Why Have Children? Three Compelling Reasons to Discuss With Your Child

Excerpt from Preparing Children for Marriage

Are you ready to have a fun discussion with your children? Ask them if they plan to have children and how many they would like to have. When I bring up this topic in premarital counseling, many young couples admit that they haven’t given it much thought. If they haven’t thought about it, that means their parents haven’t talked about it. That’s problematic because the cultural messages that young people hear on this subject are often anti-children. Let me give you a taste.

Comedian Rita Rudner once said, “My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can’t decide to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.” Pets have become replacements for children and have been one reason the pet market has increased in the United States from 17 billion in 1994 to over 60 billion today.[i] Many young couples are choosing pets in place of children because, as one sarcastic card says, they are “cleaner, cheaper, cuter, easier to train, and don’t ruin all my life plans and goals.”

Honda CR-V ran a full-page ad with the question, “Before I have children I want to ____.” Under the question are pictures of all kinds of adventures and accomplishments: learning to play the banjo, skydiving, sailing, running a marathon, and climbing the corporate ladder. It encouraged young people to do everything on their to-do list before they took the next step and had children.

The “childfree and loving it” movement suggests that childlessness is a superior lifestyle choice and provides plenty of books to help couples navigate this world. Two examples are No Kids: 40 Good Reasons NOT to Have Kids[ii] and Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice.[iii] They argue that having children leads to unhappiness, economic challenges, decrease in marital satisfaction, and lasts for life.

What is the driving motivation behind a movement to discourage becoming a parent? Selfishness. Having children, the argument goes, will collide with your life plan, all the stuff you want to do, and your happiness. According to this viewpoint, children are a burden, not a blessing.

In their book Start Your Family, Candice and Steve Watters make this insightful point:

Couples weighing the decision to start a family are increasingly surrounded by books, articles and Web sites spotlighting the costs and sacrifices ahead of them. Those messages encourage couples to think long and hard about the world they’d be bringing children into, and remind them to count all the costs before making such a monumental decision. Caution and preparation are helpful, but sometimes it seems that’s all couples can find on the topic of having kids these days. Churches often have little to offer on this subject. Increasingly, though, it takes vision for “why” to overcome the growing—and often compelling—arguments for “why not.”[iv]

Candice and Steve apply their observations to the church, and pastors should listen up. But these observations apply to parents as well. Parents and pastors need to talk with young people about this subject and help them embrace a biblical view of childbearing.

Can you provide a compelling biblical vision for your child to combat the arguments for “why not”? Separating marriage from childbearing in discussions is a disservice to young people. Our culture has created an unnatural division between them, but the Bible provides a very different picture. Your child needs a grand, Jesus-centered, countercultural vision as to why they should have children.

Your child needs a grand, Jesus-centered, countercultural vision as to why they should have children. Click To Tweet

I summarize the biblical and the cultural message in the following way: early, often, and many instead of late, long, and few. American culture tells young people to delay having children until later in life, wait longer between having children, and only have one or two total. The unwritten rule is that you can have a third child if the first two were the same gender and you want to try for a child of the opposite gender. If you have four children, people will remind you that there are ways to prevent this from happening. Have five or more children, welcome to the freak show.

Why have children? First, God commands married couples to have children. In Genesis 1:28 we are told, “God blessed [Adam and Eve]. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’” This is the first command God gives to humans, and it comes right on the heels of marriage. God blessed Adam and Eve’s marriage and then told them to work and have babies so that they could be good stewards of God’s creation. Because of the biblical command, it should not be a matter of if your child will have kids when he or she is married, but how many he or she will have.

How many children should you encourage your child to have? The Bible never gives a number, so I won’t either. There are small families and large families in the Bible: families with one child and families the size of a small orphanage. Roy Zuck claims that the average number of children per monogamous couple in the Bible is 6.1.[v] That doesn’t mean we need to aim for that number. But the pattern of Scripture is helpful to recognize. The Bible is always pro-children, and you and your child should be pro-children too. I’ve had countless older couples tell me, “We wish we had more children,” but I’ve never had parents tell me that they wish they had one less (even though we’ve all had our moments).

Because God is pro-children, this should inform our decision-making. As you talk to your child, teach him or her the “round up” principle. When deciding whether or not to have a child, round up to the higher number. One child or two? Round up to two. Two or three children? Round up to three. Three or four children? Round up to four. You get the point. When culture says, “Late, long, and few,” the Bible says, Early, often, and many.”

