Monday, November 5, 2012

What the Bible Says About Having Children

The following is a letter that I composed to a friend who strongly disagrees with me in regards to allowing the Lord to bless us with children. She, like many people today, argue that it is not responsible, that times have changed, and that it is too dangerous once we reach a certain age. Although addressed to a particular person, it really answers the question that many people still ask me on a regular basis. I don't blame these people for their questions, because it took me having 7 children before the Lord opened my eyes to see the truths found in His Word. I didn't want to see them, in fact, I was one of those people who vehemently opposed those who would allow the Lord to control the womb. Just wanted to share my thoughts here for those who may be struggling with the issue of birth control and instead allowing the Lord to control...

Dear friend,

Here is a follow up to our conversation recently in regards to what the Bible says about having children.

I have to strongly disagree with you that the “be fruitful and multiply” charge in Genesis was only for the people of that time.  I am not sure how you go about choosing which of God’s commands apply to the people of the Bible and which of God’s commands apply to all of God’s people to all generations… It is obvious that the ceremonial and many of the judicial laws of the Old Testament have been done away with through the coming of Christ Jesus. 

This is God’s first commandment in Scripture (incidentally, the “and have dominion” over the earth phrase immediately following this command, is embraced by all Christians…why do Christians obey the dominion mandate, but want to ignore (for the most part) the multiplying mandate?)  Having created man, God commanded them to fill the earth and subdue it.  After the flood, God repeated these words to Noah and his family twice (Genesis 9:1&7).  It was repeated to Israel (Jacob) again in Genesis 35:11.  We cannot find anywhere in Scripture where God rescinds this command.  “The “law of the first mention” is very important in understanding the Word of God.  When God says something the first time, He lays a foundation for that truth.  He will build upon it through the rest of His Word, but He will never deviate from the first principle.  How could we trust a God who changes His mind halfway through His written Word?  How could we trust a Bible that says one thing at the beginning and then changes the doctrine halfway through?  No, God’s words are changeless.  They are for a thousand generations.” (Campbell, Nancy, “Be Fruitful & Multiply,” page 22)  One of my favorite commentators, Matthew Henry, comments on the Genesis mandate- “Pronouncing blessing upon them in virtue of which their posterity should extend to the utmost corner of the earth and continue to the utmost period of time.  Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God.”  Matthew Henry understood that God’s Word applied to all the earth and for all time… God’s command to multiply is not just for a few select, or specially endowed or chosen people, it is a command given to all those who call on the name of the Lord.  I would encourage you to search Scripture, not follow the teaching of a pastor, as godly as he may be. 

God’s very purpose for marriage is for us to have sons and daughters.  Read Jeremiah 29:6- God desires for his children to be increased and not diminished.  Malachi 2:14-15 in reply to the question regarding what God wants from our marriages is “I want godly offspring.”  The children of Israel filled the land while in bondage in Egypt, so much so, that they threatened Pharoah and he wanted to diminish them by killing their offspring.  (The midwives were blessed by God and given their own children for obeying God, rather than man- I love that!)  Isaiah 27:5 says “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root and fill the face of the world with fruit.”  Isaiah 45:18 states “For thus says the Lord that created the heavens, God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited; I am the Lord and there is none else.”  God’s purpose for all of His people is that they inhabit the earth.  Sadly, Christians today are having as many (rather as few) children as the ungodly.  Instead, the Muslims are having many children and soon will be taking over the world, as they are already doing in Europe.  If Christians were still allowing God to control their wombs, as they were just a few generations ago, we would be a force to be reckoned with!  The Christian church as a whole is not a threat to the devil today, instead they choose to thwart God’s blessing of children.  In fact, there are Christian couples today who choose not to have any children at all!  If every Christian couple took that attitude, Christianity would be wiped from the earth!  It is our children who carry on God’s Word from generation to generation (Duet. 4:9-10, 6:1-9, Psalm 48: 12-14, 78: 1-8, 145:5, Isaiah 38:19, 59:21, Jeremiah 32:39, Joel 1:3, to name just a few passages).

