Monthly Archives: July 2005


I'm posting this tonight, before getting my "stuff" around for tomorrow - and tomorrow will be a long day, I'm driving Manda halfway to Chicago to spend the week with my husband's sisters (they're still a big part of our life). They'll be heading up to the Wisconsin Dells so I'll be missing my girl.

I'm going to start with what I believe to be true, starting with the "Five Solas".

I am pretty new to Reformed Theology, but once I got my mind wrapped around the idea that what I grew up with had more problems than what I wanted to deal with, I embraced this. I also chose one of the more liberal Reformed demoninations (on purpose). belief about Sola Scriptura is that the Holy Scriptures are our final authority. It is not that we don't recognize any other authority - we recognize our spiritual mentors, pastors, etc. But all of the other authorities are measured against Scripture.

Paul praised the Bereans for examining what he said against Scripture; we do the same. We don't have our Scripture interpreted for us through man - the man is judged against Scripture. If they don't agree - Scripture wins.

If a person tells me that something is permissible, but the Bible says that it is not - the Bible wins (example: homosexuality).

If a person tells me that something is not permissible, it is up to him to show me in the Bible where the law comes from (example: having a drink with dinner).

If a person is teaching a doctrine that is not in the Bible, that doctrine is rejected (Tongues as the sign of the New Covenant).

I'm not such a big fan of Martin Luther, but this is what he said, "Unless I am overcome with testimonies from Scripture or with evident reasons -- for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils, since they have often erred and contradicted one another -- I am overcome by the Scripture texts which I have adduced, and my conscience is bound by God's Word."

I also have problems with parts of the Reformed confessions (as does my church) and the confessions are not my authority, the Bible is. However, when they put things in a better way than I can come up with, I'll quote them. The Belgic Confession says, "We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein...Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God... Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule"

In short, every authority, every standard and every message must be examined against the Scriptures. There is no man, no tradition that has more authority than the Word of God.

The diet wagon, I mean...took a couple of days off, but today I'm doing pretty well...

For lunch, grilled salmon fillets with yellow squash...

I've got steaks for the grill, but Tom is the griller in the family, he's very particular about who uses his grill...

Work lunches are sometimes tricky...tomorrow my class is going to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and we're taking sack lunches to eat at the theater. Atkins doesn't always go well with brown bags.

So, the plan is to make my lunch and green tea tonight (must have caffeine in the morning) and hopefully remember it (I put my keys in my lunch bag - that helps)

Yogurt with blueberries
salad with romaine and tomatoes
grilled tip steak
celery and cream cheese
and a low-carb Slim Fast snack bar for on the way home.

Atkins just takes more planning than a "grab it and go" lunch.


A commenter here (Elena) left a link in the comments section that (in a nutshell) says that our Christian marriages must reflect the church's marriage to God (so far, I agree). To go further (relate it to birth control), God would never use contraception in His marriage to the church, therefore we must never use birth control either. This theology (study of God) does not address the difference between artificial birth control and Natural Family Planning.

Actually, I fully accept Philothea Rose's view on God's marriage and our marriage...I just followed her reasoning to its logical on.

This is, primarily, mental Onanism. Fun, with little hope of producing anything.

Anyway, given that the way God increases His family is through salvation, the linked post connects contraception with sotierology. This argument actually strengthens the idea that God has a permissive will when it comes to family planning - and that God is a Calvinist (actually, the correct way of looking at the grammar - that Calvin's theology of sotierology is correct).

I'm going to look at this from both a Calvinist and Arminian/Catholic view of salvation.

This is premise I'm using - either you are conceived here and "born" when you enter heaven, or you are both conceived and fully born into the faith here.

1) (everybdy). We all recognize that God works in real and specific ways, and at very specific times in order to bring us to Him. If we fall upon our faith in His timing, is He not planning the time of "conception"? This supports family planning...however...

