Friday, February 22, 2013
Family Planning or Family Banning?
Children, despite what modern man tells us, are a blessing. A joy. A privilege.
However, most folks consider children a hassle, even in the church.
What has become conventional wisdom in the world is now conventional wisdom in the church. We quip about longing for school to start, about dreading when they outgrow children’s church. We make the same stupid jokes- Do you know what causes that?, flaunting our folly. We are so biblically illiterate in the church we have no idea we are calling God a liar, who tells us children are a blessing from His hand (Psalm 127). We are so historically illiterate we don’t know that every denomination in Christendom condemned practices designed to avoid blessings from the beginning of the church until little more than fifty years ago. ~R.C. Sproul Jr.
Which one of us would decline the blessing of good health? How about financial gain? But the blessing of children? Many would say, "No thanks!"
What Will the Neighbors Think?
The world is going to think a family that contains more than two or three children, is foolish. But:
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1 Cor. 1:20
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Cor. 1:25
As a Christian's faith joins her practices, there will be conflict with the world because we are not of this world. We are called to be a peculiar people, a chosen race that are called to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness (1 Peter 2: 9) so there will be areas that "don't make sense." Areas that seem foolish to the mind of carnal man.
Like tithing when you're broke. Or rewarding good for evil. Or forgiving others seventy times seven times. Or believing that God said children are a blessing and then acting on it.
Who Opens and Closes the Womb?
We take life for granted, and the gift of fertility for granted, when we assume we can order our children to come only when our timing preferences and life circumstances best suit the situation. God is the one who opens and closes the womb. Even if we think we have "planned" the baby, it is still God that has done it.
I have heard many sad stories of women who used birth control for years, assuming that getting pregnant was within their power whenever they got ready. I remember a time when I myself assumed that pregnancy was a simple biological act that anybody could accomplish. Many have been surprised and heartbroken to learn that God is the one who opens and closes the womb and that children are not there for the taking, "just like that." They are His. He creates them. He forms them. He sustains them.
Mary Pride coined that phrase in her 1985 book, The Way Home. She also said:
Family planning is the mother of abortion. A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could become popular. We Christians raise an outcry against abortion today, and rightly so. But the reason we have to fight those battles today is because we lost them thirty years ago...
...Children as God's gifts whom we humbly receive are one thing; children as article of our own manufacturing are another. You can do anything you like with what you yourself have made.
Though many have identified this correlation between contraception and abortion, our society continues to have an anti-child (unbiblical) attitude towards life and children. Consider this:
Several years ago I volunteered at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. If a young woman were to come to our center and be abortion- minded saying, "I can't have a baby right now. It's a terrible time. I don't have the money and I'm in the middle of college." The Christians would gather around her and say:
"The Bible says children are a blessing! The Lord will provide! He loves your baby and He loves you!"
Yet if we hear from a young woman who is using birth control say, "I can't have a baby right now. It's a terrible time. I don't have the money and I'm in the middle of college." The Christians would nod their heads and say, "You're right. It's a terrible time."
Leaps of Faith
I can remember the first time one of my small children stood on the edge of a diving board inching closer to the end but always turning around and heading back to the safety of the pool's edge, too afraid to take the plunge. We coaxed and reassured her that Daddy was there in the pool, waiting beneath the diving board to catch her.
Leap, she finally did. It took courage. It took childlike faith. But she trusted that her father was going to do as he told her he would. He would catch her. He would hold her. He wouldn't let her sink to the bottom.
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 18:4
Relinquishing the (perceived) control we have to place our fertility into the hands of God, requires that same childlike faith. It may feel like we're jumping off the edge of a cliff. But our loving father is there to catch us. He won't let us sink.