Jan 6, 2015

A third blessing and thoughts on family planning.












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For those who don't know (although I mentioned morning sickness in my last post), we're expecting our third baby this July. Joshua's birthday is at the end of November so we'll have three under three, all before celebrating four years of marriage!

When we found out we were expecting again a month ago (we found out a bit later - apparently I must have been distracted by two somethings this time around?) we were immediately excited and joyful. We love our babies, so of course! My other thoughts after were wait can I do this and will people think we're crazy and darn I just started wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans last week but back to the stretch band drawing board...and other such vain and selfish things.

To back up a moment, with our first two babies only sixteen months apart, the tentative plan was to have at least a two year gap before the next. I was looking at enjoying these two and getting into shape again and experiencing full, uninterrupted nights of sleep. But something began to shift in our hearts, particularly my husband's. He has one brother and even after marrying me (the second oldest of seven), having a large family was not on his radar. He was open to more but would be happy with two or three. But over the last few months I think God was changing his heart and preparing both of us to be open to another child sooner if that was His will. Which apparently was, as evidenced by my growing and queasy stomach.

And this matter of children and God's will brings me to the thing I've been pondering and questioning for some time - how should we, as Christians, view children and family planning?

I have no thought of judging others or coming up with concrete rules and stances, but I'm naturally a curious person and this topic is one I haven't yet been able to settle in my mind.

Much of what I've read on the pro let God control your family size side comes from individuals or ministries that tend to be legalistic in several other areas that I believe God gives us freedom in (although requiring much wisdom). On the other hand, arguments I've seen (from respected Christians) for the God expects us to use wisdom and purposely limit our family size side just don't satisfy me or strike me as soundly rooted in Scripture.

I haven't come to a conclusion yet - I just question Christian culture that agrees that children are a blessing and that we should trust God but somehow the sum of these truths is to decide for ourselves how many are a blessing?

Aren't we told that God is the one who opens and closes the womb? Is the Sovereign one not to be trusted to close it if that is best? Is this idea of limiting children seen anywhere in Scripture (even implicitly)?

Again, I'm not judging those who have come to a different conclusion, only trying to wrestle this one out in my own heart.

Any thoughts and perspectives on this topic - whether you're married or have children yet or not - would be most welcome!



13 comments:

  1. YAY!!! It's blog official now! :D I think it it wonderful that God is/has aligned both you and Loris' hearts on this subject! (that's helpful and important! ;) lol!) I know we've chatted a bit about your topic here but I found this article (that I got from another blogger) to be quite eloquent in it's presentation of the issue:
    http://www.credenda.org/archive/issues/18-4husbandry.php

    Not saying it exactly answers your questions but I like how it frames the whole topic. And it's not long! Bonus for my non-computer reading brain! lol!

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    1. Thanks, Kaitlin! As I said, I'm still not settled on this issue, but yes, it's a good thing that God has given us like-mindedness in where we stand right now :)

      Thanks for the link, I think there are some good points made in the article. A few takeaways and thoughts: motives are important. A large family doesn't mean a more godly family - it's not simply producing children that's important but faithfully raising them in the Lord. I agree that it is wise to count the cost but I also wonder whether some of our (our meaning mainstream christian culture) reasons for wanting a smaller family are sometimes rooted in selfishness or worldly thinking, but then masked as "wise choices". I think it's incredible that some godly families in the past managed to faithfully raise and train many children with much less money, resources, or modern conveniences than we have available to us today. Perhaps it was a matter of necessity, priorities, and a better understanding of what it means to work hard and have an eternal focus. Just another point I've been thinking about!

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    2. I'm glad you liked the article, I feel very much the same as you about the points offered in it! As for your last point there, the one you've been thinking about, I agree that our culture has lost it's sense of hard work and sacrifice! And I couldn't agree more with wanting to have an eternal focus, I know that's something that is heavy on my and Dave's hearts right now! I do just want to point out, that the families in the past that you are referring to lived in a different 'world' so to speak. Depending on the time period you are referring to, those were times when boys became men at the ages of 12-15 and girls were married by 14-16 and starting families of their own. The culture they lived in had less convinces but also less...expectations of it's people. Hard work WAS enough then and sadly our world just doesn't accept that! Today it is barely enough to have a post secondary diploma, let alone a high school one! And you may not have been going that far back in your referencing of days gone by, but my caution is this - don't just look at one side of the culture when looking at periods of the past. (I know I have been guilty of that, so that's why I mention it) It's easy to see what we want to see and not see the whole picture!

