Who you calling a liar?

In the last month, we have twice had the experience of sitting down to eat with Christian friends complaining about children, grumbling about child-rearing, and mocking large families.

The first time was with 3 different couples and one single guy all sitting around over dinner. The other two couples (each with 2 children) made comments like:
  • "We can't even handle the two we've got, I can't imagine how you are going to do it with three!"
  • "Whoever said children are a blessing must've been single and not had any to raise!"
  • "Yeah, that guy was lying!" [Now, I have to stop here and point out that if we believe the full Bible to be inspired, then the Person they're referring to as "that guy" is actually God.]

I spent some time that evening trying to convince the single guy at the table, who is actively asking God for a wife, that raising children doesn't have to be something to moan about, but I'm not sure he heard much from me over the cacophany of moans across the table.

We went home that night, actually quite appalled. These people would generally be considered "strong, active, Bible-believing Christians", solely based on their careers in ministry. But to hear these people talking, you wouldn't have to stretch their comments at all to come to the conclusion that
they just don't like their kids. Not even the two they have! And they certainly would not welcome any more as a "blessing from the Lord", despite biblical notions that they ought to.

Recently, I came across a website about a family that I watched from a distance when I worked for the legislature in the state of Arkansas. When I knew them, this family had 11 kids, and I remember hearing people making remarks back then, even though I saw their children in a variety of settings and they were always quiet and well-behaved. Far better behaved, I should say, than children in most one- or two- child families I've seen. Well, now they have 16 children and it is quite interesting to go to their website and read about their typical day, their favorite recipes, and the way they "do" life together as a family. I'm willing to bet that even with 16 children, the children get more face-to-face time with mom and dad in that family than children do in most American families today, what with 2 working parents, public school, TV, Internet, and video games.

Last night, when someone commented about the number of children we have (I'll remind you--it's only 3-- we're not overpopulating the earth QUITE yet), my husband casually remarked, "yeah, well, we have a ways to go before we're up to par with a family we read about back in Arkansas with 16 kids."

Now, I know- 16 kids IS an awful lot more than the average family. But again, among 4 different couple friends, you'd have thought we were talking about chinese water torture! One commented, "oh, shoot me now." Another, "that's insane." Now maybe you're thinking, well, 16 kids
IS crazy, Jess, I mean, come on! SIXTEEN! Yes, but the Bible says children are a blessing from the Lord. Consider: no one sits around feeling sorry for the Christian millionaire who's been blessed by God in the area of finances, saying, "oh, I'm so thankful that's not me." No, in fact, we would probably envy that guy- asking why him and not us? But Christians- as we've witnessed- commonly, and without shame, make horrid comments regarding children.

So what is it that makes us so besmirch the Word of God? What is it that has made us come to believe the exact opposite of what the Bible says about children? And what has convinced us it is OK and made it so commonly held a belief that we feel no conviction about saying such things?
  • Our parenting? (we are so ineffective with the one child we've got that we can't imagine what it would be like to have a second, third, or sixteenth)
  • Our environment? (we are so inundated with the idea that children are pests that we don't even question that anymore, despite what the Bible says)
  • Our never-ending duties and busy lifestyle? (we both have to work, fulfill duties at the church, coach teams, etc... so we don't have time to have more than our two)

Or something else? Any thoughts?

"Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar."- Romans 3:4


15 comments:

Hollywood617 said...

Jess-
I read your last post with many bittersweet feelings. Before I met your family, and a few others since I have been here, I would have been one of those people; someone who didnt understand how more than two children could even be possible, much less glorifing to our Creator. However, my opinions have been completely changed in the past 9 months.
I am a single girl who dreams of a husband and a family and through the example of you and a few others I have come to understand that God is big enough to open or close the womb as He pleases and that He alone is in control of things that before seemed small and insignificant (such as kids, birth control, etc...) I appreciate so much your candor with the subject and you and Doug's willingness to accept whatever the Lord gives you.
So be encouraged; the way that you have chosen to live and the way that you have chosen to trust in the Lord for as many arrows as He chooses to give is making a difference.
Love ya!

Kim said...

Jess -

As a single person who longs for kids, the position of, "Well, whoever said children were a blessing must have been single and not had any kids" is so awful. Do they think single people are cut off from children? Most of my service at the church, as heartbreaking as it sometimes is, is with children. And like hollywood above me, as a single person you HAVE to grasp at God's soverignty in it all; and while the position of "children are a blessing" calls into question, "Then why am I not being blessed," (I just had this whole conversation the other day with a good married friend of mine who shares many of your views), it's all in the mindset. The Lord gives AND the Lord takes away.

I guess all these ramblings are to say be encouraged. I appreciate your willingness to accept what the Lord gives you. I appreciate that you don't complain about your kids, even though I am sure there are days that are challenging. The way you value your children is a lesson and a blessing to me.

So thanks.

Jess said...

