8.31.2010

Theodore Roosevelt On Motherhood - 1905

This speech is worth reading in total, but if you're short on time, I have provided a "reader's digest" version below.


No piled-up wealth, no splendor of material growth, no brilliance of artistic development, will permanently avail any people unless its home life is healthy, unless the average man possesses honesty, courage, common sense, and decency, unless he works hard and is willing at need to fight hard; and unless the average woman is a good wife, a good mother, able and willing to perform the first and greatest duty of womanhood, able and willing to bear, and to bring up as they should be brought up, healthy children, sound in body, mind, and character, and numerous enough so that the race shall increase and not decrease.

...Just as the happiest and most honorable and most useful task that can be set any man is to earn enough for the support of his wife and family, for the bringing up and starting in life of his children, so the most important, the most honorable and desirable task which can be set any woman is to be a good and wise mother in a home marked by self-respect and mutual forbearance, by willingness to perform duty, and by refusal to sink into self-indulgence or avoid that which entails effort and self-sacrifice.

...If you mothers through weakness bring up your sons to be selfish and to think only of themselves, you will be responsible for much sadness among the women who are to be their wives in the future. If you let your daughters grow up idle, perhaps under the mistaken impression that as you yourselves have had to work hard they shall know only enjoyment, you are preparing them to be useless to others and burdens to themselves. Teach boys and girls alike that they are not to look forward to live spent in avoiding difficulties, but to lives spent in overcoming difficulties.

...There are many good people who are denied the supreme blessing of children, and for these we have the respect and sympathy always due to those who, from no fault of their own, are denied any of the other great blessings of life. But the man or woman who deliberately forego these blessings, whether from viciousness, coldness, shallow-heartedness, self-indulgence, or mere failure to appreciate aright the difference between the all-important and the unimportant,--why, such a creature merits contempt as hearty as any visited upon the soldier who runs away in battle...

...The existence of women of this type forms one of the most unpleasant and unwholesome features of modern life... ...and think of the fate that would surely overcome any nation which developed its average and typical woman along such lines... ...These unpleasant tendencies in our American life are made evident by articles such as those which I actually read not long ago in a certain paper, where a clergyman was quoted, seemingly with approval, as expressing the general American attitude when he said that the ambition of any save a very rich man should be to rear two children only, so as to give his children an opportunity "to taste a few of the good things of life."

This man, whose profession and calling should have made him a moral teacher, actually set before others the ideal, not of training children to do their duty, not of sending them forth with stout hearts and ready minds to win triumphs for themselves and their country, not of allowing them the opportunity, and giving them the privilege of making their own place in the world, but, forsooth, of keeping the number of children so limited that they might "taste a few good things!"

...a race that practised such doctrine--that is, a race that practised race suicide--would thereby conclusively show that it was unfit to exist, and that it had better give place to people who had not forgotten the primary laws of their being.

...The woman's task is not easy--no task worth doing is easy--but in doing it, and when she has done it, there shall come to her the highest and holiest joy known to mankind; and having done it, she shall have the reward prophesied in Scripture; for her husband and her children, yes, and all people who realize that her work lies at the foundation of all national happiness and greatness, shall rise up and call her blessed.

8.29.2010

Chastity within Marriage

Again, with regard to the historic teaching against an "everything goes" attitude in the sexual intimacy of husband and wife, Chemnitz in his Examination of the Council of Trent (3:32-33) writes regarding marital chastity:
Further, this reminder needs to be added, that there is some difference between the chastity of that conjugal intercourse which would have taken place before the Fall and that which now takes place in this corrupt nature after the Fall. Epiphanius says, Bk. 1, Tom. 3, Heresy 45, that appetites were implanted by God in nature, not for the purpose of unnatural conduct but for a good use and for a necessary and useful order. And he adds: “Therefore I have also said that the appetite of bodily desire is not something unnatural, for it has been given in order that children may be begotten in purity, in order that the command may be fulfilled: ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ ” Therefore the desire of one sex for the other was found in nature also when it was whole, but there it would have been without the flame and fire of lust, completely holy and pure.

