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

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by dog8food, Apr 13, 2013.

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  1. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    It is a tricky subject to try and harmonize some of God's commands, though they are never contradicting in any way, simply because of our weaknesses as humans. Our understanding of the law and the law itself are obviously two different things. I would deny that the creation mandate overrides anything in the moral law - they are completely in harmony. Obeying the moral law in our families, churches, and civil magistrates is in fact the only way to fulfill the dominion mandate. But so far I've not seen anyone try and justify birth control based upon the idea that it would cause the couple to disobey the moral law. If this were the case, then there would obviously be some cases in which birth control is not only justified, but sinful to neglect! Those types of situations are much more difficult to assess (like if the life of the mother was said to be in danger) but struggling with finances in no way violates the law of God unless that struggling is caused by selfishness or some other sin on the part of the parents (probably mostly the father). In this way, I think it is actually quite difficult to take a stance of "liberty" regarding this topic. If things like financial struggles justify birth control because it causes the parents to disobey the moral law, then there's no such thing as liberty not to use it; they would be required to use it in order to uphold the moral law. So saying that our use of birth control needs to be based upon the moral law actually throws out many, many (if not all) arguments in favor of birth control. I certainly do not have it figured all out, don't get me wrong - the fall definitely complicated matters, lol. But generally speaking, all Christians should be opposed to birth control because the principles behind birth control clearly contradict the principles behind childbearing in Scripture.

    I hope that I understood your points correctly and it is indeed nice to meet you too!
  2. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    a few things,

    we would need to find out the circumstances and reason for why that pastor doesnt want "Mo".

    i REALLY like voddie baucham but this just goes to show that we all have blind spots.

    voddie's comment about people in poor countries seeing children as a blessing again presupposes that people who dont want to have as many children as humanly possible despite legit reasons to not have more than they have does not view children as a blessing. when he comments about the rich nation what is he talking about? abortion? those who refuse to have any children at all despite being able to in every way?

    when he says its because they cant afford it what is he talking about? cant afford to have children while being able to afford their basic needs or cant afford it and be able to get that new car, or a bigger house, or save for retirement, etc? this would need to be clarified.

    and then his last comment about wanting to grow the kingdom as long as i dont have to birth them, raise them, and feed them turns his argument for AMAP childbearing into a non-sequitor and assumes that having children is the only way to grow the kingdom of God. should we no longer witness to the lost now? is raising one God loving, God fearing, saving faith having child not enough to satisfy the command to bear Godly offspring?
  3. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

  4. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    i'll say this as politely as i can,

    the presupposition that is submitted here is inaccurate. the only time God gave someone a child directly is when Mary had Jesus. what God gave us is the ABILITY to have children by providing us the ABILITY to procreate by allowing us to be fertile. what we do with that ABILITY is the stewardship im referring to. if a married couple never has intercourse, they're not having any kids, i dont care how much God wants them to have kids, unless God wants to do another miraculous conception like He did with Mary for Jesus. now, that couple would be in violation of Gods command to have children by not exercising their God given ABILITY to procreate, but thats my whole point and the answer to the original question of this thread.

    psalms 127 cannot be used to command AMAP(as many as possible) childbearing. all it says is that children are a blessing and a reward which no one disagrees with. however, not everyone is in position to partake in that blessing, or, partake in more of that blessing.

    and nowhere did i say that having a kid is sinful. what i've been saying throughout this thread is people who flat out dont have the ability financially to care for a child shouldnt and women shouldnt have children at the eminent risk of their life and health.
  5. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    You are probably the most consistent person in favor of birth control that I've seen yet because you explicitly deny the principle that God opens and closes the womb (though it is biblical). It's true that he did not use the normal means to grant Mary Jesus, but just because He makes use of means does not deny Him as the only life giver. It's not even the biological unification (or however you want to say that, lol) of the sperm and egg that creates life. God creates life by giving a soul, without which there is no life. God also governs this means. It's not to be done outside of marriage, it's not to be done on a woman's period, etc. I would say it's even not to be done if say a man has an STD that could potentially fatally harm his wife or something. On the other hand, if a married couple were to not have sex, that would be sinful. Sex is required to consummate the marriage. Couples may have different amounts of sex based upon how busy they are, if they're sick or tired, etc. etc. which is fine but to not have sex at all in marriage is sinful. God commands us to be fruitful and multiply. Even in this fallen world if we are unable to multiply, sex is designed for our pleasure and mutual edification. So yes, we govern our ability and that should be according to God's law. But to stop having sex for say financial reasons is unbiblical. The next logical step, therefore, is that to try and govern our own wombs while having sex (aka birth control - I'm going to close my own womb) is also unbiblical. God opens and closes the womb.

