The Church’s Opinion of Children is One of its Greatest Weaknesses

I have a big beef with a large majority of Christian thinking and every now and then, the hornet’s nest gets kicked again and so, here we are.

 

First, let me tell you the story that prompted me to address this topic again.

 

A young couple with whom we are friends attend a smallish, typical conservative Baptist church. Conservative in the sense that they would say they hold to sound doctrine and practice biblical Christianity. Which has many definitions, but I digress.

 

Said church invited one of the missionaries they support to give an update, and at the end of his presentation where he thanked them for their support, he made an announcement: “We’re expecting a baby!”

 

My friends said you could hear a pin drop. This would be the couple’s sixth child. He said their faces were horrified.

 

Now we could unpack that:

 

here’s a couple in the ministry of the Great Commission, depending on the financial support of others to take care of them. (I have no idea of their financial situation or if they had other employment, etc. But for the story, let’s assume he doesn’t.) How dare they have more of their own children to have to pay for and care for on someone else’s dime, right? Is that what everyone thought?

 

Or was it more of a typical aversion to the more-than-average size of the family? I don’t know. But here’s my beef:

 

If the Great Commission is important (it is) and is the main command Jesus gave to us before He left (it was) and our work here (according to Scripture) is to be about the business of bringing others to Christ, being eternally minded and ministering to our neighbors in the name of Jesus (it should be), then why in Sam Hill does one’s own children not fit into that? (It does.)

 

The church is psychotic when it doesn’t recognize the value of Christians having children but then whines and complains about all the evil in the world. (My friend, a young mother of 3, went on to tell me that she had not received any kind of emotional or physical support from the women in this church–the one they just left, by the way.)

 

Do you know where change begins? With us. With ourselves, our homes, our children and our churches. When God’s people multiply, there isn’t a Christian alive who shouldn’t rejoice in that. And the financial argument is a weak straw man. If that is our greatest concern with other people having children to be raised to love the Lord (reminder: Jesus was never very concerned about material things), then put your money where your mouth is and help them out financially.

 

We could change the landscape of society if we just understood this one thing. If every church got this, and encouraged their couples when they had children, and helped them, and stood with them, the godly seed that God so desires of His people would begin to be scattered, and the Lord would “build His church and the gates of hell could not prevail against it.”

 

Of course this idea is predicated on the assumption that Christian families truly understand the grave responsibility to immerse their children in the Word of God, to live humbly and faithfully before them, to show them what it is to live a life given to Christ, so that they (hopefully, prayerfully) grow up to carry on the Great Commission to their part of the world. One problem seems to be built on another. Once we lose our sight about the mission of children, we fail to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and then we do get caught up in a worldly cycle of seeing our children more like commodities and liabilities, and who wants more of those?

 

Wake up Church. The heritage God has so richly offered us in our children is beyond measure! His plan has always been that we would, like warriors, fill the world and send them out to continue to live the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer hope to a broken and suffering world.

 

Children are our greatest asset. We should encourage them, support them, pray for them and rejoice when they come. For of such is the very Kingdom of Heaven.

 

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20 Responses to “The Church’s Opinion of Children is One of its Greatest Weaknesses”

  1. Georganne says:

    Amen. We could probably fill a month of Sunday’s with stories of how the typical church treats children, in general, and large families, in particular. We work and pay our own way, but the belt is pretty tight. We don’t ask anything of anyone, but anytime we have to decline something that is outside our budget, you can see the eye roll, and the thought bubble “if they didn’t have so many kids.” I just don’t get it. My non-Christian friends have kinder things to say to us than most of my family and church friends. I’m the queen of sarcasm, but even I am appalled at the things that come out of people’s mouths about our sex life, our priorities, my advanced maternal age, etc all in the name of a joke. I tell my kids, “it’s not funny if everyone isn’t laughing.” I’m not laughing when you suggest one of my children isn’t worth the money or the trouble we spend on them.

    • Caroline says:

      I have heard Christians say many times that their non-Christian friends or acquaintances are less judgmental about some things (the number of children in a family being one)than their Christian friends and family. This kind of judging of another’s lifestyle is exactly why I don’t identify with any religious group anymore. I grew up in the 60’s at a time when everyone belonged to one church or another. The most preachy and artificial people I knew when I was a child harshly judged my hard-working mother raising four children alone because her husband (my father) decided to shirk his responsibilities as a parent. I saw very young the hypocrisy of religion in the pious church-goers around me. My husband and I have raised one child to adulthood, and I tell everyone I know that she is the least judgmental, most likely to help another that I know. She is our pride and joy and a blessing in this world. She was raised with an awareness of other faiths, but not with a strict belief system like the one I was exposed to. It is distressing to think that this kind of behavior still exists among the most religious in this society. To each his own. I’m happy for anyone who decides to raise children in this complicated world. I admire all who do it well, and have learned a great deal from my friends who are parents of many.

  2. Carolyn Pennell says:

    So very true. My husband and I have 4 children, ages 20,18,13 and 11. I have been told that we have a “large” family. I really wanted to have more children but was unable to due to severe endometriosis and fibroids. I ended up having a hysterectomy in 2014. It makes me sad how today’s church views children. After my second child was born, I stared hearing comments such as – don’t you know what causes that, are you done yet, is this your last one and better you than me. All of these comments were from people at our church.

