Child free by choice?

Happy couple © Jstudio | Dreamstime.comI ran across Childfree And Happy over on BlackandMarriedWithKids.com last month. There are a growing number of couples choosing not to have children, including some who follow Jesus.

I admit my first thought is “what’s wrong with you?” Followed by wondering if it’s selfishness or if they will change their minds once they “grow up a bit”. However, I’ve learned my first reactions are often based on tradition and habit, rather than on what God says. So I thought a bit deeper.

It could be argued we have taken care of the command to “fill the earth”. It could be argued the money a couple would put into children could be used to help many people – to do biblical things like feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and helping the elderly.

Until fairly recently choosing to be married and not have children was not an option – not if one was going to follow God’s commands to have regular sex. This is a new option, one we’ve never had to think about. I wonder if some of the reaction to this is rooted in the feeling having babies is the only thing that “justifies” a couple having sex.

I’m sure some will argue, but I cannot find a biblical basis for saying it is wrong, it is sin, to choose to be childless. That said, when something is a major departure from the norm, I think it is important to know why we are doing it, and to know our reasons are sound. If a couple just does not “feel like” having kids I would suggest they pray about it. On the other hand, if the couple feels God does not want them to have children, who am I to say they had not heard God? I think being childless because God said to be childless would be very different from being childless so you were free to party!

In the Bible Paul says God gave some the ability to be celibate – to remain single and not sin sexually. He said these people could serve God in ways married folks could not. I’ve always thought that meant those people can serve God better as singles than if they were married, while the rest can serve God better as a couple than as two singles. It’s about living based on how God made you. So, now that it’s an option, is it possible that God might give some couples the ability to be childless, to not feel they have missed something by not having children? If so, then maybe those couples can serve God better without children than with them.

I realise this is a radical thought. Anyone care to wade in?

See also the follow up to this post: Childless by choice – round two

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83 Comments on “Child free by choice?

  1. I have always thought of the personal freedom issue. Having a child is a huge responsibility, and one of the parents (most often the mom) is going to sacrifice his/her professional career. Now suppose two high-professional “must work or I’ll die” people get married. I would say that in that case, it’s much more Biblical NOT to have kids, rather than going with the modern norm. So many Christians today have kids and pay other people to raise them, and after 15 years they realize that there’s a teenage stranger in your house. Choosing to have a career and no kids is a far better and more biblical solution.

    • Tuvia, the word “biblical” means “based on what the bible says”. Please share the verses you are using to claim that “Choosing to have a career and no kids is a far better and more biblical solution”.

  2. Paul,
    As you noted, it is a matter of the “Why” of my decisions just about as often as the “What”. I can do very ‘good’ things for all the wrong reasons and thus, they will count for nothing with God. Each couple needs to seek Him and His will for them very intentionally.

  3. I have a lot of sympathy with this view – I would hate to prescribe what other believers can do, over and above their own consciences (and their personal walks with God). Being child free by choice does not seem a “natural” or “normal” thing to me – but then so does limiting the number of children you have to 2 or 3 to a Quiverfull adherant.

    Sometimes the Bible just doesn’t spell it all out – and that’s OK. That’s what we have the Holy Spirit for!

  4. Throughout the Bible barrenness is seen as a curse. An unfruitful marriage is not something to be sought. If God wants to withhold children that is his doing, he opens and closes the womb. I have friends who are childless but not by choice. It opened ministry opportunities in the far east that they otherwise would not have pursued, but it was God’s doing not theirs. We would not consider the choice to not bear spiritual fruit as valid, and the fruit of marriage is children, normally, a blessing from God. We need more blessings, especially when the world continues to abort the next generations.

  5. this is the first time i have been a little scared reading your site and comments. This concept seems “radical” like women voting or freeing slaves. to imply it could be sin seems unedudated and rash, unless you are the type that likes to base far reaching theology on isolated verses from the old testiment. have a great day.

    • One trouble with online discussions is that we don’t know each other or our contexts. But I must take exception to this comment. The creation mandate to be fruitful (Gen 1-2), the promise of the seed of the woman (Gen 3), the blessings of children mentioned in Psalms 127, 128, etc etc are not isolated verses from the Old Testament. This is how one does systematic theology. We trace what the Bible says from start to finish. And the overwhelming gist of scripture is that we are to have children. And we have them for God (see Malachi) not for ourselves.

      • The overwhelming gist of the cultural interpretation of scripture is that we are to have children — but that is not a mandate given specifically to us. The only people commanded were Adam & Eve and to a lesser extent, Noah’s family.

        Go ahead and read the Bible from start to finish, but make sure you know the context.

        • Joel, by this logic the Great Commission was only intended for Jesus’ 12 disciples. It is a mandate given to Adam & Eve as the representative heads of the human race, and Noah received it at the rebirth of the world as the new head.

