Expect to have to stand next to the things you say in some way. It is irresponsible to do otherwise.
I don't want to get in the debate, and I am not arguing that children are not a blessing. But obviously God does not think that they are always an appropriate blessing: He often withholds them. Scripture also teaches that whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, yet Paul can wish that everyone were like him, in the present distress.
So there is a general argument from sovereignty and from scripture that to be bereft of a blessing- or even to avoid it- in certain circumstances is not to deny its blessedness.
Case in point. With as much gentleness and reverence that I can muster, this is talking in a circle. It amounts to the classic "not that there's anything wrong with that". Certainly, God withholds some blessings for His own reasons. Certainly, because He does this we are not then to say, "well, it must not be a blessing if I don't get any". But to use Paul's wish that everyone was like him – that is, past the age of sexual passions – as a guideline for how to view the bearing of children in marriage is, in the best case, uncalled for.
So far then, as the argument from stands on the fact that children are a blessing, it is inapplicable to Alana's reasoning.Alana is arguing against something that is a far cry from not having any kids: she's saying that there is a right time to say, "Thank you, Lord: isn't enough enough already?" And frankly, as I told her, it's somewhat obtuse to say that a family with 4 or 5 kids has somehow denied the operating principle that children are a blessing from the Lord; in that same mind-set, it is equally obtuse to say that a husband and wife who have no children but also actively practice birth control are living inside the paradigm than children will be a blessing to their marriage.
More specifically, the command to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply, in connection with filling the earth. We are not under the same obligation as Adam and Eve to populate the earth. That reason for the command is no longer binding.It's times like these that theonomy looks really good. The command is "no longer binding"? When was it rescinded? For example, did Jesus rescind it? When?
The NT expectation for marriage is that married people will have children. If that's not the case, I'd appreciate some evidence from the NT about that.
Then we are given in Scripture other commands. Often the Christian life is a matter of learning which one takes priority. It is not that they are at odds, if we keep them in the correct balance. *But they would be at odds, if we always tried to do all of them.*I beg to differ. If it were logically impossible to keep the law – that is, that the law demanded competing objectives from us – then even Christ could not keep the whole law.
Because Christ did, in fact, keep the whole Law, I propose to you that the Law does not provide logically-competing objectives. We fail to keep the Law not because we are "out of balance" (whatever that means) but because we are sinners. The miracle working out in the world when men obey God is not one of overcoming a logical minefield but of God overcoming the sin-natures of men.
For instance, we are commanded to honor our parents by giving to their physical needs- Christ makes this clear in His denunciation of the Pharisees. We are also commanded to give to those that ask of us. But if I gave to everybody that asked of me, I would not have the means to take care of my parents. Another clear case of this which I think you would agree with, as that the command to obey one's husband trumps whatever the wife thinks about contraceptives.Phil Johnson said this yesterday, and I liked it so much I'm going to paraphrase it here: this answer is based on a jejune approach to Scripture and an absurd misapplication of some commandments for the sake of trying to make a point. However, rather than beat up on the verses I think Kamelda is talking about, I defer to Kamelda to produce the passages she believes says these things so that we can listen to Scripture rather than just two fallible people talking.
In this case, I would bring out just two other commands. One is the command to be good stewards. This does include our health, as Paul instructs Timothy to take care of his. I would violently disagree with a woman who refrained from having children because of her physical appearance or personal career goals. That is vanity, nothing; and she will reap vanity. But a woman who is already ill, or has been warned that she might die in childbirth, or who has five kids and has to spend nine months in bed every time she gets pregnant, or nine kids and is simply at the end of her physical tether, is not primarily thinking about herself. She is trying to be a good steward with what God already has given to her, and that is the only thing we can be good stewards of. What God has given us has to take priority over what we think He might. I would also not judge a woman trying to put her husband through school, etc. Again, she is not thinking of herself, trying to take care of what God has given.As I said above, it's somewhat obtuse to say that a family with 4 or 5 kids has somehow denied the operating principle that children are a blessing from the Lord; in that same mind-set, it is equally obtuse to say that a husband and wife who have no children but also actively practice birth control are living inside the paradigm than children will be a blessing to their marriage.
The other is that we are commanded to care for orphans. I would not fault a couple who refrained from having children in order to do this more effectively, if that was what God brought into their sphere.I agree that we should take care of orphans, but I don't see what that has to do with whether a couple who is able to have their own children should not do that in favor of caring for orphans. Scripture does not make it an either/or command, and we should not, either.
I have heard an argument that we ought to leave all these things in the Lord's hands. This argument is undermined by the whole teaching of Scripture that God ordains the means as well as the end. (Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. And how will they hear without a preacher? And how will he go without being sent?) Nature also teaches us that God works through means, for instance, of the law of gravity. And He works through us: the command to stewardship demonstrates that He expects us to take responsibility and make decisions concerning what He has given us, in order to fulfill His will. If God has not ordained for a family to have children until the husband is through school, then the whole of Scripture teaches that there will be a means to that end. The woman could be barren. But God doesn't always use the same means: the woman could also use contraceptives. If God has ordained for a family to have children before the husband is out of school, contraceptives aren't going to stop him. My sister is the result of contraceptives.
