Is it the responsibility of a married couple to have children?

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he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
Certainly and always, some things are sinful.

Killing a baby? Sinful. ALWAYS.
Defrauding your husband or wife? Sinful. ALWAYS. (I am not saying that refraining at anytime is sinful, but defrauding is.)
Selfishness--Sinful.
Love of Money--Sinful.
Not trusting the Lord--Sinful.
Disobeying the Lord--Sinful.

And there are many more sins that could add to the decision or practice of not having children. If a couple is sinning a couple is sinning. Is the not having children the sin? It seems we cannot prove that from scripture. But is the reason a couple is not having children a sinful one? Or are the specific actions that are preventing a child sinful? If so, they are sinning. We all know that sin is a heart matter. The couple needs to see if it is sin in their heart that makes them not want children.

I would say, though, that I cannot imagine a scenario, even the sad one that Caroline mentions with the negligent mother, where the making and then the having the babies is the sin. I think the sin was elsewhere. Maybe the father sinned by not getting the mother help. Or maybe from the church who didn't step in and help. Maybe some of the sin was in the selfish hearts of the children, which we all know is possible for children to have!

Maybe the parents DID sin, but I just cannot believe that the intimacy that makes babies was a sin and I KNOW that the conception of babies wasn't a sin, as that is of the Lord. And I know that the not aborting the conceived babies wasn't a sin. So I just cannot see the how the new babies were at all a sin.
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So, my point was, in order for this verse to be helpful, you would have to prove that Scripturally it is possible for the act of conception between a husband and wife can in certain situations be someway sinful. This verse cannot prove that; you have to presuppose it to be true in order to even interpret the verse in that way.
I have had multiple c/s like a few others mentioned. If I try to not get pregnant in a non-sinful manner (I'm not aborting babies or using birth control that is aborting babies, I'm not defrauding my husband, etc.) hopefully I am not sinning. But were I to get pregnant, and were that pregnancy to cause my death, that definitely wouldn't be a sin, either. Yes, the world might think it wrong that my remaining children lost their mother and might blame me or my husband. But having children is not really about doing it responsibly. Married people are commanded to have sex. Sex sometimes makes babies. We are NEVER told to prevent that so I don't think it can be argued that prevention is more proper than having more babies. So even if a married couple has babies under trying circumstances, it's not a responsibility issue. Might those circumstances bring the people to sin? Yes. I might be so overwhelmed that I sin and run away or something. But it wasn't the new baby that was the sin. It was the running away me.

This life is the Lord's. What pleases him most? I think that is the question that the couple who is debating having children must ask.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
The ORIGINAL POST seems more like parched land than saturated. If they are CHOOSING to NEVER have children. Which is why I said, "at least from the outset" ... Contraception after you have children (saturated land) is different than because you choice to never have them at all (parched land).
You're assuming that 'saturated land' can only equate with already having children. But it could also equate with prohibitive physical or mental health issues, financial instability, genetic proclivities, or a host of other things that could play a part in a couple's decision to pursue child-bearing.
 

DeniseM

Puritan Board Freshman
Denise,

I think the misconception is that only Biblical families are worried about such things. The reality is far otherwise: many people have consciences that are very sensitive, and at the same time, ill-informed. For instance, a devout Catholic might be unregenerate, and still feel deeply constrained on this matter.

You haven't offended me in the slightest, and I certainly didn't mean to put words in your mouth - I was simply stating my understanding of Caroline's point, not claiming that those were positions you held. If you took anything I said as trying to prevent you from trusting God, I'm afraid I can't have been very clear. I suppose it might be impertinent, since it doesn't have anything to do with me, but I actually feel proud of your faith and of the children you have. All I'm saying is that in presenting this duty, like any duty, if we are speaking to a general audience it is important to acknowledge the appropriate qualifications. Even though it's on the Puritan Board, the audience is not exclusively made up of healthy Puritans.
Ruben, thank you for clarifying your meaning for me. At first glance, I did think that your statements were assertions of what I believed. I hope I wasn't unkind in my response to you. I understand what you are saying about taking care to watch our speech on a public forum. I have been known to be a person of strong convictions, for better or for worse. :)
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Ruben, thank you for clarifying your meaning for me. At first glance, I did think that your statements were assertions of what I believed. I hope I wasn't unkind in my response to you. I understand what you are saying about taking care to watch our speech on a public forum. I have been known to be a person of strong convictions, for better or for worse. :)
I know you too well to think you'd be unkind! Although the strong convictions part is coming as quite a surprise. :p
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
I generally agree with you, Caroline.

I do believe that if prevention of conception were in and of itself a sin, it would be so listed in scripture. So many sins are lined out. I dare say I never even would have thought of some of the sins if they were not in there. If it were, in and of itself, a sin, I think it would be lined out.

That said, prevention of conception is often a symptom of something that is a sin, like lack of faith, selfishness, idolatry of this or that, etc.

So if a pet sin is influencing you to do your best to avoid conception, then of course that pet sin must be confronted.