          • You really shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Try using specific contexts when it is warranted and avoid the broad brush. You’ll get farther and understand a lot more.

            Other people have already commented that the commission to multiply was not given without restriction.

            • I was challenging your hermeneutic. I am very concerned for the context of verses/passages, but as one who subscribes to covenant theology, I also set the smaller contexts into their bigger contexts. The commission given to Adam & Eve and Noah (& “Joan”) assumes the growth of families by their children as well. I am very glad Noah’s sons/grandsons did not choose to be “childfree”.

              I am arguing that the mandates were in fact given to us through our first parents.

              BTW I hope I don’t come across as my avatar appears – he looks angry and ready to fight.

              • lol, the monster avatars are hilarious. Mine looks ready to hit me with a rolling pin. ;-)

          • Pete Smith – On the Great Commission, I think “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” makes it apply to all those who follow.

            • Paul, I agree. And would add that whatsoever he commanded includes the cultural mandate of Genesis 1-2.

        • In Gen 9:7, God commanded Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” I think it’s obvious that God didn’t expect only these four couples to “populate the earth abundantly”, but the command extended on to their descendants, which includes me and you.

  6. I was debating weather children were right for our marriage till I came across Malachi 2:15 in a bible study.

    New International Version (©1984)
    Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.

    Hard to have godly offspring without the offspring part.

  7. It is right to question everything and hold on to the good.

    My wife and I are 10 years married and heading towards 40. We do not have kids by choice. It’s not that we are selfish, it’s not that we have more growing up to do. We love kids and have always been open to having kids especially with an eye on possible adoption, not as a second choice but as an act of love.

    And here I would appreciate respectful and open minded discussion. We remain open and willing, but we do not feel God is calling us to have kids, we do not feel any desire to either. There are benefits:
    • Finances that can be directed to honor God.
    • More time and energy to serve the widow, the orphan and the alien. Something we are passionate about.
    • A chance to love and support those who are childless but not by choice. This has been an interesting and unexpected thing.
    • There are more but time is limited.

    Then, as you noted, not having children is no sin, but if we were to have children for the following reasons it definitely would be:
    • Because other people judge or think we should – Fear and please God not man.
    • As insurance to support us in old age – Bearing children solely to serve us, now that would be selfish.
    • Our marriage/sex needs justification – God is clear that the most significant relationship is spousal not parental, plus this would be a huge judgment on the “barren”. And let’s be clear, barrenness as a curse is a social construct not a sound theology, cf. slavery.

    Anyway, love and respect Paul for an open, honest, thoughtful and respectful wrestling to seek truth. It’s good to question.

    Finally, as you’ve said recently, let’s not add burden in addition to God’s commands, we can’t bear it and the world doesn’t need more of our stuff getting in the way of their seeing Him.

  8. I think Pete started this on the right foot. There are no specific verses that command people to have children, but the assumption throughout is that people will unless they are barren. Children are a blessing and childlessness is a curse. GOD created the woman’s body and he created it to naturally bear children.

    There are groups that teach that birth control is a sin(which requires serious contortions on very few bible verses). I don’ think we can say that clearly. I think hormonal birth control(pill, patch, etc) are clearly bad for a woman(loss of sex drive, increased chance of breast cancer, other issues) and PROBABLY CAN be abortifacient. Therefore I counsel everyone to avoid them. But I can’t prove that someone should never use any birth control.

    Having children is also an act of faith that GOD will provide for them. As a father of 10 I really understand this. It also gives us a real chance to witness to the world that doesn’t value children.

    I think the couple that says GOD told them to remain childless is going against all the weight of scripture and has VERY LIKELY missed GOD on this issue.

    • Roy Zesch – I’m all for faith, but the Bible also says we are foolish if we enter into something without counting the cost. When there was no choice, counting the cost did not apply, Now that there is a choice, does it apply?

      • Paul, seems to me that there have always been choices. Onan found a way to abuse his sister-in-law/wife for sex without producing a child for the dead brother. God killed him. The choice to have/not have children is not a modern convention.

        • Pete, that’s a faulty theology and bad reading. Onan’s direct actions were to not give his sister-inlaw children, but that action in and of itself wasn’t the matter of the heart which killed him. If that was the case, then many many more people should be struck dead and lots of more stories.

          The reason Onan was killed was because of his vileness of not taking care of her as a widow. This is what Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for (Ezekiel 16:49-50). As a widow without children, she would have no one to care for her in her old age. He was more concerned about his own bloodline so much so that he was willing to basically condemn his sister-inlaw to death to further his own economic, social, and cultural ambitions.

          • Joel, I was not clear. I agree with you. I was trying to respond to Paul’s contention that he seems to think that choosing not to have children is a modern convention. He said “when there was no choice….” so I was simply showing that Onan made a choice. It was possible from ancient times to choose not to have children. Sorry for the confusion, I hope is is clearer now.

