What God has joined together…

The previous post on Marital Abstinence caused quite an uproar in the blogosphere. I am only going to say two more things about it before letting this topic simmer for a while, and hopefully clear up any confusion on the matter.

1. I advocated the position that as much as possible, the gift of sex and its natural and God-given by-product (Babies) should not be separated. “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” The increased accessibility of birth control devices and drugs has only made promiscuity and adultery easier since unmarried people are more capable of avoiding the shame of conceiving out of wedlock. Furthermore, it has allowed married couples to view sex as something to be enjoyed for its own sake, rather than the thing for which it was intended.

2. Couples for whom procreation is not an option because of serious medical circumstances are to be pitied, not ridiculed. This is not a blessing, but a curse, due to the fallen world in which we live. Where Christian couples cannot (for serious moral reasons) accept the blessing of children, abstinence from intercourse is preferrable, and the only 100% sure-fire way of avoiding conception; or at least abstinence during a woman’s fertile period (NFP). Other methods of birth control present various complications for married couples. Barrier methods (such as condoms, etc.) reduce sexual pleasure for obvious reasons. They also reduce the intimacy shared between husband and wife. For some women they even cause illness or bleeding because of an allergic reaction to it. Then there are the oral/hormonal contraceptives such as the pill. For many women, the pill gives horrible side effects such as headaches, increased retention of water, and decreased sexual drive, among others. Besides these side-effects, one of the stated purposes of the pill is to keep any fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus by thinning the mucus layer of the uterine wall. That potential in and of itself is enough frighten me of its use. See this link to read more.

For most of us who are married, it is probably unrealistic to suggest that we practice abstinence for the rest of our lives. We love our spouses, and we love being close to them and intimate with them. And we are humans, not robots who can just turn on and turn off our sexual drive. Since one of the benefits of marriage after the Fall into sin is to help people live sexually pure and decent lives, it is better that husband and wife do not deny each other sexual intimacy lest one or the other “burn with passion” and fall into sin.

The benefits of natural methods of birth-control include increased respect for one’s spouse’s body and sexuality; they are safe; there are no social or physical side-effects; and they have been proven highly effective when used properly. I can see why many couples have gone this route, and if we were ever in a situation that we simply could not accept the blessing of children, then I would strongly consider this. For those who are interested, check out this website for more information.

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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12 Responses to What God has joined together…

  1. Anonymous says:

    So, Christians are not permitted to enjoy sex as the act of sex?

  2. Michael Schuermann says:

    I believe what Pastor Beisel is saying is that, if Christians seek to have sex for the ONLY reason being i’s enjoyment, and purposely avoid the other reasons for it, THEN there is likely a problem that needs to be looked at.

    See here.

  3. Pastor H.R. Curtis says:

    Come on over to the Lutherans & Contraception blog to see my latest entry on this line of argumentation about the purposes of sex.

    http://lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/

    The jist: deliberately thwarting any of the God-given purposes of sex (procreation, pleasure, intimacy) is intrinsically immoral. I’ll field any comments on the particulars over there.

    +HRC

  4. Pastor H.R. Curtis says:
  5. Anonymous says:

    The Song of Songs sure seems to indicate that it is ok, even blessed by God, for a man and woman to enjoy each other in marriage sexually and not feel “guilty” about enjoying sex for sex’s sake.

    What kind of legalistic Romanist baloney stuff is this? Geesh.

  6. Pastor Beisel says:

    I don’t think anyone has said that it is sinful or that people should feel guilty for enjoying sex and taking great pleasure in one another. They are simply saying that this should not be separated from the gift of life that God gives through sex. I wish it were just “Legalistic Romanist baloney stuff” but it is not. It is very Lutheran, just not for the past 50 years or so.

  7. Pastor H.R. Curtis says:

    Anonymous,

    Indeed, I went much further than you in protecting the honor of sexual pleasure: namely, that it would be sinful to try to take sexual pleasure away from sex! It’s a God-given purpose of marriage. But it would be equally sinful to willingly frustrate any of the God-given purposes of sex. . .

    +HRC

  8. Pastor Beisel says:

    Just so that everyone knows I’m not pulling this stuff out of my butt, here is what John Fritz PASTORAL THEOLOGY wrote in 1945 about exceptional circumstances in marriage:

    “Under circumstances, such as the illness or the weakened condition of a wife, a Christian husband will exercise due self-restraint (continence). A Christian must learn to avoid doing what in itself is not wrong if that is demanded by his neighbor’s welfare.”

