Wednesday, September 03, 2008

IT'S COMING . . .

V-day. October 24th, 2008. 4 PM.

Obviously, our views on a lot of things have changed. Included in this is our views on birth control. (You probably realize by now that "V-day" means "vasectomy day.") We now believe that birth control (as long as there is not an abortion involved of course) is a matter of Christian liberty. I haven't heard any good arguments that it is *not* a Christian liberty; I *have* heard good arguments that it *is* a matter of Christian liberty.

However, I wanted to place this up on my blog and seek final counsel. Most of our friends so far have said "your quiver is full." Most have said that wisdom is involved.

As far as our family situation, we believe that this may be the wisest course of action. We wish to home school our children, and pregnancies are very difficult on my wife. So, we realize that, if we truly wish to homeschool our children, we can't "have our cake and eat it too," so to speak. So, either we *don't* homeschool our children and put them in a full-time charter school (and that is difficult because there is a waiting list), and perhaps consider having more children, or we *do* homeschool our children, but we would have to be done having children. Angela wouldn't be able to homeschool while her hip is almost out of joint and she is constantly throwing up in the toilet. The morning sickness hits her really bad.

As far as methods, we are not comfortable with hormonal methods (it messes with the body and may lead to future miscarriages; there is a slim chance of a spontaneous abortion). The only methods we are comfortable with are barrier methods--but do we really want to do that for years and years? We are scared to get pregnant any time in the near, and even late, future, because of our situation.

Finally, we wanted this public so we wouldn't have any regrets. We want to exhaust all counsel, from all sides, on this issue, because we recognize that there is no turning back should we decide to go through with it.

We appreciate any counsel and prayers.

I would like to open up the comments section of this post for any and all comments and counsel our readers and friends and family have.

12 comments:

Josh Brisby said...

I will say this. We do believe that children are a blessing and a heritage from the Lord, and that he who has a quiver-full of them is blessed. There is part of me that thinks "the Lord has blessed our seed and garden--why would we want to cut that off?". But the other part of me knows that God does give many good blessings, and that yet we are expected to take care of our blessings wisely. I know that sometimes God calls us to forego legitimate things.

For example, all foods are blessings from God. But, I also have a family and I want to be here for them. So, I decided to fight to lose weight. This meant foregoing these legitimate blessings.

Likewise, our physical situation wrt the difficulty of pregnancies on Angela. Children are a blessing from the Lord. But sometimes He calls us to forego legitimate things for the sake of others.

Gospel.or.Death said...

Ask someone smart (your new pastor perhaps) why there is a difference between the OT and the NT with respect to having children. I suspect he'll say something like this: in the OT, having as many children as possible was an imperative, a command from the Lord. Remember, the promise of salvation was through SEED, offspring. One of those Israelites would produce the salvation of the world. For an Israelite to refuse to have children is kind of like trying to (possibly, potentially) hinder Christ from coming into the world.

So it would be inadvisable to look at the OT encouragement to have as many children as possible without looking at how that might be different with respect to us being in a different point in redemptive history.

That's not to say that children are not a great thing from the Lord. They are. I love children, and hope to have some of my own.

But the fact is, we aren't farmers anymore in our day and age. We can't just put up another tent. Another child in those days meant another mouth to feed, but it also meant another person to work the farm, which meant more work could get done, at least when the child grows up a little. Once upon a time, having children meant forming a work crew for your farm.

Today, it doesn't. Statistics tell us that with increased literacy comes decreased fertility. Literacy isn't evil. God invented writing. It is not morally better to have 6 kids than 5. Praise God for number 6, but a man with 6 kids is no more righteous before God than a man with 5.

In the OT, when under a typological covenant of works centered on the LAND, centered on THIS earth, the here and now, having 6 kids meant a greater blessing than 5.

But we focus elsewhere than did the Hebrews. We don't look to this life as our blessing. We don't look to this age, but the age to come.

If a man has a big beautiful house and a nice car and beautfiul children, and he is in Christ, and so will inherit eternal salvation, is his blessing any greater than a man who goes through life poor, who never has more than 2 pennies to rub together, who never gets married, and yet also is in Christ, and so inherits eternal salvation? Whose blessing is greater?

