MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Children: A Blessing and a Responsibility

October 29th, 2007 Visited 3821 times, 2 so far today

Young Teenage Mother Woes

“How dare you have so many kids!” That’s not a phrase uttered to the Duggards or someone with over twelve children, but to someone that had three children in the country of the Ukraine.

This past Sunday, Virtuous Blonde and I were privileged to host a missionary to that land in Eurasia and he was telling us that not only is the birthrate abysmal (they are below the replacement rate), but that people are actively hostile to those that have multiple children. I was amazed, because I know that people here in the states are judgmental, but not hostile.

The era of easy birth control has given us over to the concept that children are controllable, and thus anyone that has more than a few should have their head examined. They have grown to see children as something that keeps them from doing what they want to be doing– as hindrances and weights that they don’t need in the prime of their lives.

What they are missing is that children are blessings. They are your greatest contribution to society. I believe that it was Vox Day that said something about the statistics say that very few of us will actually do something “great” in our lifetime, but we have the chance to influence someone doing something great through our children. As an example, just think of the Wesley’s mom– though her children she helped touch off a revival. Something that which might not have happened had she decided that having children would hold her back.

And then, think about the Duggards. What really staggers my imagination is the math. If each of her 17 children had 10 children, the next generation would have 170 kids. If they turned around and had 10 kids each, they would be 1,700. Keep following the math and you see quickly that the impact she and her husband could have on their area or the world could be astounding.

But that brings me to the second point, with great power comes great responsibility (to borrow a phrase). Children are a gift from God, but all gifts from God come with responsibility. We aren’t given the ability to speak in front of people or to have musical gifts for us to just sit on them. We are to develop them, to use them for His purpose (whether that means singing in the shower or before church!). Same thing with our kids– we should be training them in the Lord so that they will be serving Him to their fullest.

This is quite the task– especially while they are young.

The other part of this responsibility, I think, is knowing what’s manageable for your family. I know that God will provide strength and will pay for anything that He orders. I also know that He wants us to be good stewards of what He gives. And herein lies my own personal dilemma.

I understand why evangelicals are throwing out birth control. And I admire them for that. But if they are not using medical or other birth control but are still using the rhythm or other methods, are they not trying to do the same thing. (I’m not talking here about the pill or Depo shot– both of which can actually kill a conceived being, but those methods which totally prevent any implantation.)

I know that God will not give us anything more than what we can bear, and that we also have more understanding as so far as how, physically, the miracle of birth comes about. I just don’t know if I have the faith yet to say “whatever, whenever…” and what about our mental and physical health.

What are your thoughts? Is it weak in faith to not want to have kids every 9 months?

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  • Buffy says on: October 29, 2007 at 8:53 am

     

    Three children seems quite restrained to me! They do seem to have problems in the Ukraine and Russia generally with their plummeting population rate. I wonder if a lack of desire to procreate is a sign of general unhappiness within society?

    As to how many children you should have I think each couple is different and must come to their own decision about this. I would say it is irresponsible to have another child if you can’t afford to feed it or clothe it. On the other hand I think the perceived cost of children is way more that it needs to be and this is one of the reasons why women have abortions.

  • MInTheGap says on: October 29, 2007 at 10:00 am

     

    The missionary said that they say things like “how can you bring another person into this– they don’t have anything to look forward to” and talks about the Earth not being able support too many more people. They also have orphanages where people leave children if they think that they cannot provide for them– something that is weird to me since in the States there are long waiting lists for people who want to be adopted.

    What also surprised me is how much community he said that there was over there. People actually would scold you if you don’t wear a hat when it’s cold or are doing something raising their children when they think that you should do something differently. Much less violent crime than the states.

    I understand what you say, Buffy, about each couple deciding how many to have, and yet I wonder if this is intruding on God’s provision and looking at children as a burden rather than a blessing. When we start calculating how much things will cost, how much we can afford, we start taking into our own hands what is better for us to leave in God’s. I’m much more comfortable talking about spacing than I am about quantity.

  • Mrs. Brigham says on: October 29, 2007 at 10:08 am

     

    I personally do not see a couple who uses non-abortive birth control as having “weak faith,” much as I do not see a couple who plans for their retirement by having savings plans, investments, and the like as having “weak faith.” If we argue that God will provide for all of our needs in the case of more children, doesn’t this argument also hold true for our basic needs during our old age or sickness? Of course He will, and does, in both of these situations, yet the same exact standard of allowing God’s sovereignty to control both does not reign in both.