Em & Kim, I appreciate your comments- Sadly, for those of us raised in our culture, it's totally different to start thinking of kids this way instead of seeing them as something to avoid like the plague (after you have your 2.2, of course). I think this is actually a difficult conviction to live out... it's something, like homeschooling, I think- that has to be revaluated regularly- is this really still God's will for our family.

Right now I feel very strongly about it, but if I made it to, say, 58, and biology hadn't yet kicked in and rendered me barren, I'd for sure be struggling... and of course, possibly sooner than that. But it's a lot harder to walk in this conviction this month, having a 3 month old, than it was when Baxter was 11 months old and we just had 2.

I can certainly understand friends of mine that have avoided discussing this because it's an *inconvenient* thing to mull over. It's certainly not easy to take our hands off the reins in any of life's circumstances, but particularly one that spells 18+ future years of responsibility...

I could write books about this, I think- but suffice it to say, thank you for commenting- it certainly feels good to have people actually thinking through these things alongside me!
Ciao-
Jess

Kim said...

And you know what? Right now you just have to deal with three kids. I was watching (don't shoot) the pre-show for the Emmys last night, and Heidi Klum the model was on. They were talking about how long she'd been pregnant versus how long they've been together, and it's something like 104 weeks and they've been together 106. Crazy. BUT - when asked, "Well, how many more times are you going to do this?" She said, "We just take it one baby at a time." And that's all you have to do.

And you might come to a point at four, five, six, or even three kids, where God gives you the peace where it feels like the right time to stop. But if not, I know you have a strong enough faith to keep listening.

Jess said...

And I should refocus the discussion by saying that I'm not talking primarily about having 16 kids. Sure, I used that as an example. But my point is that couples with TWO kids were griping about their two, and contradicting God's word in the process. That's what's most offensive about all of this.

(I know, I get off on other soapboxes sometimes, but I certainly am aware that God can speak to me about things and that those convictions may not be the same as everyone else... and that He does that to all kinds of people on all kinds of issues all the time.) So all that to say, yes, God's been speaking to us about family size, and yet- the primary thrust of this post was really to ask why Christian people would whine about children when the Bible says that children are a blessing?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a 25 year old mother of two, almost three children. My husband and I have decided to let God have a Say in how many children we have. and we cannot beilieve how many people have objected to me having a THIRD child!

We have had comments like, ' oh, you just wont cope'! 'You may want lots of children but God did give us brains to use you know"! ' How will you afford it"?

I have prayed about each child before they were concieved and i have let God do the rest.

God knows what our finances will and wont be now and in the future, he knows how much both me and my husband can physically , spiritually, and emotionally handle.

But I on the other hand, must be careful in the way that i respond to such retorts. And, if God should bless us with a 'Quiverfull' then i feel my family should set a godly example for others. < dont get me wrong, this should apply no matter how big or small your family is>.

if you are able to concieve and carry many children to term. and raise them. then why not have a large family and trust God with everything you have?

Regards, Australia.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I ran across this at the library while I was reading 'Ladies against feminism'- I am encouraged by your posts on marriage and raising godly children.

Unfortunately, the answer to your question about maligning God is: selfishness. Raising a godly family is hard work, constant diligence, and an overwhelming sense of our own failures and weakness. Our 'church' is filled with people who are still following after their own way and just going to a social club once a week and calling themselves 'christians'- there is little biblical christianity to be found.... and it is such a treasure when it is. Our child rearing isn't different from the world, our entertainment isn't different from the world, our passions aren't different from the world, our lifestyles aren't different from the world. For the most part we have failed to be separate, holy and live as unto the Lord. How can we expect His blessing when we won't obey?

My husband and I are crying out to God for more children, more opportunity to raise them up for Him. We are just beginning to sense the fragrance of that and all the possibilities of a generation raised for the Lord.....
I get angry when I hear the whining you are talking about. They ARE blaspheming and calling God a liar... with such arrogant boldness. And, quite frankly, if they can't "handle" the two or one they've got- please, don't have more. You're raising children for satan if you aren't raising them for God.

I know this is long and harsh sounding. My son is a delight to my soul and one of my dearest friends. We have him up to 18 now, and are enjoying more and more the fruit of all our labors, and of God's rich blessing on our obedience to Him.... it is those very obediences and hard work that those people are complaining about, so that is what I addressed. Okay- vented about. It is not a light thing to call God a liar.

Paid the Cost and now reaping the full richness of His blessing-

Brandon said...

How does birthcontrol line up with the scripture:"whatsoever is not of faith is sin" ??

Anonymous said...

If my body could have 16, I would do it. We're now leaving number 5 in the hands of God. We previously had a sterilization procedure(well husband did) and thankfully it didn't work. So we see it as another opportunity to continue with more. Thank you for posting this. I like your blog.

Kelly said...

Jess,

I just found your blog and I'm thoroughly enjoying my visit here and will definitely be returning. :o) I loved your insights about Christian marriage in your latest post, and then I saw this one and just had to leave a little note!