But if your motivation to prevent conception is NOT a sinful motivation, then, I think it is stretching it to say contraception is a sin.

In Caroline's mother's (and particularly father's) case, just responding to what is lined out here, it seems to me a father would say: "My wife suffers from (revealed and actual) postpartum depression. She's not AFRAID that she MIGHT - she actually does. She is incapable of taking proper care of the children we have. This is revealed! Not a fear that she might not be able to take care of them. She actually is not. My six year old should not, except in the most extreme emergency, be utilized as a babysitter. Thus, I have decided to prevent conception for now, until the REVEALED situation actually improves."

I do believe that would have been the right and responsible thing for this father to do.

Also, as to the argument that God opens and closes the womb, of course He does, and birth control is only so effective. If God wants you to conceive, you will, even if you are using birth control.
Hello,

I am wondering, do you believe that in order for something to be a sin it must be explicitly named in Scripture as a sin? If this is what you are implying, I find it difficult to believe. For just an easy example, I would ask why are we required to believe everything that God says? No where does Scripture say "Thou must believe everything that God says." Rather, we know that God cannot lie, that He is perfect, that He is the only true and living God so by implication to not believe God is accusing Him of lying and thus taking Him off His throne. It is by implication that we are required to believe all that the Bible teaches. Give another example, the Bible says no where that property tax is unlawful, but we can indeed establish that property tax is theft based upon the teaching of God's Word - it's implied in the 6th commandment (stealing implies there is such a thing as ownership). Likewise, we need to see what God's teaching is on children and childbearing in order to define sin in these areas. If an act disagrees with the teaching of God, then it is sin whether by implication or explication.

In order to do this, I've previously listed out the Scriptural postulates about childbearing. The idea that it is lawful at certain times to prevent the conception of children does not fit with the teaching of Scripture. I've seen many people try to reconcile them by saying similar things to your last sentence. The problem with that idea is this: Who is the steward of the womb? Is it God or man? The argument from those in favor of birth control have to argue that it is man and therefore it is unwise at times or even sinful to conceive a child in certain situations (financial/health problems are mainly argued). But, to say that God opens and closes the womb is to say that God is the steward of the womb. You can't reconcile this teaching with human manipulation and prevention. Either God is the steward of life and conception and we should not try to control it or man is the steward and we can manipulate it all we like.

This is why I would use the same implication (that God is the steward of life) to argue against things like cloning and some of those abhorrent genetic manipulations. Just because we can mess with something, doesn't mean we should. God is the steward of life and we are to make the best of what He grants to us.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
God is the steward over harvests. They may be bountiful or not, according to His plan, but if the farmer doesn't sow seed, there is no harvest. Now, one would normally expect that the farmer would want to sow seed. Why own a farm field if you're not going to plant it. But maybe the farmer is ill, and the effort to sow and harvest would be beyond his ability; or perhaps he has plans to take a year's sabbatical to study ag science, and won't have time; or what if there's a war on and he doesn't want to risk being exposed in his field to enemy fire or possibly have the harvest fall into enemy hands; or it may be that a wicked magistrate is planning on confiscating the fruit of his labors, and he doesn't want to enrich the tyrant. Are any of those motivations sin?

Bountiful harvests are considered blessings from the Lord in scripture. Is it always sin to refrain from plowing and sowing in pursuit of that blessing?

Now it might be sin if his motivation were simple sloth, or he'd rather party it up rather than work, or he's trying to decrease the value of the land for dishonest reasons. And that points up the fact that the same outward actions can either be righteous or sinful dependent upon the motive behind it. But it is not always sin to decline the possibility of a blessing.
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
Rain is a great blessing upon a parched land, but not so much where the ground is already saturated. God gave us no control over the rain, but He did give us control over whether we procreate or not, and the ability to use wisdom in that control. Motivations are what determine the sinfulness of actions not expressly forbidden, not the action itself.
This is an interesting example, Brad. I know it wasn't directed to me, but I hope you don't mind me commenting on it. I would disagree with this in that we are not given control over procreation. It is only God who can open and close the womb and only God who can create life. This is admitted when someone says whether or not a couple uses birth control doesn't matter - if God wants them to have a child, they'll have a child. So we can do whatever we want to do in order to procreate or not procreate, but God is the only One who can actually "create" life. The same goes with the weather. God is the only One who can control the weather. He is the "steward" of these things, so to speak. Just as we do the best we can to deal with excessive or too little rainfall, we do the best we can to deal with the children God gives us. We don't try to take over those aspects of His sovereignty, rather, we do everything lawful to do the best with what God gives us. Obviously, there are many individual situations that need to be considered in this, but we can't deal with the situations until we have the correct principle. I believe this is the principle laid out in Scripture.
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
God is the steward over harvests. They may be bountiful or not, according to His plan, but if the farmer doesn't sow seed, there is no harvest. Now, one would normally expect that the farmer would want to sow seed. Why own a farm field if you're not going to plant it. But maybe the farmer is ill, and the effort to sow and harvest would be beyond his ability; or perhaps he has plans to take a year's sabbatical to study ag science, and won't have time; or what if there's a war on and he doesn't want to risk being exposed in his field to enemy fire or possibly have the harvest fall into enemy hands; or it may be that a wicked magistrate is planning on confiscating the fruit of his labors, and he doesn't want to enrich the tyrant. Are any of those motivations sin?

