Some Subtle Effects of the Birth Control Culture

Lately, I've been noticing some trends that I think are directly attributable to the rise-- indeed the expectancy-- of birth control use in our culture. I'd like to talk through them one by one so it's clear what I'm getting at. I believe that there are consequences that are a direct result of our culture's embracing of the birth control mindset as normative, and here are a few.
  • #1: Young couples are thought irresponsible when they get pregnant right away...
...because, the implication is, any "wise" couple would wait and follow the oft-given advice (even by pastors) that you should "take a few years to get to know each other" first. This basic assumption overlooks the fact that even with birth control usage, regular intercourse often leads to a pregnancy. Indeed, that is the general plan of God's design for marital intimacy.

It also overlooks the fact that children are a part of God's design for sanctification of parents, and that the continuation of a self-focused lifestyle has not served America's "Christian" marriages well.
  • #2- "Was it planned?" is no longer deemed a rude and quite personal question, but in fact, is seen as a natural question...
...because, the way our culture sees it, it is up to us to "plan" when life will begin according to our own time tables and goals. The abortion-on-demand mindset tells us that we can control when life ends, so why not believe that we have full control of when it begins as well?
  • #3- Children are often seen, and even referred to, as an "accident".
Perhaps you've been fortunate enough to not ever have actually heard someone call their child by such an insulting description (an "oops baby", or "our little accident")... but it's all too common. Linked to the idea above, this whole notion is a natural attitude when we believe that we are the ones in control of life.
  • #4- Large families are often seen as incredible (and thus, put on an undeserved pedestal) or insane (and thus, sneered at behind their backs)...
...because once you can control how many "little buggars" you get, someone who has more than the two (or maybe three, if your first two are of the same gender) MUST be either Mother Teresa, or one step away from the loony bin.
  • #5- Anyone who has clearly NOT bought into the birth control culture at any point is seen as fair game for jokes, criticism, or invasive questions, because (it is assumed) they "chose" something different...
...because now, the "norm" is obvious: it is assumed that you WILL limit your own family size, shape, and timing according to your own will. The family that has two children 14 months apart gets jokes ("Haven't you figured out how that happens?" hardee-har-har) and eyerolls at their (implied) stupidity. The couple that has struggled with infertility now feels obligated to share that very personal information, because others imply or outright state that they are intentionally avoiding children, calling them selfish or scared. (Talk about adding insult to injury!) And of course, there's the classic large family comments.
  • #6- By extension, because they "chose" their family size, the larger-than-average family is often expected to never lack, to never struggle with discipline, to never be tired, etc.... even by Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
Don't believe me? Think again.

If a two-year-old in a family of seven children has tantrums or is wearing mismatched clothes, it's because "the mom is spread too thin". But if that same child is the only child of two doting parents, it's because "bless his heart; he's a normal two-year-old" and because independent little two-year-olds love to pick out their own clothes.

If a mother of three children is exhausted as she's pregnant with her fourth, it's likely to be met with an "I told you so" attitude from those who have already inappropriately shared their thoughts about family size. And she rarely gets sympathy. More likely, she'll get a "you made your bed, now lie in it" perspective from most of the people around her. But a first time mother struggling with morning sickness gets sympathetic comments and offers for how others can help.

And lest you think I'm just whining as a mom of four, I'm really not... I'm just stating things the way I've plainly seen them. And these are things I hear from many of you, my friends and readers.
  • #7- A young professional women is "throwing her career away" if she opts to stay home with her new baby....
...because she could have controlled that for another 10 years, and really DONE something with her life, don't ya know?
  • #8- Couples are often shocked and dismayed when they struggle with infertility...
...because the whole issue is so framed by an "in control" attitude. It seems so easy to NOT have children, and thus, it should be easy TO have them, right? Sadly, many modern couples either aren't even marrying until less fertile ages, and then may find themselves desperate to have children... or they have followed the common advice to take some time for themselves, only to find that once they finally get off the pill, they struggle to get pregnant at all.

Even the couple who would love to have children and hasn't put it off or waited gets rude comments from family and friends because our culture has such an "if you want it, you can get it" attitude about everything, including children. And underlying all of it is the cultural idea of "rights"... that we have the right to have children or not have them, whenever we so desire.
  • #9- OTHER EFFECTS
I won't even go into the rise in casual sex (a.k.a. fornication), affairs (a.k.a. adultery), and abortion (a.k.a. murder) due to the ease of birth control procurement and use.

SO WHAT'S THE SOLUTION???
The answer isn't that we bang down the doors of the courts and seek to legislate birth control usage. That ship has sailed.

In my view, the answer IS that Christian couples should seek God's face and become that peculiar people-- a people that stands out as set apart and different from the world around us-- in this area of how we view children. A people who see children as blessings. A people who discipline our children in the Lord, so that we aren't so bowled over by our disobedient, bratty children that we can't STAND the thought of more. A people who aren't afraid to live as strangers in this world that kills and throws away imperfect children, medicates children instead of offering loving discipline, and that acts and thinks as though we are the ones in control of life. Heaven help us!

132 comments:

Holly said...

"The couple that has struggled with infertility now feels obligated to share that very personal information, because others imply or outright state that they are intentionally avoiding children, calling them selfish or scared." - I am on this side. It's God's plan for us NOT to have biological children. We have had so many opportunites to support other families that we would not have had if we had children. I'm OK with that, my husband is OK with that, but I often feel judged and like a very odd duck.

Maritza said...

Hi Jess,
I read your blog about a year ago e lost it. Was so happy to have found u again! Ha ha :)

On this topic, i am a struggling wife of 2 years at home, and would like 2 know do you use birthcontrol? If not what is the best option? I am using the pill jasmine and r scared i will strugle.

Next year i will b 25 & want 2 start with babies but my mother inlaw says hubby is nt ready. Not that I agree, negative! Hubby is 29(2morrow!) & says he is waiting on God.

Now what 2 do? I dont have wise woman around, and those who do are 2 bussy, or dont care.

Hugs, Maritza
email: maritzasylia@yahoo.ca

Britt said...

Oh Jess! This has been on my mind! I can't tell you how many looks I've gotten...and it all started when I was pregnant with my third (Eleanor). Now that she's here the looks haven't stopped. I've even been told that I am "too young" (I'm 27) to have "so many" (three girls). WHAT?!

Anonymous said...

O yes!

Just saw the pic relating 2 the topic! Love it! Made me smile, will show hubby 2night! He ha hoe!

Maritza
South Africa

Karen said...

Yowza! I love it when people can passionately present something and still remain classy.

This bit was particularly insightful to me:
"...children are a part of God's design for sanctification of parents..." Boy, is that the truth!

Questions # 2 & 3 have bothered me for a long time as well.

Thanks for stating this case so eloquently. I couldn't agree more.

Katherine said...

Amen!

Heather said...

Good post! As someone who gets a lot of negative comments from my parents regarding having 1 child, this post is an encouragement for me.

DarcyLee said...

I'm the mom of 4 blessings. My oldest just turned 24 and my youngest is 17. I remember when I was first married and after, I had bought into the lie of controlling the will of God for my life by controlling how many children we had and when we would have them. I can see the lie being propagated in my own children's lives as they begin their married lives with their spouses. I'm now teaching them what I'm learning about family size and the dangers of birth control. I agree, it is all about a "control" attitude, isn't it? We want to be in control of everything in our lives and don't want to be told what to do. We want to live a life of "freedom" and not be "tied down" with children or anything else for that matter. I think the attitude of so many young people today is to do what you have to do (work, go to school, etc.) and have lots of fun while you can. Adolesence is extending far beyond the teenage years and I think this is just another outcome of that attitude. What do you think?

Hannah (for the rest of us) said...

The question still remains, however: Is birth control, in and of itself, wrong? I mean, what we're talking about here is an attitude of ultra-control. That attitude is prevalent and yes, many Christians have bought into it. But having recognized that, is the solution to always throw away your condoms in an attempt to correct your attitude because that is God wants for you? Well, sometimes for some people, maybe it is...Though it is oft-debated, the Bible does not lay that burden on us in a universal way, however. So posts like this are helpful in that they expose an underlying anti-child attitude in our culture, and encourage us to have a different attitude. But to the extent that they make a sweeping statement about the "Christian-ness" of birth control, I think they misstep.

butterfly.momma said...

Thank you very much for this post!! I've been reading your blog for a while now and this post is something that I have been mulling over and thinking about a lot over the last year. My husband and I had our first baby last fall after 2.5 years of marriage and would love to have as many children as God sees fit. It bothers me, as well, to see that our society is trying to teach us that we can plan every aspect of our lives to a ~T~, including our children. Thanks for taking a stand publicly!!

Laura said...

Ha... regarding #7: how about when women with leadership skills and master's degrees desire to use those God-given abilities to be wise, intelligent, discerning helpmates and mothers? The world tells us we would be wasting our time supporting a husband and raising children, and not only that, but that educated women who stay home are an insult to other women who didn't have the kind of opportunities we had. As if the formation of the next generation is only for the not-so-bright among us?

Ugh... Come, Lord Jesus.

cupreallyoverflowing:) said...

Ok, so I do agree with you and I have not been on BC since I first got married. I got pregnant only 8 months after getting married. We now have 3 little blessings ages 4,2, and 2 months. I am so happy to have each of them. But, I do feel like I am "spread thin". I am homeschooling my 4 year old, breastfeeding my 2 month old(around the clock!) and just trying to keep my 2 year old from tearing our house down and injuring herself(she is my wild woman):)I kind of would like to not be pregant for a while and be able to focus on my three. It seems like if my husband even looks at me the right way, I get pregnant:) And, he looks at me the right way several times a week, if you know what I mean! :) So, what do you think about that? I really don't know what to do. I am overwhelmed, but I don't want to miss out on any of God's blessings either. Is there anything I can do to "keep my sanity" while still glorifying and honoring God?

BETHANY said...

Right on, as usual. :)

Brenda said...

From someone who bought the lie, the whole lie, and nothing but the lie...and now wishes she had started earlier, right away...and had more children to love....

regrets, forgiveness, prayers for another chance.

You said it well.

Courtney said...

I was pleasantly surprised after we moved to the rural farming area that my husband grew up in. I was born and raised in a pretty uppity lake town where everyone had two children. Here, the families are WAY above the national average. Hubs is one of eight kids. I now actually know more families with five or more kids than I do with the standard two!

