Is it the responsibility of a married couple to have children?

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by dog8food, Apr 13, 2013.

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  1. JoannaV

    JoannaV Puritan Board Sophomore

    Of course God is sovereign over conception. But that does not mean that man has nothing to do with it. There are all kinds of things we do that may decrease fertility, and also all kinds of things we can do to increase fertility. Some women wean their babies early in an attempt to regain their fertility. Some couples make a special effort to have intercourse when the woman is aware that she is at a fertile time of the month. Other couples, having discovered that the husband has low sperm count, may at fertile times ensure they only have sex every other day not every day so as to increase the chance of conception.
  2. jpfrench81

    jpfrench81 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Because of the reasons your mentioned of course. There is also a clear difference between God sovereignly deciding that a couple cannot fulfill that purpose for marriage and intentionally avoiding it.
  3. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    So, may I ask if the use of a cesarean section is an illegitimate means whereby to birth children, seeing it is a man-created manipulation of the ordained process of birthing children? If it is a good and necessary consequence of scripture that interference in that process is not stewardship but sin, that we must only engage in marital relations when the possibility of pregnancy result, then doesn't that procedure fit that bill? If death or injury is a common result of child-bearing, why isn't it required that we risk that as well? In fact, why isn't it required that all Christian women give birth at home with at most mid-wives to assist, come what may, since that is the only biblical model we have to follow?
  4. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "You seem to be making an argument analogy to saying that one should not say that a main purpose of having legs is for transportation because then those whose legs are defective cannot be said to have legs anymore."

    I don't think you quite see my point, but you are close. I am not always as clear as I'd like to be.

    I don't think that the leg analogy would work, because a person does not choose to have legs or not. They don't choose whether to be fertile or not. But we do choose whether to use birth control or not, and that is what is being discussed on this thread.
  5. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "I asked immediately following this one, was can man open and close the womb?"

    I think so, in the sense that we can open and close our mouths; same idea.

    Is it not God who sustains us, who feeds us, who gives us each day or daily bread? Of course, and He maintains our digestive system and etc., so we can live, and even makes food usually very enjoyable.

    Yet, we decide whether to eat and what to eat at any given time, and without sin, unless done for a sinful reason.
  6. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "Oh yes, I've already stated that I agree it means more than just bearing children. We must raise godly children to take dominion over the earth. Christians ought to think about future generations. The dominion mandate is to have and raise Godly children"

    Oh dear, I don't think we much agree here. You see, the single or infertile and so on could never keep this command if that were the case.

    I think being fruitful and multiplying means evangelizing, doing good works, admonishing one another, being praiseful and prayerful, working with our hands, working to see that God's will is exalted and sustained in our churches and families and communities - and that someone can be fruitful and multiply without ever having a child.
  7. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    ' If the fall hadn't occurred every marriage would have resulted in children"

    You may be entirely correct about this, but I don't know if there is a biblical basis for that statement.

    I am afraid I may seem antagonistic about people having as many children as possible. I am not. I just wince to think that brothers and sisters who, for nonsinful reasons, do not have children, or do not have a lot of children. I don't want them to feel they are in some way sinning.
  8. irresistible_grace

    irresistible_grace Puritan Board Junior

    I do not recall the OP asking if it was a sin to "decide" to "never" have children... It asked if it is "biblical."
    There may be cases where it is not "sinful." However, I cannot see how one could argue that it is "biblical" for a married couple to "decide" to "never" have children. Especially because very the next question was what if one spouse wants children and the other doesn't, "Who wins?" ... This doesn't sound like health is a concern or any of the hypothetical motivations given to justify contraption (or Onanism).

    Please show me from Scripture that "deciding" to "never" have children is "biblical."
  9. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    But remember the place where I jumped in the discussion was what is the purpose of marriage. You objected to the addition of procreation being part of the purpose of marriage because then why should infertile couples get married. Such in no way follows because a couple is defective in some fashion that they would not be really married or that there is no reason for them to marry and engage in sexual activity. The question of whether or not to use birth control can only be answered after one first determines the final cause of marriage.

