Be at Leisure: A Lutheran Approach to Outreach, 5. Procreation

So, we’ve talked about why the Church need not fear for her survival. We’ve started the discussion of outreach with the importance of doctrinal faithfulness, the appropriateness of beauty, and the essence of congregational hospitality. Our discussion of outreach now moves out a ring as we come to the matter of bringing people to the congregation. How is it done?

Bringing new people to the congregation begins with the family. The family consists of a husband and wife who have children. Ordinarily couples have children through procreation, occasionally through adoption. Since procreation is the means instituted by God in paradise for having children, it will be my focus here, though couples who adopt are certainly also families in God’s sight and are by no means to be despised.

The family has this special honor from God, that it is the most fruitful arm of outreach. Not only does God bring people to the Church through the family, but he creates new people through the family. A congregation that cares about outreach should do everything in its power to extol marriage and procreation. It should also teach frankly that cohabitation and sexual activity outside of marriage are sins and that the practice of family planning is a plain violation of God’s Word.

Somewhere along the line many parents in our country stopped teaching their children that living together before marriage is a sin. The sexual revolution and the advent of birth control pills made sexual immorality seem normal, and far too many Christians either were deceived into accepting it, or knew it was wrong but didn’t instill the truth in their children. This led to a generation of Christian children who went along with the world, in many cases jettisoning their former beliefs entirely. Now it seems that some Christian parents care more about maintaining peaceful family relations than they do about the Word of God and the duties God has given them toward their children. Some even take offense now when pastors won’t commune their children who are living in sin, as if God had to change himself to suit their worldly indulgence.

Also, somewhere along the line, more than a few pastors and congregations stopped speaking against family planning. It became acceptable to say things like “one and done” or “we only want two,” as if we’re the Giver of life. Our congregations generally make the clear confession that we’re not the Taker of life—that abortion is murder, and unacceptable. While preventing conception isn’t murder, nevertheless, is it not preposterous to think that we can control the giving of life without offending against the Giver of life? “Be fruitful and multiply,” the Lord said in Genesis 1:28. Who are we to say, “No, you don’t have to bother yourself about that”?

So, what should we do to uphold marriage and procreation within our congregations? Parents should teach their children the truth about marriage as God has instituted it: that it’s God’s union of one man and one woman, permanent and exclusive. Living together and sharing a bed is for marriage. Parents should also teach their children that they were made for marriage: “It is not good that the man should be alone,” the Lord said (Gen. 2:18). While it’s certainly not a sin to remain unmarried, the person to whom God has given the gift of lifelong celibacy seems rare indeed. Parents should teach their children from a young age which qualities are godly in the opposite sex, and which are not. Parents should also teach their children to marry a Lutheran. Having mixed confessions of Christ within a marriage leads to marital strife and to passing on a watered-down faith to the children who are the fruit of that marriage.

Parents should also raise their children to desire children of their own. Parents spend a good deal of time talking about their children’s futures in terms of employment. Sons need to hear as much about marrying a godly Lutheran woman and having children as they do about the workforce. And daughters need to know that being a homemaker is a high calling from God. Don’t speak condescendingly of homemakers, calling them “stay at home moms,” as if they’re sticks in the mud who need to get out and do something with their lives, such as dumping their children in a day orphanage and letting them be raised by strangers who don’t love them.

That’s what parents should teach their children so that marriage and procreation are valued by the next generation. Now what shall congregations do as a whole? Our daughters need to hear that the greatest thing they could possibly do with their lives is to become a homemaker, and they aren’t to hear it from their parents only. Older women are charged in Scripture to teach such a thing to younger women. Paul writes to Titus, “Older women…are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Tit. 2:3‑5).

Ladies Aid groups could make these verses their mission statement, and they should consider how they can instill these things in the young women of the congregation. Their greatest service would simply be modeling godly marriage according to those verses from Titus 2. In addition, faithful older women could mentor younger women one on one. Women who have been homemakers their whole lives are also in a unique position to speak highly of that life.

Within our congregations we should never make jabs at our spouses or at the opposite sex in general. Husbands are to be like Christ, who covers the sins of his Bride and does not spread them around. Wives are to be like the Church, who only has praise and thanksgiving for her Husband, with no complaint or accusation of wrongdoing against him. There should be no jesting about the typical woes of marriage, as if marriage were some cheap trinket that only brought trouble. The frequency of this jesting has no doubt contributed to the low view of marriage that now spans several generations. Terms like “divorce,” “ex-husband,” and “ex-wife” should be regarded as profanities among Christians, and those who insist on talking about such things openly and publicly should be reprimanded, especially if there are children present.

Congregations should celebrate the anniversaries of couples who have remained faithfully married and the weddings of first-time couples who have remained pure. Congregations should assist families with young children by holding babies or hymnals during the service. Congregations should expect that parents and children will be together in church and should never remove the children from the service for “children’s church.” Such a practice drives a wedge between generations, whereas in church children learn to be faithful churchgoers simply by watching their parents. Congregants should never scowl at the mother of a noisy child, nor distract children from paying attention during the service.

Baptisms should be a high cause for celebration within a congregation. At a Baptism we watch a person being saved, being brought out of the devil’s kingdom and into Christ’s kingdom. At the Baptism of an infant we see the greatest form of Church growth: the Lord has added a child to a human family, and now has added that child to God’s family.

These are all simple ways to uphold marriage and procreation within a congregation. And when congregations uphold marriage and procreation in their midst, they should know that they have done a great deal in the way of congregational outreach.

Steadfast Lutherans will soon be publishing a book titled “Be at Leisure: A Lutheran Approach to Outreach.” The book will be available as a free PDF and in print for the cost of printing at Lulu.com. The chapters of the book will be published over the next several weeks as posts here on the blog. This post is chapter 5 of the book: Procreation.


Comments

Be at Leisure: A Lutheran Approach to Outreach, 5. Procreation — 12 Comments

  1. Well said! Children are always a blessings, and an intrinsic part of what marriage is. Evangelization begins in the home as God blesses a husband and wife with children to bring to baptism and raise in the faith. People tend to think of procreation in a context of stewardship instead. Satan tempts us to use “stewardship” as a reason to delay or not have children.

    God: “Be fruitful and multiply!”
    Satan: “Maybe right now isn’t the best time.”

    Resources for comprehensive study here:
    LutheransandContraception.blogspot.com

  2. See my reply on Twitter, but when Lutheran Pastors do not marry Lutherans- thats a tough sell from the pulpit.

  3. @Lorna Osborne #2

    I’m not registered on Twitter and I couldn’t see the comment. You’re certainly welcome to re-post your comment here in its entirety. A couple of thoughts came to mind when I read your summary comment that you posted here.

    First is Matthew 23:2-3 where Jesus says, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” The bad practice of certain clergy doesn’t negate the truth.

    Second, Romans 2:21-24, which Paul writes to Jews, yet has a broader application, “you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'” It is scandalizing to hearers of the truth when preachers don’t practice the truth. Paul makes the point in the Pastoral Epistles that pastors should be “above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:2, Tit. 1:6, 7). And we see from the example of King Ahab how marrying into a false confession can lead a whole people astray.

  4. Thank you! Those are most apt scripture references and I know them well. Thank you for reminding me…. ill see if i can repost my twitter comment here.
    Most appreciated and I am looking forward to the booklet

  5. Here’s my tweet:

    Excellent! And how do we teach our children to only marry Lutherans when our Lutheran Pastors do not? When mixed marriages from the pulpit send distinctly opposing messages? It is confusing for the congregation as well as our children in general.

  6. @Lorna Osborne #5

    Excellent! And how do we teach our children to only marry Lutherans when our Lutheran Pastors do not? When mixed marriages from the pulpit send distinctly opposing messages? It is confusing for the congregation as well as our children in general.

    Lorna, I have worn the weird collar for almost 33 years. While there may be some pastors that are as you say, but I have yet to meet one LCMS pastor not married to a LCMS bride.

    Blaming pastors exclusively for the laity’s failures in their most basic duties as spouses and parents, is a pretty wide bush with which to paint. Personally, I had a simple, workable policy. For whichever of the two perspective spouses was not LCMS, Pastoral instruction and Confirmation were necessary before I blessed the marriage, and both had to attend.

