Even my car knows it’s true. (Though, she needs a crash course on capitalization.)
Even my car knows it’s true. (Though, she needs a crash course on capitalization.)
Question Submitted: I know quite a few couples who are choosing to stop having children naturally, even though they are capable, in order to adopt. Is this a common phenomenon in American Christianity? The rationale seems to be:
1) They don’t want to go through another pregnancy, babyhood, potty training (so they will look to adopt an older child). I find this reason uncomfortably close to why I look to “adopt” older dogs, and not 6-week-old puppies.
2) They think adopting a child who otherwise would not be raised in the faith and may live in poverty or suffering is better than having another baby of their own. My husband calls this Malthusianism Lite.
Please understand my friends are clear that there are no obstacles to having another baby naturally (barrenness, physical danger to mom, etc.). How do I respond to these statements? If it didn’t happen so often, I would ignore it, but I have heard different women speak this way 4-5 times over the last year.
I recently heard a similar sentiment spoken about a character on a popular television show, and the character was lauded for thinking such things. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that the world thinks conception and adoption are mutually exclusive, but when did we in the Church buy into such fallacies?*
Conception is good in marriage. Adoption is good in marriage. Both are ways God gifts marriages with children, and we need not attempt to control either one. In fact, to sacrifice one for the other, to treat one as better or more important or more practical or more beneficial than the other, is problematic, and, for this reason, I would advise these couples to go talk with their pastor about such things in light of their specific vocations.
* I am not speaking about the specific circumstance of when a couple is blessed with a pregnancy during the adoption process and, because agency/government rules dictate such matters, must forgo an adoption at that time. That matter is separate from the question submitted and, therefore, is not addressed in this post.
We were greeted by this bumper sticker in Yellowstone last week.
As Pastor McGuire once said to a morning Bible class I attended in Dallas a few years ago, you can’t take these people seriously. If they were really concerned about over population, they would kill themselves.
But they don’t.
Instead, they go right on living, driving navy blue pick-up trucks, consuming natural resources, sticking non-biodegradable plastics onto their bumpers with toxic glue, urinating birth control hormones into public water sources, and stomping carbon footprints deep into the grass-green earth, all the while encouraging everyone driving behind them to contracept and abort children for the sake of
We are such a silly, selfish people.
Thank you, Pastor Mohr, for reminding us of the gift God gives us in auxiliary parenting.
I move my right arm and feel a tug at my wrist. I look down, but nothing is there. For five days, a plastic band surrounded that wrist – a fetter to remind me of my bound service to my wards. For 139 hours and 15 minutes, I had charge of five young men and a college chaperone as we attended one of the largest events in our lifetime – the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod National Youth Gathering.
And now I don’t.
My young charges have been returned to their parents. The wrist band has been cut off. I have been set free. But still, I feel it tugging. I still sense the urge to turn around and count- 1-2-3-4-5-6 – to confirm I have them all safely with me.
After our closing devotion upon returning home, one of the mothers commented to me, “Why haven’t you adopted a child, yet? I see how great you are with these kids. God has given you a gift.”
He has indeed – but in the barrenness of my being single, my gift is not to bring a child purposely into the brokenness of a single parent home. No, I walk beside these parents, auxiliary to them, helping them raise their children. I stand next to them in bringing Godly children to adulthood. And God has blessed me with these children, for a brief time.
With great wonderment, I pause and marvel that God would be so kind to have given me such a great gift. But still, these several days later, I feel that wristband tugging. And that’s when I look down at that wrist with its phantom tugging and smile as the epiphany slowly dawns – my boys are still my boys. The gift of my auxiliary role is not yet ended. I still get to count them, 1-2-3-4-5-6, each and every week. Only now, the question behind the count is not, “Are they safely with ME,” but are they safely with Him Who gave them to me? Are they in the Word… are they receiving the Sacrament… are they growing in their faith?
