By Candice Watters
I am a 29-year-old female. God has blessed me with a good career, which I love and am passionate about. During my single years, I’ve had the freedom of being able to focus on my career as well as serve God in various ministries within the church. I used to believe that maybe God did intend for me to be single, as I never really desired marriage as much as my other single friends. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve started to think and pray about marriage more.
I am open to having children if my husband desperately wants one or two, but I don’t really desire to have children at this point in my life. I’m praying to be married in 1 or 2 years time, but currently don’t think I would want children for another 10 years. I am aware of the old biological clock issue, but there is always the option of adoption. Then again I might decide I don’t want any at all. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love children. But having children is a massive responsibility and having a demanding career, I fear that I would not be able to handle both at the same time, and one or both would have to be sacrificed in some way.
Is it right to go into marriage with no intention to have children?
It’s wonderful to hear of your openness to the good gift of marriage. God, in His wisdom, created male and female, designing woman as a helper “fit for man.” We are free in Christ to choose marriage or celibate service for His glory (1 Corinthians 7). What we do not have is permission to conform either choice to the culture around us. Just as celibate service is a calling set apart to Christ, and vastly different from the swinging singles lifestyle displayed all around us, so too Christian marriage is a calling that includes an openness to the babies people around us say are optional.
God chose us before the creation of the world to be set apart as His holy people. We are called to live differently from the way of the world around us (Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 2:9-11). That’s easier to do when we don’t like how the people around us live. But what about when their ways appeal to us? Scripture warns us that they will. And quick glances at recent headlines bear this out.
The very recent Time Magazine cover story “The Childfree Life,” says sometimes “having it all means not having children.” As a long-time proponent of having babies, I find this discouraging but not surprising. Such is the spirit of the age. What’s more troubling, is to read these sentiments in a self-described Christian magazine. The day Time’s story broke, Relevant Magazine published a piece by JaJa Yang, a twentysomething college student, called “Why I Decided to Not Have Kids.” She says, “Having children never really called to me.” Inspired by a “very insightful and well-articulated article in The New York Times called ‘Think Before You Breed’ by Christine Overall,” Yang believes the motherhood-as-default comes from society. “…when a young woman says she does not want kids,” Yang writes, “people immediately demand to know why not; yet when a woman says she does want to have children, no one questions her about why she does. It is simply the default.”
Society did not give us motherhood. God did. He made us male and female, designed us to pro-create, and blessed us, saying, “Be fruitful.” Bearing children is part of His blessing. Though it may be common in our culture to want marriage but not children, if you are a follower of Christ and believe God’s will as revealed to us in Scripture, Christian marriage includes, by necessity and design, an openness to the blessing of children.
Scripture reveals that babies are wealth (Psalm 128:3). Jesus says children are the model of kingdom faith (Matthew 18:2-4). Biological fruitfulness is the reward for obedience (Psalm 127:3-4, Genesis 22:17-19). Yet we live in this day and age, surrounded by believers in a willful state of self-imposed (sometimes intermittent) barrenness.
Childfree equals carefree. So the Time article suggests. What could be more appealing? But that is not the life Christ bids us to. “Come and die,” He says. We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We do this not by believing what’s current, trendy, and trumpeted from the pages of the New York Times or any other source of human wisdom. Even when (especially when) it sounds good. (“…even Satan comes as an angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14). We are called to obey God. And the primary way we do that is by reading, understanding, and believing His Word, the Bible. He is our Maker and deserving of our humble submission. That is the posture He rewards (James 4:10).
The Bible says, “submit to God,” “resist the devil,” and “flee temptation and youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (James 4:7, 2 Timothy 2:22). We do this in the church, Christ’s body, where God’s Word is preached. (Romans 10:17) God’s Word is our armor. With it we can douse the enemy’s flaming arrows. Without it, we are vulnerable to the voices that say what our itching ears want to hear. We are easily deceived.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
What’s worse, our real problem is not what’s “out there,” but what’s “in here”: our own hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 warns us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
But we are not without hope. When we believe in Christ, He gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). And He sends the Holy Spirit to sanctify us–to make us like Him, one degree of glory at a time. This sanctification, this becoming more and more like Christ, is a process (2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:3). By God’s design, one of the primary ways He changes us is through the crucible of marriage and family. Being changed–transformed–through being a wife, and then, if He wills, a mother, is evidence of His kindness. He could have designed any number of ways to cut away our sin and burn away our dross. Often, in the routine order of His creation, He uses the sweetness of marital and filial love to transform us. It is not easy. But ease is not our aim.
The place to look for answers to your question about forgoing children is Scripture. Nothing in the Bible suggests that some married couples are set apart to not have children. A primary purpose for the one-flesh union of husband and wife is stated unequivocally in Malachi 2:15: “Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.”
One other thing you might consider: Though it’s hard to imagine on this side of marriage, you may find your mind—and heart—changing once you’re married. There’s something amazing about the possible miracle of new life appearing as a result of sexual oneness with your husband. It’s a joy unparalleled; a partnership from the one-flesh union with the creator of the universe.
May the Creator of all life, spiritual and biological, guide you in His truth.
Sincerely, CANDICE WATTERS
Candice Watters is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen and co-author with her husband, Steve, of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watterses live in Louisville, KY where Steve serves as vice president for communications at Southern Seminary. They speak, write and feed their blog, FamilyMaking.com, in between enjoying, guiding, and being stretched by their four children.
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