Although spoken within a different context, this has been the same motivation behind changing Church doctrine to further implement policy within the Left agenda. I would further say that this desire to control is not the Left’s alone. There is alot of political activism in the Church, but within the traditional and fundamental Protestants there is one pivotal factor: What does the Bible say?
Looking At The Theology
Martin Luther comments on this verse, “Genesis 9:1 leads us to believe that children are a gift of God and come solely through the blessing of God, just as Psalm 127:3 shows. The heathen, who have not been instructed by the Word of God, believe that the propagation of the human race happens partly by nature, partly by accident, especially since those who are regarded as most suited for procreation often fail to have children. Therefore the heathen do not thank God for this gift, nor do they receive their children as the gift of God.”-Above Rubies
There are different uses for doctrine and the right use is for better understanding God and how to obey Him. The other is less straightforward. The other is to persuade someone to a different point of view and that can be more politics than theology. In the way Christians sometimes approach this, it has got the qualities of both. I think this is where there is some difficulty with the QF stance as some people express it.
In Quiver Full, as its adherents express it, there are two platforms promoted. One is the basic idea that God commanded fruitfulness in the Genesis account, that this remains in force, and that the reproduction of children within a marriage is one avenue of it. The other is that parenting is the highest form of serving God, or maybe they would word it more as the ministry of parenting children is above other ministries in the persons life.
I am not going to approach this from what is wrong with a specific view, so much as from my understanding on the topic.
The Genesis account is clear, God did have a message on fruitfulness, and it is continued throughout the Bible account as a principle. There is an attitude that children are received as a blessing. And it isn’t just in one place, either, but a command for fruitfulness is linked with other instructions that mediate the ideas that some have taken from this portion of scripture. The good thing that one may take from some of the teachings of the QF type is the renaissance of seeing children and the experience of birthing and raising them in this positive and welcoming light.
I have personally believed that God has given a leeway in personal choice that allows for family planning, but I was willing to entertain the opposite view, for the sake of honestly exploring this teaching. Even though it would have condemned my own past actions. In this mental exercise I started to relive some of the painfulness that many couples have in their decisions on this. That gives me some motivation to more carefully analyse some of this. The purpose to rightly divide the word in scriptures, here, is not so much to change anyones convictions, but to help them give grace to each other.
If someone wants to view the command to be fruitful as that which directs one to have all the children they can, I can’t do anything about that. I have no arsenal of scripture to throw at them to say they are wrong. I do think they ignore other remonstrances of scripture to their detriment, because I don’t think that is exactly what God has shown in the entirety of His word. Fruitfulness is an agrarian term. It has many analogies, and if we are too obtuse for those, the Law is filled with rules governing how one should be fruitful. There is a concept of rest and fallowness, that is built into God’s word on this subject. As Paul said, God didn’t write directives about oxen and fields, etc. simply because of His concern about them. He wrote those things for us to understand how He views the order of our lives, and what pleases Him.
If you want to force production, that is your business, but I think a person who does that lacks stewardship, and will suffer some drawback from that. The other part of the command at the beginning was for man to exercise dominion. If the New Testament is any indication, some of that meant over oneself, and I believe family planning may enter that category. Being fruitful is managed, and not abandonment to nature. This is true for any analogy you would want to find in the natural. I do think that how one manages is between that couple and God… and this brings me to another sore point with Christians.
On many subjects I find that Christians lust for rules. They are displeased with the freedom and the personal responsibility of seeking God’s direction for their lives, they want methods and rulebooks. And they too often want those things to bring their dominion upon others, outside their jurisdictions.
Having said that, there are seasons of fruitfulness, and there are different manners in which that manifests even within certain species. I grow some cherry trees, and those cherry trees have different forms of bearing. Some have a massive production in one season and then a rest season or two, other don’t produce as much in one season but are more steady. People are even more unique in their patterns. Life is not one size fits all. Just because something is good doesn’t mean that God demands it of all. If this sounds relative it is, all is relative to God. The New Testament has very few commandments. It wasn’t the Mosaic Law lite, but relationship growth. Today too many want to throw things into the light of rule and judgment that shouldn’t be there. It used to be, in Protestant circles, that there was a strong sense that somehow limiting ones family was more holy, that one served God better by not having to serve any more than a specific number of children. I don’t see where God has any such thinking. I see the insight given that if you feel that you may better serve God without family demands don’t get married. Enough with this getting married and then deciding that you serve God better parceling out what you decide God ought to want in your marriage. And then stamping “sacrifice” on it.
This is my opinion, and perhaps I could argue it, but I want instead to ask you a question if you believe that idea has merit, “that people can be more moral in limiting their family”, what scriptures do you use?
Usually people use circumstances, and I think that is fine in the fact that God gives a wide berth in allowing us to have wisdom in our families. It might be more wise for you to slow your family size, but it is not more moral than not to. It is a decision in your jurisdiction to make in your family realm.
If people want to argue that God makes all the decisions in this, and abandon themselves, then are they consistent to not intervene in any way? No “helping God along” with medical care. I don’t think they would. I could not have done that, personally. I have Rh factor, and without the Rho-gam shot I could not have had the number of live healthy children that I had. Modern medicine increased my fruitfulness, it preserved what God gave me. We tend our vineyards, and we make decisions.
Getting back to that first link with the thoughts on the myth of control, I find the whole idea of trying to control outcomes in the world system by actively having as many children as possible to be something of an antithetical to our faith, as the outcomes of God are not reliant upon how we “work it”. Instead the whole ideal of being more grateful and recognizing His blessings is building the walls of the faith, so it is something of the emphasis we take. Becoming balanced.
The reason I take such a laissez faire attitude towards even the most strongly worded of these types of teachings is because I recognize that they are confronting some very aggressive forces that are actively contrary to the things that are correct in all this. I’m not excusing, but I am convinced that we should give grace in this. This is not as much as either side would wish from me, but I know that we can’t really tell who is doing something from sincere faith and whether or not they are accepted in that by their master. Our master. God’s Will is to have abundance, but He has many types and manifestations of abundance… I think we should have an openness of heart to God and less fear.
I do not agree that the passage about Onan is about birth control. I believe it is about obedience, and this is where we will have to situate ourselves on the subject. And part of that is to not judge each other in these things, but set a good example.
What is my own attitude? I think having children has become much more difficult in our society, but saying that, still, I would have liked to have had even a couple more than my ten. I can say that of all that I have done, I regret nothing of having each and every child, and they are my greatest fulfillment. I consider them the most worthwhile and lasting outcome of my life. It has proven true for me that children are a blessing. I have many thoughts on such things, perhaps that will surface in other posts.
I have not yet dealt with the idea of parenting as highest ministry yet. Next post. Read some of the following link for more discussion points.
The Andrea Yates case throws a spotlight on a controversial Christian movement
Intro to Bringing It Home has the background urls;Bringing It Home 1 ; Bringing It Home 2 ; Bringing It Home 3