Tag Archive | Family

A Laxity in Covenantal Obligations

Cymro on the Puritan Board discussing why the Reformed churches are so small these days. I have observed this laxity within my own denomination, where one generation not only fails to train up the next but also chastises people for even having children in the first place:

Another contributing factor is the abandonment by Confessional Presbyterianism of the principle that God perpetuates the Church from age to age, through the children of the Church. God in wisdom constituted society in family structures, and likewise in the church. There is an organic unity in both. The responsibility and privilege given to parents to train up the child in the way it should go, has suffered a laxity that has damaged the health of the church. It is regrettable that Presbyterianism seems to follow Edwards’ maxim that children are “little vipers” rather than Calvin’s belief that the seed of believers are little Christians. There is a lamentable ignorance amongst Presbyterian parents respecting the covenant obligations we have in raising our offspring not only in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but as citizens of His kingdom and heirs of the covenant. The present attitude is one of a general christian upbringing and leave it to the maturing child to decide for itself. Consequently many Presbyterian churches have very few young people in them. If I speak too generally I apologise, but my words are but my experience.

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/why-are-reformed-churches-the-minority.95265/page-2, Comment 57


Does “Pharmakeia” Include Contraception?

An interesting quote from the OPC:

“What Is Pharmakeia?
In the Greco-Roman world of the first century, sensuality, perversion, and general decadence reigned supreme (often in connection with worshipping false gods). As a result, contraception (usually the drinking of potions to achieve temporary sterility), abortion (including the drinking of potions to destroy fetuses), and even infanticide (“exposing” infants to the elements and wild beasts, drowning them, etc.) were widespread, facing little moral objection.

The apostle Paul condemned the immorality of his day, but was strangely silent, or so it may seem, on the subjects of contraception, abortion, and infanticide. The reason for this apparent silence may be that these specific practices are included in broader categories. Surely infanticide and at least late-term abortion are included in his condemnations of murder. Does contraception likewise come under a broader category?

In this regard, we need to rethink Paul’s condemnation of pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. Most Bible scholars have uncritically assumed that this Greek word means “sorcery” or “witchcraft” (as translated in English Bibles). But pharmakeia (from which our word pharmacy comes) originally referred to the use of potions, drugs, and often poisons, generally for evil purposes. Since these concoctions were often thought to have magical properties, the word developed the secondary meaning of “sorcery.” Both meanings were current in Paul’s day; which one fits better in this text?

Galatians 5:19-21 presents a long list of “the deeds of the flesh.” These are personal vices, which would be common in the general population. But sorcery was the craft of a sorcerer, not really a common personal vice. The use of potions and drugs for evil purposes, however, was widespread. It makes more sense to find such “drug abuse” listed alongside such things as immorality, idolatry, jealousy, and drunkenness, than to find sorcery on such a list.

This view is strengthened by the position of pharmakeia on the list. Between sexual sins (vs. 19) and sins involving disputes (vs. 20) we find “idolatry” and pharmakeia. Since pagan temples featured “sacred” prostitution, we should think of “idolatry” as attached to the first group of sins.

That leaves pharmakeia. It obviously does not belong with the sins involving disputes, but it, too, can reasonably be attached to the first group. What would then be in view is the evil use of potions and drugs, especially in connection with sexual practices. That would refer to the potions and drugs used to prevent conception and destroy fetuses.

Interestingly, the early third-century theologian Hippolytus, in the first clear reference to contraception made by a Christian in a work that has survived, condemns certain women who are “called believers,” and yet use “drugs for producing sterility” (atokiois pharmakois, in The Refutation of All Heresies, 9.12.25).

The same term is used by the early second-century physician Soranos of Ephesus, in his book Gynecology, to refer to both contraceptive and abortive potions. And the first-century biographer Plutarch mentions pharmakeia(without any qualification) alongside other practices (furtive child substitution and adultery) by which a woman might thwart her husband’s obtaining of a legitimate heir (Romulus, 22.3).

Thus, there is good reason to think that pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20 refers to the evil use of potions and drugs, especially contraceptive and abortive agents.

There is likewise good reason to find condemnations of contraception (and abortion) in Revelation 9:21, 21:8, and 22:15. In 9:20-21 people are said not to have repented of their idolatry, murdering (including abortion and infanticide), pharmakeia, immorality, and thievery. Once again we find pharmakeia in a list of popular vices centering around sexual immorality. And again we say, this arguably includes the use of contraceptive drugs. The same analysis would be made at 21:8 and 22:15. (At 18:23 there is probably a reference to sorcery, since the passage is not listing personal vices, but describing the evil influence of “Babylon” on the world; cf. Isa. 47:9, 12.)”


Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/does-pharmakeia-include-contraception.95338/, Comment 8

Read the Puritan Board debate in full here: https://puritanboard.com/threads/does-pharmakeia-include-contraception.95338/ (Most PBers in the discussion answer the title’s question in the negative).

Let Them Be Happy

J.R. Miller:

God made childhood joyous, full of life, bubbling over with laughter, playful, bright and sunny. We should put into their childhood days just as much sunshine and gladness, just as much cheerful pleasure as possible. Let them be happy, encourage all innocent joy, provide pleasant games for them, romp and play with them — be a child again among them. Then God’s blessing will come upon your home, and your children will grow up sunny-hearted, gentle, affectionate, joyous themselves and joy-bearers to the world.

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/in-the-rage-of-a-fever-gone-mad.95799/, Comment 7

Sincere Love Remains

Martin Luther:

Whoever intends to enter married life should do so in faith and in God’s name. He should pray to God that it may prosper according to His will and that marriage may not be treated as a matter of fun and folly. It is no small gift from God to find a wife who is pious and easy to get along with. It is the highest grace of God when love continues to flourish in married life. The first love is ardent, is an intoxicating love, so that we are blinded and are drawn to marriage. After we have slept off our intoxication, sincere love remains in the married life of the godly; but the godless are sorry they ever married. [12]

[12.] ‘Christian History Sampler: Martin Luther on Marriage’, Christianity Today,  christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-26/christian-history-sampler-martin-luther-on-marriage.html, accessed 7 July 2017.

~”The Bible and the Protestant Reformation,” page 18 (21 of 29), Trinitarian Bible Society, available online at https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.tbsbibles.org/resource/collection/3F452A51-1CC4-4DB6-964F-9D234CC4E7CE/The-Bible-and-the-Protestant-Reformation.pdf

Why Was Eve Formed From Adam’s Rib?

“Adam lost a rib, but he got a better thing instead of it, even a help meet for him. Thus God uses to deal with his children: they lose sometimes some of their creature-comforts; but then perhaps they get more of the Creator’s comforts, and that’s a blessed exchange. This bone was taken out of Adam’s side, fitly noting the woman’s place: not out of his head, to be above him; nor out of his feet, to be trampled on by him; nor from before him, as his better; nor from behind him, as his servant; — but out of his side, to be equal with him; near his heart, for he owes her love; under his arm, for he owes her protection. Surely they forget from whence the woman was taken, that carry themselves haughtily and abusively towards their wives.”

– Philip Henry (1631-1696), An Exposition…Upon the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis (1682, 1839), p. 56 (Gen. 2.21) * This commentary by Matthew Henry’s father was written by the hand of Matthew Henry in 1682.

Source and read more quotes on this topic: http://virginiahuguenot.blogspot.ca/2017/05/mhcc-52-why-was-eve-formed-from-adams.html

Nothing Must Interfere With One’s Religious Duties In The Home

“The father’s should awake to the fact that they have something to do in making the life of their own homes besides providing food and clothing and paying taxes and bills. They owe to their homes the BEST INFLUENCES of their lives….. men professing to be followers of Christ and to believe in the superiority of life itself to all things else, give infinitely more thought and pains to the raising of cattle, the growing of crops, the building up of business, than to the training of their children. No one can do everything that comes to his hand. But it will be a fatal mistake if any father allows his duties to his home to be crowded out. Anything else had better be neglected than his children. Even religious work in the kingdom of Christ at large must not interfere with one’s religious work in the kingdom of Christ in his home.”

J.R. Miller

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/the-home-beautiful.92749/, Comment 3

Only Mockeries if Empty of Affection

“There are no hearts that hunger so for expressions of affection as the hearts of which we are most sure. There is no love that so needs its daily bread as the love that is strongest and holiest. There is no place where rudeness or disrespect is so unpardonable as inside our own homes and towards our best beloved. The tenderer the love and the truer, the more it CRAVES THE THOUSAND LITTLE ATTENTIONS and kindnesses which so satisfy the heart. It is not costly presents at christmas and birthdays and anniversaries that are wanted; these are only mockeries if the days between are empty of affection.”

J.R. Miller

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/the-home-beautiful.92749/, Comment 1