In the past, it seemed natural to have children after marriage; but that was then. Nowadays, with a louder narrative warning about the costs and stresses of raising children in Singapore, it is no wonder that more couples are choosing not have children. As believers, how can we think biblically about God’s command in Genesis 1:28 to be fruitful and multiply?
Children are a blessing
Psalm 127:3-5 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.”
The Bible declares that children are a blessing from God, and not an inconvenience or burden. Children bring life to our families and to others around them; there is a kind of joy that cannot be replaced by the acquisition of wealth, travel experience and human accolades.
“Children are a blessing from God, and not an inconvenience or a burden.”
Raising children can indeed be financially challenging, but the “return on investment” is immeasurable and cannot simply be calculated in terms of dollars and cents. With creativity and wise management of family values and expectations, many couples have found ways to provide financially for their family. Most of all, we can trust that the Lord will provide everything that we need (Philippians 4:19).
“I don’t think I am up to it”
Granted, many of us feel ill-equipped to be parents — we may struggle with memories of a difficult childhood and tumultuous relationships with our parents; we fear that the same will befall our offspring. However, when we learn to trust God and surrender all our fears, hurts and inadequacies to Him, God will give us strength and wisdom we need to establish strong, healthy families.
During the initial years of marriage, I was riddled with fear that I would not be a good parent. I felt I lacked a motherly instinct and would probably do better helping other people’s children through work I did. I could not completely surrender my reluctance to Him for a long time.
It took a lot of prayer and asking the Lord to refine my motivations and take away my fears, before I felt empowered by Him to have children. My husband and I now have two of our own, and we are amazed at how God has provided every step of the way.
We must cling on to the promise that His grace is sufficient for us and His power is perfected in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9) – what comfort this gives us! We are not alone in our parenting endeavours and can trust the Holy Spirit for guidance in our parenting and faith journeys. Through the struggles we will face, God gives us many opportunities to choose His grace and grow in faith. Children also shape our souls for God’s glory — we learn what it means to be other-centred — and parenting often reminds us to look at things from an eternal perspective.
Also, good parenting can be learnt. With numerous quality parenting resources available these days, there has never been more support for parenting.
“Children shape our souls for God’s glory.”
Making a difference
The times we live in are increasingly perilous, so it is hardly surprising when couples are hesitant to bring children into this world. However, instead of fearing for our future children’s well-being, could we think about bringing them up in the fear of the Lord, set apart and ready to impact the world for good?
Bearing new life in God’s image is one of the most fundamental purposes of God’s design for marriage (Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:22-24). Do we consider procreation as merely a command to be followed? How about perceiving it as a privilege of raising men and women of God to become more like Him, live for Him and do His will?
For all couples considering whether or not to bear children, it is God-pleasing to prayerfully bring this life-changing decision before Him. Ultimately, it is a matter of obedience to what He has planted in each couple's heart, and may each of you encourage your spouse to seek what God would have you do.
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