided her away from the crack in time and through midst of the weeping angels, a path she did not want to take, he told her that encountering the crack in time was a fate worse than death, it would mean that she had never existed. I believe that is a very Christian message and it stands in condemnation of those who have fought abortion but have ourselves used contraception.

Praise God that He opens our eyes and forgives our sins.

Untamed Shrew said...

I can only imagine after Mrs. Preus got her princess after 10 consecutive boys.

I've also noticed how when a 40-something couple has their first child, it's a wonderful miracle. When a 40-something couple has their 5th or 17th, it's because they're ignorant, selfish, and/or determined to destroy the earth.

WV: grant :o)

Anonymous said...

It was also pretty funny when I was obviously almost 40 and had a baby and the hospital staff asked if he was my first baby.

Anonymous said...

Even with 13 living children we still get asked "THE QUESTION" so be prepared it doesn't go away. Our response has always been, "We left the number of children that the Lord provides in His hands a long time ago." We haven't changed a thing.

Interesting observation though we get lots of apologies and excuses from others as to why they only had the number of children they had and why they did not have as many as us.

Willie and Debbie Stottlemyer

Untamed Shrew said...

Debbie (and Erich, in regards to the "loaded statement"), I have often found that the difference between myself and other women is that they believe they know what they can handle; I believe God knows what I can handle.

KL said...

We have a family in our church who just had their 7th child. They are quite poor and live in a 2 bedroom trailer. As one might expect there are quite a few members who feel that they are being irresponsible having so many children. I usually keep mum because I have a hard time not agreeing with them. Yet I know children are a gift from God. I feel quite conflicted on this.

Anonymous said...

"We have a family in our church who just had their 7th child. They are quite poor and live in a 2 bedroom trailer. As one might expect there are quite a few members who feel that they are being irresponsible having so many children."


Look on the bright side, KL. Those 7 kids will be paying taxes while the "responsible" folks are collecting social security.

Remember social security is a pyramid scheme not a savings account. You have to have more people paying than those receiving or it doesn't work.

The "responsible" folks voted for a system that only works if they always have a growing population, that is more than replacement rate. Or more accurately more than double the replacement rate.

So who is really "responsible" given the facts?

Maybe all the "responsible" folks with so few children will just decline their social security and medicare benefits since they didn't contribute enough workers to pay for them when they retire.

GL said...

Not only that, but Social Security and Medicare is what made "doing the responsible thing" "responsible". The system actually rewards those who have no or few kids at the cost of those who have many. Were it not for this system, "the responsible thing" would be to have more children. That is Social Security and Medicare are a big part of the problem.

Colleen said...

I agree with a lot of the comments on this board. As for the family that has 7 children and lives in a trailer, my thought it this: God wants us to be good stewards. We shouldn't buy stuff that we don't need, we shouldn't use power and energy we don't need, and we should not bring children into this world that we cannot afford. I'm not saying each kid has to have a Lexus, but if you cannot provide safe and clean living conditions for your children, you shouldn't have any more. Now, if you are pregnant then absolutely have them, but having children "For the Lord" is not an excuse to strain all your financial resources to the point where children are living in squalor.

GL said...

Colleen wrote: "[I]f you cannot provide safe and clean living conditions for your children, you shouldn't have any more."

This is a proposition which I have heard many times. It raises a number of questions and reveals, I believe, the fundamental problem that lies at the heart of this issue. Who decides whether we should or should not have more (or any) children? Do we decide or does God? And if we do, on what basis may we licitly decide not to have children? Can we decide not to have children for any reason whatsoever or are we to be open to life except when confronted with certain circumstances, frequently called "hard cases" and, if the latter, what circumstances justify our deciding not to have children or more children? And if we may decide under for some or any reason not to have children, are all means of avoiding having children licit or are only some licit while others are not?

