Monday, September 24

how is that possible?

I hear the most interesting conversations at Curves. When you go on the same days to work out, it's likely that you will work out with the same ladies. Which is nice, if you like them, and I do like the ladies I work out with. They are usually hilarious.

The other day, however, they got talking about children, and the number of kids they have. The trainer got in on the conversation, saying that she had three - boy, girl, boy. One lady said, "Oh, you ruined the perfect family" and I just about fell off my recovery station. I mean, if you want to have just 2 kids, fine - it's really between you and God, if you are a believer. But to tell someone that their third kid was "ruining" their family!?! I was in shock. The trainer was VERY gracious - and her sweet reply was perfect. I can't remember exactly what she said, but it was something about her not ever regretting it and how her third child really made their family complete. I chimed in about how they would think I was crazy, but I wanted 5 kids. Of course they said that I would change my mind. That could happen, but probably not the way they think...

I came home and shared this with Michael. We've been thinking a lot about children lately - and I've honestly been wondering how it is that we in the Christian community got to the point where we plan out our children with questions about what we can afford and what the best timing would be. We are still thinking through this issue, with much prayer - and I sometimes wonder if we will ever come to a solid conclusion. We never want to get to a point in our family where we stop being open to God's leading and teaching. And I definitely don't want to take this matter lightly.

So what do you think? Do the cultural expectations of what is acceptable for a family size too strongly impact our actions? Are we really trusting God when we take action to limit our family size? Where does our "common sense" play in, and most importantly, what does God's Word say?

I would to hear how God has led you and your family in this matter. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, and my strong desire to foster unity and not dissension, please season your words with humility and grace - and for this post only, please consider commenting anonymously or using a pseudonym. You can do this by clicking "comments" and selecting "other" or "anonymous."


Tracy said...

We are not against birth control/prevention since God can give a person a child despite prevention. For our family we felt that using prevention would cause us to try to force our will on God instead of accepting His will. Subsequently we had three children in three years. After the birth of our third child, I was struggling with my health b/c of too much weight, so we had to use preventative methods until I could lose enough of the weight. But we spent a lot of time praying about what God would have us to do because we wanted God to plan our family.

I agree with your statement about allowing our culture to influence our decisions about having children, but I also know some women who have had several children who were loved as babies, but when they became toddlers were neglected to the point of harming their development. In such cases would it have been wiser for the parents to have used prevention? Yet I also know God is in control and can use those children for His glory.

This is certainly a difficult question to answer, and I feel like my answer has been more circular than definitive.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. We have had many discussions about this. My own mind has vascillated--starting out as a strong advocate for birth control and "common sense" planning. I guess it might be different for different people. I'll just share what God is doing in us.

God is teaching me that He truly is sovereign, and He won't give me more than I can handle. Sounds simplistic, but I don't say that glibly. I believe that principle applies to children, as well as all other aspects of our walk. I'm also learning that, despite my best planning efforts (whether children or otherwise), if God's will isn't in it, that plan won't come to fruition anyway! How can we possibly know what lies 9 months down the road? :)

On the practical side,(I'll try to be as discreet as I can!) we stopped using the very common, very effective form of B.C. and began using far less effective ones. Also, I felt it was important to put this matter into my husband's control completely ...he would indicate whether to use it or not. His headship was a big deal to me. And above all, our prayer is "Thy will be done." I find it unthinkable that God will "punish" us with a child if we are "careless."

My, my. Aren't you glad you asked?

Conleys said...

we have come full circle with this question. we used birth control earlier in our marriage when we were not at a point where we could provide for a child. maybe that was a lack of faith but we prayed about it and at that time felt it was the best decision. ever since going off it, i have had a thyroid issue that makes it difficult to get pregnant. so would we do it all over again? i don't know...i believe God is sovereign and that was all for a purpose. since infertility is a slight issue we take each child God will give us as a blessing from Him! i think our culture has the wrong perspective of children in general and we're a little too hasty to fit children in when convenient. on the other hand, children are a big responsibility that we can only handle with God's grace, but I want to always be careful to portray parenting to those w/o children as a blessing - so they don't get freaked out about being a parent someday. :)

Anonymous said...

It is strange that having 4-6 kids these days is considered a big family. I grew up in a family of 6 kids and loved it! I'm so thankful for such a big family so I wanted (I only have 2 presently) to have one as well. I do believe God wants us to be able to take care of our children (love, financially, control) Ecspecially as a pastor's wife one of the qualifications is that the man rule his own house well. Now you can go either way - it's not the children's fault for their parents bad financial choices, sinful responses, and too busy schedule but you do have to take these into consideration. Things certainly are different now then even 50 years ago (good and bad) I have wondered if God would want me to freely let him give me children as he pleases (taught in the book by Nancy DeMoss) but I do believe their are plenty others Scriptures that teach raising your children well and being able to take care of them (education, spiritual, physical...) so for now we are on birth control and this is the decision we have made although we still hope the Lord will bless us with many children.

