Saturday, February 6, 2010

Family Planning

As with everything, we need to look at the scriptures in their whole context and not just certain parts that agree with what we currently believe or want to believe.  Family planning is no different. 

First, let's consider God himself.  He planned a family.  In the very beginning He chose to only clone himself once.  Just one son.  He then created everything else through that son.  He said it, and his son obeyed.

Fast forward, and God decides he would like many sons to help him rule his ever-expanding universe.  He saw that not everybody agreed with his way. (I'm speaking of the rebels, the fallen ones who once served him as created angels.)   So, he and his son discuss this and realize that if God simply clones himself some more that it wouldn't really be fair, because being his clones they'd naturally have his mind (not to say they'd all have the same favorite color or the same exact ideas for things, but they'd be in agreement with him on what was right and wrong, they'd be "one" with him in this way).  God is what he is, and to be that kind, you do as God believes is right.  Since God and the Firstborn saw that not everyone agrees that God's way is the best way and wishes to be under his authority, they made a plan at the beginning (not the very beginning, but this beginning to which I'm referring here is the beginning of the world that now is) so that the candidates to be sons of God would have a choice to choose his way or reject it. 

Now, of course some may say it's not ethical to have put us here like this and suffer, etc., but God decided that it's what He wanted to do, and that's his business.  What are we going to do about it?  We are the creation, he is the Creator.  At least it's TEMPORARY.  So, if we do not like his way, then we can die and not be bothered ever again.  He will destroy the spirits of those who do not choose his way so that they can never be resurrected again.  Between the two choices, God apparently liked this one better than having immortal Sons throughout eternity and having to wonder whether some of them, if given the choice, would have not willingly put themselves under his authority.  I personally agree with his ethical decision.  As bad as it sounds, it sounds worse to me to force clone myself so that I have sons to help me run the busy universe, knowing some of those sons might not have willingly submitted to my authority.

Now, God did set a time limit on his reproduction.  Of course, the less time, the less sons.  He'll have a lot of sons, though, but he has a mind-boggling size universe to run.  A few thousand years is really a short plan for someone who has been around for who-knows-how-long…mind-boggling in itself.  Have you noticed, though, that the older you get, the quicker time seems to fly by?  Now, put that on God's scale.  A few thousand years must seem like what days seem to us. 

Anyway, he did PLAN a family.  It was carefully and wisely planned, and the Firstborn, of course loving his Father so much, agreed to be a sacrifice (that's what firstborns are good for…sacrificial love for their younger siblings).  He would be given all the power so that he could triumph over sin, but he still would have all the temptations the rest of us have.  He would have a choice.

Now on to human family planning. 

Let's look at the most-looked-at scriptures concerning both sides of the issue, and based on this is how I formed my own opinion, which is balanced and not to either extreme (that children are terrible wretches to be avoided or that we should try to have as many children as possible). 

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. ~Gen. 1:28
(see also Gen. 9:1).

The earth obviously was not filled in these two cases and needed to be replenished.  Today the earth has nearly seven billion people.  In my opinion, it could hold many more, if a few things changed, but I won't get into that deeply right now.  The way people are doing now, the earth is being overtaxed of its resources and being poisoned by its own children.  So, in my opinion, it's not a good time to multiply.  Maybe add.  But multiplying is a bad idea, until people get their problems lined out (in my opinion, that means follow God's Law).  This earth is a physical planet, and its children have physical bodies.  Physical means there must be death and recycling, or otherwise you get overpopulated.  If the earth truly did get full to the brim, the Creator would have to come destroy or to save…or both.

The earth is the mother that God used to produce children.  A man's sperm is a type of God's Spirit.  A woman's womb is a type of in the earth.  Just as the earth can be overburdened by the children she both bears and nourishes, a woman's body can be overburdened by having too many children or by having even one or a few children if her body is in poor condition for some reason (the earth is currently in ever-worsening condition, so polluted and robbed of its bodily resources).

