Rev. A. Brummel’s Guest Article “Bringing Forth Children in an Age of Selfishness” in the February 15, 2007 issue of theSB prompted me to write a few comments about the article.
I appreciated the encouragement that we all need to hear today concerning the blessedness of children. We also need to hear and heed the warning against the selfishness that is so often displayed concerning children in this wicked age of affluence. But, in the process of condemning an attitude of indifference towards children and in condemning an attitude that children are undesirable, let us not change the meaning of marriage.
Rev. Brummel states that “God created marriage for the purpose of establishing His covenant in the way of procreation.” He also stated that, “Those who have no desire for children ought not to marry.” He went on to say that people “try to separate the sexual union from bearing children, separating what God has joined together. Such is sin….” This reader was (and others may well be) left with the idea that bearing children is to be the main goal of a Christian marriage. I disagree with this idea as it relates to the truth of marriage. Children are not the main goal of marriage. Children are a fruit of marriage. We marvel that God uses one of the most intimate aspects of marriage as the very means whereby He establishes His covenant in the church’s generations. However, a marriage is complete as such with or without children.
The end of the article reads as follows: “What is your attitude toward children? Are you seeking to keep them from Christ? May God give us grace to forsake the selfishness of our natures and humble ourselves before His sovereign, gracious hand, that He might be praised. ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.'”
Considering this ending and the article as a whole, one would believe that the author is promoting the following principles: 1) Scripture exhorts married Christians of childbearing years, in obedience to Genesis 1:28, 9:1; andGenesis 35:11, to endeavor to bear as many children as physically possible until illness or life-threatening difficulties prevent them from doing so. 2) The Christian that hinders this endeavor is in effect “seeking to keep children from Christ,” which is a sin and a lack of faith. 3) Because it is separating what God has joined together, separating the sexual union from bearing children is a sin.
Those of us who are endeared to Rev. Brummel will appreciate his point of view, but let us be clear on what we believe concerning marriage.
Genesis 2:18 shows that God’s purpose for marriage was to complete the creation of man—”It is not good that the man should be alone.” I do not believe that Adam had a desire for children when God brought Eve to him, but God joined them nonetheless. Prof. Engelsma summed up Scripture’s teaching in Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church: “For human marriage is a sign, a divinely ordained symbol, of the relationship of Christ and the church. The underlying reality of marriage is the union of Christ and the church. The fundamental significance of marriage is that it pictures the marriage of Christ and His bride, the church” (p. 20). Ephesians 5:25-27 calls men to their duty in marriage, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Let us view our marriages and our children as blessings from God, and may our covenant families ever reflect the biblical truth of marriage.
I want to thank you for giving me opportunity to clarify a point that might have been misunderstood regarding the above mentioned article. I was required to edit significantly my original speech in order to publish it. As a result, the article lost some of its balance and sensitivity, especially toward childless couples. I left out the section treating the purpose of God in marriage. If you would like a free cassette tape or CD of the entire lecture, please write to Peace PRC, 18423 Stony Island Ave., Lansing, IL 60438 or email email@example.com.
I agree wholeheartedly with you that God instituted marriage first of all for the purpose of the reflection of His covenant. However, this does not detract from the thrust of the article, nor from the principles that I set forth. God ordained children to be the fruit of marriage. Nor does this justify a couple in seeking to avoid having children. The two purposes of God ought not to be separated by man. This is not merely my opinion, nor is it novel. I believe it is biblical. I encourage you to keep reading in Professor Engelsma’s excellent book on marriage and you will find an entire chapter devoted to the place of children in marriage and to the relationship between these two purposes of God in marriage.
I stated the following in my lecture:
At the same time it is important for us to note that the sexual relation is not first of all and primarily for the purpose of conception. The sexual relation is first of all an expression of the union and intimacy of the covenant relation into which God brings a man and a woman in marriage. God gave Eve to Adam because: “It was not good that the man be alone.” Companionship and friendship lie at the heart of the primary significance of marriage. That companionship and friendship are a reflection of the intimate relation between Christ and His church. When there are no children in a marriage, the marriage of a man and a woman is yet complete. God’s highest purpose is achieved as the man and woman reflect the love of God between Christ and His bride the church. The husband and wife without children have a high calling to live faithfully in marriage and to give their time and energy for the sake of God’s kingdom and church. The second purpose of the sexual relationship is for the begetting of children.
Such is evident from the way that God created the woman. I don’t intend to give a biology or anatomy lesson here, but a few comments will suffice. If God intended the sexual relation to be exclusively for conception He would have made the woman like some of the female animals that are always ready to conceive at any time. He did not. If the sexual relation was just for conception, then couples would be bound by God to limit their sexual experiences to only those times of the month when conception is possible and would be called to abstain at all other times. Sexual relations would not be permissible during pregnancy nor after such a time when pregnancy was no longer possible. The Bible condemns such a notion when it teaches men to marry in order to avoid fornication and teaches the sexual relation as a debt that husbands and wives owe to each other in
The fruit of this sexual relationship is ordinarily the conception of children.
I share with you the desire that God bless our marriages and our families and grant us faithfulness to uphold the high and honorable place that the Scriptures give to marriage and children.
God’s richest blessings,
Rev. Allen Brummel