Bible mandate that Christians have children?

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by shackleton, Aug 15, 2007.

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  1. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    Ken, you accidentally attributed the quote to MamaArcher. Douglas, it's not a fallacy in that they feel they are "righting a wrong". We don't just let things stand in err; we try to correct them.
  2. Calvibaptist

    Calvibaptist Dallas Cowboys' #1 Fan

    Good point. My wife and I have considered having her tubes untied in order to allow us to have more children if God wills.
  3. MamaArcher

    MamaArcher Puritan Board Freshman

    In response to this, we do not feel as if we were taking this into our own hands to "re-open" my womb as you suggest. Yes, that is the perceived outcome but not the reasoning for the decision. If we were trying to control in that way, yes I would consider it still sin. We went through with the reversal as an act of repentance whether or not we had any further children was not our motivation. Yes, we wanted more but we were content and satisfied that we had repented and displayed our repentance in the actions we took, regardless of whether God would so choose to bless us again. We knew that the chances were small for us to have more children anyway, many who have reversals do not conceive. We were looking to be obedient to Christ in this manner.
  4. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    I think that this situation would be the same as if one party refused to cohabit or have marital relations with the other. Having children is part of what marriage is for.
  5. jbergsing

    jbergsing Puritan Board Sophomore


    Thanks Tyler! I will absolutely use this next I'm in that situation! I can see the disgusted look go to complete shock in .25 seconds!
  6. Nse007

    Nse007 Puritan Board Freshman

    Andrew Myers has some good material on BC somewhere on the board. You would do well to look over it. Andrew is a consumate scholar on all things "reformed".
  7. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Actually I have looked over much ( I won't say all) of the reformed material re birth control and remain unconvinced. I admire and respect Andrew in many ways, but on this issue I disagree with him (and the vast majority of church history, I know).
  8. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    I don't agree with everything that was presented in this forum, but I was planning on getting a vasectomy next year to make it certain we would not have kids, I have now been convinced to not make not having a baby that certian. Either way now is not the time for us to have kids. If it really is up to God then it will be in his timing if at all.
  9. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior


    For better or for worse, this thread seems to have died a natural death, but I thought I would offer one more argument regarding the use of birth control by Christians when the wife’s health is an issue. Yup, I think I have used this before on the board, but I think it is sometime since we had a contraception thread.

    Proverbs 21:3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

    To be fair, merciful and kind is better in the eyes of the Lord than blind adherence to ceremonial religion, even if God gave the ceremonies. In our context I maintain that to look out for the health of the wife, as well as the subsequent effects that any misfortune that might befall her would have on the rest of the family, is superior to blind adherence to the vague principles that comprise most of the reformed objections to birth control.

    Let me just say again at this point that I am discussing situations where the wife’s health or life might be at risk. Those who have read my posts know that I think the situations where a christian couple may righteously use birth control extend beyond that, but this post, let us restrict ourselves to that more ‘extreme context’.

    Firstly, I maintain that there is no direct bible command against birth control, nor any command to procreate that is so binding that any use of birth control automatically constitutes sin against it. The principles of trusting God, valuing children and others used to oppose birth control are certainly very real, but to utilize them in an attempt to condemn birth control as sinful when someone’s health is threatened flies in the face of the wisdom of this proverb, I think.

    In Matt 12, when Jesus’ disciples got hungry and picked grain to eat on the Sabbath and were condemned by the Pharisees, Jesus quoted to them the story of David in the Old Testament where he and his companions ate the shewbread meant only for the priests when they were hungry. And from there he tells the Pharisees that if they had understood what it means that God desires mercy and not sacrifice, they would not have condemned the guiltless. And it is this very story that the WCF uses as the proof text for allowing works of mercy or necessity on the Sabbath, for doing what is good and merciful toward men is better in the eyes of God that strict ceremonial Sabbath observance.

    Likewise, I humbly submit that when someone’s health is at stake, sober use of non-abortion causing contraceptives is wiser and more righteous and blind adherence to principles when God has never even said that those principles should be applied in such a way as to condemn contraceptives.

    In two places the Lord Jesus argued from the fact that men would take care of their animals on the Sabbath to justify his healing on the Sabbath Day (Matt 12:11-12, Luke 13:10-17), for it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath (Matt 12:12). Likewise, to do good, (and protect someone’s health) is better than strict observance to the principles used to oppose birth control.

    I will note again that there is no explicit condemnation of birth control in the bible, nor a command to procreate that is binding in the sense that it automatically rules out birth control. By contrast, the Sabbath law was exceeding explicit. Remember the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath and was stoned (Num 15:30-36)? However, Jesus still applied the principle of mercy to allow acts of necessity and mercy on the Sabbath Day. How much more should the principle apply in the area of birth control, where there is not even explicit commands from the Lord?

