Monday, December 6, 2010

Contraception and the Hidden Will of God

One thing that I have thought of that disturbs me is this. There are those who will say that using contraceptives goes against and attempts to hinder the will of God.

To which I say - "Show Me."

What is God's will for the number of children that I have. Point to me the chapter and verse that lets me know the number that God really, really, really wants me to have.

You can't because there is none. The number of children that God desires for me is part of His hidden will - and I can't know it, and for me to speculate about it only brings about false doctrine as well as either pride or despair.

We are not Calvinists harping on about the hidden will of God.

I know that God willed for me to have my wife - I know that now, didn't know that 7 years ago. But it was there. Likewise, children. Was in fact not His will that we have any in the past 3.5 years. What the next years hold - who knows. I know what my wife and I are hoping - but He will give as He wills.

As for us - we live our lives in humility, using the tools at our disposal to make decisions as seem best for ourselves and our neighbors that do not violate God's Word. And when we fail at that, when we transgress the clear Word, we repent, and trust the clear Word of forgiveness.

But wringing my hands about whether or not everything I do is God's will or goes against it... sheesh - forget that. God has revealed what He desires me to know in Christ Jesus and His Word - the rest in free, and I ain't gonna sweat it.

71 comments:

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

This argument does not hold up logically. Christians who oppose contraception do not claim to know the will of God. It is precisely because we do not know His will in particulars that we believe so strongly that the best way is a lifestyle that remains open to life. Those who use, advocate, or defend the use of contraception are the ones who bear the burden of showing that they know this to be God's will.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif,

1 - If you do not say such things, I commend for you humility. However, if you note in the posts below, there are direct assertions that the use of contraception attempts to hinder the will of God. It is to this that I am speaking. Therefore, when you say that "Christians who oppose contraception do not claim to know the will of God" you aren't rightfully speaking for at least a segment of Christians who oppose contraception.

I fear that it is only your assumption that people do not make the claim that I assert that do that makes my argument seem incoherent. If person say what I claim they say (and they do), then they are wrong. And that is consistent - for even you would agree that claims to knowledge beyond what God has revealed in His Word is dangerous (as you state, you do not know His will in particulars).

2 - However, I do find the phrase "open to life" interesting. There has never been a point where I have not been open to life - indeed, I tell people that if they marry, they must be ready for the possibility of children, whatever their plans may be. Hence, I don't think that the use of contraception fundamentally means that one is not "open" to life, but rather one is not actively seeking life at the moment.

Should people engage in sexual activity while being actively disdainful and hateful towards life, or seek to end a life that God has given to them - that I will condemn most harshly.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

3 - Your last sentence - "Those who use, advocate, or defend the use of contraception are the ones who bear the burden of showing that they know this to be God's will" - drives to the main point of contention between your approach and mine on many things.

I disagree with this sentence completely. I would argue that this is a matter of freedom - that God's "will" is neither for nor against the use of contraception - therefore I have no need or desire to prove that it is "God's Will".

Here is the approach that I would advocate. Let us say that there is an issue - issue X. What happens?

A - I am confronted by issues X.
B - I consider the Word of God. Is there anything in God's Word that commands me how I must act when dealing with issue X. If yes, then we move to C1. If not, we move to C2.

C1 - Then I must act in accordance with God's revealed Will.

C2 - If there is no express command or instruction either way, then I am free to act - however, in this, I am not completely free. I must always, always act in a fashion so as to show love to my neighbor. Therefore, I move on to step D.

D - Determine a course of action that is pleasing to me.
E - Consider how this action shows love to my neighbors. If it fails to show love to my neighbors, I go back to a new D (D sub 1, D sub 2, etc) until a good result is found.

At no point do I feel compelled to prove that something that is free is God's will. I seek merely to use my freedom while still showing love. That is the Will of God that has been revealed to me, and that is what I will seek to do.

No more, no less. Because, when it boils down to it - if God has not expressly commanded a specific course of action, then I am free to show love - indeed, Christ has given me freedom so that I may be free to show love - and I will simply delight and rejoice in this, and be bewitched into submitting again to a yoke of slavery.

Instead, I will, as Paul instructs, sumbit to my neighbor - that I will freely act in their interest, for their needs, and so use my freedom in a Godly fashion, and delight in His love and mercy.

So no - I don't have to prove that God "wants" me to do something - I just have to show that in the area of acting, He neither commands nor forbids specific actions. After that - freely show love to your neighbor.

You do so in your freedom how it seems best to you and to the ones you love, I to me and mine. And in all things, we admit and confess our constant continual sin, how all our acts are as but filthy rags before God, and then delight in His forgiveness and we live out our Christian Liberty with all humility as regards ourselves and with all boldness as regards Christ and His salvation.

Phillip Fischaber said...

Deacon Gaba,

What is your view of the Law? You seem to have a much better developed sense of it than most. You rightly keep pointing out the good the Law can do, and I'm wondering if we're in agreement on the proper extent of the Law.

Also, on a completely unrelated note, on the SSP sight it is pointed out that Chemnitz has a rosary in his hand. Do any of you know what he prayed on his rosary? I've gotten guesses from LCMS pastors ranging from "probably the Ave Maria" to "most likely the Lord's Prayer." Does anyone know what he prayed with his rosary?

Phillip

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I apologize for typos - it is late. That should read "not be bewitched". Typos. Ugh.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Pr. Brown:

You reference earlier discussions; I am sorry but I catch your blog only sporadically. My work keeps me from doing much more reading and writing in the theological realm than I would like. Perhaps when I have time I will go back and look at some of those posts & comments.

If some have told you that the use of contraception is the attempt to hinder the will of God, my reaction to that claim is this: I am not sure I would state it in quite that way, however, there is truth in it which you are misrepresenting. One can atempt to hinder God's will without knowing he is doing so. One can attempt to hinder God's will without meaning to do so. One can attempt to hinder God's will without knowing what that will is. We do know that contraception, by its nature, is a hindrance. It is a hindering of whatever would have happened had the contraception not taken place. I might not be able to converse much further with you tonight. I must work tomorrow.

Just one more quick thought, though. I took the time to view that Fisk video you linked. As much as I might like much of what he does, I do think he had a bone-headed moment when he said, like at least twice, that a couple that does not use contraception will "always" have children. As I recall, he tries to catch himself by quickly adding something like "with a few exceptions," but he still said "always," which is idiotic, and intentionally or not, places guilt on those couples who do not have children even though no contraception was in the picture. One of the crosses to be borne by childless married Christians like me is that even "good confessional" Lutherans will make assumptions about why one is childless. It's thoughless and disgusting.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Dear Phillip:

What you ask regarding the law seems to be ther type of subject which would take too long to develop here, nor would it be appropriate here. Nor do I have much time or energy for it tonight, I fear. As we get to know each other, I'm sure we will have opportunity to explore such topics.