    If a couple is led to welcome as many babies as God gives them, that is wonderful, but it seems in such discussions the pain and heartache that many couples g through is forgotten, as is God himself. Trusting one’s fertility to God should not be exclusively about having a large family or lots of babies, but knowing whatever His plans for you are right & correct for you, and a story you ought to be content with, no matter how much of a struggle that may be. Some wonderful people will never be blessed with children of their own, others will go through the pain of miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature births- sometimes repeatedly. This topic means FAR more than merely having babies every nine months.

  • MamaArcher says on: October 29, 2007 at 12:14 pm

     

    This verse is on my daily scripture (code) today and it is fitting. It has come to have new meaning to me as my husband and I have turned our fertility over to the Lord completely. The verse is:
    Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godβ€”this is your spiritual act of worship.”- Romans 12:1

    Ok..that was a side note…

    One thing I would like to touch on is the statement of having children every nine months. I know many families who do not practice any form of birth control leaving it all in the hands of our Sovereign Lord and they only have one or two. Physically speaking one would say it is possible to have a child that often but the fact is most do not. A child being born is more than just a biological function, God must bring the life about.

    I do agree with Mrs. Brigham’s statement…”This topic means FAR more than merely having babies every nine months.”

    For our family, yes we wanted more children (we have been down the path of vasectomy & reversal), but even more than that we wanted to be right with the Lord, whether we had any more or not was really not the issue at all. It had to do with placing in God’s hands what we never should have tried to take out of His hands. ( i guess I will have to blog on this some more & share our story.)

    Thank you for linking to me on this by the way MIn.

  • MamaArcher says on: October 29, 2007 at 12:20 pm

     

    oh..one more point.. you asked about natural family planning..this scripture is one reason we do not hold to that as acceptable….
    1 Corinthians 7:1-5…the key verse being verse 5. Abstaining because we “might get pregnant” is not the same as for devoting oneself to prayer.

    just my 2 cents.

  • Jenna says on: October 29, 2007 at 4:01 pm

     

    Since we are supposed to pray without ceasing, why not simply pray and ask the Lord for an answer? The Holy Spirit seems to be perfectly capable of convicting the heart on any number of issues, so I don’t see where childbearing is any different. πŸ™‚

    If, for some reason, a couple prays about concieving another child and then strongly feels convicted that it is not the right time- far be it from me to say that they have misunderstood the Lord. Likewise, people should be viewed with peace and love if they have a large family. πŸ™‚ We are not all called to live just as one another. Families are just as unique as the individuals that they are made of.

  • Leticia says on: October 29, 2007 at 4:37 pm

     

    I think it is wonderful to have large families, I was physically not able to have more than two, when I desperately wanted at least three.

    Children are one of the greatest miracles and blessings from God.

    Quite frankly, I don’t think it is anyone’s business to dictate to a couple on how many children they should have.

  • Mary says on: October 29, 2007 at 5:04 pm

     

    Great post! I’m prejudiced on the side of the large families even though dh and I aren’t practicing a “full quiver” lifestyle. Until recently I’ve felt good about leaving it in dh’s hands, decision wise. But I’m kind of coming to feel that’s a cop out on my part. If I feel convicted about having more children, I need to make it a matter of prayer. If it’s God’s will, He’ll convict hubby and provide in all the areas that my dh worries about.

    But if we ever announce another pregnancy, we’ll really hear it from the in-laws. πŸ™

    Very interesting discussion going on here, btw.

  • Jess @ Making Home says on: October 30, 2007 at 1:22 am

     

    I always have to go back to the idea that not until this last century would this question even be asked. Poor people, rich people, smart people, average people… they all, regardless of their adeptness at parenting or ability to adequately “nurture” every aspect of the blessings they were given (in the amount of children in their home), still had however many children God brought.

    Sure, there WAS birth control, but it was sold on the black market and completely unacceptable for Christians to use, until this last century or so.

    I have to say I find it difficult to comprehend that this generation of Americans which is without question the RICHEST and most adequately cared for and fully resourced nation/generation/people EVER to live on the face of the earth would ever use an argument that they are “unable” to provide for the number of children they have.

    If Chinese families with one child can survive for a dollar a day, then certainly we *COULD* provide for however many children God brings along, even on a salary of “poverty” level in America. WE might have to reduce our own personal standards of living and be creative, but it is ABSOLUTELY doable.

    Now, there may be reasons to not have more children. I fully admit that. But, ifwe look at the situation truthfully and with ALL of our options in front of us (moving to a different area to live in, cooking differently, using hand-me-downs instead of mall-bought clothes, etc.), in our culture, finances really ISN’T one of them. I find it hard not to be saddened that it is always one of the FIRST reasons listed as to why people don’t have more children.

