- If you are getting married (and therefore presumably having sex) and are not sterile, then there is a chance you're going to produce offspring. Going into marriage with the presumption or insistence that children will not enter the picture, at least for a certain period of time, is playing with fire. Just as it is playing with fire to have premarital sex without wanting to have children. Sex between fertile people of the opposite sex can produce children. Period. To assume that you can have one without the other is potentially asking for trouble. So, a certain openness to children in any sexual male-female relationship and particularly within marriage is not only a wholly biblical option, it's just plain good sense. Most pointedly, couples need to at least agree on their feelings about children and be prepared not to place blame if an unintended pregnancy should occur. How many times is a woman blamed by her partner because she conceived? This is utterly reprehensible and wrong. It takes two to tango. And sometimes, 1 + 1 = 3. This is basic biology and blame should never factor into the picture. No one person is at fault, least of all the resultant child.
- Children, no matter when they arrive, should never come between spouses. If a couple wants to remain healthy, particularly once their children have left the nest, then they need to make their marriage a priority during the years of having children in the home, and no matter how much "preparation time" a couple has before having children, it will never make up for a lack of growing a healthy marriage during the child-rearing years.
Now, where I come to disagree with myself is on the validity of my points being reasons to have children. What I come to find is that I believe they are all valid reasons to consider having children. What I said at the end of my post is, I believe a truth that most of us overlook in our current society. It is something that I myself once overlooked:
"It seems that many people view the issue as choosing when to have children. The subtlety of the other side of the coin escapes many: If I am choosing not to have a child now, I am making the choice that a certain child who might have been is not to be."
This is an important point. In our age of "Planned Parenthood" and the "wanted child," we tend to think only in terms of the parents' desires and choices when concerning children, rather than the potential for human life to be created or not even in the indecision and against the desires of potential parents. I think that this is an important viewpoint for our culture to reclaim. In any case, I feel it is a viewpoint that we ought not to ignore, if for no other reason than it is true. When it comes to something as important as life is there any stone that we should leave unturned?
But, free will and divine providence are partners in a blindingly mysterious dance. There is, perhaps, no more profound form of this dance than the creation of human life. The free will of two people, combined with the divine will to create a life and soul results in a human child. Cliched though it may be, birth is truly a miracle.
However, when I consider the place I was approaching my previous post from, I realized that it was not with objective eyes but rather with the eyes of a young wife and mother who, through her own free will coupled with her husband's, chose to participate with God in conceiving a baby ten months into marriage, at the age of twenty-two. From this place, I witnessed the joy and wonder of many dear friends and family as Brian and I prepared to welcome our daughter into the world. But, from my vantage point, I have also witnessed bewilderment, judgment, ridicule, patronization, and misunderstanding from those who believed our daughter was "an accident" or who, knowing that the pregnancy was planned, determined that my husband and I must either be irresponsible in the extreme, or just plain crazy. It is from this place that I wrote.
What I see now is that I was wrong to conclude that the points I put forth in my post should be used to ascertain that constant and complete openness to procreation in marriage is the only biblical option. Rather, I ought to have used them in defense that those who choose to be constantly and completely open to procreation are following a biblical path and are neither irresponsible nor mentally unstable. The same may be said for those who choose to conceive under circumstances that others might deem "unwise" for bearing children: recently married, low on finances, still in college, or whatever the case my be. At the same time, I concede that to choose to avoid conception may also prove to be a biblical choice, provided that the method employed to avoid conception is in keeping with God's Will and natural law (ie. Natural Family Planning).
The important thing for a godly couple, I believe, when making such a choice is that it is biblical--that prayer and study of Scripture are employed in making the decision--and that it is a choice. By this, I mean that the couple chooses thoughtfully, prayerfully, what-have-you to avoid conception or to embrace it--and to accept any and every child as a gift, even if that child was "unplanned." Our societal standard has made the choice almost null-and-void for many couples. I know many married couples who go into marriage simply assuming that they will wait--for several years; until we have such-and-such an amount in the savings account; until we're both established professionally, etc.--to have children. Not to choose is to negate our free will, because it is neglecting to employ it. Would we rather be swayed by that beautiful dance between Man and God--free will and Providence, or would we rather dance without thought or care to the drumbeat of society? There are also instances where a person goes into marriage assuming they will never have children--only to find out down the road that their partner desperately wants to be a parent. Is it even necessary to point out how such an important thing as whether or not to have children should never be assumed when contemplating marriage. Yet, due to our society's presumption that conception will at least be avoided for the first few years of marriage, numerous couples find themselves in just such a place five to ten years down the road from the altar. We must stop assuming and begin considering and making informed choices.
Moreover, I wish to stand by the point I made previously, that children are always a blessing and never a burden. As a parent, I am keenly aware that we live in a society that is, at times, outright belligerent to children. Nursing mothers are degraded and accosted in public. Planes do not allow for changing facilities for children--and for a time, mothers were not even permitted to bring breastmilk or formula onto planes to feed their little ones. Children are barred from many public arenas. When dining in certain restaurants, my husband and I have found ourselves ferretted away in remote corners so that our daughter (who is remarkably well-behaved in public) will not "bother" other patrons. Not to mention the many derogatory nicknames for children that our society employs: "snot-nosed kids," "little monsters," etc. Additionally, in recent years with Planned Parenthood's campaign that "ever child be a wanted child," we have cemented the concept of the "unwanted child." Even if a child was unintentionally conceived by his or her parents, that child was not an "accident" in the eyes of his or her Creator. We ought to remember that all human life is precious in the eyes of God, and that no child has ever been a divine accident. More than that, we should strive to ensure that every child truly is a wanted child: not that we seek to avoid, at all costs, all children who are unwanted by their parents, but that we seek out the unwanted children and show them how precious and wanted they are. We must not neglect to be the hands and hearts of God to such little ones.
So with these clarifications made, I wish to extend my apologies to anyone who felt judgment from my previous post. I assure you it was not conscious or intended, though it may have come through all the same, as I am merely human--and young, at that. I ask forgiveness from anyone whom I have offended. I would like to end by amending the challenge that I put toward the end of my previous post:
If you are currently in a marriage relationship, I would encourage you to start praying and spending some time in God's Holy Word with the issue of procreation in mind. He has a lot to teach us on this subject, and I know that His Holy Spirit will guide you if you seek His will truly. Not that you would come to the conclusion of embracing conception, but that you might enter into the marvelous mystery of birth by considering whether or not God has called you to receive this tremendous blessing from and with Him.
Peace, blessings, and much thanks for entertaining my often divergent thoughts.
* The Bookworm's Library has been updated: Twilight Saga, Book Two: New Moon; Twilight Saga, Book Three: Eclipse; Twilight Saga, Book Four: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer