Let’s Talk About Birth Control, Shall We?
By Natalie, Contributing Writer
Got your guard up? Hopefully this post will help bring the different sides together a little closer on this subject.
I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but since Stephanie asked the contributors on KOTH to write up a post this month on a topic that we don’t have all the answers for, and since I am publishing a book this month (catch the details below!) about women who had lots of babies over the course of three decades, I thought we would stick our big toes into these controversial waters a bit.
Birth Control: Controversial for WHOM?
The subject of birth control is not really controversial for unbelievers, and that makes sense, doesn’t it? Generally speaking, the Creator of life is not on their radar screen, so why would they care what He thinks about it? Birth control is a private, personal thing, and one’s choice to use it—and what type they will use—is a woman’s own business. Not God’s.
It IS controversial for believers because we have the Spirit of the Creator indwelling our spirits, and we tend to care a little more what He thinks about stuff like that.
I think the rub among Christians is who gets control over whether a person is born (created)—or not. Some say we do. Some say God does. I’d like to propose that maybe—it’s a little of both.
And maybe that’s the way God intended.
The Biblical Non-Negotiables
There are some things we Christians can all agree on about this subject because God has specifically addressed them in the Bible.
1. God is the Author of all life. (Hebrews 11:3)
2. God creates and loves children. (Matthew 19:14) They are the future blessed citizens of His coming Kingdom. Their lives are precious to Him and, therefore, ought to be precious to us.
3. God’s enemy, Satan, hates life. The Enemy is at work, first of all, to prevent life, and then if that doesn’t work, to destroy it—the ultimate goal being eternal destruction.
4. Some birth control results in the death of a baby and, therefore, must be avoided. It is now a well-known and documented (on the packaging and elsewhere) fact that the Pill is an abortifacient. If you are a Christian who does not want to knowingly violate God’s command to not murder, then the Pill is not an option for you.
5. God entrusts children to parents and requires them to teach their children about Him and His creation and coming Kingdom. How that plays out from family to family may differ in methodology, but the ultimate goal is the same: that these children would grow up to know, love, and glorify their Creator.
6. God is sovereign over all things both great and small. (Psalm 115:3) If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be God. There are no exceptions.
7. God mysteriously works through all the gazillions of events, choices, circumstances, tragedies, and opportunities that the gazillions of human beings are making and finding themselves in all over the face of the earth at any given time in history. (Proverbs 16:9) This is where our brains freeze up, and we just need to put our hands over our mouths, like Job, and say that God is God and we are not.
Some Things We Can Logically Conclude
1. God uses some human beings to create future citizens of the Kingdom. He does not use all people for this purpose. Nobody can argue that the Word of God says that all human beings will bear and raise children. There are many examples in the Bible of people God loved and used that did not get married and have children.
What’s more, there are probably hundreds of reasons God doesn’t do that, and probably millions of other things He has for those people to do that will accomplish His will for them on earth. God is bigger than the box we often put Him in.
2. God gives different amounts of children to different people. Sarah, the mother of the nation of Israel, had one child. There are many examples of families in the Bible that only had a handful of children. Having 15 children is not a mark of God’s favor and is not a signal to everyone that a person is holier or more in the will of God than anyone else. Some heathen folks have large numbers of children, too.
3. It is normative for married human beings to have children and raise a family. This is what God intends for most married people. Nowhere in the Bible do you see God instructing humans to avoid having children for the sake of the Kingdom or so that they can take more vacations or have a nicer home or pursue a better career or—fill in the blank.
The Bible does not teach that children get in the way of His work and are a curse or a burden. Selfish humans teach and believe that and make choices that reflect those beliefs.
The Awkwardness of This Issue Among Us
Every Christian woman has her own opinion and experience with this issue, from the extreme of believing that Christians who don’t “let God have their womb” are murderers—to the extreme of believing that Christians who have large families are irresponsible, backward idiots.
The readers here probably lie somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, but we still have our own bias, don’t we? And it is these biased beliefs—rooted more in our own choices and personal convictions rather than in Scripture—that cause conflict and suspicion in our relationships with our sisters in Christ.
I happen to have friends who have many children, and I also have friends who only have two to three kids for various reasons. Those women who know me best know that how many kids they have is irrelevant to our friendship or to my respect and honor of them. I believe God has different plans for each of us, and I am not to judge what those plans may be.
They also know I encourage women who are physically able to have children—and who have husbands that are willing to have children—to prayerfully consider this opportunity before God. We only live once, and it is a short life.
The Bible backs me up when I say that to bear and raise children for the glory of God is a high calling and an excellent investment of a life. That is the life God, by His grace at work in me, has enabled me to live. So I will continue to uphold that truth until I die. (This is also why I published the book, Three Decades of Fertility.)
BUT— it isn’t my business to pressure anyone to make that kind of life long commitment. That’s God’s business. And He can do His thing just fine without you or me helping Him along.
Tragic results can occur when people do things because other people told them to—and not because they were convicted by the Holy Spirit to do them.
Thoughts for Moms of Many
Give your sisters who have smaller families a break. Don’t think that just because you have been blessed with many children that you are more blessed than others.
God is blessing the infertile woman just as much as He is blessing you. He is simply doing it in a different way.
Your job is to raise your children to love God and love others. If you are constantly standing in judgment of those around you, guess what your kids will grow up doing? Not pretty.
God doesn’t give explicit instructions to every person in the human race to have as many children as they can possible eke out in a lifetime. “Be fruitful and multiply” is not specific, and I think there are some pretty good reasons for that.
Thoughts for Moms of a Few
Give your sisters who have honkin’ huge families a break.
It’s easy to turn up our noses at the big family who comes trooping into church on Sunday morning like a mini-tsunami. We can get irritated by the sight of all those children—some of whom are sporting runny noses. When they show up for pot luck dinners we might be tempted to think negative thoughts about how many mouths will be eating up all the food.
But God wants you to have His vision and His love for ALL children—not just your own.
If those moms are anything like me, they’re barely hanging on to their sanity. They need loads of encouragement, tips on how to make their households run smoothly, warm hugs, and many prayers. They need to know that you love them and their many children. They need your support.
Don’t assume they are all standing in judgment over you for not having a large family. I have felt that, on occasion, from moms of a few before they get to know me. They had me stereotyped based on some bad experience with another “mom of many” who was judgmental.
I’ve even had some backlash already from the publication of Three Decades of Fertility.
Many people don’t want to touch a book like that with a ten foot pole. They feel it is exclusive and doesn’t reach out to the majority of Christian women today. They do not believe that those ten women have a right to share their stories with joy and freedom—lest others feel bad that they don’t have the same life.
So What Do You Think?
This is your opportunity to get in on the discussion. Are you a “mom of many” who embraces the life God has given you, but you struggle with feeling like everyone else should do the same? Are you a “mom of few” who gets defensive when a “mom of many” comes around with her kids in tow?
Do you wonder where in the world you stand on this—and you’re still trying to figure out what God might have for you, personally?
Is God really sovereign over all things—including this area of our lives?
Do you believe that God chooses to give different sized families to different people—and uses thousands of different kinds of means and circumstances to accomplish His purposes? Do you think He can work in and through the choices of His people as they seek His direction in their lives?
We would love to hear what’s on your heart in the comment section!
Pssst! Wanna hear a secret? Even though the official launch date for Three Decades isn’t for another week (July 29), you can get it before anyone else until midnight tonight. The PDF version of this hefty book is only $6.99. Kindle and Nook versions are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for $8.99. The paperback (344 pages) is available on Amazon for $11.97 as of the writing of this post (the list price is $14.99 but pricing there fluctuates).
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Great post! We have three kids (1, 3, 5) and are asking some of these questions right now. Thanks for the thoughtful discussion 🙂
Thank you so much for this post and the book! I can’t wait to read it! I have five children and have had five miscarriages. I am struggling with this issue. You have no idea how much I needed this!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! My husband ad I both grew up in homes that taught that we need to leave birth control in God’s hands and we entered into marriage firmly holding this belief. 10 months later, our first daughter joined us. 1 year and 1 day later our son joined us and 13 months after that our second son, 3rd child, made his entrance into our home. We celebrated our 3rd anniversary several weeks after the birth of our 3rd child. Having them so close together has proven to be a blessing in many ways (they adjusted to each other very well and so far are very close in a relational sense) but also took an incredible toll on my health (physically and emotionally) and put a lot of strain on our marriage as marital relations tend to be quite painful for me when pregnant or recovering from labor, which is what I was/was doing during the first three years. After much prayer, seeking of counsel, and looking into scripture we came to the conclusion that stewardship is an important element in the Christian life and that it could/does apply to fertility. So, we started a natural spacing. Wow! We were just talking about it before my husband left for work – we are both so thankful we spaced #3 & 4 (who Lord willing, shall be joining us next January!), we have reaped such an abundance of blessings from this decision! We still very much embrace children as a blessing and intend to leave the number in the Lord’s hands. And, I think for a lot of people, our spacing isn’t very far (18 months from birth to birth), but based on several things we thought it would be best not to go too much longer. I would share more, but this is probably long enough 🙂
Thanks for this post. I think you hit the nail on the head. Maybe it is a bit of God and bit of us who determine our (as in my personal) family size. We have three kids right now. I don’t know if we will choose or be given more. But I do believe that God is in whatever decision or circumstance we are handed. Oh, and I can’t wait to read your book. It sounds so very interesting.
Loved this post…thank you!
Great post! Very balanced. Good job, Natalie!
I think the important thing, wheter you have 10 kids or 1, is to give your kids love, respect and a lot of your time. If you cannot do that then I think birth control (all kinds) are not just fine but preferable. Don’t have kids that you cannot provide a good life for but have as many kids as you have time to love and care for.
