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Critical Essay

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Sexual desire which wants to be infinite, that will not yield time and place to the new generation, becomes a demonic desire that devours finally also the devourer. The difficult argument I am making here with Luther as resource is written in anticipation of the painful encounter with the white hot wrath of God in store for this wicked and adulterous generation, when the coming generation who will pick up the pieces from its sins will have to learn this community in joy as in suffering, if only to survive.

There are other ways to manage fertility, including unholy ways, as in the abortion industry with its cohort of shameless theological apologists, just as there are other ways to deploy vagina and penis.


Suffering isolates and destroys, we might object; there is nothing creative or redemptive about it. Pain cannot link anything, least of all sexual love and children; it merely isolates. Yes, pain can do that. That is exactly why for Luther, unbelief perceives and experiences the cross as the bitter end of the story of Jesus, something at all costs to be avoided and never to be undertaken. Yet such flight from physical and historical reality is not, for Luther, how the God who spared not His own Son faces suffering.

Table for Crumbs

That is why they are just as unhappy as monks and nuns. Why suffering as an integral key to the marital link of sexual love and children? It might be maudlin, though not untrue, to invoke here the grateful sense of self-giving sacrifice that children honor in good parents as also painfully suffer the absence of in bad parents. We can take a more scientific clue from evolutionary biology.

theological sentences unveiling the undeniable impact of sacrificial obedience Manual

Human reproduction is remarkable for the extraordinarily long dependency of children on parents, which in evolutionary terms provided time and space for development of their equally extraordinary brain capacity. The state of nature is not to be imagined as alpha males fighting for gain and glory, from which violence and anarchy we emerge by social contract, beasts arising from the jungle to civilized life. Locke was surely right to attack this Hobbesian inversion of the biblical narrative of creation and fall and in his political philosophy to insist that the state of nature involves community from the beginning, especially the primal form of the family.

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The matter is controverted. The battle for the gospel is not only over proper proclamation in and by the church, but also on behalf of the groaning creation and its liberation from the anti-divine powers of sin and death. Disobedience and unbelief are possible here in the realm of nature as also there in the realm of grace. Unfaithfulness may destroy what was well begun.

This is what Bonhoeffer meant when he spoke of Christ the center, albeit hidden, of all of life, also, indeed preeminently of married life. Schaf Minneapolis: Fortress, Main Document Only. Just as health-giving plasters also damage the flesh while their effect their cure, so the curative promise is put to Adam in such a way that at the same time it includes a threat, to serve as a cure for the lust of the flesh.

XIV, No. Curley Hackett, Macpherson Hackett, See Paul R. A Festschrift in Honor of Robert Benne ed. Bethge NY: MacMillan,