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    Today we live in a sex-crazed society. From the clothing and entertainment industries, all the way to the education sector, sex permeates our senses at every turn. As the western culture casts off all moral restraint, the church faces ethical issues on many fronts. With abortion, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality on center-stage, birth control has often been relegated to the sidelines. Some consider the topic as a distraction from the more pressing issues at hand.

    The wise Christian will seek to understand God’s purpose for sex before confronting any of these hot-button topics. And when one understands God’s design, birth control can no longer be ignored.

 

The early church and sex

     Since the church’s earliest days, Gnosticism has subtly distorted Christian ethics. The early church fathers valiantly opposed its teachings, which took on many shapes and sizes. Basic Gnosticism labels all physical matter as evil, which implies that the body and its natural functions are evil.

    Unfortunately, this greatly impacted the early church’s view of sexuality. Augustine, a prominent theologian of the fourth century, believed that sex was only right when pursued for procreation. Any sex “which goes beyond this necessity, no longer follows reason, but lust" (Augustine).

    Nearly a thousand years later, little had changed. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most influential theologians and philosophers of his day, condemned all forms of birth control, saying it would evade the true purpose of intimacy. Many church leaders agreed with this position.

    Reflecting on the Middle Ages, ethicists John and Paul Feinberg write, “Engaging in sexual intercourse without the intent of procreation was, therefore, considered sinful. This meant, of course, that intercourse with one’s pregnant wife or with a sterile woman was sinful, because procreation was impossible” (Feinberg 292).

    Interestingly, the Catholic church’s stance on sexuality and birth control has changed very little over the past fifteen hundred years. Rome still affirms the Augustinian belief that “procreation is the primary purpose of marriage” (Feinberg 292). While they do allow its members to use the rhythm method, all other forms, including barrier methods, are still condemned.

     

Sex designed for pleasure and unity

    When Adam saw Eve for the first time, he was visibly moved. “This is now bone of my bones,” he exclaimed, “and flesh of my flesh…” (NKJV, Genesis 2:23b). God’s perfect couple was naked and unashamed.

    Immediately following, God revealed His purpose for man and woman: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). One may conclude that becoming one flesh refers at least in part to sexual intercourse. Paul confirms this when he writes that going into a harlot is becoming one flesh with her (I Corinthians 6:16).

    Perhaps the most vivid example of God’s delight in marital lovemaking is the Song of Solomon. The writer minces no words when he paints graphic images of a married couple’s sexual love.

    In the New Testament, Paul admonishes the married that their bodies are no longer their own; they belong to their spouse. Thus, they should not withhold themselves from each other except for prayer and fasting (I Corinthians 7).

    One must conclude that God designed sex for pleasure within a marriage relationship. Unfortunately this function has been stifled and even condemned across the centuries.

 

Sex produces new life and responsibility

    Having children is an important aspect of marriage and must not be ignored. God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). The Psalmist rejoices in the beauty of new life when he writes, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14).

    All throughout Scripture, we see God’s love for children. He defends the orphan (Deuteronomy 10:18), he gives children as an inheritance (Psalm 127:3), and those who hurt children would be better off dead (Matthew 18:6).

    Materialism has greatly altered society’s view of children. In contrast with the eastern mindset that views children as assets, the western culture counts children as financial liabilities. Couples entering marriage must renounce this mindset and embrace children as priceless gifts from God.

    When children are viewed as gifts, parents will embrace the huge responsibility to provide and care for them. This includes not only their financial needs, but also their emotional and spiritual needs. Parents must prepare their children in every way possible to serve God and love others.

 

Possible reasons for birth control

   After one establishes a Biblical perspective on sex and children, one may consider possible reasons for family planning.

    Birth control grants young couples more time to prepare financially, emotionally and spiritually for raising a family. When the wife struggles with health, she might need a substantial gap before she can handle another pregnancy. Couples with a growing family may use it to avoid greater responsibility than they can handle. In fact, Paul writes to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8).

    Before marriage, couples must come to an agreement on if they will use any form of birth control, and if so, what form of birth control they should use. A Christian couple seeking to honor Christ will need wisdom as they consider the available options.