Bountiful harvests are considered blessings from the Lord in scripture. Is it always sin to refrain from plowing and sowing in pursuit of that blessing?

Now it might be sin if his motivation were simple sloth, or he'd rather party it up rather than work, or he's trying to decrease the value of the land for dishonest reasons. And that points up the fact that the same outward actions can either be righteous or sinful dependent upon the motive behind it. But it is not always sin to decline the possibility of a blessing.
If this is being compared to the means we are given to "control" procreation, I would say it could only be applied to whether or not one gets married - because that is they only type of "control" one has over it. If one is married, one is required to give due benevolence and has ultimately no control over the creation of life; only God can create life. But this is a different issue since the OP is dealing with married couples.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
If this is being compared to the means we are given to "control" procreation, I would say it could only be applied to whether or not one gets married - because that is they only type of "control" one has over it. If one is married, one is required to give due benevolence and has ultimately no control over the creation of life; only God can create life. But this is a different issue since the OP is dealing with married couples.
If a married couple mutually agree to abstain from sexual relations that could result in pregnancy, that represents control that can only be overruled by a rather dramatic form of Divine intervention, only recorded once in history. It's common among men to create hard and fast rules that comport with our own particular worldviews, but I would refer you to the verse from Isaiah 8 in my signature below if you're interested in my view on such matters. If it ain't clear in the Word (by direct reference or inferred through good and necessary consequence), it just ain't clear, and I don't think we can bind other men's consciences with our own personal scruples.
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
You're assuming that 'saturated land' can only equate with already having children. But it could also equate with prohibitive physical or mental health issues, financial instability, genetic proclivities, or a host of other things that could play a part in a couple's decision to pursue child-bearing.
The original post asked if it is biblical if a married couple DECIDES to NEVER have children.
I responded with the Word of God, "children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."

The original post says nothing about "prohibitive physical or mental health issues, financial instability, genetic proclivities" or any other hypothetical "motivations" behind the decision to NEVER have children.
You made the comparison between children and rain.
And, I did not assume that saturated land can "only" equate with already having children.
However, I did assume that if rain is a blessing & children are a blessing, then by rain you meant children.
And, if parched land is the absence of rain then by parched land you meant absence of children.
Since the original post did not mention "prohibitive physical or mental health issues, financial instability, genetic proclivities, or a host of other thing," I did not assume that is what you meant by saturated ground.

The ORIGINAL POST asked if it is biblical to DECIDE to NEVER have children ... that sounds "parched" to me.
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
If a married couple mutually agree to abstain from sexual relations that could result in pregnancy, that represents control that can only be overruled by a rather dramatic form of Divine intervention, only recorded once in history. It's common among men to create hard and fast rules that comport with our own particular worldviews, but I would refer you to the verse from Isaiah 8 in my signature below if you're interested in my view on such matters. If it ain't clear in the Word (by direct reference or inferred through good and necessary consequence), it just ain't clear, and I don't think we can bind other men's consciences with our own personal scruples.
Brad, please be careful throwing around the whole "binding one another's conscience." We are simply discussing this matter of Scripture, I don't believe anyone has bound anyone's conscience as it is defined by the Westminster Standards. Of course both positions have implications/explications that make the opposing position sinful in some way. This is the same with any discussion, but it is not the same thing as saying "You're in sin. You need to repent." I think this has been a gracious and good discussion.

That stated, I think the principle that God is the giver of life and the biblical teachings about children and childbearing show, at least in general, we should not try to control conception - that is a good and necessary consequence from Scripture, as I've tried to prove. Really, to say that childbearing is a matter indifferent to Scripture all together is like a long stretch. Does God really have nothing to say about that which society and therefore the church and all things are absolutely dependent upon? Is God indifferent to whether we reproduce or not? Certainly not. God has commanded it and given us the principles we need to do it in a biblical manner. Again, I have been trying to develop the biblical principle here which is necessary to deal with individual situations. I'm not trying to dismiss individual circumstances with a "hard and fast rule" but instead trying to see by what standard we can judge those individual situations. The person who says that the use of birth control or other prevention is completely indifferent has done the same thing; only I don't believe they are accepting an unbiblical principle at that point.

