Antithesis Magazine V1N4

Issue and Interchange: Two Protestants debate the question of birth control.

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Issue and Interchange: Two Protestants debate the question of birth control.

ISSUE: Is Birth Control Morally Permissible?
ADVOCATE 1: Some Forms of Contraception Are Morally Permissible
Contraception has become a volatile issue among many Christian groups because it involves the issues of life, such as sexuality, and child rearing which our culture often distorts in ugly ways. Many Christians simply offer blanket condemnations of almost any practice which is even incidentally related to these distortions. We must realize, however, that emotions which arise from such concerns may often cloud our ability to think through an issue clearly. As Christians, we want to be sure to decide any issue by the standard of God’s Word alone.

Contraception, in short, is the practice of preventing a conception from taking place. A proper Biblical evaluation of contraception requires us to understand some foundational ethical issues (1- 2 below). After this foundation is set, we can then deal with the more particular concerns and objections raised in regard to contraception itself (3 – 4 below). The conclusion will be that certain forms of contraception, when used under proper conditions, are morally permissible options for the Christian married couple.
1. Freedom of Conscience and A Biblical Affirmation of Creation
The first foundational issue concerns the standards by which the Christian is to order his or her behavior. A Biblical understanding of this point will alleviate many of the confusions that enter into the discussion of contraception.

Legalism has often distorted the Christian ethic. From earliest times, many deceived persons have attempted to use God’s law as means of salvation, though God obviously never intended the law for such a purpose. Other forms of legalism characteristically add to and/or subtract from God’s Word, though God condemns this as well (Deut. 4:2). Yet such additions and deletions are central to Legalists from the Pharisees to modern fundamentalism. The Christian must sternly reject any such practice. Christ Himself condemned those who “set aside the commandment of God in order to keep [their] tradition…thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition” (Mark 7:9,13). Any humanly contrived commandment (such as the familiar fundamentalist prohibitions against drinking, dancing, and other social activities) added to the Scripture is sinful in God’s sight. Paul also condemned legalism in the most stringent terms. Those who taught these things were proclaiming another gospel –they were under a divine curse (Gal. 1:6-10) and were teaching “doctrines of demons” (I Tim. 4:1-3). No one is to tamper with the word of the sovereign God.

The Christian view of freedom of conscience is to be understood in light of the above context. The Christian is free to do anything that is not contrary to the word of God. Scripture alone is the ultimate standard of ethical activity. God alone is the Lord of the conscience. Human commandments which are contrary or additional to God’s word have no authority over the Christian conscience. Moreover, the Christian is free to do anything (not contrary to the word of God) because he or she knows that God’s creation is good (I Tim. 4:4). Paul declares that “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself”(Rom. 14:14). Scripture rejects all pagan notions which describe the human body or the physical world in general as evil or inferior to spirit. The Christian ought to rejoice in God’s creation to God’s glory. As this norm is applied to the question of contraception, then, the Christian is free to use contraception, unless it is forbidden by Scripture.
2. Cultural Mandate: Stewards of God’s Creation
A second foundational concern in this discussion regards Christian stewardship. At the creation, God laid certain responsibilities upon the human race (Gen. 1:28). Two aspects of this cultural mandate bear directly on our discussion.

a) Man is to act as a ruler (controller) over creation. We are commanded to subdue creation as God’s stewards. This means that we are to act as organizers and controllers of creation under God in every area of life — we possess a Biblically limited stewardship over creation. We may not serve as passive creatures who blindly allow creation to “order” itself or assume that God will carry out the responsibilities He has given to us. Many Christians claim to “trust the Lord” for events that God has given humans authority over. To live this way is to live irresponsibly; it is to act contrary to the cultural mandate. This mandate is given to men and women as image-bearers of God (Gen. 1:27). God exercises absolute sovereignty over all things, and we, as those made in His image, are to exercise faithful stewardship over the world. If we add this foundational issue for Christian practice to the Christian understanding of freedom discussed above, we see that we are to exercise authority over creation in obedience to God, not man. We are forbidden to exercise control over our families, businesses, nations, or churches, in a way that is contrary to the word of God. Stated positively, we are directed to actively and responsibly order our families, etc., as faithful stewards in accord with Scripture.

b) We are commanded to “be fruitful and multiply.” Part of the cultural mandate is to raise children. This is one form of subduing the earth. We are to train our children faithfully in God’s ways and thus extend the covenant generation by generation. Much of our culture views children as inconvenient objects (the most heinous expression of this is, of course, abortion). The Bible views children as a gift of God that we ought to desire. “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Ps. 127:3-5). We read in Psalm 128:3,4 that “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house; Your children like olive plants around your table. Behold thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.” God promises to bless those who keep His covenant and “turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you” (Lev. 26:9). The Christian ought to desire and actively seek this blessing from God.

3. Constraints on the Cultural Mandate–I Corinthians 7
The command to subdue the earth is the norm for the believer. However, we see in the New Testament, that there are limited circumstances in which this norm does not apply. In I Corinthians 7, Paul is writing to those who are facing persecution (Acts 18:1-18). He counsels them “that it is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is….If you should marry you have not sinned; and if a virgin should marry, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you” (I Cor. 7:26-28).

Paul advises the Corinthian believers to avoid taking on the responsibilities of family life due to the present (or impending) tribulation.[1] Our Lord Himself gave a similar warning to those believers inhabiting Jerusalem at the time of its judgment: “Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people.” (Luke 21:23; cf. 2 Thess. 2:2). The concerns of family life are obviously compounded in a time of crisis, and Paul wanted to spare the Corinthians this kind of “tribulation” (v. 28; — cf. Matt. 13:21; I Thess. 1:4). The Lord calls His people to suffer for righteousness sake (I Pet. 2:21), but we are not to compound our tribulations irresponsibly.

The Lord is merciful and concerned about our possible distress. Paul does not counsel the Corinthians in these circumstances to idly “trust in the Lord.” They are to use Godly wisdom in ordering their lives; wisdom in this case is to avoid normal cultural responsibilities of family life, if possible. The principle, then, expressed in this constraint on the cultural mandate can be stated as: There are circumstances in which it is contrary to Godly wisdom to take on familial responsibilities.

