quiverfull movement, part two ~ do you love children?

(This is the transcript from part two of the podcast series on militant fecundity vs seeing children as a blessing and originally aired in August 2008.)

As I write this week’s podcast, we are waiting for the announcement of the birth of our latest grandchild.  Joining his two brothers and one sister, this tiny blessing that is being bestowed on our family is a most wanted and precious treasure and, Lord-willing, he will soon be in his mama’s arms, secure and loved by his mommy and daddy, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandmas and grandpas.  ­­

This newest baby Campbell has a most interesting heritage and one he uniquely shares with only three other people in the entire world.  His mother’s parents and grandparents traveled to America from the country of Cuba in the 1950’s, escaping persecution, and living their dream of becoming citizens of the United States.  This little one can proudly say that his ancestors made sacrifices so that he could live in a country where he can now be free and able to worship God, as can his children in coming generations.

His daddy’s family, on his grandpa’s side, came from strong Scottish stock, while his great-great grandmother’s most notable ancestor, Edward Fuller, arrived on the Mayflower.  Being adopted, his daddy’s mama (that’s me) has a more mysterious background.  She likes to imagine that she came from the loins of an exotic explorer who traveled across the Mediterranean Sea to the Island of Sardinia in search of an African Bride.  But, alas, her freckles and blue eyes belie a more northern European heritage no doubt. Nonetheless, this little child who is soon to be born has a rich ancestry and he will be his own individual, created in God’s image, whose sole purpose in life will be to bring His Creator glory.  He is truly a blessing from the Lord.

As I continue in part two of my podcast entitled Militant Fecundity verses Seeing Children as Blessings, I want to encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to listen to the August 1 podcast where I explain what I believe are some basic tenets of the militant fecundity ideal.  And then, this week, as I present what I believe the Bible teaches us about seeing children as a blessing, I pray that you will seek to examine your own attitude regarding children and compare your perspective to the examples given to us in Scripture.

Sadly, many people today do not value all children as special gifts given by God.  In fact, the abortion rate in this country is staggering.  Though it has consistently declined over the past 14 years and has fallen by 25% since 1990, 1.21 million abortions were performed in this country in 2005, the latest year that statistics are available.  There are 572 abortions for every 1,000 live births for unmarried women, the single largest demographic group.  Typically women give three reasons for choosing abortion:  about 75% of them say that having a child would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities, 75% of them say that they cannot afford to have a child and about half of them do not want to be single parents or are having troubles with their husbands or boyfriends, all reasons that show us that children are not considered first in making the choice to abort nor are they valued members of society, so they can be disposed of at will. I spent about 10 years volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center and could tell you any number of other reasons that young women have given me as to why they could not give birth to their babies, reasons that were unbelievable, like not wanting to miss her senior prom and being able to fit into her dress, or not knowing which of 3 or 4 boyfriends fathered the child, thus rendering that baby unwanted and disposable.

Another phenomenon, though more sophisticated, is that of the rampant use of prenatal testing with the sole purpose of discovering handicapped children so they can be aborted.  It is a routine procedure to recommend these tests to expectant moms during their first pre-natal examine and to have moms who refuse these tests sign a waiver so the doctors cannot be subsequently sued if a less than perfect baby is delivered.  How many little ones have lost their lives because they did not meet the criteria of either parents or physicians?

And then add to these abortions, the growing numbers of women who now use the morning after pill to end unplanned pregnancies, a method whose accurate statistical numbers are hard to come by.  Methods of birth control that cause abortions also increase the number of abortions each year, though we have no way of knowing exactly by how much.  Approximately 10.7 million American women now use the pill and it is still the most popular method of non-surgical birth control, though it does not prevent conception, rather, it renders the lining of the uterus hostile to an implanting egg, thus causing it to be expelled from the mother’s body.  The intrauterine device, or IUD, works in a similar manner, its very goal being to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.  Both of these popular ways of avoiding live births are abortive and should never be used by any Christian under any circumstances. Sadly, the number of Christians who have this information but continue to use these forms of birth control, thus aborting their children, also shows that the value of little ones created in God’s image does not trump the priority of avoiding parenting.  We live at a time in history when the choice to not give life to children by these methods is widely accepted, even among those who profess Christ.

But what about those people within various groups within the homeschooling community who would equate all methods of contraception with abortion?  Those who claim militant fecundity or even many within what is known as the quiverfull movement would claim that doing anything to prevent pregnancy, including abstinence for natural family planning purposes or prolonged breastfeeding, some even condemning nursing an infant past a few weeks of age, are attempting to thwart God’s plans to bring children into the world and thus are sinning by not proactively trying to conceive.  These people are said to have the “spirit of abortion” and are often judged as sub-Christian and lacking in faith.  Today, I would like to address what I believe is at the heart of the controversy that I call militant fecundity and its opposite view, that of seeing children as a blessing from the Lord.  Though these comments are certainly not exhaustive regarding this issue, there are several key factors that, as Christians, I think need to be looked at in this ongoing debate within homeschooling circles.  Let me begin by sharing my own story with you.

When I was a young mother of a 3 year old and a 1 ½ year old, I went into the doctor because I was suffering from exhaustion, which, in retrospect made complete sense because I was the mom of little ones and living on a military post where my husband worked long hours and routinely was gone on field exercises for days or sometimes weeks at a time.  Having no family nearby, my life was pretty overwhelming on most days.  So that morning I was in shock when I was told that my blood test showed that I was pregnant again.  Even more stunning was the German nurse, whom I now realize had grown up in Nazi Germany, who sympathized with my less than excited response to the news by offering to make an appointment for me to have an abortion.  I quickly dressed, declining her offer, and went home to think about my situation and how I could muster up enough energy to face pregnancy, childbirth, and another baby within the next 7 months.

A few weeks later I found myself in a doctor’s office after my first pre-natal exam, looking at the tiny sonogram photos, crude ones by today’s sonogram standards, and starting to feel excited about adding a new tiny child to our family.  But I also purposed that this would not happen again and began talking with the doctor about my desire to have a tubal ligation after this baby’s delivery.  Patiently he listened and then looked at my medical charts, nodding when appropriate but with a concerned look on his face.  When I was done presenting my case he said, “Mrs. Campbell, you are 25 years of age.  You do not know what your life may bring.  What if, God forbid, your children were all taken from you in a terrible accident or in illness?  You might be a very young woman who could no longer bare children.  I believe that this would be a terrible tragedy to you and I do not want to see you make this choice.  And what if one day, when your children are a little older and life is not so overwhelming, and believe me, that day is coming, you might want to have more children.  Truly, you would be sorry that you made this decision. So I must tell you, no, I will not do this surgery.”

I came home, devastated and very angry that this doctor would not comply with my wishes.  Surely I could find someone else who would give me what I wanted, but, in the back of my mind, I kept wondering what I would do if I actually could never have another baby.   That was the beginning of the Lord prompting me, asking me this question “Karen, do you love children?”  Of course, I loved My children, but could I honestly answer the question “Do you love children?” meaning all children, with a yes?

Not long after that, the movie Joni came to our area and people in local churches were encouraged to see it.  The story is about Joni Earekson Tada, the young Christian girl who became a quadriplegic in a diving accident and it tells how she came to accept God’s sovereign plan for her life.  Watching that movie caused me to think about what my own response might be if something similar happened to me.  And it also made me think about my own children and how I would respond to them if something like that ever happened to them.  Again, God prompted me to ask myself  “Karen, do you love children?”  Meaning, children with handicaps, either your own or others?

Then a few years later, we heard a homeschooling dad share his own testimony of how God called their family to homeschooling and how in the midst of it all, he was also prompted by the Lord to ask himself if he really loved children.  You see, his wife had also been overwhelmed by having two small toddlers and had found a doctor who would perform a tubal ligation and now they were grieving over that choice because they had come to understand that, in their own lives, loving children meant welcoming any little ones the Lord would give to them, being content with the two that they had, but wanting to welcome any others he might have for them.  This man’s wife had undergone reversal surgery and they were praying that God would once again open her womb.