            • Ah, ok. I’ve heard people actually use the Onan reference to condemn people for using contraception and planning methods.

        • Pete – Yes, withdrawal is a contraceptive method that has been available all along, but it is neither enjoyable nor fail-proof. I don’t see it as a real option for choosing to be married and sexual but never have children.

          If it was a real option, then why didn’t God tell Israel that it was an unacceptable option?

  9. I think what you are seeing is a natural response to what they saw growing up and continue to see even now. They saw their parents’ marriage and very often their divorce. They most certainly saw the divorces of their friends’ parents.
    Then they saw the divorce of so many of their friends who either married early or right after college.
    What rational person would jump into that meat grinder and then bring a child into it?

  10. I agree that the ‘why’ is often more important than the ‘what’.

    My bride and I both very simultaneously broached the subject of kids and adoption as the option heavy on our hearts within the first few months of our marriage. We’d never spoken of kids before, and it was very apparent it was ‘a God thing’ that we were both convicted in this way. We now have a wonderful daughter that could not be more loved. Period. And we’re quite comfortable that we’re in His will.

    I’ve occasionally read between the lines that a few acquaintances thought we should have had “our own” kids first. What an utter insult. This little girl is ours, and couldn’t be more so. We’re raising a family in love and that’s it. I can’t imagine that God isn’t glorified in this – his blessings in the process were so apparent and good.

  11. It’s clear from scripture that “Be fruitful and multiply…” is a blessing from God. He gave this blessing to Adam and Eve, as well and Noah and his family. Therefore it’s clearly not a command.

    However, I would ask–would God really call a married couple to a life without this blessing? God was blessing mankind here, would he purposefully choose to remove that blessing from some married couples? Is that consistent with His nature?

    Obviously, based on Pauls life, haveing children is not a necessity, as choosing to live singly can be a benefit to ministry, but a parallel stance in scripture was never supported for marriage.

    I don’t think the argument that a marrieds couples choice to not have children is sinful. But, I would ask why wouldn’t you reach out to receive that blessing from God? Do you feel you know better than God? Do you feel that it wouldn’t be a blessing for you?

    I think the argument “for ministries sake” is pretty week. If we have children, that we raise according to His principles, and they have children and so on, isn’t their collective ongoing ministry to the world likely to have a much more impact, than just two people? The act of having children is also a powerful ministry, and a blessing from God.

    • — “Do you feel you know better than God? Do you feel that it wouldn’t be a blessing for you?”

      You sound like Job’s friends.

      Do you know better for my life than the conversations God and I have had? Who made you priest between God and myself? Who gave you such authority to dare question what you have no authority to question?

      Let those who are capable of having children have them as God leads each couple.

    • Dave – As it was not possible to be married and choose to not have children, I would not expect to see God address the choice.

      When the Bible is silent, we can sometimes find a parallel that helps. The Bible is silent about mind altering drugs used for pleasure, but what it says about being drunk easily shows us that such drugs are wrong. What I am doing here is examining a similar parallel to see if it holds up.

  12. Unless these couples are celibate in order to serve God, they are contracepting. Withholding fertility without good reason is not conducive to the deep connection we’re meant to have in marriage and it is living a kind of lie. It is saying, “I give myself to you, but I’m putting up this barrier because I’m unwilling to give you offspring.” It is not total giving.

    It’s also a level of self-direction that incompatible with trusting God – it’s all about what they want; having an easier life, having sex but withholding a crucial part of sexuality, having more money and security, not having to make the compromises and sacrifices required of parents.

    It’s not that having kids ‘justifies’ sex; that would mean that sex for unitive purposes needs to be ‘justified’ and that’s not right either. That idea comes out of thinking that sex is ‘dirty’ or unspiritual, and that the body is sinful while the spirit is pure.

    I know this might sound harsh, but to try to justify a selfish lifestyle by pretending it’s God’s plan is a worse sin than simply saying “I’m too selfish to do this.” Again, if they were celibate because that’s how they can serve God better, fine, but I highly doubt this isn’t more often than not some rationalisation for selfishness. How on earth would they know it was God who said “be childless”, particularly if it goes along nicely with what they feel and want for themselves? If God wanted them to be childless, He would make them infertile. God gives us a hard road, while Satan whispers sweet lies in our ears.

    • Bravo….well said. Your points are true and a proper reflection of God and His character!

    • CL – No attempt to justify anything here (and certainly not myself, as I’m not in this boat).

      How would they know it’s God if it goes along with what they want? Beats me. But if it’s contrary to what they want, as with a couple I will discuss in my next post, then maybe that is a sign. I suppose it could also be argued that God gives us desires that match what He’s called us to, so maybe some couples called to this would find it matched up with the feelings that He gave them.

    • I take a few exceptions to this argument.