Is persecution the only time we may forego normal cultural responsibilities? — evidently not, according to Paul’s reasoning. The necessary element in Paul’s counsel is that we be spared the type of added familial distress found in times of persecution. For example, in a time of persecution: a parent would fear to leave the family alone at any time for security reasons; a parent’s financial, sustenance, and shelter concerns must include several people instead of one; a family’s ability to move or hide is more difficult than a single person’s. The list could go on. These are the types of distresses that Paul wants believers to avoid. Since Paul is concerned with types of distress, the principle stated above will apply to all those circumstances in which such familial distress occurs–i.e. persecution is not the only situation in which we may temporarily forego taking on familial responsibilities. We can imagine numerous situations in which there is no persecution such as that found in the first century, yet the aforementioned kinds of distresses may occur (e.g. wartime, plague, famine). Nevertheless, Scripture presents yet further less catastrophic circumstances in which it is contrary to Godly wisdom to take on added familial responsibilities. We find the principle for such circumstances in I Tim. 5:8.

4. Providing for One’s Own — I Timothy 5:8
In the course of various directives regarding living above reproach, Paul instructs us that “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” Work is a natural and necessary aspect of the Christian life. Anyone who does not support or provide for his family is worse than one who hates God. This principle not only requires us to have a job (or some means of income), but it also forbids us to place ourselves in situations in which we cannot support our family even though we may have some form of employment; the outcome is the same. There are obvious examples: we may not gamble away our paycheck or spend it on relative luxuries when our children have no food. Furthermore, we are forbidden to take on obligations, no matter how well intentioned, which would lead us to fail to provide for our families. Hence, I Tim. 5:8 provides us with further circumstances in which our previous principle (3) would apply.

One common application of principle 3 to the circumstances of I Tim. 5:8 would be in initiating a marriage itself. We ought normally to marry in accord with the cultural mandate, but if the potential husband has no means of providing for his potential wife, then they ought not to marry in light of I Tim 5:8 (inability to provide might form the basis of her father’s refusal of the marriage–Ex. 21:17;18). If we can see how these principles work together in these circumstances, then we should have no difficulty in seeing how they would provide a similar basis for temporarily delaying childbearing. The case envisioned is one in which the married couple desires a family (rejecting all humanistic rationalizations about convenience, career, etc.) yet under the immediate circumstances would not be able to provide for a child or another child (in violation of I Tim. 5:8). We can imagine other scenarios as well. However, every case is circumscribed by all of the principles above.

We should note that although the above Biblical principles demonstrate the permissibility of contraception in general, they also unquestionably rule out some forms of contraception. For example, abortifacient methods such as the Intrauterine Device would be strictly forbidden by principle (1) above. Similarly, a couple rebelling against the Cultural Mandate are using contraceptives in a sinful manner.

Though no attempt is made to answer all questions regarding contraception in this discussion, this account would be greatly lacking if we did not respond to some common objections made against contraception. We will consider only three.

A. Contraception is unnatural
Many object to contraception on the basis of its “artificiality.” The general principle embedded in this objection is that we ought not attempt to hinder any natural course of events such as conception — “Contraception is contrary to natural law.”

Two points can be made in response. First, there are many things we do which go contrary to the “natural order” and yet are not immoral: e.g., shaving, airplane travelling, landscaping, driving, satellite transmitting, etc. Second, if we were consistent in following this prescription, then we would be forced to violate other commandments. For example, if we could not go contrary to the “natural order” of events, then we could not offer any medical assistance to those who are sick or injured, and we would be forbidden from aiding those who are starving. By omitting to do these things, we violate clear and constant Scriptural injunctions to care for the sick.

Furthermore, those who raise the above objection usually substitute some form of supposedly “natural” birth control such as abstinence or the rhythm method. However, it is absurd to refer to these practices as natural! Abstinence runs counter our natural sexual drives, and the intricate charting and scheduling involved in rhythm methods demonstrates that this form of birth control is far from “natural.”

B. God condemned birth control in the case of Onan (Gen. 38:7-10)
Judah, son of Jacob, had three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah. The Lord took Er’s life because of his wickedness and “Judah said to Onan, `Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.’ And Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so it came about that when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also.” Many take this passage to be a clear Biblical rejection of any form of birth control.

One must ignore the clear statements in this passage in order to draw the conclusion that God forbids birth control. First of all, one must read such a prohibition into the text, since Scripture nowhere forbids such an act. Second, we do clearly see that Onan refused to carry out the Levirate institution of raising children to his brother as prescribed in Deut. 25:5-10. Though failure necessitated no civil penalty apart from humiliation, the Lord may bring His own death sentence at His holy discretion apart from any such civil restraints (cf. Acts 5). Thirdly, even rejecting the immediately prior argument, Onan not only failed to fulfill his Levirate obligation, but he also committed adultery. A brother-in-law could not choose to have intercourse with his widowed sister-in-law at their discretion, for this is simply adultery, which has a civil and final death penalty. Onan was guilty of this and deserved his death sentence on both counts. Hence, this interpretation offers at least two objective and concrete sins committed by Onan and does not require one to read a tenuous claim into the text (as opponents must do).

A clear disproof of the anti-contraception view is that if that view is correct in its analysis of actions, then we would be obligated to condemn other non-sinful actions. For example, a parallel misinterpretation can be read into Achan’s sin. If we wanted to demonstrate that gold was wicked or that burying things was contrary to God’s commands, we could point to God’s judgment on Achan for seeking gold and burying it. But such a conclusion misses the sin at issue as much as those who use Onan to prove their point. Achan was judged for violating God’s ban against taking any plunder from Jericho (Josh. 6:17; 7). Hence, the anti-contraception interpretation seriously confuses the sins of Onan.

C. Contraception shows a lack of trust in God
Opponents of contraception often claim that those who use it are simply acting out of a lack of faith. If they truly trusted God, they would allow Him to control this aspect of their lives.

Though this claim would apply in some cases, it would suggest a form of irresponsibility in others. When someone tells us that they are simply “trusting in God” in these circumstances, they often evidently mean “I am not taking any responsiblity for my actions.” But it is absurd for a Christian to claim that he or she is not responsible for his or her actions; such an unbiblical attitude clearly shows the error in this objection. We are commanded to live our whole lives in obedience to and trust in God, and yet the Lord has given us certain responsibilities to carry out. When we trust in God for sustenance praying, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we do not sit at home passively waiting for food to be dropped on our doorstep. Rather, we go out and work. If we were to ignore our God given responsibilities and carry the above objection (C) to its logical conclusion we ought not ever work, use locks on our homes and cars, save money for emergencies, use brakes in our automobiles, wear safety goggles or sun screen, support the police or national defense, etc., but failing to do these things would be irresponsible. Such actions are Biblical, and so they cannot be contrary to trusting in God. The principles laid out in the main body of this discussion are an attempt to show that in some circumstances contraception can at times be another one of these areas of responsibility.

