Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Value of Children Part 3

The discussion that the previous articles have generated have been extremely interesting, and I hope, helpful. The goal is for us to think and to examine our motivations. I know that I am.

That's what brings me to the topic of this post: birth control. It has come up in some of the discussion threads, and really, if we did not have birth control, then we would naturally be having more children, would we not? So, I think that in this discussion it is appropriate for us to examine this as well.

Let me begin by saying that, as one comment pointed out, not everyone takes birth control to simply avoid pregnancy. Many women have praised the Lord for the miracle of the pill. And honestly, so have many men. Why? Because it helps reduce the symptoms of PMS, cramps, and other difficult trials that women experience each month. That alone makes this type of BC a gift from God.

However, I believe that the pill form, or the shot form of BC has a major drawback. (Even if you believe that it is alright to severely limit the number of children that you have.) It is not with the fact that they block ovulation that concerns me, it is the fact that they change the environment of the uterus so that a fertilized egg has difficulty attaching to the wall. In this regard, the pill can act very much like a morning after pill. Unfortunately, many evangelicals are totally unaware of the pill's having this effect.

Even though this form of BC is very effective in preventing ovulation, it is not 100%. Most educated folk are aware that, even if you take your pills correctly, there is still around a 1% chance that you will become pregnant. (Read your package insert, if you dare!) This means that, occassionally, you will ovulate regardless of the pill. The problem is, you have no idea that this is happening. Further, that egg, if fertilized, will be entering into a hostile environment because of the pill. Most likely, it will be unable to attach to the wall of the uterus and will be passed.

If the pill still results in a 'succesful' pregnancy 1% of the time, then one must wonder how often fertilized eggs die because of the environment change that BC causes in the uterus. I think that it occurs far more often than one might think. (I would really appreciate some feedback from some medical types on this.) This makes me wonder if this is truly a type of contraceptive that a pro-life individual would want to use. If they do, then I think that need to check out the validity of what I am saying at the very least.

As for the other 'barrier' type contraceptives, after reading the previous posts, let your conscience be the judge. I only ask that you consider why you do not wish to have children, and make certain that you are not loving the things of this world more than children created in the image of God.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Value of Children Part 2

In this first part of this little discussion, I argued that children are undervalued in this culture. I do not think that we actively realize this, but I find it to be true nonetheless. That is, many would agree that it is atrocious to abort babies. However, those same people often opt for two children at the most, and spend most of their married lives avoiding conception through artificial means. That just seems odd to me.

So, a legitimate question must then arise, "Okay Brad, then how many children are enough?" If children are truly worth more than gold, then shouldn't we try to have as many as possible, even if that means 15 or 20? Well, I actually do not believe that that sort of number would normally be generated in the course of a marriage. Most of our forefathers and foremothers did not have access to any sort of fertility drug, that got married at around 17, and still averaged only around six to eight children. The reason that we assume a contraceptive-free married will result in legions of children demonstrates two things:
1. We really do not understand reproduction very well.
2. It betrays our underlying paranoia about having a bunch of children in the first place.
Think about it like this, if we were really convinced that children were worth more than gold, then I think that we would find the opposite sort of mentality. That is, we would enter marriage afraid that we wouldn't be able to have enough children, and that a good number to shoot for would be around five. Any more than that would be lagniappe (that's South Louisiana speak for "a little something extra").

Now, let me make this much clear. This is a blog where I voice my opinions...mostly to myself. I view this undertaking as an excercise in thought. Mainly, I am trying to argue as persuasively as I can one point of view in order to explore certain Biblical and reasonable outcomes. So, let me be honest with myself. The ramifications of this argument frighten me half to death, and if my wife gets wind of this blog, she may throttle me. So, if this sounds like I'm doing this theological process from some ivory tower, I can guarantee you that I'm not. I have one son right now, and my wife's opinion is something like, "Two more and that's about it, pal." I sympathize with her. After all, she's the one who has to carry these children and birth them. I just sort of stand around and worry.

So, if my own blog meanderings frighten me, what sort of affect will this line of reasoning have on my wife? Or your wife? (If anyone actually reads this.) Most importantly though, what does the Bible say about children? How about this quote:

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate" (Psalm 127:3-5).

From these verses, I see that children are a heritage from the LORD and a reward. They are given to us for protection. What else does a warrior use arrows for? And why does he not need to be ashamed to speak to his enemies? His children make him strong.