      My first is, it sounds like you are assuming that one partner is using contraception, regardless of the intentions of the other – ““I give myself to you, but I’m putting up this barrier because I’m unwilling to give you offspring.” It is not total giving. ” This may be the case in some circumstances, but I don’t think that this always applies. I think it is possible that two people could still be completely committed to each other, and reach a mutual agreement to use birth control.

      My other thought is that it sounds to me almost limiting of God’s abilities. God has “gone on record” of creating pregnancy with the ultimate contraceptive – abstinence. I don’t think it’s beyond his ability to make a condom tear or a hormonal fail (they aren’t 100% effective, after all). This then comes down more to a how a couple should handle a pregnancy when preventative measures were used. If they cry out about it as a accident, or even get an abortion, then you are right: they were probably choosing selfishly. On the other hand, could not some couples use birth control in the interest of timing, or putting their resources to other use, and then celebrate an “accident” as God’s will and a blessing?

      I recognize that, in our current cultural climate, these possibilities are rare, as many people ARE in fact selfish. However, I think that just because they aren’t common, doesn’t mean they aren’t possible.

      • The thing about NFP is that done well it is far more effective than condoms. I find that odd; if the goal is being open to life than condoms are a better choice.

  13. Are we as believers in Christ and the Word of God making a childless decision based on the world’s perception and influence or because after much prayer and much study of the Word we feel that this is the right decision? This is a dangerous slope that we must be careful not to fall down: population control based on cultural norms instead of God’s leading.

      • I understand “sacrifice in order to do what God calls” thus the reason I live in Asia instead of America. But I have children, in a foreign country, serving God. If someone has a different conviction, I get that. (I know of two couples here that have made this choice.) But if it is not for the sake of giving God glory…then what? Thus, my comment about population control and giving in to their emotional and or cultural pressure for freedom, flexibility, etc. Here in SE Asia, what is becoming the norm is two children and that is it. Why? Because this is what the government is pushing….thus some couples have none. (in the church as well) Bottom line: in every decision, direct command or not, we must put aside our feelings and desires and kneel before the Lord for His guidance and His wisdom.

  14. The problem with online “discussions” are that they aren’t real discussions. Not everyone is going to follow up and read these comments. There will be some immature Christians out there who will say “Paul thinks this might be OK (to choose childlessness) so it is probably OK”.
    Pete already made a lot of good points above, to which I would add the following:
    1. You say “It could be argued that we have taken care of the command to ‘fill the earth'”. Lots of things can and are being argued today that are wrong, e.g. molecules to man evolution, homosexuality just being an “alternate lifestyle”, and “except for the plumbing, women are no different than men”. There are certain places on the earth that are overpopulated, and some people are drawn to these places often because they lack the faith that God can provide for them wherever they are if they are willing “to work by the sweat of their brow”. So they choose the easy path of city dwelling in areas where they can live off of the excess production of others. But there is still plenty of empty, habitable land on this earth and it is far from “filled”. And God’s command was not “be fruitful until the earth is filled” but “be fruitful and fill the earth”.

    2. You open up an argument for “choosing to be childless”. I understand that you did not mean to support abortion as a method of “choosing childlessness”, but can you not hear with just the words you are using how close you are getting to legitimizing that argument? Once you accept the notion that it is “our choice”, not God’s, to reject what God consistently calls the “blessing” of children, you have started down the path of the argument that not-so-coincidentally uses the same language of those who support abortion – “freedom of choice.”
    3. You say ” now that it’s an option, is it possible that God might give some couples the ability to be childless…”. God has always had couples he has chosen to not give children to. I believe that is so those couples could do some of the things you have suggested, and also so that some could come to understand in a more deeply personal way the reality of being “adopted into God’s family” as they seek to fulfill their God-given desire to raise children by means of adoption.
    4. You say “if the couple felt that God did not want them to have children, who am I to say they had not heard God?”. This is the worst argument of all that you made. God’s Word is clear and consistent throughout when it come to marriage and children, and it never supports the idea that it should be man’s choice. No one is going to “hear from God” something that contradicts what is found in His Word, which “is truth” by definition. You, more than the average person, know how often people try to say they “heard from God” or “God told them” that they should get a divorce, which is obviously a lie! An important part of being a Christian is defending the Word of God, so you should start defending it and tell people who say “they heard from God” that they should do something that is contradicted in His Word that they are wrong.

    • Ross – An argument for abortion? So then it is also an argument for killing children already born, right? That someone can take a truth and twist it into a lie does not make the truth any less true!

      • Hi Paul,

        I heartily agree with your last sentence. Not sure what you meant by the second sentence.

        • Ross – if saying it’s okay to not have children justifies abortion, by the same logic is justifies killing a baby already born. Both are twisting the original way past reason.