None of the above objections stands up to simple scrutiny. All of them fail to demonstrate that contraception is forbidden by the word of God. Many in our culture do abuse contraceptive measures (even some Christians), but, analogously, we need not refuse to print books just because the enemies of God use books also. Abuses of contraception need to be properly distinguished from a Biblical understanding of the issues so that we may make a proper evaluation of the practice. The principles outlined above give us a start on this question, and so in light of the above Biblical principles, we can indeed conclude that certain forms of contraception under certain circumstances are morally permissible.


[1] Though Paul refers only to marriage in this passage, we should not limit the reference of his remarks to be the concerns of a married couple alone as we might given contemporary usage. Paul, in accord with the overall understanding of marriage in Scripture, would have a wider range of responsibilities in mind. Marriage would naturally include child rasing. This is evident from Paul’s instructions to widows in 1 Tim. 5:14: “I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.”


ADVOCATE 2: All Forms of Contraception Within the Bounds of Marriage are Forbidden
Due to space limitations, we will adopt the following method of defeating our opponent’s position: Advocate One affirms, along with us, that the “Cultural Mandate” of Genesis 1:28 commands believers to have children, and that children are a great blessing from God, as Psalm 127, 128, and Leviticus 26:9 assert. He then asserts that, though having children is the normative duty of Christian couples, Scripture lists exceptions to the norm. To further bolster his thesis that birth control is therefore not forbidden, he offers rebuttals of three common anti-birth control arguments.

Since, “where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden” (Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 99:4; Matt. 15:4-6; 4:9-10; Deut. 6:13; 5:11; Jonah 1:1-3,12; Eph. 4:28), we regard the command to “be fruitful and multiply” as forbidding the deliberate hindrance of conception.

If we can demonstrate that Advocate One’s exceptions to Genesis 1:28 are no exceptions at all, and follow this by refuting his rebuttals, it will be observed that our view will hold the field: Contraception is forbidden by the Word of God.

Legalism and Freedom of Conscience
Advocate One starts off accusing Christians who are anti-birth control of being “legalists” guilty of “adding to or subtracting from God’s Word.” This, he feels, is because opposition to birth control is a “humanly contrived commandment.” He then says that because of this, the Anti-Birth Control position is seen to be an evil restriction upon Christian freedom.

However, let it be clear that our being judged guilty concerning these two charges depends entirely upon whether we can demonstrate our thesis to be correct and his to be false. If we are correct, then we are automatically cleared (WCF XX, Gal. 5:13; I Pet. 2:16). By including at the very beginning of his paper such a strong and unsubstantiated condemnation of our position, Advocate One is in violation of John 7:50-51. He should have waited for the end of the debate to describe us as teaching “doctrines of demons,” or being “under the curse of God.”

Romans 14:14
We are most happy to affirm the truth of this Bible passage, but would like to point out Advocate One’s incorrect use of it. Scriptural opposition to birth control is not based upon some view that the human body or the material world in general is evil or inferior. On the contrary, we feel that the sexual function has been created and blessed by God (Gen. 1:28; 2:24, 25), but the misuse of this wonderful gift is indeed possible (I Cor. 6:13), and that deliberate destruction of the reproductive nature of intercourse is one of these misuses. Surely our opponent realizes that affirmation of the goodness of creation (I Tim. 4:4) does not validate sexual practices which are clearly forbidden (e.g. Lev. 18).

The Cultural Mandate
We are pleased that Advocate One does in fact recognize that the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28 does indeed command Christian couples to be fruitful and multiply. In addition, Advocate One also quotes some of our favorite verses (Ps. 127: 3-5; 128: 3,4; Lev. 26:9), affirming that “The Christian ought to desire and actively seek this blessing from God.” We most heartily agree.

An Internal Contradiction
In the next two sections, our opponent attempts to expound two Scripture passages as providing justification (in some circumstances) for the use of contraception within marriage. Note that though his main thesis (stated several times in his paper) is that birth control is a “morally permissible option,” his interpretation of I Corinthians 7 and I Timothy 5:8 makes the practice of birth control mandatory, which is a very different assertion. Let us point out that though he accuses us of being legalistic for forbidding birth control, he is not afraid to make the practice of birth control a command of God (!) for Christians, something totally unheard of for the first nineteen centuries of the Church, which always insisted on the exact opposite!

I Corinthians 7
Advocate One interprets Paul (who wished Christians to “avoid distress”), as allowing contraception. This is untrue, for several reasons. First, if Paul is really recommending that the Corinthians not have children during the distress of I Corinthians 7:25-28, then what is the only method of contraception he advises? Abstinence, for we read in verse 29: “From now on those who have wives should live as if they have none.” But as a matter of fact, Paul cannot be interpreted as recommending abstention as a means of birth control, because Paul previously mentioned abstention as a temporary option (I Cor. 7:5-6) only for special prayer, which agrees with related Old Testament passages such as Exodus 19:15 and I Samuel 21:4-5. Paul viewed having children in marriage as command by God, as one may see from I Timothy 5:14-15.

Since I Corinthians 7 does not then advocate birth control for a married couple, it would be advantageous to examine the only passage in the Bible where God commanded someone not to have children, due to an extreme case of tribulation: Jeremiah 16:1-13. (This command was temporary — cf. Jer. 29:1-29.) Please notice the divinely appointed means to accomplish this command: “Thou shalt not take thee a wife , neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.” Since God’s stated goal was that Jeremiah not have children who would die in the terrible siege of Jerusalem, why didn’t God allow Jeremiah to marry, and then observe any number of absolutely sterile methods of sexual relations? Our answer is this: because deliberately non-procreative sex is a most heinous crime: that is why God told Jeremiah not to get married.

By turning to a specific historical case in the Old Testament, we can prove that Advocate One’s interpretation of I Corinthians is absolutely wrong. Turn to Exodus 1:6-22 and notice the sequence of events. The Israelites had moved to Egypt, where they “were fruitful and multiplied greatly and exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them” (v.7). Pharaoh didn’t like so many Israelites in Egypt, so he commanded a primitive method of contraception in order to prevent their population from growing any larger (vv. 9-14). The Israelites were then made slaves and treated horribly. Now, according to Advocate One’s exegesis of I Corinthians 7, this would have been an ideal time for the Israelites, whose families were undergoing intense persecution, to practice non-procreative sexual relations. After all, “what’s not forbidden is allowed, and God wants us to avoid unnecessary trials.” Besides, fewer children was the decree of the King of Egypt, and we should obey the king in all matters not conflicting with the Bible (Matt. 22:21; I Pet. 2:13). But what does the Bible say subsequently happened? “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread” (Ex. 1:12). And when Pharaoh got worse, the Israelites had even more children (Ex. 1:20)! And we have the express declaration of Scripture that the Israelites acted according to the will of God (Ps. 105:24). Therefore, one may see that Advocate One’s interpretation of I Corinthians 7 is not in accord with Scripture.

