In a culture where convenience, freedom, and flexibility reign supreme, children are simply an inconvenience. They get in the way of premarital sex (and postmarital sex for that matter). They ruin a perfectly good career. They inhibit a couple’s ability to travel or eat at restaurants. They gnaw away at time, money, and sanity. Backpacking across Europe suddenly becomes a week at Disney, and the shiny new Mustang becomes a Chrysler minivan precipitated with toddler snack foods.
Why would anyone ever want to have children?
In the face of our culture’s general focus upon self-fulfillment stands the declaration of God’s word. Certainly children take a lot of effort, and certainly the timing of marriage and having children is often one that must be made strategically for the sake of mission. But God proclaims that children are a blessing from the dawn of creation.
In Genesis 1:28, God says to Adam, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” This verse is known as the creation or cultural mandate. It is God’s command from the beginning to work, steward, and fill the earth.
This is the source of the Christian work ethic and the source of creation care. A vital aspect of human flourishing and obedience involves the spread of humanity throughout the earth. This is ultimately a commandment to pursue blessing. Obeying this command of God is not merely a matter of rote obedience but of worship. If humans were created by God to glorify and enjoy him forever, then surely an increase in the number of humans is an increase in the glorification and enjoyment of God in the universe.
Scripture also says that children are an asset and an inheritance. “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.” (Psalm 127:3-5 ESV)
Far from being intended as a burden, children are intended as a reward. This is not a reward for our upstanding moral conduct but the fruit of the womb. This is where carefulness is needed. Everything that comes from God in our lives is grace. We deserve nothing based upon our own merit.
Psalm 127 affirms that children are a heritage from the Lord. So, rather than being cut off due to our sin, God shows us mercy in allowing us to continue to work out the creation mandate. He shows all of mankind grace in allowing us to continue to bear children. Furthermore, we see from Psalm 127 that God gives us children as a way to authoritatively pass on not only our values, culture, and traditions but also faithfulness to the Lord.
God intends children to be arrows, finely crafted, honed, and shot into culture in order to fight against the death, darkness, and disease of the Fall. Every new life is a new opportunity for God’s plan of saving humankind to be advanced. Children are an incredible responsibility with incredible potential.