"That they (the older women) admonish the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Birth Control Part 5


It's been awhile since I last posted on this and I apologize for taking so long to answer the questions that were asked. So, here we go. If you are wondering how we began this discussion, you can go back to the beginning here and follow along.

Questions:
Would you agree with me that the Bible does not specifically approve of or condemn birth control? You listed a lot of different biblical principles you believe should guide one's decision about birth control, but isn't it fair to say that none of them actually say "do not use birth control" - or something of the like - in so few words?

Answers:
This is probably going to get long winded again. :)
Do I agree that the Bible does not specifically, word for word say that you should not use birth control? Yes. Do I think this means Christians should use it? No. Now for why.

First of all, we need to consider a few things and make sure everyone that might be reading this is on the same page. The bible, as most people know, has two parts. The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. This fact is very, very important for a Christian to have a good understanding of. The New Covenant is what defines us as Christians. The Old Covenant had several, fulfilled purposes such as foreshadowing Christ, displaying some of the character of God and proving that man has sin that he, himself cannot remove. The Old Covenant is also referred to as "the law" because it lays out in specific detail the law the Jews were to follow. If they broke that law, certain consequences had to be given, ranging from animal sacrifices all the way to death of the transgressor. Throughout the Old Testament books are stories of what happened when Israel transgressed the Law of God and pictures of Jesus. The law proved that man did not have the power to not sin (it was his nature), could not remove his sin against God (only cover it) and that a more perfect system was needed.

That said, let's look at the New Testament. The New Covenant is all about Jesus Christ (His words, actions and life) and about His death on the cross that made a way for the sin of the world to be removed. Not covered, removed. Cast into the sea. The rest of the New Covenant is about what this means for those who choose to follow and believe in Jesus Christ. It is about how to practically take up your cross and follow after Christ. It's not always easy. It's usually not popular. It usually goes against your flesh and your own desires. That's a fact of being a Christian. You were bought with a price and are not your own. This is one way that the Child/Parent relationship (as we previously discussed) does not apply. Jesus Christ is Lord. Not just Savior, but Lord. If something in the bible says "Do Not...." it's not an option. Disobedience could have very serious consequences. It's very easy as Christians to forget the gravity of sin and that Jesus isn't just your personal buddy. He is the Creator and Lord of everything.

Anyway, I'm getting off point. The point is that the New Testament is about the Christian life. My husband likes to refer to it as the "Spirit of the Law." I once heard John Bevere say that when you read something in the Old Testament, you need to bring it to the cross. The cross will either "change it, delete it, or leave it the same." Examples. Animal sacrifices. The cross deleted the need for that. Thou shalt not murder. The cross changed that to not even having hatred in your heart. Fornication. The cross left it the same... don't do it. However, the cross changed the consequences of it from just physical death to spiritual death, if it's left unrepented of.

In essence, Christians are meant to follow the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. The Pharisees liked to follow the letter of the law and Jesus blasted them for it. They were concerned about Jesus' disciples not washing their hands and Jesus said that it's the heart that really matters. The letter of the law said that the Jews needed to wash their hands before eating. The spirit of the law says that the point is to have a clean heart as well as clean hands. The spirit of the law was often not followed until Jesus came and gave revelation of it. The Jews in the Old Covenant had to follow the letter of the law or there would be consequences. One of the awesome freedoms we have as Christians is that Jesus fulfilled the law and we are to follow after His example in observing the spirit of the law. There is great freedom is this. Read through the law in Exodus or Leviticus (which I recently tried and failed to do) and you'll probably be praying to thank Jesus that we don't have to strictly follow all that.

However, the spirit of the law is also much deeper. It looks at the intent of what was laid down, not just the straight forward meaning. Example. Thou shalt not kill. Everyone in America knows this commandment. If they know no other, they know this one. They also often use it to say "I haven't done that-see? I'm not so bad." But Jesus took murder to a whole different level by saying if you so much as hate your brother you are guilty of murder. He was showing us the spirit of that law. In our flesh, we cannot follow this spirit of the law. The flesh cannot follow the spirit. That's one of the reasons why, as Christians, we are given the Holy Spirit, to lead us and teach us in all things.