1) (Arminian/Catholic) If the way God increases His family is through salvation, and His will is that *everybody* comes to Him - how can you then justify Natural Family Planning? If God wants every single person possible to come into His family, how can a couple who says that artifical birth control is wrong, justify *not* wanting every single person possible to come into their family? I don't think you can. If you want your marriage to truly reflect God's marriage, you must strive to have as many babies as you possibly can. The Natural Family Planning thing does not reflect God's marriage.

2) (Calvinist) If the way God increases His family through salvation, and you believe in election (some are chosen, some are not), those who are "hardened", those who are prepared for destruction - the objects of God's wrath...these are never conceived. Faith is a gift from God and faith = belief = being conceived into the family of God. In sotierology/contraception theology, those who do not receive the gift of faith (belief/fertility) also do not receive the gift of life (conception/salvation).

3) (Arminian/Catholic) Arminius and the Catholic Church teach that a person can lose their salvation. This is where I think that an Arminian or Catholic should (yes, should find this sotierology/contaception theology absolutely abhorant.

If God gives a person the gift of life (salvation/conception) only to remove it later - is that abortion, or infanticide? The other issue - if God can abort a person that He has given the gift of life to, because He has found them wanting, that supports the idea that it is permissible for a couple to abort a baby that is found wanting. Do you really want to go there?

I reject the idea that God supports either abortion or infanticide, when it comes to His marriage and His family, so I must either reject Arminianism/Catholicism or sotierology/contracteption or both.

4) On the flip side, Calvinism, once a child is conceived (saved), they are secure, God will never get rid of them. There will be those who "fall on rocky soil", who never come to belief (I guess you could relate that to a miscarriage). But once you are given the gift of faith, God will not lose you.

So, there here are the points - if you truly want to
- God either is permissive (or even actively supports) family planning, or all family planning is sin, even NFP
- if you believe that the doctrine of election is true, then God specifically plans His family.
- if you believe that a person can lose their salvation, then God supports (and practices) either abortion or infanticide (I reject this)
- If you believe perserverance of the saints - that you cannot lose your salvation, then you believe that God would never abort one of His children.

Conclusion - if you're a Calvinist, you're okay with God practicing family planning. If God's okay with family planning, I am too...

If you believe that a person can lose his or her salvation, you are also okay with God practicing family planning, only in a much more disturbing way.

Taken to its logical conclusion, either this theology does not work...or Calvin was right.


This is a beautiful verse about the way a marriage should be handled. I'm still trying to figure out how to get Greek letters in here...

But Young's Literal Translation (awkward but accurate) says:
Defraud not one another, except by consent for a time, that ye may be free for fasting and prayer, and again may come together, that the Adversary may not tempt you because of your incontinence;

A couple of things really popped out at me...

Defraud is just like it sounds. I've done some studies on Old Testament marriage contracts and there were three things that were always guaranteed. A home (the husband provides and the wife maintains), food/oil (the husband provides and the woman prepares) and bed (sexual relations). These three things were so important, if any of these three were denied on a regular basis, it was grounds for divorce. To enter into a marriage and refuse the marraige bed was to defraud the mate of marital rights.

except by consent: this really caught my eye, concerning marriage in general.

sumphonou - sounds like "symphony" and means, in harmonious accord. Isn't that the way a marriage should work? Each half of the whole striving to be in harmonious accord. Just like the word that we get from this, symphony - it doesn't imply that you are in lockstep. Just like a symphony, each partner plays his or her own instrument. One time, one will have the melody, another time, the other will. And each time, their mate will be behind them, harmonizing, supporting. A symphony wouldn't be a symphony if everyone played the same note! So it is with marriage.

pros kairos hina scholazo - for a limited time, in order to give oneself to

fasting and prayer

and again may come together, (be one flesh, husband and wife, give one another comfort and pleasure)

that the Adversary may not tempt you because of your incontinence; How many people have fallen, because their spouse didn't pay attention to the consequences of denying their other half? I submit that a husband or wife that denied his or her spouse is a stumbling block the likes of which few people ever see.

This verse communicates the importance of "one-flesh-ness" and the importance of setting it aside only for the things of God, and then only for limited times.

