Children Are A Blessing
Folks tend to ask us what we believe about things. One of the things many folks ask us is what we believe about contraception. We figured we should just write it down, so in the future, we have an easy reference to refer folks to as appropriate.
The short answer is that we believe all contraception is bad, that is how we live, how we raise our children, and what we teach.
- We believe God is sovereign (Isaiah 46:10, Job 42:2, Proverbs 19:21, Hebrews 6:17, Et al.)
- We believe God causes all things to work together for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28, Ezra 8:22, Et al.)
- We believe every good gift is from God (John 3:27, James 1:17, Psalm 85:12, Et al.)
- We believe every soul ever conceived is a good gift, a heritage, AND a reward from God to the parents that soul is entrusted to. (Psalm 127:3, Genesis 33:5, Deuteronomy 28:4, Deuteronomy 7:13, Deuteronomy 30:9, Genesis 49:25, Et al.)
Because we believe these four things, we necessarily believe that any attempt to avoid conceiving a soul is sinful in that it places us in opposition to God and demonstrates an unbelief that a sovereign God knows how best to knit souls together.
Every time my wife and I have sex, I pray that God will give us another child. Everytime.
A few questions are invariably asked:
- Celibacy – What about celibate people?
- Abortifacient Contraception – You are talking about abortifacient contraception, not methods that prevent fertilization, right?
- Risk of Life – But the doctors said it would kill my wife. You wouldn’t risk your wife’s life, would you?
- Miscarriage and Stillbirth – We have already lost babies in pregnancy, you wouldn’t understand the emotional suffering that causes. If that was the case for you, do you really believe you would feel the same way?
- Good Stewardship – We just can’t afford more kids. If you were in our financial state wouldn’t you focus on being a good steward?
- Tired & Exhausted – We just don’t want to deal with more kids. If you didn’t want to deal with more kids, you wouldn’t have more kids either.
We think you missed the point, or have some other notions in mind. We do not think celibate people are having sex, and thus we do not think celibate people would be practicing contraception because there would be nothing to prevent. You probably thought we would argue from the creation mandate (Genesis 1:28) that it is commanded for everyone to make babies. We didn’t. We have a high view of the creation mandate, but God simply did not call everyone to marriage.
We think you missed the point here as well. We are not addressing the murder of a soul after conception. We are specifically speaking to the issue of avoiding that conception altogether. We are wholeheartedly lumping it all together as bad, we want nothing to do with any of it. But for what it is worth, we are not against all abortion, just almost all of it. We counsel for abortion when both the mother and the child would die without it. If ever one of the two lives might be saved, save the life that can be saved.
Risk of Life
This drives directly to the heart of the matter. What we believe is not convenient. We do not believe God’s Word only when it is convenient for us, we believe all the inconvenient bits as well. Would a sovereign God kill my wife to give life to another soul? We believe a sovereign God killed his own son in order to give life to all those who believe.
The rejoinder is typically an accusation that while that sounds all well and good, everyone knows how that would work out in practice, we just haven’t been in that situation. The fact of the matter is that is precisely the situation we have been in before Bethany was born. We were told, prior to Beth being conceived, that if Tracey got pregnant again, it would kill her. To this day, we do not practice any contraception and keep in mind that I am constantly praying (well, as constant as we have sex, but that is fairly constant) that we have more birth children. We are indeed living what we believe.
Because of the four points above, if my wife losses her life conceiving, carrying, or giving birth to another soul, we are absolutely convinced that it is for our good and God’s glory. We trust God to know how to knit together souls and to determine the cost of doing so and we have indeed trusted Tracey’s life to God in just such a case.
Miscarriage and Stillbirth
An excellent question. These things happen. We aren’t attempting to speak to why they happen or how they happen. We do have to deal with the reality that in a fallen world, these things happen.
Once again, we are not speaking from an ivory tower. We have also experienced the pain and heartache of miscarriage. We know our own distress at this. The guilt, the shame, the frustration, and all the hurt at discovering such joy only to have it removed so severely. Tracey’s life was also at risk in our case, which made the issue exponentially more tragic.