Now, to the point. Is it spelled out in the letter of the law that we shouldn't use birth control? Nope. But I don't follow the letter of the law and I definitely don't want to. I can't pick and chose which I follow based on how it will best suit me and my desires. This weekend, I didn't go out and buy some huge, fancy car and I didn't get into debt because we couldn't afford it. Is it the letter of the law that I shouldn't buy things that are fancy that I can't afford? No. But you could say the spirit behind much of Proverbs and other principles laid out by the bible is that we need to live more wisely.

One of the wonderful things about the bible is that it can (and has) spanned many cultures and time periods. The bible doesn't say "Don't buy a car you can't afford" probably because they had no idea what a car was. But the principles of wise money management that are found in there have stood the test of time. I even heard of a Christian man becoming a millionaire because he read one chapter of Proverbs every day, over and over and applied it to his business practices. In the time period of the bible, children weren't seen as the burdens and nuisances they are considered by most people today. It was a shameful thing to a woman if she couldn't bear children, as we read about several times in biblical stories. Maybe the bible didn't address it specifically because it wasn't an issue at that time. I don't know, that's speculation. But I would say that all of the principles and things we've discussed previously would lead to a belief that the spirit behind those principles would be that children are a blessing, that we shouldn't be trying to control things that are God's business and should take responsibility for the actions we take and their natural consequences.
Ok, long windedness over! :) Thanks for listening.

2 comments:

Ryan and Anna on October 24, 2008 at 7:13 PM said...

Janeen,

So we are in agreement the Bible does not explicitly condemn birth control. Good. That makes things much simpler.

We are also in agreement that something isn't automatically permissible just because it isn't specifically condemned in scripture. "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial." I would never say otherwise. It is the principles that matter. But, in discussions such as these, first things must come first. We must first decide whether the Bible says something explicitly on the matter into which we are inquiring, before deciding what is says implicitly.

I will post again at a later time to begin a more in depth discussion of the principles you use to reach your decision on birth control.

Thanks for the response, I appreciate it.

Ryan and Anna on October 30, 2008 at 7:03 PM said...

Janeen,

Before discussing the principles upon which you have based your decision on birth control, there is one point I want to make about my last comment.

While I do believe we should not automatically assume something is permissible just because it isn’t specifically condemned in scripture, we should likewise be extra cautious in condemning those things that are not condemned in scripture. We may still rightly do so (the church’s condemnation of slavery, for example), but the risk of error is greater in these circumstances, and thus requires more care.

With that said, I have identified four principles upon which you say you have based your decision:

1. Children are a blessing.
2. We should be willing to acknowledge Jesus’ Lordship over our lives.
3. Birth control is bondage because it is not the natural course of things.
4. Birth control is part of the world system.

Are there any I have missed or misstated?

Beginning with the first principle; I think the Bible is clear that children are a blessing from the Lord (Genesis 1, Psalm 127). But must we pursue something just because it is a blessing? I don’t think so.

For example, Proverbs 18:22 says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.” Clearly, a wife is a blessing from the Lord.

But, in 1 Corinthians 7:26-27 Paul says the following: “Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife.”

So, here is Paul deliberately telling men not to seek a wife; not to seek a blessing from the Lord. While this example is not sufficient to prove it is permissible to choose not to pursue the blessing of children once a person is married, it is sufficient to answer my question about whether we must pursue something just because it is a blessing; no we do not.

Thus, I do not believe a Christ-follower must shun birth control, simply because they would be forgoing a blessing from God. There may be other reasons (and I will address these others later), but this one is not sufficient on its own.

Thoughts?

Ryan ~

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