I am currently pregnant with our third and it's been a really tough pregnancy with lots of complications. More than once, I've uttered an exasperated moan that this is so going to be our last(we don't believe in birth control, so it's really up to God). That comment has been met with more "oh, you'll change your mind" responses than anything. I love that the farm communities still embrace big families where moms actually take care of kids(not day care centers).

Melissa said...

I am really happy to have found this blog. I love the way in which you present such difficult topics. I am saved, but struggling.
Thank you.

mere said...

This is such an excellent post!

This has been on my mind a lot lately and it's amazing how God has convicted me on so many of my own attitudes, while mercifully allowing me to come around and see the truth.
I am an only child of very liberal parents. My husband is the youngest of four and was raised as a Roman Catholic. My parents were not told when I recently became pregnant again and then suffered a miscarriage because I could not have stood their dismay at my fecundity (Oh no! not again!) and then their tones of relief (Well, it's probably for the best, you have enough on your plate as it is...). We currently have four children (too many in their opinion), one of whom is autistic. But I did tell my mother-in-love who cried with me...she was truly upset that she would never get to hold what would have been her fourteenth grandchild.

Would you like to take a guess on which grandparents get to spend more time with us and our kids?

Cat said...

Another of your insightful posts, which I always enjoy reading and thinking about!

A couple thoughts on this:

We struggled with primary infertility so had our first child seven years into marriage. We now have four, the oldest just turned eight years old and the youngest is 8 months old. We also lost a baby in the second trimester between our 8 and 4 YO's...she would now be 6. I sometimes feel like we've been "beat up" on both ends, first for "waiting so long" and "being selfish", and now for "having so many". I AM very open about all this, maybe more than I should be, probably because of feeling rather defensive at times.

Another little area in which we seem to invite comment and judgment is my husband's military job. There are a few people (one being my non-Christian neighbor) who are kind and sometimes volunteer to help out. Most of the rest (church included) seem to think that, if we're "stupid" enough to have several children close together with him gone so much, that I can just "lie in the bed" as you so aptly put it. And I guess we do deserve that, but there are days when that attitude is hard to take. Even my mom (a Christian) has told me frequently I should either have no more children or wait a good long time for more. These sorts of attitudes make it hard to be "real" with people and admit when you really do need help with something.

Jessica said...

Thank you for this post! It was very well written and these things have been on my mind for sometime. It is very sad that in today's society, especially in the US that children are seen as such a burden instead of the blessing that they are. Me and my husband pray to blessed with children someday very soon!

Christine said...

This post is phenomenal, Jessica! I am often amazed at how many comments I receive, when I go out with my three blessings. Even when they are behaving really well, I am always told how full my hands are. You have covered so many aspects of how the birth control mentality has affected our culture.

Catherine R. said...

Bravo.

I am on my first child and I am already prepared for the tilted heads and furrowed brows when I get pregnant w/ #2 or beyond. Only the first one counts as a blessing, right? Oh and maybe the second one if and only if they are spaced correctly. I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog and wow am I impressed! Thanks for boldly speaking the truth and presenting it in an appealing way.

Renee

Bethany Hudson said...

Very thought-provoking, Jess. I wrote a post on this very topic a few days ago. If you have the chance, you might enjoy it: http://applecidermama.blogspot.com/2008/09/is-openness-to-children-essential-to.html In the Catholic Church, of which I am a member, we have a phrase: "culture of death"--this is how we describe the way society has moved away from life to embrace death or non-life through contraception, abortion, the death penalty, physician-assisted suicide and other means. In fact, this week marks the beginning of the 40 Days of Life, a far-reaching ministry that includes volunteering, 24-hour-a-day prayer to end abortion and daily vigils at clinics. So your post is very timely.
~Bethany

Jess said...

Hannah,
You're right... that question DOES still remain, and it's not one that I'll answer here. Not because I'm trying to be coy with my thoughts on this... but because (as I've shared before), I'm not personally convinced that the Bible DOES say anything absolute in this area.

If you want to see my thoughts on birth control, you can check out my thoughts by clicking here. (Read the comments-- mine's about the 5th one down.)

This post isn't aimed at talking people out of birth control or some such thing-- but rather, in hopes that all of us (me included) will re-think the way that some of these topics have been discussed in our culture and in our homes. Children ARE a blessing, and the one who has his quiver full IS blessed. Now, what constitutes a quiver full, and whether or not we are obligated to never use any sort of birth control so that we can maximize the possible number of blessings in our lives are questions for another day, another post. But how we view and treat children, and how we treat mothers and mothers-to-be, and how we speak about families and children and infertility and pregnancy, etc... those are all the precise target of discussion that I'm aiming for here.
~Jess

Berry Patch said...

I found your blog not too long ago & I've been really enjoying your posts. They are thought provoking & well written.

I too am of the camp where I wish I had heard all this earlier on in my marriage. We "waited" three years for our first child & then had secondary infertility. Our two oldest are almost five years apart. Then God been convicting my heart. We now have three & they are it for biological children due to my hubby's decision more than my own. However, my bigest hope is to adopt more children.

I'm always amazed when I go out with my three boys the comments I get. Once I was out with my nephew as well - four boys - imagine! - and the comments came fast & furious.

Even with only three children (see ONLY three), I'm amazed sometimes at how many feel we are "a large family." I grew up one of five & thought that quite normal. I pray someday to have the same for myself.

Christina said...

Awesome!

I am one who thinks that birth control (or CONCEPTION control, rather) is not, in itself, wrong, but I can see the effects the birth-control mindset has had on our thinking. I don't like the effects or the mindest!

I am always AMAZED when I read on blogs how three kids is considered a lot!! Although until about five years ago the birth-control mindset was all I was aware of, I have never thought of 3 kids as a big family! That is small no matter how you look at it IMO. I am the youngest of three children. When I was a teenager I thought six would be about right (and I had never heard of quiver-fullers or anything like that!). Okay, I'm rambling . . .

Allison said...

Jess,

I want to let you know how much I appreciate your willingness to talk about this topic. Thank you so much, because God has used your discussions on BC in my life. When I first stumbled upon your blog, I was on the BC pill.

It was a few months before my wedding, and I had gone on the pill to be sure it'd be effective by the wedding night.However, God is His sovereignty brought me to your blog and a few other sites with like-minded thoughts on BC. I began to reconsider my decision to take the pill and my attitude toward children, and after talking to my husband (who was then my fiance),I went off the pill.I will never forget that afternoon. We stood in front of the toilet in the apartment he was then sharing with his brother, and one by one we dropped the remaining pills into the toilet, then flushed them. It was a celebration for us!

I haven't regretted that decision even once. While we have not completely ditched birth control/family planning, our attitude toward children has become a more open one. My husband and I have been married for a little over a year now, and I am 5 months pregnant with our first child, a son.

What is so bizarre about this is that my husband is 26, and I am only 20. Yet I no longer feel that the most responsible option is to wait a few more years. Not only is the little one growing inside of me a gift from the Lord, but also, who knows but that something will happen to one of us and we won't have "a few more years?" I don't want strict planning to cause us to miss out on God's blessing.

So needless to say, thank you Jess. God really used you to change my perspective. :)

These Three Kings said...

OH wow Jess! I am so freaking encouraged I dont know what to do!
I love how you articulated everything..the LORD clearly is using you! I am posting a link to this from one of my blogS! GLORY TO GOD ALONE as we all embrace our roles as biblical women today!

Grace to you,
Nicole

Brandy said...

I appreciated what Hannah said above. Here is a link to a woman who used to be part of the "quiverfull" movement. She says some insightful things. http://blog.birthblessed.com/2008/01/on-friday-january-6-you-wrote.html Here is a great article by Douglas Wilson that is helpful in "deciding" how many kids to have. He says "I would encourage you to have all the children you can. But that can is much more than biological." http://www.credenda.org/issues/18-4husbandry.php

Anonymous said...

Once, while out shopping, I had a woman say to me, with an incredulous look on her face, "Are all these children yours?" ....clears throat....um, I have three kids. In fact, my reaction to her question was to whirl around & see if a couple other goslings had decided to follow behind mama goose! But no. "ALL" these children? I just smiled, & said "Yes, they are." If it hadn't been seven years into our marriage before we were blessed with our first, I'm quite sure we would have had more...who knows?

Brenda

Kacie said...

So profound! I'm approaching my third trimester with my first baby. I'm 23 and my husband and I have been married for 1 year + a few months.

We weren't "trying" anything other than trying to be a good married couple. We chose to let God decide when and if He wanted to give us a child.

We caught a bit of grief! My father-in-law was so caught off-guard, he was kind of mad. We heard things such as "Don't you know what causes that?" to "I wish you waited awhile," or "It's going to cost a lot of money," etc. How rude!

We were so hurt, that I think we might have lied to him. I think we might have called our baby a surprise, or worse, an "accident," even though he most certainly was not.

Maybe I should clear things up with him, but then again, I don't want to ruffle any feathers.

Now, he's really excited to be a grandpa.

Anyway, it's amazing how anti-baby our society is.

Brandy said...

In response to "cupreallyoverflowing" I would say that God wants you to raise your children to be glorious and faithful followers of Him! If you need to put a little space between your youngest and the next one then by all means try to wait. God is still in control of your womb and if he wants you to have another one quicker than you plan to then you won't be able to stop Him! If that happens then your prayer can be "Thank you Lord for this gift! you knew better than we did!" But, if you don't get pregnant then you will have more time to get on your feet and train the ones you have.

Katie said...

Hi Jess,
I just came across your blog and have really been enjoying it. I find this post to come at an interesting time as my husband and I seem to be having the "are we done having kids" talk all the time. We have 2 adorable little girls, 3 1/2 and 15 months. After our second was about 4 months old, I was struck with some major chemical imbalances that left me nearly non-functioning. I also have some medical "issues" that have landed me in the OR after both our girls were born.

I explain all of that to point out that there are real circumstances and situations that put couples in the position to see it as unwise to go through another pregnancy and infancy stage.

I agree with you - there are some extremely messed up/skewed positions on this topic. I really like what Hannah had to say and agree with her a lot.

My husband and I desire to glorify the Lord with all that we do and have. If we felt the Lord leading us to have another baby and ignored that and used birth control to disobey - that would be wrong. But, if we do feel peace and God's leading that 2 is enough, I do not feel it is wrong to use birth control.
I am not sold on the "if the Lord doesn't want you to have more kids, he won't allow you to become pregnant, so you don't need to use birth control". Take that logic to using car seats for your kids - "if the Lord doesn't want them to be injured in a crash, he won't let them - you don't need to use the safety measures He allowed someone to invent to keep your kids safe".
God is in control, bottom line, but he doesn't work outside the scope of modern tools and medicine to work out His plan and Will.

