January 15, 2021

Internet Monk Radio Podcast #144

podcast_logo.gifThis week: Should we apologize? Evangelism by bigger families?

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Trevin Wax interviews Dr. Danny Aikien. Several other parts to this interview are available.
Christy Nockels

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  1. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that Christians ought to have more children. Fine for those who want to.

    I think Adam’s race has well and truly succeeded in filling the whole earth, to the point where many countries struggle to feed everyone, and many people predict the continued growth of the human population will cause disaster.

    I think the Great Commission is the NT version of the creation mandate: As we go and make disciples of all nations, the Church is being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the whole earth.

    The scary YouTube videos run on the premise that religion is genetic. And while people often follow the ways of their parents, and Christian parents need to raise their kids to follow Jesus (and I’m grateful for my parents having done so), that sort of thinking seems to show no confidence in the Gospel to convert people of other ethnicities.

    Many churches struggle to keep the young people they do have, and that’s what they need to address. Furthermore, Muslims coming to the West are converting to Christ or to secularism in large numbers.

    Remember Christ in Isaiah 53…
    “And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living”…
    …”and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days”
    Maybe drawing a long bow here, but we CAN have children without having children. And I don’t care what colour my children are.

  2. Hmmm. Have you read what Frank Schaeffer wrote?


    The things he says make a lot of sense to me. Of course, I wasn’t raised within the “pro-life” culture war. Nevertheless, that resonates with what I perceived before I was Christian and is a big reason I’ve remained extremely ambivalent (at best) toward the whole culture war rhetoric on every front since my conversion.

  3. Kenny Johnson says

    I have a friend who believes preventing pregnancy and not having children is a sin. He believes Sodom & Gomorrah was destroyed because they weren’t having children and he believes that God will punish the world for refusing preventing pregnancies.

    I’m not really sure where he gets his theology though.

    I’m also pretty sure the “be fruitful & multiply” wasn’t a universal command — but even if it were, would that mean that family planning was out of the question and a sin? I don’t think so. As far as I know, “being fruitful and multiplying” is not a theme we see throughout the Bible. It’s not just OT vs NT, but — does this command have a cultural context? Eg, the ancient world with a low human population.

  4. It all depends on your theology. If you’re running on a basis of “Let’s outbreed the infidels!”, sorry, you’ve got it backwards.

    On the other hand, if the appeal is on the grounds that Christians are not, in their personal lives, any different from the unchurched whom they reprove: that is, that the ‘saved’ are just as likely to have sex before marriage, have affairs, to divorce for reasons of convenience, limit their family size for reasons of convenience, resort to abortion for non-medical grounds, pursue the ‘almighty dollar’ in their work lives just like the unchurched, then what is their example?

    They say one thing and do another: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

    You all have a good notion of Catholic theology on this, so I’m not going to flog a dead horse. Except to say that the Church does not maintain that you have to have twenty-four children; it says that you have to remain open to the gift of life; that God is the author of life; that breaking the link between the various parts of the conjugal act results in a cheapening and a lack of respect.

    “Humanae Vitae” gives a rundown of the thinking, if anyone is interested (and it’s just as unpopular today as it was back then, if anyone is still labouring under the apprehension that all Catholics are of one accord in brainwashed servility to the autocratic tyranny of the Pope) 😉


    “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

    The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

    The changes that have taken place are of considerable importance and varied in nature. In the first place there is the rapid increase in population which has made many fear that world population is going to grow faster than available resources, with the consequence that many families and developing countries would be faced with greater hardships. This can easily induce public authorities to be tempted to take even harsher measures to avert this danger. There is also the fact that not only working and housing conditions but the greater demands made both in the economic and educational field pose a living situation in which it is frequently difficult these days to provide properly for a large family.

    Also noteworthy is a new understanding of the dignity of woman and her place in society, of the value of conjugal love in marriage and the relationship of conjugal acts to this love.

    But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man’s stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.”

  5. Scott,

    Frank Schaefer is in my opinion a typical example of someone seeking wider acceptance so the message changes. This may not make it thru moderation since Imonk did not intend for a debate about abortion to start up, but state sanctioned abortion is in the opinion of very many reasonable and other wise level headed people the same thing as state sanctioned atrocities of other regimes. I have no qualms saying that here or in any pulpit I may be in.

