14 October 2008


"Are you going to have any more?" is an extremely personal question. Since when do strangers inquire as to what is going on in another person's bedroom?

Lay off, you pervs!

Captain Obvious, CSPP news: the parsonage.


Christine said...

I think it goes to show just how far our culture has gone in the mental separation of "bedroom activities" and procreation. Another example is how it's considered some sort of semi-scandal if a woman actually becomes *gasp* pregnant on her honeymoon. Is it because everyone expected the couple to spend their entire honeymoon sightseeing? No, it's because one thing is not supposed to lead to another unless the couple is deliberately "trying".

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

I think that's funny. I'd be ornery enough to tell them they could watch it on pay-per-view. ;)

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

We get that all the time, as well as the "Don't you know what causes that?" routine. Today, I replied off the top of my head: "Yes, we do... That's why it keeps happening."

You think this type of talk is disgusting, you should check out what I read in today's local paper. Ew! Last week, 7000 local kids were "educated" at the government indoctrination camps (the accurate name for public schools) with this trash.

We are living in Sodom and Gomorrah. The idea that children are the blessed result of marriage is ridiculed while the idea of "marriage without intercourse" is celebrated and encouraged.

Rebekah said...

Christine, good point on "trying." Another disgusting twist on too much information.

Dan, ha!

Dr. H, YUCK!!!! Cool society.

Joy said...

I'm not a Reverend Blogger, but a hearty "Amen!" to your Absolution post. Pastor/confessor adultery isn't something that just happens (oops! I slipped and fell in his lap! naked!); it's caused by a series of poor choices. HE is the one who is called to be above reproach. You hit the nail on the head when you suggested a pastor request back-up. Yes, it may anger the confessor, but it's better than playing with fire.

I'm totally using the pay-per-view response!

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

The underlying problem, as others have also indicated, is that it's not such an "obvious" thing to people anymore. Marriage, sex, conception and childbearing have been disconnected from each other, instead of being understood as belonging together. Buying into the disintegration of what God has joined together makes it all but impossible for people to "get it," or to realize how inappropriate their comments and questions are. Well-meaning fellow Christians inadvertently fall into the same thing, because they have been so thoroughly catechized by the world's attitudes, they don't even realize there's another way to think about procreation. When children are viewed as a "choice," which is the prevailing mindest, then it is assumed that a couple without children have chosen not to have chilren, and a couple with many children have chosen to have many children; then there are the accompanying evaluations and assessments of such presumed choices; and so the thinking and the comments go. The idea that husband wife love and honor each other in faith, and in that faith receive as few or many children as the Lord may give, seems quaint or weird or foolish, or it is simply not acknowledged or understood at all.

In response to well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ, I would suggest that a polite reply, which gently gives reason for the hope that is in you, may be the best way to go. Over time, these simple confessions of humble faith may yet stem the tide of the world's incessant propaganda.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

"...a polite reply, which gently gives reason for the hope that is in you, may be the best way to go."

I agree. Could you suggest one or more such replies?

I'm afraid some of my common replies that talk about how we believe "children are blessings" fall far short. That mirrors the common irritating comment we all get: "Oh, you must love children."

The one I use the most is: "We believe in letting God plan our family." But that just comes across as naïve to people, if not wrongheaded fundamentalism - just "let go and let God." Blaahhgg! It's also half-hearted. My sinful heart does NOT trust God to plan my family. It is only by the grace of God that my wife and I manage to keep from using any means of family planning.

One of my favorite answers to the question of whether we're "going to have any more" is: "I don't know. You'll have to ask God. He's the one who decides that, not us."

So, what is a good example of a polite reply which gently gives reason for the hope that is in us?

Joy said...

Erich, I think your responses are more than polite, given the audacity of the questions people ask you. The answers are honest, not ad hominem attacks, and provoke thought if not thoughtful discussion.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I'm not sure it's quite so easy. We are called to proceed in the humility of repentant faith. It's not a competition, neither in practice nor in productivity.

I also believe there are ways in which a Christian husband may serve his wife and family in faith and love by exercising judgments and decisions that are likely to limit the conception of children. I know that's a convoluted way of saying things, but it's the best I can do with compromising my faith in the First Article. Anyway, it's possible to make those sorts of choices, because the Lord our God has established an orderly creation. He is also merciful toward us and helps us in our weaknesses. Somehow, these considerations have to be part of any genuine conversation.

If people make comments or ask questions, and I actually have the opportunity to engage in discussion, then I make an effort to be forthright in acknowledging my own frailities, littleness of faith, doubts and fears; and also to acknowledge the mercy of God, the blessing of His grace toward us, and to confess -- as I must be regularly reminded, myself -- that He is the Author and Giver of life, who still takes care of us.

If someone says that we must love children, well, what else am I going to say? We do love children, especially those whom God has entrusted to our care. But that doesn't mean it's easy for us, that we never get weary or beleaguered. We proceed in grace and forgiveness of our sins, and we pray for the wisdom and strength to be faithful in our vocation as parents.