As I listened to that presentation I was greatly moved because I had recently discovered that I was, indeed, pregnant with my 4th baby, 8 years after sitting in that office in Germany, begging the doctor to take away my fertility.  You see, God had moved in my own heart and in Clay’s heart.  He had given me a reversal of attitude.  He showed me that His sovereign plan for my life was to bare more children and He gave me the grace to love children, all children, as the unique and special and precious individual souls that they are.  Since that day in that doctor’s office, I have often thanked God for that man who was used in my life to protect the precious gift of my fertility that I had so taken for granted.  I have thanked God that He used this man to begin a process in my life where I could, nearly 30 years later, rejoice in the 3 children we have added to our family as well as the 3 little ones who are now waiting in heaven for me, children I never would hold on this earth but who are loved anyway.   You see, welcoming children in Jesus name is an attitude, it is an issue of the heart, not one of works.  It is embracing God’s grace in your life, seeing children in the same light that Jesus sees them.  It is graciously accepting what God gives to you, not racing after it or defiantly proclaiming what you are doing in your own strength and for your own cause.  It is joyously opening your heart and your life to everything, good or bad, that God wants to give you, knowing that His plans for us are for our own good and for His own glory.

I love the story in Matthew 12 of Jesus welcoming the little children to himself.  Can’t you just imagine what that must have looked like?  There they were with their families and there was most certainly an excitement in the air because their moms and dads had been talking about this great man they were going to see.  I am sure they told their children that Jesus was going to hold them and pray for them, preparing the littlest ones so they wouldn’t be afraid, as little ones often are of strangers, and asking the older ones to be polite and well-behaved and not to use words like “poopy” and to be sure to go to the bathroom BEFORE we see Jesus.  And aren’t children so fun to take along when you are going someplace you are personally excited to be going?  We teach our children so much by how we live and they quickly become excited by the same things that excite us, don’t they?  And here are these little children, in all their excitement, probably doing the things little ones do, wiggling and jumping around, whispering and giggling, taking it all in.  And, I am sure that as they approached Jesus, they saw the sharp contrast between this man they had come to see, the Son of God, the Messiah as no doubt their parents had told them he was, and the look on the faces of the disciples.

I have seen those same looks, the disapproving older ladies who murmur and shake their heads that because our whole family is coming into the pew we will certainly disrupt their true worship, never mind the fact that their tittering and gossiping is far noisier than a sweet little one asking for crayons and paper.   The greeter who thinks he is helpful for offering to escort us to the nursery or children’s church though we have declined the previous 52 Sundays.  The other mothers who can’t believe anyone in this enlightened day and age would have the nerve to bring that many children into the world.  The church elder who asked Clay “don’t you know what causes that?” and looked stunned when Clay replied “Yes I do.  God caused this,” as he pointed to the newest baby.  The stony silence that accompanied that same expression when we announced yet one more baby to disapproving relatives all seated around a dining room table on Father’s Day, of all days. Yes, I am all too familiar with how the disciples looked and with what they said.  I have seen the looks on the faces of weary parents who long to be accepted and understood but who are dismissed by well meaning leaders who say with their mouths that children are a blessing but do not behave as though they really do.

I will never forget when a young couple approached Clay and me one Sunday and asked if they could talk with us.  They had three small children and had just learned that they were expecting their fourth.  The man’s father was a leader in the church and had already warned them that they were being irresponsible for having more than 2 children.  How were they ever going to tell him about the 4th?  Though this elder dearly loved his grandchildren, he did not want to welcome any more.  This couple singled us out to share their news first because they knew we would greet it with excitement and thanksgiving and they said they needed that before they faced the pain and criticism from their family.   Another time I saw a young mom at church with her little ones, cowering inside the building while her husband was being lectured by a family member who was also a church leader.  She was in tears, having spent the evening with a mother-in-law who openly railed against them and stormed out of the room at the announcement of a new baby on the way.  It was heartbreaking.  And I have seen the faces of the children, too, crest-fallen and sober, being dismissed and rejected, told that they were noisy and that they didn’t belong with grownups in worship.  I have seen them quickly whisked from the church sanctuary and  spanked into compliance for being wiggly and chattering toddlers, the dozens of strikes on their little bottoms in rhythm with their wails of terror in the back of the room while all the rest of the congregation sang “Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us.”

Yes, I know what Jesus saw that day and why he said “Let the little ones come to me and do not hinder them.”  He knew that these precious children were rejected simply because they are children, needy and frail, and that our thoughtless and selfish attitudes and behaviors often hinder them from coming to Him.  In the most stunning of statements, He tells the disciples that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like little children.  He has come for those who are needy, who are unlovely, who disrupt our lives, who are fragile and in need of constant care.  Jesus was in essence asking the disciples, “Do you love children?”  And in reality he was also asking them if they loved others, since we are all just as in need of the Savior.

If we genuinely believe that children are a blessing from the Lord and we will honestly answer “yes” if we are asked if we love children, we must also be able to discern the difference between seeking children as a blessing from the Lord and viewing them in terms of how they can advance our earthly agenda.

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Comments

  1. Carina says

    I will have only those children I can care for.

    Will you have children you can’t care for? I won’t. They are too precious for that.

  2. Red says

    You present some great ideas! I do want to offer some push-back, though; you said that the pill is abortive because its function is not to prevent conception, but rather to change the lining of the uterus so that fertilized eggs cannot implant.

    I don’t think that is correct. The pill prevents ovulation, which means no egg is released to be able to meet up with a sperm. This means that it does, indeed, prevent conception.

    There is actually no proof (to my knowledge) that any change to the uterus lining is part of how the pill prevents pregnancies. It’s known that changes to the lining occur, but there’s not strong evidence that this would prevent implantation.

    As for IUDs…I cannot speak for how the Mirena IUD works, but the copper IUD has no hormones, and therefore cannot change the lining of the uterus. It works by preventing sperm from reaching an egg. There are no other hormones or chemicals to make any kind of change to your body.

    I completely understand your zeal for wanting Christians to value children. And I do not agree with abortion. However, I don’t want people to read this blog post and come away with misinformation about what certain forms of birth control do.

  3. Red says

    Oops! Apparently it depends on which source you look at.

    Some online sources do state that changes to the uterine wall prevent implantation; other sources treat it as merely an unproven theory. My bad ladies! My bad! I’m not sure how one is supposed to get to the truth of that with different sources saying different things.

    However, it is indeed true that the main function of the pill is to prevent ovulation (which keeps an egg from being released) and to change the cervical mucus (which prevents sperm from getting into your uterus alive). This would, by definition, be the prevention of conception.

  4. says

    Red, birth control pills most definitely have the potential for killing unborn children and should be avoided by all pro-life women. The definitive research done on this that has been published in dozens of pro-life newsletters and is often referred to by Right to Life organizations was written by Randy Alcorn. his research is impressive. This link goes to the condensed version of his research but provides a link to the more comprehensive one, including his most recent updated research:

    http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Feb/17/short-condensation-does-birth-control-pill-cause-a/

    I also pulled out these two links from pro-birth control, pro-abortion groups who readily admit one of the functions of birth control pills is to make the lining of the uterus hostile to fertilized eggs, thus causing abortions. I have spoken with numerous medical doctors as well who, when pressed, admitted that this is true and I don’t believe you can find a single pill manufacturer who will not admit to this.

    http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/contraception_birth.html#a_How_Does_It_Work_

    “Most birth control pills are “combination pills” containing a combination of the hormones estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). A woman cannot get pregnant if she doesn’t ovulate because there is no egg to be fertilized. The Pill also works by thickening the mucus around the cervix, which makes it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and reach any eggs that may have been released. The hormones in the Pill can also sometimes affect the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for an egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.”

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/birth-control-pill-4228.htm

    “Some birth control pills contain two hormones — estrogen and progestin. These are called combination pills. Some are progestin-only pills. Most women on the pill take combination pills.The hormones in the pill work by keeping a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs — ovulation. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm. The hormones in the pill also prevent pregnancy by thickening a woman’s cervical mucus. The mucus blocks sperm and keeps it from joining with an egg. The hormones also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.”