  10. irresistible_grace

    irresistible_grace Puritan Board Junior

    Is Scripture silent on "whether to use birth control or not?"
    NO - children are a heritage, the fruit of the womb a reward, blessed is the man whose quiver is full...

    Birth control, if anything, is an exception to the rule. There may be factors that make it less dishonorable to take it upon ourselves to close the womb (like health issues) but barrenness is never looked upon favorable in Scripture & to pretend that it is an honorable thing to "decide" to be without children when one is perfectly capable of having children is beyond me.

    Is it the responsibility of NON married couples to have children?
    NO - It is the responsibility of married couples to have children or at least desire to have children (even if GOD sees fit to withhold this blessing)
  11. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    In reading through the rest of this thread, I still find it interesting that no one has picked up the historical argument, in all likelihood since it is so compelling against contraception. We can wax eloquent for post after post about the creeping liberalism in the church even in the 1800s and the effects that it had on once-clear and mandated practices, about the death of orthodoxy in places like Harvard, the once-brilliant seminary. Exclusive psalmody, head covering, etc. are easily quoted in their ecclesiastical historical contexts to show the rising influence of worldliness in the church and a moving away from biblical ordinances.

    But we don't like to touch the church teachings on birth control, because we've gone so far in the other direction that a return to them is too bumpy a road. Prior to 1930 at the Lambeth Conference, you would be hard-pressed to find a church, Roman or Protestant, willing to contravene any sentiment against birth control. Birth control was the province of sailors and prostitutes and Christians didn't do that sort of thing. Not so much the advent of the Pill, but instead its general acceptance in society, both secular and Christian (One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, .... Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth) seems to have almost killed off the last vestiges of opposition to contraception. Find me a place where the Roman church is not ridiculed for its historical stance on the matter - it is almost universal. We worry so much about the world polluting the church for the most part, but this issue, for some reason, is beyond the Pale. And I cannot find the source for the rise of birth control anywhere within the body of Christ - can we honestly doubt that it is a secular incursion?
  12. irresistible_grace

    irresistible_grace Puritan Board Junior

    I am interested in learning more about when Confessional Christians stopped opposing contraception & started to embrace it to the point that 100 post into a thread about whether or not it is "biblical" to "decide" to "never" have children we are more concerned about offending those who don't have [or in the case of the OP don't want] any children than we are about what Scripture teaches about children.

    I also found it interesting that in 1920 at the Lambeth Conference they said
    And, even in 1930 they stressed "abstinence" NOT medicinal contraception as birth control.
  13. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    My answer would be absolutely not (though most C-sections done in hospitals today are not necessary, that's another story; there are times when a c-section is necessary to save the life of the mother, child, or both). Again, this is in no way trying to take over the aspect of God's sovereignty which is the creation of life. The life is already there and we are to do our best to preserve and steward the life once it is there. A c-section is intended to preserve the life that God has already created. This is far different from trying to prevent God's work of giving life.
  14. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    So man decides when to conceive and when to not conceive a child? Could the Egyptians whom's womb God closed because of Abraham's wife decide "eh, we're gonna conceive a child now and God can't do anything about it?" So now man can create life?

    Yes, God does sustain us. We are stewards in what God gives us because we work for food, choose what to eat, etc. But when's the last time any man ever helped God create a life in the womb?
  15. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    But you are leaving out the most important part of the dominion mandate.