    If we apply the logic of those who oppose birth control in any and all situations (and I say noting that I respect many of them greatly) we would have to tell David, the disciples and those whom Jesus healed to respect the Sabbath rules and trust in God to take care of them. But that is not what they did, and the Lord approved their actions.

    I noted above that the WCF uses the story in Matt 12 as its proof text for works of mercy and necessity. When the disciples actually ate the grains, or when David ate the shewbread, they did not have that scriptures to tell them it was legal. They knew it simply by applying the general principles of mercy thought in the OT itself (Mic 6:6-8, Hosea 6:6, Is 1:17). Thus, this answers the demand that is sometimes raised for a verse to justify the use of birth control. One is not needed, because the justification can be inferred from general principles.

    In the context of David’s story the Lord Jesus said ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:23-28), by which he thought us the principle of intent. We may, I believe, just as readily conclude that God made marriage, sex and family for man, not the other way round. To risk someone’s health when the risk could be removed though the use of contraceptives is detrimental to the family which most anti-birth control advocates seek to promote. Yes, God sometimes tests our faith by bringing trials, but he also expects and allows us to use non-sinful means to avoid suffering. Paul thought much about suffering for Christ but he had no qualms about using his citizenship in the pagan Roman Empire to avoid a beating when he could. Likewise I have said already I see no sin in using something God as not explicitly condemned to avoid potential danger.

    I further but humbly believe that even if one is undecided on the issue, based on this principle of mercy, if there is truly a real danger to someone’s health or life we should err on the side of mercy and do what must be done to remove the danger. Even if someone was disturbed in the conscience the assertions of Calvin and others regarding the wasting of seed by this principle of mercy I will, and I believe God will as well, prefer the life and health of a person over the protection of inanimate seed.
  10. Craig

    Craig Puritan Board Senior


    I've been on both sides of the issue...we prevented conception first of all, because we wanted to enjoy the first few years of marriage...then, after about 6 months of marriage, my wife had a blood clot...Our reasoning then was shaped by our doctors because they gave us dire warnings...well, after nearly 5 years I talked with our current Pastor. As a result, we stepped in FAITH to not prevent conception. I kid you not, we conceived after the 1st or 2nd time of not preventing...simply amazing. No complications. My wife does give herself a shot each day to prevent a blood clot, but that is simply being cautious, it may not even be necessary. We are now 5 months along.

    Children are a blessing, and who are we to call God a liar? This isn't about a Christian's liberty, in my opinion: it is about living out God's Word (not that I'm amazing and a super Christian). We live in abject fear because we adopt the world's way of looking at children. Whether it's fear for health or fear of financial provision. If we have a faith to save, then that faith should not be compartmentalized for "spiritual things". We need to conceive in faith.
  11. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    Mark, you present a false dilemma in your consequentialist calculation as you neglected the options of abstinence or periodic abstinence. There are medical conditions that require the suspension of normal relations, and you need to explain why a medical condition that makes pregnancy dangerous is not another example of such a condition.
  12. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior


    I'am sorry, but I have difficulty understanding your question. Could you explain how the possibility of abstinence would affect my argument?
  13. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    You have presented the use of birth control as a viable alternative in the case where the woman's health may be in danger from pregnancy, but using birth control is not the only alternative available. The couple could abstain altogether. It seems to me that if Calvin was right that birth control is the moral equivalent of abortion then abstinence is a far better choice than birth control. This option would both protect the health of the woman and would not waste seed.
  14. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Well noted, Scott; perhaps you could put the word "better" before "protect" and it would make your point conclusive. If becoming pregnant presents medical dangers to the extent the couple feel they can't have children, why would they risk falling pregnant at all?
  15. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Ah okie... that makes it clear. Thanks.

    This is a hard question for me to answer since, as I think I have made clear in previous post, I see nothing wrong per se with non-abortion causing birth control in the first place. So to me, there really is no dilemma as I think Calvin, and the many great men who agreed with him, were wrong. My last post was primarily written to answer the argument that birth control must be avoided because it is anti-children, anti-faith etc etc

    That said, off the top of my head I would say that total abstinence is explicitly forbidden by 1 Cor 7, so that option is out. To me, that would leave us with either the 'rhythm' method, or to chose to follow the explicit command of 1 Cor 7 over the inferred condemnation of birth control. Off course, the latter option only works for me because I believe the inference is a bad one at best.

    In your last sentence you stated: 'This option would both protect the health of the woman and would not waste seed.' If we assume we have three 'things' in the balance: the health of a woman, a couple's sexual activity and the 'seed', I honestly cannot understand why we would chose to prioritize the preservation of seed over either of the other two. Both the other two have clear, explicit warrant in scripture. The importance of the third one comes only from indirect inferrences. Science has since shown us that lots and lots of seed is wasted even when a couple never practices contraception, either though natural emissions or even in intercourse when conception does not occur. Even when conception occurs, the vast majority of the 'seed' is actually wasted and not used.