  5. says

    From the Mirena IUD website:

    Mirena may:

    Thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering your uterus
    Inhibit sperm from reaching or fertilizing your egg
    Make the lining of your uterus thin

    Mirena may stop the release of your egg from your ovary, but this is not the way it works in most cases. Most likely, these actions work together to prevent pregnancy. Like other forms of birth control, Mirena is not 100% effective.

  6. Tricia says

    Beautiful article, Karen, really. I can’t say I’ve been a perfect parent and I can’t say there haven’t been times when that worldly way of thinking of children being baggage didn’t invade my young life of parenting. But I always knew, deep down, that my children – all children- are so precious. And when I began to walk with Christ, that love increased. And when I started working in the special needs rooms as a substitute para pro, it multiplied even more. Breaks my heart to think of church, family, and/or friends looking down at or lecturing a family because they have a large number of children. I had a tubal ligation at 25, the same age you were wanting one. There are have so many times of regret.

  7. says

    Karen

    If I ask you more specifically, what is an acceptable, if any, method of birth control according to you? Are for example condoms OK? Are natural methods OK? You seem to support some kind of choice for the parents and not totally leaving it up to god, but to me it is unclear what is OK in your view?

  8. A.Roddy says

    I do not like the insinuation those who choose not have children are sinning. It isn’t becauase they don’t think of kids as blessings. They do not want their own. Loving children does not mean you need to have your own. No one should be made to feel guilty for their fmaily size or lack their of. Some people people do not make great parents and they know it from the beginning. Furthermore, you do not need children for a fulfilled life. Too many babies are kidnapped because of this. I also do not like a discussion on family planning turning into a baby killing debate. Funny how if a man wants a vasectomy no one encourages him to change his mind. Andrea Yates was part of the Quiverfull movement and look what happened. It is a cult. See nolongerquivering.com.

    Elin, I advise you to talk with your doctor on birth control. What works for one person is not going to work for another. The internet should not be a substitute for legit medical advice.

  9. says

    Elin,I still have parts 3 and 4 in this series to finish transcribing and post and will complete my thoughts on birth control in those. But here is my short answer: Christians must avoid all forms of birth control that have the potential to cause the abortion of an unborn child. Beyond that, I believe a couple must prayerfully consider what the Lord would have for them. I do not say that flippantly; too often people use the phrase “I prayed about it and God told me to do such and such,” even if Scripture clearly speaks against whatever it is they are wanting to do. I also think for anyone to impose their personal views of non abortive forms of birth control on others comes under the category of “keeping the marriage bed undefiled.” Only a man and wife ought to be involved in the decision making process of having children. I shared my own personal story, not to promote a quiverfull lifestyle but rather to challenge others to think about what they really believe about children. Loving all children isn’t a choice, it is a command from the Lord. How that works out in individual lives is part of the beauty of the variety in Christian families. But ALL people MUST ask themselves the question “do I love children?” For some that means pursuing adoption. For others it means doing all you can to encourage families who have little ones. AND truly loving children means loving their moms, too! Does that help?

  10. says

    A. Roddy,

    You bring up all sorts of different topics that are somehow mushed into the “quiverfull” system and I would encourage you to read through this blog and listen to my podcasts on militant fecundity and the patriocentric movement to see some of my perspective on those other issues that you mentioned.

    This blog entry was not meant as a discussion on family planning, but rather a challenge to each of us to examine the heart issues behind our actions toward children…all children. Again, I shared my own story because God used my overwhelmed-as-a-mom situation to challenge my own heart in this area. For some people, the challenge to truly love children will mean they need to reexamine their quiverfull ideals and to ask themselves the reason they want large families. If it is part of the notion of militant fecundity I believe those heart issues are absolutely wrong. On the other hand, some people choose to not have children for very selfish reasons and would do well to examine their hearts in this area. Family size is no indicator of what is going on in the heart. There is no “correct” number of children to have. (This is one of the reasons I used to hate people going on and on about all the big vans in a church parking lot being a sign of a healthy church. Ah, not necessarily. Could just mean there were many families succumbing to peer pressure.) But it is a matter of faith and of seeking to obey God’s will for your own life.

    I have to comment on your vasectomy comment…..a few years ago a woman shared with me that, after several children, her husband had a vasectomy at her insistence. A few years later when she was finding herself out of the diaper years, she longed for another baby and so she insisted that he have a reversal. They conceived right away and then when she became overwhelmed with schooling older kids and the demands of a toddler, she insisted he have another vasectomy! He was a pretty uptight fellow and we wondered if this was part of it!

  11. says

    Thank you Karen, I was curious in general of what your stance on birth control is and I am thankful for the fact that you took the time to answer me. I wasn’t fishing for any specific answer from you, just what you think. I know that opinions vary among Christians if for example barrier methods are OK and I wanted to broaden my understanding of your writing a bit. I have listened to this podcast but I regretfully do not remember what you said about birth control other than what is in this text.

    A Roddy

    I was not asking for personal advice regarding birth control. If I am in need of birth control I already know what works and does not work for me and in our relationship and this decision is not one where I feel conflicted at all medically or morally.

  12. says

    I always like your posts; in part because intellectual integrity is so often obviously valued by you and I can trust what you write. This post has tainted that trust for me.

    In order to be absolutely honest, you shouldn’t have waited for someone to call you out on your unequivocal statement about birth control pills working to prevent live birth vis a vis inability to implant. You could have still made your point — without omitting the primary cervical thickening and barring of ovulation all together. We all know you’re too smart and well researched to have made the omission unintentionally and it made me feel that you were trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes who might not have been as well versed in birth control pill functioning. Thus, it makes me hestitant to “take your word for it” because now I question whether your word is as trustworthy as I used to think it was. What else might you omit to make your point stronger?

  13. says

    Mama, I am sorry you feel this way.

    My message in that podcast was meant to challenge my listeners/readers to consider what they actually believe about children; part of that is to consider the low view our society has of little ones by the fact that the abortive nature of birth control pills is ignored. I assumed everyone knew the other aspects of using the pill, as it has already been discussed on this blog in the past and is what is promoted to make it seem harmless to others. I would imagine that every single person asked today how birth control pills work would say “they suppress ovulation.” Period. I introdeuced the abortive aspect of the pill because I think many people either do not know this or do not believe it (or choose to not believe it.) I was not trying to hide anything; if anything, I was providing more information.

    But I would like to ask you this…..does it really matter? If birth control pills cause the lining of the uterus to become hostile to a fertilized egg, which is proven both in the Alcorn research link I gave as well as from pill manufacturers themselves, does it matter that the pill also could suppress ovulation or change the cervical mucus? If birth control pills change the uterus, causing a fertilized egg to be aborted, shouldn’t that be the only thing we really need to know about them?

    I also could have discussed many other things about birth control pills, if that were the emphasis of the article…like how the rise in their use has coincided with the rise in breast cancer, which we already know can be caused by abortions. I could also have mentioned the many other health issues that should be a warning to people who use the pill. I did not because, truly, the ONLY thing we need to know about the pill is that it is an abortifacient .

  14. says

    “it makes me hestitant to “take your word for it” because now I question whether your word is as trustworthy as I used to think it was. What else might you omit to make your point stronger?”

    Mama, one thing I have emphasized here is that I hope no one just “takes my word” for anything. I always provide documentation and links to my claims. Recently I wrote an article for a cult awareness newsletter and it had over 30 footnotes to “prove” the validity of my claims. I also try to use exact quotes as often as possible rather than to paraphrase. When I publish transcripts of podcasts, this is not always possible. However, if anyone wants me to provide documentation from them, please feel free to ask and I will find it for you.

  15. HoppyTheToad says

    I personally wouldn’t use hormonal birth control, but I disagree with the statement that the ability to prevent implantation is all we need to know about. How often does it happen? If research suggests it happens say in 1% of conceptions that occur when the pill is used, that is a lot different than if it happens 50% of the time.

    Several years ago I avoided taking a treatment for a health problem because I was concerned that it might cause the uterine lining to be thin and lead to a miscarriage if I became pregnant. We were using non-hormonal methods to prevent pregnancy, but I avoided treatment because of a few animal studies that were only somewhat related. There was no actual evidence, and I was really being a little paranoid.