Your second question regarding Chemnitz' use of the rosary is a good one, and also one which is too deep to go into here and now. Perhaps just a word though. I personally am sure, based upon certain good inferences, that Chemnitz used a rosary, and that he used it to aid his personal praying of traditional basic texts, like the Our Father and the angelic salutation. We have even stronger clues and data about Luther's use of the rosary and the Ave, such as what he writes in the Personal Prayer Book of 1522.

Do keep in mind that the best way for the Christian to loop at the Ave is not as a prayer, at least not in the narrow sense of the word, but as a wonderfully rich scriptural vehicle for prayer and meditation, upon the mystery of the Incarnation, upon the ways God "showed His divine majesty even in His Mother's womb" (Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration VIII), and upon the ways in which His relationship with His mother is a type of the relationship between Christ and the Church, and of Christ and each member thereof.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif,

I do think that Rev. Fisk was using "always" there not as in "this must occur" but as a rule of thumb - a a pattern typical of what occurs.

Remember the end of the old children's rhyme - "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes ______ with a baby carriage." Like that.

We have overly disconnected marriage and children to where children are viewed as independent of marriage, either something to be gotten outside of Wedlock, or just an option (like getting a sunroof on a car - an incidental). That would be his point.

Also, what I would say to those who desire but have no chlidren is to be good, kind, and loving to the children of others - to be spiritual fathers and mothers. Even now I can think of a folks who showed me great care and love while I was growing. That is a role and task that isn't to be despised in the least.

One has the idea that your parents just have to love you, that they are stuck with you. When a child sees care and compassion from an adult that doesn't have to give it to them, that is a wonderful way of teaching the love of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Brown,

Based on what you said above - are you saying that we can never determine anything by inference from what Scripture teaches? So that if there is not an express command, then we cannot determine something is wrong or not? (or right for that matter).

For instance there is no express command to baptize infants (as Baptists love to point out). Would you argue that we doing it merely out of love for the neighbor? If so, has anyone ever argued for it that way.

My point is that we often determine things based on the whole teaching of Scripture on topics (in this case marriage, children, etc.).

It also seems to bind the Scriptures, so that if Scripture does not expressly state something that was not an issue then (let's take cloning for an example) then we can't use the Scriptures to determine if that thing is right or wrong.


Chuck Awesome

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Chuck Awesome,

Yes, you can make inferences from Scripture - I'll point to the Standard that Luther puts forth at Worms - Scripture or clear reason (i.e. logical movement from Scripture).

I don't want, "It seems wrong" "It goes against an idea of life" "Onan did something like it, so it must be bad" Those are not satisfactory to me.

On baptism, we can build that - we can point to that - we can discuss what is taught about baptism and thus attack a faulty understanding of Baptism that leads one to deny infant baptism. And yes, I do talk about love for the child - but that is only a part.

(And ready for a can of worms) - What are you trying to clone? I'd be willing to say it depends on what you are doing with it.

Now, legally I think it would be good to curtail any sort of cloning as I think it would open up a whole can of ethical and legal concerns.

All things are permissible, but not all things are profitable. All things are permissible, but not all things build up.

What does this mean - let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor (That's 1 Corinthians 10: 23-24). That's where the rubber meets the road. We must always be thoughtful, always be regarding our neighbor.

Anonymous said...

"I don't want, "It seems wrong" "It goes against an idea of life" "Onan did something like it, so it must be bad" Those are not satisfactory to me."

No one is arguing "seems" they are building on the picture of marriage, children, and the vocation of husband and wife presented in the Scripture. You can leave Onan out if you want you can still get the position from Scripture. What is unclear about the biblical position of marriage and children?

CAAF

Anonymous said...

Rev. Brown,

Sorry, I was referring to human cloning and should have been more clear.

I am glad that you allow for logical movements from Scripture, because it seemed like you had made no provision for that.

Now the issue needs to be whether the church has validly drawn from Scripture the conclusion that contraceptives are wrong.

It would seem then based on what you said that the ACTUAL arguments that have been given by the church - including the Lutheran Church - need to be dealt with and not just characterizations of their arguments.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Well, I haven't see current arguments by the Lutheran Church - as for Luther and his take on Onan, he misses why that is so vile. I have not be impressed with the specific arguments I have seen.

What I see is this - I see the description of an ideal - that there is an image of what things should be. That's fine, that's wonderful - there is nothing unclear about that.

What I object to is the creation of a new Law that tries to shoehorn people in non-ideal situations into an idealistic picture of reality. This is the same error the Didache falls into when it forbids the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. Ideally would we avoid anything to do with idols? Yes. Should those who are scandalized by eating meat sacrificed to idols abstain? Yes. But is that man-made law - the we must abstain abstain proper? St. Paul says no.

I have no problem extolling the wonders of children and marriage. They ought to go together. However, in this sinful, fallen world, things do not always work that way. There are exceptions.

That is my first point - that there are times when pregnancy can properly be avoided.

Secondly this - if there are times when the ideal is to be avoided, using a tool to accomplish this is okay.

So, what I would say is this - while I think much of what is said about children and marriage is right, proper, and good - to simply condemn any contraceptive activity goes beyond the bounds of Scripture and is not properly part of the biblical view of these things.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Let me ask a philosophical vocation. Are God given vocations ever in conflict? In this sinful world, are you ever put into a position where you have two vocations and you cannot do both?

I say yes - and there are times when there is conflict within the bounds of marriage in terms of caring for spouse and for children and for the vocation of parent. In those times, seeking in humility to prevent pregnancy may be an option. Is it ideal - by no means. But it is a way of slugging through a sinful, messy world.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

It is a little odd that you are defending Fisk's video, since, if anhything, the message he sends on birth control in this video, intentionally or not, really falls on my side of the issue, and in fact, as I say, by his "always" slip he borders on going to the error that you condemn in this very blog post.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Fisk does one thing that I find to be very, very important - he speaks to children as a blessing and not as a law. He emphasizes that twice.

While Rev. Fisk and I have not actively discussed this issue, he does do something that I approve of. He isn't trying to condemn - he isn't tossing out commands and rules and "Thou shalt nots". Rather - he is calling people to view things as Scripture tells us to view them - children are a blessing. Period.