A man is a type of God.  The man has ownership over his wife, his children, his livestock, his lands, his material assets.  His name is put on all those things.  He should have a wise plan.  He should not take on more wives than he can support (financially, sexually, living space, etc. (Ex. 21:10).  It should go without saying that he should use the same principle for children, livestock, lands, horses (cars, trucks, etc.), and other material assets.  The question should be, "Can I afford to take on this debt?"  Also, "Can I afford this much time for this many wives and children?" 

If God so carefully and wisely made a plan (explained by the meaning of the seven annual feasts), then why should we not plan?  God may not know exactly how many children he will have, but it's probably safe to say that he had a minimum and maximum in mind, and with his mathematical genius, he's sure to get within the range he desires with his plan.  By the time he gets to the sixth step in his plan (which goes into action during the thousand-year-reign of the sons of God on earth), the possibilities start narrowing.  The further candidates will be among whomever is born of humans during on thousand years, and then afterward in the seventh and last step of his plan (during the "Great White Throne Judgement" period) all those who had not been called to the truth in their first life time.  We know that not all choose the truth after having their eyes opened to it.  Some do not like to do it God's way, just as some children do not like to do their human parents' way.

We know that some throughout the ages have not even been able to bear children, and so of course the command to be fruitful is irrelevant to them.  Some also choose not to marry, and of course that command is irrelevant to them.  Nor is it wrong for a person not to marry.  It is especially beneficial for some not to marry, if they have a special calling.  It could be viewed by some that refusing to get married is evading having children, but we know that choosing not to marry is fine.  Paul explains this more in his first letter to Corinth (found in chapter seven).  Solomon said that a man who marries a wife has done a good thing.  So, we see a balanced view.  Some marry, some don't, and both choices are fine, as long as the reasons are right in heart.  There are some reasons that would not be right.  Of course one must be in keeping with the Law of Love.

So, what about married couples who can bear children?  Lets' look at the Onan incident:

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. ~Gen. 38:9

Onan married his dead brother's wife so that he could carry on his father's line in his brother's stead.  Er had not yet had a firstborn son by his wife Tamar before he died.  This is the reason why Onan was put to death by God.  It wasn't simply that he did not want to reproduce.  He knew the seed would not be his.  He wanted all his seed to be his.  Perhaps he would have given seed to Tamar for his brother later, but only after he had married another wife and had his own firstborn for himself.  We don't know.  Regardless, he was being selfish.  He had the wrong heart, the wrong mindset. 

There is an interesting tidbit, though, to this.  According to the book of Jasher, Er was also struck dead by God because he spilled his seed.  If this is accurate, then the question might be why did God strike him down, since he was Tamar's first husband.  It's still a matter of refusing to bear a firstborn son to carry on the line of Judah.  If a man never has a son, his name will not be carried on.  The family name may be carried by a brother, if that man has a brother, but you can't count on that happening.  Now it could be that in this case, it was more important to God that someone carried on Judah's line than perhaps just anybody who did this.  God may have already decided at this point that Christ would be born through his line.  Perhaps it was known way in advance, and perhaps the enemy knew as well.  I have meditated on this in the past, and I find it interesting that of three brothers, none planted seed in Tamar.  The first two died, and then Judah refused for his son Shelah to take Tamar.  It's ironic that Judah himself planted seed in Tamar in order to continue the line.  Of course, how it happened is even stranger.  But, the reason I've meditated on it so much is because that was the line through whom Christ eventually came.

Most men who buy a piece of land will plant upon it (husbandry).  So it is with wives.  It is rather strange not to want to bear fruit from your piece of earth (wife). 

However, there issues that must be considered.  Does a man, after taking a property, have the finances to sow and bear fruit?  You must take care of the plants (children).   Some men indeed just want to buy a piece of land just to enjoy being on it.  He does not have any intention of planting a vineyard or field or orchard.  Perhaps a man considers that he does not have what it takes to be a proper father, but his sexual desire is strong, and he wishes not to sin; or he does not want to be lonely, so he takes a wife. 

