Thursday, August 2, 2012

# of Kids: What's the Big Deal?

I'm admitting up front that I don't understand why number of children is a big deal to some folks within the church. It's actually an issue that some Christians divide over and/or feel pride about. I just don't get it.

I'm all for people having the number of children they believe God has for them. If a couple wants to have lots of kids, like the Duggars, that's a wonderful thing. Children are clearly a blessing from the Lord.

Psalm 127:3-5 tells us, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."

That said, I do not believe that the number of children a couple has is of importance. Some may choose to have two, some three, some four, etc. God instructed both Adam and Noah to be fruitful and multiply. However, God did not specify number. We also must be careful whenever we take narrative commands and apply them to ourselves.  For example, no one expects us to build an ark.

I do believe it is problematic if a couple chooses to have no children whatsoever simply because they want the freedom from raising others. This is selfish beyond measure. After all, someone took the time to raise them.

Some couples may elect not to have their own children, but instead to adopt. This is beautiful. Other couples will have their own and adopt. I applaud.

Additionally, other couples may not be able to have any children due to a variety of physical issues. I'm clearly not referring to them when writing about those who choose to have no children for freedom's sake. My hope is that every Christian couple who cannot have kids will be able to adopt.

I write all this to say that we in Christ should not fight over this issue. Satan would like nothing better than to cause strife within the church regarding number of kids. At worst it causes fighting, and at best it is a distraction.

Let's all just take joy in the kids we have and that God may give to us. No one is a better Christian because he or she has a different number of children than anyone else. It's not an issue worth fighting over.

As Christ's church, we must stay focused on the task at hand: making disciples. Let's avoid distracting arguments like this one at all costs.


Scott Eaton said...

I do not mean this to be snarky in any way. But it strikes me that only in conservative evangelical circles would something like this ever be a concern. This is not to disparage your post, Eric. I'm glad you challenged this. I just think it is kind of sad that this is even an issue for some people and time must be spent on such things. Ugh.

Eric said...


It does seem to be an odd issue. However, some Christian folks use it as a barometer of faith and/or sanctification. It's a distraction from our main task.

Nicole Mureiko said...

Eric, I really appreciate your post. This is a topic that I have thought quite a lot about.

I have three main bones to pick with the "pop-'em-out-as-fast-as-you-can" way of looking at child-bearing.

1) I don't understand why some Christian families (who sincerely desire to have a god-centered home) seemingly throw caution to the wind in the area of bearing children. Why should this not be an area of fervent prayer? We all agree to pray over every other area of life: finances, what car to buy, what job to take, what house to buy, what congregation to fellowship with, etc. etc. etc... Why the quick assumption that God's best for every family is as many children as they can physically bear? This one probably disturbs me the most.

2) I have grown up around and witnessed many, many large families who seemingly raised their older children "ok" but the younger ones are either being spiritually neglected or are being raised by the older children because mom has basically "done her Christian duty" by birthing the children, so now her work is done. I think this second "bone" comes about from the lack of prayer I mentioned in #1. If God's ultimate calling on all families is to have as many children as possible, then those who have "thrown caution to the wind" so to speak can sit back and consider themselves farther up the sanctification scale. This leads to bone #3...

3) I would rather raise 3 or 4 humble, honest, god-fearing, loving, patient, gentle, sincere children than 15 or 16 children who are either lukewarm or running away from the faith altogether. I have seen the latter happen many some families I knew very personally.

Perhaps this sounds like I am venting...honestly, I am not. I am more...brokenhearted over it. Please don't read my comment with a mental image of a red-faced girl with steam coming out her ears as she is writing! :-D

I guess my sincere desire is that more families would live in the reality that we all need to be seeking the Lord as to what HE would have EACH family to do. If the Lord is calling you to 15 children: WONDERFUL! If He is calling you to have 3: WONDERFUL! Trying to fit everyone into one's own idea of a perfect cookie-cutter shape is destructive, hurtful, and, to use your word, a distraction.

Eric said...


Thanks for your comment. This is certainly a complex issue. You've rasied some valid points.

I just cannot figure out why this has become such an important issue for some folks. It's not as if Christ gave us a direct command to have as many kids as possible. Frankly, it doesn't seem to be something he even cared about that much.

Paul gives us much instruction about the family, but # of kids is mentioned no where.

It all seems odd to me. My guess is that some Christians want a lot of kids. That's fine. It's when they begin to think that others should do the same that it becomes problematic. I have no idea what makes these folks come to this conclusion.

Again, I say it is a huge distraction from our main task of making disciples.

Thanks again!

Marshall said...

Eric, the "big deal" you mention is connected with "birth control", which is just one example of taking control of something in our lives. Taking control is the big issue because it is so seldom accomplished by faith-trust in God. Many "Christians" (Catholics too, despite longstanding church dogma) do not trust God or His ekklesia with issues like fertility, and this sometimes due to the influence of western-cultural deism. Is God near enough to manage my family and growth?

There are times when our Father directs us to abstain from things for a time, but that's probably not what is being questioned here.

Are you planning to manage the size of your family? If so, why? (post reply to your heart)

Eric said...


All I ask of anyone who is against birth control is that they remain consistent. I've never met anyone who has (unless there is either a physical problem and/or fertility issue. Then being against birth control is quite convenient). Those who say they are against birth control almost always practice some form of control, whether it be abstaining or something like that.

Additionally, all decisions we make have an impact on our futures. We do not say that this limits God. If He desires to give more children to those practicing birth control, He will do so. This strikes me as an issue that has become one of pride in the church and that is more of a needless distraction than anything else.