God’s first command to humanity is to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). The Psalms tell us, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is a gift. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:4–6). God tells the great prophet, Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). All throughout the Bible, children are seen as a blessing and gift from God. And of course, when the greatest gift of all came down from heaven, it came in the form of a baby in a manger. It is very natural and good for married couples to consider having children.
But it is also a step into the scary unknown. You may worry about the effect that kids will have on your education, career, finances, and lifestyle. These concerns are valid and are shared by many prospective parents. During this time as you are discerning whether or not to have children, it is important to ask yourself a few pertinent questions.
Is God Calling Me to Have Kids?
Having children is a natural outpouring of the love of husband and wife. Marriage is both unitive, in that it brings the couple together in love, and it is also procreative, in that this love overflows beyond the couple into their children and the world. For some couples, God’s love may overflow in ways other than biological children. (See Bringing Faith Home resource on Facing Infertility or Adoption.)
When we bear and raise children, we participate in God’s creation and in the building of His kingdom. Raising children to love and honor God and their neighbor is a great privilege given to us as followers of Christ. Parenting is also the primary way most of us fulfill the call to lay our lives down for others (Philippians 2:4–8). Parenting is a training ground for Christians, and God uses parenting to form us more fully into the image of Christ. The ups and downs of parenting help us to rely on God’s strength and to take hold of the lesson that God is in control (or, maybe more importantly, that we are not!).
Are Children a Blessing or a Burden?
It is common on blogs and in social media for people to focus on the difficulties of raising children and the stress children bring with them. There is no doubt that parenting children comes with many challenges—both serious and humorous—and that parenting is a lifelong journey through many stages and seasons. But God calls children a blessing over and over again in the Bible. And Jesus honors children by inviting them to come to Him, laying His hands upon them, and blessing them saying, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:13–15). Even in the face of the many difficulties of parenting, children satisfy a deep desire for purpose and meaning in the lives of their parents.
However, it is important to recognize that the journey of parenting is a larger responsibility than we have ever had before, and it forces us to totally reprioritize our lives. We need to re-think how much we work, or if we work at all. We need to re-think our own daily and weekly habits of prayer. When we baptize our kids, we commit to God that we will do “all in our power to support these persons in their life in Christ.” This may mean totally restructuring and reprioritizing our time, talent, and treasure. It is not easy, but it is good. Good for the kids and good for us as parents, too. Parents are forced, sometimes against our will, to learn what it means to give up our lives for another. In so doing, we are following the model of Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for us.
Who Is Your Provider?
Couples seeking to start their families may feel overwhelmed by a variety of concerns about being pregnant, giving birth, and adjusting their marriage, budget and lifestyles. This can be a natural response because babies do change everything and push couples beyond themselves. But God is faithful. The most often repeated command in the Bible is “Do not fear.” Paul told the Corinthians, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Having children is a good work and gives couples new opportunities to see how God is able to supply their every need.
As you contemplate taking this step of having kids, seek counsel from parents your age, from parents with grown children, and from grandparents you respect. Spend time in prayer together with your spouse, asking for God’s direction and for His will to be accomplished in your life.
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, 832
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, 828
- Bringing Faith Home Center
Stop by the Bringing Faith Home center near the Incarnation Bookstore for many more resources on the question of having children and other related issues such as infertility and considering adoption.
- Start Your Family By Steve & Candice Watters
The Watters’ provide inspiration for those considering children and practical insights from His and Her perspectives.
An evangelical website by Focus on the Family that offers young adults encouragement to live abundantly as singles while seeking God’s best in either celibacy or marriage. boundless.org
- The Book of Common Prayer
The BCP contains all of our services, prayers, and many resources for private devotions. It can be purchased on Amazon or at the Incarnation Bookstore. bcponline.org
- Children & Family Ministry
Incarnation has a thriving Children & Family Ministry. There are many opportunities to connect with other parents and families in the same season of life as you. For more information, visit Children & Family Ministry.
- Moms Talk is a group of moms that meets every other week for study, support, and prayer. More info »
- Get Connected.
Join with other parents and families from our church who are meeting together to study and connect and pray. Go to the Growth Groups web page for more information.
- Get Involved.
Use your gifts! Take our Spiritual Gifts Assessment to discern ways to get plugged into the life of Incarnation.
- Serve the Poor Together.
Go to our local outreach page to find out how your gifts can change lives.
- Talk with a priest.
If you would like to talk about anything related to parenting and the spiritual formation of children, feel free to schedule a meeting with one of our clergy. Any of the priests on staff at Incarnation are happy to meet with you for direction, counsel, or simply just to talk. Email a priest to set up a meeting. Or call the parish office at 214-521-5101.