Life is such a beautiful gift. As I reflect upon my pregnancies, remember in vivid detail the births, and celebrate the moments with each one of my children I realize that life is the most beautiful gift that God has given us. The fact that the world has so corrupted our thinking to believe that life is nothing but a heartbeat that can be flushed away, a nagging responsibility that one must endure, or a pointless profession with no real fruits or reward, is insulting to God’s most beautiful creation. I used to be one of those people. Children were a hinderance in my opinion. Being a stay at home was as far off my radar as it could have possibly been. Stay at home mom status might as well have been a non option, until God in his infinite grace touched my heart, softened it towards a little girl. My sisters little girl. My mom saw this change in me, a new light in my eye, and we all knew that I now desired a baby of my own. Then Gabriel came. The boy changed my life! From the moment he looked up at me my heart was changed, forever. The joy that he brings me is beyond compare to any other venture I’ve ever made in my life. Then there was Elizabeth. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. She is stubborn, but she gives us a lot to talk about! We get the most laughs out of her stubborn little self because she’s the cutest little firecracker you’ve ever saw. How can you not laugh when she stomps her little foot at you and demands something of someone 10 times her size?! There is also Josiah, the best surprise gift God has ever given to me. Hands down the best baby ever. My world wouldn’t be the same without this little guy! Each one of them has made an impact on my life and each one of them is a blessing. The Bible says in Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward,” and there is NO DOUBT this has been true for me. God has blessed me beyond measure with my three children! The verse also goes on to say, “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.” The second half of this verse is where I want to focus my attention.
I personally believe that there is no wrong or fault in family planning. Meaning actively taking a part in the number of children you “plan” to have. I say “plan” because let’s face it folks, no matter what we plan God is sovereign and His will will be done. Can we all agree that there isn’t a SINGLE person on this planet that God didn’t “plan?” On the flip side of that is there a single person that God “planned” who wasn’t born. Yes, you could say people abort children that God planned, but He knew those children would be aborted and never make it to birth. So my point is God isn’t surprised. If he planned for the Barnett family to have six kids I will have six kids. We all know how I feel about birth control: https://girloutofthebox.com/2014/04/04/startling-fact-about-birth-control/ , but let’s just say for the sake of argument I was on birth control. Do you think it’s impossible for God to get around birth control? What about tubal ligation? What about vasectomy? Nothing is impossible with God!!! All of this to say, God’s will is going to be done. Even to the extent of our thought processes. So you say I’m wrong because I family plan, well what if God has only planned on me having three kids and my thoughts and desires have now changed? In other words, I no longer desire to have more children because God changed the desires of my heart? We can agree that there IS a certain planned number for every person, just as there is a planned age we will die right? I mean it isn’t a surprise to God. It is not like He looked down and said, “oops, I thought a Jared would be born to that family, Jared was going to be the President one day, but they decided not to get pregnant with Jared so I’ll have to change course.” God also uses circumstances to show us His will. Most Christians submit to the belief that God uses circumstances, people, and even dreams to show you His will right? So, when you are asking God to show you if you should be a missionary in Cambodia, you would see no funds to do so as a closed door, correct? So circumstances and logic DO indeed matter in how we interpret God’s will for our lives, right? I’ll delve into this a little more as I formulate my thoughts, but for now I don’t want to belabor that point. For now I’ll move on with my opinion.
As I spoke with moms about family planning I heard a few arguments arise. I’ve also heard a few confusing thoughts. Thoughts like, “I didn’t really want 10 kids and they stress me out entirely, but I don’t believe in family planning so God’s will be done.” Well, I must ask at this point what the meaning of “blessing” is to you? Because as you put it at some point God’s blessings turned into a burden of stress and anxiety! To most people land is also a blessing, but there comes a point in which you can not tend to more land. The land will become a burden. You would have to hire additional people to care for the land. The amount of land one could tend to would be different for different people. It would be dependent on physical ability and everyone has a limit. Just as the amount of children one can tend to is different for different people.We are limited by physical and emotional constraints when tending to children.The point is that if you have too much land you would stop buying more land. It wouldn’t make sense then if you had too many kids that you keep having more kids, would it?! Some people have severe postpartum depression, some have severe ligament pain while pregnant, some are emotionally distressed with the burden of caring for each one of these blessings. Let’s face it, with each child comes a new and unique personality with which takes an understanding of child development and psychology. This takes a lot of time and work, not to make raising children an assembly line of sorts, but to shepherd their hearts.
