Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is it Wrong for Women to Not Want Children? A Christian response

Okay, I love the Today Show, at least the first two hours. This morning there was a story about a lady that does not want children and is proud to declare that. She has received a lot of support for her decision and also a lot of criticism. What do you think about women that do not want children? How should a Christian woman view children?

To read the article (and I think you should) you can click here. This of course is a secular, non-religious view and for those of us who follow Christ, we seek to view all things through the Word of God and what He says.

I don't have all my thoughts put together on this one because I think it can be a sensitive and tricky subject, but I believe the bible does speak about motherhood, children, and the role of women.

About children, the Bible says:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 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.
(Psalms 127:3-5 ESV)
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 113:9 Holy Bible ESV)
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 18:10 ESV)
It is no shock that many women do not view children as a reward. As a society I don't think we should pressure a woman to have children if she genuinely does not want to. We see too many people become mothers that did not want to become mothers, and we see plenty of children neglected and abused because of it. We also see many career driven women who depend on others to raise their children and only see them an hour a day. ( i know sometimes wonderful mothers and especially single mothers do have to depend on others to raise their children because they don't have any other option) We see many woman who make a choice about their reproductive freedom and end the life of the baby in their womb. This news story came as no surprise to me. The family unit is under attack. Marriage is under attack. Motherhood is under attack.

Motherhood is hard. Any woman who says it isn't is lying! But it is also so rewarding. As a Christian mother I am not just raising little citizens who will grow up and contribute to society and live the American dream. I am raising little soldiers for Christ (trusting the Lord saves them young) that I hope will grow up to live their lives for Him and impact the kingdom of God for eternity. For generations women, and particularly mothers, have been the foundation of our society. (Fathers are extremely important as well, being the head of the family and all! :) Women raise the next generation of citizens and soldiers for Christ. We are told to be fruitful and multiply. As Christian women we need to let our minds be transformed by the Word and not conformed to the world. If we are not careful we will begin to think it is all right to not want children.

Now there is the issue of infertility and barreness, which I cannot speak to because I have never experienced it. I have friends who have gone through it or are going through it now, and I can tell you it is one of the hardest places to be in. It is very hard for a woman who wants to be a mother but cannot, hear about women who simply do not want to be mothers. For the barren woman, I would say that there are other ways to be a mother. God has a huge heart for orphans and for the fatherless and calls many of us to adopt, and what a blessing that it! So even for the barren woman, it is possible to still be a mother.

God does call some women to singleness as well. This can be a delightful calling for those he has equipped to be single. God also has some women in a season of singleness, although they very much long to be a wife and mom. They might read verses in the bible about children with a hint of sadness because God has not yet fulfilled their heart's desire. This article by Carolyn McCulley is beautiful and speaks to both infertility and singleness.  Also here is a great blog that Carolyn recommends for women who long to be married.

Okay, this blog was supposed to be about children and motherhood but I felt like I needed to be sensitive to those that are experiencing infertility, and those that are called to be single, or in a state of singleness. If you find yourself here there are still ways to make an impact in the lives of children and to serve other families. This is a beautfully encouraging blog written about single women being a blessing to moms.

I will end with a long quote or maybe a copy and paste of a blog written recently by Rachel Jankovic for Desiring God. She is the author of Loving the Little Years, which I plan to read. I have loved both of her recent blog posts at Desiring God. I would say if you are a Christian mom, this is a must read, so stay with me.

It is called "Motherhood is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank)"

A few years ago, when I just had four children and when the oldest was still three, I loaded them all up to go on a walk. After the final sippy cup had found a place and we were ready to go, my two-year-old turned to me and said, “Wow! You have your hands full!”
She could have just as well said, “Don’t you know what causes that?” or “Are they all yours?!”
Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.

A Rock-Bottom Job?

The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.
Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing.
If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children. How much have we listened to partial truths and half lies? Do we believe that we want children because there is some biological urge, or the phantom “baby itch”? Are we really in this because of cute little clothes and photo opportunities? Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking?

It's Not a Hobby

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.
Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.
Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.

Run to the Cross

But a Christian should have a different paradigm. We should run to to the cross. To death. So lay down your hopes. Lay down your future. Lay down your petty annoyances. Lay down your desire to be recognized. Lay down your fussiness at your children. Lay down your perfectly clean house. Lay down your grievances about the life you are living. Lay down the imaginary life you could have had by yourself. Let it go.
Death to yourself is not the end of the story. We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back.
The Bible is clear about the value of children. Jesus loved them, and we are commanded to love them, to bring them up in the nurture of the Lord. We are to imitate God and take pleasure in our children.

The Question Is How

The question here is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. Have you given your life to your children resentfully? Do you tally every thing you do for them like a loan shark tallies debts? Or do you give them life the way God gave it to us—freely?
It isn’t enough to pretend. You might fool a few people. That person in line at the store might believe you when you plaster on a fake smile, but your children won’t. They know exactly where they stand with you. They know the things that you rate above them. They know everything you resent and hold against them. They know that you faked a cheerful answer to that lady, only to whisper threats or bark at them in the car.
Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty.

Hands Full of Good Things

When my little girl told me, “Your hands are full!” I was so thankful that she already knew what my answer would be. It was the same one that I always gave: “Yes they are—full of good things!”
Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work.
Stop clinging to yourself and cling to the cross. There is more joy and more life and more laughter on the other side of death than you can possibly carry alone.
Rachel Jankovic is a wife, homemaker, and mother. She is the author of "Loving the Little Years" and blogs at Femina. Her husband is Luke, and they have five children: Evangeline (5), Daphne (4), Chloe (2), Titus (2), and Blaire (5 months).
Recent post from Rachel Jankovic —
Her other recent blog is also wonderful, and called Motherhood as a Mission Field

Her book is called Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the trenches

1 comment:

  1. Loving the Little Years is one of my favorite books. It is awesome for any mom, but especially for moms of lots of little kids close together. :) I highly recommend it! It is practical, real, and loaded with wisdom. She writes in a very down-to-earth way and isn't all heady sounding. I love this about her writing!

    One of my favorite things she says is that the moms are the ones responsible to go to God and "get the grace" to handle the various situations we find ourselves in throughout our days. This responsibility is not on our children. I am learning to see my children as individuals and not just as one big clump of craziness. They come to me as individuals and are completely unaware that any one of them paired with one or two others can be slightly overwhelming. :) They are just them, ready for life. I am responsible to "get the grace" as she says, to be to each one of them just as I would be if they were my only child. She gives an example about something as simple as baking cookies. Baking cookies with one child is a delightful, exciting discovery. Baking cookies with five children, five and under would seem to be a nightmare. Her challenge is to do it anyway! You would do it with one. Well, you have more than one child. "Get the grace" to handle it and do it anyway--despite the mess! What a challenge, but a good one!