Beloved, let us judge one another

I normally write about computer programing. C++, Windows, graphics, stuff like that. Today I am writing for and about Christians. Of course, if you happen to be a Christian programmer read on! If you are not a Christian then email me and I can tell you about Jesus, or click here to learn about programming instead.

The rest of this message is for Christians.

Beloved, let us judge one another, for judgement is from God, and whoever judges has been born of God and knows God. – 1 John 4:7

Hmm, that is not quite right although if I were to look around at many Christians today it would seem as if that is exactly what the Bible says. What God inspired John to write was in fact this:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. – 1 John 4:7

I am a husband and father. In fact, I am a father of seven children and I do not plan to have any more.

See what I did there?

Chances are I just offended a good chunk of the Christian population on planet Earth. On the one hand, there are those who judge me for irresponsibly having seven children without even knowing anything about me. Don’t I know what causes this? You know there are children starving somewhere as we speak. On the other hand, there are those who do not need to know anything about me because they already know enough: I have denied God the ability to pour out his blessing on me by not having more children. I am Satan himself. If you were just offended, you are a self-righteous sinner in need of humble repentance.

How did we become such a judgemental and self-righteous lot? In a well-known sermon, often called the Beatitudes, Jesus makes this statement:

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37 and also in Matthew 7:1

God is the judge. In fact, Jesus himself will one day judge the living and the dead. I am not saying that we should not examine our hearts and consider what the Bible has to say about the living out of our faith. That is what we are called to do, but that does not extend to taking those convictions that are placed on our hearts and using them to judge our Christian brothers and sisters. There are of course first-order issues related to salvation that we cannot budge on but that is not what I am talking about here.

Are you a public-schooling parent? Do not ridicule home-schooling families for not shining a light in the same way that you have chosen. Likewise home-schooling parents, do not judge those public-schooling parents for sending their kids to Caesar for their education. God will judge on the final day. As Albert Mohler noted in Culture Shift, I am convinced that the time has come for Christians to develop an exit strategy for the public schools. At the same time, I am not going to call my Christian brother a hopeless sinner if the Holy Spirit has not yet led him to this realization.

Let me now return to the issue of birth control. It should go without saying but in hopes that you will not judge me let me clarify and say that by birth control I do not mean abortion or likewise anything that involves the murder of children whether inside or outside of the womb. That is evil and is clearly forbidden in the Bible. I hope we can agree. If not, stop reading this now and go read the Bible and you should find that you are wrong and you need to repent. Therefore, we are discussing safe, non-abortive birth control. Condoms, abstinence, vasectomies, and so on. Vasectomies are reversible by the way. I speak from experience.

There are those of the Quiverfull movement that condemns anyone who considers birth control to be an utter sinner and a tool of the devil. I have in my hands a book called Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in which she writes:

Anything that hinders or discourages women from fulfilling their God-given calling to be the bearers and nurturers of life furthers Satan’s schemes and aids his efforts.

Let than sink in. Anything… Quite an indictment and DeMoss is perhaps the most level headed of the bunch. DeMoss has many good things to say but if you are a women and you are married then your God-given calling is to have babies and lots of them lest you aid the devil in his efforts. Nancy Campbell and many others that espouse this way of thinking will tell you that you are standing in God’s way, preventing him from pouring out his blessing on your family if you practice any form of birth control.

On the other hand, you need only enter the grocery store with even just four of your children and odds are some stranger will quickly jump in to pass judgement on your reckless lack of self-control. Christians in turn will criticize, claiming you are not practicing good stewardship of your finances, not knowing anything about you or your finances.

I could go on. There are so many examples of accidental pharisees. People like Doug Phillips who have taken something Biblical like patriarchy and turned it into a cult of male headship and authoritarian dominion, ignoring what the New Testament says so clearly about the family in Ephesians 5 & 6 and not to lord it over her as if 1 Timothy 2 is to be used for condemnation.

What’s my point? I would ask only that we stop judging one another, humble our hearts and beg God to forgive us for our utter depravity. That He might show us how we are to use the infinite wisdom contained in the Bible for our own good, for our own reproof. I do not want you to think I am judging the folks at Vision Forum, Nancy Campbell or Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I do not know these people and from what I have seen they have great ministries that do help people. However, like all of us they are just people figuring things out for themselves. We cannot elevate them to a position of infallibility and neglect to check what God has to say for ourselves. In this, they are wrong. Perhaps they have overreacted to the evils of the Eugenics by condemning any consideration of birth control. It reminds me of my grandparents who condemned all forms of music other than classical as being from the devil.