As I noted earlier, T.S. Eliot raised essentially these same question in his "Thoughts after Lambeth" from which I quoted in an earlier post to this thread. In his recently published book, "The Christian Case against Contraception," Bryan C. Hodge takes the position that God decides when we should have children and there are no circumstances which justify our avoiding conception, even by the use of periodic continence. See http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Case-Against-Contraception-Historical/dp/1608990109. The Catholic Church teaches, in essence, that God decides, though under certain circumstances we may avoid conception. When those circumstances exist, the only licit means available are continence, complete or periodic. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paras. 1652-53 at http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a7.htm#1652 and paras. 2366-72 at http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2366. Others will argue that under some circumstances, non-abortifacient means may be used. Others will argue that under some circumstances, potentially abortifacient contraceptives can be used, while others will argue that abortion is licit. Peter Singer, a particularly vile man who is considered an expert in ethics at Princeton University, argues that under some circumstances a new born infant may be killed.

Colleen, assuming that some circumstances justify avoiding having children, what means are justified in your opinion?

Second, what circumstances justify avoiding taking control from God in this matter? Colleen argues that "if you cannot provide safe and clean living conditions for your children, you shouldn't have any more." Who decides what the minimal acceptable conditions of safety and cleanliness are acceptable? Does each couple decide from themselves? Are there objective standards which should apply? If so, what are they? And may individual couples be trusted to make such a determination on their own or should they seek spiritual advice?

For an interesting discussion of a related, but somewhat different issue, I would recommend a work I am currently reading, G.K. Chesterton's "Eugenics and Other Evils", available at http://www.amazon.com/Eugenics-Other-Evils-Scientifically-Organized/dp/1587420023/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276625675&sr=8-1

Anonymous said...

I really struggle w/ whether or not to have more childre. We would probably have to get food stamps and need scholarships for Christian education , unless I go back to work, which I do not want bc it means putting my children in daycare.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Colleen and Anonymous,

Luther had this to say to those who worry that they cannot afford more children:

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. [Luther's Work, Vol. 5, p. 332]

Besides, the "poverty" of today is usually a much higher standard of living than most families enjoyed throughout history. The risks to life and limb for mother and child were much higher as well.

As for needing to go to work and get scholarships to send your kids to Christian schools, why not homeschool? We could afford to send our kids to private school, but we homeschool by preference. Why do parents feel they cannot educate and raise their own children? Usually the answer is that we have unconsciously swallowed the propaganda that the modern (public education defined) curriculum mandates are necessary for "success" in life.

Colleen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colleen said...

Does letting God decide include having so many children that it leaves your body weak and destroyed? Your children hungry and impoverished? That you are just having more to somehow earn your own salvation or get a higher place in heaven? For the record, I am very pro-life, but I am not anti-contraception, as long as the contraception is not the kind that causes abortion. My husband and I practiced controlling when we had children early on in our marriage, and we were SO glad that we did. We had time to enjoy each other, travel, make friends and have success in our careers and other AWFUL sinful things while we weren't breeding like rabbits. There is nothing wrong with a woman choosing (as long as she is not already pregnant, as I said, very pro-life) when is the right time for her to have a baby. Also, "GL" - saying my name as many times as possible does not make your point any more valid, and neither does making a weird, unrelated correlation to Peter Singer. A woman taking control of when she has children is not anti-God or anti-Christian. For some people, they want to have kids right away, and for others they don't. I find people that get so worked up and angry about when and how many kids people have are defending their own insecurities. And to Anonymous, it's okay to ask these questions. While homeschooling might work for some, it is not the answer to everything. Have as many kids as you can handle! It's okay if they are sleeping 5 to a bed..you can homeschool! At the end of the day, my salvation rests in Christ and not in how many little Christians I can churn out along the way. I see children as a wild blessing and can't wait to have a big family of my own. But I don't see the point in attacking those that do not. Being a parent is wonderful, but it does not make you more of a Christian than any other brother or sister in Christ, and it certainly shouldn't be used a sword.

GL said...