Second, the Bible speaks of having children as desirable. Having many children is viewed as a blessing from God, while barrenness is painful (and my heart goes out to anyone who has felt this pain). A full quiver (many children) is described as a good thing (Ps. 127:5). Leah’s response at the birth of her son reflects the Bible’s overall demeanor toward children: “Leah said, ‘Happy am I!’” (Gen. 30:13). In the Bible, women of faith pursue childbirth, as it is motherhood that makes the world’s salvation possible through the birth of Jesus (1 Tim. 2:15). In addition, children are the Bible’s retirement plan (1 Tim. 5:8) and help us understand the Father heart of God.

One author notes, “The kingdom of God looks like a busy cul-de-sac filled with playful children, not an intimate table for two. As Zechariah 8:5 puts it, ‘the streets of [Zion] shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.”[vi] If the kingdom of God is filled with children, doesn’t it make sense for your child’s home to be filled as well?

Third, having children is a means to grow faith in God. Parenthood causes us to be in the very place God wants us—in a state of total dependence on him. Remember all the “what if’s” that run through a person’s head at times like this? What if I can’t afford another child? What if I don’t have enough love or time for another child? What if the child has a disability or is difficult to parent? What if my child grows up to love the Green Bay Packers? (Agreed—that would be horrible.) Your child may head toward the late, long, and few route as the “what ifs” become convincing. If this is your child’s path, this is where you must nudge him or her to trust God and to depend on him to provide for future needs.

To “be fruitful and multiply” is one of the purposes of marriage. In God’s plan, children are brought into the world through marriage, which is meant to serve as the primary evangelism and discipleship center for children. In the Bible, marriage and childbearing are so closely connected that one could argue that if a young person is not ready to have children, he or she is not ready for marriage. A childless or child-lite marriage deviates from God’s expected norm and ought not to be purposefully pursued. Pro-children. This is what I see in Scripture and what I encourage you to impress on your child.

[i] American Pet Products Association, “Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics,” 2016, http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp

[ii] Corinne Maier, No Kids: 40 Good Reasons NOT to Have Kids (Canada: Emblem Editions, 2009).

[iii] Laura S. Scott, Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice (Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2009).

[iv] Candice and Steve Watters, Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 2.

[v] Roy Zuck, Precious in His Sight: Childhood and Children in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 92.

[vi] David Schrock, “A Blessed Necessity for Every Marriage” (Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry, Winter 2013), 64.

In Jesus Name, Amen: The Most Powerful Words You Can Say

A gospel shaped parent or grandparent is a praying person because there is the recognition that we are powerless to change a heart and are completely dependent upon God. I am reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 1:2, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.”

The most powerful words you can ever say on behalf of your family are the words, “In Jesus name, Amen.” Click To Tweet

The most powerful words you can ever say on behalf of your family are the words, “In Jesus name, Amen.” There are plenty of excuses not to pray such as busyness, short attention span, or lack of desire. If you are not praying daily for your children, grandchildren and future generations, then may these voices from the past encourage you to make prayer a priority:

  • “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.” John Wesley
  • “No duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him.” David McIntyre
  • “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers
  • “Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarecely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication.” Charles Spurgeon
  • “Next to the wonder of seeing my Savior will be, I think, the wonder that I made so little use of the power of prayer.”  D.L. Moody
  • “The greatest tragedy in life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” F.B. Meyer
  • “The devil is aware that one hour of close fellowship, hearty converse with God in prayer, is able to pull down what he hath been contriving and building many a year.” John Flavel
  • “There is no way that Christians, in a private capacity, can do so much to promote the work of God and advance the kingdom of Christ as by prayer.” Jonathan Edwards
  • “As it is the business of tailors to make clothes, and the business of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray!” Martin Luther
  • “Search for a person who claims to have found Christ apart from someone else’s prayer, and your search may go on forever.” E. Bauman

Blessed is the child or grandchild that has a praying parent and grandparent. What families need today are not new and novel methods, but people who are mighty in prayer. God is able to do immeasurable more than we imagine. Through prayer God can transform the hardest heart or restore the most challenging relationship.

Teaching Children to Read the Bible

One of the priorities every parent should have early in the life of their child is to see their child treasure the Bible and read it daily. The Bible is unlike any other book in three ways.

First, it informs. The Bible reveals who God is and answers all of life’s questions. The Bible provides everything we need for life and faithfulness to God.

Second, it transforms. The Bible changes people from idol-worshipping, self-indulgent, evil-intoxicated sinners to Jesus-worshipping, others-centered, righteous-imputed saints. Of course, this happens through faith in Christ, but it is the Bible that is alive and active and brings us into contact with Jesus.