I am a mom to 5. I became a mom to our first beautiful daughter when I married her dad. I became a mom to our other 4 within the first 3 years of our marriage. Those 4 babies were from 3 pregnancies that all ended in me having to have c-section. After my last pregnancy, which was with twins, I was pressured by my doctor, husband, family and friends, to get my tubes tied. I didn’t want to do it, but I did. I listen to my doctor and my husband. I was devastated, but I didn’t know how to put it into words and I didn’t know how to talk to my husband about it. Fast forward 5 years. Our family went to a homeschooling convention where one of the guest speakers was Voddie Baucham, Jr. My husband I had never heard of him, so my husband decided to read one of his books before we went. He read “Family Driven Faith”. When he got to a portion of the book that talked about Mr. Baucham’s own experience of his wife having her tubes tied, my husband put down the book and with tears in his eyes, he apologized to me for telling me to have my tubes tied. Mr. Baucham put into words what I could not. Mr. Baucham basically stated that by his wife having her tubes tied, they were telling God they were done having children. That by doing so, they were telling God they didn’t trust Him with the decision of how big their family would be. My husband and I both repented. I had been broken in silence for so many years. I was comforted that my husband finally understood my brokenness. My husband and I now hope to be able to adopt children into our family. I sometimes feel that pressure from others (both believers and non-believers) causes us to make decision in regards to our family size. I am hoping to raise our sons and daughters to not be pressured by others when it comes to their family size.
Tracy, one of the reasons I wanted to talk about this a little bit online is to encourage people in your situation – that GOD was, and is, in control of what happened to you. In the book I published, there are similar stories – in that some of the women had to struggle with regrets over decisions that were made that prevented children from being created. Yet God eventually helped them to rest in His Providences. The gospel is all about salvation in the midst of the death and destruction that surrounds us because of sin. That is God’s specialty – to take the messes we make and transform them into one big, beautiful work of art. Sometimes He rescues us BEFORE we make messes. But sometimes, as part of His plan, He allows us to stumble into a mess – and then He shows His power in the middle of THAT. So whatever He does, it is all kindness, all grace, all good. We can rest in Him. We have peace through Him. Perhaps God WILL lead you to adopt – and those future children will spend eternity with Christ because of all that transpired. Who knows? The stepping stones of God’s grace are perfectly aligned to get us from one place to another. When you are committed to trusting Him, He will make your paths straight. He will get you there. 🙂
Thank you for this post. For many years I was a mom of two. Now, I am a mom of six (ages 23 to 8) and grandmother to one. 🙂 I can’t tell you the disparaging comments that I have heard over the years for having as many children as I have. I have more than some and less than others.
I saw NFP mentioned above and I was so happy to see that. Every woman should know what her body does. That way if something goes wrong, you can tell. In fact, this is NFP week. 🙂 If anyone has questions about it, ask away. I am an NFP instructor. But, only if that is okay with Natalie.
As with any medication, a woman really needs to make an informed decision about what the doctor is recommending. All birth control pills fall back to the “phase 3” which is to make the endometriosis incompatible with human life and therefore causes an abortion. Not to mention the synthetic steroids that you are putting into your bodies.
Looking forward to reading your book!
Fantastic post! I agreed with everything 🙂 Right now my husband and I have decided that we are content with our family size and not we are not being purposeful in trying to have more. However we are also in agreement that if the Lord desires us to have more then we will take them! We want to enjoy the children we have been given right now and not rush ahead of God and His plans for our family 🙂
I’m the mother of 5 kids..Not sure if that makes me a mother of many, or a mother of a few, but I am a mother who had those five kids in FOUR different decades. My kids ages are 25, 20, 11, 9 and 2 and I am now the grandmother of a gorgeous 1 year old as well. My own experience has been that GOD is most definitely in the details of my reproductive life….there have been struggles on both ends..not being able to have babies when I wanted to, and having those surprises that challenge you emotionally and physically..Having said all that and having two years since my last very unexpected, very emotionally challenging, but very glorious surprise, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I have learned in a very personal way that God is in control..that he steers this ship, and that my life is more joyful when I give it to him.
I get comments and judgements all the time from people asking me if I meant to do this. I am finally able to just smile and say that I love my kids..and that it wasn’t just up to me when they came. I’ve also learned to NEVER judge others because of the size of their families..
Thanks for a well thought out, well balanced post!
Excellent EXCELLENT post. My husband and I are hoping to have as many children as the Lord sees to bless us with…and if that’s only the two we have right now, that’s fine. And if it ends up being 10, well I guess that’s fine too. 🙂
I personally use birth control (pills) and like the fact that I can somewhat choose when and if I want a third child. I think every family has a *right* number of children for them, within their own means. What I do have an issue with is families who continue to have children that they can not afford. If you can do it by living within your means, without govt assistance, go for it, but when my tax dollars are involved it becomes my business.
I didn’t get married until I was 34. I had three but one died. I would have loved to have more but decided against more after I had my last one at 40. My clock just ran out. I love seeing big families but not everyone can afford more than two in these days. My friend who married at the same age as me decided that they would not have children. I’m sad for her. She is an only child so she doesn’t even have nieces and nephews to love on but I respect her decision. She felt she was too old at 34 to start having children.
I respect couples who decide not to have children. They have reasons, and I think it is a sign of knowing themselves, their strengths and weaknesses very well.
As a mother of 2, and step mother of 3 with 1 adopted to boot, you pose an interesting question. I am also a doctor, and I have seen this question asked from a great many angles, most of which I have neither the time nor the inclination to present here. I believe there is a time and a place for everything, and whereas God has given me a beautiful family and I am truly blessed, He also gave me a brain and expects me to use it. I think your post is well researched from the Christian perspective, and helps young people who are struggling with certain decisions a lot. I hope some of them can see it.
I actually didn’t realize this was a christian site until now and have just been using the helpful natural ideas. For everyone saying this post is unbiased and balanced clearly doesn’t hear a lot of diverse opinions. Also, its seems a little unfair that christians can say that no one else has a moral high ground (and why would they if they don’t have god) and say, “The subject of birth control is not really controversial for unbelievers, and that makes sense, doesn’t it? Generally speaking, the Creator of life is not on their radar screen, so why would they care what He thinks about it? Birth control is a private, personal thing, and one’s choice to use it—and what type they will use—is a woman’s own business. Not God’s.” But then go right on to say how it is still a personal decision for christians as well and that “maybe it is a little god and a little us.” Christians would actually do themselves a favor with reproductive issues and rights (and all issues really) by admitting their religious bias and that yes, even christians pick and choose and read way more into the bible- not just secular unbelievers- because they have to in order to navigate their world. This is coming from a former christian so I get it.
I enjoyed this post as well. I do have a question for some of your readers (and maybe you, Natalie?)… how do you overcome feelings of NOT wanting more, because you feel overwhelmed and tired with what you have been blessed with? We’re prego with number 7, and I love every one of them and am joyful for this one. However, I have the feelings of wanting to stop… but my husband doesn’t. He believes (and truly, I used to) that we should have as many as God will bless us with. I did have those beliefs too, but now that we’ve had so many I’m wondering if there isn’t a point where God can give His blessing over what we have and “allow” me to say, “I think I need to be done.”? It’s not for vacations or more stuff, but simply the fatigue and keeping up while ENJOYING it. Honestly, I’m tired. I’ve definitely reached the point where joy is a struggle, and I don’t want to raise more simply for the sake of saying we’ve given it all to God, while praying all the time for a break. That seems awfully hypocritical, and perhaps sinful.
Rebecca, just put one foot in front of the other and do what you need to do until the feelings change. Feelings are temporary. 🙂 Also, pray and ask God to put your focus on the things you can do, rather than the things you dread doing. Everybody dreads some things. Don’t let the dread overshadow the joy!
Oh, honey. I wish I could just give you a hug right now. I’ve known several friends in your position. While I don’t personally follow your husband’s philosophy, I’ve known and loved many people who have. Pray Pray Pray. Talk about it genuinely with your husband and try to seek spiritual counsel from those that you trust. If you prayerfully feel that you have gone as far as God has called you to go, you and your husband need to discuss what kind of options you are comfortable with. (Even something like natural family planning). God bless you for so genuinely and prayerfully considering your fertility and your sanity.
Rebecca, thank you for your post. It is refreshing to read an honest, heartfelt comment from someone not trying to please all of the other Christians around them. I feel your struggle. My husband and I both believe that God is sovereign over the believer’s womb… He decides how many children a Christian couple should have. Then, after our fourth, I got really sick. I thought I was dying but didn’t know why. In a nutshell I saw 19 doctors and spent over $30,000 trying to find out what was wrong. What they discovered was that I have celiac disease which has caused a myriad of other health issues from a lifetime of not absorbing nutrients. I have liver damage, hypothyroidism, & adrenal issues just to name a few. Then on top of all that I have late stage Lyme Disease that has infected my nervous system. The days became nearly unbearable trying to take care of four children with little help while feeling so utterly fatigued. Also, our fourth has severe food allergies that has caused him to suffer with eczema. His food options are so limited which makes mealtime a huge project. So, do we continue to have more children in this situation or would that be a foolish decision? I’ve had many well meaning Christian’s tell me that I should trust the Lord and just have more and others tell me we would be foolish. Together, my husband and I sought the Lord and He answered us. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I am thankful that I can live in the freedom of His grace to seek Him daily and be guided by His eye. He will not withhold any good thing from me. I trust Him with the four I have and any others He may bless us with. But for now, He is showing me natural ways to heal my body and also my son’s.
A close Pastor friend of ours told us this: “God says to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. Well, you both have been fruitful and multiplied, and the earth is filled!” What freedom!!
May God give you wisdom, strength, joy, and provision during such a busy and blessed time in your life. He will show you what is right for you and your husband.
Hi Kate and Natalie, Thank you for sharing. Natalie, you’ve helped bring to the surface somethings I need to address in my life. Kate, you have touched on my own heart issues. We’ve only had two children but I was very sick, miserable and on bedrest with both high risk pregnancies. The doctors assure me that I will have this condition with every pregnancy. Delivery was not horrible, and despite my high risk condition I was able to deliver both children naturally with no drugs. While I have always wanted many children, I do not ever want to be pregnant again. I have felt that I was failing both God and my husband because of this. The option of adoption has begun to open for us and I have felt that I just cannot do it, it is too overwhelming. Your posts have helped me to see that it’s my feelings of failure as a woman designed to be fruitful that have caused this wall of dispair. Thanks again. God bless.