          • OK, but I didn’t say that “saying it’s okay to not have children justifies abortion”. My main point is that when we start saying it’s a matter of our choice about having children or not, the foundation of our logic is built on the very same shifting sand that those who “exercise their right to choose” (get an abortion) use. Whether we choose to put ourselves on God’s throne and say “I will determine when and if I have children by using contraception” or we choose to put ourselves on God’s throne and say “I will determine when and if I have children by choosing to abort”, the point is that we are still putting ourselves on God’s throne.

  15. I took the ultimate step in not having any more children, I got a vasectomy.

    Now I have one child, so perhaps it was easier for me. I took a look at the culture, how easy it was for an unfaithful ex-wife to end up the primary custodian of my daughter for no reason other than she was a stay at home mom and decided the cultural climate was not right for having children.

    If the church and the state are going to stand by and allow divorce upon demand and not examine factors such as adultery and the breaking of vows when someone wants to unilaterally break up a marriage, there is no way I was going to put another child or my self into that position again.

    I see no solid evidence that either the church or society is really serious about supporting the traditional family and keeping it in tact.

    As we saw in the past week or two, it’s assumed that if there is a problem with the marriage, that it’s the man’s fault.

    If a woman leaves, she must have a good reason, which is code for her husband must be the problem.

    Until the church does it part, I don’t see how any believer can trust that the church will be there for them and their family.

    Clearly, given how many marriages in the church end, can we really say the church is doing it’s part? Why would you risk bringing a child into that environment?

    No more children for me. I’ve been burnt already by an unfaithful ex-wife who claimed to be a born-again believer, and a church that claimed to be pro-family.

    Bring children into this environment at great risk? I don’t think so.

    Some may say I’m a coward. I say I gave this alleged “God’s Plan” a try, and didn’t find the necessary support to succeed.

    I will not be bringing anymore children into this world.

  16. I may not have answers to this but I must say I really was jolted by it. This train of thought is what breaks our traditional way of thinking that may or may not be in line with Godly living. Keep it coming ill be reading

    • T0ny M – Thanks for seeing that. I am all about getting people to think about what they believe. They either walk away more sure, or they find lies and that leads to finding truth. It’s all good!

  17. Benedict concludes by going “back over an essential point”: “The experience of love contains the quest for God. True love promises the Infinite.” Of its very nature, marital love is ordained through its dynamism to something beyond yet also to something within. The notion that it is “made in Heaven” is not mere talk. A marriage that seeks to avoid children contradicts itself. It can only end in isolation and death. This was really the teaching of the famous opera Tristan und Isolda. And it is the experience of all imitation marriage, all “marriage” that is not intended to be one, to be permanent.

    From this article:
    http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2011/10/freedom-to-bind-oneself-benedict-xvi-on-engagement-and-marital-love.html

  18. There may not be a specific command re: birth control, but the inference regarding bearing children beyond the Genesis “be fruitful and multiply” is pretty strong.

    What is marriage if not a picture of the Trinity? Man, Woman and God united in love, right? The Father, Son and Holy Spirit united in love bore fruit: all of creation and all of mankind. One commenter already mentioned that the OT is clear in teaching that a barren marriage is a curse, but the NT is different right? Yet, in the NT we have clear teaching that a real faith, real love bears fruit. Inexorably. James argues that you can tell real love, real faith by its fruit. If children are the fruit of love, the fruit of the union of God, Man and Woman (and children cannot be created without the man and woman both contributing material and God bringing the spark of life) then to deliberately choose not to bear fruit of marriage it would seem to be to be like a person who says he believes in God but chooses not to bear the fruit of repentance, not to bear the fruit of love for God or others. If a person were doing that, James would rightly declare their faith to be dead. A marriage founded and built in love, intimately connected to God and desiring to order itself after God’s created order – doesn’t that automatically mean that you desire children, if for no other reason that that is the way you were designed by the maker you love?

    To put it another way, a blender is designed to blend – would it not be an affront to its maker if a blender conciously chose not to blend for any reason?

  19. Some of these comments… So much judgment and so little grace!

    We are commanded “judge not or you yourself will be judged”.

    • So should this conversation not be happening? Andy, how would you argue against childlessness with “grace”? Or is the only “graceful” thing to do is be silent and let people hold opinions that may or may not be in line with Scripture?

      • “Andy, how would you argue against childlessness with “grace”?”

        And what makes you think that you are allowed, by Christ, to argue without grace?

    • We’re also supposed to call out sin. It doesn’t have to be ‘judgemental’, that’s the difference. We judge all the time; if we didn’t we’d be fools. If you see a knife-wielding maniac, are you going to judge him thus, or try to give him a hug?

    • Also, what’s more helpful, placating or holding people accountable?

      It may not be ‘nice’, but we are not called to be ‘nice’, Jesus certainly wasn’t ‘nice’, and there is no chance at redemption if all we do is placate each other in order to avoid a confrontation and project holiness. Nice is not holy.

      • CL – Can I presume then that you consider any use of contraception, including the rhythm method, to be sinful?

