Thursday, June 28, 2007

Some Thoughts on Birth Control

Alright, this is going to sound really wierd.
Most of the west sees the advent of the birth control pill as an unqualified good. It is believed to help people control their reproductive choices and so give them more control over their lives. It is seen as certainly lifting peple out of poverty, since children are certainly expensive to raise. The west is also concerned about a population explosion and an increasing scarcity of resources. For these reasons, the birth control pill and other products available are generally promoted in our culture.
But in other parts of the world, reproduction goes on. Live births in other parts of the world, especially the third world, far outstrip western cultures. To paraphrase 'the Doors,' we may have the guns, but they have the numbers.
Even in Europe, the West risks the danger of being outnumbered in coming generations by immigrant populations that do not share its values. England, France, Holland, and Germany are already beginning to experience some negative impacts of this phenomenon. Immigrant populations are becoming increasingly powerful in those countries. Some have speculated that in the next few generations Europe, along with its western values, may be overcome politically by the sheer numbers of these immigrant populations. It makes me wonder, has the west sewn the seeds of its own destruction by its position on birth control.
In America, where birth control has been wildly popular, we are beginning to experience the pangs of relative underpopulation. Our social security system relies on the replacement of workers to keep the system solvent. When the system was started there were roughly 15 workers for each retiree. Today that number is something like three to one. When the baby boomers begin to retire that number will shrink considerably. The only way to keep the system solvent, especially since our politicians have plundered whatever could have been saved and invested, is to either raise taxes on the working or increase immigration at an alarming rate. But these solutions will not work.
It used to be that every family had a built in social security policy. Parents would have children and care for them when they were young, and later the children would care for the parents. Ideally, large families insured the security of the parents. Now that the responsibility has shifted to the government, people have turned, mostly for reasons of convenience, to a model of 2.3 children. This is not enough to sustain Social Security.
I personally know people who have opted to have no children at all because they wanted their freedom and a healthy disposable income to spend on toys. In reality they are like children themselves who don't want to grow up. These people usually gripe and moan about welfare programs for children that they are forced to pay for through taxation. Ironically, it is these children, the ones about whom they complain, that will probably be supporting them in their old age.
Through birth control, has the west forgotten a fundamental principle of human existence? Does society need to multiply in order to sustain itself?
In the garden, God said to our first parents, "be fruitful and multiply." In my opinion, our culture tend to think of sex as being primarily for pleasure. Certainly this is one purpose. Sex does provide pleasure and strengthens the bonds of marriage. But have we unwisely eliminated one of God's purposes for sex, the propagation of the race? Will the west pay the consequences for this turn in our culture?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Presentation of the Augsburg Confession- 25 June 1530

Our Lord tells us, "Whoever confesses Me before men, Him will I confess before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, Him will I deny before My Father who is in heaven."

I just finished spraying Round Up around my house. The weeds and little trees that have infiltrated the perimeter of my house make the house look unkempt, but even more, it threatens the foundation of our home. Those little trees become big trees and their roots threaten the very structure of our home. So I went around with a 1 gallon jug of chemicals to kill the weeds and will next go out with a hatchet and saw to take down the trees.

The Apostle Paul tells us that the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. He says no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, Christ Jesus.

The little weeds and stink trees native to the human heart attack the Church at its foundation. Those weeds are the law and faith in human ability to save us. They attack the very foundation of our faith, that Christ alone saves.

The weeds had been growing for quite sometime because the house was unattended. The Roman Church, once a stalwart of western orthodoxy, began to have caretakers who were uninterested in preserving the faith, and instead looked upon the weeds as beautiful flowers, and only snipped them so they could sell them as such. The Popes began to use their power, not to preserve the faith, but to enrich themselves with wealth and power.

It was a nasty mess until an Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, decided it was time to spray a little Round Up, on all the weeds that had grown up around the Church. His tools were the Word and Sacraments, the law and the gospel. He stepped forward to confess that sinful mankind is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. When he was threatened and ordered to stop, he gracefully and faithfully maintained his confession saying, "My conscience is bound to the Word of God. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

Luther had not been the first to resist the abuses of the Roman Church, but he did it with such boldness, clarity, and faith in Christ that he is forever known as the Great Reformer of the Church. Luther did not attack the peripherals of Roman abuses, but went straight to the heart of the matter. Luther saw that the gospel was being buried under the law, and that Rome was denying Christ by teaching that good works contribute to our salvation.

But Luther was not alone. As Luther stood before the emperor at the diet of Worms in 1521, so his companions and princes stood before the same emporer in 1530, and presented a confession of Christ so clear that the enemies of the gospel could not come up with a confutation of it worth publishing. Reading the Augsburg Confession today we find it bound together by the central article of the faith, justification. The sweet gospel of grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone drips from every page. Those 28 articles are a confession of Christ as clear as any yet to be produced since the apostolic age.

Our Lord knew what He was demanding when He said, "Whoever confesses Me before men, I will confess Him before My Father in heaven." He was asking those who would follow Him to take up their cross, suffer the attacks of the evil one, the rejection of men, humility, suffering, and death. In other words they were to bear His image in this world. The authors and signers of our confessions did so with integrity and honor. They now dwell in the unapproachable light of their Father in heaven. Just as they, by grace, confessed Christ in this world, He has confessed them before His Father in heaven. With such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us press on in the great confession of our faith to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Oops! a French salad ending.