Now through sin this most noble work of generating children, which is truly a creation of God, has been infected with the leprosy of lust (as Luther calls it). And when Scripture calls conjugal cohabitation chastity and holiness, this is not to be understood as if the flames of lust were sanctified in spouses so that they are a good, pure, and holy thing. For our first parents immediately after the Fall covered the organs of generation because they sensed there a disorder to which they were before unaccustomed. And God Himself provided them garments. Paul also (1 Cor. 12:23) calls them our less honorable members, which are to be honored by covering them. One must therefore distinguish between the work itself, which is per se a good creation of God, and the vice and disorderliness of lust, which came to it through sin. For Scripture ascribes to spouses both lack of self-control (1 Cor. 7:5) and chastity (1 Tim. 2:15). However, that accompanying disorder is shielded and covered by the honor, sanctity, and purity of marriage on account of the institution and blessing of God, so that it is not imputed to believers; but conjugal cohabitation, even though it is not so pure as it would have been before the Fall (for it is not without the fire of lust) is nevertheless before God and in His sight chastity, holiness, and purity. For marriage is now, since the Fall, as it were an umbrella, by which many marital follies, if I may use that expression, are covered, so that they are not imputed to believers, as Luther beautifully argues on Gen. 26, fol. 382 [Luther’s Works, American Edition, 5, pp. 31–38].

In order therefore that pious spouses may preserve chastity in conjugal cohabitation, let them learn first of all to think [rightly] about the flames, tire, and ardor of lust; let them not think that these are per se a good thing and pleasing to God, but be sure that if they are confined within the limits of matrimony God does not impute them to believers but tolerates them, overlooks and ignores them, and as Luther beautifully accommodates the word used in Acts 13:18, “bears with them.” Second, spouses should also ponder what Paul says in 1 Thess. 4:4–5 [KJV]: “… that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel … not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles.” For as Peter calls the wife the weak vessel, so this passage in Paul is not ineptly explained of conjugal intercourse, that pious spouses should not indulge with the furor of beastly lust, like heathen, but should use moderation and bridle the passions of lust in order that marriage may be honorable and the couch unpolluted. And where they have overdone it, they will pray that this may not be imputed but forgiven.
The latter portion of the statement I placed in bold is obviously a reference to Hebrews 13:4 (which we have been discussing below). And here is an excerpt of the Luther reference given by Chemnitz at the end of the second paragraph above:
[Genesis 26:]8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac fondling Rebecca his wife.

To be sure, marriage is not without its own imperfection and uncleanness; but God tolerates and overlooks this. If the natural order of procreating offspring is preserved, then God overlooks and forgives, or, as Luke expresses it in Acts (13:18) with a fine word, τροποφορει̂, He bears with them. He says: “I shall bear with this way for the sake of the preservation of the human race. I know that you were conceived in sins; but I forgive you, and I permit you to have your wife as a help. In her alone you should take delight, and you should bear it patiently, even if something sad or irksome happens. I, too, shall have patience, whether you embrace her during the night, when she is naked, or during the day, when she is clothed.”

Luther's Works, Vol. 5, Page 34

Rev. Roger James on Hebrews 13:4

Here is a bold and faithful law/gospel sermon delivered by my dear pastor, Rev. Roger James, on today's epistle lesson, Hebrews 13:4 τιμιος ο γαμος εν πασιν και η κοιτη αμιαντος


κοιτη” – koite {N-NSF} – the marriage bed, sexual intercourse, coitus.
αμιαντος” – amiantos {A-NSF} – undefiled, unsoiled, free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired.

Recession pushes birth rate to lowest level in at least a century

The Washington Post reports: Forget the Dow and the GDP. Here's the latest economic indicator: The U.S. birth rate has fallen to its lowest level in at least a century as many people apparently decided they couldn't afford more mouths to feed.

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

Luther's commentary:

“Although it is very easy to marry a wife, it is very difficult to support her along with the children and the household. Accordingly, no one notices this faith of Jacob. Indeed, many hate fertility in a wife for the sole reason that the offspring must be supported and brought up. For this is what they commonly say: ‘Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.’ But this blame is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper. [5 Luther's Works, vol. 5, page 332]

The Child Catcher

Article: In Haven for Over-55 Set, Age Police Hunt Violators Who Shriek or Toddle

No, this is not some futuristic movie like "The Children of Men" - this is a very real part of our modern culture.

The NY Times reports:
As one of the hundreds of age-restricted communities nationwide, the rules are clear on one thing: no one, absolutely no one, who is a teenager, an adolescent, a toddler, a newborn, any form of child, may call Sun City home. “Visits are O.K. as long as they’re limited,” said Mr. Szentmiklosi, who describes himself as a doting grandfather and insists that he does not have an anti-child bone in his body. “You can have children visit for 90 days per year. That means if you have 10 grandchildren, each one can visit, but they can only stay nine days each.”
[Hat tip: Greg Laughlin]

8.27.2010

CPH: Marriage by God's Design

Here is the official "Marriage by God's Design" web page where you can learn all about the study. Go to the "Samples" page to download a PDF of the entire first lesson of this new Bible study. Check out the way this study seeks to get people to think in terms of God's Word. Look especially at question #12:
"God blesses and commands male and female to 'be fruitful' and 'multiply' and 'fill the earth' and 'subdue it' and 'have dominion' (Genesis 1:28, emphasis added). Take a good look at the italicized words in this passage. If God were an architect and if marriage were His blueprint, what would God be building? What does the devil do to undo God’s 'building project'?"
Of course, I wish the answer key linked this blog. ;-) Nevertheless, thanks be to God for the leadership of CPH, and especially for our friend and senior editor of adult Bible studies Rev. Robert C. Baker, in producing this study of God's Word.

Below are two videos of Rev. Baker introducing this study, including a brief appearance by our new synodical president, Rev. Matthew Harrison:




On Chastity

"God wills that the light of chastity shine in our entire body and all of our members." -Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, Sixth Commandment
And how do we do this? Virtually every Christian knows the things this commandment forbids outside of marriage, including even looking with lust on someone you are not married to. However, due to a modern lack and perversion of teaching on chastity within marriage, many think that anything you do with your spouse is automatically sanctified simply by virtue of the fact that they are married. In fact, in this recent national debate about homosexual “marriage” one must ask: who redefined marriage first? If marriage is only about “love,” “mutual support” and “companionship” then why are we upset that the homosexuals think they should be able to get married too?

Hebrews 13:4 τιμιος ο γαμος εν πασιν και η κοιτη αμιαντος
“Let marriage be held in honor in all respects, and let the marriage bed be undefiled…”

Let κοιτη be αμιαντος!
“κοιτη” – koite {N-NSF} – the marriage bed, sexual intercourse, coitus.
“αμιαντος” – amiantos {A-NSF} – undefiled, unsoiled, free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired.

How is marriage honored in all respects? When we act in accordance with all of the godly purposes for which marriage was instituted, and intentionally contrary to none of them. How is the marriage bed kept undefiled? When the one-flesh union is kept free of things by which its very nature is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired.

The Large Catechism explanation of the Sixth Commandment (¶207) mirrors this verse as follows:

“Therefore, He also wishes us to honor marriage and to maintain and conduct it as a divine and blessed estate because, in the first place, He has instituted it before all others, and therefore created man and woman separately, as is evident, not for lewdness, but that they should live together legitimately, be fruitful, beget children, and nourish and train them to the honor of God.”

Chastity within marriage is seldom kept inviolate in today’s world. Few realize that the Sixth Commandment is often violated by two persons in their own bed even if they are married. This occurs when their blessed conjugal union is perverted for selfish use contrary to nature and God’s divine ordinance and will – that is, when God’s procreative purpose is intentionally frustrated. For instance, consider the following.

Genesis 38:9-10 “But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.”

“Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment. He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred. Therefore he did not allow himself to be compelled to bear that intolerable slavery. Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore God punished him.” [Luther's Works, vol. 7, page 20]

Does this mean that every act of intercourse, or even every marriage, must produce a child? Certainly not. Yet we must not take it upon ourselves to intentionally separate the one-flesh union from God’s blessing of children, nor even desire to avoid such a blessing in our hearts. Let us not ignore the noble examples of chastity exemplified through the heavy cross that is carried by those whose marriage has not been blessed with children. Consider the beautiful motherly faith and chastity of Rachel and Sarah extolled in the following passages from Luther’s Lectures on Genesis regarding chapter 30, verses 1-2: “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob: Give me children, or I shall die! Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said: ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’”

“But from this it is clear that the very saintly women were not lustful but were desirous of offspring and the blessing. For this was the cause of envy in Rachel, who, if she had been like other women whom our age has produced in large numbers, would have said: ‘What is it to me whether I bear children or not? Provided that I remain the mother of the household and have an abundance of all other things, I have enough.’ But Rachel demands offspring so much that she prefers death to remaining sterile. I do not remember reading a similar statement in any history. Therefore she is an example of a very pious and continent woman whose only zeal and burning desire is for offspring, even if it means death. Thus above (Gen. 16:2) Sarah also showed a similar desire for offspring. And in both this feeling is decidedly praiseworthy.

“. . . In the second place, they [the Papists who extol forced celibacy] do not see with what pure and maternal hearts these women ask for children. These feelings and words of Rachel show that her heart was altogether alien to lust. This they do not see. Why? Because it is written: ‘Away with the godless man, lest he see or hear what God says, what He does and works!’ They are not worthy of seeing God’s glory. Thus they hear us today as we cry out, as we teach and sing the Word of God. They see the works of God. Yet they do not see. Why? Because they are not worthy. Thus they do not see either that Rachel is set forth as an example of very beautiful and motherly affection and chastity."

And in this same context, Luther praises the faith of Jacob in Rachel’s barren condition as well, in contrast to the unbelief shown by those who put off having children due to the cares of this world:

“. . . Although it is very easy to marry a wife, it is very difficult to support her along with the children and the household. Accordingly, no one notices this faith of Jacob. Indeed, many hate fertility in a wife for the sole reason that the offspring must be supported and brought up. For this is what they commonly say: ‘Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.’ But this blame is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper.”

Yes, there is an abundance of such unchastity within marriage today, due in great part to the modern church’s recent approval of contraception since the middle of the last century. Back to Chemnitz in his locus on the Sixth Commandment in Loci Theologici, pg. 414, we read a warning in this regard:

“In this commandment there is also this general rule, Romans 1:32, ‘They are worthy of death, not only those who do such things, but also those who give their approval.’ Therefore they are guilty of [violating] the Sixth Commandment who defend or aid or do not prohibit, or in other circumstances share in another’s sin, as has been said under the locus of sin, cf. Lev. 19:29; Ps. 50:18; Ecclus. 26:13, 42:11.”

8.25.2010

Excellent Sermon on Jeremiah 23

While this sermon does not mention contraception, I believe our authors and readers will resonate with its message in regard to the rampant false teaching in our churches about marriage and procreation. We heard this sermon on August 15 while vacationing at my in-laws' cottage in Port Austin, Michigan. It is delivered by the Rev. Ken Lueke of Our Savior - Bad Axe.

First, the reading from Jeremiah 23:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, 'It shall be well with you'; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No disaster shall come upon you.'"
For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD
to see and to hear his word,
or who has paid attention to his word and listened?
Behold, the storm of the LORD!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his heart.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their deeds.



If this video player doesn't work for you, download the MP3.

8.24.2010

Birth Rates Falling More

A sign of the recession's toll: Births fall in Illinois
Economically stressed families put off having kids


By Judith Graham and Tara Malone, Chicago Tribune reporters
August 25, 2010

After the tumult of losing a job, searching for new employment and relocating to the Chicago area, the Hurleys of Naperville decided not to have any more children.

"We're done," said Tracy Hurley, a stay-at-home mom with a 3-year-old and a 1 1/2-year-old.

Their decision is apparently becoming more common. The birth rate in Illinois has dropped to its lowest level since 1933, the height of the Great Depression, in part because financially stressed couples are putting off or deciding against expanding their families.

"Many couples are strained and don't want to take on additional responsibilities," said Dr. Kishore Lakhani, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist who practices in Hoffman Estates.

"Especially people who are working, if they already have a child, they are deciding to continue taking birth control," said Dr. Vijay Arekapudi, chairwoman of the OB/GYN department at the Division Street campus of Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center.

Illinois' birth rate stands at about 13.3 for every 1,000 people in the state, down from a recent high of 17.1 per 1,000 residents in 1990, according to a Tribune analysis of Census Bureau population figures and local birth data. In 1933, the rate was 13.9. Read More

8.22.2010

Let κοιτη be αμιαντος!

"κοιτη" - koite {N-NSF} - the marriage bed, sexual intercourse, coitus.
"αμιαντος" - amiantos {A-NSF} - undefiled, unsoiled, free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired.
Hebrews 13:4 τιμιος ο γαμος εν πασιν και η κοιτη αμιαντος

"Let marriage be held in honor in all respects, and let the marriage bed be undefiled..."
How is marriage honored in all respects? When we act in accordance with all of the godly purposes for which marriage was instituted, and intentionally contrary to none of them. How is the marriage bed kept undefiled? When the one-flesh union is kept free of things by which its very nature is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired (e.g. contraception).

The Large Catechism explanation of the Sixth Commandment (¶207) mirrors this verse as follows:
Therefore, He also wishes us to honor marriage and to maintain and conduct it as a divine and blessed estate because, in the first place, He has instituted it before all others, and therefore created man and woman separately, as is evident, not for lewdness, but that they should live together legitimately, be fruitful, beget children, and nourish and train them to the honor of God.

8.19.2010

Who redefined marriage first? 2

Another excellent essay makes the same point we've been discussing in the previous post: A Marriage Tale by Dr. Stephen J. Heaney, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, MN.
HT: Greg Laughlin (GL)

8.17.2010

Who redefined marriage first?

Another good post over at Meditations of My Heart. We've made the same point in discussions here before, but it is always encouraging to see more pastors coming to the same conclusions.

If male and female gender roles are all interchangeable; if marriage is all about "love," "mutual support" and "companionship"; if marriage doesn't naturally include children (at least not now, or if the "couple" ever decides to); then why are we upset that the homosexuals think they should be able to get married too?

8.09.2010

Annual Family Retreat at Redeemer-Ft. Wayne

Here are the audio files of the sectional presentation that Pr. Stuckwisch and his wife LaRena gave on The Church as the Household and Family of God; and the sermon Pr. Stuckwisch preached for the Commemoration of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-17; St. John 14:23-31) at the concluding Divine Service.

There were twelve different sectionals at the retreat in addition to the plenary speaker. We also celebrated the Lord's Supper every day in addition to Matins and Vespers, hearing a total of seven sermons - each from a different pastor. And that's not all we packed into this 48 hour family-friendly retreat! Plan to attend the next one August 2-4, 2011 (noon Tuesday through noon Thursday). It is affordable for everyone, and priceless in value. Not only families attend, and not only homeschoolers. There are even singles and older couples as well, but if you don't like kids, better stay away. Several large families attend, and children are not segregated away from "adult" activities. You can just attend for a day or a partial day if you like. Check out the FAQ.









8.06.2010

Conception After Miscarriage

Another one of the false medical reasons for contraception has been shot down. I remember my wife being told by her OB/GYN after each of our miscarriages that he highly recommended contracepting for at least three months. I'm sure readers know what our response was. Now, according to CNN a new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that after a miscarriage it's better to get pregnant sooner than later - within six months being best. Imagine that. We were actually right to trust God. Here's another article from the BBC.

8.03.2010

Wrong god, Right Thoughts: Muslims and Infertility

Pr. Philip Hoppe (St. Paul’s - Ellsworth, Kansas) comments as follows on an interesting story in Religion News, Infertile Muslim parents face tough choices, pressure:

It truly pains me when I read a story like this. First I am pained by reading about people following a god who does not exist. Especially knowing that they are likely following him out of fear of punishment rather than out of devotion. But secondly it pains me when I see these people being more thoughtful about reproductive choices than most who know the God who loves them first. This whole article borders on, if not crossing the border clearly, mocking those who who trust God with reproduction rather than trusting science.

Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.