I look forward to continue reading your blog!

Shay said...

Lots of good thoughts here, thanks. I once had a woman look at me like I was INSANE when she found out that we weren't done after having two children. We already had a boy & a girl, so she could not fathom why we would want more.
I blogged about people needing to MYOB back on Mother's Day: http://pepperpottery.blogspot.com/2008/05/mothers-day.html
Thanks for posting such thoughtful things. :)

Lady M said...

It is interesting that even in the "quiverful minded community", I have found that if one is only blessed with a couple of children, that you are assumed to have stopped purposefully at that number.... I have a wonderful 9yr old dd (soon to be 10 and a great 7 yr old ds. A lady at our church (we have many large families - chock full of homeschoolers, lol), made a comment that she figured since we had one of each that we must be done. They have 8 children. What she did not know at the time (she knows now), was that we had lost 3 children late in the 1st trimester. Children who were very, very much wanted/desired (not because we wanted a huge family - yes we would take one if that was God's will, but because they were our children!).

I suppose, technically, we have had secondary infertility. The first one we lost was after my son was 3 1/2 yrs old - and we had not been using bc since trying to conceive with dd. It took us another 15 mos to conceive again and then another year after that loss. I am currently 8 1/2 mos. pregnant (a scheduled induction coming up due to mild preeclampsia) - he was conceived another year after the 3rd loss.

I fully expect to get "oops" comments from the clueless - if for no other reason than the huge age disparity between this one and our older two. My intended response is - no, our baby was fully planned by God! We very much hoped for this child, but we had nothing to do with when he arrived! Or something to that nature (anyone has better wording, I would love to hear it). I have heard out children tell others that they have other little babies in heaven waiting for them.

Anyway, the "control" culture of our world is simply representative of our godless, lost, "I can do it without anyone's help" world. Birth control, etc. is just another symptom. How sad!

gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

Oh, Jess, you don't know how I needed this today. I have a six year old, a five year old with special needs (12 surgeries and counting, major physical disabilites,etc) and twin 3 year olds. People think we are so crazy to have even wanted more after the middle child. I hear it all the time even though we handle everything JUST FINE with God's grace! And it's not like anyone ever PLANS having two babies at once LOL! We love our unique family and God has grown us SO much through our children and our dependence on Him in the trials and circumstances.
-Lydia

Anonymous said...

I really appreciated this. We are expecting number 5 and have had a fair number of comments about this being a "surprise". We were a bit reluctant to tell family as after a late first trimester miscarriage, last year, I was warned by a Christian family member to think carefully about having more children "in case they are disabled" as I'm an older mother.
Annaelisabeth

Deb Burton said...

Amen, amen and amen! Add to that if a family wants to teach their children at home they must be really nuts! How do we get Christians, let alone nonbelievers who don't think twice about it, to realize that it's not about us? Never has been, never will be.

An oft overlooked Bible verse is Malachi 2:15 - Has not the Lord made them [husband and wife] one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. God desires His children to have children to carry on His legacy. It's all about Him!

Jess said...

Brandy,
Thanks for linking that Douglas Wilson article. He presents a very well-considered middle ground-- still VERY pro-children and pro-family while allowing room for thoughtful consideration.

There is much about this issue that still makes me think long and hard, and I really appreciate hearing thoughtful perspectives on it.


Thanks, all, for the comments so far. One of the reasons this is so "on my mind" is NOT because I think that absolutely 100% of the time, birth control is always wrong.

But this topic comes to mind a lot, just by virtue of our family size. Many people are quite free and effusive with comments towards us that are entirely inappropriate and out of line. It is amazing to me to see how people can work up all sorts of excitement and hysteria over a pet or animal giving birth, or a new car, or a better-paying job. But a mom of three, pregnant with her fourth? Nah, that's worthy of a disapproving comment. Blegh. I am learning to let these comments roll off my back... but it is not easy.

Regardless of where you stand on the birth control/no birth control thing, as Christians, we need to think critically about what effects the culture around us has on even our own mindsets. And we should conform our thoughts, opinions, and reactions to Scripture. When the Bible says that "Children are a blessing", we need to embrace that attitude in our hearts, thoughts, words, and actions. I am personally of the opinion that that attitude can play our in a variety of family sizes and situations. Regardless, Christians ought not be the ones making others feel judged, belittled, or ridiculed because of their family size.

lifemoreabundant said...

I've read, or at least skimmed, all of the comments here to be sure that no one else has offered my perspective. while two touched on it, I feel it needs to be said.

I appreciate that you are not 100% anti-birth control, but I think you have missed out big time when blaming the pro birth control culture for adding insult to injury to the infertile couple.

I was married for 11 years before conceiving my first - which was lost to miscarriage. After 13 years of marriage, I now have a beautiful year old daughter, and my husband and I are praying about whether or not to subject my body to another round of fertility drugs. It has not been the secular culture, or even the pro-birth control Christians who have made me cry. In every case, it has been quiver-full, anti-birth control women who have kicked me while I was down.

I fully realize that I can't blame an entire group of people because of my bad experiences. I have two very good friends who have very different views on birth control than I do, who are still loving and supportive and celebrate my one child. But I do think that on the whole, the quiver-full movement is far more condemning of the infertile couple than pro family planning people are.

I enjoy your blog, and I hope you receive my comments as they are intended, and not as a personal attack on you or any of your readers.

Laura said...

I tried to comment before but I guess it didn't work.

I think it is really about the attitude that we have towards children, whether we think of them as a blessing or a burden. I agree with Hannah, that being pro-children does not necessarily mean being anti-birth control. I don't really see anything wrong with a couple prayerfully deciding to space their children, or even to limit their family size. What I don't like, is the idea that if someone decided to only have four children, that they would then call any subsequent children accidents. That really rubs me the wrong way.

Also, it exhausts me, the judgments people pass on one another in regards to family size. How is it anyone's business what size my family is? Or what I and my husband decide to do about birth control?

God never says anything really clear about birth control, but He DOES say a lot about how we are to treat each other.

Ginger said...

Amen!!!!

Catherine R. said...

I guess I have to say this delicately but I knew you were going to get a comment about insensitivity to infertile couples. I even wrote it in my original comment but then erased it. I got attacked when I chose to write about family planning on my blog. It seems there was nothing I could say to not offend certain people with fertility issues.

It's true I haven't experienced infertility up to this point but I fail to see how the fact that some women have infertility issues means that we're not allowed to talk about attitudes towards family planning on the whole.

I know infertility is a sensitive issue but I have yet to see proof that someone is actually saying you're less of a woman or God loves you less if you have fertility issues. On the other hand, I have been wrongly accused of such for no reason that I can see.

We can't remain silent on these issues. Fertility problems are sad yes, but the fact is most women choose not to have babies for reasons completely unrelated to fertility and like me, they NEVER heard the other side such as it is being presented here. They've been lied to and conned into birth control usage without a balanced perspective.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you, thank you! I was planning on blogging on this very topic and you went and took the words right out of my mouth! :) And put them in a much more eloquent way that I could have I might add. We just had our first child, a beautiful baby girl nine weeks ago. Though I received excellent care at the hospital and am not complaining in the least, it shocked me how many Drs, nurses and other medical professionals came in and asked me how I was going to prevent having more children right away. You should have seen their faces when I said I wasn't going to take birth control! Then they all went on to tell me how risky it was for me and the baby if I got pregnant again right away. I just kept thinking, "well good thing God is in control of that then isn't it?!"

Elizabeth

Ticia said...

oh I have struggled with this issue. Birth control or no birth control,many children or few.
It's all to little to late for me now. But I am glad to see the discussions because it will open peoples eyes. As I have said before on my own blog people say stupid and insensitive things mostly out of ignorance. The more we can educate people on these subjects the less likely they will be to say something rude. Thanks for putting more info out there. Every little bit helps. Leticia

Lady M said...

I just have to add one more comment:

I think the fact that infertility is Such a VERY sensitive issue (and has been mentioned here whether primary or secondary) should remind everyone to be ever so careful about the comments that they make to people without children (or people whom they deem do not have enough children). It is heartbreaking enough without thoughtless comments.

In the same manner, we should be ever so careful about comments we make to people who have had miscarriages (believe me - after having 3, I have heard some horrid doozies!).

Laura said...

I actually HAVE seen women maligned and looked down upon for having one or two children -- as though they must have chosen to have so few intentionally, and out of selfishness or control. Just as it's rude and presumptuous to assume that a woman with ten kids must just "not know how that happens" or is Mormon, or Catholic, or crazy, it's also rude and presumptuous to assume that a woman with two kids has bought into the lies of our culture regarding sexuality and fertility.

I don't think anyone is saying we shouldn't discuss these issues; only that Christians who have an issue of conscience about BC have a responsibility to be gracious toward our sisters in Christ -- to believe the best about people, and not dismiss them as selfish, immature people who blindly think what the world thinks, but rather to love them, and trust that God is at work in their lives, "to will and to work according to his good pleasure."

While believers can in fact be agents of change, used by God, in each other's lives, I think it's important to remember that we're not the Holy Spirit. ;) I too often forget this myself.

Beth M. said...

This post echoes a lot of the points I made recently in my last two posts on my own blog:

http://beth.narnia.homeunix.com/Blog/cgi-bin/displayBlog.cgi

I am a NFP user. I believe that it is acceptable to use NFP in order to space children, or to delay or prevent children given a good reason, such as medical issues.

During our first almost 2 years of marriage, my husband and I used NFP to avoid pregnancy. At the time, he was a full time graduate student bringing in a very minimal stipend. Although we both wanted children, we felt it was best to wait until he finished school. If we had gotten pregnant during that time, we would have been thrilled to have the baby, but it would have been difficult if not impossible for me to stay home. Since it is important to us that I be home full-time with our children, we chose to wait.

We did end up getting pregnant a little sooner than planned, but my husband was close enough to being finished and we had enough in savings to cover the in between time, so it worked out perfectly. Since then, though I am continuing to chart, we have not needed to use NFP as contraception. My daughter is 19 months old and I am only just returning to normal cycles, due to breastfeeding. Since we have been eager for another pregnancy for some time already, we are now using NFP to aid conception, not prevent it.