That's the key. I am all for extolling marriage and children - and that marriage ought to lead to children, that this is a good thing. But he does not hammer people, or think that hammering them will make them see the biblical view. The Law does not make us see blessings.

Again, my contention isn't that Children shouldn't be a part of marriage. Rather, it is simply that there are times where additional children might properly be not sought (as anyone who advocate NFP will posit), and I would contend that in these situtations, things like barrier methods are options that couples might freely consider.

I'm not "anti-life" or "anti-chlidren" - I'm anti-legalism on contraception, because if people are in a position where they have legitimate concerns about the number of the children or their health, they don't need extra burdens tossed upon them - and that is what I think simply saying, "Contraception is evil" does.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

One doesn't need to actively discuss the issue with him to view the video objectively and see what is being communicated. View it, not as one who knows him, but as one who is new to the Church. That, after all, is a not insignificant part of his audience.

Anonymous said...

You haven's seen current arguments by the Lutheran Church - particularly the LCMS because, well they don't seem to know what to do or say.

But a glance over the history of the Lutheran Church and even our own Synod shows that it is more than a reference to Onan or their desire to be legalists, or their lack of understanding of Christian Freedom, or their lack of understanding that we live in a fallen world, or their lack of understanding of the will of man and procreation.

They actually argue from Scripture and a Scriptural view of marriage, family, children, etc. And they did so consistently until the culture changed. Then they changed with the culture. Even a cursory look at what happened will show that opinions did not change because of a new understanding of the text. It was the new context that led to the change, then of course you have to find Scripture to support your new view, or at least deride what was taught as foolishness.

Chuck Awesome

Anonymous said...

Could I accurately sum up what you wrote above by saying:

Children are a blessing from God to valued and cherished, except when we don't think from our human perspective that they would be a blessing. So they are a blessing, unless we decide they aren't a blessing, they are not a blessing.

And let's remember we are not talking about abstractions, we are talking about children.

Chuck Awesome

Anonymous said...

There should be a "then" before "they are not a blessing".

Anonymous said...

You wrote: I know what my wife and I are hoping - but He will give as He wills.

If you believe that, than why would there be a need (in 99% of circumstances) to ever use contraceptives?

It's not about the number of kids, or God's hidden will. It's recognizing and trusting that God will give us as many or as few children as He wills.

Chuck Awesome

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif - Fisk is dealing with many new folks - which is why this point was so strongly in line with teaching that Children are not to be wantonly despised. IT is a good and solid corrective to many societal ills, and I approve of that greatly. (Especially as he points out that this isn't a "law")

Chuck Awesome
1. I just heard today that a guy in Oregon legally changed his name to "Captain Awesome". Not you, is it? =o)

2. Let me comment on your summation - "Children are a blessing from God to valued and cherished, except when we don't think from our human perspective that they would be a blessing. So they are a blessing, unless we decide they aren't a blessing, they are not a blessing."

No - that isn't quite it. Children, when there are there, are a blessing. Whenever a child is given by God, that is something for our good, even if we did not expect or look for it.

However, if there are no children, they aren't. They don't exist. They are neither a blessing nor a non-blessing because they do not exist (at least from our perspective).

So its not that they aren't a blessing if we decide they aren't a blessing - but if they do not exist yet, they are not yet a concrete, specific, tangible blessing.

And I think this is important - the blessing is whatever God chooses to give you. If you do not have children, does that mean that "God hates you" or "God withholds blessings from you"? By no means! It means that God has chosen to you to have other blessings and has ordained it that you show love and care to people other than your own children.

I will compare children to money (everyone's favorite comparison - but I think it is apt as, lets face it, most of the lousy excuses to not have kids are simply about money). If God gives you riches - that is a blessing. If He doesn't - that too is fine. Nor are you bound to shape your every action for the gathering of wealth and possessions (even though we have specific commands to help our neighbor improve his possessions). You do not have to make every decision in your life in order to maximize wealth.

Likewise - not every decision a couple makes has to encourage the arrival of new Children. If God wants to give you more children, he can - just as he can give you a winfall (come on, anonymous downer!).

Or to the point - until they are conceived, we are talking about abstractions. If one uses contraception, they are not hating and despising little Johnny.

3. You also write, "If you believe that, than why would there be a need (in 99% of circumstances) to ever use contraceptives?"

I don't write that there is often a "need" for contraception. In fact, I would argue there is never a *need* for them. Even the mother who has dire medical reasons to avoid pregnancy may freely choose to not use any sort of contraception.

Rather, I would argue that one is free to act. IT is that part of what is involved in the creation of children is the Will of Man, and I don't need to be ashamed of that. There is nothing necessarily wrong with "trying for another child" (although one can idolize children), and I would say that it is fine to say, "Right now does not seem good."

But with either of those - make your decision and plans, but yet also make them saying, "If God wills". Just like James instructs.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

With due respect, you are talking in circles, man. The fact that Fr. Fisk's video is viewed by such a potentially wide audience, as I said, means that it was especially improper to send the message, intended or not, that uncontracepted marrital relations "will always" result in children.

The Exiled said...

"Point to me the chapter and verse that lets me know the number that God really, really, really wants me to have."

OK, I'll bite.

Let's try Genesis 1:21-23. You're right, deals with other parts of God's creation.

How about Genesis 1:27-29, especially verse 28 "Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”"

Too general in the directive you say?

Okay, how about Genesis 8:16-18? Oh, sorry, animals again. I know you are looking for something that centers on mankind.

What about Genesis 9:1-3? Let's look at verse 1 "So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth."

Oh, that was only for a certain situation and point in time you say? My mistake. I know how limiting God's promises can be.


Maybe Genesis 9:6-8? Oh, that's right, we're still dealing with the one point in history.

I got it! Genesis 17:5-7 and 17:19-20? What? God just making promises to a few people again?

Wow, it is getting hard to please your anthropocentric tendancies here.

Would you take into account Genesis 26:21-23? No? God didn't say it so it can't be true? I guess I can understand that.

If that's the case, I guess we shouldn't even bother to bring up Genesis 28:2-4.

Now, here's one where God is actually speaking. Genesis 35:11 - "Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body."

Maybe even throw in Genesis 48:3-5 for good measure?

What? You are getting tired of the examples being from Genesis?

Well, let's keep looking.

Here we go, Leviticus 26:8-10! A real winner! Just look at verse 9 - "‘For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you.'"

No? You don't like Leviticus? Too much Law? What about the Old Testament Prophets? Too hard to understand and don't apply to you today? I can appreciate a world view like that.