    I didn't even mention Psalm 127 but that gives another principle which birth control seems to deny. One presupposition behind birth control is that there are times when a child is not a blessing, but a burden or even a curse. This clearly contradicts the Biblical principle that children are a blessing.

    The life and health of the woman is one thing, that needs to be harmonized with the 6th commandment. But I don't buy the financial argument. If a man and wife are doing all lawful things to provide for their families, then they're not violating God's law. This is hard to talk about because it's so general. My point about the "sinfulness" of having a child is that you would have to prove that struggling with finances in some way violates God's law in order to prove that birth control is justified in that time. At least, I believe that is the only way to harmonize God's command to be fruitful and multiply as well as the governing of things like sex and childbearing by God's law.
  6. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    i never denied God's ability to open and close the womb. i kindly ask that you not continue to attribute such a statement to me.

    if God closes the womb, you're not gonna have babies no matter what you do. however, if God opens the womb but the couple doesnt have sex, they arent having any babies unless God performs a miracle. not having sex being a sin is irrelevant to the point.

    have you ever encountered a situation where someone gave birth to a child without a soul? maybe you're referring to stillbirths and miscarriages. i dont claim we can control that either. we cant even control whether a women becomes pregnant or not. people who have been trying to have a baby for years with no success can attest to that. still doesnt erase the fact that no intercourse = no babies...outside of divine intervention.

    when we talk about sex, what are we referring to? do we believe that sex begins and ends with intercourse? i would disagree with that. we would be telling unmarried people that its okay to do foreplay as long as there is no intercourse you're not being sexually immoral. sexual activity begins long before intercourse, which is the only sexual activity that leads to babies. sex is physical connection and intimacy. there are ways to express this outside of intercourse.

    actually you did mentioned psalms 127. numbers 5 and 6 in your list of revealed things in the bible comes from psalms 127. you just didnt give the references for your sources.

    you also bring yourself to a contradiction in saying that its okay to avoid pregnancy if it will put the women's life in jeopardy. from what you have said, they should not use contraceptives and just keep going knowing that God will, as you say, "control the womb" to where He wont allow this poor women to get pregnant because God knows it will kill her. or maybe its God's will for her to die? or maybe we should trust that she will survive despite all indications and recommendation from the doctor that she will not? if you're gonna maintain your position than you need to be consistent. you say such an action would harmonize with the 6th commandment but this is besides the point. the point is the couple exercised the stewardship they had in the ability to partake in procreation granted to them by God to save the women's life. how in that situation would having a child not be a burden, or a curse, or, in light of the 6th commandment, even a sin?

    the financial situation is the same. in a case where having a child or having more children would put someone in a situation where they could not provide for their families basic needs of food , clothing, and shelter, it would be in good stewardship of your God given ability to procreate to abstain from having any more children and participating in sexual activity that would lead to such a thing(remember, sex doesnt begin and end with intercourse). at least until they are in a situation where they could provide for the basic needs of their family.

    but ultimately, there has not been shown any biblical exegesis that commands AMAP childbearing regardless the circumstances.
  7. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    With all due respect, yes you did deny that. You said God directly creating a child (in other words he neglected the means of sex in the case of Mary) as the only time that fit into my presupposition which was that God opens and closes the womb. You denied that presupposition explicitly.

    Actually, it's not irrelevant at all that neglecting sex is sinful. It is irrelevant that not having sex = no babies. God is sovereign and if you don't have sex and therefore don't have babies, it's God's decreed will that you don't have babies at that time, though as mentioned it violates his revealed will in the case we were talking about and is therefore sinful. This is an example then of man sinning in his stewardship of sex. There not gonna have babies until God causes them to repent over their sins. However, giving an example of a sinful way to not have babies does not help the case for birth control at all. Man cannot steward the creation of life and he must steward sex in the way God has commanded. Which, btw, God's moral commandments and the dominion mandate are in harmony with one another.

    My point wasn't that a baby could be born without a soul. My point was that no babies are conceived without souls, souls = life, God is the only one who can create and give souls/life, therefore God is the steward over conception and man is not.

    I don't know what your point is here. I agree.

