[Note: This post is oriented more toward admonition. I don’t post it to ‘pick a fight’ as much as to respond to those who seem to have a beef with large families. On the outset, I need to say that I realize that people are different and have made the decisions they have for a variety of reasons. I don’t condemn you for those decisions, for past sins and mistakes, etc.
That being said, although I will not seek to proselytize you to my way of looking at things, I have the freedom to communicate my view. This post is my opinion and my conviction. I have (and am doing so here) in order to minimize problems in interacting with people; not ostracize or throw rocks at them. I don’t consider our family to necessarily be more ‘Godly’ because we have more children; nor do I consider those who have fewer to be less ‘ Godly’. I am not trying to compare us with you or your family, nor say that we are better than you are. Truth be known, you most likely are better !
But, if you meet me in person and raise any comments about this post, or about having a large family, I will most likely smile and be gracious. Truth being what it is, I have been forgiven of so much, that I can understand when people are ornery at times and have a bee (or bees) in their bonnets about this issue.]
Past the point of thoughtful engagement (due, in part, to weariness), I thought it may be helpful to start a list of a few of the questions / stories / excuses / reasons that some have used in questioning us regarding Birth Control. The ‘weariness’ has to do in part with the tension that arises between seeking to discern whether a person is a ‘friend or foe’ – is the person hostile to us? Are they just trying to make a joke and aren’t aware of how offensive their comments are? Am I being ‘too’ sensitive about these comments? Regardless, Here is my attempt to loose the bees from flying into our proverbial ‘bonnets’.
I include this list here so that we can refer people to it for their reference. Keep in mind, although we are asked these questions regularly, our desire is to do God’s will. We aren’t angry with the people asking the questions, but we do wonder, at times in amazement, that people in the world today have an acute lack of sensitivity of appropriate conversation, even (and especially) among adults in the church. I don’t respond to these things ‘in person’ because my minimizing the topic allows all parties involved the opportunity to ‘save face’ and not distract from whatever the larger purpose of the reason we are together for whatever time it is, is.
Additionally, the items below are thoughts and conclusions I have come to as a result of people, out of the blue (so to speak) telling us in an unsolicited and at times hostile way what their views are. Let me be quite clear here: I don’t really care that much what your individual views are on this topic if you are going to come up to me, with my family around or not, and start a fight or argument of some sort. If you aren’t confident or comfortable with your views, you need to examine them yourself. Additionally, if your view on BC is all that you have to talk with us about, you are severely lacking in social skills… you trend toward engagement only if there is disagreement. Your interest is not friendship as much as it is voicing your own opinion.
All of these have come from people who claim to be Christians… another anecdotal evidence of living in post Christian America. We are sometimes treated better by those the church calls unbelievers than the believers. Just sayin’.
1. Are you going to have more? – Of all of the questions that I find laughable, this is one of the most popular. The answer to it is, quite simply, I don’t know. If you understand that God is the Sovereign giver and taker of life, and that marriage is the context for the perpetuating of mankind on this Earth, you understand that children are a product of being married. If everything is working the way it was designed to work relationally, physically, etc., children will result. As a side note, the husband is not the ultimate determiner of the size of the family, regardless of the means that God has allowed him to have for provision or not. God actually is. Two words come to mind in the consideration of this… “failed” and “vasectomy”. For a person to hold to this view shows a profound truncation of his application of understanding to basic Christian living issues.
2. Do you want more? – As a married Christian, the issue isn’t what I want. God gives when He wants to what He wants to. To put yourself in the place of God isn’t wise… that was Satan’s blunder when he was Lucifer- he wanted to take God’s place. So, having more children is not for me to decide. Our views stem from reading scripture and taking it at face value, in that we will welcome any we have or are given. Ultimately, the number of children we have doesn’t actually matter – so, it really doesn’t matter what we ‘want’, as much as what in God’s Providence He decides to give to us. We are to be faithful to do what He wants with our lives regardless of if we have no children or if we have 20. The issue isn’t the level of provision, either. The issue is being faithful to manage the things God has given us.
3. Isn’t it expensive? – As a child, I remember seeing an episode on television of ‘That’s Incredible’ of an Asian who paid a million dollars to take a bath in a gold bath tub. Well, if a gold bathtub is your standard, then children are way too expensive. You should, in that case avoid the whole question and stay single.