    In the end, a few years later, I started the treatment, and combined with others, my health has improved enough that I can finally properly take care of my kids again. They need me now.

  16. A.Roddy says

    “On the other hand, some people choose to not have children for very selfish reasons and would do well to examine their hearts in this area.”

    These are the kind of statements I am referring to. Some have children for selfish reasons. The Gosselins come to mind. Is it really anyone’s business what someone decides? We all have free will to decide if we want to marry and reproduce. The idea everyone must procreate and marry is inane. One size does not fit all the point I am trying to make. There is no evidence linking miscarriage to birth control. Please do your research.
    I was talking about if a young man sees the doc about vasectomy the doc doesn’t prod him to change his mind – double standard. I hate to disappoint but not all have the baby urge.

  17. says

    “There is no evidence linking miscarriage to birth control. Please do your research.” I believe I use the world “abortion” rather than miscarriage. Miscarriage would mean unintentional while abortion means part of the plan, ie, to not have a child by making the environment for that child hostile.

  18. says

    How many children should you have? As many as you want, with other considerations in mind.

    Since the New Testament does not dictate family-size — and no matter what theonomists say, we are not under the Old Covenant — then God has said to us, “Follow your conscience and desires.” Anyone who says that it is a sin to consciously avoid pregnancy is wrong. The focus of Christian spirituality in reproduction shifts, then, to issues of practical wisdom and one’s motives.

    My big doctrinal problem with militant fecundity is that it’s built on Theonomy, and denies the doctrine of Christian liberty in this area, both of which are schismatic teachings.

  19. Angel says

    to A Roddy: “I was talking about if a young man sees the doc about vasectomy the doc doesn’t prod him to change his mind – double standard”.

    Not sure where you got this impression but I know from our personal experience they would not do a vasectomy for my husband until he was over age 34 and/or have already had three children. They said they would only consider it if we came in for counseling and then waited a month before proceeding and then I also had to sign paperwork stating I(his wife) was in agreement as well. I know that not all dr’s offices have these same policy’s but I do know that many want to be sure that families don’t make a hasty decision based on stress in their lives at the moment.

    Thanks “that mom” for talking freely and honestly about these issues, my husband and I were about to get a clearer direction from God for our family.

  20. Adam says

    I think one of the things that is always missing in discussions like this is the issue of wisdom. Yes, there is no doubt that children are presented as a blessing in the Bible. The problem is the conception of “blessing” that the quiverfull movement has is grossly simplistic. I always use this passage when I deal with quiverfull advocates:

    Proverbs 25:16 Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it.

    The problem this text creates is that the book of Proverbs presents honey as a blessing. Honey is, in fact, connected with wisdom itself, and the pleasure of sexual relations. However, here the Bible tells us to exercise it in moderation.

    The only way I have seen quiverfull advocates try to get out of this dilemma is to try to say that this applies to honey where as human beings are created in the image of God. The problem is the next verse:

    Proverbs 25:17 Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, Or he will become weary of you and hate you.

    The Hebrew of these passages are identical in structure. It is clear that all that is being done is that the Proverbs of verse 16 is being applied to a particular situation, namely friendship. However, are we saying that friends are not created in the image of God?????? There is simply no way out of this for a person who holds to quiverfull. One of the major themes of the book of Proverbs is liminality, that is that we should enjoy the good things God has given us, but within limits.

    I would say that I would largely agree with you on the fact that there are people who don’t want us to have children simply because there is something inherently wrong with having more than two or three children. That is garbage. At the same time, we also have to exercise wisdom, and realize that God has given us certain amounts of time, certain amounts of money, and certain gifts that not everyone shares. We are to use these gifts for *his* glory, and not for our personal pleasure, no matter how much of a blessing children are [and they are].

    There is also a principle of Hebrew wisdom literature called the “acharit” or “the end.” That is, things might be pleasant now, but ultimately, in the end, if you are not acting wisely, it will hurt you. The quiverfull movement is a perfect example of our modern culture which doesn’t understand that principle. While obesity can be caused by many things, consider those who eat and eat and eat and eat, and then wonder why they are fat. Consider those who indulge in movies and entertainment all day and night, and then wonder why it is that their work didn’t get done. It is “the end” that they didn’t have in sight.

    Now, I think “the end” is beginning to come into focus for at least one well known quiverfull group, the Duggars. Just recently, Michelle Duggar miscarried. What most people don’t know, and doctors are starting to point out, is that miscarriages are actually very common at their age. Apparently, one an two conceptions for people at Michelle Duggar’s age end in miscarriage.

    In other words, now, for every two children that the Duggars conceive, at least one will die. However, it is even worse than that. The other problem is, just as human beings get old, so do female eggs. The longer an egg is in a female body, the more it ages, and hence, the greater potential it has for producing birth defects. In other words, even for children that may survive this ordeal, the child could still end up with a serious birth defect that would place incredible demands on a mother who already has nineteen other children to deal with.

    The point is that the acharit has come for Michelle Duggar. If she keeps going down this road, she will continue to either kill children through miscarriage, or be forced to neglect the children she has due to having a special needs child. This is total irony for a woman who does this because she says that she “loves life.” She now has a choice: either give up quiverfull, or give up her love of life. It is that simple.

    I think what this also points out is that one of the main problems with militant fecundity is that it does not realize the effects of sin on childbearing. That does not just come in the pain of childbearing, but in miscarriages, in the aging of the body and human eggs. If you do not factor these things in, then you will be acting like we are living in a pre-fall world when we are not. That is why family can never be used as a weapon for conquering and society, since family itself has been tainted by human sin. Family, individuals, and society all need the transforming power of the gospel to transform hearts and minds. Outside of that, there is no redemption to society or family at all.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  21. Laura says

    I would want to quickly point out that a special needs child can be an amazing blessing and addition to a family and Christians should avoid describing them in terms of being the products of old and damaged eggs. We are all that! As selfish as I am by nature, having had a child with Down Syndrome and subsequesntly adopting another, has taught me new priorities and an appreciation for many things I might have missed along the way. I hate for “maybe you’ll have a child with birth defects” to be the sole reason for not having children later in life.

    Let me share a glimpse into the humor of my son with Down Syndrome.

    Today at Speech Thereapy, he was asked to say the word “squirrel” 5 times because it is hard to say the “r” sound in the middle of the word. After saying it twice, he announced he couldn’t say it again and was “embarrassed” to try. Our wonderful therapist quickly grabbed a toy squirrel off her shelf and setting it down on the table, said “O.K., Isaac, what kind of animal is this?” Looking at her with a sly smile, he said “Now, THAT’S a funny looking rabbit”!!

    To think I would have missed that!

    This being said, Adam, I don’t think you mean to denigrate the value of handicapped persons. Further, I actually agree with your point. Part of loving children IS considering our resources of time, energy, and money. The QF people say that this is rooted in selfishness. Perhaps sometimes it is. But to go to the opposite extreme of refusing to allow any limitation on our procreation is not necessarily showing faith. It is almost like a reckless way of daring God. From my personal experience of having a large family with two handicapped kiddos, I can’t fathom how Mrs. Duggert would be able to manage and still be there for the other 19 or 20. My older children made many sacrifices when Isaac came along 15 years ago. They love him like crazy and would never have changed him one bit- in fact, they credit him with teaching them much compassion. BUT- it is not easy, it is not a picnic or a fairy tale. I know of some families with many children and many handicapped siblings, adopted or biological. In my opinion, sometimes it is too much shifted onto older siblings and the distinctions between children and parents becomes too blurred. These are all things to consider. So much of this comes down to Christians making rooms in their lives that require all thought or common sense be left at the door.

    Sorry this is so long, but our idea of what “loving children” means is much too simplistic!

  22. Adam says

    Laura,

    Yes, I was not trying to say that a child with down syndrome cannot be something good to a family. I was speaking in the context of someone already having nineteen children, and having responsibilities as well. It is also true that handicapped children are not simply “old eggs;” they are human beings created in the image of God, which is precisely the point. They are going to need all of the love and care that any child created in the image of God would need in that situation. The problem is, you already have nineteen other kids you have to give parental attention to. What I have found is that most of these families pass their responsibilities off onto their daughters, which has even more disastrous consequences, as this girls basically have their childhood stripped from them, all because of the parents’ “love of children.” What an utterly self-contradictory mess.

