Thursday, May 21, 2009
The positive side of all this rain is seen in our garden. We have been able to turn the sprinklers off. My tomato and pepper plants are loving all the rain and seem to be thriving through this cold spell. (Not that it's that cold here, 75f, just colder than I've become used to.)Our grass has never looked greener, and is still the greenest garden in our neighbourhood.
God's blessings are not always to our taste, but they are always for our benefit. I might be missing the blue skies and sunshine, but I know that the rain and cloudy days are a necessary part of life too. In all of life the Lord gives us what we need and what is good for us generously and in abundance. May I always appreciate every blessing He sends my way, be it cloudy rain or warm sunshine.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Below is an article I originally wrote while still in Bible College in the UK. It was an exercise in writing a research paper. However I still very much advocate the conclusion I came to at the end of the research, and publish it here on my blog to inform and educate. I know many of my friends, who do not always share my conclusions, read my blog. To those who currently disagree with my conclusion I can only recommend that you do your own further research into this subject. For all my readers may I state from the beginning it is not my aim to condemn nor judge any one, merely to inform. Whatever conclusion or decision you make in this area, may it be informed rather than just emotional. May the Holy Spirit guide each and every soul who reads this article.
Is the birth control pill suitable for Christians?
This article will present my findings on the birth control pill. I will explain what the birth control pill is, and how it works. I will then present what the Bible says in this area. Finally I will look at the implications for Christians as a result of this research.
The Birth Control Pill
The birth control pill, or oral contraceptive, is a pill containing artificial progesterone and estrogen. It is taken daily by women to make them temporarily infertile. The progesterone and estrogen act in a way that the natural hormones would when a woman is pregnant.
The effectiveness of this pill, when administered properly is commonly known to be between 95% and 97%. However the cause of this effectiveness is a complicated matter. There are several methods known by medical science that contribute to the overall effectiveness of this medication.
How does it work?
The most commonly known and understood method of this pill is that it stops ovulation. By tricking the woman's body into thinking it is pregnant, it will stop the ripening and release of the ovum. If there is no ovum there can be no conception. In this method it is truly a contraceptive.
This first method of contraception is the one which is explained to most women when they start taking this pill. It is the main selling point by the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the drugs. What is not explained, however, is that this is not the only method by which these pills work.
The second method employed by this medication is cited in the Physician's Desk Reference to "include changes in the cervical mucus," (2461) which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus. This would also inhibit conception from happening. If there is no sperm there can be no conception. Once again this is a true contraceptive.
These first two methods are not the only ones which contribute to the known effectiveness of this medication. It is these other, less well known, methods that may cause the greatest concern for us as Christians. What is not widely known by the women taking these pills is that there is a third commonly acknowledged method contributing to the effectiveness of this pill. Again according to the Physician's Desk Reference this pill causes "changes in the endometrium which reduce the likelihood of implantation." (2461) In this case there has already been conception. The new child is now approximately six days old when it enters the womb and begins to implant in the endometrium. This method is not a true contraceptive, it is abortive.
In his book Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? Randy Alcorn quotes part of an interview with Richard Hill, a pharmacist who works for Ortho-McNeil, one of the largest pill manufacturers. Referring to the third method of these pills and how true it is Richard Hill states:
"It's observable. We know what an endometrium looks like when it's rich and most receptive to the fertilized egg. When a woman is taking the Pill you can clearly see the difference, based both on gross appearance and under a microscope. You can actually see what it does to the endometrium and it's obvious it makes implantation less likely. The only thing that's theoretical is the numbers, becuase we just don't know that. (27)
However even if the determined little child does manage to implant in the hostile and atrophied endometriun there is a forth way in which the pregnancy may not go ahead. There is not enough nourishment for the child until the placenta is formed. The baby literally starves to death, resulting in a premature end of the pregnancy. Once again this is not a true contraceptive, as there has already been not only conception, but also implantation. This method is also an abortive.