I would submit that a husband or wife should not have to go without marital relations (unless there are special circumstances that prohibit them) for any longer than they also expect their husband and wife to go without food.  There is no reason for denying one's spouse the comfort and pleasure that a marriage bed should bring.  (The last paragraph has been edited just because it  was an awkward sentence and didn't quite say what I wanted it to say.


I guess I see two ways of looking at the Law (with variations on those themes).

1) Everything is legal, unless the Bible tells us it is not
2) Everything is prohibited, unless the Bible tells us it is not.

There are those who will show you in the Bible what you are supposed to be doing, and there are those who will attempt to put you under a law that does not even exist. If you believe that God wrote the Law,. and think you need to add to it, because God forgot a few things, that puts you in a dangerous position of trying to be more righteous than God - and I'm sure not going to try that!

I grew up in a church that pretty much took the second way of looking at things. Drinking was sin, as was smoking, dancing, playing with a regular deck of cards, etc. The strictness varied with the pastor. I remember one that prohibited his wife from buying their children clothes from the store if they could be made at home, and also prohibited her from using an electric sewing machine. Another kept his daughter away from youth group on an evening that I led devotions (as a female, I wasn't supposed to do that). I think it was that same pastor that eventually agreed to perform a marriage for a divorced woman (it was a "Biblical" divorce), but not in the sanctuary - it had to be done in his office (I never quite understood why, if the marriage was permissible, it couldn't be fully permissible. If it was not "good enough" to be done in the sanctuary, should he have done it at all?) These days, it's homeschooling, Christian schooling, quiver-full, even delaying marriage.

Take alcohol specifically. My mom and dad are teetotallers - as are other members of my family. I am not - I have a bottle of beer once in a while - more often, I'll have a glass of red wine. That is not a lifestyle of drunkeness. If you can show me in the Bible where having a drink is a sin, we'll talk again. But I will not put myself under bondage to a Law that does not exist. My dad and I disagree. But he does not condemn me for my occasional drink, and I respect him and don't drink around him - or even mention it.

Or, more recently - the "quiver full" debate. There is a difference between a quiverfull lifestyle (which I cannot do, but wish I could), a quiverfull mentality (which I probably have) and a quiverfull theology (which I cannot find). Yes, children are a gift from God and I'd love to have more - the Bible never says that we should not steward our resource and our health - in order that we can spit as many of those babies out as we possibly can.

God is pretty eloquent and I think that if He wanted to prohibit contraception, He could have spelled it out. He gave the Jews 613 laws - do we really think that He just "forgot" birth control?

I know - some will say that it was just a "given" that contraception was wrong. Excuse me, but the Jews needed something in the Law that laid out the penalty for having sex with animals!!! If they couldn't figure that one out, I'm guessing a prohibition against birth control would have had to be spelled out pretty clearly.

And then there's Onan...which many scholars today recognize as something a little deeper than birth control.

The fact is - these two things (and many others), alcohol and contraception is not in the Law. Any law against it is arrived at by methods other than God's Word. And that puts in the category of all the laws of all the teachers of the Law that put further yokes on the people. By the time Christ arrived, they "tied up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders" and they traveled over land and sea to win a single convert, only to make him twice as much a son of hell as they were.

What God has spelled out for us, we should obey. What God has put on our hearts, we must follow. But we are under no obligation to follow another person's heart, if it is following a Law that does not exist.


These debates always trigger a much deeper dig for me...and I looked into Judah and I'm struck once again that the kinds of people God uses for His purposes. Certainly, He didn't use the perfect, and that is more to His glory.

I once heard a saying, "The footsteps your children will follow are the ones you thought you covered up..."

Judah was not the first son, he was the fourth son of both Jacob and Leah (the unfavored wife).

Maybe to understand Judah and "the trouble" with Tamar (I doubt that when God took an entire chapter to tell Tamar's story, all He had in mind was contraception), you have to go back to Judah's grandfather, Laben.

Remember, Jacob was all about avoidance (of Esau), when he fled to Haran. He and his mother conspired to lie to Isaac, in order to have Jacob sent to Haran. There, he found Rachel and asked for her hand.

