Waiting for Children?
NCW 32, April 1996 (Part I)
Q. How long should a couple wait before having children? We have been married for two years now and I would like a child. But my husband wants to wait. What should we do?
This very much depends on one's personal motives. Most people these days in the western world delay having children because of selifish ambition. Modern women want a career and delay having children until they have satisfied this urge. Though circumstances often force women to take jobs because they are lone mothers or because the father is out of work, women's place is in the home raising a family. This does not mean that she should be idle, especially if her children are away at school or grown up, and the Bible teaches that women should be industrious too. The key, though, is that children are not neglected, for "women will be saved through childbearing -- if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety" (1 Tim.2:15, NIV) . Some women cannot, for various reasons, have children, and it may well be that the Lord has other calls for them. All these things must be discerned by the Spirit with sensitivity. One thing is certain, though, and that is if husbands and wives pursue careers out of selfishness, because they desire a high standard of living or because they want the "thrill of being in the world", instead of putting the Kingdom first, they will be the losers by the by.
As to how soon a person should have children after full marriage this is not for anyone to determine save the couple themselves in agreement with the Lord. Sometimes the Lord uses young couples as effective missionaries and wishes them to delay having children. Sometimes He wants them to have children immediately, for reasons best known to Him. There are no hard-and-fast rules. The key, as ever, is our relationship to God and His Kingdom. There are some who feel they have a special call to bring forth children, and that may be true. Some couples in the Church have had huge families, some small. Other factors should be considered too. Can a couple afford to have a large family? Should one even think about money? As ever, there are balances in these factors. On the one hand we should not limit the size of our families because we are poor. On the other hand, we must not have giant families if we cannot adequately provide for them, or if we place ourselves in bondage to the state through the Welfare System (if such exists).
Not everyone does discern the Lord's will and so they must make a reasoned judgment. Many people want big families out of shere vanity, so they can boast of their "private kingdom", or because there is a high infant mortality rate. Some choose small ones because they are lazy and don't want the work of taking care of many children. Our motives are many and varied.
If one is in doubt about when one should have children, then maybe some advice from the scriptures would be helpful. It was the practice in Old Testament days for a newly married man to be absolved from military service in Israel for one year so that he could spend time with his new bride (Deut.24:5). Whether this was to give them time to have children or, as it seems from the text, simply to "enjoy themselves", is not clear. But perhaps the intent was that a couple could develop a close relationship for a year before having children with its great demands on the marriage relationship.
If a couple are too absorbed in sex and are thus being distracted from their spiritual life then it is probably wise to think about having children no later than after one year's full marriage. If the couple have been following the New Covenant Courtship Laws this ought not to be a problem, but there are nonetheless always those who are overly endowed with physical needs or are too absorbed with sex, because of wrong cultural upbringing or other factors (like genetics or physical abuse), who need to learn a better balance between spirit, heart and flesh. Children change a relationship dramatically. This can be a great shock for couples who are overly absorbed in each other but necessary for spiritual and emotional growth and stability.
No two people are alike so we cannot be absolutely dogmatic. The guidlines given will, I hope, be helpful though.
 A better translation is: "But she has life by the hand of her children, if they remain in faith and in love and in sanctification and in sobriety" (HRV) See Genesis 3:15-16.
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Last updated on 31 December 2007
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