I believe the Bible does allow for times of agreed abstinence for prayer and fasting as taught in 1 Corinthians 7:5. This is clearly not a regular occurrence since even that verse recognizes the temptation that comes along with prolonged abstinence. Still, this verse comports well with the idea that God is steward over life. God has given us commands and principles to know how to govern childbearing and reproduction and this is one of them.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Given that it is the internet, the probability that someone unstable is reading our words is so high as to be practically a certainty.
My presence on the thread removes the 'practically' from the assertion, thank you. It behooves a man to recognize his own frailties...
That made me giggle.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
That made me giggle.
Making you giggle makes me happy, brother.
The original post says nothing about "prohibitive physical or mental health issues, financial instability, genetic proclivities" or any other hypothetical "motivations" behind the decision to NEVER have children.
So then, if these things weren't mentioned, why would we assume that the decision was based on purely selfish reasons, which also was not mentioned? I think the discussion centers around IF it is appropriate to make that decision for WHAT reasons. That's what I was addressing.
You made the comparison between children and rain.
And, I did not assume that saturated land can "only" equate with already having children.
However, I did assume that if rain is a blessing & children are a blessing, then by rain you meant children.
And, if parched land is the absence of rain then by parched land you meant absence of children.
Parched and saturated land could mean a number of things, and I understand you're assuming the reference had to do with the lack or abundance of children. I only wanted to point out that the saturated land could also correlate to other problems that could arise from certain couples having children at all that could be as dangerous as a flood. Not trying to be argumentative.
The ORIGINAL POST asked if it is biblical to DECIDE to NEVER have children ... that sounds "parched" to me.
It is possible that such a decision could be taken for reasons that are not sinful, which has been my point.
Brad, please be careful throwing around the whole "binding one another's conscience."
Please note the 'we' in the referenced quote. I was not directing it at any one person, just making a general statement. But it would seem there are only 2 possible answers to the OP, 'yes' or 'no'. One of those does bind the consciences of others.
That stated, I think the principle that God is the giver of life and the biblical teachings about children and childbearing show, at least in general, we should not try to control conception - that is a good and necessary consequence from Scripture, as I've tried to prove.
OK, but I don't think you've succeeded in proving that. He's the giver of bountiful harvests, but it's not always sin to avoid having one.
Really, to say that childbearing is a matter indifferent to Scripture all together is like a long stretch. Does God really have nothing to say about that which society and therefore the church and all things are absolutely dependent upon? Is God indifferent to whether we reproduce or not?
I haven't noticed anyone asserting this.
I believe the Bible does allow for times of agreed abstinence for prayer and fasting as taught in 1 Corinthians 7:5. This is clearly not a regular occurrence since even that verse recognizes the temptation that comes along with prolonged abstinence.
Abstinence from relations that could result in pregnancy does not require abstinence from all marital relations.
Still, this verse comports well with the idea that God is steward over life. God has given us commands and principles to know how to govern childbearing and reproduction and this is one of them.
This verse does not address reproduction, it addresses marital relations. It seems there is a presupposition made here that anything to do with marital sex is necessarily reproductive in nature. That seems to be a large part of the considerations. I hold that the subjects are not so necessarily united. If that were the case, then permanently infertile couples would never be able to lawfully enjoy marital relations if they were aware of the fact. That just doesn't make sense to me. I believe it can be enjoyed without reproduction being an intent or possible outcome, and done so in ways that in fact would prevent reproduction, and that to do so is not sin in and of itself. Just my take on the issue, anyone who so desires is entirely free to disagree.
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
Please note the 'we' in the referenced quote. I was not directing it at any one person, just making a general statement. But it would seem there are only 2 possible answers to the OP, 'yes' or 'no'. One of those does bind the consciences of others.
Every truth claim binds a person's conscience since it is implied that it ought to be believed. So if we are to define binding a person's conscience in a general way then both positions bind the consciences of others.

OK, but I don't think you've succeeded in proving that. He's the giver of bountiful harvests, but it's not always sin to avoid having one.
I don't think this analogy works for a few reasons. (1) Harvests are not universal like childbearing is. I'm not a farmer and harvest nothing; does that mean I "avoid" harvests? Or do only farmers, whose job it is to harvest, "avoid" harvests? A harvest is one means among many to make income and provide subsistence for one's family. There is no alternative to childbearing, however. To avoid childbearing is to have the family die out. To avoid harvesting is only devastating if that is your means of subsistence, which it is not for many people. Harvesting is a choice; childbearing is a command. (2) The harvest and crops are something a farmer is a steward of. He must till the soil, plant the seeds, water the crops, etc. We can control aspects of a harvest, we cannot control aspects of the creation of life. A husband and wife could do that by refusing to give due benevolence to one another (in other words refusing the means by which God creates life), but this would be sinful. Sex was created by God to procreate. God commands husbands and wives to have sex so where does the idea come from that man can prevent God's purpose in sex?