Anonymous said...

I have found that this is an issue that should remain between God, husband and wife. I absolutely love the Duggar family and think that they are fantastic parents. However, God does not call every couple to have 17 children.

We must be so careful with our comments and assumptions about other families. Often, we have no idea why a couple has no children, only one child or several. It's not our business. God's will is not the same for everyone.

Funny story, my parents were thought that they were "finished" with adding to their quiver. God smiled down on them and gave them one more. We could not imagine life without our youngest sibling:-). Isn't God good and sovereign? His way (not others' ways) is always the best:-). We should be driven to please Him - not others.

Katie said...

When I say I believe in "birth control," I mean, taking contraceptive measures - not the birth control pill, though I don't at all judge women who are on the pill. I was on the pill for about the first 2 years of marriage, and after that, we were not comfortable using it without further reasearch, which I didn't do. So, we use other methods. Both times I got pregnant, we planned for it to happen - which means there were several years that we intentionally didn't get pregnant. These were years with much prayer and thought about the matter though. I do believe that God gives us wisdom and commen sense to make decisions that would delay pregnancy. I think there are many couples who worry about finances and stuff way too much - I don't think your retirement fund and the college funds need to be complete and you need to own a home with a nice backyard. But, for us - Chris was and still is in school. I want to be a SAHM, and finances aside, school is very stressful, demanding and comes with a lot of pressure - esp. on Chris, but for me too. So, my 2st born will be 3.5 when our second is born. I feel like we waited SO long, because it seems to be more common today for Christian couples to have children pretty close together (2 years or less). My mom had 5 kids, and four of us were 3.5 years apart.

I guess it comes down to motive for me. So many people want to avoid children (or more children) because of all the negative, hard "side effects" that come with them. It makes me sad when Christians don't remember that the Bible says Chidlren are a BLESSING - and they really are! I hope God gives me several more of them.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, many people do let the opinions of others influence their decisions. Many people also want to provide the "best" for their children--big house, toys, yard, etc. Yet many of us grew up "poor" in small houses with small yards and didn't even know it. It all seemed so big at the time.

It's a tough decision because God would like us to make wise choices, but we also need to be trusting Him. Besides, how much money saved up is enough?

As for us, I don't know if we'll have kids or not. I have to take medication that I shouldn't take if pregnant, and I'm not sure pregnancy would be good for my back problems. I took BC for a little over a year, but quit because I didn't like the side effects. For a while we used a different kind, but we quit using that about 5 years ago.

Just because that's what we're doing doesn't mean that I'd advise someone else to do the same. Strangely, I'd probably advise someone in a similar situation to take preventative measures, but wouldn't think any less of them if they didn't take my advice. :)

We've been married for almost 7 years, so we get our share of comments and questions. It can be annoying, but I usually just tell them about how I'm not supposed to take my medication when pregnant. Strangely many forget my explanation and I have to tell them again.

I don't bug people about having kids because that's not a nice thing to do if they can't. There are a lot of private people who aren't comfortable broadcasting such information.

By the way, I grew up with 3 siblings and then 3 more were added after I went to college. Yes, my parents had a total of 7 kids.

Karis said...

After I saw your comment on my blog, I got to thinking that I hadn't seen your blog pop up on Google Reader for a long, long time. So, I came to your blog and started scrolling and realized that you have been posting so I then checked Google Reader and your blog wasn't on there..hmmmm... So, I've gotten caught up on the last couple of months of posts and realize that I happened to your blog for a very interesting post.

Dan and I have had so many conversations on this topic along the lines of what everyone else has said. We never came to a conclusion about why we couldn't trust God with our family size (with no birth control on our part). "Common sense" sounded good in our thought process, but God's ways are not always "common sense" as they are His ways so that didn't end the conversation. We acknowledge God is in control, and if we were using birth control and we got pregnant, praise the Lord but to just let Him give us as many as He wants... I know I am not selfless enough to have 17 children! What a responsibility before the Lord just one child has been...

Like you, we desire to remain open to God's leading and teaching.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you brought up this topic. My husband and have talked extensively concerning the negative view of children in our society. Birth control or not, the prevalent view does not line up with Scripture and we have to make sure that we are not being swayed by the culture.