I read a blog that said women were not submitting to the authority of their husbands or God by not being “open” to multiple children. This may not be a Biblical answer, but I’d like to see you submit your body physically and emotionally to carrying a child for 40 weeks, and then birthing that child risking your own life and body. Then living with the physical and hormonal changes and challenges that come. It isn’t about submission, it is about understanding the limitations of your own body, feeling strong, and having the mental capacity to care for each of these children that need instruction and guidance in their own individual ways. It’s ignorant to keep abusing your body when you know it is harming you. I bet on the other hand you argue that the body is the temple of God and you are to care for it. So you can’t always have it both ways. God gave us a logical brain to make wise decisions for our health. For some having children isn’t a wise choice for their physical well-being (before you think I’m being overly dramatic -and NO this did not happen to me- look up uterine prolapse). For others it isn’t wise for their emotional well-being. Children are not a blessing when you feel overwhelmed after each day because of the anxiety involved in caring for, clothing, feeding, and loving your children. The number is different for different people as to how many they can care for themselves. To say that a woman is made for this and therefore should submit and have natural relations without regard for her fertile days is just abusive if you ask me. A man of God should care for his wife’s physical and emotional well-being, love her. Submission is only half of the story. This argument did make me angry if you haven’t noticed ;). Possibly Eve’s body was less degenerated (more perfect) than mine and she could give birth to 20 kids or more, but I can’t image my body enduring that after only three and I think of myself as pretty strong/healthy. Moving on…
There is an argument that in Genesis God blessed Sarah with a son, so therefore being able to bear children is a blessing, I don’t disagree by any means. In Genesis 17:16 the Bible says, “And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations” speaking of Sarah (Abrahams wife). We all know she had one son. Therefor God blessed her! I agree! Look up the meaning of the word “blessed” and it means, “favor.” God shows “favor.” She was only the mother of one, but the seed of Abraham lived on to produce a generation that numbers the stars in the sky. Ultimately I believe it’s the heritage that lives through the seed that is the blessing, not so much the quantity. Whether you have one or ten they are all a blessing, you are blessed. On the flip side of the argument are you saying that because you only have one child you have not found favor in God’s eyes? You are NOT blessed? I say no because Sarah was blessed and found favor in yet she only had ONE. Same holds true for a husband or a wife being a blessing, but you only have how many? One. Don’t misunderstand that I’m arguing for only one child. I’m only saying that each one given is a blessing, but this does not mean that more than one will be an EXTRA blessing. There isn’t a place that God puts a number on the amount of children one should have. Even a “quiver” can vary in size! When I looked up,”how many arrows does a quiver hold” on ask.com I found, ” Quivers have been used over time and the number of arrows carried was dependent on the dependency of the user on archery in combat.” Wow, that pretty much sums it up very well for me! So your quiver being full is dependent on the user. That sounds a lot like what I was arguing above in the physical and emotional aspect, but lets also look at financial restraint in the next paragraph.
Financially speaking it would be Biblically unwise to sponsor an orphan child for 10% over your monthly income. Yes, the Bible tells us to care for orphans, but it must be within your financial means. You can not make the pledge, in faith, that God will provide the extra means just because He wants us to care for orphans. This is illogical! It would be just as illogical to have faith that God would provide enough monthly income to feed, clothe, and properly care for -medically or otherwise- “x” amount more children. I say “x” amount because this will be different for every family. 1 Timothy 5:8 says if we can not care for our immediate family in our household we are worse than sinners. Although I don’t believe you are a sinner if you are actively trying, working, and still not making ends meet, I also believe it is for you to plan financially to be sure your household is taken care of. This may mean giving up certain material things, but even at that there will be a point in which you’ve given up all of the extra material items you have and are just flat-out not making it. At this point I feel like saying, “we’ll still let things happen naturally” is like stepping out into the middle of the highway and saying, “God will protect me from getting hit by a car if it is His will.” At this point your just kind of asking for it. Yes, I realize some people can not get pregnant, but some people can! To use the highway argument, and to get slightly crude, lets imagine you are an egg and the speeding cars are the sperm. The chances are pretty good at the right time, given the right circumstances, that you will get “hit!” So in this area of our lives we say, let’s let it happen naturally, but we don’t do this with many other aspects of our lives. You get cancer, do you let it cure itself naturally or are you proactive in the treatment? You want vegetables in a garden so you plant the seed and take the steps necessary to make that happen. You just don’t let whatever happens to you happen in most aspects of your life. You plan. You ask God for guidance! This is where the true answer, for me, comes in. Having a baby is a big decision and it changes your life with each one. Why wouldn’t we be prayerful in this arena of our lives as well? If God lays it on your heart to have another baby, and for selfish reasons you decide to prevent it at all costs, I believe you can be sinning by not submitting to His will for your life, but if He lays it on your heart that you are done having kids, happy with the number you have, then that should be accepted as well. God answers our prayers in different ways, and this is what I wanted to talk about next.
