Mission Statement

In classical sacrifices, the people get the good bits, and the gods get the refuse, the bits that would get thrown out otherwise.

Not our God. Leviticus (particularly Leviticus 3) describes the sacrifices that our LORD demanded from His people of Israel. God gets the kidneys, the tail, and all the fat. He gets the prime steak, He gets the best.

Today we do not literally give sacrifices of animals. For us the ultimate sacrifice has been made through our Lord, Christ Jesus. But should always be our ambition to do the same thing - to offer God the best of what we have, to offer Him the fat, and not the smoke and bones.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Email and Response

I occasionally read over at Freejinger - and recently posted there as a lurker. If you've come from over there - welcome! I'm sure I'll have lots to say that you'll disagree with. Feel free to comment, including disagreements, as long as you are civil.

Anyway, one reader at Freejinger emailed me, asking for my opinion in regard to her personal situation. She's given me permission to post her letter and my response to it:

I don't call myself a Christian or an Agnostic or anything else; I am just a seeker of the Lord. This is very dear to me, even though I don't fit into any particular religious label myself (I know some find that hard to believe, but, well, it's true. You can love the Lord with all your heart and still not be able to label yourself).

I have been looking over your blog "Not Smoke and Bones" and, well... since I'm a "seeker" and I try my very best to be respectful and open to all spiritual outlooks (and when I'm not being as respectful and open and I should, I pray to the Lord to open me up and He always does!)

So, I read a lot of blogs and have tried to engage in conversation with many women who describe themselves as "born-again" and "Quiverfull" and "Christian". Most of them turn me away the moment they realize I don't call myself a Christian (that's not to say I'm *not* a Christian in some sense -- it just depends on what exactly is meant by "Christian"). I think that's unfortunate, but I also understand to some degree because they probably also get a lot of disrespectful "honest questions" and such from the folks at FreeJinger, and maybe you won't have time to discuss with me if you're being flooded with comments since you've posted there. But reading your blog, I get the impression that you might be more open to discussion than some of the other women I've tried to speak with. So if you can, I'd really like some of your input.

As you said, you are Quiverfull because you "believe that children are a blessing from God - and why would you want to limit blessings?" I, too, believe that children are a blessing from God. It is only by the grace of God that I have my precious daughter, whom I prayed and prayed and prayed and cried for. I wouldn't have survived my infertility without God. So why would I want to limit my blessings? Well, for one, pregnancy makes me very, very ill. I have never in my life been so sick and all the prayer in the world didn't cure me completely, it only comforted me in my pain (and perhaps kept me out of the hospital!). To be more explicit, when I was pregnant I did not leave the house except for midwife appointments because I was vomiting too much. Sometimes I could hardly lift my head. This was among other problems I had, and it went on my entire pregnancy, throughout labor, and only ended once baby was outside of my body. If I became pregnant right now and this happened again, how would I care for my baby daughter? She needs me. She needs my milk. And I would not be capable of giving her what she needed if I was going through that again right now. Furthermore, I also think God open and closes the womb anyway in his own time, regardless of any human intervention. He is a heck of a lot more powerful than contraception! If He wants to bless you, he will! regardless of any human steps you may take to avoid that. Why I think somebody we know in the Bible was blessed with child, no man needed at all ;-) And if a child isn't in His plan for you, you won't get one no matter how hard you try by human means to do so. No physical cause was ever found for my infertility -- I just believe that God gave me a child when it actually best for me, regardless of my ideas of when it should happen. I have since even thanked God for that, the most awful experience and deepest despair of my life, because I now see how it was necessary to fulfill other plans that were so important for my family.

So I wonder how you take all of this. I assume you believe that everyone should be Christian (although, again, I have trouble understanding what the definition of "Christian" actually is -- I know that's hard to understand. I would also be interested on your opinion on that by the way, but it's another story as to why I avoid the label/people tell I'm not Christian), but do you believe all Christian families should be Quiverful? Or do you believe that it is a "calling" that the Lord has in store for some people, but not everyone? How would you handle my situation if it happened to you?

