2007-08-01 - Summer Questions
2007 #6 ~ Having Children
Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Today's Question: "Dear Tim. I am getting married this Summer. Both my future husband and I are believers and want to do God's will in our lives. One question or topic, however, remains unclear: what about kids? I am very torn about this personally - on the one hand I think (for several reasons) that I'd make an awful mother, on the other hand I would like to have several children - but I'm not sure my personal feelings should be the criteria by which to decide. He would be fine either with or without children (although he loves them very much), but we both would like to decide this matter beforehand. What we do not want is a surprise-baby, or to wait and see. Of course, God can make babies whether the parents want or plan it, or not. But is it sinful to decide not to have children? Is it egotistical, selfish, or simply honest? God said to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply."
I like your question, because I think a lot of people wonder about bringing children into a fallen world that seems to be getting worse and worse. However, this fallen world is, I think, even more of a reason to have children. We need Godly parents, who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and who are committed to seeing themselves and their families grow in the grace of Christ, raising children. We need this in our culture. It is a both a privilege and a tremendous responsibility to try raise children who love the Lord in our society. It will take all you have to do it, but the rewards are even greater - and have eternal ramifications.
I think your question really centers on this: I think you are asking: Is it sinful not to have children? Are we being selfish if we decide not to have children? Are we being disobedient to the Creation mandate, to be fruitful and multiply? Let us put aside the last one about the Creation mandate, because I think there is enough to go on with the simple question, is it sinful for us not to have children? I will answer this in two ways. First, no, it is not sinful to decide not to have children. Second, yes, it is sinful not to desire to have children. I suppose that helps very little, but let me elaborate, because your question has the answer hidden within it.
The basic question is why you would not desire to have children. There are good reasons not to have children. If you choose not to have children because you desire to serve Christ unhindered, or, if you want to be freed up to do ministry in areas that those who have a family often can't pursue, then I would say that such motives are godly, pleasing to the Lord, and I would encourage you to broaden your horizons even greater (than your current thoughts) as to how you might serve Christ in unique creative ways. Not having a family opens doors overseas that are closed for those with families. There are many things a couple can do that a family of four or six simply can never consider in the service of Christ. I would say that such a heart of dedication to the Lord is pleasing to Him, honors Him, and I would encourage you.
However, if you make the decision not to have children because rug rats are annoying, or, if you think you can have a bigger house, take better vacations, drive nicer cars, and the like, without the financial strain and burden that children bring, I would say that is selfish, sinful, and that the issue is deeper than one of having or not having children, but rather is an issue of a heart that has not fully committed itself to the Lord in all things. When we live for self, we can only maintain our lifestyle at the expense of kingdom living. The Christian is to have a mindset that sees all areas of his/her life subsumed under the Lordship of Christ. Christ as Lord is not a second stage of Christian commitment. If Christ is not our Lord, He is unlikely to be our Savior.
We present our bodies, which has in mind our whole being, as living sacrifices to the Lord (Romans 12:1, 2), and we do it joyfully because of the free offer of forgiveness of sin we have received in Christ's Atonement.
So my answer really comes back to you with a question. Have you sat down and considered your motives for maybe not having children? Are they motives that stem from self, or are they motives that are consistent and in keeping with your Christian profession as servants of the living God? Only you can know. Children are a blessing, and also a lot of work. In the end, the rewards usually outweigh the blood, sweat, tears, and prayers involved in raising children, but I don't think that everyone must seek to have children. My question to you is one of motives. Are you seeking the Lord first in this, as you should in all things? Are you seeking self-gratification, an easier life, and worldliness? Only you know. I wish you a happy marriage, and I hope that the decisions you make, in this, and every area of your lives together, are those that you can look back upon and smile.
Soli Deo Gloria,