Please note that Advocate One says several other things in this section which are in error: He applies Luke 21:23 to believers, when in reality it applied to non-Christians. The tribulation prophesied in Luke 21 was to overcome the unrepentant Jews of the land of Israel, not the Christians, who were commanded to escape (Lk. 21:20-22; Deut. 28:53-57; Lam. 2:20; II Kings 6:23-31; Jer. 19:8-9; Ez. 5:10). Further, Advocate One evidently says that Matthew 13:21 and II Thessalonians 1:4 show that Paul wanted to spare Christians family tribulation. These passages say nothing of the sort, but refer to anti-Christian persecution, which is inevitable (Lk. 6:22, 26; Acts 14:22; II Tim. 3:12).

I Timothy 5:8
Advocate One interprets the above passage to make birth control mandatory for poor Christians who are “not able to provide for a child or another child.” Any couple which has children in such a situation violates I Timothy 5:8, which would make them, according to Advocate One “deniers of the faith, worse than unbelievers,” and “worse than those who hate God”!

We can prove that this view is wrong. First of all, the Scripture says positively that we Christians are promised what we need to survive (Matt. 6:24-34; Phil. 4:19). Second, these promises of care are applied by God Himself to the children of believers (Ps. 17:14; 37:25-26; 72:4; 103:13, 17-18; 112: 1-2; 115:12-14; Prov. 14:26; 20:7). This is not surprising, since the covenant applies to believers and their children (Acts 2:39; Matt. 26:28). Third, when an individual Christian reaches the point where he no longer has what is needed to survive, it is the command of God for other Christians to help him (Deut. 15:4-15; Acts 4:34-35; Lev. 25:35-39; Deut. 24: 12-15; I Tim. 6:17-19). Further, this giving to a poor Christian is to be sacrificial if necessary (II Cor. 8:1-4, 13-15; Lk. 3:11). So, when a poor brother with many children and insufficient income needs the help of the Church, the Church is to provide him with food, clothing, money, and jobs. Never does Scripture command anyone to practice deliberately non-procreative sex, although, as we have pointed out, such methods of sexual relations are available and easily practiced. (And yes, many of these methods were known in ancient times!)

Let us point out the real boundaries of need and greed: “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Tim. 6:7-10). This contentment spoken of by Paul is mandatory, not optional, and those who violate this show lack of trust in God, as the Scripture plainly teaches (Heb. 13:5-6). Now, how can lack of food, clothes, etc. be a valid reason for birth control, if we are promised by God never to run out of them, and if fellow Christians are commanded to help out whenever these things run low? In truth, those who limit the number of their children when they have food and clothes are guilty of violating the command of Genesis 1:28 for the sake of greed.

Let us now logically proceed to examine the ramifications of Advocate One’s view of I Timothy 5:8 and compare these ramifications to another passage in the Bible. First, if his interpretation of the verse is correct, then we should view the poor hungry man who impregnates his wife as “worse than one who hates God” (to use Advocate One’s phrase). And what does the Scripture say about a person who hates God? He is an object of God’s fierce anger (Deut. 7:10), a being sentenced to Hell (Rom. 1:28-32), and should be excommunicated from the Church of Christ (Acts 3:22-23; I Cor. 5:1-2). Now let us compare these easily deduced logical ramifications with a story from the Bible.

It “just so happens” that Nehemiah 5:1-16, contains just the scenario envisioned by Advocate One’s exegesis of I Timothy 5:8. Notice that in the fifth century B.C., the people of God, who were living in Palestine, had been suffering grinding oppression, which was so bad that they had been selling their children as slaves to pagans, to raise money to even buy food to eat (vv. 2,5)! This oppression had been going on for years prior to Nehemiah’s arrival (v. 15). And the people of God had plenty of children (v. 2). Now let us apply Advocate One’s interpretation of I Timothy 5:8 to the situation in Nehemiah. First, Nehemiah should have condemned these poor Israelites for being so wicked as to procreate children in such awful conditions, which were so bad that individual families didn’t have food to eat! (After all, Advocate One says, speaking of covenant children, that “we are forbidden to take on obligations, no matter how well-intentioned, which would lead us to fail to provide for our families.”)

Second, Nehemiah should have excommunicated them for hating God, and third, these evil procreating, starving people (newly deprived of Israelite status) could then be sold as slaves to the Gentiles to pay off the debts owed to the righteous (and richer) Israelites who were left. Of course, this was not the course of action followed by Nehemiah. When he heard that the rich Israelites had been greedy and hadn’t shared with their poor brothers, he immediately was angry with the rich, and commanded them to “give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses, and also the usury you are charging them — the hundreth part of the money, grain, new wines and oil” (v. 11). Then he made them take an oath to cancel the debts of the poor, pronouncing a curse upon all those who would not do so! Note that this is the exact opposite of the course Nehemiah should have followed if Advocate One’s exegesis of I Timothy 5:8 is correct.

On Unnaturalness
A very good anti-birth control argument is that birth control is unnatural; hence Advocate One’s attempt to escape from this objection. He tacitly agrees that contraception is unnatural, but proceeds to say that: (1) lots of “unnatural” activities (such as shaving) are actually morally neutral; and (2) that if we completely follow “nature” in some areas, we would be violating Scriptural commands such as feeding the sick.

We agree with both of Advocate One’s propositions — nature is an imperfect teacher, as is stated by Scripture. Nature proclaims the existence and characteristics of God, but the Gospel is needed to enlighten men unto salvation (Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 10:14-15; WCF I:1). Further, habits which occur naturally in the animal world have been forbidden to human beings (Gen. 9:4; Deut. 4:21; Lev. 7:22-25). As regards the sexual activities of animals, we find some natural occurrences which are forbidden to men. For example, dogs are known for mating with any available female (I Corinthians 6:15), and lions are known for monopolizing a large number of lionesses and excluding other lions from any activity (I Cor. 7:2).

But we rest our case upon the united and irrefutable testimony of nature that the sex act in all animal groups occurs in such a manner as to facilitate (and never obstruct) the production of offspring. No male animal uses condoms; no female or male deliberately avoids sex during ovulation, etc. This is as we should expect things, since animals are commanded by God to be fruitful and multiply. Scripture itself testifies to the undoubted testimony of nature in this regard, by pointing to the foul example of male and female homosexuals (Rom. 1:26-27). What is unnatural about these people? Not physical closeness between those of the same sex (John 12:23; I Thess. 5:26). Not non-sexual love between those of the same sex (II Sam. 1:26). What marks the most degraded sinners in Romans 1 is this: they avoid the natural function of women: procreation. And that is exactly what those who practice birth control do also.

