Why Have Babies?

You may think your reasons for having babies are biblical, but if you're like me, you've absorbed a lot more culture and a lot less Bible than you realize. why have babies

"Do you hope to have children?" That's the question I've started asking the young married women God brings into my life. It's not as bold as the question Mary Morken asked me,but it gently opens the conversation about babies — enabling me to go, by God's grace, where most would say angels fear to tread.

Why press for information about such a personal decision? In part because I know how much I needed someone to ask me that question. Once married, Steve and I were on a path of delay. I also ask because we live in an age when there are a hundred reasons not to have babies and very little encouragement to have them; and because I'm convinced, from Scripture, that by God's design, babies are not only uniquely the work of marriage, but also a blessing from God. I want to encourage Christian couples not to miss the blessing.

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The world says babies are expensive, that they diminish your happiness, and that they limit your spontaneity. They are, they do, and they will — just like a whole host of other things (some worthwhile and some not) that you'll say yes to in your lifetime. Those negatives are not the whole story. And they're not reason enough to delay starting your family. Babies are wealth. They increase your joy, and any challenges they may bring are God's means for your sanctification.

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A Drought of Children in California

California is the most populous state in the United States, but the number of children there is shrinking, leaving the state “ill-equipped for boomer retirement” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Birth rates are now below replacement level for whites, Asians and African-Americans. Rates among Hispanics had been high but are now dropping steeply and are also expected to drop below replacement in the next decade.

“The shrinking pool of youngsters coincides with a bulging population of older people,” the article explains. In other words, California is growing very European—it has promised generous benefits that depend on a growing population while cultivating a culture that doesn’t welcome enough new life to keep the scheme going. This is not sustainable.

California drought

The Pill Turns 50--Who's Celebrating?

I wrote a blog post on Boundless about the 50th anniversary of the introduction of The Pill, and specifically, Dr. Albert Mohler's commentary about it. In "I Think I'll Skip the Party," I quoted Mohler's commentary. He said,

The idea that sex would be severed from childbearing is a very modern concept — and a concept made meaningful only by the development of the Pill and its successor birth control technologies. The severing of this relationship represents a quantum change in human life and relationships, not to mention morality.

Nancy Gibbs [in TIME magazine] is fair and accurate in her use of my words and arguments. I do indeed believe that the development of the Pill “has done more to reorder human life than any event since Adam and Eve ate the apple.” Why? Because sex, sexuality, and reproduction are so central to human life, to marriage, and to the future of humanity.

The Pill turned pregnancy — and thus children — into elective choices, rather than natural gifts of the marital union. But then again, the marital union was itself weakened by the Pill, because the avoidance of pregnancy facilitated adultery and other forms of non-marital sex. In some hands, the Pill became a human pesticide.

The post, and his commentary, are stirring up a hearty debate — 155 comments and counting. If you're up for a good conversation, and especially if you have thoughts about the pros and cons of hormonal birth control, please join the discussion here.

When Is a Good Time to Have Kids?

Chelsey emailed us the week before her wedding. She wanted to let us know she'd read Start Your Family, and in her words,

We had been unsure about whether or not we would use birth control. I don't want to take the pill, and honestly, we didn't want to use birth control at all, but we are on a limited, though sufficient, income, and we didn't know if it was 'wise.' Your book, along with the wise counsel of our pastor, was such an encouragement.

Chelsey_christian-2Recently she wrote again with an update. I asked her if she'd write a version for the blog. And graciously, she agreed. Here's what she had to say,

My husband and I got married in April, almost three years to the day after we started dating. I had been 23 for a month; he was 22.

During our pre-marital counseling, our pastor reiterated what we already wanted so desperately to believe: that God is the giver of life and that whatever our best laid plans may be, He was the one who would ultimately determine when our family should start.

We had talked about wanting to have kids right away with our friends and families, but the word was almost always the same, based on our plans for the future: your early twenties is not a good time to have kids; right after marriage is a not a good time to have kids; when you’re in seminary is not a good time to have kids; when you’re on the mission field is not a good time to have kids. We were left wondering—when is a good time to have kids?

We couldn’t answer that, and neither could anyone else. So we decided that we would let God decide when was a good time for us to start having babies. It didn’t take long to find out. His good timing appears to be sometime next February, which means our ten-week-old son will be celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary along with us.

Since God softened our hearts in this area, there have been times of fear and doubting. Did we make the right decision? Is everything going to turn out OK? In response to these anxieties, God has proven to be the God of Psalm 94:18-19: “When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

What have God’s consolations been for us? He provided me a job the day after we got back from our honeymoon, which has allowed us to build up our savings account. He has us in a church that values family and children. He recently gave my husband a new, better-paying job that will allow me to stay home with our little one.

I don’t know how many children God will ultimately give us, but whatever His plan, we are truly “tasting and seeing that the Lord is good” in allowing us to start our family when He did.

Congratulations Chelsey and Christian. Thank you for letting us rejoice with you!

Men Should Consider Biological Clock as Well

In Start Your Family, I (Steve) talk about the strong urge Candice felt to have a baby and how I got her to "hit snooze on her biological clock." It's those potent emotions about having children, as well as a broad range of headlines about fertility and the timing of babies, that make us so aware of a woman's biological clock. Increasingly, however, news reports are explaining that men also have a biological clock to keep in mind.

"It wasn't all that long ago that any suggestion that a man had a 'biological clock' like a woman, and should father children sooner rather than later, would have been given short scientific shrift," says a new article by U.S. News and World Report. "Not anymore. Today, a growing body of evidence suggests that as men get older, fertility can and does decline, while the chances of fathering a child with serious birth defects and medical problems increase."

The article sources Dr. Harry Fisch, author of the book The Male Biological Clock with the finding that after age 30, testosterone levels decline about 1 percent per year. Fisch doesn't come out and recommend an ideal age for men to start a family, but where men have a choice in the matter, Fisch suggests "the sooner, the better."