Should All Families Be Like the Duggars?

duggarsI come from a large family. I have six brothers and sisters. So when I got married, I imagined we would have lots of kids.

I even asked my wife if we could name our sons after the apostles. She said, “Yes.”

I said, “Great, that means we’re having 12 sons.”

I figured we could have our own football team. She wasn’t so sure.

Today I have two beautiful children – a son and a daughter. It looks like that’s all we’re going to have, which is for the most part by choice. We are content with our two children. We feel the size of our family fits our abilities as parents. We are blessed.

I have often wondered, though, if we weren’t somehow doing something wrong. As I said, the number of children we have is largely by choice. Have we despised God’s gift of children? Were we being selfish? Should we have 19 children like the Duggar family?

First of all, as Christians, we need to remember that children are a blessing from God. Wise old King Solomon once wrote, “Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5).

Sometimes children don’t feel like a blessing. When you haven’t slept because of a fussy newborn or a three year old kicking you in the head all night, they don’t feel like a blessing. When they are so tired they don’t know what they want, when they are making a scene in a restaurant, when they become teenagers, when they don’t clean their room and sneak out at night – you get the picture. Raising children involves sacrifice and struggle, hiccups and heartbreak.

But it is worth it. The joys of parenting far outweigh the pains, even with the most difficult children. It is a privilege to bring a child into this world, pour the saving water of baptism on their heads and share with them the grace and glory of our God.

Children are a blessing, but what constitutes a quiver full? Do we get a say in how many children we have? Should we just let God decide?

Family planning is not a modern invention. Though modern science has provided us with a variety of options, contraception is as old as humanity. Human beings early on figured out the fertility cycle of a woman and realized there were times each month when a woman would not become pregnant. The rhythm method was practiced even in biblical times.

So is it wrong to use such methods? Some Christians would say, “Yes.” But where does it say that in Scripture? Interestingly enough, God is silent on the matter.

Can a Christian properly use birth control? That depends. Some would use birth control to allow them to misuse their sexuality without any consequences. That is obviously wrong. Others despise children because they get in the way of their careers or because they would ruin their figures or because they want to control every aspect of their lives. Such motives are selfish and sinful.

Also, as Christians, we will never purposefully end a life after conception.

That being said, a Christian can say in faith, “After prayerfully considering our abilities and the means God has given us, we are content with the amount of children we have.” Some Christians in unique circumstances may even feel they don’t have the ability or means to properly raise a child. It is not a sin to not have children. A Christian can properly use birth control.

Whether or not to use birth control is a very personal decision which we need to be careful not to judge.

In the end, it is important to remember that God is in control. As I said earlier, my wife and I have two children, for the most part by choice. I say, “for the most part,” because we aren’t really in control. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, if God doesn’t want you to have children, you are not going to have them. In the same way, God is not limited by birth control methods. Contraceptives are not 100% reliable. One day, God could give us a little surprise.

And if he does, we will be blessed, because children are a blessing. For right now, though, we are content with the two children God has given us.

Our quiver is full.

 

  10 comments for “Should All Families Be Like the Duggars?

  1. Von
    July 18, 2015 at 10:04 am

    >>The rhythm method was practiced even in biblical times.

    Hmmm. I remember Onan being killed for Coitus Interruptus, but would you care to share where you find the rythm method’ in Scripture?

    >>Can a Christian properly use birth control? That depends.

    It does? You are aware that until about 1930 the Christian church pretty universally condemned birth control as basically murder?

    • schroera
      July 18, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Von,
      Thank you for your comments. Just to be clear, I did not say that the rhythm method was found in Scripture, but rather that it was practiced in biblical times (i.e., in the ancient world).

      Also, if you read the context of Genesis 38, Onan was not punished by God for practicing coitus interruptus, but rather for refusing to fulfill his levirate duty to provide an heir for his dead brother.

      Finally, you state that “until about 1930 the Christian church pretty universally condemned birth control as basically murder.” You can’t do anything “pretty universally.” You are correct that since the times of the Church Fathers, many in the Christian Church have called birth control sin. I agree that it can be used sinfully, but my point is where does it say in Scripture that all forms of birth control are sinful?

      • Von
        July 18, 2015 at 11:22 am

        Schroera,

        >>Thank you for your comments. Just to be clear, I did not say that the rhythm method was found in Scripture, but rather that it was practiced in biblical time

        Along with, say, adultery, murder, fornication, rape, adultery, idolatry, child-sacrifice, Sodomy… your point being? When someone says ‘in Bible times they…’ they are usually at least trying to imply that something is ‘Ok’ because it was ‘practiced in Bible times’. Ie that Godly men did it.

        But in this case it is pretty clear that Godly men didn’t do it. There is not a shadow of a hint that any Godly man every did it, encouraged, it, allowed it, blessed it, etc. The deliberate denial of God’s blessing has been pretty universally (more on that later) been roundly condemend.

        >>rather for refusing to fulfill his levirate duty to provide an heir for his dead brother.

        Lots to discuss there, but what Scripture actually says is ‘The think Onan did displeased the Lord.’ Given that what he did was coitus interuptus, the burden of proof would be on the ‘pro’ birth control person here.

        >>You can’t do anything “pretty universally.”

        Yeah, I kind of can. We have a post ( I won’t link to it unless you give me permission, not wanting to appear a troll) that shows a pretty universal condemnation from the beginning of church history until, as I say, about 1930. If you have evidence to the contrary: Ie respected Biblical commentators before, say, about 1900, who preached Birth control as being allowed/blessed by Scripture, fell free to send them to me and we WILL publish them in our list.

        >>where does it say in Scripture that all forms of birth control are sinful?

        Birth control is a direct violation of a positive command (be fruitful and multiply) and is condemned in several other, less direct ways. We have a post on this subject as well but, as I said before, I will await permission to post the link.

        A couple of quotes::

        Luther, Martin Luthers Works, Volume Seven
        “[The] exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches follows [Genesis 38:9, 10]. Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, Yes a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates; and, when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment. He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred. Therefore he did not allow himself to bear that intolerable slavery. Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him….That worthless fellow…preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother.”

        History Magazine:
        “At the battle of Agincourt in 1415, 1,000 arrows were fired every second. After the battle, observers wrote that the white feathers from the flights were so thick on the ground, it looked like snow.”

        • schroera
          July 18, 2015 at 11:46 am

          Von,

          My point when I said you can’t do anything pretty universally was to say that the phrase is not proper English. It would have been better to say “almost universally.” The truth is that yes, many voices in the Christian Church throughout history have called birth control a sin. I have read the Martin Luther quote before as well. The Christian Church has historically taught many things that went beyond what Scripture says. You can quote Luther on a number of subjects where he was flat out wrong.

          Your argument that using birth control goes against God’s command, “Be fruitful and multiply” has one problem. God never says how fruitful. He never says how many children constitute “fruitful.” By having even one child, you are technically being fruitful and multiplying.

          If I understand you correctly, you would be opposed even to the rhythm method because that is purposefully limiting the number of children you would have. Your position is that God says be fruitful and multiply. You should do everything you can to be fruitful and multiply. Following that argument, then, if a couple does not make the most of every opportunity to have sex, then they are not fulfilling God’s command. For example, a couple has a baby. They are done nursing. They have numerous small children and do not wish to use birth control. Would they be sinning if they don’t have relations for a time to let the other children grow? Would they be sinning if they decided to stop having sexual relations so as to not have any more children?

          My point is that if your argument is that God commands “be fruitful and multiply” and therefore any effort to limit the number of children we have is sinful, then couples should constantly be having sex to have as many children as humanly possible. If not, YOU are limiting the number of children you have. You are not letting God decide. Do you see my point? I hope I am explaining this clearly.

          My contention is that God does not put a number on what it means to be fruitful and multiply.

  2. Von
    July 18, 2015 at 11:25 am

    John Calvin:

    I will contend myself with briefly mentioning [Onan’s act], as far as the sense of shame allows to discuss it. It is a horrible thing to pour out seed besides the intercourse of man and woman. Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race. When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime. Onan was guilty of a similar crime, by defiling the earth with his seed, so that Tamar would not receive a future inheritor.”

  3. Von
    July 18, 2015 at 11:58 am

    “Pretty universally’ is a fairly standard English phrase. I googled it 🙂

    Since you ask about my position it would be:

    “Godly Married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.”

    Most of the other statements you make about my position would need to be reevaluated in that light. I have posts which specifically some of the questions and false ideas you raise. Feel free to ask for them or study them on your own.

    Again you try to run away from the pretty universal condemnation of birth control by pretty much all of church history. Yes, you can find things we both disagree with in Luther. And Calvin. And Augustine. And the other seventy five or so commentators that we have found, without exception, from the beginning of the church until about 1930, to pretty universally disparage, despise, denigrate and curse at the idea of birth control: calling it murder, Sodomy, selfishness, perversion, and the like.

    It obviously should worry any modern man when they blithely say ‘I don’t see what is wrong with this’ when they, by their statement, go against what pretty much every Godly man in all of church history has said: without any Scriptural example at all.