Dragging God's sovereignty into this discussion – which, I admit, Kamelda is not the first to do, but she is the first one I am getting to here – is simply misdirection. Using this kind of reasoning, I can fire a gun into a crowd of people with indiscretion and impunity because only the ones God ordained to die will die. In the metaphysical sense – the ultimate, eternal sense – it may be true that those who die were ordained by God to die in that way, but in the immediate sense in which we live our lives, we are still responsible moral agents.
And it is in that which we have the obligation to view the gifts of God – and the gifts which result from the gifts of God – with some kind of respect and right-minded reasoning.
In that, let's examine Kamelda's example. If a man and a woman get married before one (or both) of them finish college, I suggest to you that they have done the right thing – they have followed the explicit teaching of scripture that it is better to be married than to burn in passion and then sin (cf. 1Cor 7). But in that, we do not have a false choice of either finishing college or having children. Yes: it is a financial burden to finish college. Yes: children will cost money. Yes: the laws of economics say that we have to count the opportunity cost. But to say that children automatically make it impossible to finish college is simply false. There's certainly no Bible precept that says this is true, and there is no logical reason why one cannot do both.
Moreover, there is no Biblical principle that says college is more important than children. None. I would go so far as to suggest that in many cases college is far less important to teaching someone what is important about life and the faith than having children. This example is a great way to demonstrate that we do not have our view of the world straight, and we do not abide by God's view of the way things ought to work. When we have placed the achievement of a college education above the formation of family, we have made a mistake.
Now, as I sit here and type this, I think to myself, "cent, what if [innocent child] comes home from college with some boy after one semester who passes the shotgun test (that is, when I take him out to shoot the guns, he doesn't decline and doesn't turn pale when I tell him I own the guns to keep boys away from my daughter), and while out there shooting guns he tells me he'd like my blessing to marry my [innocent child], how does that change your answers, above?" And then I think, "What if [cent jr.] comes home with some girl at mid-semester break his freshman year and tells me she's the one he's going to marry and he has to go meet her parents at Christmas break, does that change your ideas about what's right and wrong inside marriage?"
I'll tell you: what worries me about both of these examples is not the marriage part – it's the timeline. Doesn't seem like anyone has used a reputable method of courtship to determine who they think they are going to marry. However, why that is important is because marriage is not some kind of free ride or party. Marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the order which God has set in place and to the good of another person, spiritually and physically, which includes the derivative outcome of having children. And in that, my answers do not change. I don't want [innocent child] to marry some kid who doesn't have a job because a kid who doesn't have a job isn't going to support her the way the Bible says a man should support his family. I don't want [cent jr.] to get married after about 27 minutes of college because he's not prepared to support her in the way the Bible says a man should support his family. Period. When either one of these "men" want to step up to the plate and show me the 1Tim 5 and Eph 5:25 money, I'm ready to stand up with them and encourage them to be family men.
On the basis of all these things, I would suggest that there is a Biblical case for us to weigh one thing against another in light of the responsibilities and circumstances. In short, the whole Scriptural teaching of the means to an end-- and of the end being to keep *all* of God's commands-- makes it very possible that a woman is not taking birth control to hinder God's will, but to accomplish it.yeah, that's interesting in its own way. Where, again, does it say in Scripture that God wants us to have small(er) families? I didn't catch your reference there. The crazy thing is that I agree that God allows us some liberty to exercise birth control – just not for selfish reasons. If you want an example of a selfish reason, I think that refraining from having children inside marriage for the sake of finishing college is a selfish reason.
Just to keep all the cards on the table, I say this because I was this person: it takes one to know one.
A few warning words though, about contraceptives. The doctors will tell you they are harmless. The fertility doctors will tell you they are not. Hormones are not a thing to mess with lightly, and everyone's are different: yet doctors prescribe the same contraceptives with the same dosage across the board, without testing first. Before taking contraceptives, a woman should definitely find out what they are doing to her hormones, and what her hormones are already doing. This is only good stewardship.I would say that, unless there is another medical reason to take synthetic progesterone (and there are some very legit reasons to take these drugs that benefit many women in terms of duration, frequency, and "strength" of their period), using oral contraception is a bad idea. It can (and does) result in the rejection of conceived human lives from the womb. It's not as vigorous as the "morning after" pill, but it can have the same effect on the unborn life looking to implant.
I won't be defending this; just wanted to put it out there for consideration.See above
BTW- the blessedness of Mary- of having the world's best child, and the one who grew up to redeem all creation, is outweighed, Christ tells us, by the blessing of those who hear and keep His commands. The blessing of obedience trumps all other blessings, in every circumstance.Again, citing this passage would improve the interpretation given here significantly. When the woman in the crowd yells out, "blessed is the breast which nursed you, and the womb which bore you," Christ does not say, "Oh yes! That's True! And better still ...", but "but rather, blessed is he ..."
Jesus is not saying, "that is one blessing and here is another", but "rather than count that as a blessing (that is, something you will never have), you should look to the blessing which is right here before you."
This is good for me to reflect on because I cannot have children. And believe me, I know they are a blessing.Let me be clear that I have a lot of sympathy for those who cannot have children – specifically because children are a blessing from God. It is a blessing that nurtures your marriage and forces you to either "get" commitment or prove that you have no idea what commitment is.
My suggestion to Kamelda is that she think about defending the things she has said here – because it will either improve her argument in order that it should challenge those of us who disagree with her, or it will help her understand why this line of thinking is not very good.