Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

more birth control discussion

Posted by Chris on April 6, 2008

This post is intended as a response to comments to my last post and to other posts BH made at his blog, Lawn Gospel. We are having a discussion on Christians and birth control… based on certain presuppositions, such as the Sovereignty of God. If you don’t share the presupposition, I would not expect you to agree with the angle of our discussion. I would have different things to say in a discussion on birth control that was grounded in a different context– in other words, I fully acknowledge the complexity of this debate (or lackthereof).

BH, I will try and address your comments which were somewhat spread out.
First, I need to repeat that

    I am not calling birth control and medicine equivalent

, or pregnancy and disease equivalent (see my comment on the previous post). So when you answered my question, “How do you make the distinction between birth control and medicine comparison as far as what is morally acceptable on the basis of God’s sovereign will?”, you only echoed what I agree with.
Your comment about leprosy (on my post) tried to address my real question, but I don’t quite understand your answer.

The distinction (as I mentioned more at depth in my response post) is leprosy is a disease, and pregnancy clearly and biblically is not. The fact that we moral creatures can affirm that suffering and death is “evil”, actually places an onus on us to do what we can to overcome that evil with good.

Again– I stated leprosy is a disease. In your post on birth control and genetic disease, you say:

…To flee from such suffering is not the picture that we are given in Christ. I don’t believe we should wish suffering on our children, but knowing that suffering will come, we should never forget that it eventually “produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…”

Is there an onus to do what we can to overcome suffering in that statement?

I am not getting a clear vision of what you actually think about suffering, nor do I understand your answer to my question (I think you’ve answered a different question).

Biblical support for medicinal healing
You commented on this at my original post. I laughed at your mention of the SBC & 1 Tim 5:23, I almost mentioned that myself before as an example for me! If someone has a stomach problem now, would you tell them to drink wine or water? What is more likely to give you a stomach problem, wine or water? That advice is completely contextual– water was dirty then and unhealthy– wine was good by comparison.
“Luke the beloved physician”… beloved and a physician he was. But he wasn’t combating infectious disease. I’m not saying there’s no Biblical support for medicinal healing– I’m saying that medicine offered no help in the areas of disease that ravaged people– it was considered to be within God’s hands. A little stomach problem also lies outside of that, in that, Timothy was not in any danger of losing his life.

Moral Ambiguity
You are right, although in my defense, I am not comparing eating meat to conception, rather just establishing that moral ambiguity is okay– just because it’s there doesn’t mean we’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere in deciding what is permissible. That is only one part of a potential objection to saying that birth control is in some cases a conscience issue.

Now, to address what you said in your post (“Ensuing Dialogue…”)

Motives & suffering

In a philosophical sense, I do grant that some couples may have “good” motives for using birth control… Simply put, these “what if’s” do not address the question of “ever”. You can not answer the question, “Is it ever moral to use birth control?”, by merely arguing for the goodness of motives. If it is never right to blaspheme the name of God (i.e. deny the Faith), then even if I must do so to save my life or the live of someone else, I can not do it

Very good points.

Then, later

But again, let me highlight the problem in your argument. You are attempting to prove the morality of something by judging its motives. In a very real sense, you are arguing that “the ends justifies the means,” while still leaving the means, the ends, and the motive in a state of moral ambiguity.

Now I think you’ve gone too far. You are right about what I’m arguing– the ends sometimes justify the means. In fact, I’d say that it’s quite common and point to biblical precedent in some cases (Hebrew midwives, Rahab- both deceive/lie). We do it all the time– much of the time, we’re wrong, but sometimes we’re right. The sinfulness of anger lies completely in the context of the object and source of anger (evil and love– good anger. someone wrongs us and pride– bad anger.) “Acts of righteousness” in Matthew 6- before men, to be seen by them– immoral. Visiting the imprisoned in Matthew 25– what you do to men you have done to Jesus. In fact, the idea that motives make moral leads me to condemn myself even more, as I see that even in my “good acts”, sin remains in my motives, unbeknownst to someone who benefits from the act.

If there was ever a real threat posed to children, it is being born into a fallen world — and yet every parent from Adam and Eve to our parents have taken that ‘risk’ and given birth to us. There is a threat of death hanging above all of mankind’s head, but that does not give us the right to circumvent the “wages of sin” – apart from a faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Excellent point. That is certainly the greatest threat and you’re right, it does point back to the argument of motives.

You ended your post much more strongly than I will. “I agree.”?! Not exactly a persuasive comeback on my part. You won’t see me critiquing anything you say in your defense, because I agree with your position– only I expand it and include underneath the umbrella of conscience.

I feel like I had a different question for you earlier in the week, but working insane hours (what other people apparently call “normal”) this week has burned my brain. I will close with a quote from Mohler’s blog on marriage. He says that the church has recognized three purposes for marriage, the first being children. He goes on to say

The denial of a procreative orientation for marriage–every marriage genuinely open to the gift of children–is a denial of the biblical vision of marriage itself.

I don’t know what he personally meant by “open to the gift of children.” To me, as a single guy only thinking about this in the abstract up to this point, that openness can be expressed while also following some sort of “plan.” I assume you would leave less room for interpretation in a similar statement?

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