Neither man's blessing is greater than the other. They both get the same blessing from the Lord: eternal salvation.

IN the OT, the blessings of the fat of the land and lots of children only SYMBOLIZED in type and shadow, that greater promise, namely that we will inherit the earth.

Do not feel bound to have as many children as your poor wife can carry. Our hope is not in this life.

If it is not a moral imperative to have as many children as possible, if this is not God's LAW, then how can you be sinning by practicing some form or another of birth control? The only commandment that may be relevant is the 6th: you shall not murder. So don't kill a baby. Once sperm fertilizes egg, it's a human being. I don't care what anyone says. But until sperm fertilizes egg, there's no human being other than man and wife. Don't end a life. But preventing one from forming? If that were a sin, then you'd be obligated to have sex everyday, since not having sex one day could potentially prevent a pregnancy.

But the law of God is not so confusing as all that. It only says: you shall not murder. That's it. So don't end a life. That's the law of God.

But, some say, the Scriptures don't know anything about birth control like we do today! So? So what? God's law is simple and clear and it doesn't change. You shall not murder. That's the law.

If the law doesn't speak to it, then it's a matter of wisdom. You don't sin one way or the other. If you have many children, great. If you have few, that's fine. Do all you do to the glory of God.

The law is simple. It's hard enough to obey it as it is. Don't make it harder by adding to it.

Echo

Gospel.or.Death said...

By the way, some people say, "But children are a blessing from the Lord. And...well...we should want that. So if you don't have as many children as possible, then you're denying the blessing that God wants to bless you with!"

This sounds very solid and biblical and it's hard to argue against.

So let me see if I can come up with something suitable.

A nice house is a blessing from the Lord. And of course, the bigger the house, the better, right? Doesn't God want us to have a roof over our head? He doesn't want us living on the streets, does he? So how am I gonna get that house? Why, I'll work my butt off at 2 different jobs, sleeping 3 hours a day, never even seeing my wife and kids, just to make sure that I get that big, beautiful house, to make sure that everyone understands that I think a nice house is a blessing from the Lord.

And I'll have a big Cadillac SUV too, to make sure people understand that it's God who blesses me.

What else is a great blessing from the Lord that I can nearly kill myself to make sure I get it?

But, maybe you say, that's ridiculous. God never intended me to work 120 hours a week to make sure my wife and kids had all kinds of nice clothes, a nice car and a nice house and went to the best colleges, etc, etc, etc. God doesn't want me to do that! My hope isn't in this life, but in the age to come!

It's just as silly to ask your wife to kill herself cranking out a baby every year for 10 years. And homeschool them.

The two are exactly the same.

But...you say...no they aren't! How can you compare a nice house or some other material thing to a child?

Are they not blessings from the Lord? Why should I kill myself to attain "blessings" from the Lord? Why should my wife?

God has given me a wife already. I already have a great blessing. And I intend to enjoy that blessing. And that means not killing myself 120 hours a week so that I never see her.

God has already given you lots of children. Enjoy them. Pour your heart and soul into raising them well, not raising simply more.

And you have raised them well, and they are beautiful children, and God has blessed you.

Rejoice and be glad. And be content.

Josh Brisby said...

Thank you very much Echo. Very wise words.

Lori said...

God says it is He who opens and closes the womb. We are praying that He will direct and assure you.

Josh Brisby said...

Lori,

Good to hear from you. Yes, it is God who opens and closes the womb. It is God who causes the rain to fall as blessing as well. Yet, if I am a farmer and I know heavy rains are coming for many days, it would be wise of me to protect my crops.

One concern I have about a lot of thought in Reformed circles is that there is many times very little concern for human need in certain situations. But our Lord Himself was very concerned with human need.

Why did our Lord not condemn the disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath? Because they were hungry.

a concerned friend said...

"God says it is He who opens and closes the womb. We are praying that He will direct and assure you."

Yes. But even more explicit in scripture is the command for one to care for his family. This includes that a man not prevent his wife from being able to do her job in caring for their kids. If Josh's wife isn't able to care for their kids while pregnant, then he needs to ensure that she not get pregnant. The kids they already have need to be cared for.