I am not certain what a "quiver full" means, but I am certain of this, it does not mean "one or two". I use my bow to hunt with, and I have never gone into the woods to hunt harmless deer with only one or two arrows. I can't imagine sticking two arrows in a quiver if I were going off to war. Of course, if I were going to war I'd jam about 50 arrows into my quiver, so that really does not help either. Basically what I know now is that a quiver full means more than two, but I don't think it requires 50. A half-dozen seems like a good number. I'll have to think on this for a bit longer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

How Much are Children Worth?

In a world where abortion is legal, euthanasia is becoming acceptable, and in which a woman can be starved to death, it is no wonder that we value children so little. Christians ought to know better, unfortunately, it seems that we don't. Hopefully, you will soon understand what I mean.

First, it starts with how many children that otherwise healthy couples decide to have. I think that the average number of children per couple is around 2 or 3. That's not really the issue. The issue is how they decided to stop at two children. Mostly, it's because they say that they cannot afford them, or that they do not have room for them. Both of those reasons are, for the most part, hogwash.

Let's take a trip down memory lane to my grandmother's childhood. She started life with no indoor plumbing, and probably no electricity. They had no car, only a mule. She also shared a (maybe) 1400 square foot home with eight brothers and sisters and two parents. Yes, they were poor cotton farmers, and the boys did come in handy to help with the farm. They were forced to accept their place in a small society, learn to get along in less than ideal situations, and they had to work to eat. We think that television has made people snobbish. It's not TV, we just haven't ever had to deal with other people before. We don't like people because we haven't put in the time to realize the value of a genuine relationship. TV is easier. But (dare I say it?) it is far, far less rewarding.

Oh yes, grandma's family loves each other. To this day, they all look forward to family reunions. I have some terrific memories of gatherings at great-Grandmother's house. There were piles of people and plenty of fun. No bored games (board games?), no computer games, just children wrestling, screaming, and playing. Oh, the glory of family!

So, don't poor mouth me about not being able to afford children. What you are really saying is that you love your two cars, your mortgage, your gadgets, and your 'free space' more than a baby. If your wife could incubate a nine pound hunk of gold in her belly for nine months and squat that thing out, you'd be hitting the bed at 8:00 every night and praying for twins. But since children are more trouble and, apparently, less valuable, we conceive of every kind of birth control trick known to man to keep our lives from being burdened with children.

Children are beautiful, precious, and priceless. I cannot put a price on the value of my seven month old son. Right now, he can basically look at me, laugh, pee, and puke. Some of his tricks are more endearing than others, but I love him all the same. I cannot wait until the next one. And the next one, and the next one... Maybe you will say now, "Well, how many are enough?" Good question. I think it'll be enough when the next one will be too much trouble to love.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Let the Sojourn Begin

I have often heard that a very helpful spiritual discipline is journaling. Unfortunately, I have never been one to sit down and consistently journal my spiritual progress or digression. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I find it personally unfulfilling. Basically, I have often wondered at people who are able to go back and read their own thoughts with surprise. More often than not, I do not wish to remember my state of mind because it is often appallingly erroneous. Secondly, I already know what I think, so it is redundant to read thoughts that I am already thinking. If my thinking has changed, then hopefully I have gone from bad to good, so I do not want to go back and read the bad. It's embarrassing. If I have gone from good to bad, or bad to worse, then it is unlikely that my own writing will be able to convince me to return to a more sound mind. After all, my own reasoning led me away from such a sound position, how is it that later my own argumentation would be able to overthrow the state of mind that once overthrew the very thoughts that I would be reading? (See what sort of mind I am dealing with here?)

So why begin a blog? It is because, as the title suggests, I am a sojourner. I am an alien in this world. My destination is the Throne Room of God and the City that He has prepared through the work of Jesus Christ. The guide for my sojourn, the Bible, teaches me that my own reason is not to be trusted, and that if I want to reach that celestial city, I am going to need help. I need my thoughts examined by others. Sometimes, by the grace of God, I may have encouraging things to say to my fellow sojourners. Sometimes, my fellow sojourners may have encouraging things to say to me. (Or they may have sound rebukes and reproofs.) Seriously, I have studied much over the last years, and I know that God in His goodness has given me some gifts. I hope that through this medium I am able to share that with others.

Also, there is one last reason why I am beginning this blog. I am tired of living with my own thoughts. They sometimes excite me, and at other times they disturb me. I need some help in dealing with my own brain. Hopefully, this blog will help. Let me now lay out my purpose statement:

1. To converse here with God.
2. To put down some thoughts pertaining to theology and my sojourn.
3. To interact with others about all of the above.
4. To use this as a medium as an encouragement both to myself and others on our journey to our
heavenly home.

I know that is not really how mission statements are supposed to look, but I am making this up as I go. Maybe it'll get fine tuned later. Welcome to the sojourn, I hope that we have fun along the way.