In Praise of Large (and Small) Families

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It’s one of those cases where both sides are completely wrong.In one corner, you’ve got Christians who proclaim that large families are the Christian ideal. They argue that the more kids you have, the more spiritual you are. As a result, they frown upon small families. They carry an air of self-righteous superiority as they pull their 12 passenger vans into the church parking lot.

In the other corner are Christians who scoff at large families. They decry the financial irresponsibility of having more than two children, citing the need for massive college funds, new cars and annual trips to Disneyland. They roll their eyes at those weird people pulling 12 passenger vans into the church parking lot.

I know. My examples are a bit melodramatic. But you get the point.

Full disclosure – My fifth child is due early next year, and I own a 12 passenger van. That makes me no better or worse than you. Instead, I’m convinced that large family advocates and large family scoffers are ultimately flawed in their thinking.

In spite of their errors, each side has some valid points. For example, the Bible clearly states that children are a blessing.¬†Proponents of large families rightly remind us that children are one of the only Biblical blessings that people willfully reject. You don’t often hear prayers for less health or financial stability. So why dramatically limit what God calls a blessing?

At the same time, large family fanatics all too often callously forget the pain of infertility. In their zeal, they send a hurtful message to those God has clearly called not to have a large family. That’s why numbers aren’t the issue.
God’s calling is the issue.¬†
It’s common to hear someone desperately pleading for God’s calling for their career path. We quickly yield to His plans for our relationships and our ministry work. But I’ve rarely encountered followers of Jesus who bother to consult God when determining how many children to have. Instead, many turn inward for this major life decision.
I’m not aware of any Biblical equation for determining how many kids to have. So where do you start when seeking God’s intentions for your family size? Here’s a few questions to consider that have been helpful for me:

 

  • What are your motives for preventing more kids in your family? The Bible doesn’t have a directive regarding family size. So, we’re forced to closely examine our motives. Can your reasons for not having any more kids be supported by Scripture? Are you guided by selfishness, or by Godly thinking?
  • What physiological messages have you received? A few friends of mine have one child. It’s not that they don’t want more kids. They simply can’t have more kids. And they praise God for His clear answer regarding their family size. On the other hand, some women experience severe physical or emotional distress after multiple pregnancies. These complications may make it unwise and unhealthy to have more children. Either way, take time to consider what God may be telling you through your emotional and physiological realities.
  • Where is your heart regarding your finances? American culture can easily corrupt Godly thinking about money. Society tells us that we deserve the newest and best of everything. Sadly, this message creeps into our thinking about having kids. Many believers cite finances as the primary motive for not having any more kids. But is that what God really has in mind for us? Be sure to prayerfully reflect upon what He says about the love of money, and the storing-up of treasures on earth.
  • Are your “can’ts” really “won’ts”? I’m not a fan of the contraction “can’t”. Why? Because it’s seldom accurately applied. I do this all the time in my own life. I’ll say, “Honey, I can’t take out the trash right now”. What I really mean is that I won’t take out the trash now. Carefully evaluate all of your “can’ts” when thinking about not having any more kids. Meanwhile, don’t forget that responding to God’s call isn’t necessarily going to be easy. In fact, Biblical precedent would indicate that it’s usually pretty challenging. How is God convicting your heart about your true “can’ts” and “won’ts”?
  • Are you unintentionally limiting God’s ability to provide for you? Faith is often the act of doing the right thing with confidence, even in the face of an uncertain outcome. Do you feel called to have more kids, but are afraid of the logistics? Is money a concern? Be careful not to limit God’s divine ability to provide you with everything you need to answer His calling. Not all that you may want, but all that you need.

 

Please don’t read into my questions looking for implied answers. There aren’t any. I’m simply sharing my conviction that we should seek God’s divine direction when deciding how many children to have. In the end, if you’re upset by some of my inquiries, perhaps it’s because you’re uncomfortable with your answers.

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