Personally, we don't use birth control and because of sustained breastfeeding, mine have all been at least 2 years apart. It is definitely an issue that requires much prayer and consideration concerning motives of the heart. It is very clear in Scripture that God opens and closes the womb as it is mentioned several times in the OT narratives. So that emphasis on His sovereignty and control is helpful either way you go.

Al Mohler has written several articles that might be helpful for working through this topic. It was definitely an interesting read!

Matt & Nicki said...

I haven't read all your comments, I just had to jump on here and say that when I was on bedrest with silas, one of the nurses asked me about my children. I told her I had a little girl and she asked what we were having now. I told her a boy and she said "oh, perfect, you will have one of each" Like that was the rule or something. . .it irked me, but I wasn't surprised, that is the way the world views the family.

Anonymous said...

We have chosen to allow God to determine the size of our family - and it has been a journey. We've received some criticism, been the brunt of many jokes (even from well-intentioned friends); but for us, the biggest question is will we leave our family size in the hands of God, even if He doesn't do what we want Him to do, or what we think is best. Do we trust Him that much and are we willing to demonstrate that trust in this very tangible and evident way?

I know how many times, in other areas, I think I know best and God changes my mind.

I also know of times when God has let me live the consquences of when He has allowed me to take things into my own hands... and it often hasn't been pleasant.

We firmly believe that children are a blessing, and we will take each one that the Lord chooses to give us. But we are also fully aware that man has a very different perspective than God - I don't always agree that God's "blessings" are a blessing, at least not in my temporal frame of mind. Sometimes I think they are hard, unfair, undeserved,... and lots of other adjectives I could use.

But, God makes no mistakes and He is good, ALL of the time. It is terrifying or exhilerating or comforting (at different times or sometimes, even, all three at the same time), to leave this, perhaps most intimate and personal decsions, totally in the hands of God.

All that said, it is a very personal decision and not one that I think the Lord would want to cause disunity or vain debates, but one in which He wants us to, as individual families, seek first His face and then His will. He will be faithful to guide.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for starting this whole topic and for requesting the anonimity and words seasoned with grace. That in itself shows spiritual maturity.

For us, we started marriage with the opinion that God's ways are not our ways and even if we did try a form of birth control, God's will and choice could trump that in a moment's notice. So for us, we didn't feel that was wrong because we were still prepared that God could give us kids at any time and if so, we would be thankful for them.

After a few years we began trying to have kids and God did not have that in His timing for us.

Now we are at a point where doctors are telling us that without medical assitance we will not be able to have kids of our own and have examined the world of adoption.

I guess this gives me a different perspective on this because our hearts ache for a baby - even just one right now - and God has not chosen this for us yet. We know that He is in control and is good no matter what His ultimate choice is for our family.

Whether you are popping out 20 kids, only have 2 or have none, if you allow God to lead and guide you and trust His choice for your life, where have you gone wrong? I agree that you have to be careful how you project your views on others. I sat through a very difficult mother's day service where my pastor basically said that women are wrong and not following Scripture if they are not fulfilling their roll as mothers. Having struggled with infertility and hearing this from my pastor whose wife is now on her 7th baby was difficult.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your candor regarding this subject. Let me see if I can share some things from a practical aspect.

I am one of eight children. While my parents would never regret anything...there were some issues.

For example, on an extremely low budget, healthcare was never afforded. The kids are still suffering from this...cavities that can't be filled and other expenses like that.

Think of it this way. If a couple cannot seem to overcome financial irresponsiblities that were of their own making, i.e. overspending, multiple responsible is to bring multiple children into the world?

Culture has changed as well. The child-rearing methods we use today are different than they ever were in history. This has only changed in the 20th-21st Century. A large family meant that by age 6, your daughter already knew how to run a household. Your 10-year-old son knew how to work a farm and do a mans' job. Your children were contributing a great deal back to the family and helping alleviate financial problems.

Today, children do not face that responsiblity. Parents shoulder the family load entirely. Children are not normally expected to contribute to the family finances or work load at any point. Sure, at age 15 they might get a job, but really...where does most of that money end up?

God leads people in different ways at times. Not that God changes His ways, but He leads people down different paths for a reason.

God also holds us accountable for the things we already have. If we are irresponsible with what we already have, is it truly responsible to add to that burden?

Also, where are you spiritually? Where are you physically? Are you constantly run down? Do you feel capable of taking on another child?

I don't think it is wrong to consider the entire picture when bringing more children into the world.

There is no real "right" or "wrong" that I am trying to state. I am not trying to discount faith in God.

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who always gives liberally to those who ask."

I will be praying for you. This is an issue I have struggled with as well. But...whenever faced with a tough decision, ask God's wisdom.

You both are amazing and I'm sure God will make His way clear to you!!

In Christ . . .