This verse does not address reproduction, it addresses marital relations. It seems there is a presupposition made here that anything to do with marital sex is necessarily reproductive in nature. That seems to be a large part of the considerations. I hold that the subjects are not so necessarily united. If that were the case, then permanently infertile couples would never be able to lawfully enjoy marital relations if they were aware of the fact. That just doesn't make sense to me. I believe it can be enjoyed without reproduction being an intent or possible outcome, and done so in ways that in fact would prevent reproduction, and that to do so is not sin in and of itself. Just my take on the issue, anyone who so desires is entirely free to disagree.
I entirely disagree with the idea that sex is purely for procreation excluding personal pleasure. But don't you think it is hard to deny that marital sex is reproductive in nature? Because it is! Until nature has run its course and our bodies are past that age. Then it is in nature for it not to be reproductive. This seems fairly obvious. Sex makes babies until our bodies get too old to handle it. If couples are infertile, then they still ought to enjoy all the marital pleasures. These things are not human prevention in the sovereignty of God which is what I believe Scripture speaks against. God gives life; we don't have the right to kill anyone unless God says so (ie when the Bible says the death penalty, just wars, self-defense, etc). God is the giver of life and therefore He dictates when it should be given or taken away. Our job is to obey His commandments and let Him do as He sees fit.
 

Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks Caroline. Yes, I see your point about "Reformed Allergies" and agree with your example:

It's like how Reformed people always assume also that church leadership is wise and well-intentioned, and they always suggest taking problems to the elders. That is actually good advice in most cases in Reformed churches. But that certainly is not the case in every church, especially in Oneness Pentecostalism, etc.
So it sounds like you would affirm that children and child-rearing are blessings, but that other factors also weigh in and may over-ride the general command to be fruitful and multiply (sickness, illness, stresses, dangers). Thus, we are not always commanded to be as fruitful as possible. Is that correct?
Yes, absolutely. I think a real danger in Reformed churches is that they lose the sense of their own sinful natures. It actually disturbs me a bit when people instantly jump to say, "Well, that only happens in cults and does not apply to us," or "We would never do that." Even though I think there is LESS likelihood in Reformed churches, there are sinners everywhere. People tend to try to make sweeping rules based on utterly ideal circumstances. I think every parent does well to ask themselves on major decisions how these things affect their children and whether something else ought to be done. There is a knee-jerk reaction like, "Why should we bother with what the children think? Their job is to submit to their godly parents." Our job is to submit to God (who is far more perfect than any human parents), and yet He is tender with us and remembers our frailty. We should try to mirror that by doing likewise. Not only in having more children, but in other situations (even small things like moving), we ought to think of how it might trouble our children and whether our desires are selfish or whether we are truly acting in the best interests of our children. The best guard against tyranny is a good understanding of our own temptations to be self-centered and self-aggrandizing.

To put this another way, if you ask my mother or my grandmother, they would tell you that they had biblical families, that the children were always excited about new babies, and that there was no trouble. People tend to see things the way they want to see it. No church hangs out a sign saying, "We are a cult and we have an abusive pastor." No parent wakes up in the morning and says, "I'm going to vex and embitter my children today." Sin is subtle. People think, "Well, I am not feeling well today, and people should deal with my temper," or "I am the one God has placed over these people and they should submit to me." Furthermore, sin has various levels of severity, and the less severe is still sin, even if it is less serious than, for example, what occurred in my household as a child. We ALL vex our children. The question is just how much and whether we repent and apologize to them and endeavor to treat them kindly. And that requires a recognition of our sinful nature. There is no one more likely to vex their children than someone who thinks they can do no wrong and that all their decisions are good ones that their kids just have to accept as they would an edict from God.

I have actually advised one Reformed person not to have children. It was a woman who had already left her husband twice and was planning to leave him again. Amid the enormous marital conflicts, she decided she preferred to exit the marriage with a baby. I advised her that pouring children into a mess does not improve the mess, and that she needed to repent of her plans to leave her husband before she took up the thought of having his baby (an extremely selfish plan, since she planned to try to gain full custody of the child by making false allegations against her husband in divorce court). Sometimes there are just bigger priorities than having more kids, even in Reformed marriages. Sin is everywhere.

And on the internet, as Ruben noted, there are any number of unstable people and we should be hesitant about throwing out advice without knowing all the facts.

This is not to say that people who have children are always abusing them or that people with large families are always leaning too much on their kids. But I think it does not hurt to sometimes ask ourselves whether we can improve. And if anyone is thinking of having another child KNOWING that it is going to put a severe hardship on their children, they should take warning from my experiences. Kids have long memories.

But in general, children are a great blessing. I have three lovely children, and my best friends have nine. When managed well, large families are beautiful. But when they are unstable and chaotic, adding more children to the mix does not improve the situation.

PS Edited to add (since I always second-guess myself): Again, I would never say categorically that trouble that comes of a pregnancy will ruin a family. In fact, with my third pregnancy, I became so ill that I have never fully recovered, and I was wheelchair bound for over a year. My oldest daughter is always very cautious and refuses to say out loud that it was the pregnancy that caused my health crisis, because she worries that her little sister will overhear and feel guilty for the hardship caused. She has determined that the little one should never bear the burden of knowing how much her birth cost us. We agree that we should always say nothing except, "You are a beautiful gift to us, dear child." But at the same time, I'm with several on this thread already who noted the sixth commandment. I would not compel my oldest daughter to pay that cost again (helping to care for an extremely sick mother and a small baby), even if she dealt with it in grace and meekness.
 
