Monday, July 31, 2006

Why Children?

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M A R C H 1 , 2 0 0 2

Why Children?



Each year the Russian population decreases by about one million. With a 0.8 child-per-family average, a higher rate of abortions than births, and a systemic birth-control and anti-child philosophy, the Russian people are not only facing the extinction of their family life, but the loss of their culture to other groups with an aggressive pro-child philosophy. Russians, like Germans and other European peoples, are finding that Muslims increasingly govern the economic infrastructure of their nation. Why? Because Muslims can fill the jobs, then send others to fill more jobs, and eventually dominate the marketplace. They average more than four children per family and their faith emphasizes the necessity of strong family culture built on loyalty and shared beliefs -- thus ensuring the birth of even more Muslims to further populate and influence the nation.

When it comes to viewing children as a blessing, most Muslims are closer to the biblical paradigm than the typical professing Christian evangelical. This is not a vindication of Islam, just an observation that Mohammedanism is aggressively populating the world using a borrowed Christian doctrine, and proving that even a broken clock is right twice a day. The fact that many of their beliefs are Satanically inspired and completely foreign to the biblical notion of the family is beyond the scope of this newsletter. The point is, their religion and influence is spreading exponentially, while nations that once claimed a Christian worldview are dieing in direct proportion to their philosophy of children.

Americans are not immune, and Christians tend to be the worst at concocting all sorts of reasons to reject children. Far too many have bought hook, line, and sinker into the contraceptive mentality. Even worse, they have rationalized twisted notions of personal freedom, "household order," and "self-fulfillment" as the basis for rejecting the second greatest gift after salvation which God gives to man and woman: a child.

The decision to prevent children because "they are too expensive" (as if God cannot provide for the living souls He places in your home); or that they are "too much of a burden" (as if the inconvenience of training children outweighs the blessing of nurturing souls which will live for all of eternity), is fundamentally a function of the selfishness of our age. I have actually heard Bible-believing parents make a "quality of life" argument that one should not have a child unless one can assure the ability to "send them to a good college."

Some have even argued that "it may be good stewardship of time and resources" not to have children. If this is true, please show me any clear pattern, precept, or principle in the Bible that links the notion of stewardship with the act of cutting off the godly seed (no out-of-context prooftexting, speculations, or bizarre analogies, please). Remarkably, those who make this last argument are usually typical Americans who, from a standard-of-living perspective, are fabulously wealthy compared to 99% of the people who ever lived. The fact is, God says to the rich and the poor: "children are a blessing" and "be fruitful and multiply." (A friend of mine has correctly observed that the Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing, but in our culture we apply for curses and reject blessings. Something is wrong with this picture.)

Given the overwhelming admonitions and evidence found in Scripture that parents should trust God for children, the burden of proof for presenting a theological argument for not having children is squarely placed on the proponents of child-prevention -- not on those who see children as an inherent blessing.

In point of fact, the Bible knows nothing of the child-prevention philosophy. It teaches precisely the opposite. In Scripture, we are taught that having children (and lots of them -- "to be fruitful") is part of the prime directive for every parent. The book of Malachi even declares, "for this cause did I make the two one, that they would bring forth a Godly seed." The Bible explains that our children are our true riches, more precious than gold and silver; they are our inheritance, and a blessing from the Lord. The Bible is replete with examples of "poor" and "rich" men rewarded with many children, thus demonstrating that there is no correlation in the Scriptures between economic status and the blessing of children. Children help to define our God-ordained mission in life. God's commandment to families was that they were to be fruitful and multiply, and, with that as a foundation, would take godly dominion over the earth. Each of us are to pray for and prepare our children to know Jesus Christ, and to be faithful covenant-keepers, thus perpetuating the Church of Jesus Christ, and defeating the enemy with righteous population.

PARENTHOOD as a LIFE MISSION

The view I have just articulated is not popular today. It is rarely preached from the pulpit. But once upon a time, it was an unquestioned assumption of orthodox Christianity, as is evidenced from Christian writings ranging from the Church Fathers to the Reformers. Each of us needs to be reminded of the rich pro-child philosophy from past centuries, which is why we must read the right books. This year, a number of the families of the Vision Forum have been reading Home-Making, a remarkable book written in the 19th century. With theological precision, but also passion and poetry of expression, the author communicates the joy and significance of children and parenthood. The book is my top recommendation from our catalog for this year. Following is an excerpt:

God has so constituted us that in loving and caring for our own children the richest and best things in our natures are drawn out. Many of the deepest and most valuable lessons ever learned are read from the pages of unfolding child-life. We best understand the feelings and affections of God toward us when we bend over our own child and see in our human parenthood a faint image of the divine Fatherhood. Then in the culture of character there is no influence more potent than that which touches us when our children are laid in our arms. Their helplessness appeals to every principle of nobleness in our hearts. Their innocence exerts over us a purifying power. The thought of our responsibility for them exalts every faculty of our souls. In the very care which they exact, they bring blessing to us. When old age comes, very lonely is the home which has neither son nor daughter to return with grateful ministries, to bring solace and comfort to the declining years!