These are honest questions I really have with no ill intent, but I find it so hard to ever get any straight answers because everyone seems so suspicious on both sides. I am not coming into this thinking "Christianity is wrong" or "Quiverfull is wrong". I know those things are not true because the Lord has made it clear to me that they aren't. I just want honest answers and respectful dialog. If you can, I hope you will engage me and give me something to think about. :)

My response:

Regarding the Christianity - yes, I do think everyone should be a Christian! But I know that not everyone currently is, and that some will move into God's kingdom, and some won't. Many of my friends (including some who read notsmokeandbones) are non-Christian. So I don't have a massive problem per se with non-Christians, of any ilk, let alone those who are seaching for God. I just point out that we all face the consequences for our actions and beliefs, and these consequences are both here and in the eternal. The decisions are yours to make, not mine, and are between you and God.

I suppose the best way of answering your question about my quiverful beliefs is to tell you a little about me. I was seriously ill most of my childhood, and we could never work out why. At first it seemed to be a result of being born premature, but most prem babies catch up, and I never did. My sister was the same size as me from when she was two years old. I was 4. I entered school and was the smallest person in the class - even though I was the oldest. I was the smallest person in the school the next year. The year after I was the second smallest - my sister had over taken me in terms of both height and weight.

When I was 8 I became seriously ill, and in a lot of pain. I went to hospital several times, but they didn't know what was wrong. I spent two years very sick and in constant pain. Eventually my mum took me to a different hospital, the best children's hospital in Australia. They didn't know what was wrong, but they decided to operate on my in an attempt to find out what was wrong. Turned out I had cancer - ovarian - which had developed unusually, twisting one of my ovaries (hence the pain and sickness, which otherwise would not have shown at all) and making it gangrenous inside me. I had to have that ovary and about a third of my womb removed. I didn't have to have chemo, etc.

The result is that I run risks of extremely difficult pregnancies, of miscarrying and possibily dying. These are real risks, and unfortunately, there are no other test subjects. (Edited to state - I'm glad there aren't other people who have gone through what I have - but it does mean that I really don't have any ideas as to the exact extent of what could happen.)

So I understand illness, being so sick you'd want more than anything just not to be sick. When you even have something small wrong with you, it takes up all your energy, all your attention. You really don't have anything left to give when you are really sick. So I understand that you would not want to become pregnant again, especially when you feel that you would therefor not be able to give as much to your daughter.

Now, I agree absolutely when you say that God is more powerful than any form of contraception - my mother was on contraception for when I was conceived! But that kind of brings up the "narrative not normative" approach to life. It worked out ok for so-and-so (even so-and-so in the Bible), so it should be ok for me. And God can always override it if He wants. By that logic, it's ok to become a prostitute (because Rahab was one, and she's an ancestor of Jesus) or adultery (King David did that) or steal (Rachel stole her father's "gods", which at the time also amounted to property deeds), or any of a whole number of other things of varying degrees of severity. You should not be basing your life on what God can over-rule. You should be basing your life on the Bible. Especially if you (not you specifically, but the general you) are a Christian, that needs to be your rule of life. What has God commanded, and how can I do that to the best of my ability?

For me, that includes trusting God in regards to pregnancies. (I plan to adopt too, btw.) It means accepting that God's way is better than mine, even when I think it completely sucks right now. And that His way is better, not only for me, but for my (as yet not present) husband and children in the long run. Even if in the immediate future it's not the nicest for them. God doesn't work to my timetable - He works to his own. His views are longer than mine - what happens now can impact the future in ways that I never imagined, further in the future than I ever imagined. That works for me, for you, for your daughter. It's kind of similar to how you mentioned that your morning sickness was necessary to fulfill other plans that were so important for your family. It's the same kind of thing, only that God's plans are better than ours, and go much further into the future.

Regarding whether or not I believe that all Christian failies should be Quiverful... yes and no. I do, because that's how I see the Bible. But I think the most important thing for all Christians is that they inspect all of their practises in light of Scripture, and they seek to obey God, and not just their own wants. To give you an idea on how this pans out in my day-to-day, I attend a non-Quiverful church, where most of the married couples have 1 or 2 children. I occasionally bring it up, because everyone (including me) needs to be examining their beliefs in the light of Scripture. But if they don't see Scripture the same way I do, then that's up to them and God.

Personally, if I was in your shoes, I would not be using contraception. On a practical note, breastfeeding will limit the chances of becoming pregnant, at least for a time. But even if I knew I was extremely likely to become pregnant, face exactly the same thing again, I still would not be using contraception.

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