      I think Elizabeth (below) makes a great point - in that people often only give to God in certain areas and hold that is a solid truth, yet not take it across the board! (again, another area I have struggled (and still do) with!) Personal convictions can be beautiful when lived out as just that, personal! They can also change....and as you know, *wink* it's all about the heart!

      SOOO...after all that long winded rambling I've got this as an 'answer' to your searching. It comes from hashing much out with God and our lives and through struggles, growing and experience.
      There is no, one answer fits all on this! This isn't a black and white topic and we won't ever all come to the same conclusion. From reading between the lines, I have to say, I think you know where you and your hubby stand and are just looking for confirmation?!?! And if not, then super! Because, it IS only between you, your husband and God! (which I know, you know!) As you mentioned above, some people will chose a selfish/worldly path, but they will answer to God for it. We, as people, often look to others to find assurance about these various choices, and you will find people that think alike, but I have learned that truly, as different members of the body, these things play out so differently in each one's life!
      As for you and your family, as long as your hearts are pure, you are not going against scripture and you both feel this is what God wants for you, then RIGHT ON!!!! And, as it would seem, He is certainly blessing this choice for you! :D

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    3. Yes, agreed, we definitely have to be wise in looking at different cultures and history! I think there's still something to be learned by looking at godly families of the past - we do live in a different world but their examples of focusing on family and working hard is something to emulate. I guess I was thinking more of the mindset in our culture that homemaking and taking care of kids is either just so difficult or drudgery...I'm reading a biographical novel right now and just looking at what some housewives and mothers had to deal with in the early 1900's and through the depression era makes me cringe! But they dug in and got it done...and here I am some days feeling like I have a lot to do with, you know...my running water and washing machine and refrigerator and all that! And it wasn't common to have children signed up for multiple activities and classes but perhaps that left more time for spiritual training! Just a few things to think about, although of course they had their faults and particular challenges as well!

      Oh, to answer your question, it's not that we've come up with a set in stone belief (regarding family planning) and are looking for confirmation from others - this is just me trying to think things through and learn where I stand! ;)

      And just one more thought - while this is obviously such a personal area of thought and decision, perhaps there is a need for the church to be countering our culture's mindset by having a high view of family and raising children! Certainly within christian community large families shouldn't be becoming an oddity!

      Thanks again for weighing in!

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  2. All I can really emphasize at this point is unity with your spouse, and it seems like God was working in you and your husband's hearts simultaneously to prepare you for this new miracle! I know many Christian families with 4-5 kids who planned to conceive at certain intervals. Maybe they took the timing into their own hands, but still trusted God to provide for their large family. Plus, to get really nit-picky, I'm guessing even families who "leave it up to God" still decide when to wean their babies, when to be intimate, and other things that can possibly affect fertility. I live in a large city where most people can't afford to buy housing. Yeah, there are Christians having a second or even third child, but it is a huge step of faith, and something I'm not quite decided on myself.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Elizabeth. I agree that families of all sizes can be examples of trusting God in various ways - even raising one child takes much trust! And yes, other things can affect fertility...although apparently for me it's quite possible to conceive even when almost exclusively nursing! Financial and space limitations are something to consider...it can be such a complex issue. May God give you both wisdom as you sort it out!

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    2. No, I wouldn't count on breastfeeding being preventative, either. ;)

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  3. Woot woot!
    So happy for all of you guys. Congratulations! :)

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  4. Congratulations on another precious blessing! Praying that you will be feeling better and God will continue to guide you in these coming months :)

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  5. Dear Stephanie, I've read this a while ago and your words have been shimmering in my mind. I suddenly realized today that I have not even said a congratulations! Yikes. So, congratulations! I am so glad for you, and for the life that is growing within you.
    As for my thoughts on the size of our family, I've struggled with this question for a while now, and it always comes back to my heart. What are my desires? Are my desires and intention for my own glory and comfort? Or am I striving to honor the Lord? These are sticky sticky territories, as our hearts are ever so crooked and deceitful. So, I am praying about it, a lot yet not enough. Still seeking his face, and casting ourselves at his mercies.

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    1. Thank you for the congratulations, Irene!

      It's somehow comforting to know that others are struggling with this question too, rather than having it all figured out! It's true, this area is something that needs much prayer...and maybe struggle is a good place to be as we, as you put it, cast ourselves at His mercies.

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