Lonna, you are NOT a failure. You are the apple of God’s eye. I pray He will set you free from the burden of expectations you have placed on yourself about childbearing. Just walk with Him. If He wants you to have more children or to adopt, He will make it so clear by establishing it in your heart and giving you a joy inexpressible. God bless you, sister!!
Kate, your comment to me spoke deeply as I realized how much I have to be thankful for. The hardships that your family is going through must be painful and difficult indeed… and to still be mothering under God’s grace is a testimony to your faith. Lord, sustain Kate and her family with Your mighty power while they are under the strain of this life. When she is discouraged, pull her from the mire and place her on the Rock. When she is overwhelmed, let her rest in Your arms. When she is in pain, be all she needs. May Your joy fill her heart and overflow so she can continue to be a witness of Your grace as she has been to me. Amen.
Oh my, Rebecca!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You made me cry. Thank you for your beautiful prayer!! It means so much to me!
It saddens me to read all of the debate about the birth control pill above. I’m sure there are many Christian women who are taking the pill in ignorance, but love God very very much. He looks at the heart. If those women are truly seeking Him, He will show them to stop taking the pill. We need to pray for our sisters… life, friendships, marriage, child bearing, child raising, etc… is so hard. We never know what tomorrow will bring.
Thank you again, Rebecca. You are a blessing. Keep looking up to Jesus. He will renew your strength and inspire you with HIs love.
That’s a great question, Rebecca. I think most moms of many have had those exact thoughts and emotions. I know I have! (God “gets it” too – He understands that we are dust, yet He loves us so tenderly because we are HIS. Don’t ever forget that!) Those feelings are probably most powerful when we are pregnant – or have a newborn. In other words, when those hormones are raging through our bodies, we are in the worst position to be making huge decisions like that. My immediate advice would be to let that go for now. You can think about that later. As in – MUCH later. Wait until your baby is ready to wean and you are feeling good again – and then begin to think about it. If you still are not ready, I don’t think there is anything wrong with using a safe, natural method of birth control while you wrestle with your next step. But I think you will be encouraged to know that God is not laying that burden on you right NOW. Right now you are gestating a baby – and God will only give you grace for THIS life. Not for any future ones. So why borrow tomorrow’s troubles?
Then I want to gently point out that this may be the last one God gives you. We moms of many often assume that we will continue to have them – easy peasy. This is not true, as hundreds of women will attest. Enjoy this pregnancy and this life! When I gave birth to our 6th baby – I was ready to be done. That pregnancy was the most painful, horrible pregnancy of them all – and I had a LOT of bad ones. (you can read about that in the book!) But then, over the course of the next three years, I lost two babies. By the time our Jennie was born, I was desperately longing for another baby. She was a miracle to me.
I don’t know what God has in store for you Rebecca, but I do know that He will be there for you – and you can trust Him—one life at a time – one day at a time.
I think many moms go through this – even moms of a few! We only have 2 kids (so far), 4 & 2. We are prayerfully considering a third. I think about it and wonder if I’m going crazy, because we always said we would probably only have 2 kids, MAYBE a 3rd, and I am always so tired and trying to do a million things – why would I add another pregnancy & newborn into the mix? And need to find space for another child (we only have 2 bedrooms – a 3rd kid will kick-start our need to add on to our house). And yet I feel something tugging at me, telling me our family isn’t complete yet.
And that’s why we’re still waiting and praying.
I think that you are allowed to feel the way you do and that it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you or that you need to pray to change your feelings. Maybe you pray for new feelings of energy and strength but that could still mean that you don’t want anymore children. In a supportive partnership there is empathy and understanding and when it comes to having children that is so important. I know that the other ladies mean well by what they say, but I feel how drained you are and I would just like to tell you that that means you are probably giving all you can as a parent and that its ok to say that is all you have to give. Good luck dear!
Rebecca! I totally understand where you are coming from!! We have 4 children currently who are ages 2-7. When we got married almost 10 years ago my husband and I were totally on board to having whatever size family God chose for us. 6 miscarriages later (which about devastated me, and sent me in a tailspin of ill health and deep depression that by Gods grace Ive overcome) I am expecting #5 currently. But after our 4th and before I lost our first of many I was feeling so overwhelmed and just plain worn out…most of my days were spent in tears for trying to keep up with it all, and to top it off we were beginning our homeschooling journey. I told my husband in tears that I needed a break and that I dont know how much “more” I could take…we tried NFP and I got pregnant. after getting over the shock I finally started to get excited about having another child around 8 weeks…at 12 weeks our sweet little one went to Jesus. The cycle repeated and repeated, it was so painful. I now would not trade that EXTREMELY hard time for the lessons the Lord taught my heart. I agree with the other poster that this feeling is simply that…a feeling. Im not sure I want to look back later on my life and regret that we chose to be fully done with having children…something I watched my parents go through. They chose to be done at 3, had a reversal when I was a teen, and then adopted 6 kids when they were in their 50s, and they still want to adopt more. My Dad has told me that one day he was sitting at the kitchen table (after I got married and it was just the 2 boys left) and he saw the empty places at the table and God just spoke to him, he felt so grieved that he chose not to fill those places out of selfishness.
I just try to remember that His mercies are new each day, and that this time of being surrounded by a “mass amount” of little ones is very very short. Blessings to you!
Thank you to all of you for your encouragement and advice. It’s wonderful to share in a place that offers love and support, even when opinions differ. I believe the Lord has promised good to me: to never leave me, nor forsake me; to never give me more than I can handle, in His strength; that as my days, so shall my strength be; that even on hard days, good can come if I put my trust in Him; and more. I do believe that I can trust Him with my life and my family’s future. I do believe that I was created for this life. Perhaps I just needed the reminder that I’m not alone and that it’s OK to struggle with knowing the right path to take. And yes, Natalie is right – this pregnancy is the time to rejoice in the life we’ve been given, and to be still about tomorrow’s troubles. Pregnancy is never a good time to make major life decisions. 🙂 Again, with Christ’s abiding love, thank you.
You really seem to be a woman who draws encouragement from God’s Word, so I want to remind you of Philippians 3:15-16. “If on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” God wants husband and wives to walk in unity about his will for their lives. If you’re not in unity right now, God promises that he’ll show you the way forward and bring you into unity if you turn the question over to him. That’s not easy–it means coming to God empty, with no prior opinions, and saying, “We don’t agree on this. Will you show us YOUR answer? We’ll follow it, whatever it is,” and meaning it. As you wait for an answer, focus on “what you’ve already attained”–having joy in your salvation and walking in gratitude, peace, and grace for the family you already have. My husband and I have seen God fulfill this in our relationship many times over the 19 years we’ve been together as a couple.
That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.
I’m sorry to add one more post to my original comment, but I do want to clarify what I can see I misrepresented in my original. My husband is very supportive of my feelings and desires, and after each child patiently waits for me to decide our “next move”. When I expressed that our feelings are beginning to be different, it’s not because we’re in a battle right now, but simply because this is my struggle, not his – feelings of uncertainty about what the Lord wants, guilt over stopping and yet guilt over not being joyful with what I have, etc. I know how wonderful my life has been because I’ve allowed my husband to speak into our family, even when I’ve naturally wanted to rebel. Honestly, my husband is the most uplifting and encouraging for me. That being said, I also want to affirm to you Kathryn, that your Scripture reminded me of yet more of God’s truth, and that all you said is absolutely true. We’ve also needed to walk that path in our marriage. I just didn’t want to leave a wrong impression of my husband, when he’s not here to defend himself! 🙂
Excellent post. It put into words the feelings I have on the issue. We have two boys, Elijah age 3 and Isaiah age 3 months. I had two healthy big boys naturally but had difficult pregnancies both times as I struggled every day with hyperemesis and was even vomiting during labor. I lost weight and barely ate anything besides crackers and fruit. I was put in the hospital for dehydration with both pregnancies because I couldn’t stop vomitting. I ended up taking medication the entire time to try and recent hospital trips. Despite all of this, I still want more children. My boys are such a blessing and I feel The Lord wants us to have more. My husband does not feel that way and says we are not. He even talked about me getting my tubes tied but I said I just couldn’t do that. I am just praying that God changes my desire or his heart. Either way I am happy with my sweet boys and so thankful for them. I look forward to reading your book!
I think the premise of your post is a good one: don’t judge others based on their family size. I’m all for this. I’ve know lots of all sizes and compositions (biological, adopted, foster, blended, etc) and I thank God for all of them. I have great respect for women who have many children. I currently have two and I may have more, though I’m not sure how many. The best advice my mom ever gave me was to take it one kid at a time. But unfortunately what you have here is not an article about birth control, but rather about family size. Almost at the outset you immediately condemn one of the most common methods of birth control: The Pill. (I hate capitalizing it by the way). There are so many variations of birth control pills that react differently with the bodies of so many different women that making such a huge generalization (that all birth control pills are abortive methods) is not constructive. Many Christian women use birth control pills, many Pro-Life christian women use birth control. Some women must use it for medical reasons. Some women also choose (and are not bullied) into having their tubes tied or having their husband’s choose a vasectomy. In your stand of non-judgement you have still managed to unfairly judge many Christians who believe heartily in the sanctity of life and prayerfully planning our families. I understand and support your right to your opinion, I just don’t agree. I appreciate your words about family size. It’s true that God doesn’t call all of us to have the same number of children, but each of those children is a gift.
As I researched birth control methods it seemed that every form of birth control method that used hormones had “phase 3” which would abort the baby if phase 1 and 2 didn’t work. If you are aware of any forms of the pill that don’t I’d be interested in hearing it. It seems that many doctors don’t even understand the distinction. Right before my wedding I had a talk with my doctor and explained that I wanted a birth control method without phase 3. She didn’t get it. She prescribed something and then I had to research it on the drug companies web-site where I learned that it did have phase 3. It was really upsetting. The only thing to my understanding that doesn’t do that is a barrier method or natural family planning. These are still birth control methods, but don’t have an abortive phase. What I found was that indeed all forms of the pill were abortive (and I was looking!). If you’ve found any that are not let us know.