What is it you are looking for?

Oh, I get it now. You want a Bible verse to say specifically "Eric Brown, I command you to have three children."

Maybe Lutheranism isn't quite for you. Just seems to have too many contradictions that don't quite fit into your world view.

Sorry you couldn't find what you were looking for.


You're right. It just isn't there.

Just like Jesus when He kind of side-stepped Peter when the Pope asked how many times he should forgive someone.

This Bible thing is just so useless. It has no clear answers and just doesn't speak to me today.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Brown,

1) The will of Man to affect conception is done through intercourse. Contraceptives go against the God given act. In other words abstinence is not the only satisfactory way for man to will to not have children.

2) In the ideal, as Fisk had pointed out, intercourse results in conception. I completely agree with Latif that this does not mean always. Thus, just because man performs the act without contraceptives does not mean he will conceive no matter how hard he is trying.

3) Another thing I still don't see how you can say someone using contraception is really open to have a child. The very word means against conception. To practice it means your purpose is to avoid conception.

Anonymous said...

CAAF

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif,

While it is tragic when couples that wish children do not get them, that is not the predominate problem cultural speaking. Indeed, I'm sure that those who remain childless understand how isolating their problem is. Fisk is there addressing predominate attitudes in the culture which has ignored the rule of thumb - marriage leads to children.

It's just a rule of thumb. It's what typically happens. That's all.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Exiled,

First, I have problem with your exegesis - simply because I am not going to be the father of the children of Israel, nor the father of the Messiah. You can't do a 1 to 1 equation there. If you want to say that the Scriptures teach that children are a blessing, I will agree with you. But I don't think you are interested in agreement, peace, or civility.

Are you trying to restore me in love? I would direct you to this excellent post about how one should argue . You need to learn and think on this.

But even more than this, I am saddened by how you confuse Law and Gospel. Again, I suggest you as well watch Fisk's video and note that he posits that children are a blessing. It's sad that you see so many promises of God to the faithful of old - Adam and Eve, Noah, Sarah and Abraham, Jacob - and see these promises as nothing but Law and commands and what they must do. It is a sad thing to turn the promises of God in to commands that must be kept or else.

You must deal with many burdens viewing even the promises of God as utter law (I would even expect that this might manifest itself in the complete bitterness you show to me, when I am a stranger to you). I will keep you in my prayers, that you might learn to focus on Christ and His love for you, and that this might give you some relief. Your life is not defined by your actions, what you do, but rather is defined by Christ and His Cross, for you have been united to Him in Baptism. Rest there, and receive the relief and comfort that He gives in His free Gospel.

My prayer are for you, my brother.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

CAAF,

1 - This argument doesn't hold with me, because conception isn't the sole goal of intercourse. Man and women are not to deprive themselves of each other so that they do not fall into temptation and gross sin. Moreover, intercourse is for the relationship and support of each other.

If for some reason procreation isn't to be sought, that is tragedy enough. The other two benefits of intercourse should not wantonly be tossed aside. Even though children may not be in the picture, one still has a spouse, and love should be shown there.

2. Exactly right.

3. Here your language falls into a common trap here in America, where we have been unduly influenced by protestantism. Is one "really open" is slightly dubious language. It's the same language that is applied by folks down here in Oklahoma to bash so many people with man-made law.

If you "really" were a believer, you would not drink, not dance, speak in tongues - whatever.

I cannot speak for others - but yes, even when my spouse and I have used contraception, because in our agreement together, and from my perspective in exercising my duties as the head of my own household, that it would not be an ideal time for us to have a child at that time. When we did think my wife was potentially pregnant (for we are both aware that contraceptive means can fail), we were both happy and quite open.

Just because you are open to something doesn't mean you have to seek it right now.

Again - this is about submission to God - it about praying "Thy Will Be Done". This doesn't mean we become passive people doing nothing, but we make our decisions to the best of our abilities, and if God gives something else, we rejoice.

I am open to wealth if God sends it, or poverty if He wills - but I will not try to earn money with every act - rather I'll take a middling path.

If you cannot see the line that I walk - I suppose that is fine. However, bear in mind that if you keep saying things like a person who uses contraception and says that they are open to having children isn't "really open" is very closing to calling me a liar.

That would be rather impolite, and certainly no where near putting the best construction on my actions, especially when I do not believe I have given you any other reason to think that I am unusually untrustworthy with my word.

Brown's wife said...

Children are a blessing. No ifs, ands, or buts. Whether you are 25 years old, married, and seeking offspring, or a barely pubescent 12-year-old who dabbled in activities that were meant for different circumstances, the resultant child is a blessing. God can use everything to do His good will- and moreover, this is a new life that He created. All in all, a child is pretty staggeringly awesome (awesome as in awe-inspiring).

Now, let's look at this from the ideal angle- sex within the bounds of marriage. If two people have unprotected sex, a child is not an unexpected result. It is not as if we are going to scratch our heads when the gal becomes pregnant and say "Hmm. Didn't see that coming!" In fact, it is much more common for us to scratch our heads and say that when a gal does NOT become pregnant.

Now, a problem with the above: society feels it needs protection from children conceived within the confines of marriage. That is an unfortunate attitude to have, built of fear. It is a hard life to live in fear of a blessing. But does this mean it is inappropriate to simply not ask for that specific blessing at a specific time?

If you were to want a child, how would you go about asking for one, outside of prayer? Why, by going through the act that generally results in conceiving one. If God wills, you will have a child. If God does not will, no child. Sometimes God says yes, other times no. Often, though, if you ask for a child, He will give you one. Again, we are much more surprised when He does not. Contraception is a means of saying "I'm not seeking out a child right now." It does not necessarily mean "I do not want a child," "I would dislike a child," "I would view a child as unfortunate," or "I'm afraid I'll have a child." There is a big difference between "I'm not asking for one," and "I don't want one" (to inject a bit of humor, ask anyone with kids if the fact that their child did not ask for a piece of candy means they would be wholly disappointed if someone were to give them one anyway).

The bigger debate is whether or not it is okay to not actively seek a blessing at all times. I would argue there are times when it is okay to not seek a blessing. My husband is a major blessing; there was a time in my life when I was not actively seeking a husband. I had told friends in junior high that I probably would not marry until I was 28. But I was provided with a husband (MUCH to my surprise, actually) a good deal earlier than that. I was 19 when I met him. We'd each already decided that the other was the one we'd marry before I turned 20.