    I’m not familiar with your situation so I will not generalize, but I will say that I am always amazed that many mainline groups and even further left social gospel types can find good reasons to stand against almost any other percieved social wrong and societal ill but when abortion comes up they seem oddly ambivelent.

    I know some will disagree with this, but abortion is the great social dividing question of our time. It is a greater plague on our country than slavery ever was or ever will be and we as a people will answer for it’s acceptance and allowance.


  6. i find it interesting how little people want to *talk* about this. I mean, birth control has never been accepted by the church until the last seventy years. What’s changed? Why is it different for Christians to not want children than non believers who have abortions? Isn’t it the same *heart* issue? I’m not trying to stir anything up. I did ask my pastor this when we had marriage counselling before we got married, but all i got was the “you need three years to get to know each other before you have children”… hmmm… Is it too much to ask that instead of just adopting every fad that comes along, we examine it in light of the scripture?

  7. one more thought 🙂
    having a large family doesn’t preclude evangelism. I know people say all the time that they are not going to have children, bcz they are called to the mission field etc:) – but if you meet some larger families who are Christian you will find that they are equally passionate about things like evangelism, ESL, missions trips. Having a lot of children makes you feel the responsibility not only for your children’s heart work, but that they have an opportunity to reach out as well… It also makes it a lot easier to do missions work when you have a bigger “work force”. It’s easier to coordinate workbees if it’s just you and your over 12s :)… As well, having a large family is something that naturally opens up doors and hearts. Some people are repulsed 🙂 (actually far more Christians than non) – but a lot of people see you doing something *different*, see your family is different, and like what they see. So many of our families now are fragmented, unattached, a little collection of loners meeting for a meal a few times a week. A large family doesn’t necessarily mean every single meal together, but logistically, it’s sure a lot easier for me to make three meals for nine than a zillion little meals at different times… Just in the spirit of judging by the fruit instead of making assumptions based on your own feelings of what would be overwhelming to you… which i think some people are doing on this subject.

  8. I wasn’t talking about individual families. That’s obvious. I meant that churches/denominations who see evangelism primarily as about populating the world with their kids don’t usually have a strong missional value of seeking adult conversions.

  9. Mamazee, you make your appeal to scripture and this topic is not directly treated in scripture, we can contemplate the depths of divine sovereignty, go to our seminaries so that we can correctly divide the word of God, discern our gifts and talents, start all sorts of ministries. But when it comes to the obvious, human sexual desire, we impose are will on the natural order. I can imagine Jesus just scratching Hid head in astonishment, now you do what with your what before you become one flesh. I think this is so basic to even natural religion that even the pagans know it is unnatural. I think people can’t see the truth of this issue for the obvious, it would cost them great personal sacrifice.

  10. I would imagine that knowing God’s character would help us draw a line regarding such spiritual priorities. I’m sure God is interested in quality, not quantity, even though I’m not going to back this up with verses, so maybe my opinion seems baseless. Still, I agree that becoming a parent enlightens us to God’s heart, too, in the fact that to a point, we are completely and utterly responsible for the child’s well-being, and so I think multiplying for the sake of the gospel is not wrong if we can, by faith, say we are maximizing God’s spirit on Earth. Is it where we should be focusing our efforts? Bottom line is, we won’t get quantity until we get quality. We are not high pressure salespeople, although we can sometimes have “success” with that approach. I don’t know why we would ever sacrifice integrity to take a shortcut to evangelism. The world is vastly overpopulated and poor, and we are neglecting the biblical mandate of taking care of the orphan and the foreigner among us as it is, and that’s why I see the need for places like Christian boarding schools, like the one where I-Monk works. I see a lot of rich Christians where I live who don’t necessarily get this, but I also see a lot of places where political liberalism is demonized in poor areas that could really use some values that de-emphasize this “you’re on your own” philosophy. That is, why are so many twenty and thirty-year olds living like they’re eighteen? Having a family is hard in our society! It seems like, to me, that both conservatives and liberals could find some happy medium where we look at people holistically- the one assured thing is that true spiritual growth doesn’t happen by proxy, only through true cultivation of the gospel. I feel like I’m a master of the obvious, but God’s vineyard needs laborers.

  11. I think there is some connection with mormon families’ large size, their community development, and their kids being so well adapted to refusing peer pressure as teenagers. They know themselves. I wish all christian denominations were more trusting of their contemporaries’ theologies like the LDS view other wards as family.

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