 

Birth control methods

Medical

    The pill has been a topic of much controversy. Since 1960 when the first pill was approved by the USFDA, millions of Christians have used the pill without really understanding how it works. While its main function is to prevent ovulation (the formation of a woman’s egg), it has a backup function that few know about; it thins the uterus wall so that the blastocyst (fertilized egg) cannot implant, thus resulting in an early abortion.

    Pharmaceutical companies have effectively hidden the pill’s abortive capabilities. Christian author Randy Alcorn shares his extensive research on the pill in the booklet “Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?” He concludes that the pill, while not primarily designed to cause abortions, does function as an abortifacient when prevention fails (Alcorn). It is sobering to consider how many Christian couples have unknowingly killed their children by using the pill.

 

Surgical

    According to an extensive survey, 23% of sexually-active couples have been sterilized (Mosher 7). It now ranks as the most common form of birth control  and is intended to be permanent. This involves a basic surgery, either performed on the man or the woman, to sever the tubes in one’s reproductive organs. For the man, his semen will no longer contain sperm. For the woman, her egg will no longer enter the uterus where it would be fertilized.

    Undoing sterilization is possible, but cannot be guaranteed. Successful reversals may pose significant health risks during future pregnancies.

    Disabling one’s God-given reproductive system carries major implications. It permanently states that new life is not welcome. It takes the womb into one’s hands while removing it from God’s. Except when extreme health issues may require it, sterilization should not be considered by Christian couples.  

 

Barrier

    The barrier methods are less controversial and have been proven to work fairly well at prevention. Simply put, these methods prevent fertilization by barring semen from uniting with the egg. Unlike the medical forms of birth control, there is no possibility of abortion using these methods. The main ethical issue is whether prevention is right or not.

    Interestingly, the Catholic church does not approve of any of the barrier methods because of their understanding of the purpose of sex. As mentioned earlier, they view God’s design for sexual intimacy as primarily reproductive. To use barriers, in their view, is discarding God’s purpose for sex, thus removing the purpose of intercourse.

 

Natural Family Planning

    The biggest advocate for natural family planning is the Catholic church. The commonly used rhythm method  tracks a woman’s cycles, signs and body temperature to determine when she is fertile. When fertility is determined, the couple may either abstain from intercourse or use a barrier to prevent fertilization.

 

Conclusion

    History is an insightful teacher. It reveals error that springs from a wrong understanding of sex. It challenges the contemporary Christian to view sex through a Biblical framework. God designed marriage unity for pleasure and delight. He purposed that it would result in new life and responsibility.

    Based on this understanding, couples will seek God’s leading for family size. Some may surrender all use of birth control. In such cases, they will need encouragement, and at times, financial assistance. Others will use family planning and must not be judged too quickly.

    Out of this understanding, Christian couples will navigate the various methods of birth control wisely. They will purpose in their hearts never to use methods that will kill their offspring or will reject the life that God desires to place in their family.

    When couples embrace sex as God’s pleasure-filled, life-destined gift, they will be able to make wise decisions on their use of birth control.

 

A few questions for couples to consider before using birth control:

  1. Why are we preventing?
    Do our motives stem out of selfishness or care?
    Do we view children as liabilities or assets?

  2. How are we preventing?
    Will we risk aborting our own child by using the pill or other medical means?
    Will we use a natural method such as a barrier or the rhythm method?

  3. When will we allow children?
    Will we just wait for an “accident” to happen or will we be intentional about allowing life to come about?

 

A few questions for couples who will not use any forms of prevention:

  1. Are both husband and wife convinced that this is how God is leading?

  2. Are we committed not only to receive the children God sends, but also to care well for each one?

  3. Do we look down our noses at those who seem to be using some form of family planning? Will we extend grace towards those who come out at a different place in regards to family size?

 

Works Cited

Alcorn, Randy C. Does The Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? Sandy, OR: Eternal Perspective Ministries, 2011. Print.

Feinberg, John S., and Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics For A Brave New World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. Print.

Holy Bible: The New King James Version, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Bibles, 1982. Print.

Mosher, William D., and Jo Jones. Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2010. Center For Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Of Hippo, Augustine. "Of the Good of Marriage." Church Fathers: Of the Good of Marriage (St. Augustine). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Article written by I.M.