My understanding is that there’s not technically a Phase 1, 2 and 3 (I saw that in the article you linked, but I don’t believe those are terms used by the medical community.) The primary function of the pill is to prevent ovulation. The other possible effects that could prevent pregnancy (cervical mucus and endometrial lining changes) are theoretical, because there is no proof that those events actually do or do not prevent pregnancy when there is a breakthrough ovulation and fertilization. Indeed, the labeling suggests that it is theoretically possible. (I do think it’s also important to recognize that medical definitions regard pregnancy as the time post-implantation, not post-conception. Therefore, speaking scientifically, something that prevents implantation is not the same as something that causes an abortion. I understand that morally, a person may view them as the same.)
Here’s an article (links to current research) about how the morning after pill (similar to a large dose of hormonal oral contraceptives) does not prevent implantation: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/02/22/172595689/morning-after-pills-dont-cause-abortion-studies-say
Interesting (pro-life) theory about the endometrial lining, the corpus luteum, and the pill: http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2008/06/does-thin-uterine-lining-support-pill.html
Just some thoughts. 🙂
I am unmarried (celibate) so this issue has yet to become one of personal decisions for me, except that I work heavily with a crises pregnancy center, so I have come to do a lot of my own research.
Though I agree that birth control pills can often “abort” zygotes, I don’t currently believe in life beginning at conception, therefore, a zygote abortion wouldn’t be an abortion of human life. The primary reason I believe this is because of the number of zygotes which are naturally flushed out of healthy bodies everyday (about 18%.) I definitely believe life begins in the womb, which is why I protest abortion, and further research could definitely change my mind, but at this point I recommend the pill to women who want a reliable birth control method.
What many of my fellow pro-life friends fail to realize is that NFP is also birth control, just not using chemicals. The *most* natural thing would be to have relations with your husband absolutely whenever and allowing God to bless you with children as He pleases, having no “control” at all. I don’t think birth control is wrong, whether it be NFP or The Pill.
I totally respect your thoughts on this and don’t mean to cause strife. It is a touchy subject that I myself am still learning about, but I did want to add this information in case it could be of any help to the conversation.
I’m curious why you believe the rate of zygotes that do not implant means life doesn’t begin at conception. I’ve read that a similar rate of pregnancies end in miscarriage but that doesn’t make abortion okay, as I’m sure you’d agree. Certainly the big genetic change, the union of dna, happens at conception and that life is human, so we should not purposefully harm him/her.
Interesting comments. I respect what you have to say. One thing I would like to clarify with using NFP is that yes it is a form of ‘control’ as you say, however there is a large difference between using it and the pill, or another form of birth control for that matter, in terms of God being able to bless you with children. While using a barrier method or the pill you are physically altering the natural state and consequences of sexual relations by putting something in the way of creating new life. With NFP when you engage in sexual relations, whether in a time of fertility or not, you are explicitly open to life as there is nothing in the way of preventing it from being conceived. If you choose to abstain in times of fertility in order to not conceive that is fundamentally different than choosing to have sex while fertile using a condom or being on the pill. In the first case you are exercising a form of discipline over your body and mind recognizing that just because you feel like having sex does not mean that it is the appropriate or right time depending on your personal circumstances. Just like you may choose to not eat certain foods despite your body’s desire to do the opposite or exercise when you don’t want to, sex is also an appetite of the body that is not outside the need for discipline. While it is a beautiful gift from God it does need to be disciplined to what is deemed appropriate for your marital and familial circumstances, and just as Natalie has stated in her post, for some women this may mean having large families, others small and perhaps for some no children at all. This is why it is essential to have the Lord God as your guide. In the latter case engaging in sex while fertile and using artificial contraception sends a very clear message that despite the fact that life could possibly be conceived during this time you are NOT open to life. You desire the physical and emotional gratification of sex, but are not open to the full potential of the sexual act and the natural consequences that the Lord God designed to be a part of such an act, a new life. Abstinence in the former case is a form of self-sacrifice which can be offered to the Lord, while the latter case is a form of selfishness as you are not willing to give yourself totally and completely (as you are restricting your physicality and sexuality) to your husband and to God, but desire the other benefits of a sexual encounter. I do not say this to condemn or to judge, but simply to present the logic behind this issue.
As my husband and I read more about this subject we learned that in practicing NFP we would be respecting the natural consequences of sex being that of procreation. Sex is good and was designed by God for the population of the earth and the unification and expression of love between husband and wife. However, when prevented from fulfilling its intended purpose, by using contraceptives, it frustrates the will of God, does violence to the natural law and subverts sex to being something that is based solely on individual desire. The modern day philosopher Donald DeMarco once wrote “Contraception since it is a way of holding back by not including the procreative dimension of one’s being, compromises the two in one flesh unity of the marital act. The use of contraception is not compatible with the kind of pure and total gift that marriage asks of husband and wife”.
Using Natural Family Planning honours the plan of God in sexuality, honours its ability to create new life and allows you to have the dignity in knowing that you can accept the consequences of your actions. To my husband and I, these were huge benefits as keeping the will of God alive in our lives and having self-respect are two essential ingredients necessary for attaining happiness and a healthy self-image in this life. In a talk I listened to just recently the speaker stated the following idea: “When people of the future look back in time to us, what will they see? In a thousand years from now how will our age be remembered” He said, “Our age will be remembered as the age of abdication of responsibility. Because nobody’s responsible for anything anymore”.
When my husband and I took a look at today’s modern ideas about sexuality we found this fact to be completely true as many of people in the world think it is a good thing to cut sex off from its ability to create new life. There is no responsibility present in this decision. If we accepted that fact that in periods of fertility lovemaking = baby making then there would be no need for us to use various contraceptives that either put a barrier between you and your future spouse or cut you off from the biological makeup of your own body. These factors convinced us that Natural Family Planning was the best choice and one where we could stand with a clear conscience before God who will hold us accountable for all of our actions.
I am grateful for the perspective and the issues you raised Everly and I thank-you for bringing your ideas to the table. May this conversation continue to flourish in light of the truth and God’s grace.
This is not how the pill works. It will not abort a baby. And to the other woman, like I said in a previous post christians must read into the bible what they think it says about these issues. I am very passionate about these issues and wish that christians would first understand their own bias, in recognizing you use the bible as a personal devotional and not to actually study it and its historical and cultural context on these matters.
Actually Bethany, I’m not condemning the Pill, nor do I judge those who use it. I merely pointed out a documented fact: it is an abortifacient, and then I gave a link for anyone who wants to learn more. (You may want to look into this further because based on what you wrote, you might be holding onto some misconceptions that are comfortable to believe, but are simply not true.) God is the one who says humans shouldn’t destroy other humans. Not me. Really, my opinion is dirt.
Just because Christians we respect use the Pill doesn’t mean that God has changed His mind on the subject of murder. It is what it is—whether we destroy life knowingly OR out of ignorance. Christians make a lot of cruddy decisions every day. It’s not a bad idea to ignore what the rest of the human race is doing and instead educate ourselves in the facts—and then make our decisions based on what God states in His Word. His opinion is the only one that counts. Not yours. Not mine. If I say something that is opposed to what He says – ignore me! 🙂
By you saying that it is akin to murder you are are, by definition, condemning the pill and shaming those of us who use it.
I have been a long time reader and have loved reading your blog, but I am deeply saddened by this post and your responses to anyone having an issue with it. It is more than ok to have you opinions, especially about something like the pill (a gray area.) Please do not condemn those of us who believe differently than you , and have the science and beliefs to back up why we feel that way.
The pill does not abort a fetus. It is possible to become pregnant on the pill. I am not a murderer if I take the pill. These are all things that I have researched heavily and believe with all of my heart. I have taken college level classes on human sexuality that do back this up.
It is such a hard subject to talk about because children are so much in the wheelhouse of being a woman that it is directly tied to our hearts. Please remember that it is tied to the hearts of women on and off all birth control methods.
Ps: I’m pretty sure there is not a scripture to back up not using the pill. If you happen to find it I would love to read it.
Lydia, I am merely pointing out the medical facts (not opinions) concerning the pill. It is unfortunate that many women don’t know these facts. It sounds like you still need to do more thorough research as well. People can always choose to believe what they want to believe – with all their hearts – sort of like the religious folks in the days of Columbus. But even though it was a nice feeling to believe the world was flat, it wasn’t. Facts are facts regardless of what people believe.
If anyone feels shame after hearing the facts, it isn’t brought upon them by another human being – it comes from inside. Every one of us should feel shame for our sins of lying, stealing, hatred, anger, fornication, taking God’s name in vain – and murder. Shame is what drives us to the foot of the cross where forgiveness lies. Jesus took our shame upon Himself so we could be free. But as long as we deny our shame or blame others for it, we can’t be free of it. It will hold us captive and haunt us forever.
I personally know women who have had abortions – either knowingly – or they have wondered if they aborted a child unknowingly through their use of the pill. (I also have a friend who got pregnant while on the pill – she knows this was a mercy of God.) Those that acknowledged the shame they felt and sought forgiveness through Christ are joyful and free. Though there is a sorrow over the past, they are able to move forward with emotional and spiritual health. Christ came to give us LIFE. I pray you will find this life for yourself and those you love.