For 139 hours and 15 minutes, I had charge of these young men, but I shall stand auxiliary to them for a lifetime, encouraging my brothers in faith to grow in the Lord. They will always be “My Boys.” Thank you Lord, for Your gift to me in these young men!
Rev. Michael Mohr
Whoozeewatsit? Barren with children?
Well…yes. Stay with me.
When I sadly and too often see parents prioritize sports over Sunday School, sleepovers instead of sermons, poke fun of or complain about their pastors in front of their kids, or send their children to confirmation yet never darken the church’s door themselves, I have to wonder where the real LIFE of that family is. How can they keep their spiritual hearts beating when they aren’t receiving–or are blatantly denying–any quality spiritual food? One might say they are fast approaching a barren spiritual life, since where there is no Jesus, there is no spirituality or life. And that can’t be good for anyone, nevermind their children.
But readers, please don’t take this as a motivational speech, scared straight talk or condemnation (from me). We are all condemed who are born into sin. Yet Jesus is on the heels (the eyes, ears and knees, etc.) of the baptized; convicting and beckoning us all to Him, so that we might repent and confess Christ crucified for us, and be forgiven.
And when that conviction and peace comes, how can anyone stop it from overflowing from their own hearts and minds and onto our little ones? It simply can’t not (yup, I love double negatives). It can’t not compel a mother and father to bring their child into the sanctuary. It can’t not move parents to baptize their infants. It can’t not motivate them to discipline their young to listen to the Sermon, participate in the liturgy, and receive Christ in His body and blood. It can’t not… for where His Word is proclaimed and Sacraments administered, there too is Jesus, with all the promises and benefits therein to sustain his Church into eternity.
That is our true life, devoid of barrenness, and what faithful albeit sinful parents believe, teach and confess for their God-given little miracles. Our children need nothing more…and will certainly suffer with anything less.
I pray this post also encourages the childless who also faithfully gather around the altar, pulpit and font to know God’s wisdom in the face of their afflictions. But barrenness in this context points to the ultimate ail in all of existence… separation from Jesus, the one true, Fruitful Mulitiplier of His Church. The fruitfullness comes both in numbers and in faith, sometimes one more than the other, but it always comes, because He promises it will, in order that we might know Him and where He is. In Him we’re whole– both here and in heaven–because of Christ crucified and risen for us, not because of how many proverbial arrows we’ve been endowed with or not.
Let us confess joyfully this full life that we share, and pray that all are compelled by the Holy Spirit to bring their families right to where Jesus, our life and salvation, is.
My husband is a tender father in the Faith.
He sits at the bedside of his world-weary children and leads them beside still waters. He walks with them through the valley of the shadow of death and sings to them Simeon’s Song. He restores their souls in the reading of God’s Word.
My husband is a faithful father in the Church.
He baptizes and teaches his parishioner children. He catechizes, comforts, consoles, and counsels them with all fatherly affection. He speaks the unpopular Word to them for their eternal benefit, slaying straying hearts with the Law and resuscitating the repentant with the Gospel breath of God, Christ’s blessed work of atonement on the cross for them.
My husband is a warrior father in the marketplace.
He picks up the banner of life and waves it before his neighbor. He wears a precious feet pin on his lapel to remind himself and others of the children destroyed every minute of every day through abortion. He defends the rights of the least of these, entreating parents not to abandon their children to be frozen in fertility clinics. He gives his time, talents, and treasures to those who have none and opens his heart and home to the fatherless.
My husband is a devoted father to our nieces, nephews, and godchildren.
He patiently endures guerrilla attacks of tiny, would-be wrestlers. He reads pink-and-purple books about fairies and princesses to sleepy, little dreamers. He stands guard next to half-pints in hospital beds awaiting their turn in the operating room. He jumps off two-story pontoon boats into smelly, murky lake water for the entertainment of squealing, human fish, and he daily remembers those fish in prayer.
My husband is childless, but he is a remarkable father.