For completeness’ sake, let us make it clear that our definition of contraception means that we do not endorse any method of child limitation within the bounds of marriage. So Advocate One’s slam on variations of the Rhythm method does not affect our position at all.

The Case of Onan — Gen. 38:8-10
Advocate One says that opponents of birth control must “read into the text” in order to get the anti-birth control viewpoint. This is patently untrue. The passage is very short: Onan does only one physical act, and it is specifically stated that Onan was killed for what he did. The fact of the matter is that the anti-contraceptive view is the first one which suggests itself.

Anyone who does research into the Onan incident will soon realize that the only other passage in the Old Testament which speaks about the unusual custom of Levirate marriage is Deuteronomy 25:5-10, and that passage says that anyone who refuses to raise up seed to his brother is to be humiliated only. It is therefore logical to conclude that Onan was not killed merely for violating the Levirate, but was killed for something much worse. And what is it that differentiates Onan’s case from the Deuteronomy case? Onan wasted (literally “destroyed, killed”) his seed on the ground.

So step two in examining the Onan story by comparison with pertinent Scripture (the only way to study Scripture: WCF I:9; Matt. 4:5-7) again yields an anti-contraceptive view of Genesis 38.

Advocate One attempts to sidestep this logical comparison by bringing up the example of how God killed Ananias and his wife in Acts 5; he says God killed them “apart from civil restraints.” This is not true: their New Testament death agrees entirely with Old Testament civil law. Ananias and Sapphira were not held guilty until they promised the whole amount to God (Acts 5:3-4, 8), in accordance with Deuteronomy 23:21-23; they were killed by the direct intervention of God in accordance with Old Testament law (Acts 5:2-3; Josh. 7:1,11; I Kings 8:31-32; Eccl. 5:4-6). Not only does Advocate One’s dodge not prove his point, it further illustrates the amazing interrelatedness of Scripture.

Let us now examine some further assertions of our opponent: he asserts that he has uncovered two death penalty offenses which made Onan worthy of execution: adultery and sexual relations with a sister-in-law. Both of these assertions are untrue.

First, the death penalty crime of adultery is possible only for relations with another man’s wife (Lev. 20:10); Tamar’s husband Er was already dead (Gen. 38:7; Rom. 7:1-4). Further, Onan, by the assumption of Levirate duty, had thereby married Tamar (Deut. 25:5; Matt. 22:24), and how exactly do you commit adultery with your wife? (Even if he didn’t marry her by this, his offense is fornication, the penalty for which is that he must marry Tamar, not death — Deut. 22:28-29).

Second, Onan was not killed for having relations with his sister-in-law either, because the penalty for this crime is not death, but childlessness (Lev. 18:16; 20:21).

We will make one more observation. Advocate One continually attacks the anti-contraceptive interpreters of Genesis 38: 8-10 with charges that we ignore the clear teaching of the passage; we read into the text; we adopt a tenuous view; we are confused; then he tops off his description of us by saying that our method of exegesis could result in monstrosities like condemning burying things by reference to Achan’s story! We have this to say in reply: the anti-contraceptive view of the Onan passage is the universal view of orthodox Christianity of the first nineteen centuries; the greatest minds of the Christian faith have interpreted it this way: Augustine, Calvin, Luther, the Bible commentary put out by the Synod of Dort, the Westminster Annotations, and a host of others (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6).

It should be apparent which view of Genesis 38:8-10 really involves confusion and reading into the text.

Trusting in God
I would not say that those who practice birth control do so simply because of lack of faith — surveys indicate that upwards of 80% of those who use contraception do so for monetary reasons, so I would say that greed has a lot to do with it. Lack of Scriptural watchmen (Ez. 33 & 34) to warn the flock of God is another important reason; many people who speak authoritatively on sexual matters are actually familiar with nothing more than their own desires and have never studied Scripture in depth.

Our opponent in this section makes a comparison which illustrates the fact that his views have been influenced by the ungodly culture in which we live. He says that, just as we are permitted to do things to prevent starvation, thievery, diseases, car wrecks, eye injury, sunburn, and anarchy, so we are permitted to prevent the conception of covenant children and/or the horrible troubles they will bring! Is it proper to say such things and call it a Christian view? We think not.

Advocate One attempts to flip the “lack of faith” argument back upon us by accusing us of advocating irresponsible production of children by unilaterally condemning birth control. Our simple refutation is this: if God forbids us to practice birth control, then we are obligated to have as many children as God sends us. Obeying God’s command is wise, no matter what happens (Matt. 7:24-26), and it is better to be righteous and poor, rather than rich and ungodly (Prov. 28:6). We know that, contrasted with the mere teachings of men, the commandments of God result in true liberation (Matt. 11:29-30; 23:4), and we are sure that such will be the case in the area of children (Ps. 127 & 128). We are ignoring the wisdom of the world — Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” God has given us the equipment, the desire, and the command to be fruitful and multiply; it is He, according to the Scripture, who is involved in the entire process of childmaking (Job 10:10-12; Ps. 139:13; Gen. 4:1). Yes, we can trust the Lord. We can trust that he who commands us will not let us or His children starve (Matt. 7:9-11). Those who believe in the sovereignty of God emphatically believe in the vengeance of God even when it is unpopular to do so; should we not also believe that God is compassionate to believers and their children, since it, too, is affirmed in Scripture (Deut. 7:9; 13:17; Ex. 20:5; 22:26; Ps. 111:4; Lk. 1:50).

Advocate One has stated in his paper that the cultural mandate does indeed command Christian couples to have children. Our opponent has provided no Scriptural exceptions to Genesis 1:28, and his three additional arguments are invalid.

Thus it may be seen that contraception is not morally permissible.


ADVOCATE 1 Response
Someone may be able to offer cogent Biblical reasons to refute my position, but Advocate Two has yet to do so. I sincerely expected to have to faithfully grapple with solid argumentation on this important topic, but instead Advocate Two has simply given us simplistic dilemmas, fallacious inferences, and hasty generalizations.