    Worked pert well. 😉

  7. Thank you for your reply. I do not make such a wide judgement, that would be horrific! I apoliogize for not being clearer with my thoughts. My personal experience, is that it affects the integrity of the Pastoral office when there are doctrinal difference’s; especially if it is obvious to the congregation. I certainly would not make such a comment if I had not personally witnessed this. I treasure my Lutheran faith and our Lutheran Pastors. I pray for you often as double standards have existed from the beginning of time. I cannot undo or deny what I see and hear! PAX DOMINI

  8. @Lorna Osborne #7

    Well Lorna, I am a pastor who married a non-LCMS lady 37 wonderful years ago. But I was not a pastor at the time (was LCMS), then things changed and she was the one who pushed me on. Long story short, catechism lessons and just listening to me, she is LCMS and solid, because she has seen the difference. It certainly makes things easier marrying a solid LCMS person out of the gate. But sadly today, some LCMS people with differing styles of worship do not appear totally Lutheran. OK, my wife was RC, theology different of course, liturgy style, well…

  9. I had no idea that this discussion of church growth and procreation was going on until a friend texted it as part of our discussion on what we can do to stop the bleeding of the LCMS schools in WI. My grandfather, Ernest Runge was a pastor in the first half of the 19th century and had 15 children of which my father was the youngest.Several of my uncle’s were also pastors. I married an LCMS pastor and we were married for 20 years. I never heard him speak against married couples use of contraception. I became pregnant on our honeymoon and when Seth was 5 mo. old I became pregnant while using contraception. So, we added Daniel to our family. My husband was an Assistant Pastor and was a stay at home mom. if we had not had gracious parents we would not have been able to afford a home. Remember that many congregations have sold their parsonages. Our Senior pastor lived in ours. In one Voter’s Meeting a congegant asked if it might be better to lower the pastor’s and teachers salary so that we all could obtain State assistance to survive. The women teachers were paid less than the men. That brings up the point that because I was close to most of the women teachers, I know that they used contraception.
    We began to use a form of B.C. after our 2 sons were born and I went back to college to complete my BS-N.
    We stopped after I was able to work on weekends so that we never used a baby sitter.I worked 2nd shift. We eventually had a third son and were delighted. My husband has a vasectomy.
    I know that if my husband had been taught at the seminary not to use birth control that he would have told me. I cannot recall the question ever being asked of my husband in any of our parishes. In fact, in his first two, he was not really allowed to marry couples. In the first he performed 1: she was my best friend and I get maid of honor.At the second a neighbor asked him to marry her son who neglected to tell him that the bride was pregnant. She vomited during the service and then he knew.
    At that same congregation the Senior Pastor married a transsexual (female to male) and when I questioned it I was told that her state issued driver’s license said ‘male’. That pastor is now Emeritus, but there was a notice in the local paper thanking him publicly for his kindness. She was the daughter of one of his best friends.

    My husband and I divorced after 20 years. Divorces are very complicated. I had sinned and I went before the Board of Elders and took all blame publicly. I regret that now. I had become seriously ill and he had no ability to forgive me or stand by me in my illness. I spoke with our DP and my husband had a young man who was to check and see if he was working sufficient hours and caring for our sons.One of my son’s who was about 19 was asked by the Elders of his father was fulfilling his Christian duty as a father. He loved his father but was honest. I shared some personal information with the DP and eventually my husband was asked to leave and I was assured that he would never be issued another call. He remarried quickly and he stayed at the home of his fiance who lived out of state before they were married. All 3 of my sons have had minimal help from him since our divorce. I became disabled after a serious drug error resulted in a profound brain injury. During my inpt. rehab my mother begged him for help in any way and our youngest son ended up without a home to live in and he was only 19. He had many problems and just returned to Jesus after many years as an atheist.

    My husband ended his ministry teaching future church workers at Concordia Bronxville. During our marriage I supported him in every way to get his PhD from Marquette University. Our congregation where we divorced supported me financially and with many prayers after my brain surgery.
    My main concern is to ask where you find a Biblical teaching that birth control is prohibited? I am shocked.I attended an LCMS grade school and we had sex education each year. Inclusive for grades 1-8, dropping off grades as the subject became more complex. I believe it was a series written and approved by the synod. I can recall that when a question was raised about how not to have a baby, the answer was that unmarried girls should not be needing it and we would be taught otherwise when we married. No pastor we ever had spoke against it. My husband told me that private marital matters were left up to the individual couple.
    I am astounded at this idea. I hope that when I investigate further into this I will find that members all have followed what they propose. You should all be blessed with large families.