Still, if a person is going to argue that there is no such time that it is okay to not seek a blessing, I cannot say nay. I can say that it is a bad idea to do what one thinks unconscionable, and would not advise them otherwise. But if asked if I find it unconscionable to not actively seek a child while married, I cannot say that I do. Entertain the notion for a moment that either is wrong, and the response that best says it all is "Sin boldly, but believe more boldly still," which should be followed up with the quote that begins "Should we sin that grace may abound?" No, we are not free to do whatever we want, but we should not live in fear, either. Rather, be confident in our salvation and God's grace and mercy.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Brown,

1) You have gone this route before in arguments with Rev. Beane it is not necessary to rehash them.

I take exception to your accusation of me coming close to calling you a liar. I think this is poor etiquette on your part. I never realized we were arguing about your use of contraception and I have never said that we were. Nor have I questioned your motives.

I disagree with the logic that using contraception and saying I am open to children can go together. I am not saying you are lying about your actions, I am saying I disagree with your logic. There is a difference between the two. Hence, this is why we have been debating.


Brown's wife:

Sure children are always a blessing. But the reason for using contraception is that they would be less of a blessing now because I don't really want them.

"Why, by going through the act that generally results in conceiving one. If God wills, you will have a child. If God does not will, no child. Sometimes God says yes, other times no."

In other words if you pray that God won't give you a child he generally won't give you one. But you have to use contraception to make sure that he really knows you don't want one right now.

If you want to say anything more on this comment I will probably not go beyond maybe one more comment. There is not going to be a way to resolve this. Those who want to read it can decide what they will based on the strength of what has been presented.

The Exiled said...

I pray for you and for those you serve that you may not misguide them into false doctrine due to your poor understanding of Scripture and the use of the Law and Gospel.

If you cannot believe that God's command to Adam to be fruitful and multiply is still valid today, then you might as well give up on using that text for marriage.

If you want God's view on contraception and trying to subvert His will on creation, try reading Genesis 38:8-10. "And Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.” But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also."

Again, I pray for your members that they may be able to discern truth from heresy like the Bereans. It sounds like they really need the prayers.

I'm sorry. I am full of anger. (Maybe righteous anger?) I just can’t keep silent anymore. I can’t play “nice” and be “winsome” much longer. I am just tired of half-educated fools running around spouting off things they know nothing about and refusing to say they are wrong. You know just enough to be dangerous. How you treat people like Deacon Gaba and Fr. Beane disgusts me. They have tried to gently correct you, all in Christian love and charity. Instead of admitting you are wrong, you act like some Iowa West farmer with that "Aw, shucks" attitude, distracting people from the issue at hand, thinking that will gain you some sympathy. You ignore what they say and dismiss them as nothing more than reeds blowing in the wind. It just turns my stomach. I guess I am trying to use a different approach, one that you might understand: being extremely blunt. A tactic commonly used by Luther in his writings. (As well as his opponents.) Sorry, none of this “winsome” stuff anymore.

I’ve got an idea. Do the church a favor. Shut down this blog. You do nothing to add to the education of the church at large. You do more to confuse people in an already confusing theological landscape.

Not just in this most recent post, but also previous posts and the actions you have committed and gleefully posted about. I am specifically referring to the marriage you performed and blogged about. It's not that I have a problem that it was in a barn, but the fact that you "pimped" yourself out to your friends to basically show off.

By performing that wedding, you show a severe lack of proper respect for the OHM. You are that pastor that causes a ripple effect that reaches across the years and across the church. You are that type of pastor who will marry, bury, or commune anyone that asks. All in the name of Christian love. Then later on, due to your acting “fast and loose” with the OHM, you will be causing headaches and problems for other pastors. Way to help a brother out. I have dealt with your type before. You are nothing but a series of problems waiting to happen. You’re lucky though, you’re young in years in the ministry. You still have a chance to correct your ways and stop making these mistakes.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Exiled,

It is clear that we are at odds on many theological issues - at odds on issues that many within Confessional circles are at odds. As I know both Latif and Larry and gladly consider them my friends, and we can have good, passionate disagreements, and then carry on with life.

I don't know you. I've tried to contact you privately, and you haven't responded. If my blog brings you such ire, and you don't wish to discuss, I'd suggest refraining from commenting.

Oh, and please insult me correctly. I would have "whored" myself out (except, I didn't get paid) - I could only have "pimped" another if I had sent them.

Two final things. First, a warning, an admonition. While there is righteous anger - this is a quick, a brief thing. We are warned not to let the sun go down on our anger because our sinful flesh will easily twist itself into self-righteous anger - where the anger is no longer than a person is harming others, but that said person is doing something *I* would never do, and that I am better than... so on and so forth.

Be wary of that, for that anger is no longer righteous, but simply sin.

One final note - it is fine to call people to the carpet, but that loses all power of appeal when you are a stranger. If some random guy who I do not know goes off on a rant - why should I care? I've got the "Bible Church" preacher going off on a rant down the street, I don't care about his ravings. But, if someone I know and love and respect becomes agitated, yells, "O Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you" - then it makes an impact.

Even John with his famous, "You brood of vipers" line waits until the Pharisees and Scribes come to him... John has respect and authority by then - they know that they ought to listen to him - they know he is a prophet - thus his rebuke has moral authority.

Alas, I don't know you - hence, I have no reason to feel any impact from your fire and brimstone.

Moreover - I am worried about the line "Sorry, none of this 'winsome' stuff anymore." Luther could be both both and vigorous and also winsome in the same letter. Both were tools that he used - he could lash the whip, but then feed the carrot.

If your own frustrations have led you to abandon civility, kindness, and winsomeness - even those who do know you and have a reason to respect you will tire of your posturing. You can only crush people for so long before, for their own sanity's sake, they will ignore you. And you will become very more isolated.

Again, this goes to Law and Gospel - Law destroys, Gospel builds. When you do worry about building?

Or would you have me recant all that I have written because you disagree with my stance on Contraceptives (which basically is the stance of my Church) and because, in your estimation, I "whored" [sic] myself out for a wedding?

Your first comment to the first post you commented on had shock value - now, you who could and should be my friend, really, you only bring forth pity in me. Again, I will keep you in my prayers.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

CAAF,

I do not think you are calling me a liar. However, this is an advice to you - when you insist that your way of coming to rational grips with an issue is the only way that is rational, you either accuse a person of being irrational or being a liar and not meaning what they say. You are not asking to see how they think - rather you say they are wrong - and thus either irrational or a liar.

While I am not offended by this, pushing things, using language like "really open" will offend many folks and shut them off from hearing you. Avoid it.