More than a yacht? A vacation in Tahoe? Maybe. It depends on what your must haves are, and what do you value more- people or things? Provision varies from time to time, geography, political / socio-economic factors, etc. He who looks at the clouds will never plant.
4. Popular local seminary / college addresses the issue… Often, there is a difference between that which is ‘theologically correct (conforming to scripture) and people’s practice. We’ll call this relative degree of practical hypocrisy the ‘hypocrisy index’. This index exists in every person, because every person sins. It’s easier to feel offended when you are on the receiving end of the index. But, here it is with BC.
There is a dichotomy shown between the selflessness of being a mother and what the leaders of the seminary / college would call ‘being selfish’, in that if your family has more than whatever number of children they have decided is ok, your wife is branded as being selfish. This line of thinking may never be actually ‘taught’, but because of its ubiquity, it can hardly be a ‘one person / one time’ aberration. The women associated with the school many times are told that they are being selfish if they voice opposition to their husband’s opposition to having more children. These women then resent their husband’s ‘leadership’ (for more on this, see the ‘head of the wife vs. head of the family’ dilemma post). This resentment sets them up for, at best, a strained relationship and at worst, temptation toward committing adultery.
This line of thought is quite simply warped and perverted, but because it is ‘taught’ by respected seminary leaders, one must either ‘put up and shut up’ or graciously press the ‘eject’ button from fellowship and/or career advancement in that environment as a pastor or lay leader.
Here’s a speculation: maybe it’s the husband who doesn’t want more children who is actually selfish, because it means that he will have to stretch his brain to try to figure out how to provide to the same level as those who are outside of his current income bracket. Something to think about…
5. Scriptural Strawmen – These people, without trying to find out your understanding of scripture, take a part of the Bible which is misapplied by others with large families, and label you as one who is in whatever camp they have been exposed to. I’ll start a list of these misapplications later, but consider the ‘third alternative’ – that there exists a credible alternative to your view, as well as that which you believe another person has (which may be actually incorrect / misapplied), which is as or more legitimate than the one you have espoused.
6. The Commutative Property of Living Life – by definition from scripture, children are a blessing from God. If a person decides through some act to personally prevent themselves from having children (tubal ligation, castration, vasectomy, etc.), then by their completing this action, they are removing themselves from being blessed by God in this way. In the person’s mind, he may have justified to himself on the basis of stewardship or ‘whatever’ to facilitate the delay or eradication of the possibility of having children. The practical result is the same as not being blessed by or be rewarded by God, in that the person is not able to have children. What the person inwardly justifies as wise stewardship is actually equivalent to removal of blessing and removal of reward.
As another side note, if a person had been immoral before becoming a Christian, has been gloriously saved, gets married, and then discovers that he has HIV and has given it to his wife and could possibly transfer it to his children, I can totally understand why he would want to ‘make things permanent’ as far as BC goes. I am not wise enough nor insightful enough to say that the person, in doing this BC act, has committed sin. This ‘Commutative Property’ mentioned above, though, would stand true… the person may have nobly and to some degree justifiably reasoned that he should not ‘bring children into the world’ due to the possibility of passing along HIV… the effects, though, of his sin have removed blessing from his life. He is therefore not blessed by God with the grace of being able to ‘have’ children.
What I would counsel such a person to do is to rejoice in God! When a person becomes a Christian, it doesn’t mean that the consequences of his sins have been removed in this life, necessarily. But now, he has the capability of enduring the consequences in a way that Glorifies God. The person’s rejoicing can come from the fact that he is a living illustration of God’s Grace shown to a sinner who has been forgiven. He can also rejoice that God is Holy and that he knows first hand that God holds us accountable for sin. He can pray to God to endure the consequences of his sins in a way that pleases God, and be thankful that God is Holy and has saved him from the ultimate consequence of eternal damnation in the lake of fire forever.
7. Every time I see you, you guys have a new kid– Great! If that is the cause of us having the children (ha.) and you think we should have fewer, perhaps we should see you less. Honestly though, when you look at our children, can you point to a specific one of them and say, this one should not have been born? If so, you are a cold hearted human being.
Last Updated (3.21.2014)