The current statistics in the United States right now indicate that there are more TVs per household then there are children.  Theodore Laetch states, “The two-children system will rapidly lead to extermination of a people, for 10% of all marriages are naturally childless, and unmarried people do not contribute to the growth of a nation, while the 2 children system replaces only the parents, no replacements for unmarried people and childless couples, hence a decrease in population, and the nation will die out.  At least 4 children to a family to prevent this dying out, five children to bring about an increase in population.”  Jesus instructed the little children to come unto Him.  He loved and embraced children, and we are to have that same attitude, instead of pushing children out of the way and seeing them as burdens. We also often forget that Jesus himself was from a large family.  We know he had 4 brothers, and the Bible mentions “sisters” in the plural, so there had to be a minimum of 7 children in his family, although he could have had more than 2 sisters! 

Two years ago, we had the privilege of memorizing as a church the blessings that come to us if we obey God’s commandments as found in Dueteronomy 28 (and also the subsequent curses if we disobey)… God’s fruitfulness and increase is seen in the fruit of our body, as well as in other areas of our lives, such as in our business and in our provisions.  One of the curses mentioned is that they will produce few children and there would be little fruitfulness in their endeavors to farm and conduct business. God desires our families to be like a flock (Psalm107: 38, 41)… a flock is not just 1 or 2 sheep, but many! Psalm 127 speaks of children as arrows and a quiver full, while Psalm 128 speaks of the wife as a fruitful vine in the home and many olive plants (children) about the table.  Again, these passages point to more than a few children.

That doesn’t mean everyone will be given large families.  I know many women who have only a few children although they have always left their fertility in God’s control.  The blessing spoken over Rebekah before she married Isaac was “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions…” and she only physically gave birth to 2 boys.  But God is a God who is concerned with the big picture and with future generations. We can leave the outcome with Him, because He ultimately knows what is best for us.  I would not have had 5 of my children if I had cut off my seed as we had planned to do after Elise was born.  I am so thankful that God chose to arrest me in my selfish desires and taught me what His Word really teaches about having children.

God calls the increase of our children our “glory.”  (Hosea 9:11)  In this passage God curses Ephraim with no birth, pregnancy or conception and promises to give them miscarriages and dry breasts.  Over and over in Scripture we see that it is God who opens and closes the womb (Rebekah, Rachel, Michal, Hannah, Elizabeth…). Barrenness in the Bible was seen as a disgrace. It seems sad to me that many Christian women today would choose disgrace…I know of many women who grieve that they cannot have any children, often without a known reason.  Again, God is the one who opens and closes the womb.  Why then, are we who trust the Lord for our family size, so often criticized by other believers?  It is this same God who chooses not to give children to some, and to give many children to others. In fact, I often find the world to be more supportive than fellow Christians!!  Other Christians bring up things like how are we going to afford college and vacations, or retirement and the like… We also hear a lot of things like “you’re not being responsible.”

I am encouraged that God didn’t just require His children to be fruitful and multiply in good economic times.  In fact, they were commanded to multiply even in the midst of persecution in Egypt during slavery. (Exodus 1: 11-12 says that the more they were crushed, the more they increased and spread!) Again, when the Israelites were carried away into captivity in Babylon, God instructed them through Jeremiah, the prophet, to be increased and not diminished (Jeremiah 29:5-6).  We are simply to obey, and leave the rest with the Maker of the Universe.

Our fertility is only with us for a short season in comparison to the rest of our lives.  Most women today don’t marry until they are in their twenties, many even later.  And menopause causes a woman to naturally stop bearing children around the mid- forties.  That is roughly only 20 years of a woman’s life.  Isn’t it amazing how God created a woman’s body to so desire her husband the most while she is the most fertile?  Did God make a mistake by doing this?  I don’t think so!  His very intention by design is to allow conception to take place, if that is what He ordains.  So even natural family planning, although ethical, is not God’s natural design.  Intimacy has to be planned according to a woman’s cycle, instead of being spontaneous.  All other forms of birth control (and I know many Christians who practice them) are all forms of the feminist movement living out Margaret Sanger’s plan of “contraception, sterilization, and abortion.”  Her plan for a superior race and to eradicate minorities, as well as all forms of Christianity are straight from the devil.  If you have never studied Sanger and how birth control and abortion came to be popular, I highly encourage all Christians to learn about this.  You will be shocked!  But the Christian church ignorantly embraces this same philosophy.  I clearly remember being counseled by a Reformed pastor prior to marriage that “procreation control” was totally acceptable.  As new believers ready to begin marriage, Abe and I wholeheartedly accepted his okay to use artificial means to prevent pregnancy early in our marriage. In fact, even though we both grew up in reformed, Christian homes and churches, I don’t remember ever once talking about having children or discussing what the Bible has to say on that subject!! I am so thankful that God opened our eyes to see that His Word does speak on this issue.  It is one of those topics that requires searching and digging. (Proverbs 2: 4-5: “If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”) The late Francis Schaeffer said “Tell me what the world is saying today, and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying seven years from now.”  I’m afraid that is all too true…