Third, it conforms. We are not free to live however we choose. The Bible demands holiness, tells us how to live, and determines what is true and right. The Bible is our measuring stick. We want our children to read the Bible because we want our children to know God, be changed by him, and follow his ways. We want our children to read the Bible because we want our children to know God, be changed by him, and follow his ways. Click To Tweet

If that were not enough to convince you, Psalm 119 provides plenty of reasons to read the Bible:

  • To receive blessings (119:1)
  • To know God’s laws (119:1)
  • To walk rightly before the Lord (119:3)
  • To fix their eyes on God and his commandments rather than the fleeting idols of our day (119:6)
  • To learn God’s righteous rules (119:7)
  • To live a life of purity (119:9)
  • To avoid wandering from God (119:10)
  • To memorize God’s word so as not to sin against him (119:11)
  • To meditate on God’s precepts (119:15)
  • To delight in God and his statutes (119:16)

What parent would not want these ten things for their child? We are responsible to read and explain the Bible to our children and to direct our children to its pages. Paul tells us that children should be acquainted with the Bible from their earliest possible days (2 Tim. 3:15).

Here are three books to help you teach a child to read the Bible:

How to Study Your Bible for Kids by Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt. We’ve used this book with our children and have found it helpful. Children will be introduced to inductive Bible study by becoming a detective and solving the mystery of how to study the Bible. The book introduces basic concepts such as observation, interpretation, and application and is designed as a workbook. Children learn to apply the principles as they work through a study of the book of Titus.

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids by David Murray. Our kids have enjoyed this book. It’s designed for grade school aged children and leads them through the Bible one day at a time over the course of a year. It’s designed as a workbook and will help children understand God’s story.

100 Days of Bible Reading by David Murray. A Bible reading plan for kids that is simple, systematic, and short. Options include the book of Genesis or Matthew, which are broken down into two or three part series. Each book has a simple layout which includes a reading for each day of the week, a short reading of three to five verses, one question, and a space to write a note.

Gospel-Centered, Bible-Based Children’s Ministry Curriculum

The Gospel Story for Kids

The Gospel Story for Kids is written by Marty Machowski and published by New Growth Press.

Because children need help understanding that the Bible is one story with Jesus as the hero, the Gospel Story Curriculum Old and New Testaments focuses on Christ and his gospel as it teaches preschool through sixth-grade children 156 key stories from Genesis to Revelation that highlight God’s plan of redemption. This unique three-year curriculum grows with children by exploring the same Bible stories at three different learning levels, presenting the material in a fresh way each time to help children grow in their understanding of the Bible.

I used this curriculum as a pastor and I give it my highest endorsement. In addition, there are companion books called The Long Story Short and The Old Story New that are excellent tools for family devotionals. We have used these resources with our family and essentially they are a Bible reading plan with discussion questions.

Rooted Kids

I wrote Rooted Kids Curriculum while I was a pastor at Grace Church of Eden Prairie.

Rooted Kids curriculum is a gospel-centered curriculum based on core truths of the Bible for kindergarten through sixth grade. The core-truths curriculum presents the world’s big lie and the Bible’s big truth for each lesson. Excellent for Wednesday evening programming as it is broken up into small teaching units that last from four to fifteen weeks. Numerous curriculum series have matching music by Rooted Kids Worship, which integrates music, message, and memorization to teach the core truths of God’s word.

Treasuring Christ

Treasuring Christ was developed by Steve Wright and members of his ministry team at Providence Baptist Church.

Treasuring Christ is a comprehensive curriculum delivered online for preschool through high school that strengthens children and families by teaching them the gospel from Genesis to Revelation. The gospel-centered curriculum allows every child, birth through high school, to study the same Scripture passage each week and equip parents to thrive in their God-given roles as their child’s primary disciple, thereby, connecting the church and the home. We provide a weekly take home resource that encourages parents to help their children prepare for the upcoming week’s lesson.

The Gospel Project for Kids

The Gospel Project is published by Lifeway.

The Gospel Project for Kids immerses kids and preschoolers in the gospel through every story, theological concept, and call to mission from Genesis to Revelation. Ultimately, the gospel message changes everything; heart transformation can only take place when a child experiences the gospel. Through The Gospel Project for Kids, kids and preschoolers will understand the Bible is not just a collection of stories, but one unified story—God’s story of redemption.

The curriculum is based around big truths that children will learn, is three years long, and can coordinate with a similar curriculum for students and adults so that the entire church is learning the same thing. Comes with excellent videos that I use the overview video in the link above to train staff, teachers, and parents. Excellent curriculum.