There is a fictional story of a man on a rooftop during a flood and a few boats go by and asks him aboard to save his life, but the man refuses and says, “I’m waiting for God to save me.” I mean here God gave us a cycle in which woman can almost perfectly time. Yes some women’s cycles vary, but there is about a 6 day window that you can actually get pregnant in (maybe even less). Women have known this probably since the beginning of time. If they didn’t know the exact window, they at least knew sperm= seed= pregnancy. That I can guarantee given a few Bible stories. Plus, it doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out when you have your cycle every month to start taking notes of changes with your own body. Why would God have given us this perfect schedule, a certain window of fertility every month, if he wasn’t trying to give us some control -naturally- of our fertility? It’s like the dude about to drowned in the flood waters. You may be drowning in the flood waters of life, anxious, stressed, fearful, but you still have sex in that fertile window with no protection and say, “I’m waiting for God to save me from this.” Well, I hate to point it out but the calendar is your “life boat” and God made it pretty understandable. Like clockwork almost in many women. I won’t say all, but most women learn what is “normal” for their own bodies. If that doesn’t work for you we all know that sperm is necessary for pregnancy. Moving on, we can also assume that what happens naturally does need some degree of “ownership.” Our nails and toenails grow out naturally, but we cut them. Our yards grow full of grass and weeds, and we cut them. To say that just because something happens naturally, and we should just leave it alone and let God handle it, is a little nonsensical when applied to other areas of our lives. So without a clear command from God, why do we apply this “it happens naturally so therefore that is the way God intended it to be” standard on such a huge aspect of our lives as family planning?
Let’s talk about no clear command from God. You won’t find a clear command in the Bible to never prevent sperm from reaching the egg. In other words there is no clear command NOT to family plan. The closest we get is with Onan in the Bible (Genesis 38). Most against family planning use this verse as “see, God killed Onan because he was family planning so this is how strongly God feels on the issue.” This idea is clearly out of context and the Bible isn’t even vague about the “heart” of the matter. Onan’s heart was in the wrong place. It wasn’t that he didn’t want a child, he didn’t want to raise up an offspring for his brother. The firstborn son would have actually contributed to the line of his brother, Er (see reference in Deut 25:5-10). So it was the heart that God was upset with. I will concede here that if you believe God is calling you to have another child, He’s provided for you to have one, and you know it is His will for you, then you ARE sinning if you do not submit to His will. Also, on this same line of thought, nothing is a mistake with God. If you are family planning or using contraceptive, and still get pregnant, you should be grateful for the blessing God has given you. Let’s talk about the command, “be fruitful and multiply.” Keep in mind that not all commands given in the Bible are for all people. God was very clearly speaking to the Adam and Eve, to Noah, and telling them to “replenish the earth.” The earth does not need to be replenished. At the time of Adam and Eve they were the only ones and then after Noah it was only him, his wife, his three sons and their three wives, so yea, I could see that command being legitimate to preserve the human race! Replenish means “to fill something up again” if you were curious. Yes, we should replace our current population which would mean about 2.5-3 kids per woman (because men can not have children so the woman has to have one for her and one for him to sustain the population), but there is no need to “replenish” it. Then this isn’t a command from the Bible (to replace the current population) only something that makes sense to keep society thriving (old people get too old to work, there are not enough young people to keep the infrastructure running, society collapses, people die). Yes, in 1 Timothy 5:14-15 says young women should marry and bear children, but no reference to the “number” or “amount” of children is given.
One last argument is that marriage was instituted FOR reproduction. This just simply is not the case. Marriage was instituted to first show the union between Christ and His Church. Second I would say it was instituted to create stability IF children resulted via normal sexual relations, not FOR children. Why do I put it that way? Well because some people can’t have children, so is there marriage just pointless? Is it somehow unbiblical now? Of course not. The Bible teaches two are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) and the marriage institution is a great relationship for helping one another through life. Marriage also protects individuals from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2), which by default would most likely result in children. I agree God designed sex for procreation, but he also established it for pleasure and for marital unity.
In summary my thoughts are that God reveals His will for our lives through our desires (if God focused and in agreement with the Bible. I’m not talking about desires that do not line up with Biblical teaching), we are to prayerfully consider God’s will in our lives as far as family planning is concerned, and we are to be grateful for every blessing God does provide. We also should not judge other people in their decision to family plan because there is no clear cut “law” that says they can not. If you do judge them, or say God commanded against family planning, you are putting rules/responsibility on them that even God did not put on them. Finally, we as Christians should always see children as a blessing of God’s favor and not a burden when He gives us children, “planned” or not, but in no means is it a “sin” to family plan while seeking God’s will.