    Actually, I've been very careful to avoid saying that it's ok to use birth control in that case. Reread my posts more carefully and you will see I don't admit that. I do admit that it is one more worthy of discussion and certainly a more difficult one. My point is that is a difficult situation. What I know that I know however, is that the use of birth control is an excuse today and not built off of biblical exegesis. Honestly, I can't bring myself to admit that birth control could ever save a woman's life. Doctors can only guess at this. It may avoid possible situations where a woman's life could be threatened but we can't know for sure. But I know that in those situations that the life of the mother would take priority in that case - doctors would try to save both but if it came down to one can be saved or both die, I believe the life of the woman would take priority. This is a very emotional issue which I'm wanting to avoid until we can get the biblical principle about birth control laid out and develop and understanding from that.

    You're looking at this the absolute wrong way. The command is there to have children. This is a difficult task undeniably. But the burden of proof is therefore on those who say it is ok at times to purposefully prevent the conception of children and therefore ok to take an exception to this command. The Biblical principles undeniably are the opposite of the principles that support birth control. If my parents had followed your guidelines, some of my brothers and sisters or myself would not have been born. Yet, regardless of how much we thought we would, we never starved. It's not up to us to steward the conception of children. If you are going to be consistent, you would say they would abstain from having sex - that's how they "control" conception and govern the ability to have children. But I don't think anyone would seriously agree with this view and it would be sinful for the couple to do this since financial struggles in no way violate God's law. Having sex out of marriage would violate God's law and so we should govern our ability to have children and not do that. but to not have sex regularly with your wife because you don't want another child because of finances is sinful because there's no commandment violated by having sex when struggling with finances.
  8. DeniseM

    DeniseM Puritan Board Freshman

    You keep using the phrase, 'as many as possible' as if you are trying to contradict someone that is arguing for that position. Could you please cite who exactly has advocated for the practice of having as many children as is possible and where. If such an argument exists in this thread, then I must have missed it.

    I believe that the underlying principles of Leah's argument have to do with simple obedience to God, trusting the outcome to him. It has to do with having a childlike faith that believes in our Father's promises and principles even when our circumstances seem less than ideal. If we shouldn't have children because our finances are less than perfect, then someone really ought to have rebuked George Mueller for having faith that God would provide for the whole host of orphans that he took under his care, when he didn't have the advanced financial means to support them.
  9. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "f we shouldn't have children because our finances are less than perfect, then someone really ought to have rebuked George Mueller for having faith that God would provide for the whole host of orphans that he took under his care, when he didn't have the advanced financial means to support them. "

    I disagree with this analogy because the orphans in question were already created and in need of care. No one here is arguing that we should eliminate children already conceived.
  10. DeniseM

    DeniseM Puritan Board Freshman

    I see your point, but I do think that the analogy does fit, because George Mueller was the one that stepped up and cared for these children. The Lord laid upon his heart to care for the fatherless, and even though he didn't have the personal means to care for them, he trusted God to provide. There are countless stories of other missionaries that could be related to have stepped out in similar fashion, trusting God with the outcome, that could be related here also. The principle is the same. God gives a precept in his word, and those that take him at that word are faithfully cared for.

    As Vladimir pointed out, the idea that it takes a certain amount of money in the bank before we can be held accountable for the rearing of children is an invention of the more affluent nations.
  11. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    now you're losing all the original points. never did i deny Gods ability in opening and closing the womb, i denied you're understanding of this in you saying "using contraceptives = taking God's place in closing the womb yourself". that understanding, which you claim, is inaccurate.

    the fact that its sin IS irrelevant because

    1. i never argued that it wasnt a sin so to belabor the point is to debate something no one is debating
    2. it has nothing to do with the point im actually trying to make in that while God controls fertility, he has given us the right to have discretion in how many children we should have according to our ability to take care of them without ending up on the street digging out of the garbage or getting someone killed.

    im actually willing to concede the ASAP argument. we are called to bare Godly offspring and a man should not seek a wife until he is able to financially and spiritually care for a wife AND children.

    so then you are talking about stillborns and miscarriages which i plainly said we have no control over that or even whether a women becomes pregnant EVEN IF we are absolutely aiming for pregnancy. again, you're not dealing with my point here.

    here, i am speaking to your point on how refusing to have sex at all is sinful in that we are commanded to consummate the marriage. since you seem to agree with my point here, you understand that there can be sex that consummates the marriage that doesnt lead to pregnancy. though if you are able to care for more children, you should have them and i have not denied this once in this thread.