First, it is not my place to judge the salvation of anyone. I won't go there, AND I DIDN'T GO THERE.

Second, I believe that there are "hard cases" which justify avoiding conception and that when they exist, the only licit means is continence (e.g., NFP). In fact, my wife and I use NFP.

Third, anyone who believes that having "time to enjoy each other, travel, make friends and have success in our careers" justifies birth control is not pro-life. To be pro-life, you have to be in favor of life. Deliberately avoiding procreation so that you have "time to enjoy each other, travel, make friends and have success in our careers" is not favoring life. Being pro-life entails a lot more than opposing abortion.

Finally, NO orthodox Christian denomination (Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox) approved birth control until 80 years ago. Its use is most definitely against the uniform teaching of the Church and understanding of Scripture until the late 19th century. I have researched this topic for years and have asked repeatedly for a citation to any Christian writing before the last quarter of the 19th century who approved it. I've never received a single such cite. On the other hand, I can name scores of Christian pastors and theologians who condemned it, including Sts. Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and John Calvin. Conservative Christians of all traditions adamantly opposed its approval in the first half of the 20th century, just as much as conservative Christians oppose abortion and same-sex behavior and "marriage" today. (See David Kennedy's "Birth Control in America" and Kathleen Tobin's "The American Religious Debate over Birth Control 1907-1937". See also Walter A. Maier, Sr.'s "For Better, Not for Worse".) In that sense, it most definitely is "anti-Christian".

GL said...

After some contemplation, I believe I should elaborate somewhat on my last comment. Having "time to enjoy each other, travel, make friends and have success in our careers" is not, in and of itself sinful. If it is God's will that we have such things, then they are blessings from Him for which we should give thanks. But if it is not His will to give us those things and yet we want them so much as to harm others to get them, we are guilty of sin. If we want what He has not given to us to a degree that we value them more than our brothers and sisters, then we are guilty of covetousness. If we take from others to pay for them, we are guilty of theft. If we cheat our employees of his wages or any part of his just compensation, we are guilty of theft. If we abort our unborn child so as to gain or retain them, we are guilty of murder.

God blessed our ancestors on more than one occasion, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply." His holy word declares children to be a gift from Him and that it is He who opens and closes the womb. His holy word even declares that the man who has many children is especially blessed. He gave us marriage and marital intimacy and all its blessings for the purpose of procreating new life. He does not command that all marry. Our Lord never married and St. Paul commended the single state, though our Lord declared that it is not given to all to remain single. Yet St. Paul also instructed us that when we do marry, we should not withhold marital intimacy from one another except for short periods devoted to prayer and fasting lest it lead to sin. God has joined together marriage, marital intimacy and procreation. When we use contraception we seek to tear asunder procreation from marriage and marital intimacy. Why would we do that?

(cont'd in next post)

GL said...

(cont'd from previous post)



My wife and I do not use contraception, but we do use NFP. Why? God has blessed us with four beautiful children. Perhaps He would have blessed us with more had we not used contraception early in our marriage so that we would have "time to enjoy each other, travel, make friends and have success in our careers." Today, we grieve over the thought that such might well be the case. Yet, our circumstances are now such that we, very reluctantly and without absolute certainty that we are doing the right thing, have chosen to use NFP to avoid having children. (NFP can also be used to increase the likelihood of having children.) Why? Several reasons. First, our third child has special needs which require a great deal of time and energy to meet. While the whole family contributes to meeting those needs, the burden falls especially on my wife to do so. She is constantly taking our daughter to therapy and the local children's hospital knows us well. We believe that duty requires us to avoid taking on so many other responsibilities that we cannot meet it. After her birth, we conceived again. My wife lost one of the twins she was carrying, but gave birth to a son who is a great blessing, but as an infant and now a toddler add to her responsibilities. Further, we moved my mother, who has second-stage Alzheimer's, to live near us. My wife is her primary caregiver. My wife gave up her very lucrative career (a career at which she could easily earn in the six figures) in order to meet the responsibilities and burdens God has given to us. We simply believed that she could not take on more. Further, we are now both in our 40s. I'll turn 50 next year and my wife is 44. Our energy is not what it once was and we understand that their is a greater risk of our having another disabled child. We would, of course, love and care for such a child, but we recognize that we can only carry so much.