    I have so much more to write, but I need to go make breakfast for the three blessings God has given me. πŸ™‚
    ~Jess

  • Jess @ Making Home says on: October 30, 2007 at 1:23 am

     

    Oh, Min- just wanted to mention that it’s the Duggar family, not the Duggards. πŸ™‚

    -Jess

  • Jess @ Making Home says on: October 30, 2007 at 1:57 am

     

    OK, I’m back. Biscuits are in the oven. πŸ™‚

    I wanted to say that I absolutely DO think there *could* be allowable reasons to put off, or avoid, or stop having children, for a time, or for good.

    But among Christians, there is FAR too quick of a notion to take everything into our own hands (citing medical advances, the things we now “know” that they didn’t know, the need to “provide”, citing our own inadequacies, etc.). I have many friends that have stopped having kids for reasons of essentially, poor parenting.

    Is there any other area where we would stop being blessed just because we aren’t adequate for the task? In MOST cases, I would argue, we would educate ourselves more in order to receive more blessings.

    Of course there are medical situations (post-partum depression, perhaps, or a sick husband, or a child with a disability, or some other reason) that might allow us to responsibly choose to limit God’s blessings. And there are other reasons as well (each couple has their own things to evaluate, so I won’t try to be all-encompassing with examples here). And of course we will all answer, ultimately, for our own course of action.

    But at the same time, we are not so unconnected as we sometimes think. We ARE to spur one another on towards love and good deeds, which might include encouraging and exhorting the people around us to be more prayerful and cautious about taking this area into their own hands.

    We ARE to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron, which may mean that we need to educate one another on the biblical view of children.

    We ARE to love and encourage each other as long as it is called “today”, which might mean easing someone’s burden by watching older children during the first week or so while they have a newborn.

    If we acted more like the BODY of Christ, there might just be more bodies in the body of Christ.

    ~Jess

  • Buffy says on: October 30, 2007 at 10:16 am

     

    I also think that it is rash to make decisions about our whole fertile life such as ‘I will never use birth control whatever the situation’ or, ‘I’ve had enough children now, I’m not having any more’.

    You can only really make decisions like that in the present moment. So you can say: ‘Right now we are not practising any form of family planning we are content with whatever happens’ or ‘I’m not ready to have another child right now but I’m open to the possibility of having more in the future’.

  • MamaArcher says on: October 30, 2007 at 12:48 pm

     

    Buffy,
    I would like to respectfully disagree. I have found that it is better to search the Word and pray for the correct course of action and then to abide by those principles. Making decisions based on current circumstances amidst emotion is not always the best way to go.

  • bonnie says on: October 31, 2007 at 10:40 am

     

    Oh boy. Here we go. I honestly didn’t read any of the comments. People get so legalistic about these kinds of topics, it drives me batty. Father God just brought my husband and I out of the “Vision Forum” type of legalism that says, “if you don’t follow our convictions you are in sin.” That is legalism, friends, and following the path of the Pharisees.

    But about birth control (and natural ways to avoid pregnancy is the same thing)…God gives us responsibility. We have minds, right? Lets use them! We are responsible for buying a house, paying the bills, buying and cooking food, buying, sewing and mending clothes, washing our children, loving them, driving them around, the list could go on forever. Why all of the sudden does the Bible clearly say we have no responsibility in baby-making?

    It is wrong to put pressure on people to “have faith” in this area. No child is born without God’s help, but God gives us the grace to know when our “quivers are full.” Even if you believe birth control is wrong wrong wrong, that is your conviction. It is not spelled out in the Bible, so stop pressuring people to do things that God has not prepared them for.

    jumping off my soapbox, now.

  • Mary says on: October 31, 2007 at 11:11 pm

     

    Just had to quickly comment and commend Jess and Mama Archer for sharing their hearts on this! Wow. I loved your comments, Jess, on how “finances” can never be a good excuse for birth control.

    Zinger!

  • bonnie says on: November 1, 2007 at 11:18 am

     

    Jess, historically women have known what it means when their cycle is off. And historically women have known how to deal with it. Just as in this country (long ago) no one really knew quite when a baby is “a baby” while in the womb- historically they didn’t either. If a woman missed her period, and desired to take some herbs, she could have. I seriously doubt it was a “black market” thing, considering a common knowledge of herbs. I imagine the stigma was not there as it is (and rightly so) today.

    Each and every child we have is a blessing, but that doesn’t equate to have as many as you can. People make this a black and white thing when it is not, and obviously that really bothers me.

  • Jess @ Making Home says on: November 1, 2007 at 12:21 pm

     

    Actually, regardless of what society as a whole has done, Catholics and Protestants alike have a LONG history of neither avoiding children nor aborting them. It was not until this last century that either group (Protestants) changed their doctrine on this issue. Here’s an article about it:

    It’s called: “Children of the Reformation: A Short & Surprising History of Protestantism & Contraception”

    http://touchstonemag.com/archi.....0-04-020-f

    Christians have a history of interpreting the Bible as saying that children are to be received freely from the hand of God, until, conveniently, it became seen as overwhelmingly “inconvenient” to have children (this last century).