    actually you took the scenerio further than i intended. im not talking about a situation where the couple have already gotten pregnant despite KNOWING it could kill the women. im talking about knowing that another baby would kill the women and so deciding not to have any more children by not getting pregnant again. for you to be consistent you would have to tell this couple to keep going and...well...may the Lord be with them.

    a couple that has two children and raises them up in the Word of God and they grow up to be born again believers and lovers of God have fully fulfilled the requirement to be fruitful and multiply and also to bare Godly offspring. now i will, again, agree that if they were financially able to have more they should have.

    dont know what your situation was growing up and "even though we thought we would, we never starved" doesnt tell me anything. most kids are just greedy and think they should have more than they need, same for parents. not saying you were like that. i actually am being consistent in my view which is why i made the point about intercourse not being the end all be all of sexual activity. couples can absolutely participate in sex just not in the way of intercourse. you have also made another error in saying that not having sex controls conception. it does not. it only controls fertilization. anything after that is up to God.

    while having financial stuggles doesnt violate God's law, does not being able to feed clothe and provide a place to live for the kids you have all while seeking to have more kids you wont be able to feed clothe and provide shelter for not violate the law in that you are not a good steward of the gifts God gives you? "financial struggles" and "not being able to provide for your family at all" are two totally different things. many people have seasons where money is tight. in the same way that a single person who cant provide for a family shouldnt start one a married person who is barely staying afloat with the family he has shouldnt seek to expand it.
  12. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    if the Lord laid it upon meuller's heart to care for those orphans than God will provide the means to care for those orphans. in the same way if God laid it upon someone's heart to have 20 kids than God will provide the means for that person to have 20 kids. difference here being is that these are God giving people specific commands to do things. i havent been called to have 20 kids and nowhere in Scripture am i commanded to have that many kids.

    again, having "less than perfect finances" is a far cry from being behind on all your bills and being one check away from eviction but having another kid who wont have a place to stay, or food to eat, or clothes to wear. why you guys continue to avoid this illustration and caricature it another way i dont know.

    as far as those affluent nations, as i've pointed out multiple times here, they are worried about there retirement, the summer home, being able to go to the club and party or sit around the house and watch sports all day etc., not whether they're gonna have to beg for food on the street next month.
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  13. DeniseM

    DeniseM Puritan Board Freshman

    Psalm 37:25
    I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

    Matthew 6:25-27
    Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
  14. irresistible_grace

    irresistible_grace Puritan Board Junior

  15. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior


    I think you are taking Jesus' admonitions to us not to worry, to take no thought, etc., too far.

    We are not called, as Christians, to worry. But we are called to good stewardship, not to defraud anybody, and men are called anathema if they do not provide for themselves and their households.

    We must keep all of these things in mind as we plan our lives.

    I realize God can and does overcome our plans as He sees fit. That is his secret will. But we must follow his revealed will.

    What is God's revealed will? That is what is at hand. If a young married man who is the sole provider for his family has, for example, been notified that he will be conscripted next month, my personal opinion is that he should use birth control until his conscription date. Sure, God can and could intervene. The war could end, the wife could get an inheritance, I don't know. But all he knows is what good and ordinary providence reveals - that he is suddenly going to be unable to provide for his wife and kids for two years, and is in unusual danger of being injured or killed. So, he uses birth control for the month? I don't see that as a sin, or not trusting. I see that as a man doing the best he can to provide for his wife and children in the fear of God. I see it as a faithful decision.
  16. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    Don't see how psalms 37 applies to the discussion unless you're trying to argue what you said nobody was arguing in a previous post of yours about AMAP childbearing which you and others have indeed been advocating.

    Matthew 6 is the promise of provision for those who are in the will of God who fall on hard times, not those purposely putting themselves in bad situations expecting God to bail them out.

    Having a child you cant take care of is purposely putting yourself. and others, in a bad situation.
  17. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    It seems that we are just talking past each other at most points because you say I'm not understanding what you're saying and from what I just read, you are definitely not understanding what I'm saying. I just want to deal with this. If a family is doing all lawful means to provide for his family and still failing, then no he is not sinning even if he cannot provide for his family at all. In a godly nation, the church or his family would be able to help him at this point. If he cannot provide for his family at all because he is lazy and refuses to work or spends all his money on himself or something like that, then he is in clear violation of God's commandments.