Perhaps the man, his land, or both have certain problems.  For example, the land is too rocky for planting, but it's a nice place for peace and quiet.  Or maybe the man is lame and so cannot do any sowing.  A man or woman may have infertility problems, or they may have serious genetic errors that they would pass on to their children (or perhaps already have, and they do not wish to continue to do so).  Maybe they have bad family histories, and so there are curses that live on in the DNA.  Or perhaps a woman has a medical problem that makes it dangerous to maintain a pregnancy or makes birth dangerous, and she and/or her husband does not want to take the risk. 

Maybe the man doesn't have room to store very many fruits.  So, maybe a man does not have much room for many children. 

There are all sorts of issues to take into consideration. 

My personal take is that we should have balance.  I think it's wrong for humans to abort a child or enforce sterilization upon women.  But, I also don't think it's wise to act like one is in a competition to see how many children he or she can have.  Land needs rest, and it's commanded by the Law.  A woman's body needs rest, too.  God put special mechanisms into place for proper child spacing, but it doesn't work with an increasing number of women (at least in our part of the world).  Lactation should keep the menstrual cycle away for a year or two (sometimes more), but if a woman has high estrogen levels or is overweight (probably also due to high estrogen, as excess is stored in fat), it may come back sooner.  There are also other factors, I know, like nursing frequency and night nursing, and perhaps others of which I'm not aware.  I don't have all the answers.  But, it's common for women who have several children close together to have health problems, even fatalities due to pregnancy or childbirth complications, as well as premature births.  It also carries a higher risk of postpartum depression, because of so many young children close in age. 

I am personally against surgical contraception, except in extreme cases (health-related, for example).  I also am very anti- birth control pills, because they cause too many abnormal changes in body chemistry, and because they are just that--birth control pills.  The conception control is good for seventy-something percent, maybe eighty-percent.  The other twenty-eight to twenty-nine or more percent is birth control, meaning that if the woman conceives, the newly conceived human being is aborted, because it cannot implant in the hormonally-changed uterus.   There are other forms of contraception that I'm against, and then there are some that I am pretty neutral on, partly because I lack knowledge about some of them.

I also believe that if a woman wants more children, but her husband does not want to sow there, she should respect that.  He's the husbandman; she's the earth/land.  She doesn't own him; he owns her. 

I know there's the argument that one should trust God with the number of children, and on the surface of this, I agree.  However, there is the issue of blind faith.  More specifically, if one is knowledgeable of risks such as genetic issues, other health problems, financial trouble, disagreement by spouse on the childbearing viewpoint, etc., then heading full force into planning another child without careful consideration is an act of blind faith.  Yes, God can tend to health problems, financial problems, and other issues, but that doesn't mean we should tempt Him, either.  We are warned in the scriptures not to do so, and doing so could come back to bite us in a rather hurtful way.   This doesn't necessarily mean someone should be cut so that they almost surely will not have a child, but it means that I think a person should use wisdom and discretion in certain circumstances, just be a little cautious.  If one is using a certain contraception method such as natural family planning or condoms, then that shows a cautious approach but still gives a chance for a child and for God to work.   He knows when a person yearns for another child but knows it may not be wise to have one at the time.  I think true trust is being wise and knowing that God can work in one's favor if he so desires, without one trying hard to make something happen even when there's great risk involved.   There's Psalm 127:1-5.  And indeed what it says is true.  Of course, it must be taken within the context of the whole bible and as a general statement.  Just because one cannot have a child does not mean God has cursed him or her.  Also, a child is not always a blessing.  A child, even when brought up in a Godly home, can become an evil wretch who hates God's way.  Children, in general, are a blessing, but those with twenty children are not necessarily more favored by God than the couple who cannot have children.  Sometimes God will help a previously infertile woman go on to have a child, as he did for Hannah, Samuel's mother.  But, sometimes God will not open a woman's womb, and it's not always because she's not favored by him (though other times that is indeed the case). 