    I have said it many times, and I will say it again. The Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy movement is full of piety; but they are grossly unwise. This can be seen in the fact that the way they way they handle the wisdom texts of the Bible is way too simplistic. I will never forget the Family Integrated Church proponent I talked to who reassured me that Proverbs 22:15 when it says that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child,” that, therefore, *all* children are foolish, and thus, children cannot learn anything from one another. Not only does this ignore the next phrase “but the rod of discipline will remove it from them” [if a child is being properly disciplined, how could they still have foolishness?], but it assumes that a child is *universally* foolish. This gentleman wanted to go to original sin to prove this, but the problem is that we are all sinners, and we all share in the effects of original sin. Therefore, this proves too much, namely, that foolishness is bound up in everyone, and therefore, no one can teach.

    It is much easier to recognize that as with all other Ancient Near Eastern wisdom texts that the book of Proverbs does not have, as its main literary force, universal truth. The truths which the book of Proverbs contains must be understood in the context of how the book itself presents reality. Consider, for example, the promise of blessings to those who pursue wisdom against the backdrop of the book of Job. That is one of the things that the book of Job wrestles with is how there can be such blessing promised to those who pursue wisdom, and yet, how a wise man like Job could suffer such pain. Psalm 73 is another example. This wisdom Psalm wrestles with how God can be good to his people, and yet, the wicked seem to prosper.

    So, are children *always* foolish in *everything* they say? Kind of hard to defend that when you have someone like John the Baptist being filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, or Jeremiah having the word of God put into his mouth when he was only a youth? What about Samuel in the temple being the only one the Lord was with and preserved, even though the high priest and his sons were destroyed? Apparently, no one should have taken into account the fact that John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb because, hey, foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Right? No one should have listened to anything Jeremiah or Samuel said, because, hey, foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Right?

    This just goes to show you the fact that the Christian Patriarchalists are grossly incompetent when it comes to understanding the wisdom literature, and therefore, for all of their piety, they are grossly unwise. That is why, as you have said, the “love of children” which they speak of is grossly simplistic.

  23. Laura says

    I agree totally. It is just really important to me as one who deeply loves two boys with special needs that I establish what I think are the “right questions” . Sometimes the right questions do more good than the right answers. So, we agree that handicapped kids are made in the image of God and can bring amazing things to a family? Okay.They are not defective products of old eggs? Good. I agree that 1) They need lots of time and attention, and 2) The handicapped child should be the parents responsibility, not the older siblings. I know of cases just like you mention, where the parents “loved children” so much that they adopted several handicapped children who are cared for in large part by their (overworked) siblings. There is a big difference between expecting a family to help one another v.s. instilling resentment by asking more than is possible of a son or daughter. Handicapped babies and children grow into handicapped men and women who are not always as cute and who often require lots of care. We cannot assume that our children have the same exact calling in life that we do. This is an error I see in many families.Pious people who are not very wise, as you aptly put it, jumping into things that they cannot often handle if their older children leave the nest. I hope I am not practicing it in my own family- I am trying not to! Anyway, thanks for listening and your points are well taken.

  24. says

    Karen,

    Just thought in light of this whole discussion you might be interested in this broadcast from Kevin Swanson and R. C. Sproul Jr. I try not to listen to Swanson cause he just makes me angry but I couldn’t help myself today when I saw the title. So many things to mention, where to begin.

    http://generationswithvision.com/Broadcasts/broadcasts/18171

    Among other things he
    (1) Says that we cannot understand what “man” is apart from the mandate to be married and have dominion (tough luck for single people like myself, I guess).
    (2) Equates using birth control with taking methamphetamines.
    (3) States that the issue of birth control is so completely straightforward and clear from Scripture that anybody who questions whether or not to use birth control has a heart issue in that they will not trust God.
    (4) Rejects abortion in the case of the health of the mother (I’m assuming this means ectopic pregnancies and such) because “every pregnancy is a risk to the health of the mother.”

    So…yeah. Sigh.

  25. Jack Brooks says

    God gave mankind dominion over nature, to subdue and care for it; and the human physical body and its reproductive capabilities are part of nature, therefore placed under our control. Even as passive an act as avoiding intercourse during the woman’s fertile time of month is a form of birth control. God commands couples to multiply, but He doesn’t dictate a number. “Quiverful” is just a metaphor for “a bunch”. This means that the Duggars are perfectly within their moral right to have a huge number of children. But it also means that they aren’t virtuous for doing that, and their doing so doesn’t represent a divine standard.

  26. Adam says

    Emily,

    I have not heard the broadcast yet, but here are my thoughts on what you wrote.

    Among other things he
    (1) Says that we cannot understand what “man” is apart from the mandate to be married and have dominion (tough luck for single people like myself, I guess).

    Has been refuted over and over again. It is based on an abuse of Genesis 1:28, which is a command given to mankind as a group, and not to individuals.

    (2) Equates using birth control with taking methamphetamines.

    Which is nothing more than name-calling. Comparisons are easy; lets try this on for size: Being a part of the quiverfull movement is as bad as being a part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Anyone can make the claim.

    (3) States that the issue of birth control is so completely straightforward and clear from Scripture that anybody who questions whether or not to use birth control has a heart issue in that they will not trust God.

    Of course, this is a red herring. Again, using Proverbs 25:16, it is like saying that you are not trusting in God to keep you from getting sick if you stop eating honey at only what you need. Part of trusting in God is using wisdom, because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

    I would turn the corner, however, and throw the accusation back on Sproul Jr. and Swanson. The reality is, when you are trusting in children and fatherhood to win the culture war rather than the transformation of hearts through the power of the gospel, you are engaging in idolatry. I am convinced that one of the reasons that the wisdom literature calls for liminality is because, when something is done in excess, it has become and idol. Children and family have become these folks’ idol, to the point where it is child bearing that they trust, rather then the transforming work of the gospel.

    Also, the only reason it is “completely straightforward and clear” is because these folks have grossly simplistic hermeneutics. If you were to press them on the complexity of the conception of a blessing, if you were to press them on how the book of Proverbs emphasizes liminality, their position would fall apart. It is only by gross oversimplification and reductionism that you can even begin to come to this position.

    As an aside, I have seen Jehovah’s Witnesses say the same thing. They will say things like, “It is completely straightforward and clear that Jesus is a created being lesser than the father.” That is why a good exegete is cautious, even when something appears to be clear. That is why they interact with other scholars, and seek to clarify and sharpen their exegesis.

    (4) Rejects abortion in the case of the health of the mother (I’m assuming this means ectopic pregnancies and such) because “every pregnancy is a risk to the health of the mother.”

    Lol, the ethical issues surrounding ectopic pregnancies are numerous. There is a clear failure here to make distinctions. Yes, every pregnancy is a threat to the life of the mother, but in an ectopic pregnancy, the numbers go up a staggering amount. To not address this is absurd, and misses the whole point of why this is a unique situation in the first place!

    God Bless,
    Adam

  27. says

    Oh, my poor negected blog…..swimming in a sea of Christmas baking and cooking over here in anticipation of most of our family coming in and many friends stopping by, too. So very thankful for you all and the intelligent and winsom discussion going on here.

    Emily, thanks for posting that link. I listened this am while drinking my first cup of coffee for the day! Your assessment was spot on…these two honestly believe they hold the keys to inerpreting Scripture for all of us in our daily life practices in areas of faith and conscience. Isn’t is amazing how handily they dismissed genuine health issues women face? Swanson’s example was “a wife who gets the sniffles a couple times a year.” How offensive was that? And I would be sure that ectopic pregnancies are part of this as well. R.C. declared that anyone who defends using birth control for any reason does so from guilt,too. So let me get this right….a woman who has experienced several life-threatening pregnancies resulting in a doctor’s counsel to have a tubal ligation feels guilty so she defends her choice? Would any of you want either of these “pastors” to counsel you?