My heart aches that the anti-child philosophy so pervades the church today. In Matthew 5, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, calls adultery and lust, and hatred and murder the same thing.  Although the outward act is expressed in a different way, God looks at the motive of our hearts, doesn’t He?  When we hate our brother, the motive of murder is right there at the door.  So, the same reasoning goes for people who use birth control today.  Their reasoning is “I don’t want children, or at least not right now.”  If you were to stop a young woman leaving an abortion clinic after having her child expelled from her womb, I am sure she wouldn’t tell you that she desired to kill, cold-bloodedly murder, a young life.  No, she would tell you, “I don’t want children, or at least not right now.”  God looks at our motives, at our hearts.  He sees our desire to not have children, to stop His blessings from coming… and it grieves His heart.  He is the Giver of life!  The motives for us not having children are often the same motives of those that abort their babies by the millions each year- ouch!  There are times when our motives may be right.  But I venture to say that many Christians today are more concerned about having beautiful homes, nice vacations, even fruitful ministries, more than having homes filled with children, raising a godly seed for the glory of God!  You may think that my words are harsh, but I have heard so many testimonies of this.  Their attitudes aren’t any different from those of the world.  There are even Christian women today who are having a procedure done so they will no longer menstruate, because after all, it is a nuisance to have to endure every month!  I don’t want to take the place of God.  As Christians we sing “I surrender all” and we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, we die to self… then how can we take control of something that God created to bring life?  We are women, which literally means "a man with a womb".  (Maybe we should change the song to “I surrender almost all.”)

I don’t need people to feel sorry for me or to pray that I will not get pregnant.  It always amazed me how people rejoiced with my first few pregnancies, while the last few rarely got a “congratulations.”   I hope and pray God will be pleased to give me more children if that is what He desires.  I am a joyful mother of children!  I have the most important job in the universe!  The world, not God, says that we need to be careful about having children after 35.  All of the sudden we are “high risk.”  Sure our bodies are getting older.  Pregnancy may be harder in our 40s then when we were 21. And yes, it is our stewardship to take care of the bodies God has given us.  I have always strived to care for my body, both for health reasons and to remain desirable to my husband.  I know many women who have continued to have healthy beautiful babies well into their forties.  I am thankful to God, that I have a rich heritage to look to- 2 godly grandmothers who bore children well into their late forties!  My father-in-law is the baby of 11.  My husband is just 13 months younger than his sister.  I am so thankful that Abe’s grandparents and parents chose to allow God to dictate their fertility, or I wouldn’t have my dear husband J.            

We all belong to either of 2 kingdoms, God’s kingdom of life, or to the kingdom of the devil, who snuffs it out.  I choose to belong to the kingdom of life.  I embrace it wholeheartedly. I will have no part in the devil’s scheme to “steal, kill and destroy.”  It is time for Christians to realize they have embraced the world’s philosophy in regards to children, not the teaching of the Bible.  Yes, my flesh would much rather take the easy way, avoid the long months of nausea and discomfort, drive a smaller car J and have a more hefty bank account.  But all of these things revolve around “me!”  There is a peace that comes from surrendering my entire being to God’s will, knowing He knows best what I need.  “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.  His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Psalm 112: 1& 2)

“See I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess…. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…”  Dueteronomy 30:15-16

It is my hope and prayer that you would follow the Bible's teaching, not the world's philosophy, even though it often feels as if you are swimming upstream.

In Christ Alone,

1 comment:

  1. There are many ways in which we can choose to be generous. You have chosen the best way: To be generous in all the children that God blesses you with.

    A little statistics I like to throw into the cogs: the birth rate is said to be 1.8 per couple, sad and alarming as that is, if you take OUT of the equation those couples that have over 4 children, the stats plummet to an almost non-existent 0.7 per couple. God bless YOU for keeping those stats up.

    Linda D