Thursday, July 28, 2005

SBC Empowering Kingdom Growth -- Biologically

Al Mohler's article "Deliberate childlessness & moral rebellion" reveals how far Southern Baptists have come toward adopting the Roman Catholic view that sex is only for procreation. Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes:
The Scripture does not even envision married couples who choose not to have children. The shocking reality is that some Christians have bought into this lifestyle and claim childlessness as a legitimate option. The rise of modern contraceptives has made this technologically possible. But the fact remains that though childlessness may be made possible by the contraceptive revolution, it remains a form of rebellion against God's design and order.

He goes on to repudiate efforts "to separate the pleasure of sex from the power of procreation" and denounces those who "want to have the joys of sex and marital companionship without the responsibilities of parenthood." Worst of all, "To demand that marriage means sex -- but not children -- is to defraud the creator of His joy and pleasure in seeing the saints raising His children."

Why has Mohler suddenly become so concerned about couples who think the world's population will continue to grow astronomically without their participation?

I suspect that he and other Southern Baptists are preparing to blame the declining growth in membership of the denomination on declining birthrates among Baptists. He insists that, "Parenthood is not a hobby, but represents one of the most crucial opportunities for the making of saints found in this life."

The truth is, Mohler's rigidly procreative understanding of sex and marriage owes more to Augustine and Aquinas than it does to the Bible.

What moral and procreative difference is there between the Apostle Paul's saying, "I wish that all were as I myself am [celibate and childless]" (1 Corinthians 7:7) and any missionary couple who might say, "We have decided to not have children in order to serve God more freely"?

16 comments:

Xpatriated Texan said...

An interesting thought (to me):

Given the ability of modern science to practically pin-point (within a day or two) a woman's most fertile time of the month, does this mean that Baptists will be limited to having sex only twice per month (on successive days)?

XT

Keith said...

that first mohler quote is pretty much the talking points of some priests I've met...

being an ex-catholic an all

SpookyRach said...

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I am. I am one of those misguided Baptists who have deprived God by chosing to remain childless. God must be rather peeved.

I hope XT does not prove to be right. I am not good with that kind of math and will have to convert to a more carnal religion.

John Henson said...

Interesting thoughts from Mohler, especially in light of the baby comments from Eliff, as reported in the article on unregenerate church membership in Ethics Daily
http://www.ethicsdaily.com/article_detail.cfm?AID=6052

Greek Shadow said...

This is just another aspect of church leaders wanting to mind everybody's business. In the middle ages the Catholics even went so far as to insist married couples copulate only through sheets with holes cut out in the appropriate area. The Mormon Church has specially designed undergarments for the same purpose. Actually I think Augustine and Aquinas were influenced too much by Zeno, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. This fixation of avoiding pleasure, or that pleasure is bad has more to do with Stoicism. The idea that to avoid pain you must also eliminate pleasure. But who wants to live a life of numbness?
Patrick M. Prescott

Marty said...

If you don't want to have kids, thats fine. Just don't come around expecting MY kids to fund your retirement or prescription drug benefits when you are old and decrepit and dying alone.

They might, out of the goodness of their hearts -- but don't expect it of them.

Marty said...

I'm not to be confused with the above "Marty". People who don't want kids should not have them. Period. End of discussion.

P.M. Prescott said...

To the first Marty, why shouldn't your children repay an elderly couple without kids, and what about elderly couples who outlive thier own children? After all didn't this elderly couple help pay with their taxes your children's education, health beneifits and transportation needs?
As a society we are all in this together.

Marty said...

Mr. Prescott,

Amen! I couldn't agree more.

TammyJo58 said...

Hi!

People without children pay taxes, some of them pay a lot more than couples with children. That "don't expect my..." attitude is unchristian and very selfish. We all benefit from the taxes paid in by everyone.

Secondly, if the reason you have children is so you'll have someone to look after you when you are older, you probably shouldn't have them.

God Bless,
TammyJo58

D.R. said...

Many of the comments represent what Mohler is talking about regarding voluntary childlessness -- it doesn't answer the question, "what would God have me do regading children" or "what would glorify God the most?" Rather, as Mohler points out, it is selfish to not have children because you don't want to change your lifestyle to fit it. He points to the Genesis command for procreation explicitly before the Fall and numerous other passages that speak about the blessing of children. Also, he notes that voluntary childlessness was not even a thought in the biblical world, or even in the post-Biblical world. He doesn't think that is because there was not birth control, but because it was generally accepted that childrearing was an intricate part of marriage.

I reject Bruce's assessment that Mohler thinks that the lack of childbearing is what is causing declining numbers in the SBC. He doesn't call for anyone to have any more than one child. He just points to the fact that God calls us to have children and that anything less is sinful. I also reject Bruce's scenario regarding a missionary couple is either the norm for voluntarily childless couples or what Mohler had in mind when he wrote the article. It might be an exception to rule, but it certainly does not excuse couples who are childless out of convenience. Mohler is looking from the lense of a Biblical worldview, not an Americanized 20th century secular one.

I for one support his position and hope married couples in America would quit being so selfish and starting investing their lives into something more important than their own lifestyles.

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...

D.R.,

By your logic, the apostle Paul was not only sinful but was advising others to sin when he remained childless for the convenience of serving the Lord more fully.

If procreation was so important, why didn't Jesus set an example?

P.M. Prescott said...

I don't want to get into the stupid DaVinci Code crap.

Inquiry, who is Mohler to define what is a sin and what isn't. Seems to me that is God's job not his. God does expect us to bear the fruits of the spirit, but I don't remember him creating the vocation of Fruit Inspector, and there are certainly too many self proclaimed fruit inspectors running around our churches.

Xpatriated Texan said...

To address D.R. -

So we are selfish to not have biological children of our own?

I have no biological children, yet I helped raise two step-children and adopted two other children.

That strikes me as a very strange way to be selfish.

Perhaps I should have ignored all those Bible verses about taking care of orphans and widows.

XT

D.R. said...

Bruce,

you are taking Mohler's comments completely out of context. He is speaking to married couples only, not to those who are specifically called to celibacy. I know personally that Dr. Mohler has advocated individuals who feel called to do so, to remain single and engage in activities that glorify God with that celibate time.

Secondly, Paul does not call anyone who is married to not have children, only those who are single to remain so if possible (that is if they do not "burn" or have a desire for sexual companionship). Jesus and Paul set an example of celibacy and thus their lives do not relate to what married men and women are called by God to do -- which according to Genesis is to procreate.

Mr. Prescott, Jesus, Paul, John the Baptist, and a host of other Biblical leaders pointed to sin and called men to repent. In the Bible and Church History, the role of pastor-teacher and prophet has always been to reveal sin in the camp and call for change. Remember Jesus never told us not to call men to repent of sin, but rather to make sure we were not guilty of those same sins before doing so.

Xpatriated Texan,

Again, I think you have misunderstood Dr. Mohler as well. He is not saying that the problem is biological in any way. It is with not bearing or rearing children in general. I think Dr. Mohler would commend you for raising orphans. He is addressing married people who for whatever personal reasons not related to glorifying God, choose not to rear children. And in that regard I believe he is right.

DM said...

This is one wacky thread! I love it. I think it sums up pretty well the problem in Baptist life: literalism yields absurd assertions.
Y'all keep those comments coming. I love laughing at fellow Baptists who tend to somehow think that having or not having children is part of God's eternal command regarding our relationship with him. Frankly, I'd prefer to see Al Mohler not have had any children. Who needs that gene pool continued?