    Also, when you brought up that my personal situation growing up didn't tell you anything is exactly my point with any financial situation. Saying we are gonna starve if we have more kids doesn't tell me anything. No financial situation can objectively be proven to show that having more children will equal starvation. Honestly, Scripture in general denies this (though of course there are exceptions for those in persecuted nations or matyrs, etc). Even then, I don't think pragmatism is a valid objection to disobeying the command of God.
  18. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    The main disagreement here that keeps coming up again and again is that those in favor of birth control put the act of conception in the sphere of man's stewardship whereas those opposed place it in the realm of God's sovereignty. The means through which man conceives a child is sex and though we do govern this in our marriages, it is to be governed by God's law. We are not to deny our spouses due benevolence and 1 Corinthians 7:5 clearly implies that we tempt one another to sin when we do this.

    So (1) God designed sex in a way that we would desire it a lot and as the means to make babies and (2) God gives us laws to govern our passions by. Because we desire sex so much and it is necessary in marriage for us to avoid temptation, no one denies that we should not abstain from sex simply to avoid having children. But to say that we can have sex with one purpose of God in mind but purposefully avoid the other is to mock God's design in sex. He obviously designed our bodies in a way too that when we age, there comes a point where we will no longer bear children and can enjoy sex just for the pleasure. But there's a big difference by us naturally coming to that point by God's design and us trying to make ourselves that way to the direct opposition of God's design.

    God has not given it to man to determine when he will have children and how many he will have. This goes both ways - I want a large family but may not get one. Other people want small families but may not get one. The biblical ideal is undeniably large families, but it doesn't mean one is more or less spiritual depending upon how many children he has. If it's not up to us to determine how many children we will have, then why is it up to us to act on that determination by using birth control? Birth control is an attempt by man to close the womb - But God's Word says that he opens and closes the womb. I think these principles are strong and sufficient enough to show that birth control is against God's revealed will.
  19. DeniseM

    DeniseM Puritan Board Freshman

    You can continue the discussion of fruitfulness vs. financial stewardship with others here if you wish, but as for me, I'm going to drop out of this discussion and go tend to my olive-plants.:handshake:


    Blessed is each one that fears the Lord, and walketh in his ways;
    For of thy labor thou shalt eat, and happy be always.
    Thy wife shall as a fruitful vine by thy house' sides be found:
    Thy children like to olive-plants about thy table round.

    Behold the man that fears the Lord, thus blessed shall he be.
    The Lord shall our of Zion give his blessing unto thee:
    Thou shalt Jerus'lems good behold whilst thou on earth dost dwell.
    Thou shalt thy children's children see, and peace on Israel.

    I love to hear the Scots sing this Psalm.
  20. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Denise, hooray for your priority on those little olive plants :); you are a beautiful example as always.

    I wanted to say briefly, that I find the appeal to church history as un-nuanced as the appeal to OT themes: for instance, Augustine has some very strong statements to make about 'birth control' -- he also comes across very strongly about sexual relations, since the fall, being a sort of necessary evil for childbirth, which would be better done away with in a couple's relations entirely: he encouraged people to try to live as brother and sister (which works out to a form of birth control) considering this devotion to the Lord the best state: in other words, he did not see the creation mandate overriding every other consideration within the spiritual life of a couple's marriage. And this view gets a lot of traction in church history.

    There have also been many advances in medicine in recent years. The death rate in childbirth and for children was staggering until more recent times. Part of this has been an increased ability to predict risk, and means to protect a women from further pregnancies. I do not think the child should be a zero factor in this equation. The idea that we can take the mother's life into consideration but refuse to consider the risk and impact on the children (as in the case of a clinically insane mother, or a mother who becomes ill enough to be unable to care well for her little ones) is personally repugnant to me.

    I have no wish argue this issue, nor to bind anyone else's conscience in this matter; circumstances differ widely and people ought to seek pastoral care rather than taking their advice in such critical issues from any of us here; perhaps happily, I expect these discussions do very little to change anyone's mind. I think the Lord does give people different providential and spiritual direction in differing circumstances. I personally am deeply grateful that my beloved mother stopped with five, when she was told that her health and possibly her life was in danger. I consider it a means the Lord used to give me one of the richest (and most needful) blessings of my life.

    May God bless each of us as we strive to obey His law.
  21. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Fertilissima Regina
    L'una, e l'altra diverrà,
    Ed il nonno una dozzina
    Di nepoti abbraccierà.
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