        • I am Catholic, and the Catholic Church approves the use of NFP for avoiding conception with good reason. By using a natural method such as this, for reasons beyond “I don’t wanna” (reasonable child spacing, age of parents, medical issues, dire financial circumstances, etc.), the couple is not withholding fertility.

          I am simply stating what I know as the ideal and that being married and deliberately remaining childless in the name of God seems pretty disingenuous.

    • Thank you Joel.

      > “So should this conversation not be happening?”

      I said no such thing, in fact I believe this is so worth talking about that I put my own personal details above.

      However,
      a) This conversation should happen with humility, a willingness to see our own faults, and that we may all be wrong, THAT my friend is the grace.
      b) The bible does NOT say every Christian gets to judge and hold me accountable. This is a right and responsibility for my local church and fellowship, definitely not someone I do not know. Though by all means, judge for yourself your own position on this theology.

      Finally, I propose that you argue against childlessness by providing a robust theological, (not personal or anecdotal), response underpinned with actual scripture delivered in context.

      Please, please, please, for the love of God assume that the other people in this conversation have spiritual integrity, until there is evidence otherwise.

      • a willingness to see our own faults, and that we may all be wrong

        How do you know people aren’t doing this? Do we have to put a caveat on every comment to say “I’m not perfect but here’s what I think”? Do we all have to please you in our arguments?

        It’s not about ‘getting to’ hold anyone else accountable, it’s about having a conversation. If you don’t like what someone says, just ignore it or counter with your own argument, but don’t get whiny and defensive (it makes you look weak).

        As for your comment above about having “more growing up to do”, you can do that growing with children. In fact, having children provides much opportunity for growth that you can’t get any other way.

        • It seems many of you are reading things into my comments that aren’t there. I commented in good faith but it seems my perspective is not welcome here and I am wasting my time. I’m more befuddled at all the accusations of things that aren’t true than anything, but it would seem a reasonable response to defend myself against these.

          There’s a difference between being defensive and simply defending one’s self against attack and implication. Doing this is tiresome and unproductive, however, so it would probably be best to let this exchange speak for itself and people will either see it or they won’t.

        • I removed a comment that started down a useless trial of insults and attacks. All comments to that were removed when the post was trashed. If anything vital was lost in that, repost.

  20. What a topic, Paul!

    It’s a topic that is hard to be objective about, obviously.

    Ages ago, individuals hardly had a choice in career. Things have changed, and now almost everyone (at least in the western world) has a choice. Nowadays, we view it as important to make that choice carefully and under God’s guidance.

    In a similar way, we now have much more open choices about children. We can choose to stop after any number, even if that number is zero. Something to note about this choice to stop: unless you also stop having sex, it is always possible to have children despite preventative measures. They may be 99.99% successful, but when was the last time you saw God checking the odds?

    A side note: a lot of the time, a comment that says “you can choose to not have kids, but you should do it by choosing to not have sex” rings of simple jealousy. Either the choice to not have kids is wrong, or not. The method of choice is not the issue here. (barring all talks of abortion – I’m not going there!) In fact, you could make an argument that avoiding children by lack of sex is far worse than avoiding children by contraception.

    My wife and I have been married for almost 5 years. We’re 29. We’ve been choosing contraception thus far. We have a healthy sex life. Sometimes God tells you what to do, sometimes God lets you choose and then confirms or rejects your choice. In this area, He has not told us what to do. We believe that it is not yet time to have children, unsure of whether it will ever be. My wife thinks we will at some point, I don’t think so. The important thing about it is that we’re open to God’s will, and not stubbornly choosing our way. We hold our choice with open hands, trusting that God will tell us what we need to hear, and that He can always cause us to become pregnant despite birth control or cause us to remain fruitless despite stopping birth control.

    Here’s the thing. Our *preference* is to not have children, at least right now. In an area of relative indifference (as viewed by God in our particular case only!), I believe that if we stopped using contraception, God would let our choice to have kids proceed. So we continue to choose contraception, and follow our own God-given judgement ability, trusting that God will lead us to choose whatever He will in the future. Or over-ride our choice if necessary – I am particularly stubborn in this, as I am more of the view to never have children, and I want my preference to be over-ridden by God if that’s His will for me.

  21. I think if we really look at it, God’s will is what we truly want to follow. Yes I know that God commanded us to fill the earth. God is not suppose to be contradictory to himself. With that said, there may come a point in a couple’s lives in which God may say yes, now is the time for you to have children, and bless them with a child, or God blesses them financially to be able to adopt an orphan, or both. Abraham and Sara didn’t have a child until their 90’s. And I don’t think they went without sex. So there is no way to know by a physical observation of a couple whether they are following God’s command. I have friends that can’t physically have children. They have talked about adoption. One day, God will give them the okay. I also have friend who are waiting on their married children to have children. The first one is on its way. They found out on Easter Sunday.