For those who ask questions with the intention of being cute or clever, my wife has coined a great answer to the question: "How many more children are you going to have?" Her reply: "We're planning to double them." Which is a sly way of indicating that we hope and pray for all of them to be married, but the initial reactions are often quite priceless.

Pam said...

The other day I put $200 on a gas card, and the young man at the checkout said he'd like to have one of those. I explained that it might fill our 15-pass. van more than once, but not twice. He looked surprised and asked what I needed a van like that for. When I answered, "Our eight children!" the poor man just looked at me, incredulous. He couldn't even finish the transaction, and putting his hand on his chest, feigning a heart attack, he asked, "WHY?!"

I smiled and said, "Why not?"

To which, he replied, "touche" but still had a hard time processing this concept.

It is exchanges like that one where it seems the most I can communicate to a stranger is to demonstrate that a mom of many is not off her rocker... or at least I think that's what I got across.

I am beginning to be content with that sometimes, because it is so hard to explain so much in such a short moment, and not mess it up.

As far as being annoyed by such questions, I must be too tired to care anymore, or more likely feel sorry for those who don't know what they are missing. (I won't attempt to unpack THAT right now.)

So I say what comes at the moment, and leave the rest in God's hands.

Oh, and Rebekah? I was tempted for a very looong time to retort, and how many do YOU have? But I realized that while it isn't fair, it does fall to me to give an answer that teaches rather than angers and offends. But boy, did I come up with some good ones back a few children ago. They seem to have slipped my mind....:)

Reb. Mary said...

Fr. Rick, thank you, thank you, for your very pastoral comments here.

Pam: I've been meaning to ask how you all get around town! Can you parallel park that thing? :D

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

First, two corrections: I meant to say, "that's the best I can do withOUT compromising my faith in the First Article." I typed "without" without the "out," and thus said something I didn't mean to say, without knowing it.

Also, my wife's little saying is better rendered: "We're hoping to double them." Saying that we are "planning" to double them simply replaces one version of an error with another version of the same error. But, hopefully, hope shall not disappoint it. We're not planning on it, anyway.

Regarding the blessings and benefits of Individual Confession and Absolution, the first and foremost of these is the external Word of Holy Absolutioln, or forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself; which we should in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that by it our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven. This is not a different or "better" forgiveness than is freely given by God's grace in any of His other ways and means of the Gospel; but it is differently delivered, with different benefits than one derives elsewhere.

Along with that, there is a kind of pastoral care that happens in Confession and Absolution, which doesn't happen otherwise. Apart from actually going to confession and practicing this discipline on a regular basis, it is difficult to describe this benefit; but I have known it from both sides of the confessional, and I would not willingly give it up (neither for myself as a penitent, nor for my people as a means of caring for their souls). I'm not suggesting, nor do I believe, that Christians who haven't practiced cofession are inferior or "bad" Christians, but they are missing out on something that would help them; which would strengthen their faith and sustain their love for God and their neighbor. It grieves me, therefore, that the past several generations of Lutherans have not been catechized in the teaching and practice of Individual Confession, which our Lutheran Confessions everywhere extol in the most laudatory fashion.

Along with the pastoral care of the Holy Absolution itself, the context of Individiual Confession and Absolution does allow for the provision of pastoral counsel and advice, in a way that is, again, not readily available or possible elsewhere. I'm not talking here about "counseling" in the usual sense; I agree with what Pastor Curtis has said in that regard. But I'm referring to the preaching of the Law and the Gospel to an individual penitent, in a way that guides and assists that person in the way of faith and love and the bearing of fruits worthy of repentance; not for the earning of self-righteousness, but for the sake of God and the neighbor.

On that particular point, I do have one criticism of the LSB rite of Individual Confession and Absolution. It indicates that the pastor may provide additional counsel from the Word of God following the Absolution. This, I think, is not so meet, right and salutary. As I have learned from my own father confessor, and have put into my own practice, it is much better to provide counsel following the confession and leading into the Absolution, so that the last word is that of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins. Whatever I may say following the Absolution is an encouragement to believe and trust that forgiveness of sins, and to come in confidence to receive the Holy Communion. Otherwise, it is simply "Go in peace." Amen.

For those who have not experienced the particular blessings and benefits of Individual Confession and Absolution, I would encourage them to seek this means of grace from their pastors. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you. Pastors are obliged to provide this opportunity to the sheep entrusted to their pastoral care. To that same end, pastors surely ought to be making confession to their own father confessor on some kind of regular basis; for no one should hear confession who does not go to confession himself. Indeed, that is one of the keys to addressing the concerns that Pastor Preus raised in his paper.

Rebekah said...

it is much better to provide counsel following the confession and leading into the Absolution, so that the last word is that of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.

Thank you for saying this. After the Absolution, I don't want to hear one more word about what was said before, because all that is gone.