    Lucky me, here in Central Illinois….I just saw that R.C. is the keynote speaker for the Central Illinois Right to Life rally in January 2012. This is the second time in three years this group, whose board includes James McDonald, has had a speaker who is pro-life for babies but not for their moms.

  28. says

    Adam, this issue of the patriocentric view of ectopic pregnancies is not going to go away. I believe it belies their views of women in general and as some of these people attempt to be accepted in mainstream pro-life circles, their views will become known. Right now many people who are embracing groups like Samaritan Ministries don’t know the right questions to ask and they join forces with these people not knowing any better. Afterall, what reasonable person would assume that anyone would hold to such radical views? It is only a matter of time before their hidden views and agenda become public. Sadly, I fear it will come out when some woman dies, just as the Pearls are being outed through the death of these precious children.

  29. Adam says

    Karen,

    these two honestly believe they hold the keys to interpreting Scripture for all of us in our daily life practices in areas of faith and conscience.

    This really is the problem. As far as I understand the issues surrounding R.C.’s defrocking, it was exactly that problem that led to the spiritual abuse which got him ousted in the first place. These folks, apparently, didn’t learn anything from that.

    R.C. declared that anyone who defends using birth control for any reason does so from guilt,too.

    Lol, is he aware of the fact that I am unmarried? No, I don’t defend birth control out of guilt. I defend birth control because their position on birth control shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Christian Patriarchy movement is not an exegetical movement. The gross oversimplifications, ignoring of context, and numerous qualifications they have to engage in to make their views work demonstrates that this stuff is not coming from the Bible; it is a relic of the Confederate South.

    Adam, this issue of the patriocentric view of ectopic pregnancies is not going to go away. I believe it belies their views of women in general and as some of these people attempt to be accepted in mainstream pro-life circles, their views will become known. Right now many people who are embracing groups like Samaritan Ministries don’t know the right questions to ask and they join forces with these people not knowing any better. Afterall, what reasonable person would assume that anyone would hold to such radical views? It is only a matter of time before their hidden views and agenda become public. Sadly, I fear it will come out when some woman dies, just as the Pearls are being outed through the death of these precious children.

    As far as I know, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, whom I highly respect, said that, in instances such as ectopic pregnancies, abortion should not be considered, and everything should be done to save both the life of the mother and the child. However, he didn’t come to that conclusion by a simplistic “all pregnancies are a threat to the life of the mother.” He recognized the complexity of the issues involved, and did much reflection before he took that position.

    It is how flippant this was said that bothers me. As you said, it is almost as if they don’t care about the life of the mother at all. Again, it is all about the idol of children. To demand that everyone take one particular view when the ethical issues surrounding ectopic pregnancies are many and complex also shows that, again, this movement is not interested in truth. It is an authoritarian movement that has to impose its understanding on the Bible.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  30. says

    @Adam –
    Thanks so much for interacting so thoroughly with my comments. Your comments to Karen regarding Greg Bahnsen intrigued me; I respect Bahnsen as well and am sure he did not come to that position unthinkingly, though I am still a bit surprised by it. I guess I shouldn’t be though, Bahnsen being so heavily influenced by Van Til, of whom R. J. Rushdoony was also a student. That is nothing against Van Til though, I’ve studied him and Bahnsen both and find them extremely interesting and helpful, though I don’t buy everything about their apologetic method. (In that regard, I guess one could call me more “Schaeffer-esque,” though not entirely.) All of that to say, it’s always interesting how this sort of stuff trickles down into mainstream Christianity. Some people I talk to think men like Rushdoony and Swanson and others don’t really get heard by most Christians…but they do, just filtered through the teachings of others who are more mainstream-acceptable.

    Also I agree with your criticism of saying that people who defend birth control do so from guilt… I am also unmarried and still affirm the use of certain methods of birth control. It is not out of a hatred of children either, as there are seven children in my family, and I never felt like my parents didn’t have time or energy to love each of us well or that as the oldest I was burdened too much with taking care of the younger ones. Perhaps Sproul should consider that people may have REASONS for believing what they believe, and are not just emotionally reacting to cover up latent feelings of guilt.

  31. says

    Great article!

    I have really enjoyed your site.

    I have several QF friends. They were taken aback by our family’s prayerful decision to have a tubal ligation (and eventual hysterectomy) after our sixth child’s birth. Our doctors had strongly advised us to stop, based on serious chronic health conditions and the state of my womb after our fourth c-section. My friends told me that if I really trusted God I would have a homebirth to preserve my fertility, and that I was despising life by closing my womb voluntarily.

    I felt just the opposite.

    I have six amazing children. They need me. I am grateful beyond belief for their presence in my life and take seriously the charge to love them and raise them for His glory. It is because I value life that I have given up my fertility. Not because I hate life or don’t trust God.

    @Adam. You might specify that Dr. Bahnsen is a minister, not a medical doctor. I don’t know of any OB/GYNs that believes an ectopically implanted fetus can be saved. At this time there is no procedure that allows us to move the embryo. And watchful waiting can be very dangerous. I am an ER nurse, and have seen women bleed out in a matter of minutes from ruptured ectopics. It is a heartbreaking situation, to be sure, but trying to save the life of the embryo is just not possible. Those of us who value life must encourage women to get treatment for this life-threatening condition instead of condemning treatment as sin!

  32. says

    Karen, you might also remember that there are two kinds of IUDs.

    The copper IUD does, indeed, prevent implantation.

    The Mirena IUD, however, works in several ways. It can cause annovulation and thinning of the endometrium. But the primary way it works is by thickening the cervical mucus and making it impassable to sperm.

    A large study was done in which women who had Mirena IUDs were instructed to have intercourse 1, 2, and 3 days prior to tubal ligation. During the surgeries, the fallopian tubes (the site of fertilization) were assessed for the presence of sperm. None of the women had any sperm present in their tubes.

    This indicated the the primary way the Mirena works is by blocking passage of sperm and preventing fertilization.

    After reading this research, I don’t see how this would be unacceptable for use by Christians who prayerfully believe that they are to prevent pregancy permanently or for a season.

  33. says

    “I don’t know of any OB/GYNs that believes an ectopically implanted fetus can be saved. At this time there is no procedure that allows us to move the embryo. And watchful waiting can be very dangerous. I am an ER nurse, and have seen women bleed out in a matter of minutes from ruptured ectopics. It is a heartbreaking situation, to be sure, but trying to save the life of the embryo is just not possible. Those of us who value life must encourage women to get treatment for this life-threatening condition instead of condemning treatment as sin!”

    Tamara, you are absolutely correct! Here is what pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf had to say about thi:

    http://thatmom.com/2011/07/19/pro-life-apologist-has-this-to-say-about-ectopic-pregnancies/

    You might note the exchange I had with James and Theresa Lansberry in that comment section. James is the executive director of The Morning Center, which is a ministry under the direction of Samaritan Ministries. See what he and his wife believe about this topic. `Then you might want to check out The Morning Center that is joining forces with crisis pregnancy centers to aid low income women in crisis pregnancies.

    http://www.morningcenter.org/

    I can’t believe any board would approve of a hospital or medical ministry that has thisview of women and ectopic pregnancy but am watching this closely. Perhaps these supporters don’t realize the position SMI has taken on this topic.

  34. says

    Hi Tamara…..I appreciate your comments.

    I googled the Mirena website

    http://www.mirena-us.com/what-it-does/how-mirena-works.jsp

    and this is why I would consider this IUD to be off limits for those who want to avoid possibly aborting a child:

    “How does Mirena work?

    Mirena is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. While there’s no single explanation for how Mirena may work, most likely it prevents pregnancy in several ways.

    Mirena may:

    Thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering your uterus
    Inhibit sperm from reaching or fertilizing your egg
    Make the lining of your uterus thin

    Mirena may stop the release of your egg from your ovary, but this is not the way it works in most cases. Most likely, these actions work together to prevent pregnancy. Like other forms of birth control, Mirena is not 100% effective…..Although uncommon, pregnancy while using Mirena can be life threatening and may result in loss of pregnancy or fertility.”

    Any type of birth control that could result in ending the life of a conceived child should not be considered by Christians.