Anonymous said...

"However, bear in mind that if you keep saying things like a person who uses contraception and says that they are open to having children isn't "really open" is very closing to calling me a liar.

That would be rather impolite, and certainly no where near putting the best construction on my actions, especially when I do not believe I have given you any other reason to think that I am unusually untrustworthy with my word."

The reason I took exception is because I think you could have proved your point when you said its fine if you don't see the line that I walk. Quoted above was to me not an attack on my logic. I do not think you are untrustworthy and at no point anywhere in the debate had I specifically talked about your actions just your arguments.

It is my feeling however, that this argument has run its course. It has been interesting.

CAAF

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Brown writes:
"While it is tragic when couples that wish children do not get them, that is not the predominate problem cultural speaking. Indeed, I'm sure that those who remain childless understand how isolating their problem is. Fisk is there addressing predominate attitudes in the culture which has ignored the rule of thumb - marriage leads to children.
It's just a rule of thumb. It's what typically happens. That's all."

I respond:
Why are you, a priest and pastor, young though you are, unable to admit that you, and/or an acquaintance of yours, is wrong? You keep going around in circles on this. I'll try once again. I actually do not need you to tell me what Fisk's main point is, or what his chief intention is. I see it, and agree with it, and in fact, when one views, watches, and hears that video objectively, one can only conclude that in fact, the video's take on the issue is closer to my position on birth control than it is to yours. However, to his clear "always" slip, I strongly object, because it is a bone-headed, ie., regretful, moment, and one which actually falls into the category of what you have condemned in this very post. Hello. Can you just admit it?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Because, as I recall, he says "always, always, with a few exceptions." He provided his own caveat there.

Now, should the caveat have been stronger - perhaps. But I'm pretty sure it was there.

If there was no caveat, then he was wrong not to give one.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I already said that he adds "with a few exceptions." That is not a caveat. For he first clearly says that the union of man and wife "always" results in children. This is at about 12:30 on the video. Then, in a video cut, he then adds his qualification. The clear words of his video, coupled with the unmistakable images of the multiplied leporid offspring, send a message that couples who do not artificially contracept pregnancy will have children.

By the way, while I'm at it, let me share two more criticisms of the video: 1. He says that children are the highest heritage that God can give. That is a most unfortunate example of theological imprecision. The grace of God in Christ, this is the highest heritage that God can and does give. He gives it to all members of His sacred and mystical Body, by means of Baptism, and He keeps on giving it in all its wondrous richness and new life in the ongoing sacramental life of His holy Church.

2. Part of his definition of marriage is the sexual union. There is more than one type of situation which clearly contradicts this notion.

Yet one of the funniest aspects of this conversation is how you defend this video (a video which I really like over all) while it in several and various ways endorses a view of contraception which you have condemned. One proof of this is his endorsement of the "Lutherans and Procreation" blog, whose birth control position is quite clear in a post like this one: http://lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/2010/05/new-synodical-resolution-on-birth.html

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif - "with a few exceptions" is the definition of a caveat. Really. It is. And the video is a corrective to the modern idea that children are incidental. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

And again, if the goal of a video is to make people consider things other than the modern idea that we should just use contraception willy nilly. I think Lutherans and Procreation is often a fine site to make people think about this issue, even if I don't always agree.

Latif, don't you realize you and learn and find insight in the thoughts of people, even if you don't completely agree with every conclusion that they make? There is much I respect in a many of the discussions that speak to the value of children - I simply disagree with the length to which people push their arguments.

Also, I can highly recommend Fisk's video because he repeatedly emphasizes that children are not a command, but rather a blessing. Failure to make that distinction is one of my frequent complaints.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

"Latif - "with a few exceptions" is the definition of a caveat. Really. It is. And the video is a corrective to the modern idea that children are incidental. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less."

Eric- My contention with you on the video does not hinge on whether or not "with a few exceptions" could be called a "caveat." When such a phrase, which you call a caveat, is appended to an absolute statement, it makes the absolute statement superfluous. If "with a few exceptions" is not merely a butt-saving afterthought, delivered in no where near the emphatic way that the absolute statement is delivered, but a genuine and sincere thought in the discourse, then the statement it modifies would not have been expressed with such absolutist terms to begin with. The message is sent in this video, whether or not it was fully thought through or intended, with both word and image, that couples that have relations and do not use contraception WILL end up with children. That is wrong; it is a slip up, I'm sure. And this is a relatively minor critique, but one I keep insisting because you keep oddly and lamely defending it on this point.

As I say, the other odd thing is that the position on contraception in this video in no way fits your modernist position, reflected most recently in your latest post, which you apparently feel uneasy about defending with real discussion there. Rather, it actually seems to me to fall toward the traditional position, that of Luther, and the whole tradition of the Church Catholic.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif,

You are right - I don't want there to be discussion on that post, nor am I interested in defending it. If someone or some couple has decided that they want to use contraception or are at least considering it, I'd like to let them have something to think about without trying to sort through a bunch of comments.

Not everything is about trying to win an argument, or make every thing pristine and specific and technical.

Besides, if they want to see more discussion and objections to my thoughts, they'll see them clearly enough in comments in other places. Not every single work addressing a topic has to deal with every single issue there on. They can find objections elsewhere.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

And I guess if you wish, with that other post, you can accuse me of Eastern Orthodox leanings as well as modernist, if you are ever so inclined.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

"Latif, don't you realize you and learn and find insight in the thoughts of people, even if you don't completely agree with every conclusion that they make?"

Hello. I have admitted my agreement with and general admiration for the video. The point here is your inability to express agreement with a clear and brotherly critique I am making.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

It is not an inability to agree - it is simply that I do not agree with your critique. I think it is spurious and does not pay attention to the context and purpose of the video. I think it places unreal expectations upon the video, and therefore is a dubious complaint, lacking in merit.

It's not that I am incapable of agreeing with a critique - I just don't think your critique there has much merit.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I don't know what you mean by "much merit." No merit? Merit, but not on an issue on which you feel worthy of going against a friendly acquaintance? What?

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I suggest you take the time to view the video again; just start at the 10 minute mark.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

And I repeat, the other thing going on here, worthy of pressing you on, is that while the video, as a whole, has a very traditional stand on contraception, you have been condemnatory of that position in general and when expressed by some individuals, but praise this video while making no such "caveats."

Anonymous said...