I also find it disheartening that even when one is loyally attempting to apply God’s Word, Advocate Two sees need to fallaciously psychologize sinful motivations on the part of those who share my position (“lack of faith,” “greed,” “lack of Scriptural watchmen,” shallow knowledge of Scripture, etc.). At one point, he even simplistically misreads my statements and rules me out of the Christian faith. This move may be a simple way to win a debate, but faithful, even passionate, Christian scholarship ought to rise above such antics.
Simple Misreadings
Much of Advocate Two’s opening hostility results from a hasty interpretation of my discussion of foundational principles. He mistakenly reads my discussions of legalism, freedom of conscience, and Romans 14 as if they were somehow critiques or premature accusations of his view, when in fact they are foundational concerns which we share, in joint contrast to common Fundamentalist abuses.

As applied to the question of birth control, all these concerns simply demonstrate the point on which we agree: “the Christian is free to use contraception, unless it is forbidden by Scripture.” We then obviously part ways on the latter clause, but my opening essay does not prejudge the matter as Advocate Two hastily contends.

Faulty Negative Arguments
An Internal Contradiction? — Advocate Two thinks he has found a contradiction in my essay between a mandate and a permissible option. First, even if there were such a conflict, it is not a contradiction for one concept does not negate the other (i.e. a contradiction of “permissible” is “non-” or “im- permissible.”) Nevertheless, I never argue that birth control is mandatory, and Advocate Two does not provide evidence for the alleged conflict — his fallacious appeal to tradition notwithstanding. Hence, this negative argument fails.

I Corinthians 7 — Advocate Two offers three arguments against my case from I Corinthians 7. First, he counters Paul’s exhortation not to take on familial responsibilities by ignoring my argument and invoking a straw man concerning abstention.

Second, Advocate Two cites the Lord’s commandment that Jeremiah not marry or have children in light of the impending tribulation (Jer. 16:1-13) and then fallaciously infers that the reason for this commandment is not the impending tribulation but “because deliberately non-procreative sex is a most heinous crime.” One looks in vain for the text and premises which entail this conclusion! If this is not a gross false inference, then Advocate Two is begging-the-question.

Third, Advocate Two claims to show that my interpretation of I Corinthians 7 is “absolutely wrong” by citing the allegedly parallel case of Exodus 1. Simply put, however, serving under Egyptian slavery and fleeing Roman persecution are quite different animals. Moreover, the former case calls for Biblical civil disobedience since Pharaoh commanded what was forbidden, and the latter case calls for fleeing, hiding, or self-sacrifice. Finally, Advocate Two encounters a difficult problem by arguing from Exodus 1. He wants to use this passage to prove that we are to be fruitful and multiply even during tribulation, but he has already conceded that this is not always the case by citing Jeremiah 16. He also chooses not to exegete Paul’s similar directive in I Corinthians 7 itself. Hence, Advocate Two’s case against my use of I Corinthians 7 falls apart, and my argument stands.

I Timothy 5:8 –Advocate Two wants to stress the language — “worse than unbelievers” — found in my essay, regarding those who fail to provide for their families. The reader should be clear, as Advocate Two is not, that the statements are the Apostle Paul’s, not mine. I gladly emphasize them.

Advocate Two offers six arguments against my case from I Timothy 5:8. His first three arguments regarding God’s care and the obligation of Christian charity all beg-the-question by assuming that the people are acting responsibly. Surely Advocate Two would not endorse Christian charity to someone who irresponsibly refuses to work (cf. II Thess. 3:10)?

He fallaciously argues, fourthly, that “never does Scripture command anyone to practice deliberately non-procreative sex.” This is fallacious because he forgets (what I assumed we agreed on) that we are permitted to do whatever is not forbidden, not vice-versa as Fundamentalists are prone to contend.

His fifth argument simply repeats his third. Advocate Two argues, sixthly, that Nehemiah 5 refutes my interpretation of I Timothy 5:8. First, Nehemiah 5 does not provide us enough information to make a sound analogy. Does Advocate Two really want to endorse selling his covenant children into slavery? Second, the oppression and ensuing poverty were easily rectified since the oppressors were God’s people and not the Roman legions. (Advocate Two attacks a silly straw man regarding excommunication). Hence, Advocate Two’s arguments against using I Timothy 5:8 either beg-the-question, invoke poor ethical foundations, generalize hastily, attack straw men, or reason from silence.

Faulty Positive Arguments
Unnaturalness — Advocate Two first concedes the fallacious nature of reasoning from “nature” and then goes onto reason in this way himself. He contends that “the united and irrefutable testimony of nature” supports the conclusion that it is unnatural to ever obstruct conception. But the same testimony also demonstrates that Advocate Two’s typing is immoral.

Onan — Advocate Two complains that I claim he reads his conclusions into the text, but then he does not argue from the text, leaving us only with the assertion that his view is the “first one which suggests itself.” This is not good enough. The basis for his claim is that there is “only one physical act.” This is simplistic. Is the act intercourse? Failure to impregnate? Adultery? Disgracing his sister-in-law? Acts just aren’t as clear cut as Advocate Two’s interpretation requires. He either ignores or begs these considerations.

Advocate Two fallaciously concludes that God did not punish Onan for violating the Levirate institution because such a violation did not deserve civil punishment. This claim is refuted by God’s actions in Acts 5, and Advocate Two’s claim that Ananias and Sapphira committed civil crimes is false; his own Biblical citations support my contention. Hence, his interpretation of the Onan incident fails.

My unnecessary but additional argument regarding adultery (I do not make a separate argument concerning a sister-in-law) rests on the covenantal nature of the marriage union as necessarily inclusive of sexual relations. My opponent does not engage this point.

Finally, Advocate Two attempts to prove that he does not read his interpretation into Genesis 38 by citing “the universal view of orthodox Christianity.” The appeal to tradition is utterly irrelevant to his claim and therefore fallacious. Even granting universal agreement, Protestants are supposed to rely on the objective constraints of the Word of God alone — “Let God be true though every man be found a liar” (Rom. 3:4) — even the so-called universal testimony of theologians. Genesis 38 simply cannot be used to buttress Advocate Two’s case.

Cultural Mandate — Another positive argument Advocate Two uses to make his case is that the cultural mandate allows no exceptions, and without exceptions “our view will hold the field: contraception is forbidden by the Word of God.” Advocate Two himself supplies us with the refutation of this claim. All we need is one exception to reject this argument. Advocate Two gives us two: (1) Paul prescribed abstention as a “temporary option,” and (2) God commanded Jeremiah not to marry or have children temporarily. Christ and Paul’s later life also stand as exceptions. Hence, this argument also fails.

