As the father of four sons (our youngest being born just under two weeks ago), I have become accustomed to the glances received when out in public: the shocked looks, the sidelong glances, the curious or almost fearful approaches by those who wonder if “all of these kids are yours.” Then there’s the statements: from the always insulting: “You do know what causes that don’t you?” to the insipid references to similarity with rabbits; and the ever ignoble accusation that we are trying to be “like the Duggars.” These reactions are among the many that we have received, and these are just the ones from members of the church!
It is stunning to me to see the number of Christians who are outwardly hostile and skeptical of large families. They treat them as though they have some sort of malady or disease; as if, by the number of children they have, there is something wrong with them. Over the last couple of generations our families have gone from averaging three to four children to seeing anything over two as being excessive. Many Christians have bought into the materialistic worldview that children are a nuisance, a burden, a roadblock to prosperity.
However, the Biblical statements about families show beyond a shadow of a doubt how God feels about large families. Consider one such example: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psa. 127:3-5). The psalmist, by inspiration, extols the value and precious nature of children. They are an heritage of the Lord (vs. 3); the Hebrew word for “heritage” means “an inheritance, an heirloom.” Children are an inheritance from God. They are the greatest heirloom one can possess. They are later described as that which makes a man happy, or blessed. A man is blessed when he has his quiver full of those precious arrows. God considers children a blessing, not a curse; an inheritance, not a drain on prosperity; a reward, not a punishment. So why do we continually see Christians reversing God’s sentiment?
I believe we need to stop looking through the lens of the world when it comes to children and begin focusing through the lens of God. In a world where women desire life outside the home over the blessings of life with their families in the home, children are an inconvenience. In a world where the greatest goal in life is a financially stable 401k, children inhibit access to the full potential of that goal. In a world that focuses on self, it is inconvenient to set aside self to spend every day looking after and teaching another.
Nevertheless, when we look at the world through God’s lens the values are completely different. Children are the greatest resource for the development and growth of the church. Large families with godly parents who place God first and serve him in every possible way, training their children to do the same, are one of the greatest assets a congregation can have. The children not only increase the numbers within the congregation, but as they get older they increase the abilities and resources of the congregation through their incorporation into the work of the church.
Godly children are also the greatest inheritance a godly man can leave this world. We bemoan and loathe the direction our country is taking and the way our society has turned from God. One of the greatest impacts the church can have is a larger footprint in the next generation by means of those who love God, his word, and hold to his principles. Large families of Christians make possible that increased footprint and the possibility of a better future.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not degrading small families or those who for health reasons and other maladies are either not able to have children or not able to have as many as they would like. It is not wrong or sinful to have a small family, and the children in small families are just as much a blessing and inheritance from God as any other. What does concern me is the lack of encouragement for the presence of large families. The increasing perception is that the family should have two children and then the mother should get back out in the workforce. That is not godly reasoning, nor is it principled in Scripture. May it ever be our goal that God bless us with godly parents; that those parents be blessed with a bountiful inheritance and that those blessings may grow up to glorify God and obey his will.