If this was not enough of a challenge to a new life, there is yet another method by which a pregnancy may not go ahead. The artificial hormones are also known to sometimes speed up the fertilized egg's travel time along the fallopian tube so that it still too immature to implant when it does reach the uterus. In a normal drug free body the new child will enter the uterus, or womb, during the sixth day after conception. It will then spend the next week or so implanting itself into the endometrium, from which it is nourished during this early stage. If the child is forced through into the womb before the sixth day it will not be developed enough to begin the implantation process. Instead of implanting this new child will instead pass out of the womb and be lost before the mother is even aware that it exists. Once again conception has already happened. This is now a third abortive mechanism of the Pill.
It is known that all of these mechanisms fail for a minimum of 3% of women who take this medication as prescribed. The total failure rate is even higher for those who fail to take it every day it is required. Since it is known that all five mechanisms fail at some point it is not unreasonable to assume that there will be an unspecified percentage in which only the first method of stopping ovulation fails. Subsequently there will then be another unspecified percentage in which the second method also fails and therefore conception takes place. Whatever the percentage of failure is attributed to each of the remaining mechanisms, one thing is clear; they all involve the ending of a new life. Together they form a third unspecified percentage in which new lives are arborted, and usually before the mother could even be aware that they exist. Even if the percentage of failure concerning the prevention of ovulation is very small, and the failure of the cervical mucus narrows that percentage of potential conception even further, is it still possible for someone who obeys the teaching of Scripture to use this form of birth control with a clear conscience?
What does the Bible say?
In order to answer the question above we must turn to what the Bible has to say. As the inspired and inerrant Word of God it must be our final guide when making moral decisions. I will be quoting from the Authorised Version (KJV).
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:4
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud lok, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood... Proverbs 6:16-19
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleaness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
According to James Strong the word translated witchcraft in the Galatians passage is the Greek word "Pharmakeia" which means medication. This is a reference to the practice in ancient times of inducing miscarriages through the taking of herbs or poisons which were known to have this effect. Chemical abortions have always taken place. The only difference with our modern methods is the rate of effectiveness.
We can also see from the Scriptures above and many, many more that God alone is to be the giver and taker of life. He knows us intimately like no other from the very second we start growing at conception. He has a plan for each and every life that is conceived and that plan is a good thing. Children are a blessing He gives to us.
What are the implications for us?
When we consider all of the above evidence we are faced with deciding what our actions will be. Regardless of our opinions of birth control in general, we must decide on the appropriateness of this particular form of birth control.
If a married couple chooses to remain childless, or to limit the number of children they have, the decision should be shaped by principles which honour God and not by selfish motives. No family planning that invloves the sacrifice of one of the members of that family can please God.
This is not just an issue for women. It takes both a man and a woman to fertilize the ovum and begin a new life. Within the context of a Christian marriage the woman is not alone in making reproductive decisions. It is the man who is head of the family unit. It is the man who has been ordained of God to be leader in the family home. It is the man who will be held accountable for the decisions that are made as a couple. Both the husband and the wife need to make these decisions together.
For those couples who want to control the size of their family there needs to be some soul searching. Is this what the LORD really wants for you? Search the Scriptures honestly and openly at the same time as you search out alternative methods of contraception. Why would God's blessing and gift of life be the wrong choice for you? In our time and culture we have forgotten that children are a blessing and gift from God. Children are not the inconvenience we all too often treat them as.
We can see from the medical evidence that the Birth Control Pill (and all other hormonal contraceptives) works in five different ways. While we can never know the actual percentages we can be certain that there is a possibility each time it is used that it will cause a very early abortion.
We can also see that the Bible is very clear in how it views Children. They are a blessing and a gift from God. He knows them right from the second of conception. They are precious to Him. He views the taking of life of one of these unborn children as an abomination.
As those who seek to live in a way that honours and pleases God we need to seriously consider the choices we make in reproduction. Why are we seeking to limit God's blessings in this area of our lives? Is it a matter of convenience and selfishness? Are we honouring our God and Creator in this part of our lives?