We believe, again reluctantly, that our circumstances make avoiding procreation a sad necessity. But that still leaves the question of how we go about doing so. Based on the teaching of the Church universal (orthodox Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox), we are convinced that we may not used contraception to make the marital act infertile. Luther called doing so a "sodomitic act" and we agree. We believe that the only licit means to do so is continence and because of St. Paul's injunction not to deprive one another, we believe that periodic continence is the only licit method. Please understand, we believe that even the use of NFP is sinful unless there is a strong justification for using it.

The question then remains, is having "time to enjoy each other, travel, make friends and have success in our careers" such a justification? The question needs to be reframed: Is separating procreation and marital intimacy justified so as to defeat one of the purposes for which God gave us marriage and marital intimacy (the others being companionship and a guard against sin) and to deprive life to another and to reject His blessings justified in order to retain or obtain "time to enjoy each other, travel, make friends and have success in our careers"? I think to ask the question is to answer it.

I pray that He will open the eyes of all who marry to His truth that He is the Lord and Giver of Life and that life is a blessing from Him not to be contemned or rejected.

GL said...

As to the purposes of marriage, I recently was sent a quote from a letter which C.S. Lewis wrote to a friend, Sheldon Vanauken, who was grieving over the loss of his wife. Lewis wrote 18 letters to Vanauken, which are preserved in Vanauken's autobiography, A Severe Mercy.

In one of the letters, Lewis chastised Vanauken for his voluntary sterility which, in the words of Lewis, deprived his wife of the experience of maternity. In that letter, Lewis wrote the following:

"Christians . . . would of course agree that man and wife are 'one flesh'. . . . But surely they would add that this One Flesh must not (and in the long run cannot) 'live to itself' any more than the single individual. It was not made . . . to be its Own End. It was made for God and (in Him) for its neighbours -- first and foremost among them the children it ought to have produced."

Thus, Lewis found the "first and foremost" purpose of the one flesh union of man and woman in marriage to be the procreation of children. This is consistent with the teaching of all orthodox Christians until the last century and with the famed rite of matrimony in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, as well as historic Lutheran marriage rites, in which the three purposes for which marriage was ordained by God are recited, the first being procreation. Again, to seek to avoid procreation (absent, I believe, extremely compelling circumstances) is to seek to defeat the "first and foremost" purpose for which God ordained marriage.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the "one flesh" referred to the child.

I mean, once the man and woman fuse their gametes, they literally are one flesh, the baby.

Matt said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that one reason for not using contraceptives is control. If you take contraceptives, then you are taking control away from God. I would assume that next logical step would be that since you are taking that control away from God, then you are displaying a lack of trust. Am I correct?

Isn't using NFP taking control out of God's hands? Depending on how you manipulate NFP, you could be telling God either, "No. I don't want to have kids right now. So my spouse and I will have sex during x days this month" or "Yes, I do want to have kids, so my spouse and I will have sex during x days this month." If you want to be honest with yourself, then NFP is doing exactly what using contraceptives are doing: taking control away from God.

Let's be honest though. Do you really think God can't work despite contraceptives or NFP to give you the child that He wants you to have? I am sure that we all know of someone who has used either method and conceived a child when they weren't expecting. I know several people!

People who use contraceptives and believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior are still Christians. If God wants them to have babies, then He will give them babies. Despite whatever we do to stop him.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Matt,

I agree with you on NFP, any I believe many of our authors on Lutherans and Procreation do as well. The Roman Catholic argument distinguishing NFP as not inherently sinful is an attempt to create a sinless option for hard cases. I myself have posted a number of times here on L&P pointing out the inconsistencies of these and other arguments in favor of NFP.