I would like to address the issue of Christian woman “needing” to be on the pill (i can’t do the capital thing :)) for medical reasons…I have struggled with female medical issues since 15. The first thing the doctors did was place me on the pill. Now at that point I was not married and the risk of phase 3 kicking in was non-existent! Since then (i am now 35) I have undergone 2 surgeries, 3 miscarriages, and 3 live births. I have been dealing with the same female diagnosis the entire time! Every time my doctors have said the improvement would come with the pill (after my marriage) I have declined! I choose to allow God to show me other ways to deal with the symptoms (even the lose of 3 of our children) in other ways. Breaking a commandment for His in order to make family planning or control of my female issues is outside of His will. God is sovereign and His design is perfect, it’s the world that has corrupted it 🙁 By controlling some hormones with food and environment choices I have experienced better results then I ever did while on the pill as a teenager! The choice is each persons, between them and the Lord, but as a woman who does deal with issues that the medical community wishes to control with the pill…I choose to follow His plan and He blesses us for it! Thankfully busy with my 3 kids here on earth and patiently waiting to meet the other 3 in glory someday 🙂
Wonderfully written. I do my best not to judge ANYONE on how many or few children they have. God gave me my two girls – we weren’t “trying” to have babies. They were truly God’s plan. However, I feel like I have reached “advanced maternal age” and for me personally, I don’t know that it would be healthy for me or a baby if I were to get pregnant again. This is something we put much thought and prayer into. At 37, my husband and I are now focusing on raising our girls to be true, God fearing women and to make a difference in the Kingdom. He recently had a vasectomy to ensure that we could continue to have a healthy sex relationship, yet keep our family at a size that we have the means to support!
Natalie, if I had a dollar for every time a woman assumed I was judging her number of children, I’d have my dream home built by now. 🙂 I have concluded that many of them are judging themselves and blaming it on me, because I never say a word to mothers of less-than-many. They may, as you say, think I’m judging them based on something someone else said. Every child is a complete blessing, all by himself.
Birth control is something we’ve figured out how to do technologically, but I don’t think it’s something we’ve learned to think about theologically. I am writing a book about that right now. 🙂
Can’t wait to read it!
Thanks for this post! At this point in our lives, my husband and I have decided to go the “no birth control route,” mostly because I recently suffered a miscarriage… and then have struggled to conceive again. So the thought of personally trying to prevent a child from coming into being makes me uncomfortable. The only reason I may go back on it again is if I have a tough pregnancy/delivery and my body needs to recover.
But as you say, God is sovereign and can use both. And there is great peace to be found in that. 🙂
Interesting to read Tracy’s story. When I had my daughter, at 43, my doctor was very pushy and kept asking me if I was willing to get my tubes tied. He even asked the morning on the section when I was laid out on the table. I kept saying NO! Later, at 45, I got pregnant again — but had a blighted ovum. It’s unlikely now at 50, that I’ll have any more children but somehow I just couldn’t agree to having my body tampered with. In my case, I was 37 when I had my first child so I’m grateful and thankful for the two I was lucky enough to mother. This is a hard topic and I think you have covered it well….
I have often thought about this. My husband and I have had a struggle with having kids. One miscarriage and then we were blessed with twins.(boy/girl) They were born at 24wks, and we have struggle through the past 4 years with them. We just had our son evaluated for ASD and he is Autistic. Our daughter is also being evaluated but we do not have an official DX. Although we are sure she is on the spectrum somewhere. With all of that I feel fairly confident in our small family of 4 but giving that control over is a hard thing. For both of us!!! It is very scary all of the things that could go wrong….next time.(physical stuff for me as well) So that all being said THANK YOU! I need to spend some time in prayer with my husband. And turn this over to God.
Excellent post! We’re expecting our fourth in late November. We have gotten mostly negative comments. The comments have even been to the point of bitterness from family members who have struggled with infertility. The rub is, though- we struggled with infertility for 3 1/2 years before we had our first 6 1/2 years ago to the point that we were a few weeks away from beginning IVF. I went through a lot of painful testing, surgery and heartache to get these kids. Now, the pump is primed and we are perfectly happy to have what many consider to be a large family! I just wish all my sisters in Christ and literal sisters would exhibit joy for this baby instead of envy. It’s made this less joyful for me and that’s really unfair. I avoided telling one sister-in-law because of previous resentment she’s expressed to me about my children. That’s not how God wants things. Children are a heritage of The Lord and are always a blessing!
I can’t say how much your post was a blessing!! After facing several miscarriages, we still don’t have our much-wanted and prayed for baby to hold here – in His will and in His way is our motto. More than how many children we have, though, I definitely know that the correct view of children is the most important aspect. Even if we were only able to carry one baby to full-term, I would feel supremely blessed. The truth is, it’s very hard when people don’t understand and ask you tough questions like “So are you going to start having children?” You don’t know this person, and they don’t know you, so you don’t feel like explaining the pain of losing your pregnancies in miscarriage. So you have to smile and say, “We hope!” But inside it hurts. Especially when they go off on a lecture about allowing God to choose the number of children and not using birth control. I see and know the truth in what you are saying, but having a judgmental attitude – especially without knowing their background or difficulties they’ve gone through – can cause so much pain to other people’s lives. And, on the other side of the coin, for those who cannot have children or are struggling to have children, we can’t in turn be judgmental, harsh and hurtful towards those to whom God has given children already.
Thank you so much for your post, Natalie. It was such an encouragement!
Amelia, you ARE absolutely trusting in God for your family size whether God gives you no children – or 13. The point is – God is the One in control – and you are working toward resting in His choice for you. This is very difficult for one in your position. There is the ache of loss, the feeling of not fitting in anywhere, the hurt from different comments, etc.. God has called you to a unique place right now. It isn’t pleasant. My prayer for you is that God would flood your heart with hope in Him. Hope that He is doing incredible things through your life that will ultimately point others to HIM and His beauty. Hope that one day you will be able to see the POINT in your sorrows.
If God is for you, who can be against you? You are being held, Amelia. Let your head fall on His shoulders and be at rest.
hugs to you! we have been trying to conceive for 2 1/2 yrs. now, & it seems like an eternity. we constantly remind ourselves that God’s timing is best, & even if He chooses not to bless us w/ children, He still is our loving, good Abba Father. i can relate so much to the questions & comments that are thoughtlessly shared, & yet, it just makes us more aware of how careful we need to be w/ our own words. i love your motto; i might have to suggest to my husband we claim this as well or come up w/ a similar one! thank you for sharing your heart, & may God bless you & your husband w/ the desires of your heart!
I just want to be one voice validating you, against all the careless comments. I had fertility problems, too, and remember the pain of fielding those offhand questions. We eventually had a daughter, who is now almost 8, and (for medical reasons) don’t expect to have more biological children. As soon as our daughter turned 1, people started asking us, “When are you going to have another?” Our close friends and family don’t ask anymore, but acquaintances and strangers still do. We also get remarks like, “Are you going to try for a boy?” (the misogyny of that really irks me), “Wow, doesn’t she get lonely?”, and “Doesn’t she want siblings?” If we bother to explain our situation, we often get, “Well, there’s always adoption.” As though a family of three is somehow inherently incomplete or inadequate. It’s hard. But trying to work against God is even harder–the more we rest in his plan and timing, the better things are.
Thank you for the reminder to always be sensitive to others and their situations. How easy it is to pre-judge a situation! We tried for almost a year before getting pregnant with our first, and it seemed SO long (though it wasn’t nearly as long as many people have to wait). It was a time that the Lord really used in my life especially, and looking back,I am thankful for that. Some friends of ours tried for 4 or 5 years before they conceived their first,and he is now a happy healthy 18 month old. I am so thankful for the hope the Lord gives us, no matter how difficult the situation…I am glad that we don’t have to face it alone, but we have our loving heavenly Father directing our steps. God bless you.
One thing that was not discussed in the article was natural family planning. I used to work for a doctor who used the The Creighton Model FertilityCare System . In this system, the woman can achieve or delay contraception by reading the signs her body gives off during her cycle. This method does not use any Phase 1, 2 or 3. Simply put, by watching the viscosity of the secretions that the woman has during her cycle one can time the best time to try and achieve a pregnancy or to delay one. This model also helps a women to be in tune to her body and can help her to maintain her reproductive health. Although this model is promoted and accepted by the Catholic Church, it can be practiced by anyone. My doctor was able to assist women who were previously unable to achieve pregnancy by using this model, as well as supplementing with natural hormones compounded to assist women who’s hormones were not up to an appropriate level. My doctor had women coming from out of state to learn this model. She has successfully treated PCOS patients who had previously been unable to conceive. I used this model as a women in perimenopause to help correct symptoms in a natural way. I learned a lot about my body and how it works (AMAZING STUFF!!!) and was able to get through some rough years before menopause came! I highly recommend all women learn this stuff! Look for a Catholic facility and specifically ask them if they teach Creighton Model FertilityCare!
The whole question of having more children has been weighing on my mind heavily here lately. Thank you for this post. My husband and I were raised in Christian homes, we have been married for nine years, and we have never strayed away from the faith. My husband is a pastor. Never once has it come up in our church or among other christian friends God’s view on the size of a family. The first 3 years of our marriage I was on the Pill. On our way home from service one night God began to deal with my heart about letting Him decide wether I should have children or not. So being in agreement with my husband we dropped the pill. We now have a 5 yr old, a 2 yr old, and a 8 month old. And we have lost one from a miscarriage. We use Natural Family Planning now. But are we done? I have no idea! There are a lot of reasons for me to wait. We are getting ready to dive into our first year of homeschooling and I want to completely focus on that. Our two oldest already share a bedroom and the baby is in ours (no room!) And since my husband has left his full time job to go into the ministry I have no health insurance for myself. But when I look into that sweet little chubby face of our 8 month old, I wonder how in the world could I say no to God? I already have a child in heaven that Im waiting to see. I dont want to miss out on any of the blessings that The Lord has for me. So I guess it just comes down to a matter of the heart. We will see if God will put the desire to have more in my spirit or if He will say that it is now enough.
It’s a wonderful thing to really come to terms with our Great God’s Sovereignty!! How Beautiful this Doctrine is!! Thank you Natalie for your gracious and wise handling of this topic….it’s lovely to get to know you a little more through these means. May the LORD bless you! With love, Camille 🙂
Great post! I think the only thing I get defensive about is when I hear women who do not believe in tracking ovulation/using natural family planning/condoms/bc of any kind, use the common phrase, “we leave our childbearing upto God”. I think it bugs me so much because I feel like many of us who do use natural family planning and whatnot also leave our childbearing upto God! We seek His will for our lives, pray non-stop for His leading in this area, and believe God will make His will be known to us by many different avenues, so on… SO many of us do that, but in different ways. Sigh. I know it shouldn’t urk me, but it makes me feel judged by fellow Christians and no one likes that. 🙂 Anyway, I come from a family of 7 bios and 7 foster kids and I loved being from a big family! We have 4 kiddos (a newly 6,4,3, and 1)… am praying about a 5th…
Thank you for your honesty. I tell my kids we’ll all irritate one another until we’re in eternity. Sinful Wemmicks rubbing against other sinful Wemmicks. And we all like to think we are the “right” ones. God is the only right One. We have to just keep bumbling our way along the journey following Him as He gives grace. And then we need to extend that same grace to those around us.