Although I have used NFP for contraception, I agree with your points about the negative attitude towards babies and large families. I've also experienced some frustration with my mother's attitudes. She is a conservative, Christian SAHM, but she has bought into the idea that it is more responsible to limit your number and spacing of children so that you can give your children the best financially and otherwise. I was the oldest of three girls. I am grateful for the financial things my parents were able to provide for me (musical instruments and private lessons, putting me through college with no loans, etc.) but I also realize that those are not the most important things in life. My mother also believes that it is not a good idea to get pregnant right after getting married, or right after having a baby. She means well - she truly believes that these things put women at a higher risk for miscarriages - but her assumptions and reasoning are unreliable. Fortunately I have not had to confront these issues with her since we have not done either for other reasons. I am a little nervous about how she may react if we have more children thinks is ideal, but I am optimistic that she will be okay with it. She LOVES being a grandmother, and is not content with only one grandchild (who must be shared with Grandpa and two aunts, never mind my in-laws)!

The inherant fallacies of the birth control culture's "plan" are apparent in the situation of one of my friends. This friend is a birth control user - I suspect she was on the pill before having children, though I don't know for sure. She first had a son and got pregnant again with her daughter (an "accident") when the son was around 9 months old. (Obviously, birth control is not fool proof and no one can perfectly plan pregnancies!) Approaching the end of that pregnancy, she was quite nervous and worried, not at all excited to anticipate the birth of her daughter. Since her discipline of her son leaves something to be desired, she is now a very overwhelmed mother of two. She is desperately trying to figure out what form of birth control is most compatible with breastfeeding, because neither she nor her husband want another baby any time soon. Of course she thinks I'm crazy when I mention that my husband wants 6 or 7 kids.

Although they originaly wanted children (two - boy and girl), and the mother is staying at home with them for the time being, this family is now eager to get someone else to take care of them. The boy, not even 2 yet, is already attending pre-school once a week. The baby girl, unless fussy or hungry, tends to be left to herself in her carseat or bouncy seat, all but forgotten. (I don't mean to imply any sort of child abuse or neglect, merely a lack of enthusiasm on the parents' part.)

It's sad how the birth control culture has caused parents to be so negative, and even fearful, towards any children that weren't precisely planned. Even a family that wants another child, may not want that child if he or she comes too soon.

The real issue here, of course, is not the birth control so much as the attitude towards children and families. But I think you are right that this is at least in part the result of the widespread acceptance and availability of birth control.

a woman found said...

Wow! A thousand amens! I have a list of favorite blog posts linked to my blog and it's fast becoming a mostly favorite Making Home posts list!

I have been one who puts parents of large families on a pedestal and your post really brought light to that. You're right...putting them on a pedastal is just as wrong as calling them insane. Children are a blessing, no matter if we are given one or twenty.

Liz said...

Jess,
How my heart beats with yours! I checked out you profile and we enjoy reading the same books, same videos of choice . . . :>) I guess we're kindred spirits and we've never even met. But I would love to some day! I cried reading your letter to your daughter . . . God bless you and your family!
Liz

Jess said...

Hmmm... Laura, I don't know if your comment was aimed at me or other commenters... but if it was me, did you read my post? Cause that's exactly what I said. :) Just wondering.
~Jess

Anita Ann said...

Amazing post!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Jess, thank you for writing this awesome post. It's pretty much a summary of everything I think about the matter so I have nothing to add! :-)

Perhaps later I'll have time to come back and read parts of the discussion you have going here.

deb said...

As always with you, you have produced an excellent article.

Mrs. Anna T said...

OK, I'm back, and have read the other comments. I must say I'm very sorry for those who have got negative comments about being "unbelievers", while they struggled with infertility. This is something we must all be careful about.

I have been married 6 months and I'm 24 weeks along. When we started telling friends and family we're pregnant, my mother was delighted and my in-laws as well. But some friends sighed and said, "well, this is what happens when you don't use birth control!". Implying that we made a "mistake" and we need to be "wiser" next time... ugh.

Laura said...

Oops, sorry Jess! No, I was just concurring with what you said. I try not to "aim" my comments at people, although I was in part responding to something brought up by Catherine R. and another commenter waaay up there... Should have been more clear. My bad! ;)

Traci Best said...

I learned very quickly in my marriage that I was not in control of our reproduction.

David and I waited ten long years before God's plan for our family was revealed in the form of a triple sibling adoption. It is so painfully obvious to me now that they are MEANT to be here with us. They are OURS. (Seriously you would look at them and ask for a paternity test!)

If we had had our own way we would have already had a kid or two and would never have considered an adoption much less a triple non-infant adoption!

God is good. His timing is perfect and so is his plan. My plans are NOT!

LOL

Traci

Paula said...

I've just arrived from Biblical Womanhood. I just wanted to say I whole heartedly agree with this post and wanted to share something that happened to me at the start of my second pregnancy.

I vividly remember walking in to my first midwives appointment when I was expecting my second baby. I was with my husband and 11 month old son. We were excited to be expecting again and looking forward to the appointment and meeting my new midwife. As we walked in, she took one look at me, looked at my son and then said "Someone forgot to take her birth control". It was like a slap in the face. My husband and I only use NFP and this second pregnancy was 'planned'. Even if it weren't we would still have been thrilled. To have a midwife say that to their own patient says a lot about todays society I think.

(I accidentally put this comment after the wrong post just now, so I've copied it here where it is supposed to be. Sorry)

Paula

Anonymous said...

Right on!!! I loved this post!
www.eafollman.wordpress.com

SunshinyLiving said...

Thirty years ago Pope Paul VI warned that if we allowed artificial contraception we would suffer a complete moral meltdown. If the purpose of marriage is rightly understood, you realize that once contraception is accepted, it becomes impossible for the church that accepts contraception to claim that any sexual act between consenting persons is wrong. The Pope's words were prophetic considering how far down the "slippery slope" our country (and even Christian denominations) have now fallen, after accepting birth control.

In the 30s, the first major Protestant denomination (Anglican) approved birth control. Now, eighty years later, only the Catholic Church still officially holds to its teachings against birth control.

The Three 22nds said...

Hi! This is my first time reading your site. I think I will favorite you :)

I was wondering what you think about people having lots of children when they realistically can't afford to take care of them without government assistance. In our nonagriculturally based society it is a lot harder to support a lot of children. When everyone was on farms, having more kids meant being able to farm more etc, but when you are not a farmer- more kids don't really "assist" the family budget.

I know that there are a lot of government assistance programs out there for medical needs and food needs- but is it Biblical to use those programs as a way of life and not simply as an "inbetween" if you were unemployed or something?

I am trying to lay this question out clearly and nonjudgementally, but it is a question that I really struggle with.

I myself have 3 children 4 and under and we hope to have more. I personally don't even think that kids have to cost a lot of money. I never decorated a fancy nursery and my kids wear hand me downs and garage sale clothes.

Rebecca said...

As a person who has stuggled with infertility, I understand what the others are saying. My personal take on this is that it's all a symptom of the society we live in. We have become a society that will tolerate anything but the cross of Christ! I'm posting about this on my blog so come on over and see it. My point here is that people today feel they can say anything to anyone and that includes comments about how many or few children you have. And for those of us with infertility it gets worse. Total strangers have felt free to ask us about our sex life? To ask about what "positions" we use and worse! I for one feel we need to go back to the public behavior that was shown 60+ years ago.

Anonymous said...

Preach it girl! I am from a family that thinks only fools have more children than the mother has hands. We have four children now and have just begun the adoption process.

I remember the first time I ventured out with baby #4 and my three older kids. We were in the elevator at Target with some other people and you would have thought the circus had come to town. It hit me then how different we are from the world.

Blessings,
Courtney

Julia said...

Thank you, Jess! This is my first visit to your blog. . . led here by Crystal of BW.

My heart has echoed much of what you said (on multiple fronts). I've always loved children and my husband and I hoped and "expected" that the Lord would bless us with many. After an initial struggle with infertility, He did give us a precious daughter. "Of course," people think that once you have a child, you can have as many as you want. Since we haven't been able to have more (even with infertility treatment), people seem to think that we've chosen not to have more children. I get comments almost every day from strangers in the grocery store (What a cute little girl! Do you have other children? Well she needs a little brother or sister before she's grown!) and from unknowing church friends who've "planned" how many and how far apart their children are.

My heart aches to have a houseful of little ones who are our own (I care for other children part-time) and I struggle through the many baby showers and try not to break down in tears as I seek to respond graciously to the oblivous comments of others.

Yes, I've known those who measure your spirituality by the size of your family (If you have many children, you're obviously trusting God with your family size and for His provision. If you have only a couple - or horrors! an only child - well. . . ).

Sadly, I know I saw families with few children (or an "only") and assumed it was by choice. Now I wonder and pray for them, knowing they may have experienced (or be experiencing) much pain too.

Are there other areas in which I'm insensitive because of my own assumptions or ignorance? May the Lord grow me in grace in humility toward others who have hidden hurts.

Anonymous said...

Great post! As someone who has 6 kids and is pregnant with #7, I am dreading telling family and friends. I know I will deal with negative attitudes and judgmental comments. Even though we are financially stable people still can be very rude...

Putting off the announcement until it is inevitable.

Beth said...

* #8- Couples are often shocked and dismayed when they struggle with infertility...


As someone who has struggled with primary infertility for 10 years I disagree that this is because of the birth control culture. It's actually because all of a sudden our sex life becomes everyone else business. From the doctor that is trying to help to the person at church that is demanding to know when you are going to have a baby. Infertility is a very real medical problem. With my husband and I it lies with 3 problems that I have. I have PCOS, a progesterone level that is way to low, and endometriosis.

I also have asthma. I compare my infertility to it quite a bit. I often feel out of control when my asthma is flaring up. I have to plan my day around my breathing treatments. Infertility is a loss of control because things aren't normal. We often feel attacked from both ends. People assume that either we don't want kids so we are attacked that way or they are being such busybodies that they ask demanding questions that we don't want to answer.

God doesn't allow every woman to become pregnant. If I had gotten pregnant we wouldn't have started the beautiful journey of adoption.

Anonymous said...

Amen I am pregnant with #5. #4 and #5 will be 11 months apart. Now tha am showing we get A LOT of shocked looks. I get tired of hearing my your hands are full. Yes they are but in a good way.
Christy

Sally said...

