While procreation is a part of the divine design for human sexuality, this special aspect of God’s gift cannot be completely subordinated to the goal of having children.
Published on: 08-07-2019
We’ve been married for almost four years and are nearly 35 years of age. Neither of us is particularly maternal/paternal and we wonder whether having children (biological or adopted) is a divine injunction, especially if we are not 100 percent sure that we want to have any.
Parenting is one of the most rewarding experiences in life, and at the same time a most awesome responsibility. Raising children from infancy to adulthood is probably one of the most challenging experiences any human being can engage in.
From the very beginning of time, children were regarded as a blessing from God (Gen. 4:1; 21:1, 2; Ps. 127:3). And not being able to have children was often perceived to be a curse from God. Among the prominent women in the Bible who were barren for a time are Sarah, Abraham’s wife (Gen. 11:30); Rebekkah, Isaac’s wife (Gen. 25:21); Rachel, one of Jacob’s wives (Gen. 29:31); Manoah’s wife (Judges 13:2); Hannah, one of Elkanah’s wives (1 Sam. 1:2, 5); and Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife (Luke 1:7). All these women, however, were blessed when God opened their wombs and they were able to give birth to a child.
Many believe, based on what we’ve shared above, that to not want to have a child is to refuse the blessings of God, or to choose a life of selfishness. We would caution everyone, however, not to be so hasty to judge anyone who would rather not have children. After all, having children is an enormous responsibility, and those who choose to have a child take on a huge obligation that will remain with them for a lifetime, at least until the child grows up and becomes responsible.
In Genesis 1 a direct connection is made between God’s blessings on Adam and Eve and the apparent expectation or imperative to have children: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Gen. 1:28). To be sure, Bible scholars suggest that while procreation is a part of the divine design for human sexuality, this special aspect of God’s gift cannot be completely subordinated to the goal of having children. Rather, sexuality in marriage has an importance apart from the aspiration of bringing children into the world.
We suggest, then, that to choose to not have children if one doesn’t feel particularly maternal or paternal, and if not absolutely certain about the desire to do so, is quite all right. In fact, such a decision is much more sensible, ethical, and responsible, than the one made by persons who decide to have children and do not have the necessary emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial capital to accomplish what is required to be minimally successful.
Please make this a matter of prayer and allow God to lead you in your decision. Remember to claim the promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
We will continue to pray for you as you purpose to live by this message: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
Richard M Davidson, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament (Peabody, Mass.: Henrickson Publishers, 2007) p. 49.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE,an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, MA, LGPC, CFLE, an educator, counseling psychologist, and clinical mental health counselor is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.