THE PILGRIMS AND A.W. PINK ON BIRTH CONTROL
(Recorded by Governor William Bradford, 1590-1657)
In the meantime, God in his providence had detected Lyford’s evil carriage in Ireland to some friends amongst the company, who made it known to Mr. Winslow, and directed him to two godly and grave witnesses, who would testify the same (if called thereunto) upon their oath. The thing was this; he being got into Ireland, had wound himself into the esteem of sundry godly and zealous professors in those parts, who, having been burdened with the ceremonies in England, found there some more liberty to their consciences; amongst whom were these two men, which gave this evidence. Amongst the rest of his hearers, there was a godly young man that intended to marry, and cast his affection on a maiden which lived thereabout; but desiring to choose in the Lord, and preferred the fear of God before all other things, before he suffered his affection to run too far, he resolved to take Mr. Lyford’s advice and judgment on this maiden, (being the minister of the place,) and so broke the matter unto him; and he promised faithfully to inform him, but would first take better knowledge of her, and have private conference with her; and so had sundry times; and in conclusion commended her highly to the young man as a very fit wife for him. So they were married together; but some time after marriage the woman was much troubled in mind, and afflicted in conscience, and did nothing but weep and mourn, and long it was before her husband could get of her what was the cause. But at length she discovered the thing, and prayed him to forgive her, for Lyford had over come her, and defiled her body before marriage, after he had commended him unto her for a husband, and she resolved to have him, when he came to her in that private way. The circumstances I forbear, for they would offend chaste ears to hear them related, (for those he satisfied his lust on her, yet he endeavered to hinder conception.) These things being thus discovered, the woman’s husband took some godly friends with him, to deal with Lyford for this evil. At length he confessed it, with a great deal of seeming sorrow and repentance, but was forced to leave Ireland upon it, partly for shame and partly for fear of further punishment, for the goldly withdrew themselves from him upon it; and so coming into England unhappily he was lit upon and sent hither.
But in this great assembly, and before the moderators, in handling the former matters about the letters, upon provocation, in some heat of reply to some of Lyford’s defenders, Mr Winslow let fall these words, that he [Lyford; C.P.] had dealt knavishly; upon which one of his friends took hold, and called for witnesses, that he called a minister of the gospel knave, and would prosecute law upon it, which made a great tumult, upon which (to be short) this matter broke out, and the witness were produced, whose persons were so grave, and evidence so plain, and the fact so foul, yet delivered in such modest and chaste terms, and with such circumstances, as struck all his friends mute, and made them all ashamed; insomuch as the moderators with great gravity declared that the former matters gave them cause enough to refuse him and to deal with him as they had done, but these made him unmeet for ever to bear ministry anymore, what repentance so ever he should pretend; with much more to like effect, and so wished his friends to rest quiet. Thus was this matter ended.
PINK, ARTHUR W. (1886-1952); Calvinist
Any teaching that leads men and women to think of the marriage bond as the sign of bondage, and the sacrifice of all independence, to construe wifehood and motherhood as drudgery and interference with woman’s higher destiny, any public sentiment to cultivate celibacy as more desireable and honourable, or to substitute anything else for marriage and home, not only invades God’s ordinance, but opens the door to nameless crimes and threatens the very foundations of society. Now it is clear that marriage must have particular reasons for the appointment of it. Three are given in Scripture. First, for the propagation of children. This is its obvious and normal purpose: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:27) – not both males or both females, but one male and one female; and to make the design of this unmistakably plain God said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” For this reason marriage is called “matrimony,” which signifies motherage, because it results in virgins becoming mothers. Therefore it is desirable that marriage be entered into at an early age, before the prime of life be passed: twice in Scripture we read of “the wife of thy youth” (Prov. 5:18; Mal. 2:15). We have pointed out that the propagation of children is the “normal” end of marriage; yet there are special seasons of acute “distress” when 1 Cor. 7:29 holds good. [1. Cor. 7:29 says: “What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none”; C.P.]
And now for a final word on out text. “Marriage is honourable in “all” who are called thereunto, no class of persons being precluded. This clearly gives the lie to the pernicious teaching of Rome concerning the celibacy of the clergy, as does also 1 Tim. 3:2, etc. “And the bed undefiled” not only signifies fidelity to the marriage vow (1 Thess. 4:4), but that the conjugal act of intercourse is not polluting: in their unfallen state Adam and Eve were bidden to “multiply,” yet moderation and sobriety is to obtain here, as in all things. We do not believe in what is termed “birth control,” but we do earnestly urge self-control, especially by the husband, “But whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” This is a most solemn warning against unfaithfulness: those who live and die impenitently in these sins will eternally perish (Eph. 5:5).