Great post, very true in so many aspects. My husband and I have tried to have a child since about 9 months after we got married. I am finally understanding that God will bless us with a child when he is ready to. Its hard to see friends of ours that have children who look at them as an inconveince when we so desperately want one. We have been married for 4 years now and everyone asks "When are you going to have one?" I am tired of people asking, but I kindly respond that we will have one when God is ready for us to. I don't want people to feel sorry for us because we have had one miscarriage already, so I choose not to tell them anything. Our family and friends know what is going on and know how to pray for us and thats all that matters.

christy said...

AMEN! Now, what do you suggest saying to those people that ask "was this planned or an accident?" When i was pregnant and my baby would be born 20 MONTHS apart from my toddler, i was asked that! Hello, people!!

Any suggestions on how to be polite but not divulge such private info that belongs only in my bedroon with my husband??

Keisha Coconut said...

Thanks, this is an interesting post as well as the comments. The way children are viewed by some people is downright heartbreaking.

I feel that the amount of children a couple has, when they have them and how they have them
is a "to each their own" situation. If asked for my advice I'd tell a couple to seek God and ask HIM for a nice way to tell others that it's none of their business.

Catherine R. said...

Last comment by me on this post, I promise.

I think sometimes I just should keep my big fat (yes, Greek too) mouth shut sometimes...in regard to my last comment.

I guess what I am learning is that my experience is just very different from some women. I believe that there are people who think more kids = more righteous, but my experience has always been the opposite without exception.

No offense to those with infertility issues.

Jess said...

Christy,
One of my friends, when asked questions like that, responds like this:

* Blink twice and open your eyes wide
* "Did you really mean to say that out loud? What a personal question!"


I personally just respond with something that lines up with my beliefs... "oh goodness, ALL babies are planned by God." Or, "we are open to whatever babies God gives us." I try to be gentle in my real life responses to people. Most people genuinely ARE amazed by anything besides two children (one boy, one girl, perfectly spaced at 3-4 years apart). So they ask about it. I try to assume that people aren't trying to be rude or invasive, but sometimes that's more difficult than at other times, depending on the question and the tone. I'm learning that grace is always an appropriate "tone" for such responses.


Hope this helps.
~Jess

Anonymous said...

I was an "accident" myself, but my parents preferred to call me "unplanned but not unwelcome."

I don't see this alleged widespread hostility to big families in our culture, but if other people feel judged because they have too many or two few children, my advice is to worry less about what other people think about your parenting.

To the commenter who said this:

"I know infertility is a sensitive issue but I have yet to see proof that someone is actually saying you're less of a woman or God loves you less if you have fertility issues."

Actually, the Bible strongly implies that if God finds you worthy, He will solve your fertility issues (Abraham/Sarah, Hannah).

I don't share this interpretation, but it's pretty clear if you take the text literally.

Laurie B

Anonymous said...

Listen I love the Lord. I love Jesus and maybe it's my own serious lack of faith but honestly honey we cannot afford to have a child right now. My heart aches to be able to have a child but you know what? Bills have to be paid, money that I make needs to come in, in order to survive.

Now lest you think I'm a power hungry, money grubbing, spoiled woman, hear me out. I live in a very modest condo in to town with high home prices, I have not bought a new article of clothing in I don't know how long, I cut my own as well as my husband's hair, I clip coupons, we live on a budget, but there are some really squeaky months. We work in the family business and I don't know if you read the news, but the economy is doing a bit poorly right now. We have a restaurant, been open for 13 years and this year has brought us to our knees. What's the first expense you cut when times are tough? Ding, ding, ding can I get "going out to eat" for 500 Alex.

I'm sorry I know I sound bitter, and perhaps I am, but everytime I read these "You're going to heck in a handbasket" posts because I take little pill every morning, it makes me feel even worse than I already do, ya know?

-Jen

christy said...

Jess,
That DOES help! :)
Thank you! And thank you for your post. God bless,
Christy

Anonymous said...

That was a fantastic article, Jess, thank you.

I had a baby girl 2 years ago at age 43. We have 2 older boys who were 16 and 8 when she was born. Hubby and I often have gotten comments such as "Wow! Was she planned? Was she an oops baby? A mistake?"

Our answer: "Yes, she was planned. By God." (very similar I see to what Jess answered herself in this thread).

I was raised in a family/extended family where it was rare to have 2 kids. You had your 2 kids, you got "fixed" and were done. We never wanted to get "fixed" (considered it, decided it wasn't for us, decided to trust God). Looking at my little girl, I'm glad that we did.

My heart goes out to all who struggle or have struggled with infertility.

Lisa

Anita Ann said...

ANONYMOUS JEN~ I hear a lot of people say they don't have the money, they are on a budget. It seems to me the the Lord always provides whether through a boost in your pocket book, or the generosity of others. We have four kids at home and one on the way. My husband has a daughter from a previous marriage that he supports, we get by. AT times it IS VERY hard, but the Lord blesses us. There is always a rainbow after the storm. If you continue to wait until you have the money, the money will never be enough.
We are not homeowners, my husband works for the phone company, and I stay at home and homeschool. We get NO government aid. It's a matter of faith.

a DINK said...

Excellent post Jess.

-DINK

Jaimie said...

I wish sooo many people I know would read this! It drives me crazy how people think my husband and I are being "responsible" by waiting to have children, when in reality we just haven't been blessed with one yet. It is so true how the birth control culture has affected the majority of people's viewpoints on the issue of children. It's time that Christians adopt a major paradigm shift!

Anonymous said...

This post applies to families with special needs kids, too. My 3 year old daughter has an obvious craniofacial deformity. I am inundated (even at church) with "you really have your hands full" comments and looks that say "how dare you be so irresponsible as to procreate again, look what happened last time" when I am out with her and my 18 month old. It used to bug me, but now every time I hear that, I take a moment to thank God that in His perfect wisdom and grace, He blessed us with both of our children. In 90% of U.S. families, my daughter would have been aborted. I enjoy ignoring the implications of people's comments, and telling them what a blessing my kids are, mostly because my 3 year old generally says something to prove what a blessing she is at this point in the conversation (she has excellent timing like that!)

Sarah said...

I found this blog from a link on a friend's blog. Jess, you worded it well and eloquently. I hope I'm not speaking out of turn by posting this info, since you may have addressed this in a different blog.

Many readers have commented that they are at peace with taking the Pill or other forms of birth control. I would like to point out that the Pill, the patch, Depo, and any other hormonal birth control (as well as IUDs) are ABORTIFACIENT. This means that they can allow CONCEPTION while preventing implantation. I'm not going to try to argue why life begins at conception--whole books have been written on that topic. However, for your Bible-believing readers who are taking hormonal birth control or have an IUD in ignorance, I want to get the word out so everyone can make an educated, informed decision. Don't believe me? Get out the medical pamphlet that comes w/ your meds. Google it.

Birth control is just that--it controls BIRTH, not CONCEPTION. Birth control (rather than conception control) kills innocent babies. IMHO, dear readers, THAT is at the heart of the problem with hormonal BC & IUDs.

Jess said...

Thanks, Sarah. I've posted on that point many times before, but it bears repeating here in this discussion. Thanks for your input!

Anonymous said...

None of this is a surprise to God. All of this grieves Him.

What I find just as sad is the division and judgement that I have seen, and experienced, among Christian women over this issue.

The White House said...

AMEN SISTER!!!!

Mother of boys 16 months a part in Seattle and can't wait to get pregnant again! I was horribly sick with the first and just had slight heartburn with the second.

CHILDREN ARE A GIFT FROM THE LORD.

Preach it sista!!! Thanks for standing up!

Anonymous said...

Great article. I teach Bible at a Christian high school and every year I have a discussion with my seniors about this topic. The responses are always interesting, but the underlying assumptions about "rights" and "freedom to choose" are overwhelming. I'm glad to hear another voice on this topic. Keep it up.

alan said...

My wife just referred me to this post/blog. First, this post is well-thought and insightful and aboslutely correct. Also, I was greatly refreshed to see a blog for Christian women that is actually centered around Scripture and solid thinking. My wife works so hard to care for our 2 boys at home while I'm at work and Seminary, and I am thankful that she can be edified through this medium. Thank you.

alan

Josh & Christen said...

To tag onto Sarahs post... If anyone wants to know the truth about birth control Read Randy Alcorn's book "Does birth control cause abortions" you can get it at www.epm.org I wish someone had told me the truth when I first got married.

Alison said...

Hi! It seems silly to comment after 87 others have already done it, but I will anyway. :) Thanks for your thoughts... This may have already been mentioned by other readers, but one of the main conclusions I have come to in regard to birth control is that it really is about where your heart is at before the Lord. If it is to make yourself happy (either by having a ton of kids or not to have any or only one, or the "perfect" size family) you should really check your motives. Like you said, we need to realize we're not the ones in control and really seek the Lord and His plan for our individual families. It's funny because among our unsaved family, people are surprised that we would love to have more children even though we already have a "big family" (only three kids so far. :)), but at our church, everyone assumes we will have more. I'm so encouraged that so many Christian families truly are embracing the role of raising their kids in the fear of the Lord! Thanks again for your thoughts... I'll have to go back and read your other posts on birth control.

SuzeQ said...

Well done! I had "infertility" issues, and looking back I am sure it was because I waited to so. But, my loving Savior had grace and blessed us with 2 five years apart in my older years. When I was expecting #2 at 40 I was asked sooooooo many times- will this be it?????
Lord Bless!
Susan

Rachael C. said...

Jess,
You touched on some very good points here, from both sides. In the months (and even right after the wedding), the nosy questions started coming, "So when are you going to have kids". My responses were 1)None your business and 2)What's the hurry? Only now that it's been a year and we've been trying, we're finding that we're having difficulty conceiving and as I look around and see the pregnant women and new mothers, suddenly the question which was annoying is now hurtful.

Mary said...

What a wonderful article! We are currently expecting our third child, (our third boy). I have never had a happy response from my mother for any of my pregnancies. In her eyes, since we're not finacially independant we are being irresponsible. She's loves each of her grandchildren, but is never thrilled when the next one comes, unless it is one of my older sisters having them.

Sara said...

I just wanted to say thank you for writing this post! I was going to (and did) post my own ramblings on this topic at my blog today, too.
I really appreciate this timely encouragment and I thank God that He used you to write it and directed me to it!! That's all.

Mrs. S said...