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MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
I agree I just have never heard of such.
Huntington's Disease might be one- my uncle's first wife (before he married my blood-relative aunt) died from it, and 2 of the 3 children from that marriage have it. There is a 50/50 chance of each child getting it, and the onset gets earlier and the symptoms worse with each generation. It usually hits around the age of 40, there is a rapid decline, and the person is not expected to live except for more than 20 years after. It causes uncontrollable muscle movement, difficulty swallowing, and severely impaired mental judgment.

But this is a rare case. And there's always adoption! And of course, there are no "mistakes" brought into the world by God.

"But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring"- Malachi 2:15
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
Hi,

"I am wondering, do you believe that in order for something to be a sin it must be explicitly named in Scripture as a sin." No, but I think the principle must be at least stated. For example the Bible claims sanctions against those who fail to put a fence around their roof, to prevent people from falling off. So similarly I think it would be a sin to have any known deathly hazard in your house and not safeguard visitors against it. I don't think it just applies to a roof guard. Similarly, we are forbidden to so much as look at another person, to lust after them. So what about a photograph and not the live person? The principle remains.

But I do not see a principle, anywhere in Scripture, that forbids conception. Children are a blessing, yes, but so is food, then again we don't eat all day. I am not being sarcastic. God sends many things that are blessings, that in excess amounts could be harmful. I see that principle. We are told to enjoy our wine, but not to get drunk. We are told to enjoy our food, but not to be gluttons. We are told to work hard, but also to rest. We are told to mourn and to rejoice. Etc.

God is indeed the steward of life. We are not to kill people, except in certain ok'd circumstances such as just war or self defense. So abortion, or any other method of killing people, is a sin outside of those parameters.

But we are not forbidden to prevent conception. We are indeed told to be fruitful and multiply, but that does not mean, necessarily, to avoid birth control completely. It does not even mean just to have children, otherwise the unmarried or infertile wouldn't be able to obey this mandate.

I stick by my original point: the reasons for preventing conception may be sin, but the actual prevention isn't.

Analogies: my reasons for not eating may be sin, but not eating in and of itself is not necessarily a sin. My reasons for sleeping may be a sin, but sleeping isn't necessarily a sin. My reasons for taking medication may be a sin, but taking medication isn't necessarily a sin. Etc.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
Hi again,

"Who is the steward of the womb? Is it God or man?"

God is sovereign over all things. But I don't think using contraception, for non-sinful reasons, denies His sovereignty.

He is sovereign over my body. But I can decide whether the skip lunch or not today. It is not sin, as long as the reason behind it is not sinful.

One might take your argument and say, God is sovereign over my hair (indeed He is, and there are some things I think would be actually sinful to do with my hair), so I can't cut it. He grows it to the length He wants. There is truth in that statement, but, it's not normally a sin for me to cut, color, or style my hair.

God is sovereign over my flocks and herds. But I may choose to breed more goats, or change the breed of sheep, or switch vets, or sell half my farm and cut down. If not done for sinful reasons, this is not sin.

Why not? Because God has given me the stewardship over my flocks and herds. As long as I'm not sinning with them.

God has given stewardship of husbands and wives and wives to husbands, biblically:

"The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife." 1st Cor 7:4. I realize this doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want, but as long as sin is avoided, God gives stewardship to the one and the other.

I do agree that childbearing and rearing is an obvious, normative part of marriage, and is part of the creation mandate (although not all of it.) But I don't think childbearing or rearing is the primary purpose of marriage.

I think there are two main purposes to marriage: 1) somehow and mysteriously we mirror the image of Christ and His church; and 2) it was not good for man to be alone.
 

jpfrench81

Puritan Board Sophomore
childbearing is a command
I don't believe that can be established as applicable to each and every human. It was a creation mandate to humanity as a whole.
Brad, I can't be sure of your specific views of the Sabbath, but isn't the fact that the Sabbath is a creation mandate a common argument for why the Sabbath still applying today? If so, it seems the same argument holds for the command to be fruitful and multiply.
 

jpfrench81

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think there are two main purposes to marriage: 1) somehow and mysteriously we mirror the image of Christ and His church; and 2) it was not good for man to be alone.
I think you have to include procreation of children here. 1. There is no reason for God to command Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply otherwise. 2. The church has almost universally held that the procreation of children was part of marriage (only recently has this been denied, and the main argument for this seems to be dismissing the verses about procreation!)
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
childbearing is a command
I don't believe that can be established as applicable to each and every human. It was a creation mandate to humanity as a whole.
Adam by himself was not suited to carry out the dominion mandate, no. But that's why God instituted marriage. Before the fall, infertility and disease did not exist so every marriage would have resulted in children. After the fall, every marriage normally results in children. Disease and such which make some couples unable to have children does not nullify the purpose of marriage in dominion. There is no evidence of "Be fruitful and multiply" ever being abrogated in Scripture. This is obviously not the sole purpose of marriage, but it is one purpose none the less.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I would say, though, that I cannot imagine a scenario, even the sad one that Caroline mentions with the negligent mother, where the making and then the having the babies is the sin. I think the sin was elsewhere. Maybe the father sinned by not getting the mother help. Or maybe from the church who didn't step in and help. Maybe some of the sin was in the selfish hearts of the children, which we all know is possible for children to have!
.
This is a point that undermines all arguements In my most humble opinion against not having a child The Lord may give. Having "tons" of babies is not the sin.
 