    Oldenburger, Teunis, 1934, Birth Control for Saints and Sinners
    “There is no other exegesis of Scripture possible but to place contraception in the same category with prostitution, free love, homosexuality, coitus interruptus…and all other forms of unnatural coition that are indulged in simply for the purpose of play, against which both the laws of the land and those of the Church have with varying severity been enforced, beginning with Onan in Chapter 38 of Genesis and extending to our own day among all civilized countries.
    “Birth Control is cursed of God as a sex crime, and, in the one case of which we have record, in Gen. 38 was punished with death.”

    • schroera
      July 18, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      In the end, we disagree on your basic premise: “Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.” As a married couple, we do always say, “Thy will be done.” We do consider children a blessing, but submitting to God’s will does not mean God doesn’t give us choice/decisions in our lives. For example, a pregnant woman is in distress. The doctor’s come and give the husband a choice as to whether to save the mother or child. He cannot just say, “God’s will be done” and not do anything. He prays that God lead him to make the best and most loving decision based on the specific circumstances, but he does make a choice. God gives us certain choices when it comes to childbearing – whether it is using birth control or simply refraining from sexual relations. We can make such choices and still submit to God’s will. That is our point of disagreement.

      If a couple humbly says, “We are going to avoid getting pregnant (whether by birth control, abstinence or the rhythm method), because we honestly feel we cannot afford or do not have the ability to handle more children,” that is not a sinful attitude. They are not rejecting or despising God’s gift of children. In the end, God’s will will be done. If God should chose to give them children despite such efforts, they can still thankfully accept God’s blessing.

      To make a blanket statement that all parents who in any way avoid or delay having a child is sinful, I believe, goes beyond Scripture.

      Thank you, by the way, for clearly and lovingly stating your side of this issue.

  4. Von
    July 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Vent, C. F., 1876
    “But there is a practice so universal that it may well be termed a national vice, so common that it is unblushingly acknowledged by its perpetrators, for the commission of which the husband is even eulogized by his wife, and applauded by her friends, a vice which is the scourge and desolation of marriage; it is the crime of Onan….
    “Who can doubt that Almighty God, in [Onan’s] terrible punishment, wished to impart to man a positive moral instruction which should endure to the end of time, for the crime of Onan will have imitators while the world endures–as what crimes will not? But that these should be found among men of respectibility would surpass belief, if the thing were not notoriously true. At any rate, the conjugal onanists in this age and country are more numerous than the exceptions. Ministers of the Gospel, prominent Church members, the very elite of society, well-nigh monopolize the art, for it is far less common to find repugnance to offspring in the lower classes than in ‘upper-tendom.’”

  5. Von
    July 18, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    >>In the end, we disagree on your basic premise: “Godly married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.”

    This is not my premise, but my conclusion. And, as I have pointed out, the conclusion of pretty much the entire church from its foundation until 1930.

    >>If a couple humbly says, “We are going to avoid getting pregnant (whether by birth control, abstinence or the rhythm method), because we honestly feel we cannot afford or do not have the ability to handle more children,” that is not a sinful attitude.

    The church has pretty consistently called that a sinful attitude. And one based on a false premise. And it is an attitude that we see reflected nowhere in Scripture.
    Clarke, Adam quoted in Spurgeon’s Treasury of David 1760-1832
    “To many God gives children in place of temporal good. To many others he gives houses, lands, and thousands of gold and silver, and with them the womb that beareth not; and these are their inheritance. The poor man has from God a number of children, without lands or money; these are his inheritance; and God shows himself their father, feeding and supporting them by a chain of miraculous providences. Where is the poor man who would give up his six children with the prospect of having more, for the thousands or millions of him who is the centre of his own existance, and has neither root nor branches but his forlorn, solitary self upon the face of the earth? Let the fruitful family, however poor, lay this to heart: ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.’ And he who gave them will feed them; for it is a fact, and the maxim formed on it has never failed, ‘Whenever God sends mouths, he sends meat.’ ‘Murmur not,’ said an Arab to his friend, ‘because thy family is large; know that it is for their sakes that God feeds thee.’”

    Oh, and by the way, absitenence and the rythm method (which is, at the end, merely a more efficient form of abstinence) is specifically and categorically forbidden by Scripture.

  6. Von
    July 18, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    >>To make a blanket statement that all parents who in any way avoid or delay having a child is sinful, I believe, goes beyond Scripture.

    My statement is, and remains:

    Godly Married couples should always be open to the blessing of children.

    … and I have written several thousand words showing how Scripture supports this attitude.

    The statement is a postive one: that all who call themselves Christians should always be open to the blessing that is children. That they should recognize them as the infinitely valued blessing that they are. That they should recognize that any form of trying to ‘prevent’ them, even those that don’t fall under the specifically outlawed ideas of abstinence or murder, fall under the more general forbidding falling from the sin of Onan, and the even more general forbidding of standing up against God’s blessing, or of doubting his provision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *