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We Need More Babies

Thursday, August 10, 2006 • 11:54 am

In fact, given the revisionist disdain for both procreation and evangelism, restoration is almost a certainty. They will produce fewer offspring and fewer converts. The average age of their congregants will continue its exponential rise. They will slowly die off without heirs, victims of their own ideas.


There has been a good deal of talk about strategy lately and all of it is very good. I have especially appreciated Sarah’s work in this regard.

Today, with fear and trepidation, I want to discuss a longer term (potential) strategic advantage that orthodox Anglicans should enjoy over our Worthy Opponents: babies.

And I’d like to encourage Stand Firm readers living in the estate of marriage to engage in the process of bringing this potential advantage to fruition.

It has already been noted by many others that one reason western Christianity, especially western mainline Christianity, is in decline is that we have not only failed to properly instruct our children in the Christian faith, but that we have failed to have children.

There are, of course, a myriad of factors and reasons involved in this failure (birth control, abortion, fewer marriages, people marrying later in life, more divorces) but it is, in fact, biblically speaking, a failure.

The first command give to Adam and Eve was the command to increase and multiply:

Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (Genesis 1:28)

We have to be careful here. The command was not to increase and multiply and subdue for the sake of increasing and multiplying and subduing. The command was given because God, in his mercy, determined to use his human creatures as vehicles, or means, to establish his kingdom.

In other words, the people of God are commanded to get married and have babies in order to accomplish the very same end in view in Matthew 28:18-20:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Evangelism and reproduction are two prongs of the same mission, establishing God’s dominion, his kingdom authority, over the earth.

Of course, this will only and ultimately be completed when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. And yet our “meantime” mission is clear: Have babies and make disciples.

But for some reason even orthodox Christians keen on evangelism seem much less eager when it comes to having babies.

Why is that?

Selfishness?

Some would say so.

Babies are difficult. They require attention, commitment, self-sacrifice, and financial support. When couples, even Christian couples, explain why they are choosing not to have kids more often than not you will hear something about their tenuous finances, their career/education goals, their lack of time…for Christian couples these reasons/excuses are very difficult to reconcile with God’s command.

It’s never the right time to have a baby. You’ll never have enough money. You’re career will never reach just the “right” plateau. You will always have more to study and there will never be a break.

But God did not say, “increase and multiply if and when you have the time and resources…” He simply said, “Increase and multiply.”

He also said:

…do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

In other words: Trust and obey. God will provide.

In the long term, obedience to God in this regard is key to restoring orthodox Christianity in the west.

In fact, given the revisionist disdain for both procreation and evangelism, restoration is almost a certainty. They will produce fewer offspring and fewer converts. The average age of their congregants will continue its exponential rise. They will slowly die off without heirs, victims of their own ideas.

But again, our long-term victory hinges on our eager obedience to the two means God has given us to extend his dominion. This means that we must continue to spread the gospel but it also means:

Young orthodox Anglicans must have lots of orthodox Anglican babies.

This requires first either getting married and having babies the old fashioned way or getting married and adopting. But, regardless of the method, obeying the first command, ‘increase, multiply, subdue the earth’ is key to undermining revisionism and restoring orthodoxy in the west. While our Worthy Opponents, rejecting the idea that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage, invest in gay marriage, fret over the sustainability of the earth, and limit their offspring via birth control and/or abortion, we, thinking and acting biblically, are, or should be, extending the kingdom of God.

But having babies is only one half of the equation.

We must have orthodox Christian babies raised in orthodox Christian homes who will grow up to be orthodox Christian warriors and take their places on those little stone bridges.

But that is fodder for another article. I think I’ve said enough for today.

 


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Comments:

Ready for #4 already, Matt?  smile  How does your dear wife feel about that?

[1] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 08-10-2006 at 12:06 PM • top

heh, it was pretty amazing. About an hour afterwards she was already thinking about #4.

[2] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-10-2006 at 12:08 PM • top

A hearty “Amen” from a woman who often wishes she’d had more than two, but is now a grandma!  (Let the fun begin . . . again!) How I wish more women would experience the joys (and even the trials) of rocking and nursing and singing “Jesus Loves Me” and having the solid support of a Christian husband in raising children in the love and admonition of the Lord. This has got to be the most rewarding, but most natural way to fulfill the Great Commission.

[3] Posted by Jill C. on 08-10-2006 at 12:37 PM • top

Ladies, find a wonderful Christian guy,
Get married, be fruitful and multiply!

Gentlemen, get your house in order,
Get married and give God a son or a daughter!

(from the blessed father of 2 girls ages 10 and 15 who have a heart for the Lord, a father’s answered prayer!)

[4] Posted by Milton on 08-10-2006 at 12:47 PM • top

Golly, Matt!

Now you’ll have the revisionists/reappraisers claiming that we just want to keep ‘em barefoot ‘n’ pregnant!  LOL

Alas, my beautiful wife and I are beyond such things (hard to multiply when the baby oven has been removed), but between us we managed 9 children and are the proud and grateful grandparents of 10. Alas some of our children either have not married or are unable to reproduce. But I feel like we’ve done our part!!

[5] Posted by Allen Lewis on 08-10-2006 at 01:04 PM • top

We’re doing OK so far. 4 boys in an orthodox Anglican environment where we are a medium-sized family. We started late, so that’s probably it for us.

Two proud father moments to relate. In our neighbourhood public school that our 2 oldest attend, the school catchment area includes a large immigrant population. About 40% of the children are Muslim and most of the remainder are unchurched.

For Thanksgiving, the children in my #2 son’s class did a hokey craft of a turkey. The tail feathers were individual things they were thankful for. On the body, the exemplar that most of the children followed was the phrase “I am thankful for:”. On my son’s turkey, which is still on display at home, was the phrase “I thank God for:...”

One past Christmas, someone asked, in my oldest son’s class, what Christmas was about. Being a “secular” school (which seems to mean no public displays of Christianity) the teacher was about to move on, when my son spoke up to explain to his classmates about Jesus and the nativity story. The teacher, who is a Christian but does not feel comfortable breaking Caesar’s rules, told us that she was relieved that he spoke up and glad that there were some courageous young Christians who are willing to share their faith.

I pray that my sons will continue to have that kind of courage as they enter their teen years.

[6] Posted by Bill in Ottawa on 08-10-2006 at 01:14 PM • top

A great post Matt.  I will admit to falling in the category of being more concerned about evangelism and winning the world when my wife and I got married a long time ago.  I will confess to be quite resistant to my wife’s desire to have four kids.

Now that we have them (oldest is almost 11, the youngest 4) I wouldn’t trade our life for the world.  Although my kids will be teenagers when I’m in my 50s.  I pray for energy for those interesting days ahead.

What makes your post so interesting is I just finished reading the current cover articles on-line at Christianity Today.  Same perspective as yours but with a different angle on the blessings of having children.

BTW an hour after our first was born in circumstances which almost killed my wife (no kidding) she was thinking about having another one!  It was me who wasn’t ready to even think about it.  Jesus was right, the mother forgets her pain of childbirth in the joy holding her newborn.

[7] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 08-10-2006 at 01:16 PM • top

You know, the primary reason to have children, or for that matter to get married, is faithful obedience. I say obedience because of the reasons outlined by Matt. I say faithful because that is what it takes to do something which otherwise makes no sense in this modern world.

Now that the sexual revolution and easy divorce has been fully absorbed, there is really no reason for marriage over cohabitation, other than faith. In the last 100 years, children have gone from a net financial asset to an extremely expensive proposition—several hundred thousand dollars each to raise and educate.

However, God says that they are blessings and not a hinderance, and we need to believe Him rather than our accountants.

The Lord provides, but as Fiddler on the Roof points out “I know that the Lord will provide, but will He provide until He provides?”

I like to say that rather than a burden of lost income, time and expense, children are “the ultimate extravagence”. It’s a bit like the Sabbath and tithing and free grace. At first glance it doesn’t seem like we can afford them. Some may remember the story of the “Pearl of Great Price” where the wealthy man sells everything he has to gain the one treasure he wants—the pearl of great price. No, that’s not The Black Pearl of “Pirates” fame, either!

Some people have second houses, some people drive BMW’s, some people have yachts, others of us have children!

[8] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-10-2006 at 02:09 PM • top

Matt+ great to see your boldness in bringing this up!  You go bro’

I’m single (never married) and getting to the age where child-bearing is not likely even if God were to lead me towards marriage.  But trying to do my part to raise up spiritual children here on the mission field!  (and greatly blessed to have dozens of children in my life here to love & cuddle and teach and encourage)

[9] Posted by Karen B. on 08-10-2006 at 02:13 PM • top

There is a wonderful Tshirt that can be found at http://www.catholicposters.com.  Here is what is on the front of the shirt.

.  This shirt says “Before you even ask…” Yes, these are all my children and they’re awesome!

Yes, we have television; we just don’t need it!

No, this is not some sort of daycare; it’s 24/7!

Why should we fix it if it’s not broke?

Yes, we know where they come from…God.
We had planned on two, my spouse just can’t count.

Yes, we’ve heard of birth control; no birth and no control.

You should enjoy our large family; our kids will be paying your social security.

We didn’t plan the first few, why start now?

Are we done!?! We’re just getting started!

[10] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 08-10-2006 at 03:32 PM • top

You know what Bill Cosby said when asked why they had six children?

“Because we didn’t want seven.”

[11] Posted by JackieB on 08-10-2006 at 03:41 PM • top

I’ve earlier commented on the similarities of our Worthy Opponents to the Shakers (in terms of the effects on their diminishing sect of discouraging procreation by—in their case—the embrace of abortion and homosexual sex).  Here’s an article that discusses an analogous effect on the Democratic Party: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005277 (focusing on abortion).  To the degree there is overlap between ECUSA revisionists and left-leaning Democrats (if there is a difference at all), then the same effects could be expected demographically within the population of ECUSA revisionists.  And this doesn’t factor in the huge numbers of homosexuals among ECUSA’s leftists.

[12] Posted by VaAnglican on 08-10-2006 at 04:16 PM • top

My second son, Patrick John, is due in a month, so we’re hurrying, we’re hurrying. Sheesh, so much pressure to procreate and raise little conservative Anglicans. The things we happily married, using the ‘28 BCP, faithful husband and wife have to do for our church.  cheese

[13] Posted by Brooks Kelley on 08-10-2006 at 04:52 PM • top

I was a young liberal punk once, who never ever wanted to have children.  I married another young liberal punk, who agreed—we don’t want or need kids, the world has enough already.

After 8 years of marriage, growing together in love and wisdom, a very frightening and miraculous thing happened to us—our daughter.

It only took a few weeks of fatherhood for me to realize how stupid I had been.  I said, “if this is what having kids means, I WANT A DOZEN!” 

A few years later, our Son was born.  And now, a few years later on…  my only regret is that we had not started earlier.  We had both bought into the liberal mantra of selfishness, and the lies of “overpopulation”.  The problem with this earth isn’t that there are too many people—the problem is that there are to many people who think only of themselves, and their own pleasure.

For all the good liberals who think children are just a burden on society, I have one question:  Who do you think is going to pay for your universal healthcare and prescription drug benefits when you are old, lonely, and expensive?  MY kids?  No, if you’ve taught them what you’re teaching them, they’ll vote to euthanize you long before YOU become a “burden on society”...

[14] Posted by Marty the Baptist on 08-10-2006 at 05:39 PM • top

Marty, I just had this vision of you with a MoHawk holding a baby girl and asking someone, “Know a good barber?” Bless you for your candor.

In my case, I love children and have since the age of 15 when I held a baby for the first time and feed it at church while the parents washed something for the baby. Since that time, all I ever wanted to be was a dad. It is ironic that I had to wait till my 40s to find another conservative Episcopalian who would say I do and I could start a family. But she is a godly woman of virtue and well worth the wait!

Our son is precious to us and is already learning to pray at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and over mommy and her new baby.

So, I am sure given the way he is growing up he will avoid euthanizing you if you are a burden on society and help you out.

And, I am certain yours will not euthanize me and my wife.

However, I warn you, my son might tickle you. I have no idea where he got that behavior from. Really, I just don’t!  wink

[15] Posted by Brooks Kelley on 08-10-2006 at 05:49 PM • top

Our first child is a month old.  His birth changed me in a deep and lasting manner that drove me to re-examine the world.

Thank you, Matt+ for putting into words some of the things I’ve been thinking during this period of self-reflection.

[16] Posted by m+ on 08-10-2006 at 06:48 PM • top

VA Anglican- I think Matt is getting some of his ideas from threads on his blog… did he source you properly?  Well… time to go see if my wife is interested in thinking about #3…. goodnight…

[17] Posted by Christoferos on 08-10-2006 at 09:55 PM • top

We had three wonderful children, and can claim five wonderful nearly grown grandsons at this point. Virile enough they will likely do some populating. That’s probably all we can contribute since at 70 we are not likely to have any more, unless we have an Abraham and Sarah moment. Good point however, and one which is even more significant in Europe, where the only babies being born seem to be Muslim.

[18] Posted by Gulfstream on 08-10-2006 at 10:29 PM • top

The post-modern era the revisionists have been striving for in the U.S. has long since arrived in Europe.  As pointed out by Gulfstream and others above, one of the most ominous consequences of that development is the declining birth rate in all of Western Europe (if I recall correctly, thoroughly Catholic Poland is an exception).  The native Europeans are not replacing, much less increasing, their populations given the prevailing birth rates there.  The European Muslims, however, are experiencing high birth rates.  The net effect is that if, as expected, these trends continue, Europe as we know it will cease to exist and be replaced by a majority Muslim population.  Estimates vary as to when that will occur, but in a historical sense, it isn’t that far away. Let us all pray, therefore, that Matt’s advice and counsel in regard to this topic is taken to heart by faithful, orthodox Anglicans and other Christians.

[19] Posted by William R. Hurt on 08-11-2006 at 12:32 AM • top

Great article!  I approve of this long-term Strategery . . . ; > )

I would like to highlight and emphasize one important point that Matt made. 

It’s one that I’ve been a little nervous about actually, and that is that we’ve been doing this already and the good results have not arrived yet.    ; > (    We’ve been outproducing “liberals” for a good many decades now, and what I fear is that our children are taking the same attitude that *other* conservatives took. 

Which is . . . “I’ve got to work and go to church and have babies and take them to the soccer practices and make money—so I don’t have time to go to that hearing or convention.  I am doing far more important things for that.” 

If we outproduce the Worthy Opponents, but never participate in the little stone bridges, than we’re just baby factories.  ; > (

So I was thrilled to see this note here in the article: “We have to be careful here. The command was not to increase and multiply and subdue for the sake of increasing and multiplying and subduing. The command was given because God, in his mercy, determined to use his human creatures as vehicles, or means, to establish his kingdom.”

Thanks for the article Matt!

[20] Posted by Sarah on 08-11-2006 at 07:18 AM • top

I do not believe that God wanted us to have so many kids that we would overpopulate the world and thousands and thousands of his children die of hunger. I am in favor of lots of children, so why not go out to one of the great sites and adopt a child. My wonderful husband forgot to include our foster daughter along with our 9 children. Kine is a wonderful little girl in Sinegal Africa and she wants to grow up to be a teacher. I chose Kine because we share the same birthday.  Now why don’t each one of you go adopt a foster child. You know we can change the world, one child at a time.  My child is through world vision, just google it. There are several good agencies you can work through.  You choose the sex, age, country and it costs less per day then a cup of coffee. 

I agree with Matt, we each need a new baby…. Go adopt one.

Kay Lewis

[21] Posted by GrannieKay on 08-11-2006 at 10:34 AM • top

Kay,

Thanks for your comment. Overpopulation is a myth. The problem is distribution of resources, not overpopulation. We need more human beings, not less.

[22] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-11-2006 at 10:47 AM • top

Matt-what kind of resources (preferably online, of course) exist for empirical demonstration of the the overpopulation myth?  Thanks!

[23] Posted by Jason Miller on 08-11-2006 at 11:09 AM • top

I think Kay may be on to something here.  Matt, you are right, it is a matter of distribution of resources. The poorest nations are also the ones where population growth is the highest. So Kay’s solution may be a workable one for helping to even out that distribution. 

In regard to this issue, the GOALS, perhaps not the venue (U.N.), of the MDG’s speak to this distribution of resources problem, do they not?  I know that this is a sore point for conservatives in light of the recent GC and the emphasis on MDG’s as our only mission - and rightly so.  Perhaps, when we “move on” past the current spiritually bankrupt nature of TEC (or perhaps as we are in the process), we CAN consider how best to care for the “least of these” in need of our material assistance.

[24] Posted by GL+ on 08-11-2006 at 01:45 PM • top

Not to step on any toes, but I think that the point of the article is that limiting birth is, in fact, contrary to God’s command. The fact is that the earth is more than bountiful enough and God more than great enough to provide for all the humans we can produce. Again, the problem is not reproduction, the problem is distribution. I haven’t got the time right now to find a resource online for you, but I’m sure if you googled “overpopulation myth” you would find a plethora of info (some good, some bad). I do not think we have a choice in the matter. Or, we do have a choice, but the choice is between sin and obedience. If you have been given the opportunity to have babies and you decide against it, I believe that in the biblical sense of things, it is considered a sin.

[25] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-11-2006 at 01:52 PM • top

I’m not sure how “empirical” these are, but here’s some worthwhile reading on the subject:

Citizen Magazine - “The Myth of Too Many” (Jan. 2003)www.family.org/cforum/citizenmag/features/a0023755.cfm

The Earth’s Population: What is the Real Problem? (July 2005O http://www.family.org/cforum/fosi/worldview/essays/a0037385.cfm

Endangered Species (also from Citizen Magazine) http://www.family.org/cforum/citizenmag/coverstory/a0037349.cfm

World Population (by Richard Milne of Probe Ministries) http://www.probe.org/content/view/950/67/

Kerby Anderson on “World Hunger” http://www.probe.org/content/view/711/88/

[26] Posted by Jill C. on 08-11-2006 at 02:12 PM • top

“The fact is that the earth is more than bountiful enough and God more than great enough to provide for all the humans we can produce. Again, the problem is not reproduction, the problem is distribution.”

Of course everything you say is true, Matt.  And we also need to account for the fallen nature of humanity in all of this.  The fact is that (for whatever sinful reasons) large portions of the globe are at, or below, a humanitarian subsistence level in terms of potable water, housing, food, education, etc.  Meanwhile, Americans (and perhaps Europeans, Australians, ?) live in an increasingly materialistic, advertising-driven world.  That’s your distribution problem.

I do not agree with your assertion that being fruitful & multiplying is “key to undermining revisionism and restoring orthodoxy in the west” or that it is necessarily sin “if you have been given the opportunity to have babies and you decide against it.”  To the first, I would say that key thing is in preaching the Gospel and winning hearts and minds to Christ.  That might be children in my own back yard or it might be children in Sudan or Senegal.  To the second, I would say that the decision might involve any number of un-sinful circumstances and considerations.  I just can’t seem to find the commandment that makes it a sin to not have children.

[27] Posted by GL+ on 08-11-2006 at 02:23 PM • top

1. To your first objection: The command to increase and multiply goes hand in hand with the command to make disciples. They are two sides of the same mission. They were given with the same intent and purpose, to extend the authority of God’s kingdom.

2. So if God commands something (increase and multiply) and we do not do it, this is not a sin? Perhaps you misunderstood. God certainly calls some to the single life. But for those whom he calls to marry and who have the physical capacity to have children I fail to see how not doing what God commands to do is anything but a sin?

What if we decided we were not going to spread the gospel?

[28] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-11-2006 at 02:46 PM • top

My wife Anne grew up in Mali and lived in western Africa for most of her life as a daughter of missionaries. Her mom who is staying with us at the moment is currently living in Kenya where they just moved to teach in a seminary. As we know very well, the famines that hit that region are not due to overpopulation but due to the fact that food and resources (both donated and native) are used, bartered, sold, by corrupt governments.

The last thing most Africans need is a bunch of westerners passing out condoms to help curb their population. Kids are an economic and social necessity there. They don’t have social security or economic safety nets. When the parents age they need their kids to care for them. Moreover, they do not have the technology to farm at our level. Kids are a vital source of labor and sustenence

[29] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-11-2006 at 02:53 PM • top

The reason why large portions of the globe experience such subsistence problems has largely to do with the degree of economic freedom the culture promotes.  For instance, if there is no rule of law, business people—both native and foreign—do not invest, and money is not created, and jobs are not produced, and the middle class is not created and so on and so on.

The Heritage Institute produces an excellent annual Index of Economic Freedom for more than 160 countries.  It is enthralling reading even for missionaries and those with a heart for the poor.  It reveals in rather stark terms why, despite masses of money poured into a particular country, they will always have subsistence economies until other variables are managed.  The Index measures 50 variables, in 10 clusters of categories.

“it is a careful theoretical analysis of the factors that most influence the institutional setting of economic growth. . . .

The categories are:

• Tradepolicy,
• Fiscal burden of government,
• Government intervention in the economy,
• Monetary policy,
• Capital flows and foreign investment,
• Banking and finance,
• Wages and prices,
• Property rights,
• Regulation, and
• Informal market activity.


Check out their work here:
http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/

Click on the scores, countries, or head to the download section for the interesting executive summary . . .

[30] Posted by Sarah on 08-11-2006 at 03:01 PM • top

Matt, I may not have been clear.  I was not advocating for (or against) birth control in underdeveloped countries, so I’m not sure where you got that idea. 

On a different note, how would you advise an American inner city, homeless married couple who asked you if they should have children?  They are living hand-to-mouth, looking for work, decent people, trying to get GED’s, living in temporary (shelter) housing.  Is it a sin for them to wait? (Real situation, BTW)

[31] Posted by GL+ on 08-11-2006 at 03:33 PM • top

GL+,

I think so long as they are open to having babies, ie…not contracepting, then there is no sin.

[32] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-11-2006 at 04:58 PM • top

So, contraception is the sin in your opinion?  What about bringing a child into a situation in which they cannot provide the basics - food, clothing, etc. - and so will be dependent on welfare and further hampered in their desire to free themselves from deplorable living conditions?

[33] Posted by GL+ on 08-11-2006 at 05:11 PM • top

God’s promise is that he will provide.

[34] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-11-2006 at 05:14 PM • top

One of the more interesting odd facts with regard to world population is that if the entire human payload of the planet lived in a typical suburban development—Mom, Dad, 2.3 kids on an eighth-acre plot—the resulting development would be about the size of Texas. 

(Obviously we can’t actually do that—it would be a seven-hour drive to the nearest Wal-Mart, and there’d be no room for +Jack Iker’s cathedral—but it gives one a better perspective on the trumpeted “overpopulation” problem.  On the plus side, though, doing it would solve the illegal immigration problem, since everybody in the world would already be here…  Hey, y’know, France is about the size of Texas ...)

[35] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 08-11-2006 at 05:55 PM • top

Sorry, Texas is full.  I hear there’s plenty of room in Alaska & Montana, though.  Besides, everything here bites, stings, sticks, or scratches.  You don’t want to send people here. raspberry  

Now, France, that is a beautiful country, oui?  And all the little babies could learn French and drink wine with their meals.  So much more civilized.  And I’m sure they don’t have fire ants in France.  That’s it - everybody move to France.  Yeah, that’s the ticket! rolleyes

[36] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 08-11-2006 at 06:51 PM • top

Hi GL,

Just to clarify my theology and a personal answer to your question, I believe that one should not take every opportunity to witness to the gospel [go ye into all the world and make disciples], nor should one take every opportunity to procreate [be fruitful and multiply].

I believe that there is a time to witness, and a time to procreate, and in the case of your real-life family, that is not the time to procreate. 

I also believe that both commands were meant to be general principles of human behavior—being fruitful and witnessing both—and that both are again much much broader than merely “having babies” and “leading people to Christ”. 

So I do not believe that it is a sin for every married couple not to procreate, but rather that every Christian couple is to “be fruitful”, which is a much broader challenge. 

Nor do I believe that it is a sin for a Christian to never personally “lead a person to Christ”, but rather that every Christian is to witness to the gospel, which is a much broader challenge.

[37] Posted by Sarah on 08-11-2006 at 08:22 PM • top

Amen, Sarah, we’re on the same page.

[38] Posted by GL+ on 08-11-2006 at 08:30 PM • top

I think I should probably clarify too. I do think contraception is a sin for the aforementioned reasons. I don’t know that I would preach it from the pulpit because the scriptures are silent on the specific issue (except when it comes to abortive contraceptive devices in which cases the bible is far from silent). I do think the bible is clear that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation and the command and promise I mentioned above are clear. So a married couple able to have children should be at the very least intent on having them and open to the gift since God is the author of life and he will not give believers children without also giving them the provision necessary for their upbringing. Hope that helps.

[39] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-12-2006 at 07:16 AM • top

Thanks Matt.  Another matter not often brought into the overpopulation debate is that it is inherently racist. 

Population control is racist. It must be remembered that population control did not arise isolated out of science or philosophy or religion. It is the beloved child of Eugenics.

The Eugenics movements history can easily be researched on the web. Some of the most prominent advocates include Margaret Sanger, Francis Galton ( cousin of Charles Darwin), Joseph Fletcher, Kingsley Davis and Lothrop Stoddard.

Paul Jalsevac has written an excellent paper titled

” The Inherent Racism of Population Control”
it can be found at http://www.lifesite.net
some of the works of the Population Control Advocates cited there include:

Margaret Sanger’s ” A Code To Stop Overproduction of Children” Also ” The Negro Project” was a program of Margaret Sanger’s. Suffice it to say it was not pro Negro.

Lothrop’s ” The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy” Both of these texts are just a small sample of eugenic writings that proposed inferior races were a threat to the US and the world at large.

The philosophy that drove Malthusians, eugenicists,and population control advocates are from the same root. That there are too many of the wrong kind of people. Whether it be the poor, the Jews, the Africans, the Asians, the Eastern Europeans or the disabled. It arises out of the belief that individual rights and human dignity must at times be sacrificed for the better good of society.

This philosophy can be seen not only in population control support but in the arguments for euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and selective abortion.

One argument in favor of population control is often not challenged.  The claim that the high birth rate of poor nations is a scandal not only because of the effect they have on resources but because of the very high infant mortality rate.

What the second part of that justification fails to mention is that very little money ( in comparison to the cost for funding population control) needs to be spent to help overcome high infant mortality rates. Access to immunizations, clean water, ant-diaharrea medications or supplements,advocacy for breast feeding programs to train midwives and simple sanitation procedures would do a lot towards lowering infant mortality rates.

None of these are overly costly and the lasting benefits to the people of the countries given these tools to improve infant survival rates is immeasurable.

”From the beginning, the great obstacle to the eugenics movement has been the Catholic Church, and the Church’s position has been repeatedly distorted. A sketch of the Church’s position can be found in: Gaudium et Spes or The Church in the Modern World the Vatican II document explaining to all people of good will why the Church wants to be involved in discussions of the problems facing the world and what she thinks she offers;...

My view on population control arise from the Catholic Church teachings on human dignity.

[40] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 08-12-2006 at 11:11 AM • top

Posted at T19.  I wonder if Kendall has been ready this thread.

The Horn of Africa
The path to ruin

Aug 10th 2006 | BOSSASO AND NAIROBI
From The Economist
A region endangered by Islamists, guns and its own swelling population

BOSSASO is an exit point from the Horn of Africa and it is bursting. This port in northern Somalia already has 300,000 people, up from 50,000 in the 1990s. More arrive each day. It is a raw place: entrepreneurial, resilient, armed to the teeth. It is also diseased, inadequate and famished. The port’s champions reckon it could spread along the inky blue shore like a little Dubai, prospering on exports of livestock and frankincense. But such a future, which now looks a fantasy, depends on the stability of the Horn, which these days is looking only a little less fantastical.

Several thousand Ethiopians sleep rough in Bossaso’s dirt, like animals. They are sustained by Muslim alms: a free meal each day, paid for by Bossaso traders. Some of the Ethiopians arrive in town feral with hunger. They have to be beaten back with cudgels when the meal is served. The hope of all of them is to be illegally trafficked across the sea to Yemen. They slip out of town in the moonlight, cramming into metal skiffs that are death traps. Many drown in the crossing: the boat sinks or they are tossed overboard by traffickers when Yemeni patrols approach. Some of the men interviewed in Bossaso for this story have since drowned in this way. Refugee agencies say only a few of those who survive will find jobs in Saudi Arabia. The rest will drift, disappear or die young.

Then there are the destitute Somalis. Some 6,000 of them live in one slum the size of a football pitch. The number could grow to 10,000 within a year. If fighting breaks out in southern Somalia, it will be even more. It is a typical Horn of Africa slum. Only the air is free. Several families split the rent on a cardboard shack. Fires sometimes break out, fanned by sea breezes, often burning people alive. Wells are private: filthy water is a commodity for sale. There are few jobs for the men. Women venture out to sift through the rubbish that blooms and shines like armour in seemingly every open space in Bossaso. Islamists pass through the slums, looking for likely recruits. Disease is a bigger worry. A local doctor reckons that a new epidemic could easily break out: polio and typhoid are already on the prowl.

The Horn of Africa has long been haunted by hunger and by violence. The story of Bossaso is an early sign that these evils will continue, and worsen. Islamist expansionism in Somalia—and the armed resistance to it—plus uncontrolled population growth throughout the area could result in whole pockets of the Horn facing collapse. This would be a humanitarian disaster; it could also lead to a much wider conflict, involving several countries.

The assumption has been that the market will somehow find solutions for the dramatic increase in the Horn’s population numbers (see table). So it may, in well-watered bits of the region, where land use can be intensified. In arid areas there is little chance of this happening. There, nature and politics will play their part, and the results will be disastrous.

-big snip to last paragraph-

Tony Blair’s report on Africa last year hardly mentioned population growth. “It’s the unmentionable,” says a well-placed ambassador in Nairobi. “It’s the elephant in the corner of the room,” says another. It is time to start talking about it now.

[41] Posted by Tony on 08-13-2006 at 04:38 PM • top

Why is it that almost 100% of reports or articles on critical issues facing our planet, population is never discussed except in passing?

[42] Posted by Bill C on 08-13-2006 at 07:55 PM • top

oops !  I meant to continue.

It is the single most most critical element on the planet.  It begets or severely impacts almost all of the commonly discussed factors that are considered responsible for our planet’s condition and fufure.  And yet it is no more than a side note to most.

[43] Posted by Bill C on 08-13-2006 at 08:01 PM • top

It’s not PC because it’s often perceived as racist.

[44] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 08-13-2006 at 08:12 PM • top

How stupid to avoid the single most critical factor for that reason.

[45] Posted by Bill C on 08-13-2006 at 08:19 PM • top

Depends on what you mean by “discussing” the issue? I think probably the corrupt handling of resources at the governmental level is far more a problem than overpopulation in the developing world. Discussing “overpopulation” would, perhaps, lay this bare which may indeed be why it is not discussed. If the truth were known it would be far more difficult for the west to initiate self-agrandizing programs to abort African babies and pass out contraception and it would be far more difficult for corrupt governments to remain as corrupt.

[46] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-13-2006 at 09:20 PM • top

I believe that Matt is correct to point out that there is a serious problem with our culture regarding children. I suggest that the issue is that all matters are unfortunately judged according to their ability to produce cash flow. Obviously, children are now net consumers of wealth. Of course, that is also true for other things too like fine art, excellent food, high church worship, beautiful architecture, having time to talk to neighbors on warm summer evenings, fighting to preserve ancient and revered traditions, etc. Our society is primarily interested in buying “toys” rather than improving quality of life.

However, I disagree with Matt on the meaning of the “be fruitful and multipy” and “make disciples of all men” texts. I think he is interpreting them in too limited of a way and that the call is much broader than mere procreation and church growth.

It’s the same problem I have with low church people who define the church’s role in similarly narrow ways—ie evangelism only, discipleship when necessary.

Rather, I think that God’s vision of the church is of a loving community which displays and enfleshes a full vision of humanity. That vision includes child rearing, caring for the poor, displaying integrity in our personal/business lives, supporting the arts, caring for the environment, pursuing beauty, living openly,  truthfully and passionately, creating the best and most beautiful, extravagent worship of God that money and talent can buy, etc.

I think that the number of children a family has falls under the concept of Christian liberty, in much the same way as their vocational callings, whether they consume alcohol, remain in ECUSA, etc. Where scripture has not spoken clearly, it is a questionable matter as referred to in Corinthians. I don’t believe that the church or its ministers should seek to bind the conscience of others.

[47] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-14-2006 at 11:40 AM • top

VirginiaMD,

I don’t think I said that “increase and multiply” ONLY means that couples must seek to have children and raise them in a godly way. But the command certainly INCLUDES a command for Christian couples must seek to have children and raise them in a godly way.

Perhaps your reading too narrow? smile

Nor would any self-respecting evangelical miss the second part of the Great Commission, “teaching them to obey my commands…”

[48] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 12:45 PM • top

So do you take the text in Genesis to be a command or could it be a description of what will happen or perhaps a blessing rather than an imperative?

You know the original languages better than I—no training, you see.

[49] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-14-2006 at 12:49 PM • top

I think it is a command as, if I am remembering correctly (someone correct me if I am not) it is in the imperative both in the Septuigent and the Masoretic text

[50] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 12:56 PM • top

I must say that I have never heard this text explored in any context other than that of a description of what has, in fact, happened through the ages. I have understood it to be referring to the human race in general, not to individuals as such. For instance, I’m sure you would not take it to supercede the command toward chastity, which comes later, otherwise we would have inherited a fertility cult rather than a faith which expects monogamy.

I wonder, not being a scholar, if there are other texts which should be interpreted in such a strong way, ie, a way which would surprise the majority of non-Roman Christians with previously unrealised obligations.

Are any other texts that ARE commonly interpreted as blessings in the same form as this one, ie could be interpreted as a command?

My concern, Matt, is that if you interpret this text to mean that more babies are always and forever to be sought, at some point you will be guilty of expounding one part of Scripture to the detriment of another. (I don’t remember which article that is!).

For instance, I have in my practice husbands who, in my opinion, were abusing their wife’s health in order to “obediently” push for more babies. Practically speaking, you get into all sorts of problems of seemingly conflicting duties such as to “owe no man anything” and that a man should provide for his own.

I have patients who, after their 8th baby, with a young mother’s failing health, are on welfare/medicaid and going bankrupt, while pressing on with more children. They are forcing me to subsidize their understanding of morality.

There are practical problems in the home too. For instance, breast feeding delays fertility, but helps the nutrition and bonding of the newborn. If more babies is the priority, a case could be made for bottle feeding so that fertility can return within 3-4 months. Over a lifetime of childbearing years, that difference could translate into several more babies for the Lord’s kingdom. How many times a week are we required to make love to maximize our chances? I know that sounds crazy, but seriously—consider the logic.

This seems to me to be another version of the old “would Jesus drive a BMW” arguement which comes up from time to time. The numerous commands to assist the poor are at times interpreted by well meaning Christians of left leaning politics
to require what are essentially vows of poverty from better off Christians. Similarly, the command for women to “dress modestly” is interpreted to require long dresses, frumpy styles, etc.

Where does it all end and at what point does it become Pharisaical? Please understand that I am not argueing that the command is burdensom and thus need not be followed. I am perfectly willing to accept that at times true Christian duty is painful and seems “unnatural”. However, I’m just not sure that your understanding of this text is in harmony with the other obligations we have been given.

[51] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-14-2006 at 01:19 PM • top

VaMD, I have another concern.  At what point can we say that humanity has been obedient to this mandate?  There are presently over 6.5 billion people worldwide.  Did we meet the mandate at 1b, 2b, 4b, or 6b?  Or will we at 8b?  The concern I have is that as human population expands to all hospitable land, where will all the animals go?  We can already see in Africa how human populations are not only starving, but the population growth means less land for animal habitats.  Isn’t part of the creation mandate to take care of the rest of creation?

[52] Posted by Tony on 08-14-2006 at 01:28 PM • top

Tony,

That’s a good point. I suspect that Matt would say that God knows what the capacity of the earth is and that He will limit conception to protect it. I’m a bit uncomfortable with that though, because we HAVE been given a mandate to preserve the earth—not just expect God to bail us out when we mess it up.

However, I agree with Matt that overpopulation is not the primary problem at this point. It is true that in some places population growth has outstripped the capacity of that society to provide for its own. That limited capacity is generally the result of tyranical and corrupt governments and a lack of concern for human life and the rule of law.

Unfortunately, in a cruel Darwinian sense, there will be a correction. It’s called war, famine and disease.

I’m not sure if it is more loving to promote unchecked population growth while pushing for more just and effective governments, or to promote some wise combination of population control AND societal reforms.

I also agree with Matt that yes, we do need more babies. We also need more giving to the church, more missions, more charity for the poor, more integrity (the non-gay kind!), more monogamy/chastity, etc. In other words, the needs have always and all times been desperate. I don’t however, sense in scripture a mandate to impose more rules upon us that have traditionally been understood.

[53] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-14-2006 at 01:45 PM • top

It should be remembered that it was not until the 1930 Lambeth conference that any Christian denomination endorsed the use of artificial birth control.  And that was for its use within marriage. 

It is not the teaching of the Catholic Church that families must spew out babies like some kind of uterine vending machine.  It allows for Natural Family Planning with the understanding that a couple must be open to new life.  A very valuable resource for couples interested in NFP is the Couple To Couple League.  Sorry I don’t have their URL.

[54] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 08-14-2006 at 01:51 PM • top

“I must say that I have never heard this text explored in any context other than that of a description of what has, in fact, happened through the ages. I have understood it to be referring to the human race in general, not to individuals as such. For instance, I’m sure you would not take it to supercede the command toward chastity, which comes later, otherwise we would have inherited a fertility cult rather than a faith which expects monogamy.”

VirginiaMD. It is an imperative:
http://www.oldtestamentstudies.net/languages/wordstudygen1_28.asp?item=13&variant=0

As you mention later you cannot interpret one passage in such a way that it does violence to another. This is a command but it is conditioned by the commands against adultery etc.

“I wonder, not being a scholar, if there are other texts which should be interpreted in such a strong way, ie, a way which would surprise the majority of non-Roman Christians with previously unrealised obligations.”

Probably.

“My concern, Matt, is that if you interpret this text to mean that more babies are always and forever to be sought, at some point you will be guilty of expounding one part of Scripture to the detriment of another. (I don’t remember which article that is!).For instance, I have in my practice husbands who, in my opinion, were abusing their wife’s health in order to “obediently” push for more babies. Practically speaking, you get into all sorts of problems of seemingly conflicting duties such as to “owe no man anything” and that a man should provide for his own.”

The problem here, of course, is not that the bible is contradictory, the problem is sin. The command to reproduce is not at fault. It is the men who abuse their wives who are sinning against God. If the measure for whether or not a command of God should stand is the ability of human beings to carry it out faithfully and correctly, then lets pull out our erasers because we’ve got alot of editing to do.

“I have patients who, after their 8th baby, with a young mother’s failing health, are on welfare/medicaid and going bankrupt, while pressing on with more children. They are forcing me to subsidize their understanding of morality.”

Again, the problem here is not the command but sin. If you read the earlier comments on this thread you will see that the command does not necessarily mean “have babies NOW” but it does mean have babies, that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage and remaining open to the possibility at all times is necessary. But even the RC’s admit the possibility of NFP, as do I.

[55] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 01:53 PM • top

Matt,

I appreciate the clarification of your position. I agree that the problem is sin, not any commands which God has given us.

I must have misunderstood your position to preclude the option of waiting and NFP. Do I read you correctly that there ARE times when delayed childbearing (via NFP) COULD be the wise or even the morally obligatory position?

But this begs the question: Where is NFP promoted in Scripture as an alternative to “have babies now”? In other words, if “be fruitful…” is a command, then how do you allow for an exception even for NFP? Didn’t Jesus have some strong words to one who, before following Him, had the “bury my father”?

[56] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-14-2006 at 02:02 PM • top

Virginia.  The reasoning behind NFP is based on Natural Law and is not contradicted by Scripture.

Humanae Vitae says this concerning NFP compared to artificial birth control.

Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the latter they obstruct the natural development of the generative process. It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result. But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.

The full text can be found at http://www.vatican.va

[57] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 08-14-2006 at 02:19 PM • top

VirginiaMD,

The idea is that marriage is primarily for the purpose of procreation and that where physically possible procreation is a command. That means that NFP is, to my mind, permissable in circumstances like the one you describe but it is temporary not and should not be the norm. The intent should always be to get to the point where you are having babies.

[58] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 02:21 PM • top

We also have to remember the Levitical laws (forgive my ignorance of chaper and verse) that describe weaning a child at age three.  I believe this was God’s family planning - since nursing a child will often stave off a subsequent pregnancy - not in every case, but it is the norm.

Having had 5 children in 6 1/2 years, I am now feeling the results - chronic back pain, bone loss, etc. as a fairly direct result of not “renewing” myself between pregnancies.  Had I paid attention to God’s game plan for babies, I might have had different results.

I also knew that, after my 5th child, I was done - my resources (physical and emotional) were spent, and I did not have a moral problem in making sure that I did not continue having children. 

Fr. Matt - do you believe I need to repent of that decision?  Is there a cut-off point, when enough is enough?  I don’t feel convicted, just looking for your thoughts….

[59] Posted by GillianC on 08-14-2006 at 02:34 PM • top

OK,

So really, you are promoting a Roman idea about marriage and family as an antidote to what is wrong with our society.

While I have utmost respect for the Roman church on this and other matters and consider them to be one of our chief allies on matters of the “culture wars”, I don’t think they are right on this one.

Since we appear to agree that it is permissible to intend not to have children for a period of time (how long is another issue), than the primary issue remains by what means that delay is permissible.

The distinction, in my mind, between “natural” and “unnatural” means is artificial. I think the real point of discussion should revert to what sort of concerns justify delay, NOT by what means we delay.

So, the homeless family mentioned earlier in the thread, should it would seem, delay having children until they can be raised in a safer environemnt.

I would argue that NFP is NOT any more natural than estrogen/progesterone OCP’s. While it may be more desirable for health/intimacy reasons to avoid “pills” or condoms, I don’t accept that the Apostle Paul would include concerns about what is “natural” or not to interfere with marital intimacy in situations such as are described above with the homeless family.

As to the supposed “discipline” which NFP requires of a couple, I think it is more important for there to be an unhindered physical love between a man and his wife to avoid temptation. Additionally, some women do not have regular periods so the means is not always reliable. In that case one is forced to rely on such “unnatural” means as ovulation predictors, etc.

[60] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-14-2006 at 02:38 PM • top

Gillian,

There’s no way for me to say anything beyond the principles I’ve laid out here. I think your best bet would be to talk to a pastor personally and see what he says.

I do think that the command applies to those who are physically able to have children. There may be a question about that in your case.

In any case, even if you have sinned, you have an advocate and mediator with the Father and there is nothing you can ever do to change that.

[61] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 02:39 PM • top

VirginiaMD.

I am not Roman nor is my argument based on Roman Law. It is based on the scriptures. NFP only came into the picture because I think contraception is something of an attempt to thwart God’s design and purposes. NFP is not good, but it is better than contraception. Unlike Rome I do not agree that NFP is something couples should continue for years. It is a last resort for extreme circumstances.

[62] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 02:45 PM • top

There is no moral distinction between NFP and chemical non-abortifacent contraception.  Both serve to *separate* sexual activity from procreation, something that Roman Catholic theology claims is anathema to marital relationships.  But once one decides that such separation of the sexual act from the possibility of procreation is sin, then it matters not whether such separation occurs “naturally” [and the quotes are deliberate] or “artificially”.

The reason why it was not until 1930 that Lambeth allowed for chemical contraception is that huge strides were made during the early 1900s in such birth control . . . ironically, it was not until the 1930s that science also allowed us an improved understanding of ovulation, temperature, and calculation of times of fertility so that the Roman Catholics could further promote and refine NFP.

Though I disagree with much of Roman essential theology, I have a lot of respect for Roman Catholics in many, many areas.  They have held the line in many respects where Protestants have failed.

But the issues of NFP, the purposes of sexual relations, and the main purpose of marriage are areas in which I profoundly disagree with their theology.

For once, the Anglicans were right with regards to these matters.  For my part, it feels good since it is so very rare, lately.

[63] Posted by Sarah on 08-14-2006 at 02:54 PM • top

Gillian,

Thanks for doing your part. You are a true saint. I have only two kids myself and have always admired those who have such a big heart for children.

Matt,

I’m not trying to be obnoxious here, but I don’t understand what you mean by “physically able” to have children. I think Gillian has done above and beyond the call of duty, but not because she is no longer “physically able to have children”. Short of being unable to conceive and carry a child to viability, I think this is another artificial distinction and by your moral arguement given so far, there is no exception for Gillian, however saintly she has been so far.

I think rather, that Gillian, since she has used herself as an example, has done the right thing because she has responded to God with consideration given to a: her desires and inclinations, b: the balance of other obligations upon her life, c: the lack of any clear, binding scriptural mandate to do otherwise and continue with childbearing.

I will let others have the last word, unless anyone has a specific question for me. I realize, Matt, that your position IS fairly classic among some branches of the church. Blessings to you and your new child!

[64] Posted by VirginiaMD on 08-14-2006 at 02:54 PM • top

The previous comment was not responding to Matt or VirginiaMD, since I see that VirginaMD and Matt are traveling together in discussion.

I wrote the comment in regards to the beginning referents to NFP earlier in the thread.

[65] Posted by Sarah on 08-14-2006 at 02:59 PM • top

Sarah,

I am not, over the internet, able to comment on Gillian’s situation. I don’t know him or the situation. It is a very dangerous thing to do.

I definitely agree with you with regard to what he has done already. If only we had more like him.

But as to the question of whether in his particular situation stopping was a sin, I do not know and really should not hazard to guess.

[66] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 03:04 PM • top

Thanks Fr. Matt. Since my husband divorced me a couple of years after my youngest was born, it is really a moot point, unless God had another plan for immaculate conception!

I think the physical toll placed on my body was certainly not in God’s plan, and again, I am not feeling the need to confess and repent of that decision (and my doctor agreed). I was just getting a take on your views, not asking for pastoral advice - I did not mean to put you on the spot!!!!  Please look at my questions as a clarification of your point, not a demand for a judgement!  We agree on much, and I was just picking your brains.

[67] Posted by GillianC on 08-14-2006 at 03:16 PM • top

I’m hoping you realize that Gillian is a female sort of moniker - you kept saying “he”.  LOL grin

[68] Posted by GillianC on 08-14-2006 at 03:23 PM • top

Reasons for postponing or spacing the birth of children do play a factor in the use of NFP.  If the reasoning behind the decision is selfish-“We really want to take a cruise every year and having babies would put a kibosh on that”. The use of NFP would indeed be contrary to Church teaching.

And I think Matt is right in saying that its use should not be indefinite. I don’t think the Church teaches that its use is suppose to continue without end. Especially since the Church teaches the purpose of marriage is both unitive and procreative.  I think the only legitimate exception would be for matters of health.  Where pregnancy and childbirth are clearly dangerous for the mother.

The moral distinction between NFP and artificial birth control is that in NFP a couple is using what is already part of God’s design. Females have fertile and infertile periods. In NFP the couple remains open to life and must remember to examine their reasons for using NFP.  It would be very simple to develop an anti-birth mentality and think all was ok as long as NFP was being used. 

I also wonder if anyone else thinks that the philosophy/ theology allowing for the separation of the unitive and procreative parts of marriage lead in great part to the current crisis regarding legitimacy for homosexual unions?

[69] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 08-14-2006 at 04:07 PM • top

I’m sorry Gillian for the mistake.

[70] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-14-2006 at 04:23 PM • top

Christianity Today has a good article on this topic in last month “The Case for Kids”.

There is no question that the easy availibility and effectiveness of the Pill in the 60s was a marker for the deterioration of the family. There is also no question that we long ago decided that contraception was too hot a topic to even discuss.

But contraceptives are a medical necessity for some. In others, it is needed to avoid an unacceptably high chance of birth defects. How many men can honestly say that if necessary they would abstain from relations with their spouse for a lifetime because of objections to contraception?  I point that out not to say it changes the moral issues involved, but to simply point out that we are all more likely to point to sins that we are under no real threat to commit.

[71] Posted by Going Home on 08-14-2006 at 05:06 PM • top

Re: “Sarah, I am not, over the internet, able to comment on Gillian’s situation. I don’t know him or the situation. It is a very dangerous thing to do.”

[Squeaks of Outrage!!]

I did not write the comment on GillianC.  That was VirginiaMD.

[72] Posted by Sarah on 08-14-2006 at 06:35 PM • top

At nearly 70, birth control is no longer a big issue for us, although we enjoy reliving the urgency and passion some of you express. I would have to say that the issue was very clearly spelled out in one of the most egregious changes between BCP28 and BCP79, when the wiggle word “if” was inserted into the rite of Marraige re children. It was proposed to take the heat off of folks of an older age that might be embarassed by the earlier family-forming language, but in fact was intended to put artificial birth control firmly into the doctrine of ECUSA. A thoroughly 60’s-ish thing to do. But let’s face it. Folks of an older age no longer have a need for birth control. duh? They are protected from having children at an age when they can’t handle them by their own God-given biology. This is one of many outrages perpetuated by BCP79.

I cannot summon up the passion for asking our young women to be birthing-systems ad infinitum. But I do recognize that we are losing our way when we do not encourage them to raise enough children to maintain our population.

[73] Posted by Gulfstream on 08-14-2006 at 08:03 PM • top

I want Anglican grandbabies.