Alcorn, Randy. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? Eternal Perspective Ministries: Gresham, Oregon. 1999
Barron, Shirley L. "Searching for Life's Beginning." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 41
Billings, Dr Evelyn L. and Billings, Dr John J. The Billings Ovulation Method. Ovulation Method and Research Centre of Australia
Burtchaell, James Tunstead. "Make Room for Baby." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 42+
Evans, Debra. "The Price of the Pill." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 39+
Grenz, Stanley J. "Family Planning and the Plan of God." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 35+
Smith, F LaGard. When Choice Becomes God. Harvest House: Eugene, Oregon. 1990
Monday, May 18, 2009
I should say here that I deliberately didn't plan breakfasts or lunches. Rob has the same thing nearly every day for breakfast, so it doesn't require planning. He also doesn't like to eat leftovers from the freezer, so would rather take leftovers for lunch the day after. With our new comprehensive dinner list he'll be on leftovers everyday for lunch. I'd rather freeze and reserve at a later date, but as Rob doesn't I don't.
So taking up the challenge I have now created 8 weeks of dinners for all seven days of the week without repeating a single recipe. I started us on the Friday of week 1 and planned the first couple of weeks around the food we already have. Now I am working on complete grocery lists for the full 8 weeks so we can cut down on the amount of grocery trips we need to make.
For those who are interested here is my list:
Monday - Beef Stroganoff
Tuesday - Paella
Wednesday - Chicken Enchiladas
Thursday - Stir Fry Beef in Oyster Sauce
Friday - Onion Chicken in Balsamic Sauce
Saturday - Cottage Pie
Sunday - Lemon Chicken
Monday - Beef & Pea Bake
Tuesday - Sticky Chicken & Potato Wedges
Wednesday - Pasta Bake
Thursday - Grilled Burgers & Salad
Friday - Chicken Pelau
Saturday - Stuffed Peppers
Sunday - Baked Fish & Rissotto
Monday - Chicken A La King
Tuesday - Albondigas Sinaloenses
Wednesday - Spiced Chicken with Noodles
Thursday - Crock-Pot Pasta Sauce
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Zinfandel Chicken (with white vinegar instead of white wine)
Sunday - Roast Beef with all the trimmings
Monday - Sweet & Sour Chicken
Tuesday - Groundnut Stew
Wednesday - Grilled Chicken & Salad
Thursday - Crock-Pot Chilli & Rice
Friday - Lime Chicken
Saturday - Mediterranean Beef
Sunday - Moussaka
Monday - BBQ Chicken
Tuesday - Pizzaiola Steak
Wednesday - Italian Sausage baked Frittata
Thursday - Teriaki Steak
Friday - Scotch Collops
Saturday - Steak in Basil Sauce
Sunday - Jambalaya
Monday - Meatloaf
Tuesday - Stoved Chicken
Wednesday - Homemade Ravioli
Thursday - Beef Stew
Friday - Chicken Satay
Saturday - Milanese Steak
Sunday - Roast Lamb dinner
Monday - Chicken Pie
Tuesday - Forfar Bridies
Wednesday - Jerk Chicken with Peas & Yellow Rice
Thursday - Sauteed Fish
Friday - Collops-in-the-Pan
Saturday - Devilled Chicken
Sunday - Beef Cannelloni
Monday - Salmon Fritters
Tuesday - Chicken & Carrots
Wednesday - Lasagna
Thursday - Meatballs
Friday - REWARD MEAL (I get to go out instead of cooking)
Saturday - Sausage & Prosciutto with Potato
Sunday - Beef Tacos
So there it is, 8 weeks without a single repeat. Over the coming few weeks I'll try to post a few recipes of dishes we particularly like.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
It is not lost on me that I am taking this one as we are deep into a recession. Money is tight everywhere. We live on one income, in a two income society, so I am very aware of how every cent counts. Now that I have got used to prices over here and actually thinking in dollars, it is great timing to be surrounded by this work. It is making me evaluate where the money goes. At the same time I don't want to get caught in the trap of a "poverty mentality" and never be able to enjoy a luxury or two occasionally.
