Saturday, April 08, 2006

Marriage Without Children?

Thanks to Alaberi for asking a simple and yet profound question: "Why does a godly woman have to be open to having children (see your "C")? Isn't a marriage where procreation is not an object still valid if it is God-centered?"

There's so much to say on this subject it's hard to know where to begin. I'll jump in with the short answer first: A marriage that is obedient to God's design will find both husband and wife open to the blessing of children.

I'm not surprised to get this question -- we've gotten it a lot on -- especially in a culture where the word of the day is control. The discovery of chemical birth control affects not only a woman's cycle, but her mind and heart. "I can prevent pregnancy," she thinks. But if the pill fails, pregnancy is suddenly an unwanted consequence. That's a far cry from the biblical imagery of children as wealth, an inheritance from the LORD, the desire of God's heart (Malachi 2:15).

Until the advent of chemical birth control, to decide not to have children wasn't even an option. In Scripture, barrenness was always a tragedy; a curse. Only recently have the church and culture embraced intentional barrenness. Only recently have couples omitted the part of the traditional wedding vows that promised a willingness to receive children.

The flip side -- a whole other topic -- is the growing number of Christian couples who thought they never wanted kids, but have changed their minds. The only problem is that many waited too long and they aren't as fertile as they used to be. Delay is one of the primary reasons for the surge in infertility diagnoses and demand for help conceiving.

For a succint and pointed look at the problem, read this article about deliberate childlessness by Al Mohler, author and President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


At 10:09 PM, Blogger Alaberi said...

hi Candice, thank you for this post - it's somewhat along the lines of the kind of answer I was expecting to receive, having read some of the related Boundless articles. I appreciate the insights, as you have answered in a far more convincing manner than I've ever heard from anyone else before. Will continue to pray, and seek God's direction! blessings to you...

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

Candice, here's a question I've had since reading your Boundless Answers column on the issue of birth control. I'm not a fan of hormonal birth control options, however is there a place for other types of birth control, aside from natural family planning? Are there exceptions where birth control is useful and a viable option?

For example, what about nursing mothers who have a small infant? They aren't ready to be pregnant again, but aren't having a cycle yet so they can't really do natural family planning? And, while many say that nursing is a form of birth, it's not guaranteed.

Or, what about young married couples that are overseas as missionaries. They want kids, but they are just getting acclimated to their new surroundings and want to take one big life change at a time?

Anyway, I'm wondering if there are exceptions when it comes to the issue of birth control -- if it's for a limited amount of time and not used as a way of being intentionally childless as a lifestyle.

At 4:46 PM, Blogger knit_tgz said...

"Only recently have couples omitted the part of the traditional wedding vows that promised a willingness to receive children."

In the Catholic Church, those vows are not omitted in the Matrimony celebration.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Jessica said...


Hello...I realize that you are directing this question to Candace so you can disregard my answers if you want...but I just thought I'd give my two cents!

Though I'm not yet married, my views on this subject of birth control, etc. are pretty strong. I could definitely start going on and on about how, Biblically, couples are supposed to WANT children (and Candace touched on that a little), and the Biblical command to "be fruitful and multiply", but I'll just address the examples you gave.

Other than the ones I listed above, another reason that I don't think birth control should be an option for Christian couples is, essentially, the issue of God's sovereignty...and this applies to both the examples you gave. For the couple with the small infant who "aren't ready to be pregnant again" and the missionary couple who "are just getting acclimated to their new surroundings and want to take one big life change at a time"...both of those scenarios are assuming that it's the COUPLE's decision as to when they are going to have children, when, in reality, I believe it is the Lord's. Do they (the couples) really believe that the Lord will never give them more than they, with His grace, can handle? If so, then if He chooses to send them children even when THEY think they aren't ready, the Lord will provide them grace and whatever else they need to get through it.

Obviously, then, with that view of God's sovereignty, you can get into the sticky issues of rare instances where it would kill the mother to have another child, etc...and those are definitely hard questions and I honestly don't know what the right decision there would be. However, in the examples you gave, it still is just the couple's belief that they wouldn't be able to handle another child or children in general.

So anyway...that's just a couple of my thoughts on the issue. I'd be interested to hear more from anyone else! Have a glorious day!

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

Oops...I didn't realize until after I posted the above comment that I had spelled Candice's name wrong (Candace)...sorry about that!

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Orchard Grove said...

Jessica, I appreciate your thoughts on the issue. It's great to get others' thoughts as well as Candice's.

Let me start by saying that I certainly believe in God's sovereignty. And, I'm a firm believer that children are a blessing.

I'm the mommy of two little girls both under the age of two. I've been pregnant twice in the past three years and both babies have been a very welcome and wonderful surprise. Although we didn't plan the timing of either baby, I don't doubt the perfectness of God's timing and would not for a minute change it. My babies are wonderful!

WIth that said, I also believe that where a person is at life and their experiences can influence their thoughts on birth control. I am one of those women that get pregnant very easily. And, when I am pregnant, I have very difficult pregnancies. I definitely want more children. But if I were to get pregnant again right now, I'd have two little ones to take care of in the midst of constant morning sickness. And, this would be in a place I just moved so I don't have the luxury of having individuals -- friends or family -- that I could call to come over and help me take care of my kids.

So, for my husband and I right now, birth control seems a viable option (although, I hate hormonal birth control and won't use that). That doesn't mean I don't have questions about using it and the biblicalness of it -- which is why I posed my question. As I said in my original post, it's an issue I've been thinking about since Candice's Boundless Answers column on it.

Thanks again, Jessica, for responding to my comment. If you have more thoughts I'd be interested to hear them.


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