  35. says

    Karen,

    Just an observation on this issue. Most of these QF people already have a disposition to willfully ignore science. Thus they can easily write off clear medical discoveries proving that certain types of pregnancies will lead to the death of the child and or mother because those discoveries contradict their interpretation of Scripture. (Think young earth creationist presuppositions.)

    “The Bible says it, I interpreted it, that settles it” is a dangerous mantra.

    IMO, the more entrenched these leaders become in this mindset of man’s interpretation trumping God’s revealed word in nature, the more they will start to ignore and ridicule other areas of scientific discoveries. This example is just the next step. Just imagine what will happen in the next generation and following.

    The question for the rest of us is whether or not we are going to encourage this error in other areas of life, thus becoming impotent when arguing against this craziness or are we going to start accepting the discoveries of science (God’s revealed word in nature as Calvin called it) as, at least, legitimate alternatives to man’s interpretation of Scripture.

    There is a much deeper root problem within the traditional homeschool movement that is fueling these surface symptoms.

    We should continue to treat the symptoms but the goal should be to eradicate the root problem…

    Blessings and Merry Christmas,

    Micah

  36. Adam says

    Tamara,

    It is true that Greg was a minister, but he was also an ethicist. He got his Phd in Philosophy from the University of Southern California. His main argument in this regard was philosophical. He came to his conclusion on the basis of an analogy. Let’s say that there are two people who are critically ill with a life threatening illness, there is only one known cure, only one bottle of that cure left, and person 1 has it. Now, would it be right for person 2 to kill person 1, and take his medicine simply because the survival of person 2 depended upon the death of person 1?

    I am not saying I am fully in agreement with that analogy, but what I am pointing out is that this is an interdisciplinary issue, and ethics as well as medicine must be considered. Human beings, even embryos, are created in the image of God, whether their immanent death is certain or not, and we must feel the weight of that argument.

    On the other hand, the difficulty I have with Greg’s analogy is that it assumes that life comes through medicine. It is totally different in this case, in that life or death is the direct causal result of the life or death of the other person. It is not a matter of needing his medicine or anything of the sort.

    The other analogy that is often used is that of people in a sinking boat where, if one person is cast overboard to drown, it will save the life of the rest of the people in the boat. This seems to be a more direct parallel to the situation at hand. Solutions to this problem, however, have been variegated. That is why I say the issues behind ectopic pregnancies are ethically thick.

    There is no easy answer to these questions. That is why treating the issue so glibly and simplistically does not help matters. Then again, this would not be the first time these folks have been glib and reductionistic in their application of scripture.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  37. says

    Micah, from what I have observed, there seems to be a distrust of all things medical and a real aversion to higher education for men as well as women. I can’t tell you how often I have heard an almost mockery of both of these. It is an arrogance that is very unbecoming of a Christian. When I experienced an ectopic pregnancy, I was so very grateful for medical doctors and a hospital that were pro-life and that I had already discussed the issue with them prior to any pregnancy. I also had gone to the local right to life group for a list of doctors who could be trusted in this area. Because of that, I knew I would get the straight, truly pro-life perspective from them if I ever needed it. I remember seeing my own doctor near tears over our situation and his love and compassion for both me and our baby will always be remembered and appreciated. And you are correct, there is always a simplistic solution and an attitude that those who are more thoughtful simply lack faith.

  38. HoppyTheToad says

    Do you have any more information about the Morning Center? We are members of Samaritan Ministries, but over the last year, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the articles in their monthly newsletter. They seem to be shallow and extreme in many ways. The main article a few months ago was so poorly done I decided I should just start throwing the newsletters away unread, rather than stress myself out with their theological-political views.

  39. says

    Karen,

    You said:

    “Micah, from what I have observed, there seems to be a distrust of all things medical and a real aversion to higher education for men as well as women. I can’t tell you how often I have heard an almost mockery of both of these. It is an arrogance that is very unbecoming of a Christian.”

    You are exactly right. But where does that arrogance come from? What foundational sacred cow breeds it? I think there is a specific doctrine (and method of defending that doctrine) that leads directly to what we are seeing here.

    I would love to get your thoughts…

    BTW, I think this is only the beginning as this article so clearly articulates.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-giberson-phd/creationists-and-young-christians_b_1096839.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

    Blessings,
    Micah

  40. HoppyTheToad says

    Micah, I think you are probably right. I used to be a YEC (young earth creationist) after I became a Christian. But eventually I started studying the issue more (because ShadowSpring showed me that you can still be a real Christian and believe in an old earth). As I studied science more, particularly astronomy, I realized that it continue to believe in a young earth, I’d have to throw out huge chunks of astronomy, physics, geology, and biology. It would mean saying, “I’m right and 15% of all modern science is wrong.” I couldn’t do it and the cognitive dissonance required to believe either science or Ken Ham and company was too much. I now accept an old earth.

  41. says

    @ Hoppy,

    Yes, I have had the same experience but it goes much deeper than that. When someone actually starts being honest with the evidence in nature they are more humbled regarding their “interpretation” of Scripture and therefore more open to dialogue, etc.

    For me when I left the YEC world and embraced the clear evidence of an old earth my love for nature really started to open up. I really enjoy studying geology and other sciences and am brought closer to God through searching for the treasures He has hidden in the natural world.

    The amazing thing with a lot of these guys is that they profess to follow Calvin but Calvin was a huge proponent of the “two books” idea of revealed truth. The Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature. Calvin understood that God wrote both. No surprise that Calvin did not take Genesis “literally” like Luther did. (Luther actually admitted that his version of a modern day YEC interpretation actually went against the Church Fathers!)

    What is also curious to watch is the rise of Clarkian Calvinism. Basically Gordon Clark posited that nothing can be known from empirical observation (he rejected the two books idea). The only truth that we can know is “revealed truth” in Scripture (which of course he has the inspired interpretation of). “My eye’s tell me nothing” is their mantra. I think we will only see this attitude grow amongst the QF/Patriarchy groups because it is the only way to dissuade fearful followers from the plain and overwhelming evidence that is out there if someone is just willing to investigate.

    It is quite ironic since science (which is basic empiricism) was born out of a Christian worldview and now the Christians who consider themselves non-compromised are the ones denying, ridiculing and ignoring science. Not a big deal when dealing with fossils or finding oil (except you will never find oil using flood geology) but it does become a big deal when your wife is dealing with a medical decision that affects not only the life of a baby but her own as well.

    If people aren’t confronted on the foundational issue they will eventually be drawn towards the unhealthy conclusions. If YEC organizations remain dominant in HS circles and are able to silence opposing viewpoints and interpretations at HS conferences there will always be a steady stream of fuel for the QF fire. Unfortunately there will be women who die because they believed the lie that accepting science leads to compromise and apostasy. I would consider those poor women martyrs.

    Thankfully, I believe the tide is turning. YEC organizations are losing their grip but much more work needs to be done even within more progressive HS organizations.

    Blessings and thanks for your thoughts.

    Micah

  42. says

    @ Hoppy,

    BTW, My brother co-authored a book called “Beyond Creation Science.” In that book he details the history and rise of the modern YEC movement. Most know little to nothing about where the current YEC movement comes from. It is a fascinating read even if you don’t agree with all the conclusions. You will definitely be better equipped to dialogue with other YEC’ers after reading it.

    You can check out excerpts at the website http://www.beyondcreatinscience.com. If you like what you read on there and want to follow up, I would be happy get you a copy.
    micahmartin5@gmail.com

    Blessings,
    Micah

  43. HoppyTheToad says

    Is this the root that led to a woman I know asking me, “How could God let me get pregnant? He knows I haven’t been well since baby #5?”

    My first thought was, “Of course you’ll end up pregnant if you don’t use contraception (barring infertility). That’s how the system works. Despite what people told you, seeing children being a blessing doesn’t mean God promised to micromanage every sperm and choose which ones will make it to an egg.”

    The QF mentality seems reject how reproduction actually works. The families at our former church had a new baby every 18-21 months, like clockwork. The families that had larger gaps either had miscarriages, used NFP or contraception for a while, fertility trouble, or were in their early-mid 40s, when fertility starts to decrease for most people. Yet some women still seemed surprised when they got pregnant when the last baby was 9-12 months old.