By: Danielle Mast
Note: This essay was submitted as part of the homework for the Biblical Ethics class at Elnora Bible Institute. Used by permission.

Infertility is one of the most painful things a couple can go through. The gut-wrenching pain of not being able to get pregnant, the desperate helplessness to “fix it,” the pain of watching other parents with their children, and the emptiness. It is wrong to dismiss these feelings as selfish, unreal, or illegitimate. These feelings are real, and they hurt terribly. Some couples turn to in vitro fertilization to provide an answer to that need. For the Christian, however, is in vitro really an option?

How it works
It may seem like a good solution to the pain of infertility, but in vitro fertilization is wrong for the Christian because it includes an enormous loss of life, involves masturbation, and takes control from God.

In vitro fertilization is the process of joining sperm and eggs outside of the womb in a petri dish. In vitro itself means “in glass.” The American Pregnancy Association describes the process of in vitro fertilization this way:

In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus (americanpregnancy.org).

In vitro is often a long and wearing process of cycles: the woman is given medication to overstimulate her ovaries to produce more ovum, or eggs, than normal. When her body has produced enough eggs, physicians harvest her eggs and combine them with sperm provided by the man through masturbation. The fertilized embryos that are produced are watched for several days before some of them are selected to be placed in the woman’s uterus. If none of the embryos implant into the wall of the uterus, the cycle is repeated. Enough eggs are produced from the first cycle that enough fertilized embryos should result for five to six cycles.

Loss of life

This may sound like a simple surgical procedure, but there are some significant problems with in vitro fertilization that are not mentioned in the American Pregnancy Association’s summary. The fertilized embryos created when the sperm and eggs are joined are not all used, and many of them die in the fertilization process. In vitro fertilization includes an enormous loss of life. Randy Alcorn writes the following in his book, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?

“Three to six of [embryos conceived outside the womb] may be implanted in a uterus in the hopes one may live, but the majority die, and some are frozen or discarded. In the best-case scenario, two to five die in the attempt to implant one, and often all of them die” (Alcorn, p. 118).

He says that three to six embryos per cycle are implanted, and even in the best-case scenario almost all of them die. He writes further that there is a low success rate for implantation, even under the best conditions. He quotes Dr. Leon Speroff, who says that the success rate of implantation is 13.5 percent, and the actual survival rate for any embryo is just over three percent. According to Dr. Speroff, in the attempt to implant a child, twenty-nine out of thirty embryos die (Alcorn, p. 118). 

Twenty-nine out of thirty! If Christian believe that life begins at conception, that means in vitro fertilization allows twenty-nine children to die for the sake of the thirtieth. Some of those children are lost through miscarriages when they cannot implant to the uterus wall, but some of them are lost because they were not selected as the best embryos and were frozen. These frozen embryos are the primary concern of those against in vitro. What happens with the frozen embryos? Does the couple save them until they want them again? Do they dispose of them? Do they keep them in the freezer until their lives drain away? They have created children, and they cannot neglect them, kill them, freeze them, or discard them.

The question of whether or not in vitro fertilization destroys life rests on the Christian’s belief of when life begins. Life begins at conception: the moment that the sperm and the egg join and create a new person with new DNA and totally unlike anyone ever created before. The uniqueness of every single child starts at that moment of conception. In their article “When Human Life Begins,” the American College of Pediatricians wrote the following:

Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, induviated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development. The Mission of the American College of Pediatricians is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being from the moment of conception (“When Life Begins”).

That means that from the very moment the sperm unite with the eggs in the petri dish, the actual lives of human beings are involved, not the potential for human lives. Twenty-nine out of thirty human beings are being discarded, neglected, frozen, miscarried, or even aborted if too many of the embryos implant in the wall of the uterus. Christians cannot play God with these lives! Randy Alcorn addresses this when he says,

“There is a big difference, a cosmic difference, between God and us! What God is free to do and what we are free to do are not the same. God is the giver and taker of life . . . His prerogatives are unique to Him. He is the Creator; we are the creatures. He has the right to take human life, but we do not” (Alcorn, p. 112).