I really enjoy Italian food. I also really enjoy cooking Italian food. My favourite thing is a freshly made tomato sauce with basil and garlic served with some homemade ravioli. I want to cook from scratch, but fresh tomatoes are way too expensive compared to tinned tomatoes. Somehow the taste is so much better when the tomatoes are fresh. So last weekend we went to Walmart and got a few tubs for the patio, some potting soil and a couple of tomato plants. We also picked up a basil plant for the herb tub. I already had pepper seedlings I had grown from the seeds of a couple of peppers we ate recently. We deliberately picked two different varieties of tomato. One will be ready for harvest in about 7 weeks and the other about 4 weeks after that. We also picked up some organic tomato seeds that I will start in another few weeks. This will give us a bountiful harvest of tomatoes to provide months worth of fresh tomato sauce. A true luxury that will cost more in time than money. Already my mouth is watering in anticipation of the first batch ready for the pot.
Are other recent luxury decision was regarding our drinking water. My beloved used to suffer from kidney stones, which he has assured me is more painful than childbirth could ever possibly be. He was told it was probably caused by a mineral build up from the water he consumes. So he switched to bottled purified water. This was great for him while it was one person living on one income. But with me at home all day our water consumption rose more than double. After months of discussion and research we finally found our answer in a Berkey Water Filter. It arrived on Tuesday, and I got it set up Wednesday morning. I got to enjoy the water first, and it tasted so good I had no problem motivating myself to drink water all day. Then Rob got home and had his first taste. He loved it too, so much he thought it tasted a lot like the normal water from my home area in Scotland. It was an investment, but it will easily pay for itself in less than eight months, and it's healthier than either mains water or purified water.
So my goal for the rest of the year is to find at least one idea a month that will save on spending while adding to the sense of luxury in our lives. Afterall our lives are to be enjoyed rather than endured.
With a break from spreadsheets fulfilled, it's back to budget work until dinner.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Tomorrow will be the eight month anniversary of my permanent reunion with my darling husband. It has been a busy and full eight months. Our house is fully painted, and with finishing touches happening as the budget allows, it is beginning to look like a welcoming home. My routine is pretty much set, with my chores spread out across the week, and even time to indulge in some craft work. I am currently working on a patchwork quilt for one of our sofas. The patchwork is done, and I am working on the quilting, by hand as always.
This week also begins with me ill yet again. I have had a poor immune system for many years and the adjustment to the Florida climate is taking a while. I have been ill almost every month since I got here. It has been six weeks since the last head cold, so there is an improvement. This particular bout seems more like a very mild flu than a cold. It is mostly aches, fevers and no energy. Just making the bed today had me burning up and exhausted for nearly an hour. I have even had to resort to pain killers twice over the last few days.
Through it all I continue to rejoice in God's goodness. While feeling exhausted and useless I received a long anticipated letter from an old friend. In less than a year we had both moved countries, while already living at opposite ends of the planet, and so had kind of lost touch. I wrote to her last known address a few months back, and today I finally got a reply. It was immensely encouraging to hear from her, especially as she should now have safely delivered her fifth baby. While I may still be waiting and yearning for the Lord to bless us with an addition to our family, I am encouraged and rejoice when a friend is blessed with a new child to their family. Each new life is both a blessing and a miracle. We both serve the maker of the Universe. He who put the stars into space is the same one who opens and closes our wombs. While I pray that my womb will be opened and our family increased I rejoice for all those who open themselves to this wonder and blessing each day without limitations. Knowing my husband and I are not the only couple trusting in the Lord for our family size is a great encouragement indeed.
Thank you Lord for the simple blessings of a sunny day and a letter from a friend.