A fine example for his grandson, Judah (who would later send Tamar away with the promise of his third son) - Laben promised Rachel to Jacob - and then secretly gave him Leah instead. jacob worked longer in order to have Rachel as well, which set the family up for even more problems.

Jacob loved one wife more than the other and the wives ended up detesting each other - their marriage was less about love and more about a son-bearing contest, even to the counting of giving their personal hand-maidens to Jacob, in order to rack up more "son" points. Even so, Jacob was loved by God.

Later, when Leah's daughter, Dinah was raped by a young man who was very taken with her, the young man's father was prepared to do the "right thing" and marry the two. Two brothers (neither of them Judah) lied. They said they couldn't do it - unless all of the males in that city were circumcised. They agreed, had the "procedure" and when they were recovering, Jacob's two sons killed them all and plundered the city.

So we're finding that the sons of Jacob didn't seem to be the "good guys"

Even the sons of the different mothers hated each other. Jacob already had a bunch of sons before Joseph was born. The older sons knew that Jacob played favorites, and they hated the favorite.

When the brothers decided to kill Joseph, Judah was the one that talked them into selling him into slavery instead.

[Reformed theology note: this is a place where I can see man's sinful choices working with God's sovereign plan. If God's plan to put Joseph in Egypt were to succeed, was it possible for the brothers to have killed Joseph, instead of selling him? Was Judah acting out of concern for Joseph, or in the will of a Sovereign God?]

Then, they all conspired to lie to their father (kind of what goes around, comes around...)

At some point after that (the Bible isn't clear on timing) Judah "went down from"his brothers and married an unnamed woman (the daughter of Shua), but we do know that she had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.

I once heard a saying, "The footsteps your children will follow are the ones you thought you covered up."

I don't know if these guys even tried to cover these footsteps, but Jacob got what he was in Judah; Judah got what he was in Er and Onan.

When Er married Tamar, God killed him because of his wickedness. So, on to the next brother...Onan. We all know what happened there (although the Bible doesn't say exactly why, other than Onan did a wicked thing). One thing is sure, Er didn't have an heir.

So, Judah (doing what that family seemed to have done best) - lied. Again.

Judah sent Tamar off to her father's house as a widow, with the promise of his next son - a promise that he never intended to keep. This would hint that Judah still had legal control over Tamar, else her father could have married her to another man.

As it was, Tamar sat at her father's house, in limbo, knowing that the youngest son, Shelah, was all grown up. She took matters into her own hand, dressed up like a whore and Jacob solicited her (not the other way around).

She had to trick Judah into being her "kinsman-redeemer", fulfilling the family obligation.

I am struck at how God's purposes are fulfilled by the basest of men. If God can use these people, He will, perhaps, be able to use me.

We've read about Judah and all of his trickery, but he was also the father of the kingdom of Judah; Christ is the "Lion of Judah".

Judah's sons never made it into the genealogy of Jesus - but Tamar and Judah did.

Later on, Judah's another kinsman-redeemer didn't have to be tricked - Boaz, who married Ruth - great-grandparents of King David.

Maybe, just maybe - the moral of the story is that - no matter how bad we are, no matter what our family history is, no matter what influences we've had to deal with - God can use us.

Really. And I'm a little frustrated.

My daughter and I are taking a Bible Greek class through the local home school association and languages are evidently not my gift. Last fall I got my lowest grade ever in Spanish and Greek isn't any better. Who thought up the idea of needing 20 ways to say "the"? I'd way rather be taking probability and statistics. Most things come pretty easily to me and to have to work at something - it took me by surprise.

Anyway - languages do seem to be Manda's thing - she's doing really well and I'm very proud of her! I'm encouraging her to take Spanish (Greek will have to wait until she transfers to a four-year institution) and keep up with languages.

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When my kids were little I worked for a little while for a historic neighborhood association. One day I was driving around (long story, but I was doing my job) a block where a little house had been torn down. That was the first time I noticed "that" house. It had been empty for years, it was boarded up, siding was missing, as was part of the roof.

But it grabbed my attention. No, God grabbed my attention.

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