Planning for Parenthood

How do you feel about having children?

   When would you hope to start a family?

   Are you prepared for the sacrifices which parenthood demands?

   Parenthood is a privilege. Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3-5). They are given on trust. Is there a greater joy in life than to watch the offspring of your love union grow into the knowledge, love and service of their Maker? It is a rewarding experience. Perhaps this was one reason why God commanded the first couple to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). God's commands always contain a blessing, but they make costly demands too. And parenthood is costly.

   Motherhood is time-consuming, physically draining and asks for endless self-sacrifice. And fatherhood is just as demanding. Couples who are unprepared to enfold their children in the love which links them should not have children.

   Is childlessness, then, a valid alternative? Some couples should seriously consider voluntary childlessness where a mental or physical disease might be transmitted to the future generation; this possibility should be prayerfully weighed before God. But the alternative which is not valid is the voluntary childlessness which originates from self-centeredness, self-indulgence or sloth. These are not options for Christian couples. If you decide to deliberately deny yourself the rewards which are wrapped in the bundle of babyhood, you need to ask yourselves,

   "How will we fulfill the command to be fruitful?"

   You might unite in a project designed to extend God's kingdom. True marital love always finds an outlet. The love which refuses to embrace others turns in on itself and stagnates.

Page 98

But this staleness need not spoil a relationship which God entrusts with the heartache of infertility. This problem is common.

   How would you feel if you could not have children?

   Infertility is not something to be ashamed of, but the sense of loss and disappointment can be very great. Would you consider adoption? Or would you use imposed childlessness as a prompting from God to undertake ministry which couples with children could not easily cope with? Perhaps you might work in an inner city area, for example. Or offer for the missionfield — though, of course, childlessness will not qualify you for missionary work if you are not specifically called by God.

   I know all of this is looking way ahead. But there is value in allowing your partner to understand your attitudes, hopes and desires. These views will change with the years. Part of the delight of marriage is watching one another mature and develop. Some of the best mothers I know are those who thought they lacked maternal instinct. They expected to follow a profession. Then God gave them His gift of children, and with the gift came the ability to handle it. But then, isn't that God's way? It is as the Psalmist testifies: "When we obey him, every path he guides us on is fragrant with his lovingkindness and his truth" (Psalm 25:10 LB).

Chapter 11  ||  Table of Contents

Webmaster's note: This online rendition of chapter 10 has been abbreviated due to the extensive array of contraceptive methods presented which encompass pages 90 to 96. I was disappointed that this chapter on "parenthood" expends considerable effort delineating how to avoid having children. Finally it gets to the part about HAVING children. I'm pleased to present pages 97 and 98 for the reader's edification.