Why It’s Good to Have Lots of Children – Author – Wade Thomas
The consistent posture of God’s Word towards babies is this: Children received rightly are a blessing, not a burden. God bestows babies on His people as a gift, and His people who haven’t been given the gift grieve and plead with Him for it.
“When Yahweh saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” Genesis 29:31
“They rose early in the morning and worshiped before Yahweh; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and Yahweh remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from Yahweh.'” 1 Samuel 1:19-20.
“He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise Yahweh!” Psalm 113:9
God also makes plain that He has particular care for little ones, and that He does not see them as an intrusion or a nuisance.
“Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.'” Luke 18:15-16
Our God also tells humanity to reproduce and to subdue the Earth.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living that moves on the earth.'” Genesis 1:27-28
The idea that married Christian couples should firmly limit the number of children they have is a very new and very Western idea. Opposed to it stand the Biblical worldview (which as we’ve seen above describe children and childbearing very differently) and the vast majority of Christian history, where the idea of a married Christian couple seeking to constrict the number of children they have would have (rightly) been seen as morally problematic.
We live in a day and place filled with material ease. The argument that married Christian couples can’t afford to have more children simply won’t stand up to scrutiny. While there are obviously exceptions, people who truly have financial hardship, the vast majority of us have far more luxuries than any of our great-grandparents could have ever dreamed of. And most of them had more children than our peers do. The average house in the United States in 1900 didn’t have 2 bathrooms, central air, or an extra 500 square feet of storage for mementos and surplus appliances. Nor did the average Christian have hours of leisure time to watch actors on a glowing screen perform stories for their amusement. So why, despite all these material comforts we’ve received, do so many of us choose to have less children than previous generations?
I think we couch it in necessity, as though we “couldn’t” have lots of children, because the truth is more uncomfortable.
Why would someone not want to have more children? While there are countless possible answers, it seems to me from observation and Scripture that there are twin reasons most relevant to our culture:
- Children mean work and responsibility
- We in this culture view children differently from God
Raising children is hard. They come out of the womb sinners, and they must be taught, loved unconditionally, fed, talked to, played with, prayed over, read to, disciplined, had the Good News of Jesus told them countless times, and bathed. Then bathed again. Then bathed again.
It is hard work, and in this day of opulence all of us, myself included, naturally gravitate away from hard work. I heard the pastor John Piper once remark that even simple things like running water and being able to press “911” into a phone and have help come are things that the vast majority of human history had no access to. One of the highest birth rates in the world is among our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria, where income levels and material comforts are far lower than ours here in the United States. A sober assessment of our lives will reveal that we have it far easier than virtually any day or place in history. And that ease has worked its way into most of our hearts such that we do not want to be disrupted from our Netflix-watching and our leisure travel with the noise of crying and the changing of diapers.
Children are also a weight of responsibility. God gifts us with a soul to care for and teach, and He will hold us accountable for that soul. We also know that society will rightly hold us accountable for how we raise up the baby we’ve been given. While God would have us see that weight as a good weight, a noble and worthwhile responsibility, there is no denying that it is indeed a responsibility. And many of us do not want to be responsible for lots of souls. The great sadness is that in closing off that responsibility, we are closing ourselves off from much of the maturity and spiritual growth that flow out of carrying a good weight for a long time.
But the more fundamental reason even we as Christians restrict childbearing in our culture is that we view children differently from God. I wrestled with this before having children, and I still wrestle with it today, three days before Thanksgiving 2019, when I will load all of mine up in our van and head to 2 different Thanksgiving dinners.
You see, God crafts little babies and then brings them upon His people as an act of grace. They are presents. They are a future inheritance and resources and souls with whom, by His grace, He will populate His Kingdom. Children arebestowed by a generous God upon parents and the world. Babies are the future of this earth, future “subduers” as parents and preachers and teachers and soldiers and garbage men who pick up their neighbors’ trash with a smile and perhaps even a prayer as they whistle a hymn their Mommy and Daddy taught them. That is how God sees children. They are little image bearers of great significance. They cost much, in time and money and love, because they are worth much.
But that is not how we see them. In our culture, we see children as a debit, and we believe we must account for them with enough credits that we just can’t seem to spare. They are not a gift. They are a draw upon our accounts, and we simply must protect our resources. We would do well to listen to our God, listen to our forefathers, and not be so cavalier with controlling the number of children we have. Our God knits together these little ones, and He gives them as a great and wondrous blessing.
So what if you haven’t had children, or haven’t had many, and the time is past? If you accept what the Bible says but for one reason or another do not have the ability to put it into practice now, do you have nothing to do but mourn?
If you are in a church, you have much to do to bless the future church, the future world, and the little children God has made, and you can do it right now. You are brothers and sisters in Christ, and surrogate grandparents and aunts and uncles to little souls He has woven and given to fathers and mothers in your midst. Pray for them, teach them, talk to them, smile at them, tousle their hair, and tell them you like the way they sing during worship. Above all, do not treat them as a burden or make the jokes our world makes about large families. Our world doesn’t love what God loves. Be a blessing to these little guys and girls; they need you! You are in their spiritual family for a reason, and it is a glorious reason: God made you a member of the body.
Children are arrows. “Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies at the gate.” Psalm 127:5. They are arrows for our churches, for our families, for our Lord God. Let us handle them carefully. And let us not restrict them or treat them as a nuisance standing in the way of our golfing or our early retirement.
God forbid we have empty quivers when the battle comes.