God has rights that we do not. He has not given us the right to decide which lives are worth keeping or worth risking. Life is too precious to sacrifice twenty-nine for one! As Walter Kaiser wrote, “Life is too valuable to waste for any reason whatsoever” (Kaiser, p. 114).

Result of masterbation

The fact that the sperm is usually produced through masturbation is another issue worth considering. Malpani Infertility Clinic actually advises men who may be concerned about producing sperm on demand to practice ahead of time. They also recommend that men bring titillating magazines or DVDs to arouse themselves (“Producing Sperm on Demand in the IVF Lab”). Jesus taught total purity and that Christians are to flee sexual sin. Christians cannot engage in activities that so directly contradict Jesus’ teachings.

Takes control from God

Another issue with in vitro fertilization that is harder to define, but equally relevant, is that of control. In IVF man grasps to control the building of his family. Physicians choose when to start cycles, which eggs and sperm to use, which fertilized embryos to implant, and which implanted embryos to remove if there are too many. Walter Kaiser, when addressing in vitro fertilization, wrote, “Embryos with desirable traits are therefore implanted, while those with undesirable traits, as specified by the parents, are destroyed” (Kaiser, p. 154). Although it may be argued that God can direct the choosing, the weaker and less-developed embryos, including those with genetic issues, are the ones left behind. 

Walter Kaiser also wrote, “Mortals were free to imitate the hand of God in what He had already built within the gene code itself. But they must also ‘guard’ it and ‘keep’ it as trustees enabled by God, not as usurpers who would challenge the Creator and assume His place and authority” (Kaiser, p. 160).

Although he was addressing genetic engineering, Kaiser makes a good point—man is to guard and keep God’s creation, not to challenge His authority and power in an attempt to fix something God may intend to stay broken. In vitro is essentially handpicking which embryos to allow to live and which to allow to die. This issue of humans choosing which children to allow to grow until birth seems dangerously close to playing God and grasping the control from Him in an attempt to fix a problem that is not understandable, instead of relying on Him to provide either children or fulfillment outside of children.

Wrestling with infertility

Infertility is excruciatingly painful. Feeling that pain is not wrong. Cristina Richie, an ethics and world religions instructor at Newbury College in Massachusetts addressed this issue in an article she wrote on IVF.

All this comes down to a fundamental question: Do I believe that God’s plan and purpose for my life can include infertility? I think many times we try to force God’s hand into a different path for ourselves by altering circumstances beyond our control. Our feeling of entitlement— to better health, a different personality, a certain lifestyle—blocks the potential that God has for us to utilize whatever He has given us, even if this potential goes beyond our understanding (Richie, “A Christian Understanding of In Vitro Fertilization”).

Can God use infertility? Absolutely! Is it still painful? Yes, it is, and it will probably always continue to be. But instead of turning to in vitro fertilization, consider other options—working with children, discipling spiritual children, fostering, or adopting. It may be hard for women, especially, to give up the right or the need to carry their child through pregnancy, but there are other options. There are hurting children all over the world that desperately need homes. The Bible commands Christians to take care of the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the fatherless. 

Instead of turning to in vitro, Christians should seek God’s will about the pain of infertility, how He wants to use that pain for His good, and what His will is for them for their future.

Bibliography

Alcorn, Randy. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?, Sandy, Orlando, 10th edition, 2011, pp. 112, 118; quoting Dr. Leon Speroff, Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. William and Wilkens, 5th edition, 1994.

“In Vitro Fertilization: IVF.” American Pregnancy Association <https://www.americanpregnancy. org/infertility/in-vitro-fertilization/> (accessed 08 March 2017).

Kaiser, Walter C. Jr. What Does the Lord Require? Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Academic, 2009, pp. 114, 154, 160.

“Producing Sperm on Demand in the IVF Lab.” Malpani Fertility Clinic. <https://www. drmalpani.com/knowledge-center/articles/ sperm-sample> (accessed 08 March 2017).

Richie, Christina S. “A Christian Understanding of In Vitro Fertilization.” July 2012. <https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/ 2012/07/a-christian-understanding-of-in-vitro-fertilization> (accessed 07 March 2017).

“When Human Life Begins.” American College of Pediatricians. March 2004. <https:// www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins> (accessed 08 March 2017).

This editorial, which was promised in the August 2016 editor’s desk column, is a long overdue debt to the readers. In that column the subject of individual salvation was introduced with warnings about the ditches of legalism and Antinomianism. It is suggested that a re-reading of “What Is an Anabaptist?” Part 8 might be helpful as background to the present piece.

Let us begin with the goal of salvation. God desires that those who come to Him be transformed in spirit, mind, and practice. They are to be pilgrims on this earth and separate from the ways of the “world system.” Holiness is the command.

Therefore, any salvation message that does not include that goal of holiness is no salvation at all. It is not possible to be saved by mental assent to the Gospel facts. Simply saying the sinner’s prayer and going on as if nothing happened is certification that nothing happened! This has been the “sticking point” for Anabaptists from the beginning. There was no major disagreement with the Reformers over the great doctrine of justification by faith. The disagreement came when converts were allowed to go on sinning with impunity.

A simple Anabaptist understanding of salvation for today must include:

1. A realization and recognition of one’s utter sinfulness. (That is, there is not one thread of righteousness in us.)

2. There can be no relationship with God established by us. (That is, we can do nothing by ourselves to gain God’s favor.) 

3. Our condition is humanly hopeless.

4. The absolute unconditional surrender to Christ must take place. (This is called “saving faith” and includes a complete trust in the shed blood of Christ for forgiveness of sins.)

5. The integral companion of saving faith is repentance. (That is, a deep and continuing sorrow for sin and a complete turn-around from sin to God.)

6. The new birth, while instantaneous, only happens after a period of laborious struggle with the guilt of sin.

7. The new life in Christ continues with ongoing repentance and spiritual growth progressively toward holiness.

The above is intended as a very simple outline on individual salvation and is not in any sense exhaustive. It should be under- stood that many people who consider themselves born-again Christians are really not. We should never tire of hearing and sharing the Gospel.

If salvation has truly taken place, the person who has truly come to Christ should be expected to become a part of a Biblical community of faith (otherwise called a local church). There should be no such thing as a “lone ranger” Christian. Christianity is a community proposition.

--Written by Paul Emerson

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As we come to the close of another calendar year, we face major changes in several areas of life. Hitherto, it has been possible for many Anabaptists to ignore such changes and move on in life without responding to the issues at hand. Such is no longer possible.

The “quiet in the land” must speak by life and word about (1) Bible doctrine issues before Anabaptist churches presently, (2) changing cultural issues that threaten the life and future of our homes, and (3) sidelining of the centrality of the local church in God’s program for today.

Doctrinally speaking, the very most basic understanding of salvation is at stake. Some of our most conservative-appearing brethren are experimenting with a teaching of salvation that nearly eliminates individual responsibility. This is compatible with many anti-biblical counseling approaches wherein blame shifting is practiced. Circumstances, other people, or demons are blamed instead of the true cause.

The culture around us is rapidly becoming not only post-Christian but also anti-Christian. This means that the days of severe persecution are about to return. Our assumed basic American rights will most likely evaporate.

The North American Anabaptist churches are for the most part fat, comfortable, and ineffective because our people want it so. The priority of active sacrificial church membership is a distant memory in many cases. During the coming year, Lord willing, we will be addressing these issues in the pages of the Sword and Trumpet.

Written by: Paul Emerson

“This one moreover shall be supported of the church which has chosen him, wherein he may be in need, so that he who serves the Gospel may live of the Gospel as the Lord has ordained.” 
— Schleitheim Confession, Article 51

A Clear Command of Scripture

Until recently, the whole idea of paying one’s pastor was foreign to me. My church lifts an offering for the ministers, but a salary? It has never been discussed. I even thought that churches that paid their pastors were somehow less spiritual, as if salaried pastors were tainted with the love of money. Reasons have been given, but Scripture is clear. Consider the words of 1 Corinthians 9:13-14:

Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.2

Consider also Paul’s instructions to Timothy:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”3

This is not an obscure teaching, found only in some nook or cranny of the Bible. Paul lays out this teaching with clarity, with reason, and with directness. In all our beliefs, Scripture must be our basis, not personal preference. I believe that as Biblicists, we must reexamine our position. Perhaps we are ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture.

