Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

To those believers who celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful holiday. To those believers who don't celebrate Christmas, I still hope this season was good for you. I wish all believers a blessed New Year and pray that 2012 will see the Church repent of its sins, pray, and reclaim lost territory in the culture and the hearts of men. Amen.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On Being Quiverful

This post was prompted by the news that Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar, America's most famous big family parents, were expecting their 20th, yes 20th, child. Sadly, Duggar #20 didn't make it. During a doctor visit to discover the sex of their baby, Jim-Bob and Michelle learned that their little one had died in utero.

When I heard of the Duggars' miscarriage I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was sad for Jim-Bob and Michelle who so clearly view every child as a joyful blessing. But I also wondered that maybe this miscarriage was God's way of telling them it was time to stop having children. Not, understand me, God's way of stopping the Duggars' fertility but, rather, God's way of telling them to stop their marathon procreation. In short, telling them it's time to use birth control. And therein lies the problem.

The Duggars are followers of something known as the quiverful movement, which is popular among a small segment of ultraconservative Christians. The stated aim of the movement is not for Christians to have many children, but for Christians to trust God to decide the size of their families. Therefore, the movement is strongly anti-contraception, seeing it not only as anti-child but also as evidence of distrusting God. So, it's highly unlikely that Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar will interpret their miscarriage as a divine message to stop reproducing.

I'm a Christian. I believe the Bible, and the Bible, especially the Old Testament, encourages fruitfulness and repeatedly describes children as a blessing and a reward. Because of that I think most Bible-believing Christians will and should have more children than unbelievers (and nominal Christians). However, I do NOT believe that means family planning has no place what so ever in the life of Christians. I've read no Biblical commandment to that affect, and I've read no commandment asserting that contraception denies children are a blessing and/or indicates a lack of trust in God.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not endorsing the anti-child/anti-family sentiment that prevails in our feminism-dominated culture, and I'm not denying that attitude's destructiveness and incompatibility with Biblical teaching. Christians who believe the Bible won't be anti-child or anti-family, and most of them will have more children than the feminist-controlled majority. However, having more children than the majority doesn't mean Bible-believing Christians must engage in uncontrolled, irresponsible reproduction.

There are legitimate reasons for limiting procreation, at least in certain situations. Financial difficulties, health issues, and pathologies like addiction and abuse are all legitimate reasons for delaying childbearing. Christians who use contraception in such circumstances are showing neither anti-child prejudice nor a lack of trust in God. On the contrary, they are using the common sense God gave them to make responsible decisions in trying situations. Such believers need support and understanding, not condemnation, from their brothers and sisters in Christ.

I believe the quiverful movement means well. I admire its commitment to following the Bible's standards rather than the world's. On that score, I think the movement can teach something to the larger Christian community which is plagued by worldliness. I also believe, however, that the quiverful movement has the potential to do more harm than good. Runaway reproduction can have serious consequences for families, consequences which are NOT God's will. If the quiverful movement can accept that fact then it can be a positive force in the Church. If it can't, the movement will undermine itself by judging Christians who use family planning in tough circumstances. That, not using birth control, is the real sin.