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Issue and Interchange

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.

Copyright © by Covenant Community Church of Orange County 1990
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