I’m there too sometimes. God is no less sovereign in the lives of those of us know chose to use a form of birth control or family planning methods. I was taught to believe that God’s sovereignty cannot be infringed upon by human actions, otherwise God wouldn’t really be sovereign. I totally respect those who don’t use any methods at all, but it’s not a choice we’ve chosen to make.
Wow, this post seems to have opened a deep subject. Birth Control it is definitly something that can not always be black and white. I have worked in Labor and Delivery as a nurse for 15 years and really see a lot. One thing to consider is the risk that having many children poses to the mother’s body. The more children a women has had, the greater chance of hemorrhage after delivery. Having multiple ceserean sections can be risky as well. In other words, the choice to use birth control or use surgical methods to make infertility permanent could mean life or death. I’m not sure if it’s God’s will to have a women to walk around with a prolapsed uterus from having too many children or other such medical problems. I do think God has a plan for every individual and women shouldn’t be judged on family size or other such decisions. It’s just that i wanted to add another perspective to reproduction that was not mentioned in the post.
While I agree with you that God’s plan is different for every woman, and while there are medical risks to bearing children, whether you are in your 20s, 30s or 40s, I don’t feel that inspiring fear with stories (ones that are rare – I have discussed this very thing with two old, seasoned OBGYNs) is necessary. I know many, many old women like me who have had difficult pregnancies – and have bodies that definitely show wear and tear – but that have moved forward in spite of the scary stories out there. And we have some pretty neat kiddos who are enjoying life today because of it. I did hemorrhage after my third baby when I was in my early 30s. I had six more children in my late 30s up to my mid-40s and never had another hemorrhage. So yes – risks. But they are not a given. We could be scared of driving our cars too for fear of what might happen on the freeway. I don’t want to live in fear. That said, if a woman has been specifically told by her Dr. that her risks are high, then she should take that into consideration. But the readers here should know that your risk of dying in a car accident is much higher than your risk of dying in childbirth, thanks to modern medical technology – a tool God uses to save lives in our particular time in history.
Sorry to sound gloomy, that wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to bring another possibility for a mothers decision to use some sort of birth control. I have 4 kids myself and would probably have had more but my last baby had a birth defect and a speech delay. I was worried that maybe God was telling me that my body was gettig too old to have more kids, (plus a couple miscarriages on top of that) and each child kept getting bigger to boot. (last one was 11lbs). We decided to get a vasectomy to be safe. I would hate to think one would judge me based on my carefully thought out decision. That was my only point I was trying to make. Some moms seem to be blessed with the ease to procreate than others. Again, wasn’t trying to instill fear but knowledge. It was still a good post.
I was wondering when Keeper of the Home would get around to this topic. It seems like so many are becoming concerned with healthy living, but avoid the obvious health issue of birth control. The environmental and health issues could be a whole separate article. My husband and I are certified teachers of the Sympto-thermal method of Natural Family Planning. I know some Christians think we should not even use abstinence to postpone pregnancy, but NFP does work with the design God put into our bodies. Natalie is right, all birth control does have a back-up method of making the lining of the woman’s uterus so thin that when ovulation does occur (and is does, even up to 80% of the time with the low dose pills) the new life can not implant in the uterus. The IUD works primarily with this method as well. This abortificient aspect, combined with the huge cancer risks, combined with the number of women we have seen go off the pill and find it difficult to conceive because of the lasting effects, makes us sad that women are not being fully informed by the medical community that there are healthier and better alternatives.
Our teaching is a ministry and we have met so many wonderful couples who are all at different places in their lives, but primarily all wanting to cooperate with God, not just do what they want. Over the years we have personally learned (and are still learning):
1. God calls us to be as generous as possible, but to also use our God-given intellect and be responsible (this takes a huge amount of trust in each other and in the Lord, one we all struggle with from time to time)
2. Do not judge the circumstances of other families. Some are called to have large families. Some are called to have small, but all couples are called to pray and cooperate with the Lord and ASK instead of TELL Him what their family should look like
3. We say in our vows that we are going to give everything to our spouse, in good times and bad (this includes our fertility). Sex is a physical language we speak to our spouse, a renewal of our wedding vows. When we purposefully render our bodies sterile through devices, pills, surgery, we in essence are speaking with our bodies “I can give you everything I am, but NOT my fertility.” And we say to the Lord, “Make sure you do not come.” (obviously most couples don’t consciously say this to each other or the Lord, but we cannot separate the language of our bodies from the language of our hearts.) I think this is why so many couples feel such emotional pain and seek reversals after tubal ligation and vasectomies. But if through prayer we discern that the needs of our current children, or the health of our marriage, or the risk of our own mental health and well being, we need to take a break or possibly even postpone pregnancy for an unknown time, then a couple can choose to live abstinence during the short window of fertility each month (approx. 10 days). I once heard the analogy that abstinence is like choosing to postpone the wedding a couple of weeks, where as using contraception is like having your wedding and sending dis-invitations that say, “Please do NOT come to our wedding.”
4. We do not need to say a thing to others about their families. We are the most powerful witness just by trying to be a loving family to whatever children God chooses to bless us with, bearing the persecutions of horrified relatives patiently, and speaking joyfully about parenting (this being the most challenging at times when we have high-need little ones.)
For those struggling with miscarriage or infertility I highly recommend the book, “Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition, 4th edition” as well as the National Center for Women’s Health http://www.popepaulvi.com/ncfwh_Home.htm
LOVE LOVE LOVE that book you mentioned at the end. I recommend it to everyone I know.
I’m sorry for such a long comment, but this topic is at the centre of our family and has been for a few years and your post is timely as my husband and I had quite a discussion about it again this morning.
I get stares – and comments – in the grocery stores. Some comments come with admiration, some with disgust, some with utter nosiness. We have 6 kids, and our oldest is not yet six. Grocery shopping without help is literally impossible. Neither of our parents live close by. Our kids are learning to help with chores, and they do a lot more than a lot of kids their age. But seriously. They are 5(twins), 4, 2 (twins again) and 5 months. There are a lot of things they just can’t do yet. I make menus and plan grocery trips, and am making a basic daily schedule – because homeschool needs to become a little more structured now – but I honestly don’t think there’s enough hours in the day.
So many of these lovely moms of many write about their kids, their schedules, their ministries, their amazing healthy recipes … (and they have time to write about it!). And I am often left feeling inadequate.
On the other hand, the mom of two who has to work part-time at Costco, she shakes her had wonderingly and asks me how I do it. I often feel like bursting in to tears. Because yes, my kids smile and say thank you (my boys have even taken to telling the lady at the check out, “you’re BEAUTIFUL!”). Yes, they’re wearing their town clothes and I took the time to look nice today. But this is one day in seven. If only you knew what the other six are like sometimes!
We had 6 kids in just over 5 years and just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. People think we’re nuts. and a lot (especially perfect strangers at the grocery store) don’t mind saying so. We are starting to believe them. The “hands full of blessings” and “it’s busy but it’s good” responses are starting to wear thin. I keep trying to trust God but I don’t know what He wants us to do. We both feel very strongly that the pill is not the right choice for us. But…every time I’ve gotten pregnant, it has been just as I’m starting to cycle again after or towards the end of breastfeeding. How do you naturally plan when you have no clue when you’ll ovulate? It’s really hard!
I really appreciate your balanced view of this. Thanks for sharing.
Karen, you CAN know when you ovulate – even if your cycles are irregular. I would highly recommend getting the book Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach by John and Sheila Kippley. (You can find it on Amazon). This will give you the information you need to chart your cycles and know exactly when ovulation is taking place. Sometimes we need to take a break and restore our physical and emotional health. Sometimes we need to restore our spiritual health. God is not up there with a whip requiring us to bear children every year! On the other hand, there are those to whom He has given a faith and a grace to keep going. Either way, we let Him be Who He is in people’s lives. Your life may look different from another’s life. And your choices can be different too.
More importantly though, I want to encourage you that you are in a short season of life. I know it seems like it will last forever. It won’t. You might really benefit from the hind’s sight of the ten women who authored the Three Decades book. You need a serious boost of encouragement. You need to know that you are not alone, and you are not weird. You are precious, your family is precious, and God is doing a beautiful thing in all of you. Hang in there. These days are fleeting. Love those littles – and take the grace God is giving you to get through TODAY. Leave tomorrow to Him.
Many Christians are comfortable with using a barrier method in concert with natural family planning. My husband and I used a barrier method when I was breastfeeding because we didn’t know when my cycle would return. But you have to make the choice that works for you.
Good suggestion, Bethany.
I would like to add a thought here as I had tried these methods when I was younger and still fertile. I think it is important when we as a couple have a plan, especially when talking about family planning that we guard our hearts. The issue becomes our will. Our will to control the number. It did for me, and when an unplanned pregnancy occurred the emotions were far from trusting God but questioning why. I am just saying for me it became a stumbling block to trusting God with the outcome. I had to let go and it actually allowed me to learn to trust God and relax in the gift of marriage, intimacy.