Your position is the NEW Eastern position (mid 20th century) and still not accepted by many in the East:

"Bishop Kallistos (Ware) writes in one of the several versions of his book The Orthodox Church, now entirely online on at least two sites:
The use of contraceptives and other devices for birth control is on the whole strongly discouraged in the Orthodox Church. Some bishops and theologians altogether condemn the employment of such methods. Others, however, have recently begun to adopt a less strict position, and urge that the question is best left to the discretion of each individual couple, in consultation with the spiritual father."

So quoting your position as the Eastern position is somewhat misleading since the position you are espousing has only been in that church since the mid 20th century - the "recuntly begun".

Also: "Fr John Schroedel, an Orthodox who happens to agree with the magisterium on the subject, admits:

Although the evidence presented contains certain ambiguities, a consistent picture does emerge. Diverse sources from Ireland, Italy, North Africa, Greece, Serbia, Russia, and the Syrian Orient all attest to the fact that contraceptives were condemned by the Church. Until very recently opposition to contraception was commonly recognized as the traditional position ... It should be noted that it was not until 1930 that any mainstream Christian group officially endorsed the use of contraceptives. The Christian world had been universally opposed to the use of contraceptives until that time."

I think that it should be clear that the East changed with the culture as well. It is a new position in the East.

Chuck Awesome

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

CA - Actually, I think most things only get stated in parts of the East in the past 20 years.

Latif,

The only merit that your argument has is that one might, if careless in his viewing, miss the caveat that is present. However, that flaw is not one that is overly careless, unkind, or erroneous. So, I find your position lacking in merit. Although I can see where it comes from, I find it lacking - and would find it lacking if the video had been posted by my mortal enemy.

And yes, I acknowledge that Fisk might very well come down against me on the issue of contraception. However, unlike many who rant against contraception, I appreciate three things:

1. There is no ranting about the evils of Contraception.
2. He seeks to address cultural issues that lead to what we both would agree with as being an overuse of contraception.
3. He does not seek to make new laws so as to curb society. This too I appreciate.

What more is there to press me on. "Oh no, someone I like might disagree with me? Oh no!" Thus is life. But even if Rev. Fisk disagrees, he will be kind, gentle, attempt to convince, and continue to be kind even if he doesn't convince me (although I still don't know how far or to what extent he would contradict me. Actually, I'd imagine he wouldn't be all that interested, as there are probably larger fish to fry).

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Oh, and Latif,

As you have looked at other more recent posts, I encourage you (I would say press, but I can't really press you when this isn't your blog and you freely can ignore anything you wish) to give your one comment reply to this post here. I would find your thoughts and reactions interesting, and most other people seem to want to address contraception as a whole instead of the two specific thoughts I raise.

And again - this is not some sort of trap - I simply would be interested in hearing your thoughts, even if I may not end up agreeing or being convinced by them.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I just don't trust people to handle this topic delicately, gently, and with love - and I don't want people running around on that like a bull in a china shop.

Also, as you fundamentally disagree with the notion that there can be a time to not only use contraceptives, but even engage in Natural Family Planning -- I sort of already know your position. You think I am wrong and careless.

Duly noted.

And, if it soothes your conscience, comment here - maybe you will so persuade me that I will recant and tear down that other post.

You haven't so far. But please, if you so desire, continue to try. In your case I will chalk it up to sincere care for me and the desire to have me grow in wisdom on and understanding.

But frankly, I don't want to have to worry about erasing some tomfool comment like, "You all are a bunch of evil pimps" three weeks down the road.

Thus is life in an evil world. You could even say that I am trying to prevent such things - almost fitting given the post, eh?

Anonymous said...

I can understand you not wanting people to deal unfairly in the commenting.

Just a quick question did my earlier comment get lost somewhere or was it deleted? Just curious, I think it would be sort of important to have before your response.

CAAF

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Yeah - I don't know where that comment went. . . I didn't delete it. I did delete a spam post elsewhere - I don't know if things got crossed up.

Anonymous said...

I figured as much. I know that happens with blogger sometimes.

Well here is close to what I said in case people are interested. I say close just because this might not be exactly what Rev. Brown saw when he responded. I think I may have changed some of my comments a little bit but it should still make sense.

If people want to see just the argument they can read the post then they don't have to go through any of the comments. But maybe someone will read the comments from the opposition and then decide your argument is wrong.

Then I said something to the effect of: That you say you can accept people disagreeing with you but then that does not show through by not allowing to let people comment.

Something like that if you want to make any additions or corrections feel free Rev. Brown.

CAAF

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I'm home from work; has everyone been having fun here? I just want to take a moment and emphasize that my criticism of the Fisk video on "cow love" is not an unkindness or an ungenerous act, or a putting the worst construction on something. You mention something above about being this critical for your enemies. I think, rather, that it is our friends and brothers, whom we should strive hardest to sharpen and critique, especiaqlly when it comes to matters of how one's message of the gospel is coming accross in the public realm.

Ours is a rich language, and so if a man believes and wishes to communicate the fact that there are indeed exceptions to the general pattern that marital union results in children, then instead of saying that marital union without contraception always results in children, and then modifying that statement with a caveat, he could easily just say it more accurately aqnd clearly, by, for example, replacing "always" with something like "normally."

Again, the other thing I just find fascinating, namely, that while your position on contraception is at odds with the position expressed at the Lutherans & Procreation site, you endorse without qualification a video which endorses the teaching at that site, while condemning others who also hold the traditional view.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif,

You are repeating yourself - I know you find it fascinating that I enjoy the Fisk video, even though he points people to Lutherans and Procreation, a site that has some conclusions which I disagree with (you've said that, or a variation thereof, at least 4 times now - we get it). I still think there is much good on that site - especially about cultural attitudes.

And what I like about the Fisk video is the fact that he doesn't bash people over the head, but rather simply is content to teach the biblical truth that children are a blessing and a normal result of marriage.

No more, no less. And I appreciate that.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

"You are repeating yourself"

The reason I persist, or "am repeating myself" is that you persist. Don't worry, it won't last forever. There is a limit to everything.

Now we hear from you that the reason that you condemn some for holding to the traditional view of contraception but not Fisk for holding the same view is that 1. he does not "rant" that contraception is evil, 2. he addresses cultural issues, which lead to an overuse of contraception, and 3. he does not seek to "make new laws."

I am not deeply acquainted with Fr. Fisk, but from what he says in the video, and from his strong endorsement of the Luth. & Procreation site, I safely infer that his position on contraception is pretty much mine, and that of the Lutherans & Procreation blog. It is a position which does have much to say (rant?) about the evils of contraception. It is a position which has a lot to say about cultural issues pertinent to this matter, including the oversexualization of the culture, the feminization of the culture, etc. It is a position, finally, which understands the law of God the way Luther does, the way I pray you will as well, but no, it does not in fact "make new laws."