[74] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 08-14-2006 at 08:14 PM • top

A wonderful discussion and I agree whith Bro. Matt that Gos wants us to have children.  I disagree that the main purpose of marriage is procreation.  If this were so then the steril and postmenapausal couple would not need to marry.  Taken to extreme as some Romanist (but not the teaching of the RCC) sex would be only engaged for procreation and otherwise it is dirty and not really “spiritual ” by itself.  Bill Gothard ask men the question,“What does your wife provide that a good secretary &/or mistress could do for you?”  Two of the many answers is first, Sexual activity without guilt and with the blessing of God and children who have the blessing of a legitimate family relationship.  We must remember that everything is to be of faith.  Every baby conceived should be with the firm knowledge that the Lord wants you to have that particular baby.  Of course sometimes the Lord surprises and that is great also.  Each of our children came after we both came to the idea that now was the time.  Shortly after our fourth child my wife needed surgery and our RCC gynecologist broke scrub to call me and say the problem was not malignant, but with extensive risky surgery he could preserve the uterus with the possibility of more children.  I shot up a flare prayer and while my wife was asleep I told him to go on with the hysterectomy.  Yes we would have loved more children, but we felt it was not God’s will.  Our children are the bigest blessing we have ever had.  I wish our quiver was larger.  Also, marriage is also for companionship, love, pleasure and enjoyment.  This gets even better as the years go on.  So many don’t want children because they have seen the undisciplined hellions, but with Godly principles they can be raised to be in the Lord and a joy.  Just because they are born into a Godly family doesn’t assure their salvation.  A splash of water won’t do it.  They must be evangelized also, but the norm should be that they will be saved early.  What a blessing and Christians have the highest level of anyone in the world.  Praise the Lord!

[75] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 08-14-2006 at 11:24 PM • top

Prophet Micaiah

I believe we are called to rear our children to be a joy to the Lord.  The souls that are given into our care will one day be with us in glory.  Praising the Lord and being counted as His saints.

A Christian parent must never lose sight of the fact that our children are created for eternity.  How awesome that the Lord sees fit to entrust us with their love and care.

[76] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 08-14-2006 at 11:32 PM • top

Purpose of marriage—

The purpose of marriage from the 1979 BCP:

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord.

Or as expressed in the 1928 BCP:

O ALMIGHTY God, Creator of mankind, who only art the well-spring of life; Bestow upon these thy servants, if it be thy will, the gift and heritage of children; and grant that they may see their children brought up in thy faith and fear, to the honour and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O GOD, who hast so consecrated the state of Matrimony that in it is represented the spiritual marriage and unity betwixt Christ and his Church; Look mercifully upon these thy servants, that they may love, honour, and cherish each other, and so live together in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and of peace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

And also as stated by the Rector of my parish:

One of the saving purposes of marriage is to keep us from getting our own way too much.  smile (Being a parent does this, too, but having children is not always part of the gift of marriage.)

[77] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 08-15-2006 at 12:08 AM • top

PM,

Procreation is the primary purpose of marrriage becuase it was the first command that God gave Adam and Eve after bringing them together before the fall. It is not the ONLY purpose. God created Eve to be Adam’s helper. Another purpose then is to reflect the relationship between God and his poeple to the world. It was also given for companionship (it is not good for man to be alone). Thus, even if a couple cannot have children, marriage is still good and can still fulfil at least two primary purposes for which it was established. To say the primary purpose is procreation does not negate the other purposes.

[78] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-15-2006 at 04:58 AM • top

Connie and Matt:  I agree with both of you.  The BCP has some great stuff in it.  Pitty TEC no longer uses it.

[79] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 08-15-2006 at 03:19 PM • top

There are over six billion people on this planet, most of them living hand to mouth, and you people want more.  Please explain how that is tilling and keeping the earth.  It sounds more like raping and pillaging to me.  If you want to raise children, and good on you if you feel so called, then why not adopt? 
Linda McMillan
Austin, Texas

[80] Posted by Linda McMillan on 08-20-2006 at 03:00 PM • top

Linda,

Just think in another 30 years our babies will be running the Church. Revisionism is dying a slow death with every child born to a Christian household. Such a sweet thing.

[81] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 08-20-2006 at 07:05 PM • top

Matt,Greg,Sarah

Do you guys “moderate” the comments here, ie exclude/delete opinions or expressions that someone may find offensive? It seems that everytime I hit “submit” my comments are instantly posted.

I ask because over on the “inclusive” blogs comments that do not fit the political sensibilities of the hosts are not often posted.

Whatever you are doing seems to work in that other voices are heard and rarely are comments personally offensive or threatening (other than a recent observation that Greg tends to get a bit lazy!)

[82] Posted by BillS on 08-20-2006 at 07:30 PM • top

Matt,

Not slow enough for me!

[83] Posted by Trinity on 08-23-2006 at 07:51 AM • top

BillS—I’m not a techie here, but most blog-server software has setup options that allow for moderation, spam filters, commenter restrictions, and so on.  Here we don’t have the dreaded T19 math question because the software requires registration to post (I think).  Still, though, StandFirm has simply lost a couple of my (most brilliant, of course) comments—through a bug or ‘net glitch, I have no idea, but in any case not purposeful.  Dr. Leander Harding+ has noted once or twice that some of his own responses to comments on his own blog (!) have gotten lost in cyberspace, so software bugs and lockups should not always be regarded as just an excuse…

I’ve posted on the RevSusan and EpiscopalMajority blogs without moderation, but I’m registered on their blog server.  So at any rate some of the revisionist blogs are quite open.  Whether they have anything useful to say or not is, of course, left as an excercise for the reader…

[84] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 08-23-2006 at 06:37 PM • top

BillS,

We do not moderate comments - meaning, your comment does indeed get posted when you hit “Submit.” We do have a very naughty list of words that are supposed to get blocked by the system, but so far I haven’t seen it kick in.

We do, as I think I mentioned recently, have a very dedicated commenatrix who skims every comment that’s posted, and keep me abreast of “hot spots,” or requests of me personally I may not see on my own.

Requiring registration to comment has been the single best thing to happen to the comments here. People seem to value their accounts, and use them with respect.

But this is as good a time as any to go over the posting guidelines. New people sign up to comment almost every day.

Things that will get your post removed or edited:

- Over-the-top profanity
- Threats of physical violence
- Statements we decide may be legally actionable

Obviously, we reserve the right to remove or edit any comment, or suspend anyone’s account, for any reason, but that happens extremely rarely.

This is also as good a time as any to point out that over at Sarah Dylan Breuer’s, they’re poking fun at Matt:

http://www.sarahlaughed.net/gracenotes/2006/08/i_swear_im_not_.html

I have to say, re Sarah’s kind words about Matt, having spent ten days with him in close quarters in the press room in Columbus, that after reading Sarah’s blog for a few weeks before going to General Convention, I expected a much different person from the one I saw, even though we didn’t get to chat very much. Sarah (or “Dylan,” as her pals seem to call her) seemed very sweet, and a couple of emails we exchanged after convention confirmed that impression.

[85] Posted by Greg Griffith on 08-24-2006 at 12:22 AM • top

Boy, I wish you’d written this post 10 years ago, Matt.  We wouldn’t have stopped at ....err ...one.  Oh, wait!  Stand Firm wasn’t around 10 years ago.  downer

[86] Posted by Bill C on 08-24-2006 at 08:49 AM • top

O.K., we just contributed to Matt’s mission! grin

9/5/06

Patrick John Kelley cheese
8 lbs 9.8 ozs
20 1/2 inches
2:21 AM

The things we do to support Matt’s threads smirk

P.S. Matt, thanks to you, I still have the Little Einsteins theme going in my head ... darn ...  hmmm

[87] Posted by Brooks Kelley on 09-07-2006 at 09:05 PM • top

Congratulations, Brooks to you and Patrick’s mom.  May God bless this child and your family.

[88] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 09-07-2006 at 09:09 PM • top

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