    If you want to leave out childbearing and raising, then you would have to show where in Scripture this command is abrogated, which there is no evidence of. Raising children for a Christian is not meant for selfish purpose. It's meant to raise a godly seed! You are implicitly rejecting this idea when you reject the idea that childbearing is the main means of fulfilling the dominion mandate. "For a society to ignore a creation ordinance or a creational reality and base laws on rare exceptions that are abnormal and caused by the fall is unscriptural and irrational." We can see from Scripture that for those barren couples "it should result in prayer, contentment and possibly adoption." Again, companionship is another purpose of marriage and it is fine for those that are barren to marry for companionship.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2013
  16. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    The point of saying one should not use birth control is not to say "You have to have a baby every year or you're in sin!" Not at all. God provides children in His own timing and for His own purposes. My sister tried to have her second child for about 4 years before she finally had one. While I certainly believe the ideal is big families according to Scripture, this is not a hard and fast rule. Some people will never use birth control but still have a small family. The point is not that you must have a big family or be in sin. The point is since God opens and closes the womb, and we do not, we should not try to prevent what God clearly states is His job alone. We should instead trust Him and let Him bless us with children as He sees fit.
  17. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    i've heard contraceptives referred to as "rain coats"

    but i digress..

    i see the scriptures being clear on the command of having children(malachi 2:15). but there is no implied or inferred command that when we get married we must have children ASAP and AMAP.

    on the point of onanism, onan didnt pull out because he wanted to avoid having children, he did what he did because he knew the child that would come about would not be his own and so he disrespected his dead brother in not doing what needed to be done in maintaining the family line. onan wanted children, he just didnt want to be a surrogate father for child that wouldnt be his.

    on the point of God opening and closing the womb, God opened the wombs of barren women in order to fulfill his promises of maintaining certain family lines and also as a sign and a wonder in letting people know that He is The LORD. he closed wombs of totally fertile women as a way of excommunication from them being his chosen people and not maintaining their family line. nowhere in scripture is it implied or inferred that being barren was sinful but rather a punishment for sin. it was indeed a curse in that God wanted to mainatain the family line of his chosen people and being barren meant you didnt participate in that and were cut off from God, unless he had mercy on you and opened your womb.

    children are absolutely a blessing and no one here would disagree with that. however, i believe that God would want us to be good stewards of the children he allows us to procreate. im a single person myself who for a long time did not want to have anything to do with the institution of parenthood until i was shown in scripture that we are in fact required to bare Godly offspring as it is the reason God instituted marriage along with companionship.

    im not going to marry anyone until i have a job that will allow me to provide for a wife AND a child. the bible doesnt tell me we would have to have children right away, but i need to plan for it.

    using psalms 127 to tell someone that they're sinning if they dont have as many children as they possibly can despite the abject inability to do so economically and health-wise is an abuse of that scripture and extremely dangerous. all psalms 127:3-5 says is that those who have many children are blessed. it does not imply or infer that those who have 1 or 2 children are not blessed and neither does any other passage in scripture. also, a women who would bare only one child cannot be considered barren.

    the covenant marriage is commanded to bare godly offspring and obviously the one who bares many of these offspring is considered much more blessed than those who would have few. the point is, they're both blessed.
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  18. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Where in the bible does it tell us that we can control such a thing?


    How poor must you be before you have children?
  19. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't know of any other command given in Scripture where people say "Yes, God tells us to do this but he doesn't tell us when so it's ok if we put it off for however long that we want to or stop obeying it [how else do you say that???] whenever we see fit." My parents taught me from a very young age that delayed obedience is disobedience. I'm not saying you have to get married as soon as physically possible; when dealing with single people it's a slightly different issue. But, the command is enjoined upon married couples, I'm pretty sure no one denies that (at least in reformed circles). When is it ever ok to choose when we will and when we won't obey them? It's not our duty to create life - that's God's duty. It's simply our duty to obey Him.
  20. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    The only thing scripture says regarding children is that we are to bare Godly offspring and that children are a blessing. Time and amount can't be derived from what scripture has to say.

    If you can't provide food clothing and shelter for you and your family than having children or having more children would be irresponsible and reckless. You actually have to be able to provide for the family you have.
  21. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior


    God did say "Be fruitful and multiply."

    He did not say, "Begin at the start of your marriage, and continue until physically impossible no matter what the circumstance, to conceive children." Although some may truly believe that the creation mandate and other scriptures come together to mean just that.