    We do not use science to explain away God's commands, but regarding seed I cannot even see a command. The fact that Calvin believed is worth considering, but that does not make it true by itself. There is a time, I believe, to soberly and carefully say with Job 32:9 that 'Great men are not always wise'.
  16. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Rev Winzer,

    I think I tried to answer this above, where I said that abstience as an option is out since it is explicitly forbidden, unlike b/c. Regarding the point of 'better protection', God does not expect us to cover every little base. We do our best and trust him for the details. We do not abandon driving to eliminate the risk of accidents, but we take reasonable care to maximize our safety. If a couple were to become pregnant inspite of whatever method they used, God has obviously shown his will, and in that new situation they would trust him to do what is best.
  17. Larry Hughes

    Larry Hughes Puritan Board Sophomore

    We are so deistic in our modern thinking we don’t even see it sometimes.

    It is not a “logical” inconsistency when speaking of birth control as a sin since it is God who opens and closes the womb, then those who reverse it “are taking matters into their own hands”. Some of this does depend upon the method used though due to abortive components of some methods. But in general:

    There are more things than one to consider here. You must realize that all legitimate offices such as doctor, husband, wife, child, fireman, etc…are the concrete manifestations of God’s Law. God’s Law is manifested in the offices we are called to, this is how we love our neighbor OR sin against the Law and not love our neighbor. The Law is not just some abstraction with no reality. That’s fundamental. Thus, God’s Law which is holy and good is so EVEN through unbelievers, yet it is not them but God working, thus the unbeliever will stand condemned trying to garner this work from God.

    Secondly, C. Evert Koop as a medical doctor points out, in general concerning say surgery and the medical field, that though he like all doctors perform an act on the organs and flesh such as cutting or similar, he cannot cause that same flesh to heal or not heal, only God can do this. In affect the doctor is a “rough instrument” that holds the office or calling of healing, this is an office to love the neighbor, and thus he/she can perform the rough outward forms to save life (a doctor’s calling, not to kill life against his/her calling), but it is God who 1. Has set up and called the office through which He works by His Law, and 2. God who causes the cells to perform their mending. We REALLY are profitless servants at the end of the day. Cancer can be excised, but only God can continue life from there. Life is always in the hands of God. Yet, that is not to say that man cannot sin against his office, like Dr. Jack Kevorkian. A doctor is not to be a killer anymore than a fireman is to set fires, a policeman to rob, a mother to not be a mother, a father to not be a father, a wife and so forth.

    Again, there are multiple things at work here.

    Thus, a couple could rightly use all the God given technologies derived from the proper and authorized and legitimate callings of God to help them bear children, BUT again it is God’s Law that is working in and through those offices that set forth those technologies and God Who alone in the end still causes conception EVEN at that point. TO desire children is not only NOT against God’s Law but in perfect tune with it and assumed immediately in the Law itself everywhere.

    However, to cause birth control is NOT the calling of a husband and wife, it is illegitimate. Men can still sin against their callings, even in the offices as husband and wife. That is to try to control the situation and prevent God from being God. DON’T hear me wrong, I’m not on some high horse, we too practiced this for a while until Scripture captured this to Christ for us…and its NOT easy in our day and time, so much has been lost in the understanding of Scripture. If anything I’m a forgiven sinner talking to fellow forgiven sinners, call me worse if it makes you feel better I won’t deny it.

    Some reformers in the past even called it preemptive murder. That sounds harsh but is not that hard if one ponders the good and Holy Law on the issue. All murder, either by the heart only or that which finally makes it to the hands for some, issues forth from some form of “another” getting in my way of life. E.g. We curse either with our lips for real or think it hard before suppressing it in our minds when some “jerk” cuts us off in traffic. THAT anger over that person issues forth from a murderous mind that starts in being “my own god for myself” and this “jerk” that just got in the way of my time and space point of life is interfering with my pursuit of life for me. So, I at a minimum wish him dead by this anger. The anger is an issuing forth of a desire for “that being” to be gone from my existence or murder. And that derives from me desiring to be my own god in violation of the first commandment. This is why all sin, open or false saintly ones, are a result of unbelief. A desire to not have children because my wife and I would prefer this or that style of life, even for a while, is fundamentally the same. If honest what we are really saying in sugar coated terms is, “a child would burden this life I think best for ME (being my own god) right now…therefore we won’t have one now (the preemptive murder) in thought, even though the deed is not happening.” One of the reasons we get so angry when we actually hear of this is the truth behind it. And again, I’m not a hypocrite here, but a sinner under grace, I’ve thought the same thing in our day and age.

