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Family Planning

Though I routinely enjoy the Standard Bearer and find it to be instructive and encouraging, I am troubled by some statements touching our responsibilities regarding our children in the article entitled “Arrows,” by Rev. D. Kuiper, in his rubric, “A Word Fitly Spoken,”(Oct. 1, 1998). In his attempt to warn us against worldliness, the reverend actually steers us away from responsible decision-making! After quoting the text of the “happiness of the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Ps. 127), he writes:

Clearly, the number of children that we have is in view here. We take the quiver to stand for the home, and the home is to be filled with children. Normally, when God chooses to bless a man, He does so by giving him children (Ps. 128:3, 4). Quivers are of different sizes, and God decided that size, and when the quiver is full. With some it is full with one child, with others not until five or six, ten or twelve, are born. The God who killeth and maketh alive decides this, not man. Abortion is ruled out here, of course. The pill and other contraceptive devices are ruled out here, of course. Family planning, the decision of husband and wife as to how many children they are going to have, and just when they are going to have them, is also ruled out by this Psalm.

A few points are well supported by Scripture: children a great blessing (no true Christian parent would have difficulty with that) and the abomination of abortions (“Thou shalt not kill”). The difficulty I have is with your commentary regarding our “planning” of children. Though ultimately the “planning” or decision-making is God’s (Proverbs 16:9; “A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps”), nevertheless, God in His wisdom has given (poured forth) the Spirit of Christ unto His dear children, enabling them, not to walk with blindfolds on, hoping all goes well, but to make important (dividing) decisions in life. This is especially true of the New Testament saints, and let us never desire to be back in the shadows of the old dispensation, under the law as it were a schoolmaster, but enjoying the true freedom, as free-born sons of Sarah, to meet the daily decisions head on. As God brings trials in our lives, so also He leads us to make decisions, even as regards to children.

Make no mistake: we must make these decisions carefully, very carefully. We must be thoroughly knowledgeable of God’s will, as He has set it forth in Holy Writ and as He has taught us through the preaching and example of our parents, pastors, and others. We must be sure to make decisions which are directed to God’s glory, conform to His will, and are to the spiritual benefit of ourselves, our families, and the church. Though this is not easy, it is possible, by God’s grace.

Do these decisions involve how many children and when? How can they not? If the reverend is consistent, he would have to admit that, with his position, a man could not be separate from his wife for any amount of time, lest he interfere with God’s plan. Even the apostle Paul permits such decisions (for a season, and with consent, I Cor. 7:5). Ought we to doubt a believer’s decision in circumstances such as these: a mother finds her life in danger; a father is suffering mental depression; or a marriage is breaking at the seams and undergoing counsel?

Indeed, as the reverend wrote, we do not condone “the world’s low view of children as a bother, as an unnecessary expense, as a hindrance to the good life; the world’s low view of child-bearing and the labors of the mother in the home; the world’s usurping of divine right in regard to the issues of life and death—all this may not influence or control believing parents in regard to their having children.” These are the lame excuses of the world. On the contrary, a believing husband and wife have a deep yearning for the blessing of children; yet God may choose to give us personal limitations and bring us into circumstances in which He indeed calls us to make decisions in the matter of our family.

We need guidance to make these decisions, not advice to shirk our responsibilities by all-encompassing rules set by others. Let us pray for wisdom that we may make the decisions we ought to make, and may live only to His glory.

Brian Rypstra

Lynden, WA

RESPONSE:

To what I have written in the brief article entitled “Arrows,” let me add the following for your consideration.

1. There certainly are exceptions to what was written, as you pointed out. The emotional and/or physical health of the mother is a legitimate consideration, and the advice of the medical professionals ought to be considered.

2. In I Corinthians 7:5 Paul is not advocating abstinence for a time and with consent as an aid to “family planning” but as an aid to spiritual life. Indulgence in the use of God’s good gifts may, at times, cause our prayer life to suffer. Abstinence and fasting are suggested as means to improve this.

3. New Testament, Spirit-filled children of God ought to have the same high regard for children as did the Old Testament saints. I know of no laws that were abrogated by Christ in this regard. So no attempt is being made to put us back in the shadows of the old dispensation.

4. Indeed, we must do all things according to God’s will as set forth in Holy Writ. The article interpreted, briefly, one passage of that Holy Word, and warned against such excuses as we have heard in defense of “family planning”:

a. “You have to use your common sense.” No, we must use sanctified judgment.

b. “I don’t want to bring children into the world that will be ruled by Antichrist.” God promises to be with us unto the end of the world.

c. “I can be a better parent to one or two children, than if I have many.” How do you know?

d. “I may only bring as many children into the world as I can afford, and that includes tuition payments.” Here the issue is money! And God knows we need money. Therefore He will provide for us one way or another, by way of our daily labors or by way of the love gifts of His people.

5. We are not trying to steer anyone away from responsible decision making, because we do not believe that anyone has the right to be making decisions in the area under question: number of children and when to have these children. We are trying to warn God’s people away from presumptuous decision making, that is, of presuming the right to make decisions which belong only to God! My conviction that this is solely God’s prerogative is based on the following:

a. To God belongs the issues of life and death (I Sam. 2:6). Notice, this is taken from Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving just after she had received Samuel from God.

b. God gives conception to whom, when, and as often as, He pleases (Ruth 4:13).

c. God alone knows the future, and He knows us better than we know ourselves.

d. God has promised never to burden us above what we are able to bear (I Cor. 10:13).

e. God alone knows His elect children, especially the church yet to be born. He will bring that (latent) church forth from believing parents for the most part. We stand in His service in this regard.

We hope you, and others, find this helpful.

—Rev. Dale H. Kuiper

The SB Appreciated by the Dutch Speaking

U wordt van hart bedankt voor de 4 “editorials” aan “common grace” (see the May 15, August, September 1, September 15, and October 1, 1998 issues of the Standard Bearer).

Na 50 jaren vragend om Abraham Kuyper eindelijk een open begrijpelijk antwoord.

Mijn hartelijke dank.

[A heartfelt thanks to you for the four editorials on common grace.

After 50 years of wondering about Abraham Kuyper, finally a clearly understandable answer.

My heartfelt thanks.]

(Mrs.) Minnie V. Bleeker

Schnecksville, PA