So I’ve had an interesting 24 hours on this subject.
One of my best friends - I was the best man in his wedding a couple of years ago - and I have been talking about the creation mandate for a couple of months now. He and I don’t live in the same city any longer, so it was mostly over text, although we’d had sidelong conversations on the subject in person. The point being that I misunderstood his tone on the issue for some time now.
I hadn’t heard from my friend in a while but had periodically sent him stuff on the subject for the past several weeks, including the sermon text linked to above on the sin of Onanism. My point was that my wife and I had come to the conclusion that contraception was wrong before we got married and, just about 5 years into our marriage, are preparing for our third child, praise the Lord. I have spent the past long while encouraging him to broach this subject with his wife and for the both of them to recognize their sin in this issue and to repent of it.
I should have known things were worse than I thought when, a week or so after I started talking to him about this, his wife posted a lengthy Instagram post about how they’d followed Dave Ramsey and bought their new car with cash. That’s all well and good and admirable, but she tagged the post with “DINK Life,” which, if you’re unfamiliar, DINK is an acronym meaning “Dual Income, No Kids.” I don’t have Instagram or any social media, so my wife brought it to my attention. We both agreed that she probably had posted this in response to my conversation with my friend, but because I hadn’t talked with his wife and his wife had tagged neither me nor my wife in the post, we let the issue be. My wife and my friend’s wife were “close acquaintances” before we moved, but they weren’t friends.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I kept sharing with him the bible passages in support of my argument as well as things I was reading and listening to that did the same. His counters were included:
- “But where is a bible verse that explicitly says that birth control is a sin?”
- “Where does it say I should have as many children as possible?”
- “How many children do I have to have with my wife before we are no longer in sin on the subject?”
- “I’m just not seeing how you can say that birth control is a sin. You are adding to the scriptures on this subject.”
- “What about if my wife and I want to enjoy each other’s company before having children, or want to focus on ministry and missions, or want to have X amount of money saved up in order to make sure we can afford a child?”
There were more, but these were the core arguments. And then, over the past couple of weeks… nothing. I sent him a few things - most recently, as a joke, the quote from Kanye West in his interview with James Corden saying that he wanted 7 kids and that kids are a blessing; with the comment that “even new Christian Kanye West agrees with my argument.”
He responded a couple of hours later saying that he’d muted the conversation (it is a group text between me, him, and a mutual friend who after I started making the argument came to agree with me) because he got tired of hearing about it.
Over the years, one of the things we would do for fun is either deliberately pick opposite sides of an issue and and debate until one side conceded or find something we genuinely disagreed about and do the same. But it was always in good fun. While I thought he was wrong on contraception, I more or less thought we were engaging in our normal banter/discourse.
He appended that earlier text with an emoji to come off as playful, but after he didn’t respond to my follow-up texts calling him out on it, I texted him privately and asked if we were good. He unloaded on me about how he was extremely frustrated by the conversation and he didn’t know how we could be friends if I believed he was in sin with his wife by practicing contraception.
I followed up by apologizing because I didn’t know he was so upset and that I would have taken the conversation more seriously if I had known he had felt this way about it - and that I wasn’t trying to antagonize him. I won’t detail the conversation too thoroughly beyond this, but it has become clear that the issues are as follows:
- He knows that the argument I’ve made, that the use of contraception is sinful, is probably right.
- He does not want me to be right. This is because of a few reasons:
- He is working his first full time job worth a darn ever and I estimate he makes about $45k per year.
- His wife is a PhD psychologist working for a local school district.
- He and his wife come from broken homes.
- He was an only child and his dad is a sad sack who lives in a trailer in the middle of nowhere as an IT consultant. His dad’s a nice guy and handy with stuff like cars, but a total pushover who now lives with his girlfriend and her daughter. His mom is some kind of engineer, and while there’s a chance she’s a Christian, she’s also a deceptively mousy woman who uses her meekness as a form of manipulation to undermine the masculinity of her ex-husband and probably also my friend.
- His wife comes from a “relatively healthy” broken home. She does not like her mother for reasons I don’t know. Her father is extremely wealthy and spoiled her and her sisters. He gave my friend and his wife something like $50k on top of paying for their wedding out of pocket. Point being that I expect that she’s used to being “taken care of” monetarily, which goes back to my first and second bullet point here: he has a bad job with a useless degree and she just finished her PhD
- My friend probably does not wear the pants in his marriage and may not want to. One thing that’s telling is that I’ve encouraged him to read on this subject for himself or talk to elders at his church (my old church). To the best of my knowledge he’s done neither.
- Although he tried to suggest that I’m the first person to ever raise this issue (i talked him down from that), he does bring up an interesting point about our friendship: is the issue of contraception as serious an issue as adultery, sodomy, divorce, effeminacy, and fornication? And if so, is it worth breaking fellowship with each other over? And further, if this is the case, why aren’t we who recognize the sinfulness of Onanism calling it out in our churches and disciplining/excommunicating/separating from folks who are okay with it?
I ask these last questions because I want to know if I can salvage my friendship with my friend, because the seriousness of the sin of Onanism is something that pulls at my heart as urgently as abortion, and because I don’t see anyone’s lead to follow as to how to approach this sin with the seriousness my friend (probably rightly) says I ought to take it if I believe it, so I wonder what I am missing.
I’m sorry for the long post, but this weighed heavily on my heart all day yesterday in the fallout of of my conversation with my friend
I apologize for any typos - let me know, also, if something needs clarification and I will edit accordingly. I wrote this haltingly over the course of about 4 hours, so I grant that some things may not flow as sensibly as it ought.
Thank you for your time and attention.