I too, like so many others, enjoy your blog! Thank you for the time you have put into your articles. Here is my issue. I am 28. I have three children. I get horribly sick w/ each pregnancy. I have c-sections. And I have justational diabetes complete with three shots of insulin a day. I am not saying all this to gain sympathy just stating the facts. When I am pregnant I am of no use to anyone, espicially my husband, whom I was created to be his HELPMEET not the other way around. I cannot take care of or train up my own children. If I were to continue having children than for nine months every couple years someone else would be looking after them. We don't send them to pre-school or day care because we feel it is my role to take care of them!! We prayerfully considered this and decided to have my husband undergo a vasectomy. My question is this...is that wrong? I don't believe in hormonal bc (I agree with the reasons stated above by previous commentor). We are considering adoption in the future. I get really really frustrated by the "quiverfull" community who judge me and say I am in SIN because of this action. But NO ONE can give me a scripture on that point. I don't want to sound bitter. I just think that some people get a bit legalistic on this issue. We don't get to heaven based on how many kids we had! Ok, I will get off my soap box now :)Jess, I am not directing this at you or anyone else, really. You wrote your article very well, and was not judgemental at all. Thank you for that!-Mrs.S

LLMajer said...

Jess:
Great post! I got pregnant after 3 months of marriage and the stares I got were more of sympathy "Oh, I am so sorry" type of thing. I also left a career to stay home with my son and I got the "but you have a Masters'! You're not really staying home are you?" questions. So I very much relate to several of your points. It's incredible how some see children as a burden.

Jennie Chancey said...

What an excellent, thought-provoking post, and what a discussion it has initiated! 92 comments and counting shows this is a topic close to a lot of hearts.

I wanted to add an observation on one area that several people have brought up -- that of feeling "snubbed" or "looked down upon" by "quiverfull" sisters in the Lord. If this has ever happened to you, I am deeply saddened and can only cry out "WHY?" This is not I Corinthians 13. Speaking up for our pet causes (however biblical), if done without love, is so much cymbal clanging in the hearer's ears. Can we not learn this? "Love covers a multitude of sins" (I Pet. 4:8). That doesn't necessarily mean our own sins but the sins of others that we are so quick to perceive (even as the log sticks out of our eye).

However, I want to offer a different perspective here. While I have eight children (and welcome more), I've never considered myself part of a "movement." I don't have children because I feel obligated to as a member of an elite club of some kind. By the same token, I don't look down on sisters with fewer children or sit and wonder whether or not they are "sinning." It just doesn't cross my mind. The strange thing is, some people with fewer children think that it is constantly on my mind and assign all kinds of thoughts and motives to me that I've never even contemplated.

For those who have felt themselves criticized by the "quiverfullers," I'd ask you to thoughtfully consider whether or not the person is actually being hostile or ugly toward you or whether you're just assuming she is. Case in point: Several years ago when we lived in another state, there was a family at church we really wanted to get to know better. They had lots of children, many of them near the ages of our children. We thought it would be great to spend time together. Yet, no matter how often we invited them over, they seemed to have other things to do. This went on for two years. I honestly wondered sometimes if we'd done something to offend them. They were friendly, but there was a strange wall there between us that I couldn't figure out. Fast forward two years, and we had moved to another state. I began corresponding by email regularly with the mom and made an astounding discovery. She told me the reason they'd never really responded to us was that they thought we looked down on them for having their children in Christian school (as opposed to homeschooling). This topic had never once come up, and we'd never said anything to them or made an disparaging remarks about their educational choices. They just assumed we had these thoughts and feelings because we were homeschoolers!

After a month of writing back and forth, we had all of this out in the open, and a lot of healing words flowed back and forth. Both of us expressed regret that we hadn't cleared this up two years earlier. We'd missed an awful lot of wonderful fellowship, all due to assumed opinions that didn't exist.

I guess I'm just saying that we shouldn't assume we know what the other person is thinking or feeling unless she comes right out and says it. This is true even for someone who has strong opinions about _______ (homeschooling, feminism, birth control, etc.). I like the way someone else has stated it -- roughly, "these are our beliefs, but they do not describe the bounds of our fellowship." In other words, we are happy to be friends with and love on people who differ with us. We'll gladly have feminists and atheists into our home to sit at our table. We don't snub them or ignore them or treat them with hostility. While we may disagree with their ideas (and be willing to discuss/debate those ideas), that doesn't mean we hate them or wish them ill.

Again, if you've experienced true hostility or snobbery, I wish I could apologize on behalf of those who have treated you ill. But I want to say clearly that it is just as easy to assign motives and assume opinions from the other side. And it hurts both sides when this happens. How can we come together and talk if we're constantly assuming things that don't exist? Or presuming to know the minds and hearts of those with whom we disagree?

Let's keep up the dialog in love, knowing that no one has "arrived," and all of us have a long road of sanctification ahead of us.

Thanks, Jess, for providing the forum to do this!

In Christ,
Jennie

Megan P. said...

So there's like 100 comments on here, but I have a question. I'm a mother of two 16 months apart so far, and don't mind at all people asking me about their closeness in age, or if we'll have more. It's a great opportunity to talk about our trust in the LORD for the size of our family and how counter-culturally we think on this issue. But reading some of these comments, I feel like the topic of children is becoming completely taboo.. like I couldn't ask a friend if she wanted more children if she's got three, or if I'm getting to know a new young married girl, to talk about her ideas of children with her. Are we swinging the pendulum too far the other way? I totally agree that strangers and acquaintances' off-hand comments, judgments, and assumptions are completely inappropriate. But genuine questions give us a great opportunity to explain how God has worked in our life. Is there a difference between the two?

Leanne said...

Jennie,

I really appreciate what you wrote - thanks!

As a 32 year-old woman, married for 10 years with NO children yet, I have felt that - and I'm afraid I may have jumped to some conclusions and assigned thoughts to people that weren't really there.

Thanks for the reminder - I truly believe that each of us has something valuable that we can bring to another person's life. I've picked up several helpful parenting ideas from the homeschoolers in my church that I'm filing away for the (hopefully NEAR!) future, but I also hope that my life and my walk with Christ has inspired someone and given them ideas as well!!!

Thank you to ALL the posters who have gracefully and thoughtfully responded to this blog. I was so afraid that this was going to turn into another heated discussion on birth control...great discussion!

Mrs. Anna T said...

About vasectomy, I simply must say it's infinitely worse than using birth control! I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but even castration of ANIMALS is prohibited in the Bible. Such animals couldn't even be offered as a sacrifice to the Lord (Leviticus 22:24). Now, I understand I'm Jewish and most people here are not, but if the Lord looks so disdainfully on spilling one's seed in vain, how must He see the unnecessary mutilation of castrating oneself?!

On another note, sadly I know more than one couple who went ahead and had vasectomy, and a few years later are aching and longing for more children. Birth control at least is (in most cases) reversible, while vasectomy is nearly impossible to reverse.

Anonymous said...

Dear Megan P.,

My take would be that there is a difference between asking a young married couple, for instance, "Would you like to have many children?" (I don't think that's taboo, depending on how close you are to them and how you are asking the question) and then letting it go, and a question like, "Why aren't you having any children?" or "Why, is the baby not coming?" (I've had those said to me in years past) or statements like "You need to wait before you have children/you need to have a sister/brother for your child", etc. I've even had a very "holy" person in her own perception tell my grandma about me, "What kind of a believer is she, she only has one child?!" There is a clear line between asking a non-intruding general question (like 'Would you love to have more children?')and making it clear by tone of voice you don't mean to be too nosy, and asking impertinent questions like 'Why ...? How come...? Was this baby planned?', etc. To the former I'd be glad to volunteer that we'd love to have heaps of children but the Lord has only given us one so far; to the latter I'd be tempted to say that our intimate life is INTIMATE indeed.

One last thought about being quiver-full - and it's not an original thought but it helps me. I am quiver-full :-). My quiver seems to be small, only fit for one arrow, but it's full all right. I have all that the Lord has seen fit to give me. Others' quivers may hold 11 or 2... who's to know? Only God and those couples and those to whom they choose to volunteer the info. In general, I think Laine is right (if you know Laine's letters), she has a couple of letters about this being a PRIVATE issue and how you shouldn't feel pressured to make it known to others when it is supposed to be private. Too much inordinate sharing of such things probably takes place today.

I did love the article and also the post of Jennie was very good, I think.

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

When I had my second child and he turned out to be a boy (first was a girl), I got a lot of comments from people assuming we were "done". As in "Well, now you have your girl and your boy," and "Well, that turned out good for you now. One of each." It was annoying and rude to assume that since we had one of each we were done. Now pregnant w/ #3 and getting a lot of comments...

takingupmycross said...

Oh wow, what an excellent post! I have very strong convictions about birth control these days. I was on the pill for a few months before I got married (I was a virgin until my wedding night but was told to "get it to work" before that night)...but I went off of it shortly after the wedding and will NEVER EVER go on hormonal BC again. If we feel led by God to do anything I know it'll be NFP/FAM.

I can also relate to the first few topics. We were married young (18 & 21) and had our first when I was 20. Ooooh the comments we received- too young, to newly-wed, to poor, to naive, to inexperienced, no work experience, no degree yet, etc... We also experienced 2 miscarriages before my first daughter, but sadly no one knows about #2 because after the negative things we heard the first time I was too scared to go through that again. :( Oh, and to this day no one knows we "tried" for both of my daughters...they all assumed they were "surprise" babies (I can't bring myself to say "accident"), and that I was likely on birth control the first time, or just off it the second time...which wasn't true- it took us over a year to get pregnant again)

THEN, when we got pregnant with my second daughter (18 months post-partum, and I was 22), we STILL heard- they're too close, your first daughter needs more time by herself, how are you going to afford it?, you're hands are going to be full, etc.

NOW, with a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old, people are constantly asking when the next one is coming...not like they're excited to find out, but more so they have an open door to critique our lives and our decisions. It's sickening, really.

Anyway, thank you for this post. It's very encouraging!
-Bryn

Mom said...

This was an excellent post - and I can only add - AMEN!
Love, Mom

CappuccinoLife said...

wonderful, wonderful post. And seriously, you are so brave. I haven't even read the comments yet and I'm not sure I dare to. :p

Thank you for bringing up the infertility thing. I have often thought that, but not been brave enough to say it. I have seen too many couples (though mostly women) in an absolute rage and despair on finding out that after 10 years on birth control because they didn't want kids, they aren't entitled to get pregnant just because they decide it's what they want now. The ability to "control" conception is faulty at best in preventing children, and certainly not guaranteed in trying to concieve them! Yet people get angry when they find out they're not really in control. I can understand sadness about infertility, but the rage just baffles me.