Happy Father’s Day, Michael! xo
I have childhood memories of helping my parents set up chairs for the annual life rally at a local school. That was back in the day when public schools still encouraged nonprofit organizations to use their facilities to educate youth on such topics as (Gasp!) respecting each others’ bodies and valuing life at all stages.
I was only in third or fourth grade at the time, but my parents encouraged me to tag along for this day-long event of speakers, food, and fellowship for teenagers. My parents were members of our local Lutherans For Life chapter which supported the event, and together we set up the display of fetal models for viewing, hung signs to direct students to various rooms for breakaway sessions, and decorated the cafeteria with helium balloons. At the time, I was more interested in the balloons than the speakers, but over the years I was exposed to such life issues as human sexuality, caregiving, unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and adoption.
An accident? I think it was intentional parenting. Not only were my dad and mom modeling for me the act of service to my community, but they were also exposing me to the likes of Molly Kelly and Jim Lamb. Formative influences, for sure.
My parents did not stop there. In junior high, they brought me to life chains, conferences, prayer vigils, and pro-life fundraisers such as banquets and community breakfasts. In high school, my mom took me to two national life marches in D.C., and she encouraged me to start a local Teens For Life group at my school. Over the years, my parents showed me how to give of my time, talents, and resources to support local crisis pregnancy centers and other pro-life organizations. They taught me early on my responsibility to my littlest neighbors and showed me ways to advocate for their right to life.
No doubt, my parents’ example lit a fire under me in my childhood that continues to burn into my adult years.
How can we expect our youth today to defend the right to life if we do not teach them what that means? How can we expect them to advocate for the least in the world if we do not show them how?
My parents did that for me. God help us to do that for the next generation.
I’d grab this girl by the shoulders and shout in her face, “What are you thinking?!?! Do you hear what you’re saying?” Well, that’s what I would like to do anyway. What I should do is start asking questions. Stand to Reason is an organization that provides a great training in how to engage in these conversations by asking specific questions. It’s called Making Abortion Unthinkable, and it is something I encourage all Christians to look at.
First, find out what your friend thinks ”the unborn” really is. The state of South Dakota has regulations in place that require abortion doctors to share with their patients that an abortion will “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being,” (NPR story from Jan. 22). This is a FACT supported by scientific evidence. People who consider abortion should have to wrestle with this.
Second, ask your friend what should happen to a two-year-old whose parents die tragically. Would it be better to kill the two-year-old, too, than have him be adopted or raised by people who weren’t his biological parents? This would be absurd, of course. But by using these kinds of examples it forces people to realize that the unborn are children, too, they’re just smaller than a two-year-old. The Making Abortion Unthinkable curriculum calls this method “trotting out the toddler.” It’s a very effective argument.
The goal of having an ongoing conversation with this friend would be to help her see the following logic and come to agree with it:
1. It’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings (e.g. the two-year-old).
2. Abortion intentionally kills innocent human beings (e.g. scientific evidence).
3. Therefore, abortion is wrong.
Abortion is not right, or even “more right.” It is not merciful or a better option. Stories of troublesome adoptees are about as much justification for abortion as stories of troublesome biological kids (which, I would argue, are equally present in our gossip circles). People believe whatever will ease their consciences, no matter how unfounded the story might be. When abortion is used as a form of contraception, as this woman describes it, she must find a “good” reason to justify it because her conscience needs her to. I suppose you can be grateful that her conscience is still active, it’s just incredibly misinformed. Perhaps you’re in a place to help remedy that. Pray for guidance and courage from the Holy Spirit to love this friend, keep talking to her, and help expose the lies that she is believing.
(Another great resource for preparing for abortion debates is Peter Kreeft’s The Unaborted Socrates: A Dramatic Debate on the Issues Surrounding Abortion.)
Joanna and I have been corresponding on the topic of adoption. Here is a tidbit of wonderfulness from one of her recent emails:
When did I start noticing Marilla’s fear and insecurity over Anne’s?