So having seven children, why am I not planning to have any more? God has blessed me abundantly more than I deserve with a wife that is wonderful in every way. She is my partner and my equal. God has also blessed me with these wonderful children whom I delight in. Nevertheless, God has also clearly directed me through His word that I have a great responsibility to train up my children in the fear of the LORD. I have and continue to embrace the blessing of children, but I cannot overlook the responsibility of actually raising them for the LORD. I see this as the stewardship from God that was given to me. This needs to be my focus now.

Who knows? Maybe one day when I have, with God’s guiding hand, launched my children into the world equipped and ready to serve their creator, He may again put the burden of children on my heart. On that day, we may adopt. So many in the “children are a blessing” camp seem to overlook the Bible’s clear teaching about orphans and the calling for adoption. They will only consider those children who actually look like them as blessings. May we love all of God’s children even as He first loved us.

Where to from here? Again, I will direct you to the Bible. It is the only source of perfect truth and guidance that we have in our material possession. Lean on it. Chew on it. May it guide your daily life. Just do not use it as a weapon with which to shoot your fellow Christian. Romans 14 might be a good place to start.

For parents I would recommend John MacArthur’s What the Bible Says About Parenting.

Voddie Baucham has also written a great book entitled Family Driven Faith for parents seeking a Biblical understanding of what it means to raise their children to walk with God.

On the topic of birth control, I would first point you to Albert Mohler’s ever clear and calm exposition that you can find on his blog: Can Christians Use Birth Control?

Another resource is John Piper’s Desiring God website, which has some things to say on the subject as well.

Finally, although I do not love everything that he says, Mark Driscoll has done an excellent job of exhaustively breaking down the subject of birth control for Christians in this sermon. Highly recommended for anyone wrestling with the issue.

6 thoughts on “Beloved, let us judge one another

  1. R.C. Sproul Jr.

    Brother,
    Thanks for directing me to this. I haven’t looked at Drs. Mohler or Piper, at least recently on this issue, nor Mark Driscoll. They may have the superior argument, but if they did they would be right where the entire church for 1950 years was wrong. I am always suspicious when the church has spoken with one voice for millenia, the world lurches to the left, and the world soon follows. Finally, I would argue that there is about ten times as much judgment in your piece above than there was in my brief tweet. I made an affirmation, connecting the purpose of the marital act with the purpose of eating, and then a connection between separating those purposes. I didn’t call anyone a wretched sinner, nor a tool of Satan. So, in short, I agree with you on the principle that we ought to whisper and not shout where God whispers. I disagree on the clarity and certainty on this issue, and of course, on the issue itself. You have Mohler and Piper and Driscoll with you, and I the entire first 1500 years of the church. As we both agree, the key issue is what the Bible says. And it says children are a blessing from His hand. I don’t believe we act with wisdom when we turn our backs on gifts from God. Hope that helps and that God richly blesses you and your family

    Reply
    1. Kenny Kerr Post author

      Certainly, my writing lacks grace and eloquence. I was also fearful as I was writing that it might seem judgmental in itself.

      RC, I am humbled and grateful that you could take the time to comment and share your thoughts. Your brother in Christ.

      Reply
  2. Julie Anne

    Those are sweet and eloquent words, you cannot deny him that: “children are a blessing from His hand. I don’t believe we act with wisdom when we turn our backs on gifts from God.” Yet, you saw the tweet, I saw the tweet. Imagine being a woman from his congregation who was told that she shouldn’t have children for medical reasons. Sproul is full-quiver – they say “trust” no matter what – that He won’t give you more than you can handle. Women who make a choice to use birth control (and that could be Natural Family Planning) to prevent a pregnancy because of medical conditions would be labeled as sinners in this environment. I know – I’ve been in these full-quiver environments. I’m calling them out. Thank you for speaking up on that tweet.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Did Everyone in the First 1950 Years of the Church Really Believe Contraception was Wrong???? | Old Testament Studies Blog

  4. Yemi Fawehinmi

    Hello Kenny,

    I was watching your Pluralsight training “The C Programming Language in Action” and noticed you used the word Grace in one of the modules (“Pointers to Pointers” to be exact). You used in a way the i felt Christians usually did. So I was curious to know if you were a Christian and lo and behold you are. You have no idea how thrilled I am to know that. You have greatly encouraged and stirred up a boldness to be a software engineer for Christ. I will be following you on twitter. Thank you for being faithful to the gospel and to Jesus.

    Yemi

    Reply

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