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A Call to Christians to Welcome Children
A harmonious and happy marriage requires many ingredients, not the least of which is the number of things which the husband and wife have in common. Wise couples understand that each of them will need to let some things go, and also learn to appreciate the things their spouse appreciates. They understand that change will be essential for harmony.
It is not so different with our relationship with Jesus Christ, except that all the change lies with us. We need to learn what pleases Jesus Christ and determine to love those things. I cannot enumerate every object of Christ’s love in a document of this length, but I will address a very important one: children!
Until recently, our culture put a high value on children. These little ones have such inherent worth that only the hardest and most evil of hearts would tolerate harm coming to them. Many of our laws have been written specifically to protect children, who are unable to speak for themselves or protect themselves. Tragically, that favoritism seems to have evaporated with the 1973 Roe-v-Wade decision which upended the nation’s long history of protecting children. It has been downhill ever since, and today, one could say that the culture, and in the realm of politics, the Democrat Party, have declared war on children.
While it may be understood that the world, under the dominion of the Evil One, hates these little ones that Jesus loves, there is no excuse for the Christian community’s collusion in the travesty. Sadly, it did not take long for the philosophy of the culture to filter into the churches and color the decision making of Christians. Most Christians claim to be pro-life, and as far as abortion itself goes, oppose the slaughter. However, a significant element of the culture’s philosophical basis for allowing abortion is widely accepted by the Christian community. It must be examined, confronted, and abandoned!
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus Christ loves children, and therefore we must also!
Before I address the errors that are so passively accepted by many in the church, I need to acknowledge that some couples cannot have children, and not of their own choice. I do not wish to add guilt or pain to those who would love to have children but are prevented from doing so by the sovereign hand of God. This would include those women who have a particular health issue that indicates pregnancy itself poses a genuine risk to their lives. But I will come back to them later.
I am addressing the fact that millions of Christians have adopted the world’s values regarding children. The common culture sees children as a commodity at best, or a curse, rather than a rewarding living stewardship from God. The decision to have children and how many children a couple will have is run through much the same template that one would use when buying a house: What does it cost, and what is the expected return on investment? It is my opinion that such a perspective is an abomination to God!
The very first command that God gave us in the Garden was to “be fruitful and multiply.” Following the flood, when the world’s population was again very small, God reiterated His will for mankind with, “be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.” (Gen. 9:7).
God’s care for children is evident in that marriage itself, among other things, is the best environment in which to nurture a child. The Old Testament Law provides protections for children, in the womb and after. The first commandment of the Decalogue that is directed at humans’ relationships commands children to honor their parents so that their “days may be long on the earth.” Exodus 22:22 relates God’s view toward those who endanger children, saying that if they, the Israelites, afflict widows or orphans “in any way and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword.”
Psalm 127 gives us another clear statement of God’s love for children. “Children are a heritage of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. . . . Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” From this text we understand that God sees children as part of our inheritance from Him, and we can deduce that He expects us to love them as He does! It is a general truism that any son who rejects his inheritance has issues with his father! Far too many Christians have decided that what God declares to be a blessing, they see as a burden. This calls for a nation-wide soul searching.
Moving along in the Scriptures we arrive at the closing words of the Old Testament where we find God’s last words to Israel (and the world) for over four centuries. In the final verses of Malachi God delivers a promise and a warning, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” It is noteworthy that among other things this verse specifically warns that a significant part of the change necessary to prevent God’s cursing the world is father’s turning their hearts to the care of their children! And to further cement this warning is the fact that the New Testament opens with John the Baptist, in the power and spirit of Elijah, preaching the same message “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. . . .” Luke 1:17. The inclusion of the “earth” in God’s threatened curse might suggest that America’s treatment of its children could be a factor in preventing God’s judgment!
Little need be said regarding Christ’s personal love for children as He walked the earth. He healed them, raised them from the dead, took them into His arms and blessed them. He declared that any who would hinder their relationship with Him would be better off with a millstone placed about their necks to be cast into the sea; and when the Disciples sought to prevent children from coming to Him Christ became indignant against them. He likened His love for children to the care that a hen has for her brood, willing to die for them. Children worldwide have learned the ageless favorite, “Jesus loves the Little Children.” And when John addressed the saints over whom he had apostleship authority he used the expression, “my little children.” There may be no clearer expression of endearment than that of “my child!”
God’s love for children is undeniably clear, and we must take it to heart.
Which brings me to the rebuttals. I expect I have heard them all, but cannot address them all here; However, I will answer some. Most of the arguments made against having large families are in some way tied to economics. “Children cost a lot of money” we are told, and many couples feel they just can’t afford them. Having raised seven children to adulthood let me put that argument to rest. Children do cost something, but not nearly what opponents say they do. But of much greater importance is God’s promise to provide when we obey, “My God shall supply all your need. . . .” Phil. 4:19. While the specific context of this verse is not regarding children, it is about manifesting God’s love by giving sacrificially and trusting Him in obedience. It should also be noted that many believers have bought the world’s lie that children need every experience and opportunity to thrive. Children throughout history have grown up with virtually nothing in their hands and done very well. They do not need every toy or experience to prosper spiritually and economically in America; and any parent who does not teach his children how to deal with having less than others is failing his children.
