Previous article in this series: September 15, 2014, p. 491.
One of God’s chief purposes for our marriages is the bringing forth of covenant children. This matter is not merely one of the choice of a godly couple but a matter of their calling and responsibility before God. Bringing forth children is a very important question because of its personal nature. How many children we have in our home is going to affect many things. Even one child requires sacrifice on the part of the married couple. Childbearing involves considerable expense, especially in our modern times. It involves the physical size of our home and a question of whether we can provide for our children. Does father have sufficient income? Can a large family exist today on one income? Challenges are faced when there are a number of children, such as whether mother also should have an occupation outside of the home. This question must be faced when there is an even greater urgency today for mother to stay home to be a full-time mother. The same God who gives us our children also will give what we need to raise each new child. Each new child gives added responsibility to its parents. We need to maintain strong Christian homes to nurture our children. This requires order and discipline in our home, which is more demanding with each additional child. Not the least of the considerations of this question is the exhaustion of mother in the home.
Not all marriages are blessed with the same number of children. To some marriages God gives no children. This is commonly a deep sorrow for God-fearing couples. These need much grace and encouragement to bear their heavy burden and submit to the will of the Lord. These must find their joy and fulfillment in serving the Lord in other ways in His church and kingdom, perhaps even in helping large families. Many do this and are a wonderful godly example to others.
Sometimes God gives only one or two children; sometimes He gives many children. When there is only one child God also blesses this home when parents continue in the fear of His name and the exercise of their covenantal responsibility.
and , the classic “family” psalms of the Bible, set before us the picture of a family where there are several children. They speak of children like olive plants round about the table. This presents a beautiful scene in the godly home with several children, especially at meal times, sitting around the table not only enjoying food but also experiencing covenant fellowship together. makes this interesting statement: “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
Godly parents must be willing and ready to receive many children into their Christian home. They must humbly trust in the Lord to provide graciously all things necessary for the raising of their many children, and He will.
Commonly in Reformed churches, there are families with many children—infants, little children, and young people—worshiping God together with their parents and grandparents. The young people of the covenant are often heard making confession of their faith before the church. The strong Christian home plays a vital part in whether these young people, when come to years of maturity and independence, will remain faithful members in the church. There is great joy and excitement in the church where generations of the covenant are present—sometimes even three or four generations together—and these live together in the communion of the saints, one generation serving and being an example to another.
The world strongly discourages large families. Some in the world decide, from the very beginning of their marriage, for selfish reasons, not to have any children at all. Some consider children to be too great a burden, involving too much trouble.
One of the sacrifices women of the world refuse to make involves the effect that bearing children has on their own bodies. In our age, the greatest concern in life for many is remaining physically attractive. So much of this is driven by sinful lusts and passions, which if left unchecked, can have a very serious effect on marriages. It is shocking to see even married women dressing and behaving in such a way that they stir up sinful passions in the minds and hearts of men in society. The men who look at such women, imagining them to be more attractive than their God-given wives, are just as evil. Such conduct gives an evil example and influence in the home and for children. It is the cause of the breaking down of Christian marriages and families. The fruits of this are the many evils seen in our modern society and nation.
It is also said by the world that giving birth to children and raising them is very costly. Exaggerated numbers are often put out by the media as to how much it costs to raise a child from birth to adulthood, including the cost of a modern-day college and university education. Who can afford to have a large family in our day? We all want to live in palatial houses and have all the modern conveniences and expensive electronic gadgetry of our times. Who has enough money for all of these things if there are many children to feed and clothe and educate?
Further, it is stated by the ungodly world that having children dramatically limits one’s freedom to enjoy the pleasures of the world. These imagine that they must have time for sports and recreation, for nights out every week, for regular eating out at expensive restaurants, and for expensive vacations. The proper care of children requires that mothers are devoted to being keepers at home. Few women want to leave their careers in the world because they do not want forego the public attention they receive there. Few want to be full-time devoted mothers in the home because this calling has no glory in this ungodly world.
The ungodly world maintains that parents do not have enough love to go around to care for a number of children and nurture them properly. In the home where there are many children, it is said that children will be deprived of attention and adversely affected in their psychological development. The economic opportunity for achievement and success will be limited for the children of large families. Having large families leads to poverty.
And then, what about the argument concerning over-populating the world? Is it not really more noble to forego having children and to do one’s part in avoiding over-population of the world? Does man have the right to make this world such a crowded place, exhausting the resources of this world and jeopardizing future generations?
Godly parents, who know the blessing of the Lord and who have the right understanding of life and the purpose of God in raising covenant children, can see the folly of the world’s vain reasoning.
Especially the mother of such a family, in her self-sacrifice and devoted service in the home, far excels all the women of the world in their egotistical and self-centered life style. The God-fearing woman in her modesty and loving service to her family, in the tender care of her God-given children, is beautiful in the sight of the Lord, whom she loves and serves. She has the promise of His favor and blessing, and His care and protection for her covenant children. She may safely trust in Him to provide for all the needs of her family. She is worthy of the praise of her husband and the church she also serves.
In the home of the godly, children are taught to serve one another, and to be satisfied with the gifts of God, and to use them wisely. In the ungodly homes of the world where there are only one or two children, children often grow up being trained in self-centeredness and insatiable covetousness. Material abundance, modern conveniences, the presence of every imaginable toy, and expensive sports equipment do not naturally lead to great benefit in the lives of children. As Christian parents, we should be concerned about giving our children too much rather than imagining that they have less than others and that this will somehow hurt them.
Our children are conceived and born in sin. This sin is often the cause of strife and bitterness in the family and has the potential of tearing the family apart and breeding resentment and hatred. Sibling rivalry is grievous. In the daily life of the home where there are several children, children are pressed into the service of caring for one another. The covenant home is the ideal institution where children can be admonished daily against the evil of sibling rivalry and taught the importance of love and care for one another. The daily needs of the functioning of the home require that each child be given a task to do and have individual responsibility in the home. Through this practical instruction they will be trained for later life in society and especially in the church. None of us as parents is perfect in giving this kind of needful instruction. But the home is the God-ordained sphere that can best give this instruction.
Children growing up in the home with several, even many siblings, can have a significant influence on each other. It is an amazing thing to observe how children are even naturally attracted to other children. Under the guidance of the godly home and the circumstances there, children teach each other. Some of the best educated persons in the history of the world have come from large homes, and some of the most successful in later life came from large families. Though we must immediately add, that even this is vanity without the fear of God.
Valuable lessons are learned by children when necessity requires this and daily life demands it. Many covenant families in which there are many children have to learn to live on a lower economic standard than other families in the neighborhood. When this is directed by the grace and Spirit of God and godly instruction in the covenant home, this serves for the great good of these children, giving them important moral and spiritual lessons for their whole life.
Many covenant families have the opportunity and blessing of sending their children to good Christian schools. Very large tuition bills are involved in doing this. When necessary, young people in these homes can be taught to help bear the burden of this expense for their own education—for the good of their own future well- being. Wisdom in parenting knows that such behavior is good and not evil for children to learn in the days of their youth.
Members of the covenant family united by the grace of God, with proper spiritual guidance, discipline, and instruction, through the daily life of the covenant home, grow up in the close and blessed relationship of friendship and care for fellow members of the family. This will endure for a lifetime and prepare these children well to live in the communion of the saints in the church of Jesus Christ as well as in society.