And the cultural attitudes towards family are so horrible. I started getting "you're crazy" comments when I was pregnant with my second. My children are 2 years apart and that's still not enough for some. Got worse when I was pregnant with my third and he turned out to be another boy. You probably saw the story on my blog about the woman who accosted me in the grocery store. Yikes!

I must say, I had a most wonderful conversation with a beautiful old lady yesterday. She stopped me so she could admire the baby, and then said "They are so beautiful! Such a blessing". She went on to say that she'd been married for many decades and God never blessed them with children, and reminded me again what a blessing they are to have, and complimented me on my mothering. It was such a refreshing change from the normal reactions!

CappuccinoLife said...

Couple more thoughts--
What Jenny Chancy said about assigning motives is so true. I have seen very generalized articles about birth control being absolutely wrong, and people stating as a tenet of their belief that birth control is wrong, and I would agree with them. But I don't go around pointing fingers at folks with small families saying "I condemn you! You selfish person!". Most of my good friends are *not* QF, actually.

Anothing thing about the entitlement attitude, related to gender. People are constantly giving me sympathy because I didn't get "my girl". As if all I need is a girl to complete our family and then I can quit getting pregnant. I was given sooooo much unwanted sympathy when my second child arrived...another boy...oh you poor thing....are you going to try for a girl?...
Now the assumption is that my third child was either an "accident" or a "try for a girl". If I have 6 boys and no girls, the assumption will be that the younger four were all "trying for a girl". I would love a girl one of these days, but I am so, so bothered by this attitude. My oldest son has taken to delivering a little speech about our family to everyone we meet "We have three boys! No girls! No girls at all!" having heard these silly comments so often now. :('

Finally, *where* do you find the pictures for your blog? This one is awesome!

Jess said...

LOL! CapLife, I love inmagine.com for graphics. Sometimes I make my own or take my own, but for the "smart" ones like this, they almost always come from Inmagine.

~Jess

Julie-Anne said...

Dear Jess,

First, I want to thank you for your comment. I had not been on your blog in quite some time and am excited to see how many readers you have!! I am flattered you took the time to read my post. It does sound as though we personally agree on this issue. The point, I feel, is that so many Christian parents hold a secular-inspired belief system towards children (and fertility). This has a direct impact on how they "manage" their fertility. The Word of God is very clear on God's view of fertility as a blessing and a place where God can (and likes to) give abundantly. His Word should be our measuring stick right? So, even though there is not a scripture that specifically tells us what to do regarding birth control, it follows that the scriptures on fruitfulness and fertility should influence us. I agree about the dangers of creating a "law" about such things. I often feel stifled when someone prescribes "the only way" to live out a certain biblical principle. However, we have to be careful about the goose and the gander syndrome. Some things are plain in the Word and we can't skirt around them by using the excuse that God has something different for each one of us. There are patterns to follow. Perhaps we cannot be absolute on the use (or not) of birth control for all other Christians. But we can, as your post (I feel) accomplished, point out the discrepancies between our "personal" opinions regarding family size and fertility and what the Bible has to say.

Thanks!

Julie-Anne
ps. I hear your heart! :)

Nichola said...

I have enjoyed reading your post in this, Jess. In fact, I read it several times. I posted some "extra" thoughts about it on my blog. http://peachfarmerswife.blogspot.com/2008/09/excuse-me.html
I did want to share something that I remembered when reading some of the last few comments.
I went to visit a friend a while back, shortly after I found out that I was preggo with #4. She is an older lady in her 80's and when we told her she just stomped her feet and exclaimed, "OOOOHHH!!! I envy you!!!!" She had 2 or 3 boys, but her and her husband desired more the whole time they were married. But she didn't have any more. My heart went out to her, but I also have to say, I really appreciated the comment. What if the older women in our culture had this view of family? One of desiring children, instead of abhorring them? I got this dear friend's affirmation and respect. I felt very loved and honestly didn't know just how to handle it!
Just wanted to add a positive testimony!

Anne said...

I just published this comment over at another blog that had copied your article on their site, but I wanted to say the same thing to you:

I don't necessarily think that struggling with the effects infertility is a result of a "being in control" or "my rights" attitude. Wanting a baby is one of the most natural, God-given instincts a woman has, and having them was one of the commandments He gave Adam and Eve when he created them. So struggling with not being able to have something that you desire so deeply in the core of who you are becuase God made you that way is not a sin, nor is it a result of some kind of bad outlook on life. Did God judge Rachel, Hannah and Sarah in the Old Testament because they deeply wanted children? I don't think that they had an "I'm in control of my fertility" outlook on life, and I doubt they were taking the pill before they realized that they couldn't get pregnant! It was God who closed their wombs, and God makes a special point to show us that he loved and cared for them in a very tender way becuase of how painful infertility was then, and is now.

These struggles are made all the more difficult when so many couples around you are having children, and some even "by accident." But for many, including myself, it is less of an attitude of "my rights" and more of an attitude of grieving and being sad that I wasn't created the same way that so so many women were. Its grieving over the effects of the fall and how sin has messed everything up, including my fertility.

And I do get offended when the first thing people point out about infertile couples is that they must have gotten married late in life so they could have a career. I am in my mid 20's, have been married for 3 1/2 years, and have been trying (unsucessfully) for 2 of those years to have a baby. I don't have a career, and all I've ever wanted is to create a loving, godly family. We aren't the typical couple that so many people portray as "deserving" to be infertile, and yet even if we were, we would still have every right to hurt over not being able to create a baby as any young married couple who never used birth control.

I was thankful that you pointed out that infertile couples are judged as being selfish for not having children, when really they cannot, but realize also that the same is true vise-versa when couples who are simply not ready to start their families are looked at as maybe being infertile.

I am not trying to attack you, but infertility is something that is so complicated and personal to me that I had to speak up against what you had said about it.

Thank you for listening.

E03 said...

wow...you really struck a chord. as a single girl I've thought about some of these things too...
-it is not uncommon to hear "they're already pregnant" (ie: a few months after a wedding)...and i wonder, did we wish they'd gotten pregnant BEFORE they were married?
- i realize i have to catch myself sometimes to not say offhand rude/insensitive comments...or even think rude comments...about a large family i know. Also, i know that bigger families often have to live more thriftily, and perhaps that shows where our priorities lie, when we prefer to have 2 well-dressed children than 5 second-hand-store-clothed children. i think we try to be so in control of our lives.

also, i have to laugh that you posted about lacrae. my 19-year-old brother listens to him and told me about his theology, too. :)

MandyMom.com said...

Wow... over a 100 comments on this entry! :) Obviously, it spoke to many in some way or form!

You know, when I was hugely pregnant w/ our third and working up at our restaurant, a regular came up and told me, "Tell your husband it's time to take out the crib and leave the playpen." I didn't understand what he was saying... until he explained:

He needs to get the "Snip snip".. take out the baby makers and leave the fun part.

I couldn't believe my ears! YOW!

Best Life said...

Wow! This is such a great discussion. As a mother of nine children, I have heard it all! What I wanted to add to this is how much I enjoy throwing people off track of their rude comments. When they ask, "Are you finished yet?" I joyfully exclaim, "Why? It's so wonderful? Why would I want to stop?!" I make sure I exude a joyful countenance so that onlookers (the ones that are silently counting heads as we pass by) can see how glad I am for my children. When someone says to me, "Oh you poor thing. I can barely stand to be around my two children!" I smile sweetly and ask God to give me wise words of love for this woman. My children are well behaved and I am joyful for them. This speaks volumes to those that would like to think that I am out of my mind. Just my two cents.

paige said...

yowza ~ found a link to your blog on another blog & came to read (just read your blog post, not all the ONE HUNDRED & ELEVEN comments!!)
Anyway, i almost cried when i read:
#6- By extension, because they "chose" their family size, the larger-than-average family is often expected to never lack, to never struggle with discipline, to never be tired, etc.... even by Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

As a mom of 6 children ages 12 & under ~*this* is something that i certainly face every day. Feeling watched & wondering if i'll be brazen enough to admit that i don't have time to volunteer for AWANA... hoping... praying that my 4yo won't have a tantrum in church, or that my 8yo won't get asked to spell 'church'.
Every day i could second guess myself, but when we're home... & schooling, & being a family... i have such peace, that this is where it's at...
Anyway, thanks for saying out loud something that is usually left unsaid, but assumed. i appreciate your openness ~

Laurel said...

Just found your blog. wow!

I actually wrote 2 blog posts this week, about this same topic. So, I think I need to add your insights now, too.

I am a mama of 13 children (10 bio. and 3 adopted form Ghana this year). I actually dealt with infertility prior to children, and was told I needed a hysterectomy 25 years ago. (Would love to see that Doc. now.)

As for people's rude comments ... I get the comment often about "when is your husband going to get fixed?" My cute response is, "Fixed? Oh no ... obviously he is not broken."

Blessings,
Laurel
mama of 13

Jennifer F. said...

I'm late on this, but just wanted to say that this is a fantastic post.

You should check out this great PDF, which is basically a visual of what you laid out here.

Also, back in the 60's Pope Paul IV made some predictions about the damage that would be done to society if artificial contraception was widely accepted, and it's eerie how spot-on he was. This article has a quick summary of what he said and what has actually happened.

Anyway, I just love your blog. Keep up the great work!

Gretchen said...

Great blog entry.

I am probably the most like your commenter Anne who experienced infertility even though we got married in our early twenties. It is the worst thing I have ever gone thru!

Suzyhomemaker said...

the same people who make the rude large family comments are the same ones who pry into those of us who cannot have children of our own "naturally" and tell us "not to give up!" when we say we are going to adopt. I was married when I was 23 years old and am now 29 and have never used a form of birth control since we got married to be polite. We cannot get pregnant. That is not to say that we wont have children one day, but the phrase "if you wait till you can afford them, you'll never have them." takes on a whole new meaning when you have to come up with ten thousand dollars out of nowhere.

Annette said...

I just linked to your blog for the first time and really enjoyed this post. I share your feelings and appreciated the way you articulated each point. I don't have anything profound to say, but wanted to state that with each child, I have come to love and desire more of them. I have been at the point where I felt I was happy with our family size, or that I wasn't ready for another, or that I didn't want to go through another labor and delivery; but I am so past all that...I gave birth to our 11th child in July and I would be so happy to conceive twins tonight, if God chose to bless us in that way! I have wanted another girl as the last 6 babies have been boys (so six of our seven boys are aged 8 and under! You can only imagine what that is like!) And you know what...as much as I would love another girl, I love each baby so much that I am fine with it if more boys are what God gives us.