  9. Rebellious Pastor's Wife says:

    Those who say that marriage is first for companionship and then for procreation use Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

    Yet the first thing recorded that God said to them when they were both created was “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…..” Genesis 1:28.

    The emphasis – “it is not good for man to be alone” so God created woman to keep him company is a fairly focused interpretation of that verse. God didn’t say “it is not good for Adam to be alone, He said “it is not good for Man to be alone.” I don’t think God saw the problem as solved because Adam had someone to pick berries with and make love to. I think God meant more in the statement “it is not good for Man to be alone.” and while I don’t know Hebrew, I would assume that it would tie into “so God created Man in His image….male and female He created them.” It’s not good for woman to be alone either. It is generally not good for people to be alone. I agree that there is a beautiful basis for theology of marriage there, but I think it refers to the need for community also.

    Adam and Eve couldn’t populate the earth and guarantee their “not being alone” without children. The two are not mutually exclusive. The making of children keeps man from being alone, both on the individual level and on a societal level.

    If this were only in relation to marriage, we couldn’t look at what Paul says about celibacy and agree “yes, that would be good” because only hermits are alone — even those who are celibate need company.

    I don’t see anywhere in the Bible, including Genesis 1 and 2, where God separates the gift of companionship and sexual pleasure with the natural by-product — having children. And I don’t think God gave us a population quota to reach. He’ll let us know when we’re done…He’ll come back down and tell us its time to go to our true homes.

    The idea of being lords over our own bodies and controlling every aspect of procreation from when and how we conceive to the medical control of even healthy pregnancies, to how and what we feed our babies when they are born ends up being a failure to trust in God regarding one of the most precious gifts that He has given us…that He has designed us for. It is hard to look at any area where we trust Him less. As a society, we approach almost every aspect of our fertility with fear and trepidation, despite growing evidence that this massive control is hurting us individually, and as a society. When a doctor wanted to treat my PCOS with birth control pills, you should’ve seen the waiver on the risks that he wanted me to sign! Risks increase with the greater control we put on birth and diet controls on pregnancy. Despite incredible evidence, we tremble at the thought of telling a woman who is giving her baby formula because she wants her freedom that without significant and rare health risks that keep the baby from breastfeeding, she is jeopardizing the baby’s future health and her own as well. (oh, I know I’m going to hear it on that one). There is a lot of hubris among our medical professionals in the manner that they treat natural processes as pathologies — from normal women’s reproductive health, to pregnancy, and the feeding of our babies.

    The fact of the matter is God designed this all to work a particular way, and there are times that because of sin, it doesn’t work well, and then we have to work with what we have in as loving and obedient spirit as possible, but everything is relegated to choice, and behind that choice is often fear and pride.

    I don’t say this lightly, I struggle with this issue personally. But I keep coming back to the fact that my will doesn’t seem to be in line with the 1st Commandment, ever. Why would it here?

  10. Anonymous says:

    “Be fruitful and multiply” is God’s command in Genesis. And we’ve done that. Three beautiful times.
    -Bloggersis-

  11. Lawrence says:

    Rebellious Pastor’s Wife said…
    The fact of the matter is God designed this all to work a particular way, and there are times that because of sin, it doesn’t work well, and then we have to work with what we have in as loving and obedient spirit as possible, but everything is relegated to choice, and behind that choice is often fear and pride.”

    Indeed. Very well said.

  12. Pastor Beisel says:

    There are many people who, for various and sundry reasons, have had to give up hope for having any more children because of circumstances that are beyond their control. Even though I think there is good reason for Christians to consider the points presented by myself and others concerning contraception, I also recognize as a pastor that things do not always work out the way we wish or think they should. We have to make a distinction between those who selfishly have refused God’s gift of children though they are otherwise perfectly healthy, and those who would rather not frustrate that gift, but have no choice because of personal circumstances. To the first, we must say with all boldness: “O you of little faith. Repent!” To the latter, we must say with our Lord Jesus: “Neither do I condemn you.” I say with all confidence to anyone whose conscience has been troubled by these discussions: “Go–you are free. Live in the peace and freedom which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

    3:40 PM

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