One of our authors, Rev. Heath Curtis, had an excellent guest post on this recently over at CSPP where he states in part:

"When NFP was being debated in the early-mid 20th century the Lutherans laughed at it as pharisaical, Papist nonsense. That's kind of where I have come down as well. If you are saying "a baby would not be a blessing right now because _____ (I'm 40 or I'm tired or the youngest is only 9 months old or the car payment is due or....)" then I would encourage you to read the Bible again and lean not on your own understanding, to not be afraid for the Lord will provide. Really, He will. Honest. He keeps his promises. Children are a blessing, the fruit of the womb a reward. It really says that in the Bible. You can trust it."


However, Matt, your other comments about God overruling attempts at contracepting represent very poor theology. Your point is similar to saying: "If I attempt to shoot my neighbor I'll miss unless it is God's will that he die. If God wants him to live, there's no way my bullet can touch him."

Your argument also flies in the face of observable fact: God calls us to "be fruitful and multiply", yet contraceptive use has lowered birth rates in almost every corner of the world to below replacement level fertility. God's divine ordinance is to be fruitful and multiply, but we're not even replacing ourselves anymore! God's will has been subverted.

It is also a very dangerous proposition to say: "People who continually do x against God's will, yet still believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior are still Christians."

All sin is unbelief. Consider these doctrinal statements from the Book of Concord:

"However, if the baptized act against their conscience, permit sin to reign in them, and thus grieve the Holy Spirit in themselves and lose him, then, although they may not be rebaptized, they must be converted again, as has been sufficiently demonstrated above."
[The Book of Concord Concerning the Free Will or Human Powers [The Formula of Concord: Solid Declaration, art. ii, par. 69]

"Indeed, all those who stubbornly persevere in resisting the Holy Spirit’s activities and movement, which take place through the Word, do not receive him but instead grieve the Holy Spirit and lose him." [ibid, par. 83]

The Formula of Concord, in describing the "False and Erroneous Doctrine of the Calvinists Concerning Predestination and the Providence of God," at point number three condemns the false doctrine "That the elect and regenerate cannot lose faith and the Holy Ghost and be condemned, even though they commit great sins and crimes of every kind."

Scripture warns:

"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." [Eph 4:30]

And Luther warns as well:

"It is true repentance and true faith when the works correspond to it. We must not relapse from faith again into unholy living and deceive ourselves into thinking that we truly believe."
Luther, M. [Luther's Works 19:25, Minor Prophets II: Jonah and Habakkuk]

Matt said...

Erich,
I agree with your comment about me using bad theology. Upon further review, I can definitely see how it is bad theology. My point was that if it is God's will for us to be fruitful and multiply, then nothing will stand in His way. Perhaps the bullet scenario was a tad too far? Maybe not.

I am not prepared to say that those people who choose not to be fruitful and multiply are not faithful Christians. What is the difference between Paul choosing not to procreate and people using contraceptives to help them not procreate? Is Paul sinning because he chose not to get married and multiply on to the earth? Since it is a sin to disobey the command of God, then is it a sin to not get married because God commands us to be fruitful and multiply? Perhaps I am chasing my own tail here.

However, if I was to encourage my wife not to take contraceptives then I would be bringing a child into a situation in which I cannot financially provide for it. Knowing this, my wife and I would not enjoy sexual union (a blessing from God, no?). Since we would not be fulfilling our sexual obligations within marriage, wouldn't we be setting ourselves up for temptation (1 Cor. 7)? So we take the dreaded pill, keep ourselves from participating in sexual desires outside of marriage, but smite God since we have closed our loins? It seems to be a catch-22.

Anonymous said...

"Your argument also flies in the face of observable fact: God calls us to "be fruitful and multiply", yet contraceptive use has lowered birth rates in almost every corner of the world to below replacement level fertility. God's divine ordinance is to be fruitful and multiply, but we're not even replacing ourselves anymore! God's will has been subverted. "


Further, it has lowered the birthrate the most among those most able to provide the most for children, the very educated and affluent.

