First, a little disclaimer. The world is a very sadly broken place.
Any discussion of God's gift of children and our receiving of it inevitably introduces several elephants into the room. What about the hard cases? What about when disease and hardship disrupt God's world?
As some famous writer once said: people who are happy are pretty much happy in the same way, but people who are unhappy each have a unique story. It is very difficult to speak about the hard cases in a general way. So I'm not going to try. If you are suffering under such a hard case - a life threatening disease (including diseases of the brain), crippling hardship, etc - and wonder how God's gift of children applies to you and your spouse, then stop reading this and find a faithful pastor to talk it over with. If you have a flippant pastor who likes to talk about his elective vasectomy after three kids at age 37, then send me an email and I'll try to point you to a faithful pastor in your area.
But for the rest of us who do not fall into the hard case category - if you are interested in hearing how and why somebody went from being a normal follower of American culture to a reactionary, traditional Lutheran who frowns on all forms of birth control, well, this is just what you've been waiting for.
I grew up in a normal blue & white collar family in middle America: birth control is good, you should wait to be ready to have kids, three or so is a good number. Never heard anything elsewise from my normal LCMS church. She grew up in a Boomer pastor's family: birth control is within your Christian freedom.
Got married with a standard American plan: finish grad school, then have threeish kids. Heard about how the pill could cause her body to expel a newly created baby from Mrs. Gibbs at CSL about a year and a half into marriage. Tossed the pills. Started reading. Ewy-ew: most birth control is, like, totally gross! And now the more we read and think, doesn't sound too godly either. But we still wanted to cling to that plan. Eventually got hold of an NFP book. Bingo: no cross, plan intact, and how can a billion Papists be wrong?
Notice at this point that the plan is still there. But let's be more honest about the "plan." It's not really a plan, it's a metaphysical judgment: a baby right now would not be a blessing. That's what all "family planning" comes down to: in my judgment, a baby right now would not be a blessing. Rather, a baby is to be avoided right now.
What you've got to decide is whether or not you think that is a godly judgment.
[And remember that disclaimer, I'm not talking about the hard cases. I'm talking about normal folks: a baby right now would be annoying, difficult, painful, expensive, etc. I'm not talking about: a baby right now would likely kill me, or be permanently crippled, or cause one or the other of us to starve. If that's the spot you are: stop reading, don't bother typing anything below, and go talk to a godly pastor.]
Through reading the Bible, our Lutheran fathers, the history of the birth control movement and the church's reaction, etc., we came to think that that statement is just not a godly statement. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Married couples are called to be fruitful and multiply. Trust in the Lord and lean not on your understanding.
Further, note how all forms of birth control share that judgment: a baby right now would not be a blessing. As such, they share the same end - though the means are different.
That is significant and I don't want to downplay it. I'm glad NFP was there as a stepping stone for us when we were too fearful to cast our burdens on the Lord. In my pastoral counseling I've held out NFP as an option for others who are likewise fearful. And there are significant differences between all of the following: a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to kill it while it's in my womb; a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to ask a man to cut me open and take my baby parts out; a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to take a hormone pill that will make be infertile; a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to slap a water balloon on my wang (I mean, really?); a baby is not a blessing now, so I'm going to tell my wife that no, we will not be making love tonight - or any night until that temperature of hers comes down.
There is a difference between all those - and yet, there is a similarity, isn't there?
A few more NFP thoughts.
* Remember when you were dating? Remember how you wanted to have sex but couldn't? If you liked that, then NFP is for you.
* I was speaking with a fellow pastor about this just today. He and his wife were also on the NFP wagon for a while. He said, "We determined that you don't really need charts or thermometers. If you wife is really in the mood and wants to have sex: that's the day you can't." Another pastor at the table said, "Hmmm. Almost like God created it to work a certain way..."
* What do you call NFP practitioners? Mom and Dad.
* Why do the Papists allow NFP? It's the only birth control method that doesn't work.
OK, the last two are stale jokes. But there is a truth to them. NFP is frustrating and stupid and so many people give up and many others "fail" at it - that is, they have babies (what a failure!). It's frustrating because marriage and sex go together. It's stupid because because sex and babies go together too, and trying to have the one without the other is just silly.
When NFP was being debated in the early-mid 20th century the Lutherans laughed at it as pharisaical, Papist nonsense. That's kind of where I have come down as well. If you are saying "a baby would not be a blessing right now because _____ (I'm 40 or I'm tired or the youngest is only 9 months old or the car payment is due or....)" then I would encourage you to read the Bible again and lean not on your own understanding, to not be afraid for the Lord will provide. Really, He will. Honest. He keeps his promises. Children are a blessing, the fruit of the womb a reward. It really says that in the Bible. You can trust it.
And one more time: if you are saying "a baby would not be a blessing right now because the doctor says I'll probably die or the baby will have CF or I honestly think I might kill myself or the child will starve" - then please don't comment here. You need more than internet kibitzing, you need to go talk to a godly pastor face to face.
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