    We are debating here what the purpose(s) of marriage are, what being fruitful means, what multiply means, and whether there is any discretion expected by God on our part, or if we are to not impede conception in any way.

    But no one on the thread is trying to encourage the delaying of obedience. Heaven forbid. I am questioning the interpretation of God's command that some are taking.

    Let us consider some other commands:

    "Go thou, and do likewise." Shall we all sell all of our goods and give them to the poor?

    "Do not fail to entertain strangers." Shall we bring them in off the street, take in hitchhikers?

    "Love one another." Shall we play out all the possible connotations there?

    "Give to him that asks of you." Shall we give our paycheck to our heroin addicted brother if he asks for it?

    I think most here would say no. We try to apply all of Scripture to understand Scripture.

    We are told for instance, that if a man will not provide for his household, let him be anathema. Strong, strong admonition. So shall a man who is unemployed and has no livable wage coming in try to conceive another child? I don't mean to be silly. There are some who would say, "yes." They would say it is a matter of faith, and he and his wife should continue to avoid birth control, trusting that God will provide.

    If a child IS conceived, I would take the position that he should not be aborted, no matter what the financial/housing/health/ situation in a family is. Murder it not a solution to impossible circumstances. That much I find clear. The use of birth control in these circumstances I do not find to be so clear. I am not willing to say it is wrong to use (barrier type) birth control if financial/housing/health situations of a serious nature are happening.
  22. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    it depends on why they're holding off. is it for financial reasons, health reasons, or is it because they dont want to despite being financially capable enough and healthy enough to have children. if the latter than i agree they are being disobedient. if the former, than they are being good stewards of the family God desires to give them in making sure they are in a position to properly care for their children and that they'll actually have a mommy who's alive and healthy enough to carry out the duties of a wife and mother.

    ADD: allow me to clarify what i mean by financial reasons so no one gets confused.

    im not talking about the person who says that if they have another child they wont be able to afford to retire as early as they wanted or wont be able to buy that new summer home or that sailboat, etc. that is a selfish reason to not bare children.

    im talking about the person who's will have another kid and be in danger of not being able to afford to pay the bills and end up having their utilites cut off, or being evicted from their home, or having to have the wife go out and work where she cant be home with the children as she ought.

    why would you disrespect the blessing of a child by bring a child into the world you cant take care of?
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  23. Vladimir

    Vladimir Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear brethren,

    I may be saying something basic here, but when we want to tackle an issue and the Bible does not explicitly say "Thou shalt have 37 children", we must look for concepts and principles in it and apply them to the question at hand.

    With your permission, I will quote a part of a message from pastor Voddie Baucham that has been a great blessing to me, and I hope that it may help you see things in another perspective:

    The message is called "The Centrality of the Home". You can find the whole transcript here: The Centrality of the Home... ~ Voddie Baucham (transcript) - Sermon Index
  24. jpfrench81

    jpfrench81 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Wade, suppose I grant you that argument. Now suppose my wife and I become very poor, and we decide it is not wise to have children. We use contraception consistently and according to directions, but lo and behold, she gets pregnant! Would we be in sin to keep the child? Or were we presumptive to assume we couldn't afford another child? Or perhaps another option? How would you counsel such a couple from the Bible?
  25. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    I am presupposing that the conception of a child (aka the giving of life) is an aspect of God's sovereignty and not man's stewardship. Man gives us children and then we do the best we can with and for them; that's when they enter into the realm of man's stewardship. But again, no one has yet to provide Scriptural evidence that conceiving a child can ever be sinful - or even sinful"ish" like irresponsible or something. In fact, conception is always associated as God's work not man's - HE opens and closes the womb, etc.
  26. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    According to Scripture, God gives children, not man. So you would have to say God irresponsibly gave a child to that couple - not the couple themselves.
  27. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    You're correct that each command needs to be interpreted correctly since the examples you give are clearly misusing the commands. However, "be fruitful and multiply" is hard to mis-interpret; unless you have other unbibilcal presuppositions hindering it. I've also considered several other biblical principles about childbearing and all of them are the opposite principles that would lead one to use birth control. The "all of Scripture" understanding here all oppose the principles that could lead one to use birth control. The biggest principle in Scripture that seems to be missed is that fact that God grants/gives the conception of the child so how can we ever call the man and his wife "irresponsible" for something God did?
  28. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Dear Leah (I have not interacted with you before so first things first, hello :),