An atheist commenter I read a while back so lamented the birth dearth among those most profoundly blessed in history, European and American Christians, that he ended his despairing diatribe on his vision of a coming dark and violent age with this final thought:

"I hope an asteroid is on the way"

Anonymous said...

Its so wonderful to read some thoughtful, intelligent discussion on an issue that so often gets distorted and tossed aside by anti-christian or pro-choice groups. Thanks everyone!

Now...this stood out to me:

"What is the difference between Paul choosing not to procreate and people using contraceptives to help them not procreate? Is Paul sinning?..."

The difference is that Paul was celibate and never entered into a marital union where God allows us sexual intimacy. So he never was faced with the option of contraception or not. Those who willingly enter into a union, engage in sexual intimacy and yet choose to deny the outcome of that intimacy (creating life) are in a way sinning. Saying to our Creator 'thanks for the blessing of my spouse, our cherished intimacy, but no thanks on the blessing of a child. I'll take it from here..."

The other statement I want to address:

"However, if I was to encourage my wife not to take contraceptives then I would be bringing a child into a situation in which I cannot financially provide for it. Knowing this, my wife and I would not enjoy sexual union. Since we would not be fulfilling our sexual obligations within marriage, wouldn't we be setting ourselves up for temptation.."

WOW. So...you're saying that because you might have a child that you cannot afford, your sex life would suffer, leading you and/or your wife to commit adultry? Boy, I'd hate to be the child that you lay that heavy burden on! Ha ha. But seriously, the idea that we cannot 'afford' children is absurd. My husband and I live on less than $30,000 a yr (poverty stricken by US standards) and now that we are about to have our first child, we are realizing we are going to have to make SACRIFICES to accommodate this new life. And we will do the same for our future children. Our standard of living is so absurdly high, we have lost touch with what it actually takes to provide for a child (in my oppinion). And parents seem more and more unwilling to give up a certain lifestyle or standard of living to have children.

Marriage and children take WORK. Will our sex life suffer? Probably at some point. Does that justify me in committing adultery? No. It only forces me to work harder to create intimacy with my partner in every opportunity and not blame an absence of it on my children. By the way, God allows us to enjoy our sexual intimacy with our partner...but it's not a guarantee or a commandment. To me, saying that a great sex life is somehow a promise of marriage is really just buying into the more secular worldview...where S-E-X is the most important thing.

Last thing I want to say; Many partners strive for years to conceive. Some successfully, others not so. Children are a blessing. Some couples choose to use contraception for several years thinking that once they stop using it, they will conceive 'when the time is better for us'. We need to place our trust in our Creator. He will never give us more than we can bear. Easier said than done, I know.

Anonymous said...

Its so wonderful to read some thoughtful, intelligent discussion on an issue that so often gets distorted and tossed aside by anti-christian or pro-choice groups. Thanks everyone!

Now...this stood out to me:

"What is the difference between Paul choosing not to procreate and people using contraceptives to help them not procreate? Is Paul sinning?..."

The difference is that Paul was celibate and never entered into a marital union where God allows us sexual intimacy. So he never was faced with the option of contraception or not. Those who willingly enter into a union, engage in sexual intimacy and yet choose to deny the outcome of that intimacy (creating life) are in a way sinning. Saying to our Creator 'thanks for the blessing of my spouse, our cherished intimacy, but no thanks on the blessing of a child. I'll take it from here..."

The other statement I want to address:

"However, if I was to encourage my wife not to take contraceptives then I would be bringing a child into a situation in which I cannot financially provide for it. Knowing this, my wife and I would not enjoy sexual union. Since we would not be fulfilling our sexual obligations within marriage, wouldn't we be setting ourselves up for temptation.."