Of course, everything has a certain amount of risk, and we do have free will.  This takes me to my last point.  Just as God decided to enact the plan of making man in his image for the purpose of reproducing more Sons, a father and mother decides their family plan (hopefully within God's will, which wouldn't include selective abortion), and the child cannot say to his or her parents, "You had no right to conceive me and bring me into this horrible world of suffering."  We all know before we decide to have children that it's a horrible world, and indeed a time will come when it will not be wise at all to be planning children (Matt. 24:19), but we have the right to bring them into this world for our purpose, in hoping they will be wonderful additions to the family line (and in the bigger picture that they will choose to be Sons of God once they are called, whether in this lifetime or during the GWT Judgment).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Alien Invaders!

Space invaders!  Alien invaders!  Alien shooters!  It seems we're constantly bombarded with these messages.  The more the message is conveyed, the more deluded people become, and then even more the message is repeated.  This message is marketed to both adults and children in the form of movies, cartoons, video games, and even comparative phrases such as the one I saw in a recent Mercola wellness newsletter that stated,  "Most doctors attack chronic illnesses as if they're an alien invader." 

My sons watch Davey and Goliath cartoons that I bought on dvd.  For the most part, I really like those cartoons, because they instill Godly values in my children's minds.  There are a few things I've seen that I don't like.  An anti-alien stance on one episode is one such thing.  The main theme of the episode is great and teaches that helping others in need is the right thing to do.  However, at the end Davey and another two boys are about to go watch a movie in the theater, called "Boy in Space."  Goliath, Davey's loyal dog, had to stay outside the theater to wait.  Davey told him that he could keep a watch out for spaceships.  Upon asking what to do if he saw one, Davey replied, "Bite it!"

My son got my permission to play some demo games on my laptop that I use for writing, especially when traveling.  The games he'd been playing on there were fine.  Well, I got out of the shower to hear rock music and shooting.  I looked to see what Jaden was playing, and it was "Alien Shooters" or something like that.  He was supposed to shoot the aliens.  Although the aliens looked like some sort of creepy crawly things, I hated the music and hated that it was geared toward anti-outer space aliens. 

My mother bought a Scooby-Doo video for the boys.  I don't approve of such things, but I let them watch it and then vowed to discuss what they saw afterward and why it was wrong.  One of the episodes included voodoo.  The other episode was something about "alien invaders."  Of course with Scooby-Doo, all the stuff turns out at the end to be staged.  But, there it is again:  an anti-outer space alien theme. 

There is no shortage of movies where other intelligent lifeforms from the heavens are coming to invade or attack the earth's inhabitants.  One such movie is "War of the Worlds," based on H.G. Wells' science fiction novel by the same name.  That movie seemed eerily similar to some things foretold in the scriptures. 

The problem with all these things is that they all paint the earth's inhabitants as the good guys and the aliens (foreign-to-earth aka "not of this world") as the bad guys.  There's no doubt in my mind that Satan is working hard behind the scenes to deceive everyone into thinking that if they see spaceships coming to invade the earth, that they are enemies.  And of course, that's partly true.  The aliens will be the enemies to the inhabitants of this earth who are against them.

NASA and probably other space organizations are already talking about how to get ready to an alien attack, as well as how to shield the earth from such things as meteors and other catastrophic things that could be hurled toward this planet.  Of course, as a biblically literate person I just want to laugh at their folly.  They will no outdo the Most High God and His Captain of the Hosts, the Lord Jesus.  If God wants to send a meteor or asteroid or some other destructive object to this earth to punish the residents thereof, nothing man can do will stop the object from hitting its target.  And certainly nothing man and his armies can do against the armies of God and their captain will amount to anything. 

The wicked of the earth will see the angels with the vial judgments as enemies and certainly will not repent of their misdeeds and high pride.  They will run around with profanity spewing from their mouths.

Despite trying to wipe each other out, the West and the East, all the rulers of the earth and their armies will then come together to try to fight off the great prophesied alien invasion.  They will be wiped out.

The scriptures speak:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. ~Revelation 19:11-21

There's your alien invasion.  Now, the question is, whose side are you on?  The aliens, the ones not of this world, or the ones that do wickedly upon this earth?  I personally plan to be with the "aliens" in body…my new spiritual body.