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Is It All Right for a Married Couple to Choose to Remain Childless?

Is It All Right for a Married Couple to Choose to Remain Childless?

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A. That's a bit like asking, "Is it wrong not to marry?" Obviously not! But when the apostle Paul, for example, chose not to marry, he saw it as a sacrifice for the sake of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:5). Paul was willing to give up something good for the greater good of his special calling from God.

Similar principles apply to this question. Declining God's gift of children is a choice never to be taken lightly. However, while the well-known words of Genesis 1:28 to "be fruitful and multiply" seem at first glance to communicate a biblical mandate to couples to bear children, this verse actually communicates a blessing from God to the human race.

As Genesis 1:28 says, "God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number.'" The Hebrew grammar utilized in this passage is the same used in other parts of Scripture to express prayers and wishes of blessings upon families (see Genesis 24:60). So the statement to "be fruitful" doesn't refer to what couples must do to please God, but what God can do for and through humankind.

Sometimes circumstances guide the decision not to have children: It's time to finish an educational degree, or health issues or a genetic condition make having kids unwise. Occasionally a couple may feel the world is such a bad place they fear bringing more children into it. But this fear forgets that "perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18). Christians need to trust that God's ultimate love triumphs over the terrors of history and that he will keep our children and us in his hands through thick and thin.

What's unusual is the choice never to have children. Couples contemplating this decision need to ask themselves what their motives are. Are they being self-indulgent or making an idol of career or money? Or are they choosing this path prayerfully because they feel called to love God and serve him and others in a different way? Childless-by-choice couples always should ask whether they have a special responsibility to serve God's people in ways couples with kids can't. The key to all this is that Christ asks us all to take up our cross, sacrifice ourselves, and follow him out of love in some capacity.

I know of one young married couple where the wife's been gifted to be a leading cancer researcher. The intense demands of her work exclude the time and energy for bearing and raising children—a sacrifice she and her husband are willing to make. And yet, should a pregnancy surprise them, they would make the adjustments needed to love and rear their baby.

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Jason Bixman

April 02, 2012  8:57pm

It's obvious that one's personal desires lead to their opinion on this subject and you can use a variety of Bible verses to prove either opinion. Is not having children as a Christian wrong? Of course not, but kids are still an incredible blessing. To say that not having children is a "higher calling" from God is just as wrong as saying that having children is the only right way to go. People often talk about the "freedom" they have by not having kids, but if that freedom isn't used to go further in their service for the Lord than a couple with kids could, then isn't that a bad argument? Raising kids is an act of worship just like whatever activities take up the "free" time that comes from not having kids. To view children as just snotty, dependent, expensive nuisances is wrong whether you have kids or don't; whether you want them or decide God is leading you somewhere else. Isn't that the lesson we learned from verses like Mark 10:13-16, "Let the little children come to me"!

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Jenn

January 12, 2012  2:08pm

"Or are they choosing this path prayerfully because they feel called to love God and serve him and others in a different way? Childless-by-choice couples always should ask whether they have a special responsibility to serve God's people in ways couples with kids can't." That's us exactly. It's a different calling, and one that (like parenting) is challenging, exhausting, and rewarding. I'm glad the author made this point. But it's too bad the author then concludes with the same sentiment that is always hurtful to couples without children: "If you don't have kids, you're missing out." I think this sentiment fails to take into account that, just as some may be called to be large families, others are called to be single or to be a family of two.

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Aerith

August 07, 2010  1:52am

LOL @ Tasha. Sorry, but we've heard of that before. Please show how ABSOLUTELY NONE of the things in the bible can be proven, especially biblical prophecy.

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