It is a new marriage when the first-born enters the home. It draws the wedded lives together in a closeness they have never known before. It touches chords in their hearts that have lain silent until now. It calls out powers that have never been exercised before. Hitherto unsuspected beauties of character appear. The laughing heedless girl of a year ago is transformed into a thoughtful woman. The careless, unsettled youth leaps into manly strength and into fixedness of character when he looks into the face of his own child and takes it in his bosom. New aims rise up before the young parents, new impulses begin to stir in their hearts. Life takes on at once a new and deeper meaning. The glimpse they have had into its solemn mystery sobers them. The laying in their hands of a new and sacred burden, an immortal life, to be guided and trained by them, brings to them a sense of responsibility that makes them thoughtful. Self is no longer the centre. There is a new object to live for, an object great enough to fill all their life and engross their highest powers. It is only when the children come that life becomes real, that parents begin to learn to live. We talk about training our children, but they train us first, teaching us many a sacred lesson, stirring up in us many a slumbering gift and possibility, calling out many a hidden grace and disciplining our wayward powers into strong and harmonious character.

'Children are God's apostles, day by day
Sent forth to preach of love, of hope, of peace.'

Our homes would be very cold and dreary without the children. Sometimes we weary of their noise. They certainly bring us a great deal of care and solicitude. They cost us no end of toil. When they are very young they break our rest many a weary night with their colics and teethings, and when they grow older they well-nigh break our hearts many a time with their waywardness. After they come to us we may as well bid farewell to living for self and to personal ease and independence if we mean to do faithful duty as parents. There are some who therefore look upon the coming of children as a misfortune. They talk about them lightly as 'responsibilities.' They regard them as in the way of their pleasure. They see no blessing in them. But it is cold selfishness that looks upon children in this way. Instead of being hindrances to true and noble living, they are helps. They bring benedictions from heaven when they come, and while they stay they are perpetual benedictions.

'Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.

'What the leaves are to the forest,
With light and air for food,
Ere their sweet and tender juices
Have been hardened into wood,--

'That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow
Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Than reaches the trunks below.'

When the children come what shall we do with them? What duties do we owe to them? How may we discharge our responsibility? What is the parents' part in making the home and the home-life? It is impossible to overstate the importance of these questions.

It is a great thing to take these young and tender lives, rich with so many possibilities of beauty, of joy, of power, all of which may be wrecked, and to become responsible for their shaping and training and for the upbuilding of their character. This is what must be thought of in the making of a home. It must be a home in which children will grow up for true and noble life, for God and for heaven. Upon the parents the chief response rests. They are the builders of the home. From them it receives its character, whether good or evil. It will be just what they make it. If it be happy, they must be the authors of the happiness; if it be unhappy, the blame must rest with them. Its tone, its atmosphere, its spirit, its influence, it will take from them. They have the making of the home in their own hands, and God holds them responsible for it.



CLOSING COMMENTS

Last two thoughts from me: First, for those that God has not blessed with children: be at peace. God has a plan for you as well -- perhaps even rescuing a child from abortion or abandonment through adoption. (My own bride was adopted and for this I am eternally grateful.) The point, however, is that all of us must have a child-loving, family-oriented vision -- this vision is not just for present parents, but also for the single, the barren, and the aged. God places the solitary in families. His plan for the elderly is not to be playing golf in Florida, but to speak into the lives of grandchildren. Each of us is to live in and around families, and to encourage families as foundational to the strength of the local church, the community, and society. Each of us has a role to play affirming the blessing of children to the body of Christ.

Second, if you are a parent, it is not enough to know that children are a blessing. You must passionately feel it. You must crave your children, rejoice in them, and long for their love as an all-consuming hope, second only to your love of Christ and your spouse. Every time you look at them, you must say to yourself "I am blessed. Thank you God." You must cry to Heaven: "Thank you God for this undeserved reward." The thought of these little ones must bless you as no earthly entertainment or comfort could ever bless you.

But this is not enough. Each of us must act must act upon this passion. It is not enough to be hearers, or even "feelers" of the Word. We must be doers. That means action, interaction, engagement, and involvement. And this for a lifetime with your progeny. After all, what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose the souls of his children thanks to his own neglect and indifference.

"Dear Lord, bless us with a life-affirming, child-loving passion for our children, and for those children yet to be born."


1 comment:

Michelle said...

Hi Audrey, You know...I did originally see this article on your blog...then I got to surfing, and went to the Vision Forum site and got distracted and failed to give you credit...I'll add a "hat tip" on my blog!

Also, I wanted to let you know that nearly every time my kids see me on the computer they ask to hear the "poop" story...the story you posted a while back about your little boy, baby girl and dog :-)...they think it's absolutely hilarious!

Michelle

Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Duet 5:29