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What Does the Bible Say About Not

Having Children?
I just happened upon your web site and am quite impressed at the volume of material
here. Keep up the great work... Now on with my question. What does the Bible have to
say about having children after marriage? I am 19 years old right now and it is probably
for that reason that I feel the way I do about the whole topic, but right now I am having a
hard time understanding the reason or benefit to having children. I have been dating a girl
and it seems as if we have everything in common except for our desire (or lack of) for
raising children. Don't get me wrong, I get along great with kids and I know they can be a
lot of fun but raising kids is not easy. It is a major commitment and huge responsibility
for both husband and wife. If you have any insight or suggested verses to read it would be
greatly appreciated.


The first commandment given to man was to have children. “And God blessed them, and
God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
Psalm 127:4-5 says, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the
youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

It is true that some men can not have children. It would be hard to say that God would
punish them for violating his command. In the New Testament, Paul advocated people
remaining single during the persecution that would come to the church (1 Corinthians 7),
but did not make being single or not having children a requirement.

I can tell you from experience (including one child who will probably remain at home all
his life because of his retardation) that raising children may be hard, but it is rewarding.
On the other hand, I certainly wouldn’t recommend that someone who is dead set against
having children bring a child into a situation where it will not be wanted. That would be
cruel to the child as well as the parent.

There is one other thing you need to be aware of as well. Probably the second biggest
cause of problems between a newly married husband and wife is whether to have
children. (The first problem is money.) Whether or not to have children should be one of
several things agreed on before any marriage. (Personal opinion)

Does the Bible say you have to have kids?

I’ve not done extensive research into this question, so most of this is “off the cuff”;
besides, I could have biases that blind me to some of the evidence, and I could
misinterpret things. Please don’t set this up as your doctrine until you study it out for

First, the Bible is most clear that sex is to be only between a man and woman who are
married to each other. All other forms of sex (premarital, extramarital, homosexual,
bestiality) are clearly forbidden in both the Old and the New Testaments. It amazes me
that there are people who claim to be Christians and claim to believe the Bible, who have
no clue what the Bible says, or find loop-holes and exceptions where there are none, or
believe that certain parts of the Bible are not accurate. (That is another subject, and I may
take that up in a future post; for now, I encourage you to read Josh McDowell’s book
Evidence that Demands a Verdict on the question of the authenticity of the Bible.) Now,
on to the Biblical evidence.

In Gen. 1:28, God commands the newly-created man to “be fruitful and multiply.” As my
dad used to say, if a man and his wife just have two kids, that’s not multiplication–that’s
not even addition–that’s just replacement! (For the sake of honesty, right now, I have two
children, ages 3 years and 19 months, and am not planning on more for a while.) As far as
I can tell, that command has never been said to be fulfilled and no longer in force. I think
the command to have children was in fact repeated to the Israelites when they were on the
verge of entering into the land of Canaan to conquer it–to fill the land with their children,
basically. Throughout the Old Testament, not having children was considered to be a
curse, and having many children was considered to be a blessing (a few Scriptures that
spring to mind are a couple of Psalms that allude to this–likening children to many
arrows in the quiver, or like many olive shoots around the olive tree). One might argue
that we humans have been fruitful and multiplied, and that we have filled the earth, so we
don’t need to have lots of children now. Also, we are not an agrarian society, so children
are a financial burden for many years more now than they were back in the old days
when they might tend sheep or help in the fields.

From what I can remember of the New Testament, there is no positive directive for
married couples to have children, but it is more or less understood that that would
happen. One should be careful, however, when formulating one’s ideas, to make sure that
a command is a command, and liberty is liberty. There are some who think that sex is
only for the purpose of procreation; some who think that couples should always be trying
to get pregnant; others think that one should never try not to have a child (even by
periodic abstinence); and some try to have more control over their own lives. Some of
these people take the line that God should be the one in charge of your family size, and to
keep from conceiving a child is basically thumbing your nose at the sovereignty of God
or something. My basic philosophy is, if you want to have children, go for it. If you
don’t, first make sure that your reasons don’t violate commands of Scripture.

One problem I have with the philosophy that you should have no control whatsoever over
how many children you have is that God did give us brains for some reason, and I think
He wants us to use them. If we’re not allowed to decide how many children we want, are
there any other similar decisions that we are sinning if we try to control?–who we marry,
when we marry, what job we have, where we live…. The other problem I have with it is
that there are some who truly cannot afford to have more children, yet intentionally try to
have more (usually for religious reasons). Of course, nobody can really afford to have
kids, by some estimates–that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people
who are on government assistance, or barely scraping by without it, perhaps even have
declared bankruptcy or are contemplating it–and still planning on having more children.
Now, that clearly violates the New Testament command of men providing for their
families at the penalty of being “worse than an infidel” if do not.

Where does birth control fit into this? I believe that life starts at conception (numerous
Scriptures speak of a woman “conceiving a son” not a blob of tissue that would become a
son; also, John the Baptist was referred to as a living being when he “leaped for joy” in
his mother’s womb), and therefore an already-conceived baby should be allowed to live if
at all possible. I don’t have a problem with contraception (that is, preventing conception
from occurring), but I do have a problem with drugs or procedures that can be considered
abortifacients. There are a variety of contraceptives (spermicide, condoms and
diaphragms; as well as “natural family planning” methods that include periodic
abstinence to prevent conception); but everything else that falls under the name of “birth
control” may in fact induce an abortion.

Most methods of birth control–hormones such as pills, injections, patches, etc., and IUDs
including Mirena–work in one of two ways–blocking conception (by keeping the woman
from ovulating, or the sperm from entering the uterus) or by keeping the fertilized egg
from implanting. Hormones keep the uterine lining too thin for adequate blood supply for
the embryonic placenta, and the IUD tends to “irritate” the uterus, making it slightly
contract–not enough for the woman to feel it, but enough to expel an embryo. Still,
pregnancy may occur using any method of birth control or contraception (except
abstinence works every time it’s tried). If you are uncomfortable with abortion, you may
very well need to be uncomfortable with birth control.

I suggest you google terms such as “natural family planning” and other methods of
contraception and birth control, to find out what is best for you–after you know all of the
benefits and risks of every option.