Trusting in God — Advocate Two largely begs-the-question under this heading. Both of us heartily trust in the care of God. Both of us trust that God will provide for us and our children. But Scripture forbids us to be so arrogant as to maintain that the Lord will provide for us if we refuse to act responsibly. If Advocate Two genuinely wants to adopt the implications of his claim, then he should be willing to quit his work, for on his premises God will provide even when he acts irresponsibly. I don’t believe Advocate Two truly holds this, and so we agree that we are obligated to trust in God and act as faithful, active stewards. Advocate Two unbelievably distorts this simple claim to perniciously assert that I oppose children for “the horrible troubles they will bring!” One will search in vain for such an ugly assertion in my essay or my practice with my own children. Advocate Two should rather focus on providing faithful and cogent Biblical reasons for his case, which he has yet to do.

ADVOCATE 2 Response
Rules of Interpretation
Our position on birth control is this: since the way God sets things up in the beginning is the pattern for righteous behavior (Ex. 20:8-11; Matt. 19:4-6), and since it is most obvious that God Himself ordained the sex act at the beginning for the purpose of procreation (Gen. 2:24; 1:28; Mal. 2:15; Job 10:10; Westminster Confession of Faith XXIV:2), it therefore follows that contraception (which is an intentional thwarting of being fruitful) is forbidden by God unless one can produce Scriptural justification for it; i.e. approved example, explicit command, or good and necessary consequences (WCF I:6, Larger Catechism Q.99:4). This is the clear teaching of Leviticus 10:1-4, which tells us the story of the sad deaths of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron who were killed by God because they “offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.”

Birth Control is Mandatory in Advocate One’s System
In advocating birth control, Advocate One uses these words: “circumstances in which it is contrary to Godly wisdom to take on familial responsibilities” and “the types of distresses that Paul wants believers to avoid,” following them with “the principle stated above will apply to all those circumstances in which such familial distress occurs — i.e. persecution is not the only situation in which we may temporarily forego taking on familial responsibilities.” Interpreting I Timothy 5:8, he says, “This principle…forbids us to place ourselves in situations in which we cannot support our family….” Even in his new response, he says things like “Scripture forbids us,” and “we are obligated to…act as faithful, active stewards” (my emphasis). Our opponent makes birth control out to be God’s will (and therefore mandatory ) in certain (very broad) circumstances.

Pharaoh and the Corinthian Distress
Our opponent scrambles about to find some big difference between the two persecutions mentioned, to justify his assertion that God allowed contraception to the Corinthians, while opposing it for the Israelites! The fact is that the Pharaonic assault was worse. The distress of I Corinthians (not even mentioned in II Corinthians, to my knowledge) was of short duration, whereas Pharaoh’s campaign soon escalated to encompass the destruction of the entire seed of Israel. If God was opposed to the Israelites in Egypt practicing contraception, He obviously would be opposed during lesser persecutions, which destroys I Corinthians 7 as a “contraceptive proof text.” Further, Paul told the Corinthians that the lessons of Old Testament Israel’s conduct are binding on Christians (I Cor. 10:1-22; II Cor. 8:13-15).

On I Timothy 5:18
Advocate One asserted that poor Christians who do not practice contraception are guilty of violating this passage. Nehemiah dealt with an even worse case than envisaged by Advocate One, and he did not condemn the procreating poor, even when they are forced to sell some of their children. Advocate One now asserts that “Nehemiah 5 does not provide us with enough information,” with no proof.

On “Endorsing Slavery”
Being in slavery to pagans is not good, but it is better to be a slave and trust God for the consequences, than to never be alive at all. Slavery is bearable and can be rectified (Gen. 50:20; Ex. 6:6; Lev. 25:47-48; Neh. 5:8; I Cor. 7:21), while not conceiving a child is a horrible and much worse catastrophe: a curse — Hosea 9:11; a disgrace — Luke 1:25; a sickness — Genesis 20: 17-18; and a source of great bitterness and misery — Genesis 30:1 and I Samuel 1:10-11. (In addition, who thinks that Christians who oppose abortion “endorse” birth defects?)

Advocate One says that not practicing birth control in certain circumstances makes one an enemy of God. Scripture says that enemies of God should be excommunicated. The logical implication is just what we said.
On Nature
We apologize for not stating our position more clearly last time. The paragraph below should help clarify matters.

Although nature is in some circumstances an imperfect teacher, in others it is a perfectly valid indicator. Nature proves the evil of homosexuality in Romans 1:24-28, and God Himself uses the example of nature (“the land”) in Leviticus 18:25, 28; 20:22, when he mentions the putridness of menstrual sex, bestiality, and male homosexuality. All species in nature perform the sexual act in such a manner as to further the cause of procreation, not to hinder it. Note that Advocate One does not dispute this known fact , and when he tosses out nature entirely, his quarrel is with the Bible, not me. If nature proves homosexuality wrong, then it also proves contraception wrong.

Is All Past Christian Interpretation “Utterly Irrelevant”?
Reformed theology has always had great respect for the views of the godly of the past, in obedience to Scripture: “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). To quote a well-known Reformed theologian: “Although tradition does not rule out interpretation, it does guide it. If, upon reading a particular passage, you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two thousand years, or that has been championed universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation” (R.C. Sproul, The Agony of Deceit, p. 35).

It is a matter of historical fact that all branches of Christianity (and especially the Reformed) strenuously opposed contraception up until well into the corrupt century in which we find ourselves. Before then, it was advocated only by acknowledged heretics (various agnostics) and open enemies of the Christian faith (see, for example, Peter Fryer, The Birth Controllers ). This is the tree from which “Christian” contraception has sprung, and to which we say, “a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:18).

Onan Again
The pertinent part of Genesis 38:8-10 says this: “…when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.” The anti-contraception view is the most obvious: God killed Onan for destroying his seed. Since God Himself says that non-performance of the Levirate duty (regardless of motive ) is not worthy of death (Deut. 25:9), but that Onan’s act was worthy of death, this greatly reinforces our interpretation. To get out of this conclusion, it is necessary for Advocate One to come up with more than “this is simplistic;” he must prove that Onan cannot have been killed for contraception, since he admits that Genesis 1:28 commands Christians to have children. Thus far, all he has come up with are historically non-existent interpretations of only two New Testament passages.

Who is Bound by the Procreation Command?
God gave the command after He had married Adam and Eve; hence the command applies only to married folks. We may here again observe that for Advocate One to prove that birth control is permissible, he must locate a clear and provable Scripture mandate for contraception. He is thus far able to locate only abstention for prayer and related subjects, and this does not prove the justness of contraception any more than my abstaining from sexual relations while I am at work or church proves that I am in favor of birth control. Likewise, his citation of Jeremiah (which we brought up in the first place) proves nothing because abstinence for the unmarried is the Biblical norm.