Many Christians have bought the environmental alarmism and protest that the world cannot sustain the population that is projected and believe that we have a duty to limit the size of our families in accordance. First, God is to be trusted, and His command to be fruitful and multiply has not been rescinded. We can depend on Him to provide for us regardless of the world’s population. However, it is a fateful mistake to listen to the radicals in the first place. Their prophecies, as all false prophecies, have failed and will fail. They are in rebellion against God, and their attitudes and intentions reflect their animosity. Most, if not all of their prognostications, are the fruit of their world view and their determination to resist God and are not based upon God’s word or science. (Let me be clear here. What science is able to confirm as true will never contradict God’s word, thus, we must not fear the alarmism of the radicals).
Contemporary culture can be characterized as selfish, this world oriented, and pleasure mad, among other things. Unfortunately, these traits have deeply infected the church as well. We are a prosperous nation, by God’s grace, and have more opportunities for pleasure and recreation than any people in history. It is a fact that we have more luxuries than the richest kings of history, and it is not surprising that Christians are attracted to all the opportunities at our doorstep. It is also true that many or most of these things are not inherently wrong. However, the rub comes in where these things fit into the life of one sold out to Jesus Christ. I would submit that there is nothing we set aside in this life that will not be vastly superseded by God’s grace and gifts in eternity. In-other-words, anything we would like to enjoy here but pass on to follow Christ more closely will be rewarded by something far better in eternity. The question is whether we are willing to trust God in this. Are we willing to take the “long look?”
The discussion regarding the size of one’s family produces some apparent contradictions. The world says that those who want many children are selfish, while some pro-lifers say that those who want small families are selfish. It can hardly be both, can it? Unfortunately, selfishness can produce opposite results, and it is likely that selfishness taints many of our decisions. For this reason, we must shut out the world and maybe family and friends and listen to God’s word alone. Does God demand that every family have as many children as possible? That is somewhat of a stretch. We need not make such a declaration to be following God’s will in this. What is certain is that God says children are His gift to us, that He loves them, and that they are a blessing. What is to be said of us if we want less of God’s blessings? Once we have cleared away the debris of this world’s philosophy, I expect that we will be in a better place to determine how many children we should bring into the world; and I am quite certain that the number will rise, not decline!
Also, regardless of any other discussion, it is imperative that we reject every and all forms of birth control that threaten the lives of the unborn. While God has given us some ability to control the number of children we bear without endangering the lives of the unborn or mothers, it must also be acknowledged that the few methods that might be considered legitimate have limitations, and thus require us to rely on God’s sovereign will, which is the best place to be. I remind the reader that any motivations for limiting our family sizes must pass biblical muster. The overwhelming evidence of Scripture points to God desiring large families for His people, thus, to diverge from that model requires more than mere opinion. The notion that my wanting a three-bedroom home, two car garage, a boat, vacation home and two children is biblical cannot be supported.
No one other than God can determine the number of children any couple ought to have, and every Christian should be compelled by Scripture to seek the Lord’s will regarding this most critical life decision. I, and most other pro-lifers I know, understand that there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to the question, and that numerous variables enter into consideration. But the bottom line ought to be that it is God’s will and principles which should guide a couple’s decision, not the opinions of a fallen world, or the ambition for more possessions. In our hearts we know that God’s will is always best, and while children complicate our lives, they bless us, mature us, and challenge us to grow in our relationship with Christ. They bless infinitely more than they burden.
Before concluding I would like to return briefly to the issue of those who genuinely are not able to bear children. Being blessed with children and grandchildren myself, I sympathize with those who desire to have children but cannot. I am truly sorry for what you have missed of one of life’s greatest blessings! However, I also believe that God is good and provides comfort and encouragement for those who suffer, and offers alternatives. It has been noticed that the number of couples who are unable to bear and seek to adopt in any given year is strikingly close to the number of women who have problematic pregnancies. I do not believe this is an accident. There are no unwanted children, only unloving and indifferent adults. Adoption is a wonderful, though complex, option, and the reality is that there are millions of children of all ages who could use a loving home. I would suggest that every Christian couple unable to bear children should at least give adoption a look.
Finally, because God gives such attention and care to children and advocates so strongly for welcoming them into our homes, I am confident that it is His will that Christian couples be open to more children, not less, and that they give the Lord sovereignty over this area of their lives as well as every other.
An interesting foot note to this: Suppose what America might look like if Bible believing Christians took God’s love for children seriously and doubled or tripled the birthrate in the Christian community over the next twenty years, and then discipled those children into the image of Christ?