  22. I have been married for 7 years so far with no children and no plans to have any (by choice, but not by desire). God has asked me to wait.. and what He has asked me to wait for may not come in this lifetime (or at least not during my fertile years).. so I may never have any children. It can be difficult since, as far as I know, I am physically able to bear children.. so I could easily go against God and become pregrant without His approval. But I choose to be childless.. not because it’s what I want.. but because it’s what God wants for me. I hope the time will come when the wait will finally be over. But until then, I will not give up or give in.

  23. There was a time when people didn’t really decide whether or not to have children. Assuming both partners were fertile and that they engaged in sexual relations, children would be part of marriage. As recently as 150 years ago, it wouldn’t be unusual for a married woman to have 12 or more pregnancies over the course of her lifetime. The infant and child mortality rate was higher then, so, sadly, it also was not unusual many children to die before reaching adulthood. Unlimited pregnancies and medical care that was not as advanced as it is today meant that many women died young, or that they reached middle age worn out and suffering from chronic ailments.

    Historically, we know that when women are able to have smaller families, most choose to do so. The ability to plan pregnancies allows women to lead safer, healthier lives. Limiting the number of children they have means that those they do have will have better access to both emotional and material resources.

    Because we now have the option of having or not having children, there is always some kind of decision to make. If you forego all contraception and produce as many babies as your body will allow, you have made a decision. If you conclude that one or two (or three or four) children is enough, you have made a different decision. And if you live a life without ever procreating, that is yet another decision. Human beings and their motives can be very complex. Any of these choices might be selfish or benevolent, depending on the reasons behind them. We can never truly know what is in someone else’s heart and mind. We are all better off if we do not attempt to judge others, but instead devote our energy to making our own best decisions in life and trusting that others will also have the generosity not to judge us.

    • We all make our own decisions, but the question is: Based on what I know about God’s desires from scripture, am I pleasing God with this decision?

  24. There has been lots of talk about Gods “Will” for my life, but I would comment that we must be sure that this “will” must be consistent with the Word of God, else it could not have come from God.

  25. I have fought with this issue for over 10 years now. We have a 14 year old, and though he is a very loving boy, well mannered and such, going through his first years was really traumatic for me, as my husband had undiagnosed bipolar depression. I am shell-shocked from that, and even though I know it would be better this time, it terrifies me to think of going though all that again. If anyone has read the magazine “Above Rubies”, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say this gets me down. However, we have raised a beautiful child, and we have adopted many animals (four) of whom we take care. We live on SSDI and a small pittance of $100 from managing our apartment building.
    I also have some concerns about miscarrying, as I have polycystic ovarian syndrome.
    So fear is a big motivator to not having more children.

  26. The church doesn’t need more teaching on *having* kids. The church needs more teaching on not being judgemental when people cannot or are not yet ready to have kids.

    Actually, scratch all that. Too many people are already saying too much. Treat people as equals and stop promoting the materialistic culture surrounding Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Time to be hands and feet to the families that are barely keeping it together. When I hear my landlord’s wife screaming at her 4y/o and 1y/o at 8:30 in the morning I know the day is not only off to a bad start but it’s going to get worse. When my landlord has to stomp out to the back patio because his son is “not behaving” or he’s complaining to his wife about the $500 spent on Christmas gifts — it’s time to stop having kids until you take care of some problems.

    There are a LOT of very damaged people who will only admit to a counselor that they wish they never had kids. Too many more are in denial or won’t admit it despite making every comment (sarcastically or jokingly) that makes it too obvious how much regret they have for having the kids they have.

    The church needs to put its own houses in order before expanding what it has. If church was less judgemental and more helpful, my family of 2 might be in a place to expand to 5 (which is what my wife and I want).

    • I cite my anecdote above. If the church is not going to be serious about protecting existing marriages, fighting against No Fault Divorce and letting moms just kick dad out because she’s bored, no longer FEELS in love, etc, then no one in the church has the right to chastise anyone for choosing not to have children given the demonstrated lack of effective care for existing marriages and families in the church.

      Once again, the modern church seems very effective at beating it’s own wounded, and heaping on more and more requirements.

      Not much different from the added pressures added by the Jewish leaders during the time of Christ.

    • PS, it’s not just because the person saying it is damaged when someone says they wished they never had kids. Sometimes it’s due to the external factors over which they and the child have no control.

      After all, who in their right mind would want to expose their child to their wife having and affair and divorcing him.

      There are times when I wish I never had a child so she would not endure the pain caused by the selfish decision of one to betray and destroy her marriage.

      It’s not just the damaged who think this. Many times it’s a very sane and sober thought.

  27. Tony, good points.

    “Once again, the modern church seems very effective at beating it’s own wounded, and heaping on more and more requirements.”

    We have unrepentant, arrogant, and defiant men like Mark Driscoll who run money machines powerful enough that the few people who could speak against him won’t do it because they are enjoying their power and money.