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Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi,

"I am wondering, do you believe that in order for something to be a sin it must be explicitly named in Scripture as a sin." No, but I think the principle must be at least stated. For example the Bible claims sanctions against those who fail to put a fence around their roof, to prevent people from falling off. So similarly I think it would be a sin to have any known deathly hazard in your house and not safeguard visitors against it. I don't think it just applies to a roof guard. Similarly, we are forbidden to so much as look at another person, to lust after them. So what about a photograph and not the live person? The principle remains.
I agree, the principles behind laws in Scripture still apply though they may have a different application.

But I do not see a principle, anywhere in Scripture, that forbids contraception. Children are a blessing, yes, but so is food, then again we don't eat all day. I am not being sarcastic. God sends many things that are blessings, that in excess amounts could be harmful. I see that principle. We are told to enjoy our wine, but not to get drunk. We are told to enjoy our food, but not to be gluttons. We are told to work hard, but also to rest. We are told to mourn and to rejoice. Etc.
If God says "Do this" then by implication the opposite is forbidden, correct? Children are not just a blessing; they are the foundation of the church, state, and business. Without people reproducing, all of society dies. The thing is - being a glutton is clearly condemned in Scripture. The amount of "excess" of food may be unique to each person (depending on size, age, gender, etc) but it should be easily recognizable to that person. How do you define "excess" of children from Scripture? The Bible says God opens and closes the womb. Therefore, if you have too many children, then God gave you too many children! I think you can see the absurdity of that. Unlike food and drink which is a part of our dominion which we must use wisely; the conceiving of life in the womb is solely God's doing so if it is ever a mistake, then you would have to say it was God's "mistake," the words of which I even hate to type.

God is indeed the steward of life. We are not to kill people, except in certain ok'd circumstances such as just war or self defense. So abortion, or any other method of killing people, is a sin outside of those parameters.

But we are not forbidden to prevent conception. We are indeed told to be fruitful and multiply, but that does not mean, necessarily, to avoid birth control completely. It does not even mean just to have children, otherwise the unmarried or infertile wouldn't be able to obey this mandate.

I stick by my original point: the reasons for preventing conception may be sin, but the actual prevention isn't.

Analogies: my reasons for not eating may be sin, but not eating in and of itself is not necessarily a sin. My reasons for sleeping may be a sin, but sleeping isn't necessarily a sin. My reasons for taking medication may be a sin, but taking medication isn't necessarily a sin. Etc.
The moral law of God is based upon God's character. He is the living God and all life proceeds from Him. When God creates a life, we can only end rightly it when God's Word says we can. God gives life and God takes life away. By this same principle then, how can we justify trying to control when life is given? Conception is not the same thing as sleeping or eating. We eat and sleep at our own discretion based upon our schedules or how hungry we feel, etc. We govern those things. Can we govern conception? The answer is obviously no. This is not the only principle in Scripture that contraception would go against. I will list these again, see if you can find which one doesn't fit:

1) Children are a blessing (This is revealed in God's Holy Word)
2) God opens the womb (Revealed)
3) God closes the womb (Revealed)
4) We are to have children (Revealed)
5) A quiver full is a good amount (Revealed)
6) Children are a heritage from the Lord (Revealed)
7) A closed womb is often a reproach (Revealed)
8) It is lawful at certain times and for certain reasons to limit or otherwise prevent the number of children we have (Not revealed)
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi again,

"Who is the steward of the womb? Is it God or man?"

God is sovereign over all things. But I don't think using contraception, for non-sinful reasons, denies His sovereignty.

He is sovereign over my body. But I can decide whether the skip lunch or not today. It is not sin, as long as the reason behind it is not sinful.

One might take your argument and say, God is sovereign over my hair (indeed He is, and there are some things I think would be actually sinful to do with my hair), so I can't cut it. He grows it to the length He wants. There is truth in that statement, but, it's not normally a sin for me to cut, color, or style my hair.

God is sovereign over my flocks and herds. But I may choose to breed more goats, or change the breed of sheep, or switch vets, or sell half my farm and cut down. If not done for sinful reasons, this is not sin.

Why not? Because God has given me the stewardship over my flocks and herds. As long as I'm not sinning with them.

