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Issue and Interchange

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.

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