    “It’s not just the damaged who think this. Many times it’s a very sane and sober thought.”

    Very true. When I wrote what I wrote I was thinking of a lot of the 99 sheep that go to church with masks on and live like it’s 1984.

  28. There is an important distinction here to be made between what is cultural and what is biblical. I am not convinced that God’s Will is for every person to be married and bear children. There is plenty of scripture that speaks to the opposite, in fact. Also, I do not agree with the dichotomous choices some are alluding to here: (1) stay single or (2) marry and have children. This seems to suggest that the only reason to get married is to have children — which I DEFINITELY see no support in scripture. Animals procreate all the time without being married. Marriage is fundamentally about friendship. Children are a blessing from God, but so is the gift of singleness and to be “free from concern.”

    I think there is a lot of cultural pressure to have children and that comes from a dominant worldview that being a Christian person or family should look a certain way. In particular there is a troublesome point in this posting:

    “That said, when we do something that is a major departure from the norm, I think it’s important to know why we are doing it, and to know our reasons are sound.”

    If we are honest about Christian culture, the status quo is often without any logic or scriptural basis. We jump directly from Biblical truth and picture a “default” example. Then we ask everyone to conform to that. We should be married, have kids, live in safe neighborhoods, own our home, and go to church. How much of this is truly a biblical view?

    The truth is that EVERY decision must be examined — not just those that “deviate from the norm”. Just as families should think about whether they want to remain without children, I think that every parent ought to think about WHY they want children. Or WHY they want two or three or four or five children. People should have a ready defense for why they want to spend the money to live in expensive communities, why they must own their own home, and why they make “status quo” choices.

    It’s unfair to simply criticize a minority viewpoint when ALL viewpoints and lifestyles should be under scrutiny.

  29. *whistles*
    Anyway, also, there are OODLES of children that need to be fostered or adopted, whether in person or from afar. This definitely needs to be addressed.

  30. Apparently there are two Joel’s here, so I’m calling myself Joel2 since I already used the same name by accident as the first Joel… several times.

    Ultimately out of all of the comments on here my thought on choice is that there is a time to be born and a time to die — God gave us thinking minds with the ability to choose (and the wisdom to do so), and a mandate to mind our own boundaries. We call a person a fool when they buy something on credit that they cannot afford, so why do we not call a man a fool who spends his seed and has kids he cannot afford? Whether it is time, money, or energy — people have limitations and God has given us wisdom and free will to use our brains and be the managers of the creation that He has given us.

    Since most people have a hard enough time running their own lives, why do people get bent out of shape when someone chooses differently? I wonder why people who *do* have kids are so insecure when someone else chooses to wait before having kids, or even be threatened by couples that choose not to have children? And why is it that couples that cannot have children who yet have many spiritual children, are still treated as pariahs in the church? I’ve seen this with my former young adult leader.

    A wise woman manages her household well, which means she doesn’t overspend her money, time, or energy. Her husband trusts her, but he also is part of this decision making. He protects her from those that would encroach on her boundaries and pressure her into something that is beyond her limitations. This is where time spent before God praying about 1, 3, 5, and 10 year plans comes into effect. Given that governments and churches have done such a shoddy job of providing and protecting widows and orphans, it does not surprise me in the least that He might be leading more people to *not* have biological kids and instead to adopt.

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  32. Ross – Deutronomy 6:7, A bunch of other verses in the Pentateuch, all of Proverbs. Having kids comes with responsibility. People who cant handle that sacrifice and responsibility will have to choose etween no kids ir neglecting their kids. The biblical way would be no kids.

    • There is another option. Persons who cannot handle the responsibility and sacrifice of children perhaps should not marry. Will they be able to handle the sacrifice and responsibility of marriage?

      Or perhaps they can get help with rearing their children. I do not know you, so do not know what you believe, but “No children or neglected chidren” sounds like the presuppositions of the pro-abortion camp. Thus my first comment, better not to marry.

      • Pete – According to Paul if one can’t control their sexual desires, they are supposed to marry. Seems to that what you suggest could violate that.

        I would agree with Tuvia that we are called to count the cost and make a wise decision. Sometimes God calls us to move forward even though it looks wrong, but that is because He has the right to override our best determination of the situation. That does not change that He tells us to make that determination, and do what seems wise based on that – UNLESS He tells us otherwise.

  33. I haven’t had a chance to read through all the comments, but this is an on-going discussion with my community group. However, my pastor gave a sermon that mentioned this topic on Mother’s Day. It challenged me in so many ways. http://thechurchatantioch.org/online-sermons/

    The gist of it is this – There is no better way to go to war against the devil than to raise up God worshipers.

    Now however you might interpret the scriptures and this sermon, it’s undeniable that God calls women in particular to raise up God worshipers. Wether their your biological or adopted children or even just young children in the church, God calls us to be “parents” that point children towards their Heavenly Father.

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