Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Married Without Children

Here is something that I have pondering lately and have discussed with several friends. I have not reached any firm conclusions on this thought, but I set it before you in order to hear any other viewpoints on the matter.

In Genesis 1, God commands Adam and Eve to have children:

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:28)
As a result of their sin, God tells Eve that she will have more pain in the childbearing process, which seems to indicate that such an action is expected of her:

To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)
All of this brings me to the question(s) on my mind:
If a Christian couple is married and the wife wants children, is it right for the husband to be against such a possibility? If so, what situations might warrant such a denial of what appears to be a God commanded and natural next step in their relationship?

I realize that this question could be modified to question the use of contraceptives by Christians, and I am not wanting to travel down that path with this post. Instead, I would like to focus on the issue of married Christian couples and the decision to postpone having children resting solely on the husband.

It is my understanding of the Bible that children are something which any married man should desire. Psalms 127 speaks exclusively about the joys and blessings of having a family:
1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
(Psalms 127 )
In the above passage, children declared a reward from God. It also appears that there is some sort of emphasis placed on the children that are born while their fathers are relatively young. I cannot speak to whether or not this particular passage is implying that men should have children earlier in life as opposed to later, but it does appear to place some sort of differentiation between children born of an old man and those born of a young man.

God goes even further to take the time to talk directly to fathers and explain to them how they should treat their children in Ephesians 6:
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
2 "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:1-4)
Men are called to train our children using the Bible as our curriculum. This is justifiably a commonly heard passage whenever a discussion turns towards having and managing a family. Is it possible that in our limited view that we see this verse as only being applicable to those who have children and not applicable to those who are married without children? Is there a reason why we do not connect this passage to command given to us Genesis 1:28?

Perhaps my thought process is faulty and I am misunderstanding the Word, which is entirely possible. With that being said, is it also not possible that we have overlooked the first command given to us in the Bible and have written passages such as these off to those couples who are married and already have children?

It is obvious throughout Scripture that children hold a special place in the eyes of God. In fact, God has given children the ability to praise Him in such a way that apparently is beyond that of adults.
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your
enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (Psalms 8:2 )
So, if children are a gift from God, are a blessing to their fathers and have the capacity to bring praise to God in a singular way, is there a reasonable objection that a man might offer to his wife as to why they shouldn’t have children at this point in time? Isn't the wife's desire to have children a natural, God-given desire? If children are a gift and blessing from God, doesn't the wife's desire for children represent a desire to provide a blessing for husband? In rejecting the idea or possibility of having children when our wife desires them, are we as husbands rejecting God in some form or fashion?

Please do not misunderstand me, I am not criticizing any Christian couple who has not had children, whatever the reason. What I am doing here is trying to come to an understanding of how some of my opinions and choices in the past might not have been a true reflection of what the Bible appears to tell me about children and the prospect of having them.

So, in the pursuit of a greater knowledge and understanding of what God tells us about starting families and having families, I ask the following questions again:
If a Christian couple is married and the wife wants children, is it right for the husband to be against such a possibility? If so, what situations might warrant such a denial of what appears to be a God commanded and natural next step in their relationship?

2 comments:

  1. Well, I agree with your post, first off. But here's Devil's Advocate.

    A) Financial issues. The Bible tells us to use wisdom, and if the husband feels that the family is not able to properly provide basic necessities such as food and shelter for the children, maybe waiting to have kids is the right thing to do.

    B) Relationship issues. The husband may feel that he and his wife are not in a place emotionally to be able to raise emotionally-healthy children. For example, if the wife is an alcoholic, addicted to drugs/substances, etc. The husband may want to wait to have children until issues such as those are resolved.

    C) Health issues. If either the husband or wife are suffering from health issues that would make bearing and raising children too difficult for either/both spouses, the husband may choose to wait/not have children.

    Clearly God can overcome any of the above obstacles mentioned, and in a normal Christian marriage without said obstacles (or even WITH said obstacles, depending on the circumstances), I don't think it's right for the husband to deny the wife children.

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  2. This is completely not related to your post, but I just had to tell you one more time how completely beautiful your daughter is! That and every time I see her name I start singing this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHXZA_5XMJ4

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