    And Bonnie, I think you either misread or have misunderstood my words. I have not, nor will I, make this into a “black and white” issue. I have admitted that there may be legitimate reasons why a couple might choose to limit God’s blessings in this area of their lives. I’ll not repeat what I wrote above.

    But I will say this: FAR too many Christians nowadays pray about miniscule things (from wanting a good deal on the new car they “need”, to praying for a good drive into work this morning, to asking the Sunday school class to pray about little Susie’s report card this semester), but do not even THINK to pray to God about this major issue.

    Sadly, the church MOST often sees children the same way the world does– as a burden, an inconvenience, a drain on the wallet, a frustrating distraction from real life, or an impossible annoyance. And obviously (to quote you), that really bothers me.

    I will continue to encourage any women within my sphere of influence to prayerfully and carefully consider this issue in light of God’s Word and God’s high view of children. I’m not one who makes it a black and white issue, but I will seek to bring it up as an issue for consideration by everyone I can influence.

    Respectfully,
    Jess

  • bonnie says on: November 1, 2007 at 12:51 pm

     

    That’s a good article. I was actually thinking about history *way* before the Protestant/Catholic Reformation, but it’s still a good article.

    I completely agree with your point on how the church (and the world) see children. I have four and they treat me like I’m insane.

    I have a problem with the legalism that is attached to this “major issue.” It is a major issue, and when women are encouraged (or convinced) that it is God’s way to completely ignore our bodies’ cycle and procreate as often as we can to bear as many children as we can, it can cause some serious harm.

    And that’s not even getting into the people who believe this so black and whitely that they look down on those of us who think (and believe, and are lead) differently.

    It’s about conviction. And if I have learned anything through the refining I’ve been through in the last year, it is that conviction for one does not equal sin for another. You, Jess, might be a little more gracious than the “quiver-full” people that I’ve been around, but as a majority, it’s their way or the high-way.

  • MInTheGap says on: November 5, 2007 at 2:20 pm

     

    And that there was my question– where is it sin and where is it conviction. Because I can certainly understand the logic of those that are Quiver-Full– and I support their decision, I’m just not sure how it applies on a grand scale.

    On the one hand, if all Christian families popped out 10 or 12 babies then we would be able to take back this land pretty easily. I think back to the story of Moses– and the Pharaoh wanted to kill the babies for that precise purpose: There were too many of them, and they’d soon take over.

    Along the lines of that logic, it would make a lot of sense for good Christians to have many children. But could I get a conviction some other way?

  • bonnie says on: November 5, 2007 at 2:55 pm

     

    With conviction, it seems like an either/or. God doesn’t usually convict people to do *opposites*. Either you use birth control or you don’t. Either you homeschool or you don’t. I can’t imagine God convicting my family to eat healthy, and then telling another family to eat junk. (But I wouldn’t have imagined that He’d ask Hosea to marry an adulterer either.)

    I realize that God has given grace to some women to raise up hands full of children, but to say that every woman (or family) is called to this is to add ideas to scripture, as far as my understanding goes.

    And is taking back the land really God’s priority for us? This is a very Evangelical way of thinking these days, but is it Biblical?

  • MInTheGap says on: November 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm

     

    I’m not sure that conviction is always the same for each person. If you check out Romans 14 you’ll see that God allowed religious liberty in Christ– such that a component of our pleasing God was the reasoning behind an action. In the Romans context, a person could please God by eating meat, or by not eating meat. He could please God by respecting a day and by not respecting a day.

    God can call people to give up certain things that are fine and acceptable to accomplish His goal at a given time. Those that are called to the jungles as missionaries sometimes give up creature comforts. Others have been called to temporarily give up their children or their desires only to have God meet them later.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a “call in two different directions” as much as it is a baseline with someone called to greater heights.

    Is taking a land for God a priority? No– God’s chosen land isn’t the U.S.. However, God does have a priority on reaching the world with the Gospel so one could take it to say that our children could be the best witness that we have and the more we have the greater the opportunity we have to influence the next generation for Christ… It’s an interesting thought.

  • bonnie says on: November 5, 2007 at 4:59 pm

     

    I agree completely. Convictions will be different for different people, and many people are not convicted to give up birth control.

    I also believe that we can be convicted by man, and it can be tricky to discern the difference sometimes.

  • MInTheGap says on: November 5, 2007 at 5:10 pm

     

    It all depends on the birth control. I don’t have a problem with barrier but I do with the pill in that I believe that the pill kills a fertilized egg– but that, to me, is a different discussion.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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