Common Arguments

I was always under the impression that paying a pastor would make him greedy. Paul, however, has a different approach. He does not say that money causes greed, therefore don’t give money. Instead, he says that greed is sin; therefore choose a man who is not greedy. Notice how Paul deals with the heart. If a man is greedy, his love for money will show whether or not he has any. As R. C. Sproul quipped, “You don’t avoid hirelings by paying little, but by paying attention.”4

Another well-worn argument is that Paul himself did not accept money so that he would not be accused of selling the Gospel. Note that the Pauline exception comes from 1 Corinthians 9, the same chapter where Paul explains the pastor’s right to payment. Also note that the Pauline exception is, like the term implies, not the norm. When we apply it to all pastors, we are guilty of ignoring the context.

Notice that Paul did not refuse support from believers; we have record of other churches sending him support. Rather, Paul refused support from unbelievers, so that no one could accuse him of selling the Gospel. Therefore, in context, we see that the Pauline exception refers to missionaries—those evangelizing unbelievers—not to pastors.

A Real Job

Perhaps our oversight in this area stems from an improper view of pastors. We tend to view pastoring as a secondary responsibility, not a real job. Think about it: Our pastors work full-time jobs, and in every way carry normal responsibilities, but on top of that, they also carry the weight of pastoral duty.

A pastor is called to great responsibilities, but poverty should not be one of them. Instead of discouraging those who are in it for the money, our lack of financial support might actually discourage men who are gifted to lead, but cannot afford the financial burden. A lay pastor is placed in the impossible position of full-time provider, full-time family man, and full-time minister. Something must give. Either some of these areas will be neglected, or the pastor will burn out while struggling to fulfill them.

Could it be that our churches suffer because our pastors do not have the time or energy to preach well? Could it be that pastors’ families are neglected because our pastors are too stressed to be good husbands and fathers?

Not a Career

To be clear, there are a few ditches that we must avoid. First, while a pastor deserves payment, this does not mean that pastoring is a career. “[The pastor is not] selling his services to the highest bidder. His calling is distinct from the marketplace.”5 I believe strongly in using lay pastors, men chosen from the church, who are called by the local body. When the greater evangelical movement hires pastors because they have an M.Div., they do themselves a disservice.

Seminary is helpful, but it should train those who are called, not call those who are trained. Along the same lines, paying one’s pastor does not “buy a share” in his ministry. We must not try to control a pastor by putting the squeeze on his finances when we disapprove.

It makes sense that if a pastor is paid by the church, he should be expected to give up his other jobs in order to focus on ministry. However, financial support will not look the same in all cases. In some instances, a church, because of its size or the ability of its members, may not be able to fully support a pastor.

In other cases, a pastor may choose full support in order to focus on full-time ministry. Or, perhaps the pastor could work part-time in exchange for a partial salary. The specifics of financial support must be worked out by the local church.

Let’s Get Started

So where do we begin? After all, this will require a big change, a reversal of our current opinion. Yet it is what the Bible teaches.

It must start with us.

First, we must recognize and appreciate the work our pastors do. They work hard; let’s come alongside them and honor them. Second, while we should not seek to make our pastors rich, we should give generously. Let’s not force our pastors to just scrape by; let’s give them some dignity. Finally, we must check our own attitudes. Are we giving cheerfully or grudgingly?

The Bible commands us to honor our leaders: financially, yes, but also with our respect and encouragement. Perhaps this is an area where we need to improve. I suspect that change will not come quickly. It will require discussion, Scripture-searching, and time. Yet I believe that by obeying the teaching of Scripture, our churches will be blessed.

Question: In what ways could paying our pastors benefit our churches? How does your church approach this?


Written by Bryce Wenger. This article was originally published April 4, 2016 on www.radi-call.com, a blog with weekly posts “Calling young Anabaptists back to The Root.” Used with permission.
Click here to read original article on blog.


Endnotes:

1. Wenger, J. C. “Schleitheim Confession of Faith, 1527” Web. 01-26-2016.

2. The Holy Bible English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001.

3. 1 Timothy 5:17, 18. Ibid.

4. Sproul, R. C., Jr. “How Well Should Pastors Be Paid?” Ligonier Ministries. N.p., 29 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

5. Ibid.