WOW. So...you're saying that because you might have a child that you cannot afford, your sex life would suffer, leading you and/or your wife to commit adultry? Boy, I'd hate to be the child that you lay that heavy burden on! Ha ha. But seriously, the idea that we cannot 'afford' children is absurd. My husband and I live on less than $30,000 a yr (poverty stricken by US standards) and now that we are about to have our first child, we are realizing we are going to have to make SACRIFICES to accommodate this new life. And we will do the same for our future children. Our standard of living is so absurdly high, we have lost touch with what it actually takes to provide for a child (in my oppinion). And parents seem more and more unwilling to give up a certain lifestyle or standard of living to have children.

Marriage and children take WORK. Will our sex life suffer? Probably at some point. Does that justify me in committing adultery? No. It only forces me to work harder to create intimacy with my partner in every opportunity and not blame an absence of it on my children. By the way, God allows us to enjoy our sexual intimacy with our partner...but it's not a guarantee or a commandment. To me, saying that a great sex life is somehow a promise of marriage is really just buying into the more secular worldview...where S-E-X is the most important thing.

Last thing I want to say; Many partners strive for years to conceive. Some successfully, others not so. Children are a blessing. Some couples choose to use contraception for several years thinking that once they stop using it, they will conceive 'when the time is better for us'. We need to place our trust in our Creator. He will never give us more than we can bear. Easier said than done, I know.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Matt,

You said: "So we take the dreaded pill, keep ourselves from participating in sexual desires outside of marriage, but smite God since we have closed our loins?"

In answering your other comments, I neglected to point out a truly life or death distinction here.

The dreaded pill is a deadly pill. It kills babies! Many people are unaware of the fact that hormonal contraception has as one of its three modes of action ABORTION! If ovulation occurs (and it does occur) and the sperm make it to the egg (and this obviously occurs as well), the pill also thins the uterine lining so much that it usually causes the fertilized egg (a.k.a. BABY!) to fail to become implanted in the edometrium - thus causing a spontaneous abortion.

Christians cannot in good conscience use "The Pill" once they have been informed properly of its three modes of action. Read the manufacturer's own words in the package insert! Prevention of implantation is mode #3 !!!

Anonymous said...

In this issue you have shown just one more way that you can add more law and condemnation to people who choose differently than you... I am so thankful that I worship a God of grace and mercy.

While I can understand your thoughts... I think you are a bit misguided... My husband and I made a choice to be done having children the natural way... While I was pregnant with my last child, I began to hear God calling our family to adoption... The pregnancy was hard on me and my younger children... I wasn't being a faithful wife and mother because I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. At the same time we didn't feel our family was done growing, but we felt God telling us that we were done growing through natural children. Now, you can tell me all you want that God would never tell me that, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did... I was moved by adoption stories from friends and family, I was turning on the radio and programs featuring adoptive parents and families were being shared... all of this at a time when I was asking myself the very hard question, "Am I done?" Nobody asked me that question, I was struggling through what I knew to be a big decision for our family. The decision to be a faithful steward of the little blessings I had already been given.

I will never question your decision to let the Lord decide how many children you have and when, but at the same time, I will not let you condemn me for a decision that was best for our family... A God-given decision that I am completely at peace with. You may read the above post as a tirade of excuses and reasons why I am done... I make no apologies for our decision and I do not expect that you make the same one... I just wish that instead of throwing law at people who choose differently than you, you would stop and show the Grace and love of God. A God who has a plan for each of our families and works through each of our unique families in His own way.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Anonymous wrote:

"I began to hear God calling our family to..." "...we felt God telling us that we were... Now, you can tell me all you want that God would never tell me that, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did... [etc.]"

Dear Anonymous,

You're on thin ice. The Lutheran Confessions declare against such enthusiasm:

"All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. . . In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world, [its poison] having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power [life], and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and the Sacraments." [Smalcald Articles Part III, Art. VIII, 10]

I have nothing against adoption, but I suggest you stop listening to your feelings and instead listen to God's Word on this subject.