“Acting Responsibly”
Married Christians, rich or poor, who eschew birth control are acting in a very responsible manner: God told us to have children, God made the children, and God says He will take care of them for us.

“An Ugly Assertion”
Advocate One accuses me of distorting his view of children, but it was he who compared having children to the horrible things I mentioned; in fact, I merely lifted them right out of his paper. Please compare my “Trusting in God,” paragraph two, with his “Section C,” paragraph two.

Concluding Statement

God has ordained sexual relations as the channel though which He sends children (a great reward) to believers (Gen. 2:24; 1:28, Job 10:10; Ps. 127). Many people don’t want the children they fear God might send them, and do all in their power to thwart God in this matter. Thus, contraception is fighting against God, and those who practice it are guilty of despising God’s gifts (Gen. 25:34; Heb. 12:16).

ADVOCATE 1 Concluding Remarks
I genuinely believe that Advocate Two is very sincere and committed to his position, but if we are faithfully attempting to understand God’s Word, then no amount of italicized words, irrelevant citations, or heated denunciations will strengthen our arguments.

Summary of My Initial Case
To summarize where the debate stands at this point, I began the discussion by offering the “foundational argument” of the entire discussion: Whatever activity Scripture does not prohibit is permissible. This is a tremendous liberty to be jealously guarded against all forms of Fundamentalist legalism.

This “foundational argument” implies that the burden of proof lies on those who wish to prohibit some activity. If, for example, a Fundamentalist wants to prohibit drinking, dancing, or dealing, then he bears the burden of demonstrating that prohibition from Scripture. If he fails, then the action is permissible.

In addition to this “foundational argument,” I offered as a background consideration that the Cultural Mandate requires us (a) to generally seek the blessings of family life and (b) to behave as active stewards in all of our activities, including family life.

Finally, I argued that I Corinthians 7 demonstrates one of several exceptions to the Cultural Mandate. Paul explicitly advises the Corinthians not to take on familial obligations temporarily, given the tribulations they would face.

Similarly, in I Timothy 5:8, Paul instructs us that we sin greatly by failing to provide for our household. In order to heed this serious injunction, we may find need to temporarily postpone taking on familial obligations, which may, not must, include temporarily delaying having children (given the success of the opening argument).

I concluded my case by rebutting three common objections to birth control: unnaturalness, the Onan incident, and trusting in God.

Summary of Advocate Two’s Response
Advocate Two responded by arguing that the prohibition my “foundational argument” needs is supplied by the Cultural Mandate itself, since this norm, he contends, prohibits any form of birth control.

Apart from the rest of his discussion and accusations, the only positive arguments he uses to meet the demand of the “foundational argument” (i.e. his burden to demonstrate that Scripture prohibits all forms of birth control) is to invoke: unnaturalness, Onan, and trust in God. In all, then, Advocate Two uses four arguments to make his case.

Summary of My Second Response
I responded to these claims by arguing that Advocate Two’s use of (1) the Cultural Mandate fails since he requires absolutely no exceptions, but he himself provides us with at least two, apart from my own.

(2) Advocate Two’s initial use of unnaturalness fell pray to the reductio that his typing would also be immoral by his argument.

(3) His use of the Onan incident assumed either a terribly simplistic view of actions or begged-the-question.

(4) His particular attempt to use trust in God to make his case is so broad that it falls to the reductio that God approves of actions which we both agree are irresponsible, i.e. refusing to work.
Summary of Advocate Two’s Latest Response
In his latest response, Advocate Two claims regarding my response to (1) above that the Cultural Mandate “applies only to married folks.” But this is false since the command is also given to animals (1:22) and would imply that God does not require unmarried persons to subdue the earth to God’s glory! Moreover, if Advocate Two is correct, then he has supplied us with millions of other exceptions to the Cultural Mandate, namely all those who are not married. Hence, whichever path he takes he abandons his initial argument.

(2) Regarding my response to unnaturalness, he attempts to clarify his position by reasserting it. I gladly bow before any divine interpretation of nature in special revelation, but apart from such a revelation, arguments from nature are arrogant and fallacious. Advocate Two does not provide a divine interpretation for his understanding of nature, but only offers a non-sequitur.

(3) On Onan, Advocate Two refuses to answer my previous questions which I used to demonstrate the simplistic view of actions he holds. Moreover, his entire exegesis becomes grossly suspect when he claims that Deuteronomy 25:9 “says that non-performance of the Levirate duty is not worthy of death.” This passage says no such thing! Advocate Two is now making up Scriptural declarations.

(4) Advocate Two also refuses to deal with my rebuttals to his view of trust in God. Hence, my initial reductio still stands.

Since Advocate Two bears the burden of demonstrating that Scripture forbids birth control, and he has only supplied us with these four fallacious arguments, we may safely conclude that he has not made his case.

Side Issues
The Pleasures of Roman Persecution: Advocate Two now contends that slavery (his initial appeal) is worse than the lengthy Roman persecution and, nevertheless, still fails to account for Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians.

I Timothy 5:18: Advocate Two falsely forces his “mandatory” interpretation of my argument and then demands proof of a negative assertion. He has not removed his previous fallacies in his use of Nehemiah.

The Authority of Tradition: An appeal to tradition is fallacious when irrevantly used. Tradition is irrelevant to buttress Advocate Two’s initial claim that he does not read his interpretation into the text. Hence, his appeal is fallacious. Moreover, no one, not even Sproul has more authority than Scripture.

The Most Serious Error
Finally, Advocate Two’s most serious error in his latest response essentially disqualifies him from a debate on Christian ethics. Advocate Two opens his response by rejecting the primary foundational issue in our discussion. In short, Advocate Two has seriously confused the regulative principles for life and worship. By appealing to Leviticus 10 in this non-worship context and later claiming that I “must locate a clear and provable Scriptural mandate for contraception,” he has abandoned the constraints of Biblical ethics. Outside of worship, no believer is required to provide a mandate before he or she may act! As a simple reductio, on Advocate Two’s standards we all sin wickedly by watching a baseball game, washing our cars, and using computers, since God does not gives us a mandate to do these things. Yet this is absurd and unbiblical. In the end, Advocate Two has failed to provide either a sound or valid argument to prove his prohibition.

I will close by stressing what I began with. We ought to revel in children. Christians ought to have large, glorious families. We ought to oppose humanistic or selfish rationalizations for avoiding family life. But we follow where Scripture leads, and it simply does not forbid us to temporarily postpone family responsibilities in the manner circumsribed earlier.


Reformed Theology and Apologetics
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