Does the Bible say you have to have kids?
It’s kinda neat looking at the blog stats page and seeing what people searched for online to find your blog. This was one of the search terms, and it got me to thinking–what *does* the Bible say about it? I’ve not done extensive research into this question, so most of this is “off the cuff”; besides, I could have biases that blind me to some of the evidence, and I could misinterpret things. Please don’t set this up as your doctrine until you study it out for yourself.
First, the Bible is most clear that sex is to be only between a man and woman who are married to each other. All other forms of sex (premarital, extramarital, homosexual, bestiality) are clearly forbidden in both the Old and the New Testaments. It amazes me that there are people who claim to be Christians and claim to believe the Bible, who have no clue what the Bible says, or find loop-holes and exceptions where there are none, or believe that certain parts of the Bible are not accurate. (That is another subject, and I may take that up in a future post; for now, I encourage you to read Josh McDowell’s book Evidence that Demands a Verdict on the question of the authenticity of the Bible.) Now, on to the Biblical evidence.
In Gen. 1:28, God commands the newly-created man to “be fruitful and multiply.” As my dad used to say, if a man and his wife just have two kids, that’s not multiplication–that’s not even addition–that’s just replacement! (For the sake of honesty, right now, I have two children, ages 3 years and 19 months, and am not planning on more for a while.) As far as I can tell, that command has never been said to be fulfilled and no longer in force. I think the command to have children was in fact repeated to the Israelites when they were on the verge of entering into the land of Canaan to conquer it–to fill the land with their children, basically. Throughout the Old Testament, not having children was considered to be a curse, and having many children was considered to be a blessing (a few Scriptures that spring to mind are a couple of Psalms that allude to this–likening children to many arrows in the quiver, or like many olive shoots around the olive tree). One might argue that we humans have been fruitful and multiplied, and that we have filled the earth, so we don’t need to have lots of children now. Also, we are not an agrarian society, so children are a financial burden for many years more now than they were back in the old days when they might tend sheep or help in the fields.
From what I can remember of the New Testament, there is no positive directive for married couples to have children, but it is more or less understood that that would happen. One should be careful, however, when formulating one’s ideas, to make sure that a command is a command, and liberty is liberty. There are some who think that sex is only for the purpose of procreation; some who think that couples should always be trying to get pregnant; others think that one should never try not to have a child (even by periodic abstinence); and some try to have more control over their own lives. Some of these people take the line that God should be the one in charge of your family size, and to keep from conceiving a child is basically thumbing your nose at the sovereignty of God or something. My basic philosophy is, if you want to have children, go for it. If you don’t, first make sure that your reasons don’t violate commands of Scripture.
One problem I have with the philosophy that you should have no control whatsoever over how many children you have is that God did give us brains for some reason, and I think He wants us to use them. If we’re not allowed to decide how many children we want, are there any other similar decisions that we are sinning if we try to control?–who we marry, when we marry, what job we have, where we live…. The other problem I have with it is that there are some who truly cannot afford to have more children, yet intentionally try to have more (usually for religious reasons). Of course, nobody can really afford to have kids, by some estimates–that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people who are on government assistance, or barely scraping by without it, perhaps even have declared bankruptcy or are contemplating it–and still planning on having more children. Now, that clearly violates the New Testament command of men providing for their families at the penalty of being “worse than an infidel” if do not.
Where does birth control fit into this? I believe that life starts at conception (numerous Scriptures speak of a woman “conceiving a son” not a blob of tissue that would become a son; also, John the Baptist was referred to as a living being when he “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb), and therefore an already-conceived baby should be allowed to live if at all possible. I don’t have a problem with contraception (that is, preventing conception from occurring), but I do have a problem with drugs or procedures that can be considered abortifacients. There are a variety of contraceptives (spermicide, condoms and diaphragms; as well as “natural family planning” methods that include periodic abstinence to prevent conception); but everything else that falls under the name of “birth control” may in fact induce an abortion.
Most methods of birth control–hormones such as pills, injections, patches, etc., and IUDs including Mirena–work in one of two ways–blocking conception (by keeping the woman from ovulating, or the sperm from entering the uterus) or by keeping the fertilized egg from implanting. Hormones keep the uterine lining too thin for adequate blood supply for the embryonic placenta, and the IUD tends to “irritate” the uterus, making it slightly contract–not enough for the woman to feel it, but enough to expel an embryo. Still, pregnancy may occur using any method of birth control or contraception (except abstinence works every time it’s tried). If you are uncomfortable with abortion, you may very well need to be uncomfortable with birth control.
I suggest you google terms such as “natural family planning” and other methods of contraception and birth control, to find out what is best for you–after you know all of the benefits and risks of every option.