I totally agree with Natalie. Learning your cycle can make a HUGE difference, especially when you’re just coming off of breastfeeding so your periods are all out of whack. On fertile days you can choose to abstain, use a barrier method or use withdrawl (sorry if that’s tmi, but it’s a free option that is actually nearly as effective as condoms (per a birth control packet that I read to dispute my husband; I was proven wrong)). Anyway, those are some good options to give you a little bit of breathing room before the next one. And, though I don’t know what it’s like to have 6 kids 5 and under, I’ll tell you something that helps me when I’m having a rough day. I just say something that my husband used to tell me all the time when our daughter was a newborn. “This is just this moment. The next moment will be different.” God bless you. 🙂
The Kippley’s book is good, but many couples don’t feel confident to learn on their own. You can find NFP classes (and they even have transition courses for before you get your period back as many women ovulate BEFORE their first cycle back.) The Sympto-thermal method NFP (the method in the Kippley’s book) is 99% effective at spacing children (when practiced as taught). Barriers and withdrawal–not so effective (anywhere from 80-95%) and tend to frustrate the act of making love. You can find a teaching couple in your area at live-the-love.org
May the Lord bless and keep you. My husband and I are on the Marriage Preparation team for our church and teach on the subject of Natural Family Planning following the Creighton Model which is scientifically researched and based. It is accurate, effective and wonderful for using to either achieve or avoid pregnancy depending on what you and your husband discern is best for your family in line with the will of God. My husband and I have now been married for three years and used it in our first year of marriage to avoid getting pregnant and in our second year to welcome a lovely bouncing baby boy into our family. I have posted a link below as there may be an instructor in your area who would be able to assist you. I wish you God’s blessings and strength and take heart knowing that He never gives you more than you can handle.
Another extremely intriguing book to read on the subject of birth control is:
“New Perspectives on Contraception” by Dr. Donald DeMarco
Well researched in science, philosophy and religion. I couldn’t put it down once I started it.
When I read your post, I just wanted to rush over and give you a big hug. My biggest thought for you is, “DON”T STOP!” Meaning don’t stop trusting the Lord! All throughout scripture we see God opening and closing wombs. No where do we see a person taking control of when children should come and then God being pleased with that. I know that others have replied to you about using natural family planning. But I would encourage you to completely and totally allow God to decide. He knows your situation. He knows how difficult days can be. Can you trust him in these moments? Isn’t it true that “every hour I need thee.”
When my husband and I got married, we decided to let God decide when or if he would give us children. We felt that natural family planning goes against what 1 Corinthians 7:5 says.
During this more difficult season, pray for God to bring you some relief and rest. I believe he will! Whether that’s more time in between pregnancies or help from other Christians. I know that personally I would love to help out a family like yours get through a more difficult season. My husband and I will be praying for you today!
I feel 2 sided about your article! On one side, why would anyone judge a big family? I absolutely love my brothers 5 children, the more cousins to make lifelong friends with the better!! 🙂 & why would anyone judge a small family like mine? God gives us how many we are suppose to have! I have 2 very miraculous boys, after 4.5 years of infertility, God gave us our first son, after trying again for years & nothing, we told God it’s ok if we just had one, we felt blessed!! Surprise, we had another son when we weren’t trying! Miracle!!
BUT, if a couple think its best for them to have 1,2,4 or 9, it’s up to them & God!!! I know I stopped for health reasons, I almost died in childbirth, then who would be their mom?
Ones family size is a Couples decision, not to be judged either way!!
I loved this post. I really was drawn to it because we are a very large family of 10 kids of varying ages. My husband and I dont agree on having more kids. I live in hope and a deep sense of longing for more babies yet he doesnt. He is very adamant that we are a completed family. I am feeling bitter as I am trying to be submissive to his decision. What advice do you have for this situation?
Nicole, you are one of hundreds of women in that position. One of my dearest friends who went through a terrible time with this wrote a blog article about it: http://www.visionarywomanhood.com/trusting-god-when-husband-says-no-to-more-children/
I just read this. Thank you so much. I think I need to talk with my husband about my bitterness and ask for his and God’s forgiveness. Thank you so much <3
Thanks for posting this! Can’t wait to order your book 🙂
I have taken birth control since after I was first married so nearly 4 years. I do not feel God’s call for me to have children anytime soon. I am pro-life and also would never take the Plan B pill. I am interested in more information about this “Phase 3” because I was under the impression birth control kept the egg from fertilization and I have know women who were on birth control and claim they took it as directed and still became pregnant. So, this confuses me as I always assumed if it did not work then I would simply become pregnant and not that I have an abortion.
Thanks for this post! I got married last summer and both my husband and I started graduate school. I chose a program that had an option for part-time summer school to complete the degree in case we became pregnant. What I don’t understand is how so many people think that our childbearing is their business! I could understand discussing it with my mother or sisters whom I know want the best for us and will base their opinions on God’s Word, but my colleagues, professors, and even my 14-year-old students (!) asked how long we would “wait” to have children. After a miscarriage, I even had a clergy member that we had just met tell us not to have children until after we graduated. He didn’t know about our loss, but it was the most hurtful thing I’ve ever been told. I wonder how we can reclaim this very private aspect of our marital lives?
My only concern while reading this article is the unnecessary trauma it could cause readers who do or have used hormonal birth control.
First, let me say, I love your fairness in discussing this issue! We have a rapidly growing family (I am currently pregnant with #3 and #1 hasn’t even turned three yet!). Some of my friends have small families, and some of my friends don’t have any children at all! It’s amazing all of the ways God can choose glorify himself through women!
However, I am a little disturbed at the way you handle the issue of hormonal birth control, though. While I concede that there are some medical concerns over the safety of the pill, I firmly believe that the term “abortion” or “abortifacient” doesn’t apply to the phase 3 mechanism of hormonal birth control. When I was early in my marriage and we were planning our future family, I did a lot of research on this issue and had several conversations about it with my coworkers at the pro-life crisis pregnancy center where I worked for 2 years. My number one reason for believing hormonal birth control should not be equated with murder, as you say, is because it does not affect an already implanted zygote. Yes, it is possible, that if phase 1 and 2 fail and a sperm manages to meet an egg, the zygote will be prevented from implanting, but all of the resources I checked (that did not pertain to the issue of the morality of hormonal birth control – they were not biased) said that a zygote fails to implant anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of the time without intervention via contraceptives. I do not consider those instances to be a death, but a pregnancy that failed to happen just like if an egg and sperm fail to meet due to other family planning methods. Therefore, following that logic, if the same thing were to happen while a woman was taking hormonal birth control, I could not call it an abortion.
This is a serious issue, but not a simple one. There are many emotions involved and the discussion can get heated. I would encourage women who are just beginning to decide God’s best will for their family planning to weigh all information available and spend lots of time in prayer.
The “trauma” is a sad result of living in a fallen world, certainly not as a result of information. Information empowers and enables us to choose rightly or wrongly – it gives us a choice. Hiding information may prevent immediate discomfort, but doesn’t change the truth of a situation. That would be like seeing the roof of a house on fire – and deciding not to let the folks inside know because it might cause them some trauma. I encourage you to study the medical documentation thoroughly. Whether or not we BELIEVE it is our responsibility to protect life once it has been conceived is irrelevant. God teaches us over and over in His Word that we ARE to protect life. All life. Not just the life we think is important. Every person has to decide for themselves who to follow, and we aren’t responsible for judging those choices. God is. And, of course, He will.
I agree that if I shared you opinion, I would certainly eager to warn women! Thank you for your concern and your bravery in writing about such a difficult topic! I can’t wait to read the book you referenced, as a hopeful mom to a big family, I love encouragement and advice from like minded moms.
geez, that’s the difference between trying to type during the kids’ nap and trying to type while they’re awake! 🙂 I hope you can translate the above comment!
The reason most of the medical community does not believe life begins at conception is because they changed the “medical” definition of when pregnancy begins to “implantation.” So if we choose to follow their definition of pregnancy. However, up until the 70s it was always believed that life began as soon as genetic material had mingled. As soon as the egg and sperm meet the new life contains all the genes it will ever contain. Of course we don’t know when God infuses a soul into the new person, but we can’t know it is at implantation either. So we err on the side of caution and say it is from the very beginning. Many women miscarry before 6 weeks and it is because the baby never fully implanted. Are we to tell these women that they didn’t really lose a child simply because the zygote never implanted correctly? No, they lost a child, very early, but none the less a child.
Great points – thanks for taking the time to write that, Erika!
Yes, there are times a fertilized egg doesn’t implant, when on or off birth control pills. But there area also times a fertilized egg implants and then miscarries, either at 2 weeks pregnant or much later on. Instead of looking at everything that can go wrong in a pregnancy (with orwithout bc) And then trying to justify bc pills that way, I , think its important t to think about when you personally think life begins. Do you think it begins at conception when the egg is fertilized? Then the pill is an abortifacient. Do you think it begins a implantation? Then the pill still also has the potential to be an abortifacient, since it thins the lining and it is unknown how may miscarriages result from getting pregnant on the pill and miscarrying due to thin lining. No matter how you look at it, the pills has the potential to abort a baby.
An excellent post, Natalie!
I really love your post overall: thank you for a thoughtful, nuanced, Word-based discussion of a difficult issue. My only quibble is that, other than a quick mention that Sarah had just one child, you pretty much stick with a dichotomy of “moms of many” and “moms of few” (even your example of childlessness is about people who aren’t married). I’m sure you know that “moms of none” and “moms of one” are in the audience, and I’m sure you want us to participate, but it’s an oversight that stings just a bit. Whereas larger families often endure judgment or teasing for having “too many” kids, we parents of onlies or couples without kids often endure the unpleasantness of people assuming our families aren’t complete as they are. I cringe every time someone asks, “Don’t you want more?” in front of my precious daughter. I have no stats to prove this, but my guess is that we’re the ones most likely to have experienced infertility, or to have medical conditions that constrain our choices regarding birth control and family size. As such, I think we have important perspectives to bring to the discussion. Being so explicitly overlooked can send the message that those perspectives aren’t as welcome or valued here.
Well, that’s not true. Everyone is welcome here and everyone is invited to join the discussion! I am sorry for my oversight. Please chalk it up to my being a silly Wemmick who has a busy life and can’t think of everything. 🙂 It is challenging to write a short blog article (I went WAY over my limit of words as it was!) and address all the variances. We bloggers write in generalizations and hope that the reader will catch the drift for their specific situation. I truly did not intend to send a message to anyone that their voice was not valued, and I’m sorry that I’ve caused you to feel that way. Thank you for your honesty!
