A heart-breaking reality that we have experienced by default of our unusually large family, is that in general, the Church’s ideas about children is essentially the same as those outside, not reflecting God’s heart toward children. Heart-breaking, I say, because we let a culture that kills 3,500 babies a day in the womb, inform our opinion about children.
That general consensus is that a “normal” family is two children but if a couple has more than that something is wrong with them. Nevermind the fact that we can’t choose to have children. It’s a miraculous act of God. Ask anyone who struggles with infertility whether the choice is ours. Reproduction is as natural a process as breathing, but somehow it’s the one and ONLY natural process we’re expected to interrupt and if we don’t, we are left to shoulder the burden of defending our...non-choice.
You can relax because this isn’t a post about birth control and whether it’s right or wrong. But this is about a heart attitude. It’s not about numbers, it’s about a general way I believe God wants His people to think about children and how the way we think about them changes our lives.
Why is it so important for us to have the correct view of children?
I write on this topic a lot and so often I get a disgruntled reader who tells me that fertility is a strictly private matter between husband and wife and we shouldn’t even be discussing it. Now I do think it’s private on many levels. And I do think we only answer to God for our choices. But we are the BODY of Christ. A body is integrated. The hand can’t go off and do something without affecting the rest of the body. In the same way, what we, collectively as believers think about children will impact us all.
Because the way you view children, the way I view children, radically affects the kind of lives we live; and that radically affects the world. Our view of children radically changes the world.
And unless you think you can kind of sit this one out mentally since you already believe children are a blessing, you should know how very convicting it was for me to prepare this series.
Did you know we can say we believe children are a blessing and still parent as if they’re not and completely miss the profound work of what we are called to do as parents?
Remember when the crowds stood around to hear Jesus and the parents were bringing their children to Him and the disciples rebuked the parents…and Jesus rebuked the disciples. They viewed the children as a hindrance to a more important work. And what Jesus said was very profound: “No, this is to whom the kingdom of God belongs.”
The first way our view of children affects the world is that it causes us to either represent Christ, or lie about Him.
We are Christians. The word is literally “Christ-followers”. A Christ-follower who does not, as much as he knows how, reflect the mind and opinions and heart of Christ, has no business bearing his name.
God has an opinion of children—the Bible isn’t silent—and it is our duty to reflect that opinion. So we go to the Word….”For of such is the kingdom of heaven…” Just that one phrase. If Christians believed that, would they tell me I need to get a TV so those things would stop happening? Is that the mind of Christ?
I’ve gotten lots of interesting comments about having more than the acceptable number of children. I’ve been asked on 2 different occasions by 2 different pastors if I’m crazy. Just like that. Frankly, it’s not easy to answer that. But to have a pastor who has read Scripture and who, just like every Christian has a responsibility to mirror the thoughts of God, especially where the thoughts of God are made evident, to make such a hurtful comment to a mother, about what is called the heritage of the Lord, is heart-breaking.
I have searched the Scriptures through and through and all I can find is that God longs to give His people the gift of children in order that they can make disciples of them. He calls them a heritage and tells us that they are an important part of His purpose in our lives.
Malachi 2:15 says,
“Why did he make them one? Because He desires godly offspring.”
So we’re not adding anything to Scripture, we’re not being legalistic and establishing rigid rules about how that happens, but we’re saying with God…”He desires godly offspring.” He desires that Christians have children and raise them for His glory.
Now I’m not talking specifically about large families, because sometimes God doesn’t give that. The question is not about numbers, but about our acceptance of truth about children, whether that’s a large number or a small number. If the Bible says children are a gift, a heritage, a blessing and a reward, if God is the creator of life–are we saying those things? If He says that a bunch of children around the table are a good thing, if that’s what He gives us, then we should be saying, “A bunch of children around the table are a good thing” even if you don’t have a bunch of children around your table. If we are Christ-followers? If we claim to believe God’s Word, we should agree with what’s written there. The Bible doesn’t say you’re crazy if you have more than two children. Neither should we.
The second way our view of children affects the world is that it affects our parenting.
If our thinking about children is not synonymous with His thinking about children, our entire paradigm of parenting is wrong. Did you hear that? We come into parenting with a completely wrong basis for the way we raise our children if we have the wrong view of them. And when the masses are parenting wrongly, we’ve got a mess.
God’s view of children is that they have a purpose.
Part 2 to come: The Purpose of Children