Tracey was on the Emergency Room table in Manama, Bahrain. That is a Muslim country if you did not know. So, there she was dying, and the doctor comes out to chat with me and tells me in broken English that she and our child are both dying. He calmly asked if I would rather they both die or if he should abort the baby and save Tracey. He was prepared for either to happen.
We know something about living out the hard things we believe from scripture. Yet we believe and continue to believe. So yes, we have indeed risked continued miscarriage and stillbirth to not oppose God in choosing whether to create more souls through our marriage.
We can’t get behind this. Typically whoever is asking the question seems to think bringing a soul into existence is on par with getting a new car loan and sorting out whether you believe you can make the payments each month, as if they have control over the future in which they might make payments.
We trust God to be wise enough to determine whether to entrust us with another soul. He is simply wise enough to refrain from gifting us with another soul to nurture and cherish if He does not intend to provide (Philippians 4:19, Et al.) for all that we need. We do not believe we are capable of providing for the family we have on our own, we already rely on God daily to provide for us. So it is not a stretch for us to continue to rely on Him to further provide if He is already providing. Not only are we not capable of providing for ourselves, we aren’t wise enough to determine when a soul should or should not be knit together, so we do not attempt to steward what we are not wise enough to steward, we pursue being open to the gift and let God to the stewarding.
That is what we believe and how we live. Others can perhaps provide for themselves and are wise enough to steward the knitting together of souls, which only God has ever claimed stewardship of.
Tired & Exhausted
Yes, we get it. What we believe is not convenient at all when all we desire is a little peace and quiet at the end of the day. Empty Nest!? Please! Yet, that is not what God has decreed for us.
We could, perhaps, decide that God is not wise enough to give us the gift of an empty nest and keeps screwing up by giving us more children. However, that seems fairly arrogant and lazy. God prepared good work for us before the foundations of the earth, and we believe that this is good work, if not the best work … if you can get it.
Is Pregnancy Prevention Preventing God From Knitting Souls?
Every soul that should have existed, will. We can not prevent God. But we can oppose Him. We call opposing Him, sin.
Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature. We see any attempt at contraception as opposing God’s rightful sovereignty in the knitting together of souls.
My daughter once asked me, “Is not a synonymous statement ‘Any attempt at preventing death opposes God’s rightful sovereignty in the elimination of souls?‘ So we should not use medicine to save ourselves for the same reason we shouldn’t use birth control to prevent ourselves?”
This becomes an underlying question of God’s revealed will and whether we are in opposition to or in harmony with His revealed will. Deuteronomy 30:19 seems an appropriate reference (amongst a lot of others) in showing that life is a blessing and death is a curse.
Life Is A Blessing
When we talk about conceiving souls, we should look at God’s stated will for that. The creation mandate (Genesis 1:28) tells us that it is God’s will for His people to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth. So we can see that God wills for souls to be born. We can see that God gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11). We already know God proposes it is a blessing to be trusted with a soul (child). So it seems consistent to say that God’s will is to see children conceived and we desire to be in harmony with that.
Death Is A Curse
2 Timothy 1:10 demonstrates that God is violently opposed to death. Jesus was sent to earth to abolish death. It seems consistent, to us, with God’s will to use all resources available to us (including medicine) to fight death so that we might live, and live more abundantly. (John 10:10)
So, are they synonymous? No. We believe attempting to prevent conception opposes God’s will and attempting to prevent death is in harmony with God’s will.
We read the Bible, we believe the Bible and we came to some conclusions about how God designed us to live. So we attempt to diligently live our lives according to our beliefs, especially when those beliefs are counter-cultural, inconvenient, and God-glorifying. A lot of smart people do not agree with the conclusions we come to, and subsequently, disagree with how we live our lives. We wouldn’t have it any other way. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
In other news. No protestant body accepted contraception until 1930, when the Anglican bishops, meeting at their Lambeth Conference of that year, overturned all previous Lambeth pronouncements to make a narrow exception to the historic Christian teaching, allowing married couples – for “extraordinary reasons” – to practice birth control. Five hundred years earlier, the Protestant Reformers to a man thundered against all forms of birth control in words more vehement than any pope’s. The early Reformers, with no exceptions, were staunchly anti-birth control. A partial list of Reformation figures and their followers who led the charge includes Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, A. W. Ping, Cotton Mather, Matthew Henry, and Adam Clark.
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