  3. MrsD says:

    Excellent post. Our church is better than most, but there are still the “good natured jokes” when announcing another child in an “above average” size family. Jokes aside, they collect diapers for the new baby and help in other ways, too. I definitely agree that the church should rejoice when a Christian family announces another blessing from God. However, I have a question. Something that has been on my mind for a while. What about the church rejoicing for the grandparents, who are Christians, but their child who is expecting is not a Christian or has fallen away? Our church also helps the local pregnancy care center, so I wonder if helping the expectant children of Christians in our congregation falls under that category? I’d be interested to hear you thoughts.

    • Yes, I’d say that they should most certainly be rejoiced over–all life is from God and deserves rejoicing. Many lives have been redeemed as a result of a difficult pregnancy. I am one of those lives.

      • Mrs. D says:

        Thanks for replying. Yes, I do hope that those non-Christian parents would be changed because the Church reached out to them. Most importantly, it’s not the child’s fault and I pray that those children will be saved. At least the grandparents bring the children to church once in a while and have some influence in their lives.

    • Natalie says:

      I agree! I was 17 and lost, despite having grown up in a sound Bible church when I found out I was pregnant. Many in the church opened their arms to me in love and I fell at the feet of Jesus in repentance and faith. 20+ years later, I am still motivated by the love I was shown in my time of self-inflicted crisis. I know this is not the case in every crisis pregnancy, but I already had so much shame that the love the church demonstrated helped me to receive the gift of forgiveness and the hope of redemption!

  4. Diana says:

    Amen, a hundred thousand times!!! The way to transform the world is at our fingertips, but we’re too busy pandering to the worldly mindsets that are destroying both ourselves and the world in general. Thank you for stirring up this issue repeatedly, because it needs to be voiced!!

  5. Robert says:

    I was visiting a church that many friends went to where there was a visiting speaker. The visiting pastor made a demeaning comment (during the service) about the home pastor who was about to have his fifth child. I was going to speak up, but decided that if the Lord wanted me to say something, He would creare an appropriate time.
    We had a fellowship meal following the service. One of the members mentioned to the pastor that I had 13 children. He looked at me aghast and asked if that was so. I used Scripture to respond. “Children are a gift of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” He had no comeback.
    Most people have not been taught to believe the Bible. They are trained in the traditions of men. We need to understand and believe the entire counsel of God, not just what is convenient and comfortable.

    • I do find it interesting that there is very little argument to the Word of God. It just seems most Christians skip over it, or consider it a kind of poetic addition, not an actual word of truth.

  6. Margit says:

    I simply do not understand the mindset of many Christians today, my family included…asking me why so many, isn’t it time to buy a tv, don’t we know how much college costs, haven’t we figured out what causes this? This is a travesty. Thanks for speaking up and defending us. Breaks my heart when these comments are spoken inside the walls of a church as I suppose I could understand them coming from strangers and nonbelievers. God’s word is true…children are indeed a blessing. Our seven arrows (Lord willing) will be heading to the ends of the earth some day, sharing the love of Jesus and teaching my grandchildren to love Him and bring glory to Him. That’s what we are here for! God bless the work of your hands today, mothers.

  7. Michelle says:

    Can’t love this enough!!! I have three children, when I told others that I was pregnant with my third, people gave us looks and asked if we were done. I’ve also been told, by other Christians, that I don’t need any more children and that I have fulfilled my duty of bringing children into this world. I’ve been told God gave us intelligent minds and that we don’t need to bring more children into the world. Again all said by Christians. It was bad enough that some didn’t rejoice when I found out I was pregnant with our second but oh my goodness, I apparently committed a crime when I had a third and I better not think about having a fourth! I don’t understand it, children are blessings from God, who are we to stop those blessing from coming?

  8. Kim M. says:

    Excellent thoughts!

  9. Laurie says:

    As an infertile mom, hearing comments from women like, “Two is enough! We are DONE!”, “How do these big families do it?”, “I marched my husband into the doctor to get snipped right after I gave birth!” cuts like a knife. I didn’t have a choice to not have biological children and so many people flippantly take credit for the blessing of children! Then complain that is so much work! And to hear them consciously shut the door on any future blessings just breaks my heart. My husband is the youngest of 9 and we have 35 nieces and nephews. We would have LOVED to have a huge family, but that wasn’t God’s plan for us. I praise the Lord daily for our adopted children! Remember, the Lord opens and shuts the womb. Be grateful when He opens yours! And welcome any sweet child He knits within it!

    • Laurie,

      I sure appreciate your perspective, even though I’m sorry for your heart ache. I have often said people *think* they “have” children and like you said, they don’t. It’s such a gift.

  10. Erin says:

    I don’t hear many negative comments or jokes about our larger than average family, but when they come it’s usually from family or fellow Christians. Strange. My parents were not happy that we “kept having kids”, but for the most part no longer say anything about it. We did hear comments at our old church, but they weren’t mean spirited. One I remember particularly, “Erin! Someone is expecting and it’s not you!” That just made me sad as there were plenty of young families there. They just stopped after 2 or 3 (allowed if first 2 were same sex).

    I have had a gentleman stop me in a parking lot to ask if they were all mine. After I affirmed that they were he smiled and said that’s wonderful. Several of the regular customers where I work park have positive responses as well. The only thing they obviously have in common is that they are retired men. Maybe they just want to be nice to the “young” waitress (perspective on age is relative ) or maybe they are at a time in life when they realize what matters.

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