Our four oldest daughters are a great help with the housekeeping, food prep, and childcare. God has been so good to us. We aren't rich in money; we live simply, but we have a wonderful family life and so much love.

Our decision to not use birth control evolved over time...we did use it for short spans of time early on in our marriage, but we really had no desire to limit our family. We never found a suitable or acceptable method, and we never lost the desire for more children. I do not regret having a single one of them, and am glad I didn't decide to stop or I wouldn't have them with me today.

We've had rude comments and stares, but even more we've gotten responses of admiration and amazement. I am glad for the online community where I can come into contact with like-minded families and individuals to encourage and inspire me. It can be a lonely place when others around you just can't relate or understand.

I recently viewed some pro-life videos, portraying beautiful babies that had been brutally dismembered and aborted. It broke my heart. New life is such a precious and perfect gift, and to know that this goes on each day is absolutely devastating. Seeing the photos of unborn babies has instilled within me even greater appreciation of pregnancy and longing to bear more of our own.

My grandmother had 13 children. I never dreamed I would want or have that many. I just might! God has worked in my life and I am HAPPY!
:-)
Annette

svr said...

i am really really late with this comment. i just found this article. but i just wanted to point out that having more children doesn't just have to be biological. as a social worker i have seen many many children who desperately need loving godly homes in which to experience healing. it continues to amaze me that christians are willing to be up in arms against abortion and yet many are unwilling to consider taking the unwanted children of our society into their homes. what are our actions there saying about what we feel about life?
my husband and i are feeling led by god to not have any more children biologically (2 boys, the last pregnancy was really really difficult) but definitely see foster care and/or adoption in the future. however we feel a lot of judgment from family and church for not having more biological children.
i think that love and lack of judgment between christian women on this topic would accomplish much more that judgment (from any side). the truth is that god made all of us different. some of us have the gifts to handle many children, some of us don't and god has plans to use us in other ways. that is why he made us a body of many parts!

Anonymous said...

It's so nice to read your thoughts written by someone else. I am currently the mother of 3 small children with a 4th due 6 weeks. I have been very exhausted with this pregnancy and have received no sympathy from family or church members. I am not throwing myself a pity party here but it does make me feel bad for all of the other women who are going through the same thing.

Caroline said...

A couple of thoughts....another thing that bugs me is this idea that now have that our lives must somehow be "perfect" in order to have a baby. Of course I think we should be responsible, but I disagree with the attitude that if you get pregnant when your finances, personal situation, etc. is less than perfect (whatever that is), you are somehow irresponsible and people should look down on you. There is also an increasing sense that becoming a parent is somehow a "privilege"...How many times have you heard someone say, "Some people shouldn't be allowed to be parents" or "you should have to get a license to be a parent"? This attitude is definitely a product of the birth control movement. Who has the right to say we are or are not allowed to become a parent? The government? Unfortunately this ultimate danger of the birth control movement has already become a reality in some places in the world, like China, where they can actually tell you how many children you are "allowed" to have.

Sara said...

Thank you for posting this! This is excellent.

To the person who wrote about government assistance and pregnancy, I want to give this post:
http://daniellebean.com/2008/08/06/humble-and-heroic/

If a man is working full time, and still qualifies for and can use benefits, the sin is on the employer for not paying a decent wage, and not on the family who is doing the best they can. It always amazes me how people who are concerned about this issue go straight to the families accepting assistance and don't discuss the shame that it is that a man can work full-time and still qualify for and need financial assistance. Yes, some people abuse it, but it is never a sin to have a children nor a moral obligation not to have them (assuming a married couple, of course). One is never wrong for trusting God even in tough circumstances! I very much agree with Caroline's comments. I think the original post about the attitudes when you struggle with a fourth pregnancy verses a first can be applied here as well.

Sheila said...

And, 100 years later... :)
I recently got into a pretty "passionate" discussion with a friend, who actually tried to get me to say I thought she was in sin, if she and her husband purposely ended their child-bearing. I wouldn't - I couldn't. The Bible does not say that. I did tell her that the Bible is very clear about two things: Children are a blessing, and God is the One who opens and closes the womb.
On a funny side note, if you're newly married, you get razzed if you get pregnant "right away", or you get razzed if you aren't pregnant "right away". Huh?
Some excellent thoughts, Jess.

Kathy said...

I have three (obviously) adopted children, and I still get the stupid, "Gee, are you done?!?" comments. Although we have accepted this as God's will for our family, I can't help but wonder if my infertility (and many other couples', too) has been caused by the poisoning of our water supply by pharmecuticals, particularly including the artificial estrogen in the birth control pills (which do not always prevent conception; if you are on chemical BC, you have probably had an abortion).

As for the Biblical take on it, I have heard arguments that St. Paul's list of things prohibited to believers includes artificial BC as "pharmakeia". Just as we know someone doesn't mean Tylenol when she says she's on "The Pill", there is evidence that the ancient world used the word "pharmakeia" the same way. (yes, they discovered chemical BC in about 500 B.C.) (see Gal 5:19-21, Rev 9:21, and others)

There is a fundamental difference between Natural Family Planning and artificial birth control, just as there is a difference between dieting and bulimia. The first is natural, the second is trying to have our pleasure while avoiding the naturally tied consequences.

Do we trust God, or not? NFP leaves things open to God, while exercising our reason and leading couples to prayerfully discuss their family size.

BC slams the door in His face and tells Him, "I want sex, but not the way You designed it."

Mommy said...

This is a wonderful post!! We have 1 biological child are currently in the process of adopting, and some ppl just cannot fathom why we would do such a thing when we can still have "our own" babies. Sometimes they are downright angry with us for being open to the children that the Lord leads us to (be it adoption or birth) ... Oh, well. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Thank you again!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

From a mom of 4, all 12-15 months apart:

A thousand AMENS!!!

Sarah P said...

Now I am not married nor a parent, but I see what you mean by the effects of birth control. Many people look down upon families that have more than one or two kids. Also, like you said it leads to affairs, abortion and fornication. I also think it leads to child abuse much like abortion has links to it.

Great post all in all! We need more bloggers talking about this.

Michelle Potter said...

Such a wonderful post! In regards to #1, I do think couples should wait to have kids... until they are married. ;) I did not become a Christian until after I was married, and I do wish I'd understood the wisdom in following that particular aspect of God's plan. (Though, of course, I do NOT regret my son, and don't call him an accident! He's a "blessing" -- an unexpected gift that led me to Christ. ;)

I do think you have #2 backwards -- I think it was the belief in the "right" to choose when to have children via birth control that led to the belief in abortion on demand, not vice versa. But it is sad that we no longer find it rude to ask such personal questions, or make rude personal judgments, even of total strangers. As a mom of 7 (1 planned by me, the other 6 planned by God), I've heard them all. Most people mean no harm; they just think the rude, personal, hurtful things they say are normal. I try to grin and bear those comments, but I live for the encouraging comments from older ladies who had several of their own. ;)

For #5, I've experienced something similar. My husband was previously married, and unfortunately divorced. I have raised my two step-children as my own since they were toddlers. In the early years I got a lot of flack for having "so many" kids "so young." When I was 22 and pregnant for the second time -- making that our fourth child -- I was told that there MUST be "something wrong with [me]." Clearly no one in her right mind would be having her fourth at 22, right? True, having to explain that two of my children are my step-children is not as sensitive as explaining a struggle with infertility, but I wince at any suggestion that the oldest two are "not really mine." I don't feel that way, and I sure don't want ANY of my children to think I do.

For #6, I have endured an unfortunate aspect of this. I have a learning disorder, which was not diagnosed until I was 28. I suffered depression as a result, and sought help from friends, pastors, doctors, and professional therapists, and I can't tell you how often I was told that my children (having too many, pregnancy hormones, homeschooling, not having enough "me time") were the cause of my depression. I knew that wasn't right, but no one wanted to look for a deeper cause until my husband figured it out. Now I'm on medication for my learning disorder and learning coping techniques, and suddenly I can function like I never could -- not even before I had any kids at all. Because of this discrimination, I hesitate to share any struggles we have as a family. If we are short of cash will people say it's because we can't afford so many kids? If my toddler bumps his head will they think I have too much on my plate to properly supervise him?

I also agree with your solution. I think some convictions do require us to lobby for laws, since they are issues of protecting the innocent from harm, but we have to be willing to follow Christ no matter what the rest of the world does. We can't be afraid to be different.

Faith said...

Wow, what a GREAT post! I was wondering if you would give me permission to post this on my blog linking it to yours? My blog followers need to hear this!
Blessings,
Faith

Rightthinker-Andrea said...

Just found this article via Generational Womanhood.

I have written much about the topic of birth control, and the anti-children culture in which we live..

I have linked to this post on my blog..thanks for the great post!

Ashleigh. said...

Amen!

I'm a mum of 5 month old boy/girl twins, and it amazes me the number of people who say 'that will be you done then, since you've got one of each.'

My husband and I are Catholic, and using NFP, because it would be imprudent of us to conceive again at this point.

NFP is an allowable form of spacing children, and IMHO builds better marriages. Spouses have to work with their bodies, and respect the gift of fertility. Neither spouse is objectified, and sex is kept from being purely recreational. You offer your spouse your whole self in mutual respect and trust. NFP offers that balance between worldly prudence, and true prudence, which is being open to the will of God.

Aurora said...

I have again encountered the birth control mentality. I recently unexpectedly become pregnant with my 4th child at 40. (after several years of being celibate and raising my kids alone, til I found the right man.)

The first thing the OB doctor did when I walked into her office for the first checkup was ask "And what are we going to do to make sure this doesn't happen again?" Needless to say, we are now looking for a new OB doctor, or midwife to work with.

I have to admit this pregnancy has been a little harder on me so far than the ones I went through in my 20s, but I don't consider this baby any less of a blessing, and moreso that this will be hubby's first child, something he has always wanted before we met. I think he is going to be a great dad.

Sanders said...

Easy to see why this is such a popular post! You really called it like it is - but so many people in our culture don't realize how's it's become or even how those 'funny comments' smart. I especially enjoyed your choice of photo. Too funny.

Great Conclusion with the solution - That ship has sailed - and we do need to be a people that stands apart from the status quo and take a more biblical view of children.

Really enjoyed this one. I think I might pin it. :OD