    God has given two adorable little ones to a neighbor and his girlfriend, out of wedlock. Before that she was given by God her first child, conceived when her stepfather sexually abused her as a teenager. Did God make mistakes in giving these children? Does that mean the circumstances under which they were conceived are fine?

    Please, please understand: I am by no means comparing any situation within marriage with these situations. My point is quite simply that just because the matter of conception is in the hands of God does not put it entirely out of the realm of other considerations in our keeping of the moral law.

    I pray God will bless you for living out your convictions before Him. While representing that your own conscience is bound by these considerations, I think it would be more in keeping with the law of love and the need to bear true witness of our neighbors to acknowledge that other peoples' consciences are equally bound by for instance, the command 'thou shalt not kill' -- as well as the command 'thou shalt not commit adultery'; and the whole picture of prudent love and respect and care for the lives already given by the Lord that the law forms.

    Please forgive me if I've spoken clumsily: I don't plan to argue any of these points. All the best.
  29. Boosterseat_91

    Boosterseat_91 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello! No, that wasn't clumsy at all, in fact, I really appreciate that perspective! =)

    Certainly, those were sinful situations, as you said. God ordained marriage between a godly man and godly women for the bearing of children and raising them in godly dominion. The unmarried state is definitely not the time to be bearing children, which is easily proven from the moral law. But that said, is there anytime that we can prove from Scripture where in the married state, it is not the time to have children? I would agree that the 6th commandment needs to be heavily considered when the life of the mother is at risk, but that's the only situation where the conception of a child may actually kill someone else. Our reformed fathers' understanding was that the use of birth control is actually a violation of the 6th commandment. I'm not saying that's the correct understanding simply because they said it; they are obviously imperfect people. But, when we look at the principles about childbearing in Scripture (God opens and closes the womb, a closed womb is seen as a reproach, children are a blessing, etc. I've listed these 2x in this thread) and look at the principles that drive the use of birth control, are they not directly opposed to each other (ie. man opens and closes the womb, a closed womb is often a wise choice, children can be a huge burden and not a blessing in some situations, etc.)?

    Perhaps, I am far less inclined to accept the idea that financial struggles are justification for birth control due to my upbringing. My father has 12 children and we were always struggling - I mean serious struggles. But we never went hungry or were in need. I wouldn't trade my upbringing for any other upbringing in the world - even if I could have had rich parents with few children that could have gotten me everything that I wanted. The standard of living is just far to high in the United States. Most people in other countries have far less than the poorest do here and yet they keep having children and don't starve to death because of it! I'm not saying it isn't hard and that there aren't a lot of situations to consider. But can't we agree that the overall principles in Scripture are against birth control?
  30. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    No doubt a lot of our views are influenced by our upbringing; what a wonderful upbringing to be influenced by.

    But that is exactly, for many reasons already mentioned and gone round with (that the creation mandate should not override everything in the moral law except the prohibition of adultery; that many OT emphases need to be placed in context rather than simply transplanted without any nuance into the life of the church), what we can't agree on! Yet we can agree, and rejoice in agreeing, that our Lord is to be obeyed in all He commands, that He is a good and gentle master who blesses those who serve Him​, who teaches us to place an immense and self sacrificing value on the created life of others; that to Him we each stand or fall, and that we stand, for He upholds us. And we can agree that though we will never serve Him perfectly while we are here, we ought all always to be seeking to understand and obey more fully.

    It's nice to meet you, Leah.
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