God has given stewardship of husbands and wives and wives to husbands, biblically:

"The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife." 1st Cor 7:4. I realize this doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want, but as long as sin is avoided, God gives stewardship to the one and the other.

I do agree that childbearing and rearing is an obvious, normative part of marriage, and is part of the creation mandate (although not all of it.) But I don't think childbearing or rearing is the primary purpose of marriage.

I think there are two main purposes to marriage: 1) somehow and mysteriously we mirror the image of Christ and His church; and 2) it was not good for man to be alone.
You did not directly answer my question, though you brought up many things of which I would agree that man is the steward over. Is man then the steward over the womb? Does man open and close the womb? This clearly cannot be the case. Is man the steward of the weather or is God? Clearly God is because God controls the weather. Man does not try to control the weather, indeed he cannot. We do the best with what God gives us. Likewise, man does not (or should not, rather) try to control conception because indeed, he cannot. We do the best with what God gives us.

And I would agree with Joshua F that dominionship and companionship are the two purposes in marriage. But yes, dominionship does involve more than just having children. It includes raising those children as unto the Lord for godly dominion.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
I think there are two main purposes to marriage: 1) somehow and mysteriously we mirror the image of Christ and His church; and 2) it was not good for man to be alone.
I think you have to include procreation of children here. 1. There is no reason for God to command Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply otherwise. 2. The church has almost universally held that the procreation of children was part of marriage (only recently has this been denied, and the main argument for this seems to be dismissing the verses about procreation!)
If I need to include it, then there is no compelling reason for infertile people to marry. Whether they are genetically or due to injury or due to age, infertile, why would they marry?
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
"If God says "Do this" then by implication the opposite is forbidden, correct?"

Yes, and He does say, "Be fruitful and multiply."

Perhaps where we disagree is on that mandate - what does it mean? Does it only mean, or mainly mean, have children? I don't think so. I think childbearing/rearing is included, but that it means much more.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
"Is man then the steward over the womb?"

I think so, in the same sense that we are stewards over our own body in general.

But all within God's parameters, of course, I am sure we both understand. I am steward over my hands, but I can't use them kill somebody, etc.
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
I think there are two main purposes to marriage: 1) somehow and mysteriously we mirror the image of Christ and His church; and 2) it was not good for man to be alone.
I think you have to include procreation of children here. 1. There is no reason for God to command Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply otherwise. 2. The church has almost universally held that the procreation of children was part of marriage (only recently has this been denied, and the main argument for this seems to be dismissing the verses about procreation!)
If I need to include it, then there is no compelling reason for infertile people to marry. Whether they are genetically or due to injury or due to age, infertile, why would they marry?
Procreation is a very important part of marriage. If the fall hadn't occurred every marriage would have resulted in children. Disease and infertility do not negate this purpose in marriage. However, marriage is more than just procreation and for this reason, those who are infertile can marry and likely would want to adopt children.

"If God says "Do this" then by implication the opposite is forbidden, correct?"

Yes, and He does say, "Be fruitful and multiply."

Perhaps where we disagree is on that mandate - what does it mean? Does it only mean, or mainly mean, have children? I don't think so. I think childbearing/rearing is included, but that it means much more.
Oh yes, I've already stated that I agree it means more than just bearing children. We must raise godly children to take dominion over the earth. Christians ought to think about future generations. The dominion mandate is to have and raise Godly children. If this is the command, then the burden of proof is on those in favor of contraception to show where the Bible would allow it. I've only seen one verse in this discussion used to attempt to prove the use of birth control (Eph. 6:4) but using this verse in that way doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

"Is man then the steward over the womb?"

I think so, in the same sense that we are stewards over our own body in general.

But all within God's parameters, of course, I am sure we both understand. I am steward over my hands, but I can't use them kill somebody, etc.
Yes, women ought to take care of their bodies, including their womb. But what my question was asking, which is clear from the question I asked immediately following this one, was can man open and close the womb? The answer Scripture gives is no, that's God's job since He is the only One who can create life. We use our hands, the weather, and the children God gives us within His parameters, yes. But we cannot create hands or the weather or children. The stewardship of those things comes when God grants them to us; we don't try and grant them to or keep them from ourselves, indeed we cannot control that anyways.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I think there are two main purposes to marriage: 1) somehow and mysteriously we mirror the image of Christ and His church; and 2) it was not good for man to be alone.
I think you have to include procreation of children here. 1. There is no reason for God to command Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply otherwise. 2. The church has almost universally held that the procreation of children was part of marriage (only recently has this been denied, and the main argument for this seems to be dismissing the verses about procreation!)
If I need to include it, then there is no compelling reason for infertile people to marry. Whether they are genetically or due to injury or due to age, infertile, why would they marry?
You seem to be making an argument analogy to saying that one should not say that a main purpose of having legs is for transportation because then those whose legs are defective cannot be said to have legs anymore. They are still legs and still serve various purposes. In the same way, infertile couples, due to either age or other situations can be married and should get married for various reasons.

CT
 
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