"even though he points people to Lutherans and Procreation, a site that has some conclusions which I disagree with....you've said that, or a variation thereof, at least 4 times now - we get it"

I have no real indication that in fact you do get it. The problem is not that I keep saying it, but that you seem unwilling to admit the inconsistency here.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latif,

Over and over, Fisk emphasizes that children are a blessing, not a law. I appreciate that. Simple as that. There is no, "You must always seek to have more children" - just that when they are given, they are a blessing. He isn't wagging a finger, binding a conscience, or even talking about a Law.

Note what you say - you say that your position is a position "which understands the law of God the way Luther does".

Fisk hasn't hammered me with the Law. That's the distinction that he makes - and that I can appreciate.

Does everyone over at Lutherans and Contraception do that? No. But many there do. I especially respect Dr. Stuckwisch's approach - this post at his own blog ( http://sword-in-hat.blogspot.com/2008/10/engaging-culture.html ) is especially good - and I would note the following: "Our Christian confession is not that husbands and wives are obliged to maximize their offspring, but that God is the Author and Giver of life, and that we receive by faith whatever He gives (or withholds) according to His grace. I'm not suggesting or implying any blanket rules that govern everyone in every circumstance. But the deliberate avoidance of children, or the deliberate attempt to limit the number of children, has largely been driven by the cultural values and expectations of the world, in a way that is counterintuitive to the Christian faith."

That, I can whole heartedly agree with - and I think the vilification of contraception, the outlawing of it does nor provide correction or instruction. I'm not saying that we should willy-nilly say, "ah, this and no more". Rather this - I fear that the anti-contraceptive rhetoric, instead of focusing on the positive view of Scripture (children are a blessing, really, really they are) instead simply tries to apply a blanket rule to every situation - and that is not helpful nor profitable.

Again - I am not saying that "Birth Control is GOOOD" I'm saying to blanketly say, "Oh, you can never do that" goes beyond what the Scriptures teach and isn't helpful in addressing either the ills of society, of how the Church handles and operates in society, or the difficult situations of people who are struggling (or think they are struggling).

Anonymous said...

We could say (since we don't really know what Fisk was saying, oh wait... I can't say really that's Oklahoma law speak, which by the way means nothing to someone who doesn't live in Oklahoma or has never even been there. But still, listen to the rest of what I am saying.) he was saying it's not a law because people who are not married and remain virgins won't be able to have children.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

We could say that... but that is a leap of logic and he doesn't say or imply that, therefore it is erroneous to ascribe that to him.

If he wishes to say that, he will.

Or, I might point out, if God had wanted to say that, God would have said so. Instead, I'll just go read Romans and delight in what God has said - not speculate on what God "really" meant when He points out that children are a blessing (because by blessing, he meant Law, but only if you are married).

Weak, weak exegesis right there. Not even an argument from silence, but a random attempt to fill silence.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

As for "we could say" - I am reminded of a day at the Seminary. One classmate of mine was trying to repeat what the Professor Schultz had just said about Christ. He began by saying, "Well, couldn't we say...." and just utterly butchered it, spoke rank heresy.

To which Professor Schultz replied, "Yeah, we could say that if we want to, but then we would go to hell."

Do not deal with "could" when it comes to the Word, deal with what is written. No more, no less.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Ah, my bad - it was "YOU could say that if YOU want to, but then YOU would go to hell." 2nd person.

Anonymous said...

I give up.

CAAF

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

If by this you mean that you are giving up putting words into God's mouth that He did not say - that you are not speaking where not told to speak and not running when not told to run - excellent, I commend you.

My blog - I get last word =o)

Anonymous said...

Of course you get the last word. And of course you can't just let someone bow out of a debate you have to force them to defend themselves.

Thanks for commending me for what clearly is not the reason I say I have given up, you just helped to prove my point. As you can see what I am done with is your debating style.

Anonymous said...

Or at least you force me to defend myself. I can not speak about your ending debates with others. I do not want to assume that.

CAAF

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Saying "I give up" is not bowing out gracefully. You did say things that would have been graceful bow outs earlier - earlier you say, "It is my feeling however, that this argument has run its course. It has been interesting."

That is a quite graceful bow-out. Very well done, and I thought you were done, in fact. And you will note - I let your words be the last on that discussion (again, a very graceful bow out). You say I don't let someone bow out - I didn't respond, I had in fact let you bow out.

However you (or someone, at leastm as the comment wasn't named) jumped back in, saying, "We could say (since we don't really know what Fisk was saying, oh wait... I can't say really that's Oklahoma law speak, which by the way means nothing to someone who doesn't live in Oklahoma or has never even been there. But still, listen to the rest of what I am saying.) he was saying it's not a law because people who are not married and remain virgins won't be able to have children." That was no longer bowing out, and also derisive (Oklahoma Law Speak - I think that's a bit funny, and ironic given Oklahoma's in the Bible Belt and tends more legalism) - so don't launch a shot across someone's bow and then expect things to end that way.

If you hadn't spoken back up, there would have been no need to defend yourself. If you hadn't been smarmy, you would not have been smarmed in kind.

Anonymous said...

I understand your logic on why you responded so because of my comment. I should have just let it be and not said I give up. My only contention would be that you could have just let my comment be and let my ungraceful bow out stand on its own lack of grace.

I personally think being a little less smarmy might help your tone with those opposed to you. This is where I took exception at times during our discourse.

I confess I let my emotion get the best of my arguing in a way that is fair and doesn't attack your statements made to me (in reference to my Oklahoma comment) or what I incorrectly stated as your inability to let someone leave an argument. Instead I resorted to a tactic that was less than fair and friendly. This I confess was a sin against you please forgive me.

I don't plan on commenting on any posts any further as I think I have come to realize that blog comments or posts for that matter really aren't the appropriate place to try and debate a theological issue such as this one. There are too many issues with language that don't work with the typed word.

CAAF

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

CAAF,

Accept my apologizes for any undue difficulty I gave (that is I and my smarminess) you. And I do thank you for your participation and insights here. I do look forward to the time when perhaps we can discuss face to face - it could be a good time.

But we should probably have a topic or two in reserve upon which we are in complete agreement =o)

Take care and be well!

Anonymous said...

I look forward to that as well. I am positive we have things that we both are in complete agreement on.

CAAF

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