I whole-heartedly agree. God is the ultimate controller of our fertility. Case in point, my Hubs and I have a beautiful, light of our lives 19 month old daughter. We've tried since she was six weeks old to get pregnant again with no avail. Having Grace was a snap, but not so thus far. People constantly barrage me about when we're having our next one, and I promptly tell them to give glory to God because my not being pregnant again yet despite really trying and wanting to be is proof of the Lord's power. He is in control, He purposes our lives, and He plans families...after all, He absolutely delights in them!

Now, my husband and I have different ideas about the ultimate number of children that we will have. We go day-by-day in life and will go day-by-day when it comes to growing our family. I had a very difficult pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) and it's not something that I'd seek to repeat a bazillion times, but God is amazing and nothing is beneath Him. If He wants me to raise a bundle, then nothing can stop me. If our daughter is to be our one and only, then I am still richly blessed!

Thanks for sharing your views, and please know that there are many Christian gals out there (and men!) who have the same feelings about children. After all, the family was what completed God's creation.

Jess said...

Kelly,
Thanks for adding your thoughts! Hope to continue seeing you around here.

~Jess

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss as to what to say to people who not only compain about their own 2 kids, but put down people who have MANY. The Duggar family was a topic that came up several weeks ago with people chiming in that having that many kids was just WRONG! (it was a gathering of CHRISTIANS! no less) I listened for a while, then pointed out that the Duggars had been on the Today Show when their 17th was born, and how well-spoken and well-behaved all the children are. And then I noted that the next story after them was about Britney Spears and Kevin Federline's divorce and child custody battles! I pointed out that if anyone was acting foolishly in America it was NOT the Duggars!! And that people complain LESS about all the dysfunctional families than they do about functional ones! Topic ended there...

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess,

I just stumbled onto your blog, and I've found it very encouraging and friendly. Thank you.

I think I can answer you as to why people would complain about having lots of children. I think you already mentioned it but here goes.

I have one five year old child, and I know the Bible says children are a reward. However, some days are extremely challenging, and on those challenging days (there are many) when I'm about to have a nervous breakdown after I come home from a long day at work and my child is screaming at the top of her lungs, yes, I would shamefully admit I can't comprehend having more children. It seems she does not seem to respond to any discipline I try to use. I think when other parents get to the end of their rope like I have, that is when they cannot imagine how having more children could possibly be a blessing. All I can think of is how my husband and I are suffering through the "now" of a difficult child. I am not blaming the child, I know it is my shortcoming, but I do not know what to do anymore.

I think it is great if other people have large families. I can imagine how much fun they must have; I wish I could do that. I was one of four girls, and my husband is one of eleven children. We love our many siblings.

But please don't flame me when I say I don't see how it would be responsible of me to have more children when I know my own limitations of barely being able to handle one child. Is it really right of me to bring more children into the world when I don't know how to deal with the one I have? I know she is supposed to be a reward, a blessing, but I don't feel blessed. I feel ashamed because I don't know what to do with her. I feel guilty for not being a better mom. I certainly don't feel rewarded. I feel punished. It doesn't seem right for me or her. She certainly could have been born to a better mom, a mom who really did deserve her as a reward.

Another thing I wonder about - What about children who are born into an abusive family? Should their parents continue to procreate? Why would God reward these sorts of parents?

I know these aren't questions anyone can answer. I'm just a frustrated Mommy who wishes she knew the right thing to do.

So, when I read all the comments from people who "simply cannot imagine" how others don't want more kids, I am skeptical. Maybe you all have perfect angels and perfect days, but I'm guessing not. I'm not accusing you of this, but I've seen others who come across almost as haughty in how they adore every waking moment of their children's drool-filled, poo-filled, tantrum throwing days. Come on.

It would help us mortal moms to know that even immortal moms have a down day every once in a while.

Thanks again for your blog.

Jess said...

Anonymous,
Thanks for adding your thoughts. I hear the hurt in your post.

And I hear what you're saying about apparently "perfect" moms who never have a rough day with their kids. I definitely don't adore poopy diapers (especially as they get more man-sized) or tantrums (those get nipped in the bud REAL quick around here). ;)

I'm sorry that you don't feel like having a child has been a reward or blessing for you. Honestly, (and I say this in love, not judgment) maybe some good training in parenting would help you immensely... there are great books that give practical, realistic ideas for dealing with the age your daughter is at (Boundaries with Kids, Parenting with Love & Logic) that could help turn those frustrating moments into times that you and she could enjoy together.

Additionally, you have the strain of working outside the home, which I definitely don't have... that adds an entire additional "layer" to the demands and stresses of your life and hers. I don't have perfect days, but I also don't have all the "pulls" on me that you do in our quests to do a good job raising children. I think that makes a big difference as to how things go in the day-to-day things of the home.

Thank you for stopping to add your thoughts and perspective to this post; I appreciate your honesty.

Blessings,
Jess

Heather said...

Oh, good analogy about children AND money being blessings from God! I'll have to remember to use that one. While we just have 1 at the moment, the journey to having the 1 has made me appreciate the omnipotence and omniscient qualities of God. (I recently stumbled across your blog and I am reading the oldest postings first, which is why I'm commenting almost 2 years after this was written)