  44. HoppyTheToad says

    Since we left (over a year ago) there have been only two pregnancies (only one baby made it). I think that many of the families have quietly decided to use NFP or contraception. Also, the women are now mostly in their 40s. What frustrates me, however, is that it will remain politically incorrect to acknowledge taking a break between kids or stopping them for good.

  45. HoppyTheToad says

    Karen, in your last sentence, you spoke of loving kids vs using them to outpopulate others groups. I don’t know if I know any people in real life that want large families mainly to outpopulate non-Christians, although there are one or two men that might think that. Despite that, many of the QF families we knew were still judgmental and full of pride about family size. Some thought contraception was always sinful and showed a lack of faith. Others, while not openly as obnoxious, would still say things to the effect that other people “don’t love children,” otherwise they would have more than two. Difficult kids, parents having trouble adjusting to parenthood, financial troubles, and health troubles all seemed to be discounted in their minds.

    The income of families at this church was probaly at least twice the median income of the average American family. They might think many families are being selfish by only having two, but income (adjusted for inflation) has been stagnant for decades. The job market for people in their 20s is much worse than when they were starting out. While many younger people do spend too much on stuff they don’t need, even if they became much more frugal, many of them really can’t afford the huge families these people think they need to have to prove they aren’t “selfish.”

    Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you are aware that the phrases “seeing children as a blessing” and “do you love children?” come with baggage for many of us out here. These people would probably say I don’t “love” kids, strictly based on family size. My idea of loving kids, however, is more about my relationship with them and caring for them via healthy food and a good education. They see love more in the quantity of kids, whereas I see it more in the quality of what I can put into them. To me, it is more loving to stop at two and be ale to take care of them than to have a third and have years of health problems that I may never recover from.

  46. HoppyTheToad says

    Also, I think for some people, when they mention “loving kids” it is really code for “As a woman, you don’t have the right to want any time to yourself, date nights with your husband, time to exercise, any hobbies, or a part-time job.”

    Finally, they have little consideration for women that are tom-boys or otherwise have personalities that make raising kids much more of a sacrifice or adjustment than for women that naturally like to take care of kids. Most people recognize that not everyone likes to play an instrument or sports. People are built differently. Why is it that when it comes to women, however, Christians suddenly think it’s okay to judge women that don’t especially like kids, or at least, little kids?

  47. says

    @ Hoppy,

    Ignorance to basic’s like sexuality and how things work in that department was a big issue when I was growing up. It might be in-directly related to the issue but IMO it is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

    My anecdote is this. Myself and my friends that grew up in the early homeschool movement never got “the talk.” Sex was considered taboo and the word itself wasn’t even uttered. I have a cousin that went through the ATI training courses and some of her friends that stuck with it literally had no clue about what goes on after the wedding. In one instance the girl freaked out and called her parents because she was so surprised and shocked when her new husband started making sexual advances on their wedding night.

    These are just anecdotes and I don’t know how widespread that ignorance is but I would have a feeling it is still somewhat prevalent.

    However, I would say the root problem is a different one than people ignoring simple science or medical discoveries. This issue of not informing children and young adults about these things come from a mindset that believes that ignorance can breed purity. “If we never talk about sex our kids won’t lust” type of mentality. Which, I guess you could say, is related to the science issue also.

    It also coincides with a skewed view of the way God created humans. Many Christians are taught that before the fall humans would have been immune to any “lust” or “desires” that we have to deal with now. They simply refuse to believe that we are the same biologically as Adam was before the fall.

    Think about it this way. If Adam would have been able to get sexually attracted to Eve before the fall then the potential for him to be aroused by the other women walking around outside the Garden was there also. There is a biological component to sexual attraction (not all of it is biological but some is). It is the context of that sexual attraction that makes it wrong for Adam to act upon the impulse instead of loving Eve and staying committed to her.

    The exact same biological process that could cause him to “sin” against Eve also gave him the opportunity to “love” Eve by doing the right thing (resisting temptation). God created a world of opposites and choice because that is the only way you have real relationship.

    The YEC’er want to live in a fantasy world where we are no longer are able to choose poorly. They want Jesus to fix all of their problems so they can live in a “perfect world” by their definition which means that they never have to grow up as God’s children. So therefore when it comes to things like sexual relations the easy way out is to just insulate their kids from knowing anything about it. The problem is that most of the kids will eventually leave home and the parents can’t shelter them forever. (Which is why you are seeing the increased popularity of the teaching that single girls must stay under their dad’s roof until they are married.)

    I hope that helps.

    Blessings,
    Micah

  48. says

    @Micah –

    “God created a world of opposites and choice because that is the only way you have real relationship.”

    Careful you don’t say that too loud around the Calvinists.

    With love,
    A recovering Calvinist 🙂

  49. Jack Brooks says

    The QF people have created a false law which mandates as many pregnancies as possible = “God’s will.” The reality is that there is no such law. The Old Testament teaches values regarding human beings, children, and family, which are different from laws. It is God’s will that we highly value people (because we are made in God’s image), and all the OT laws on social relationships build on the foundation of that value. We’re to highly value marriage and family, because of God’s original mandate to Adam and Eve. If we respecdt God as Creator, and bow to Moses’ authority as a prophet, then we accept hetersoexual, monogamous marriager as the lone standard. But marriage sometimes end legitimately because of immorality and other causes, and singleness can also be God’s gift to a Christian in certain cases, according to the apostle Paul. We should value children, because they are a blessing given by God. But there is no divine law that commands Christians to have as many children as we can. And we certainly shouldn’t have them as a personnel tactic in a daft Theonomic culture-war!

  50. Al says

    One of the inventors of the birth control pill, Karl Djerassi, wrote that the BC pill does operate to prevent an embryo from attaching to the uterine wall, or to be cast out with the endometrium when the next menstrual period comes if it did, inspite of everything, manage to attach.
    The combination pill, which he was one of the inventors of, operated primarily in most women to prevent ovulation. But it wrought such havoc on so many women, cancers, other difficulties, that the dosages were progressively reduced to minimize this effect. This resulted in more “breakthrough” ovulations.
    The pill also acts to alter the mucuses of the cervix, endometrium and fallopian tubes to impeded rather than assist the sperms from entering the cervix, making it through to the uterus, along the endometrium and up through the tubes. But the tens of millions of sperms that go into the cervix help one another to advance. If a few thousand make it to the approaching ovum, there is a chance that one will fertilize the ovum.
    Now, the now-embryo heads down the tube and attempts to attach to the endometrium before the next menstrual period starts. The pill interferes with all these processes, but is not always successful.
    If anything happens once an embryo is formed to take that embryo’s life, what can be no other than a new individual human is killed.
    At present, questions of “ensoulment” are metaphysical, as the existence of a soul or individual spirit has neither been evidenced or disproven by observation (“science”).
    Christians, do we really want to trifle with causing the deaths of the children God blesses us with? “Trusting that God will not allow a birth-controlling Christian’s wilful acts to actually kill a child” is an evasion of our responibiity to do our part to carry out His will in our lives. I could as well drive a car blind and trust God to keep children and others out of the way, or cause the speeding car to veer and harm no one.

    “The Pill” includes other chemical and hormonal birth control methods such as Depo-Provera, Norplant, Plan B, Morning-After Pill, etc.

    What church (local assembly) refuses new members? “Our building is too small.” “We are running short of money.”

    What is wrong with a church that will not assist its families who build up (“edify”) the church not only with sound teaching but with new souls, should they be stricken with poverty? Not that the idle should be supported in their indolence, but that those who do as well as they can should be assisted when “as well as they can” is not enough.

  51. Al says

    “The QF people have created a false law which mandates as many pregnancies as possible = “God’s will.” ”
    We have no obligation to force procreation by such as refusing to breastfeed so that ovulation will return as soon as possible. On-demand breastfeeding typically delays the next birth by an average of 2½ years. This is in accord with the World Health Organization’s and Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation for birth spacing. Of course they mean for the only two children that any “responsible” citizen of the world should beget.
    We, though, are supposed to be “citizens of heaven.” Philippians 3:20 “In the world but not of the world.” John 15:19

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