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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Word For The Week

As I watched Katrina run through South Florida and make her way toward New Orleans, I am reminded of what the Psalmist said in the 127th Psalm - "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." I am reminded of this because it seems like no matter how often they rebuild houses in Florida, no matter how strict the code for roofing, hurricane after hurricane seems to run through the state to de-roof it time after time after time. The builders - and P&C Insurance companies - seem to be laboring in vain. This is also true in our own lives - we can try to establish our own codes, our own categorical imperatives, but unless we build our lives up to God's code we labor in vain.

This is why I am particularly confounded by R. Albert Mohler's assertion that Christians who choose to remain childless are in sin - "nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design." I think I understand Mohler's intent - to keep Christians breeding new Christians - but his assertion doesn't square with the Biblical record. God's primary plan for marriage is not procreation. Look back to Genesis 2:18ff. God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." Did God have procreation in mind when He made this declaration? Not unless He had bestiality in mind: "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." No, bestiality was not what was in vision here, companionship was the idea: "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him." God diagnosed the problem, "It is not good that the man should be alone" and proscribed the solution, "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man." God didn't bring Eve to Adam for the primary purpose of procreation; God brought Eve to Adam for the primary purpose of companionship. Procreation is a good thing, but we cannot establish our own codes, our own categorical imperatives and elevate a good thing above God's design. Companionship - "It is not good that the man should be alone" - is God's primary purpose for marriage.

This brings us back to our text. It is a true saying that "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." The man who has many sons often has reason to be quite proud, but back in the Psalmist's day - even as recently as a hundred years ago or so - there were much more pragmatic reasons for having a quiver full of children: cheap labor for the fields. In an agrarian society children are necessary to work the fields - it's the reason why children have summer vacation from school today, they were needed to work the fields and didn't have time for school back in the day. In today's urban environment we are not nearly dependent upon procreation for our economic livelihood, but in an agrarian society that could be the difference between life and death. Child-bearing was much more important then - it was an economic necessity. That is no longer the case, and past economic necessities do not encode current categorical imperatives.

Unless one takes the position that sex is purely for the purpose of procreation - a position that is impossible to maintain Biblically (see 1 Corinthians 7) - then it should be clear that while children are indeed a blessing from the LORD, people can surely refuse to be blessed in that fashion. It is, after all, a lot of hard work to train up a child in the way that they should go, and frankly, there are a whole lot of people - even in the church - who are not anywhere near up to the task. We read about the fruit of their loins daily in the crime sections of the newspapers. We see the fruit of their wombs daily on America's Most Wanted. We see them in substance abuse treatment centers and we see their misanthropic madness as they dehumanize of their fellow man. We even see some of them even growing up to become president. If people are not willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to be good parents - sometimes even sacrificing your own dignity in order to teach your wayward child a valuable lesson that will eventually save his life - then it is better for everyone that such people remove themselves from the gene-pool. This is a self-correcting problem and you don't have to be an evolutionary naturalist to see how that works.

Now it is true that God can bring order out of chaos, that He can redeem a broken home life and give new life to the repentant. But it is also true that in many - if not most - cases that it simply doesn't happen that way. We have many testimonies of how people overcame their broken homes - Bill Clinton being the most prominent example, a Rhodes Scholar from Hope, Arkansas who became president - yet we also saw some of the residual effects of his broken home while he was in office. We also have more recent examples of people who come from two-parent homes who - despite their parents' best efforts - still manage to destroy everything that they touch. That's why it is a blessing to have a quiver full of sons - to make up for the perpetual screw-up who couldn't find oil in Texas.

May The LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who can bless you with a full quiver if you choose to be so blessed,
My He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM

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Does anyone find it strange that the routes of all the major hurricanes have lead to the major ports of entry for slaves into the U.S.?
Is this redemption or what?

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Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ Monday, September 05, 2005 3:16:00 AM #
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