Are they all yours?
When we meet for church on Sundays, our family is usually one of the smallest in number, so it sometimes takes me aback when someone responds with utter incredulity when I tell them we have 5 kids.
People must think they are being novel when they make statements like "don't you know what causes that?" or "I'm glad they're not mine." (By the way, the kids are glad they're not yours as well!) It really is a wonder to many why we would have more than the accepted American standard of 2.1 children.
So what's the deal with all the kids?
A different path
Before Jamie and I were married we received pre-marriage counseling from a couple in our church. They gave us some great advice, but very strongly encouraged us to look into birth control options and delay having kids for a year or more. The pastor of our church also strongly encouraged us to delay having kids so we could spend the first years of our marriage focused on just the two of us.
The first thing I found when researching birth control options was that chemical birth control (like the pill) was advertised in the medical literature as having an abortifacient effect in cases where conception was not prevented successfully. I was shocked to say the least and deeply dismayed that no one had ever warned me about the dangers the pill can present to unborn children.
I also found during my research individuals and families with a totally different attitude towards having children than what we were exposed to at our church. The more I read, the more I realized that this different attitude had it's roots in the pages of the Bible.
So, after searching the Bible and our own hearts, Jamie and I decided that we would go against the flow of modern culture (even Christian culture) and conform our thinking and attitudes about children to the pattern that we saw portrayed in God's word. We figured we had at a minimum, 9 months to focus on just the two of us anyway, so we got down to business and had our son Ethan about 11 months after our wedding. Despite the warnings, his arrival didn't destroy our marriage.
So what does the Bible say?
So what did we find in the Bible that made us think differently? Here are some of the big ones.
Be fruitful and multiply
The very first thing God told Adam and Eve when he created them was to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth.
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:28
God likes kids and his desire is that we would multiply and that people would fill the earth. Unlike the easily debunked Malthusian alarmists of our day, God isn't worried about overpopulation because he created the earth to be filled.
A fruitful womb is a blessing
The Bible alway portrays a fruitful womb as a blessing and a barren womb as a curse. When Moses was declaring the blessings of keeping the law, he says "You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock." (Deuteronomy 7:14).
In Psalms, blessings are declared for the man who fears the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. Psalm 128:3-4
What are the blessings? A wife with a fruitful womb and loads of children around your table.
Children are a heritage from the Lord
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; Psalm 127:3-5
The Psalmist describes children as arrows in the hands of a warrior. A warrior is happier, the more arrows he has in his hands and quiver. In the same way, a man is happier the more children he has to fill his table.
What is your attitude toward children?
The kind of attitude we see in the scriptures above are in stark contrast to what we find in our culture even among Bible-believing Christians. A few years ago, popular pastor Chuck Smith, who started the Calvary Chapel denomination was asked on his call-in radio program about Christians and contraception. Pastor Smith replied, not only encouraging the use of birth control, but also deeply disparaging children as liabilities that only drain the financial resources of parents.
You know it used to be that a lot of children were assets. A child coming into the home was an asset because it was an agrarian society and you all had your own farms and the more children, the more help you had on the farm, and all. But, you know, as time went on and we became really a – no longer an agrarian society, but, you know, one that was really sort of dependent upon manufacturing, and so forth, children no longer became an asset, but they became a liability and I think that when you figure now how much it costs to raise a child through high school and all, a lot of people, you know, they just say, “Well, who needs them?” You know, because it does just cost a huge amount of money to clothe them and feed them and all when they’re not really producing or are productive at bringing back into the family, you know, financial assets and so forth, and thus they are a liability, rather than an asset today.
This wrong-headed attitude toward children, not only displays utter contempt for what God says about the issue, but is also extremely short-sighted and foolish. Yet how many Christians think this same way, even if they don't say it out loud.
Take some time to check your own heart. Do you tend to think of children as burdensome and a liability? Do you consider children a detriment to your future plans and life ambitions? Do you view too many children as intruding on your current lifestyle or standard of living? Read through the passages listed above and ask yourself if your attitudes toward children reflect what the Bible teaches.
Don't get me wrong, raising children is really hard, especially if you are determined to raise them in the fear and counsel of God. But if you can catch a vision for the great joy, extraordinary blessing and eternal impact that a full quiver can bring to your life and the kingdom of God, all the heavy toil you invest in your children's lives will seem like a pittance in comparison to the great and eternal reward that they will become to you.