    Furthermore, child bearing was again sanctified in the incarnation of Christ Himself who at every point was made man from the very beginning, including the soul, and explicitly at conception. If there was ANYTHING of man that Christ did not become, then it was NOT redeemed, and there was NOT. In being incarnate at the very point of conception Christ sanctified of man conception, the baby in the womb, the nine month process, the mother and EVERY connection natural to child pregnancy, motherhood, fatherhood by Joseph being His earthly father, the birth process in all its naturalness…EVERYTHING. Christ need not to have married and have His own children, He already sanctified it in His own incarnation from conception forward. Christ literally fulfilled ALL righteousness. And it is further sanctified in that Christ is the God the Son of God the FATHER.

    One of the most precious pastoral pieces of comfort Martin Luther gave a friend of his whose wife died in child birth shows us just how far removed from Scripture we have come in this late hour. Luther said it is right for a husband to mourn the loss of their dear spouse, but to not to mourn too much for this was God’s will. And to further take strong comfort by strong faith that she died in her specific glorious God given calling…doing the very WILL of God Himself. The picture here is this: We would rightly mourn a missionary we may personally know if they died for the faith, their calling, be it by persecution or just some general accident that may have happened in the process. Yet, we would be comforted by the fact that he/she died in their calling which was the will of God (we will see them again in glory). Then why not for the mother? Sure, no man would want this, it would destroy all my own strength to loose my wife this way (especially the way I'd hear it from even Christians if it happened, the hidden barbs against having children), but faith would bear one up under this suffering if one understood that it was her VERY calling that she died doing this. Like a wonderful soldier who dies in battle, very sad for the present lose, but wonderful that God had so called them to this and one will assuredly see them again in the kingdom of heaven.

  18. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I suppose the question being begged here is where abstinence is ruled out as an option. You refer to 1 Cor. 7, but Paul provides those instructions to those who are battling the issue of "uncleanness" not medical dangers. There is no prohibition to abstain in the case of physical weakness. Abstinence is a form of birth control, so it is unhelpful to make them separate things. When sexual relations are being discussed it is more correct to speak of contraception. Contraception belonged to the sphere of witchcraft in the old world, and is condemned as a work of the flesh in Gal. 5:20.
  19. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    I should have clarified myself and said I was referring to completely abstinence as a rule of marriage. I do agree that abstaining for a time is allowed in cases of physical weakness. I do think 1 Cor 7 would rule out complete abstinence within a marriage as sinful.

    I don't see contraception, or indeed anything to do with sex in Galations 5:20. How do we tell from the bible, and not the old world, that contraception = witchcraft?
  20. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If you allow physical weakness to be a basis of abstinence, then perpetual physical weakness must be a basis for perpetual abstinence. Now if you allow medical problems to be a reason why a couple should not have children, it is clear that there is perpetual physical weakness, and the best way to avoid such dangers (if they are real and not merely a doctor's hypothetical) is perpetual abstinence.

    A study of the biblical presentation of witchcraft can only reveal generals from which specifics can be deduced; but the study will be well worth the effort. Ancient magic was inherently manipulative. Greco-Roman magic had a specific utilitarian concern. Witchcraft seeks the distortion of the "phusis" or of the mind's conception of "phusis" for personal ends. As I noted in an earlier post, the Bible represents human biology as a good to be sought in itself, and not as an instrument to be manipulated for our good.
  21. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Rev Winzer,

    You ignored my point that perpetual abstinence is forbidden by the bible. That is why I do not believe the logic will flow in that direction. If there is a problem with a woman's body whereby pregnancy will harm her, the best way to avoid danger is to avoid pregnancy. If perpetual abstinence is condemned, the best course is though some form of contraception.

    I had always thought the essence of witchcraft to be not in manipulation, but in unlawful supernatural power. Deut and Exodus speak of familiar spirits in the context of witchcraft, I believe. If we follow your definition, why are all science and medicine not condemned, since they too manipulate either the natural world or the body.
  22. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Again, the question is being begged. You have allowed an exception in the apostle's prohibition in relation to physical weakness. If the physical weakness is perpetual, then the abstinence must be perpetual. Thus perpetual abstinence is possible within the apostle's prohibition. It is only by making the apostle's prohibition universal that you can establish your point; but you deny it to be universal.

    Only God has supernatural power. Other powers might "counterfeit" this power, but they cannot reproduce it. Medicine should be restorative. When it confines itself to this definition it is within the bounds of preserving well-being.
  23. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Actually, I think this thread has started to reach the going round in circles part, at least as far as my participation is concerned.

    So, I'am off (for now). Take care all!

    Rev Winzer,

    Thank you for your interaction, but I suspect that even if we pursue this, no one's mind will be changed at the end of the day. I feel that I am done with his subject for a time being.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
  24. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    :handshake: Blessings!
  25. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    This is very interesting. Can you recommend a resource for witchcraft in the Bible, Rev Winzer?
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