    Part of being a Christian of any type should have concern for the Earth which God has entrusted to our care. I hope you all recycle,compost and use no insecticides. If our synod moves so far to the right that it publicly derides science of any kind, I wish you all luck. My pastor husband attended grade school when St. Paul’s-Sheboygan had hundreds of students. He just told me that they have 35 children. My home town has an ELCA church with a Crisis Pastor and he told me at my sister in law’s funeral that he believes it will close soon. My own home church has closed it’s pre school and the church attendance which was packed when I attended has sometimes under 50 at each service.
    I have 3 sons in there 30s to 40 and I do not think we cared about their generation or h planned for them. I am a 55er Boomer and I saw it coming. If this thought of prohibiting birth control, expecting the wives to be at home and the other teachings about women get out to the public, the LCMS might as well close down the palace in St.Louis. It takes 2 incomes for anyone to be a home owner and drive an even marginally safe car. This is not 19 kids and counting. It feels to me more like a Sci-fi movie. It feels like The Handmaids Tale.

    There is one church in WISCONSIN which does have phenomenal growth. Hales Corners Lutheran Church. We have attended as guests and while I did not care for the style of worship, the Gospel is flowing and they have outreach and impact their community.I don’t want to address my pastor as Pastor Bob and I do not care for a puppet show for the childrens sermon.I love our liturgy but that is not my decision.

    May our gracious and living God forgive us all for our sons but neglecting common sense and wishing to return to the 1950s when citizens were encouraged by society to be fruitful because we lost so many young men in the war. Even then a large Lutheran family may have had 4 children.

    In His Name and sincerely, Denise Well.

  10. @Denise Well #9

    ‘My main concern is to ask where you find a Biblical teaching that birth control is prohibited? I am shocked.I attended an LCMS grade school and we had sex education each year. Inclusive for grades 1-8, dropping off grades as the subject became more complex. I believe it was a series written and approved by the synod. I can recall that when a question was raised about how not to have a baby, the answer was that unmarried girls should not be needing it and we would be taught otherwise when we married. No pastor we ever had spoke against it. My husband told me that private marital matters were left up to the individual couple.’

    Pharmakeia stands condemned in the Scriptures in terms by no means uncertain. Any magician of the first century would give his eyeteeth for 3 mg of levonorgestrel.

    Or to quote G. K. Chesterton:

    ‘Birth Control is a name given to a succession of different expedients by which it is possible to filch the pleasure belonging to a natural process while violently and unnaturally thwarting the process itself.’

    If that is not a description of a kind of ‘sorcery’, what is?

    Further, you say:

    ‘Part of being a Christian of any type should have concern for the Earth which God has entrusted to our care. I hope you all recycle,compost and use no insecticides. If our synod moves so far to the right that it publicly derides science of any kind, I wish you all luck.’

    Name-dropping ‘science’ is no way to go about making a point. Science may refer to:

    1) The body of knowledge generated by scientific investigation; or

    2) The means and investigative method by which those investigations are carried out; or

    3) The profession that exercises those means and method.

    Which of these does the Synod deny by moving to a more stringent stance upon issues of birth control?

    Pax Christi,

    Elias Foxmane

  11. @Denise Well #9

    Denise,

    The teaching of Scripture and the historic position of the Church on the matter of family planning came as a surprise to me at first as well. It only takes one generation of shifting a view, and then the next generation thinks, “It’s always been this way.” So I’m not surprised that you didn’t hear anything against family planning. I didn’t either for a long time. I highly recommend the following document, which summarizes the history of the Church’s stance on family planning, including how such a practice came to be accepted in many church bodies: https://sites.google.com/site/lutheransandprocreation/Home/74962251-Should-Christian-Couples-Use-Contraception-3rd-Ed.pdf. The document is concise and very well written, with Scripture references and many primary source quotes from the Church’s history.

    Pastor Richard

  12. “The family has this special honor from God, that it is the most fruitful arm of outreach.” Well said, but if anything, it is an understatement! Making a family via the “marriage” and blessing of Adam and Eve was the crowning act, the pinnacle of creation which made everything “very good”, and the first institution God created. I might respectfully submit that your concentric circle diagram should place family in the center and congregation or church in the next ring.

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