Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Marriage Without Children

Recently, a reader asked, basically, this question: "would it be sinful for a woman to marry if she knows she does not want children?" I opened up the question for discussion, and you can read the answers given by other readers HERE.

But, honestly, I had to weigh in on this question. There is much to say, but let me start out by saying that two observations need to be made:

  1. Not until this century would this question even be asked... because not until this century was this kind of arrangement (an intentionally childless marriage) actually a possibility... every marriage, Christian or no, for thousands of years, by God's earliest design (see Genesis 1:27-28), has been intrinsically linked to the *possibility* of children.
  2. Even still, once the question is asked, it is still somewhat absurd to the extent that NO birth control (except for abstinence, which is OUT for all Christian married people--see 1 Corinthians 7:3-5) is foolproof.
So, regardless of whether or not the desire for a marriage without children is in and of itself sinful, the question itself is impractical and foolish at best. Children may feasibly come to ANYONE who is sexually intimate.

Now, as to the sinfulness of such a desire... I could say a lot, but Al Mohler has written much more eloquently than I am able on this issue. Here's an excerpt of his article "Deliberate Childlessness":
Christians must recognize that this rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift. The Psalmist declared: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." [Psalm 127: 3-5]

Morally speaking, the epidemic in this regard has nothing to do with those married couples who desire children but are for any reason unable to have them, but in those who are fully capable of having children but reject this intrusion in their lifestyle.

The motto of this new movement of chosen childlessness could be encapsulated by the bumper sticker put out by the Zero Population Growth group in the 1970s: "MAKE LOVE, NOT BABIES." This is the precise worldview the Scripture rejects. Marriage, sex, and children are part of one package. To deny any part of this wholeness is to reject God's intention in creation--and His mandate revealed in the Bible.

The sexual revolution has had many manifestations, but we can now see that modern Americans are determined not only to liberate sex for marriage [and even from gender], but also from procreation.

The Scripture does not even envision married couples who choose not to have children. The shocking reality is that some Christians have bought into this lifestyle and claim childlessness as a legitimate option. The rise of modern contraceptives has made this technologically possible. But the fact remains that though childlessness may be made possible by the contraceptive revolution, it remains a form of rebellion against God's design and order.

Couples are not given the option of chosen childlessness in the biblical revelation. To the contrary, we are commanded to receive children with joy as God's gifts, and to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are to find many of our deepest joys and satisfactions in the raising of children within the context of the family. Those who reject children want to have the joys of sex and marital companionship without the responsibilities of parenthood. They rely on others to produce and sustain the generations to come.
He goes on:
... the family is a critical arena where the glory of God is either displayed or denied. It is just as simple as that.

The church must help this society regain its sanity on the gift of children. Willful barrenness and chosen childlessness must be named as moral rebellion. To demand that marriage means sex--but not children--is to defraud the creator of His joy and pleasure in seeing the saints raising His children.

We, as Christians, ought not to follow the world's lead, using arguments that are derived more from a focus on human "happiness" or what is politically correct. We ought to be a people that sees God's design and uphold that design and all that it implies about how we are to live our lives. A people who looks to His WORD as our standard rather than human feelings. A people who is willing to stand up for the truth that the Word speaks about family, marriage, and children, rather than using world-based logic about these issues.

For example, God's first command to the first man and woman was to "be fruitful and multiply". Children were an intrinsic part of the original *design* of marriage. Children are repeatedly called "blessings" and conversely, childlessness was always taken by biblical characters to be a curse, never a good thing. Jesus Himself modeled a receptive attitude towards ALL children when He chastised his disciples and said "let all the little children come to me." And these are just some examples off of the top of my head.

There is nothing in Scripture that remotely comes close to "well, it seems wrong to deny a person something GOOD just because she's not keen on following God's design". Rather, what we see over and over again in Scripture is the idea of taking up one's cross and submitting yourself to the will of the Father. A focus on personal "happiness" or "fulfillment" isn't ours to focus on... abundant life comes from following the will of God.

Now, singleness is definitely the option for this woman, as this is a calling for certain people, and as this is an admirable choice, if you are going to do work for God's Kingdom with the time/energy/etc. that you are then not putting into a family. Biblically speaking, unless her heart is changed to be open to whatever God brings to her marriage (sickness/health, rich/poor, children/infertility), she ought not consider marriage. Period.

But to be deliberately childless simply for reasons of our own ease, desire, or plans, I believe, is simply NOT an option for a Christian marriage.

Further thoughts on this issue? Comments?


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