Randy said...

Josh,May God pour His wisdom upon you. I have heard all the arguments about this subject, and struggled with this decision a few years back. I made the decision to go ahead with V-day, and have regretted it to the core of my being ever since. I believe that because of my unbelief, not placing my full trust in Him who has promised to provide everything we need, I committed a grievous sin. The sin was placing my fleshly desires and limited human wisdom above God's. He knows our needs and desires better than do we, and He has promised not to place on us more than we can endure. I just wanted to let you hear that someone who has been there, done that, and with the advantage of hindsight and more Scriptural insight, has come to regret deeply that decision. I pray for you and your family, and that God will guide you, not our proclivity to pragmatism and worldly wisdom. Love ya'll, Randy.

Josh Brisby said...

Randy,

Thank you for your thoughts. God also gives us means to ends as well. Have you considered a vasectomy reversal? I know it is expensive, and I know it is rarely successful, but you could apply the same standard here that you would apply to our situation. Have you considered it?

In other words, even though a vasectomy reversal would be expensive and rarely successful, you could put your trust in God and trust Him to provide.

Now, I don't mean any of the above in any offensive way--I just think that it is rare that I have seen people who think that non-abortive birth control is sin understand human need. What is more, they rarely apply the same standard to themselves.

Again, I don't mean any of the above in an offensive way. Thank you for your concerns. Hope you guys are doing well.

Randy said...

Josh, No offense taken...I appreciate what you have said, and have the name of a doctor who has pretty good reversal percentages. I just thought you wanted to hear counsel from friends and others concerned, whether they validated your decision or disagreed with it. The bottom line is this- it is you who must make this decision and answer for it, not me..

Josh Brisby said...

Brother Randy,

I truly hope that your reversal works out. Children are indeed a blessing!

I am convinced that a vasectomy is the *right* thing to do *for my family.* It may not be for others, and it may be for others. I'm not convinced that it is a sin; on the contrary, I even see it as necessary for my family. Let me explain.

Pregnancies are extremely difficult on Angela. When she is pregnant, it becomes physically impossible to take care of the children we already have. Do you know that, even just the other day, Owen had crawled up on the table and was heading toward the edge? Angela's hip hurt that day and she would not have been able to make it to him in time. There have been other days where our children have been in actual *danger* because of the physical difficulties on Angela during pregnancy. Owen has fallen down the stairs before, he has almost fallen off the table, and not to mention the fact that she can't even be a mother to our children at all because the morning sickness has hit her hard. Not to mention the fact that there have been times where she has been ordered to stay on partial bedrest, and almost full.

The point of all of the above is, I don't think that "trust God" is an argument that vasectomy is sin. God gives us means as well as ends. Have you heard the old joke about the guy in the flood? A helicopter came to save him. "Nope, I'm trusting God to save me." Then a boat came. "Nope, I'm trusting God." Then a plane came. "Nope, I'm trusting God." Then the guy died from being overwhelmed by the flood. In heaven, the guy asked God, "Why didn't you save me?". And of course God said, "I sent you a boat, a helicopter, and an airplane!".

The above rather humorous joke nonetheless demonstrates I think just how Pharisaical many Christians can become "letter of the law" wrt Holy Scripture. Many law-oriented folk do not see for exceptions for human need. They don't realize it, but they are still stuck in the Old Testament in many ways.

We need to be extremely careful when it comes to the doctrine of Christian liberty that we do not bind the consciences of others. I haven't heard any good arguments that birth control is actually sin. I am open to persuasion, but I have found that most of the argumentation is only surface arguments which are easily refuted. I could go into these if you like, but we don't have to if you don't wish as well.

Once again I don't mean any of the above to be offensive, so forgive me please if it came off that way. I just think that a lot of Reformed brothers and sisters need a healthy dose of gospel. The Law condemns and accuses and doesn't allow for human need. The gospel says "rest in Christ" and is all about human need.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever seriously considered Natural Family Planning? You may want to check out www.ccli.org for more information.