While I didn’t think that moms of onlies were explicitly overlooked, it did feel like an ‘almost, but not quite good enough’.
I’m not a “mom of a few”, just a “mom of one”. It’s often a feeling of being overlooked, “oh, you have just the one?” or “Are you going to have more?”. Yes, I would take as many as God gives us, but we are happy with the one we have, thankyouverymuch. Please let me cuddle on your new baby for a while, and inhale all the new-babyness that I miss so much, but don’t make me feel bad or like I’ve done something ‘wrong’ because I have ‘just one’ great kid.
Reading all these posts brings tears to my eyes. I feel so honored to be a mother!!! We have 4, 1 came with our marriage 🙂 and she is and adult. The other 3 are 3.5, 2, & 3 months. The 2nd and 3rd were both a “little earlier than we planned”! LOL We used the pull out method and it worked… for a while!! LOL Now we use a diaphragm. We feel like we are done mostly because this last pregnancy and birth were very rough compared to the middle who was a wonderful,fast home water birth. BUT we listen to God and are much more diligent with our birth control choices so as to not have one “accidentally”!! LOL I know that must sound funny because if God wants to bless us with another child no diaphragm is going to stop His child!! LOVE BEING A MOM!!!
Well my thoughts are this:
God’s first command was to “be fruitful and multiply.” Why? Because He wants us to bring forth children and raise them to serve Him. Bearing children is raising up warriors for Christ. I think that if you use medication to keep from or delay having children, then you are, quite frankly, disobeying God’s very FIRST command that He gave to the beings HE created.
Just my thoughts…
Thank you for putting your thoughts out there to get the rest of us thinking and praying about this subject. I also appreciate that you stated at the outset that you don’t have all the answers on this subject. I think sometimes we get the idea that we do have all the answers, even on something as complicated as this subject can be, and it is a good reminder that we are all learning and growing.
And why would this subject be complicated? I could write multiple posts’ worth on that topic, but suffice it to say that we let sin into the world, and now it has affected every area of our lives (bodies, relationships, attitudes), and most especially in regard to pain in childbearing. I think much more than just birth pain was meant by that little phrase. The only thing that can give some simplicity back to this subject is the fact that we have a God who loves us very, very much, and He is personal with us, and chooses to communicate with us. One way or another, we can trust Him. No matter our situation.
I have had this subject of birth control and family planning and such on my mind for a long time now, and from different perspectives. Before we married, my husband-to-be said he thought we should wait to have babies. I had heard about the abortifacient effects of the Pill, but I didn’t think that the version I chose, a vaginally inserted ring, (same as the pill, but different delivery system for the meds) had that mechanism. I looked. Apparently I didn’t look hard enough, as it very much does. I used that method for two miserable years, and finally had to stop because I became aware that the medication was causing me multiple problematic side effects. I was incredibly upset to find out at that point that the method I used did in fact have an abortifacient effect, should the other mechanisms fail, and that statistically, I might have had two pregnancies during that time. Does everyone who looks at this information come to the same conclusion? No. But I was very grieved, and went to the Lord with the possibility that I might have unknowingly caused this. He was very gracious and gentle with me. Was I better off not knowing? Absolutely not. I would never go back to hormonal birth control, and by now I’m pretty sure that the hormones helped mess up my natural hormones, anyway. It took a full year of natural family planning charting before my body found its own rhythm, and I suspect that the chemical birth control (Pill/Ring) likely helped cause some of the ongoing issues I have with my fertility. (I don’t put all of the blame there, but I believe it had an effect.)
After that, I had to research other methods of birth control, as my husband and I still believed the timing was not yet best, and now I had artificial hormones in my body. The birth control drug pamphlet even encouraged me to wait at least 3 months to try for a baby! I researched and tried a lot of things, and settled on a barrier and natural family planning. After I learned the three-part NFP system, though, I found it difficult, as my body didn’t fit the normal patterns. I found out about Creighton Model of Fertility Care/ NaProTechnology (see fertilitycare.org), which uses a simpler method of charting than what I was doing, and has doctors who can read your charts. That has been a Godsend for me as I figure out what is going on with my body. I took two years to detox and heal using good foods and less chemicals, and now we’ve been trying for a baby for more than a year.
Yet, there is still the sense that God has guided through all of this, and that He may still be preparing us and our circumstances to be ready to care for the “Blessings” He may see fit to entrust us with. He alone knows His timing and His reasons. And still, there are fears and hopes, longings, and submission. There is learning contentment and focusing on what He’s given me to do now. I never did want to wait this long. And yet, I’m not sure that waiting was a mistake. And, I’m hoping I’m a lot more open with regard to spacing and number of children after all this. We’ll see where my husband comes out on that, but I’ve slowly introduced the topic. We shall see what God has in store. I just know He is very, very good, and He loves us very, very much, and we can trust Him.
Oops! Didn’t realize another Sarah was posting already. My personal story about being on hormonal birth control, etc. was my first posting.
I am 48 and believe my child bearing years are behind me. But, my journey in this process evolved over miscarriages and failed “options” to “control” my womb.
The one thing that emerged was the fact that the only way I was ever going to know what God’s will on the matter was to let go and trust. It is based on the simple fact that God gives life. Sex is not the complete process to life. God decides when one is born and when one dies. Did I trust Him enough to know how many lives were meant to be born through me for Him.
I have eight children and have had five miscarriages woven in. I must say, even though I know God blessed me with each of these children (as the scripture states, they are a reward, or blessing) the job is not easy, or light. I must lean on Him for strength. It did not come with super mom strength or ability. I see mom’s who are far better at being “mom” then I ever will be. I know that God does what He does as far as giving seemingly less capable mom’s roles at motherhood for His glory when it might seem better to give it to a better suited women. I will always be thankful He allowed me this journey as it has taught me so much about myself in relationship to Him, and also to others.
I have to say this. As a childless woman the only way a mother can offend me when speaking of children (whether she has 1 or 15) is to assume I will someday have children of my own. This happens to many woman in my situation. Please, never assume another woman will have children. Even if you consider her a friend as she may bear her infertility silently. And certainly not if she is an acquaintance. It is the most painful thing to have another woman tell you of the joys of having your own children knowing that day will never come. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk with her about your own children, just don’t assume her children will be in the future.
As a mormon wife and brand-new mother I agree with what you’re saying. This is a touchy subject. As Latter-Day Saints we believe that the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth” remains in force today. We also believe that when how many children a couple has is a sacred decision between them and the Lord and that the family’s circumstances and the woman’s health should be taken into consideration. We shouldn’t judge people that don’t have children, that wait, that have few, or those who have many. Please watch this lovely video! Having Children in Faith: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNahtS4XJ8E
I’m in a different spot from previous commenters. I have an 8 yo and he is my world. Then we found out I have some health issues causing “secondary infertility”, so while I’ve been trying to heal my body naturally for several years, and am open to becoming pregnant again, I didn’t and don’t feel right going down the road of fertility treatments when there are so many children who need good homes. I probably will not become pregnant again, and it really gets me down sometimes, as I always dreamed of having 2 or 3. Anyway, I felt led over 3 years ago to open our home to foster/adoption. It is NOT the same as having your own, it is hard and heart-wrenching and I’ve had 20 kids in my home, with 3 still here but not for much longer. However, there are blessings in it, just the same. I still pray for pregnancy, and for the “right” child to adopt, but the waiting is hard. That’s the back-story.
I think this is a really good post, and just want to add that what mom’s of larger families may think is judgement on a “mom of few”‘s face may actually not be. It could be envy, pity, or sympathy. I know I’ve felt those emotions and more when I see large families. I try to be happy for them, or wonder how on earth they survive their days, but alongside those things, deep down it just really, really hurts. (Having 2 to 5 foster kids at a time has really help up the sympathy part of my look, LOL!)
I bet it has, and those are good points. Thank you for sharing your story.
As a seasoned wife and mother, married 21 years and 2 teenagers later. Our decision to have two kids was because we got tired of using birth control.(We did not use the pill) We only wanted two kids and then made it permanent birth control, with my husband getting a vasectomy. Best decision ever!! Great article though, but ladies have as many kids as you want and then send your husband off to the doctor, no worries.
It’s definitely a touchy issue among Christians. I have never used BC. We decided after our first son was born we would give our fertility to God. He has blessed us with 2 others,all boys. It is freeing to give God all areas of our lives. I mean I am a human and have no clue what is best for me,but God does,why not let Him have the final say?
Ditto what Karolina said 🙂 I am not very religious, but I believe that God wants us to be able to provide the best we can for the 3 children that we have. Any more would make us not able to adequately provide and might send mom over the edge. So we use birth control. I did the pill for 15 years (without side effects), and after the birth of our 3rd, my husband had a vasectomy. On a side note, please do more research on different types of BC pills before declaring that they are abortifacient. Not all BC pills cause abortion of the fertilized egg. Yes, some do. Others (like the ones I took for 15 years) prevent ovulation so that fertilization cannot occur. I always enjoy a good discussion… thanks!
I actually have been researching hormonal birth control for the past few years trying to find one that does not have the potential to abort a fertilized egg, but unfortunately I have not been able to find any on the market at this time in the US. All hormonal birth control methods on the market I have found work in the same three ways–preventing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, AND thinning the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg cannot implant. Ideally the first two methods prevent an egg from being fertilized, so that the third doesn’t have to ever happen, but studies have been unable to determine how often an egg is actually released on these pills and a fertilized egg is aborted.
Even though the pill is supposed to prevent ovulation, You absolutely CAN ovulate on the pill! There are many people who have gotten pregnant on hormonal birth control!
The fact is that every hormonal birth control on the market right now that I can find DOES thin the lining of uterus so that if the first two methods fail the fertilized egg will not be able to implant. The two thpes of hormonal birth control are the combination pill (progrsterone and estrogen) and the “mini pill,” or progestin only pill. Those are the only two hormones used in hormonal birth control (pill, patch, shot, ring, ehatever) Both contain progrsterone, and progrsterone thins the lining of the uterus.
You cannot get a hormonal birth control (pill, patch, ring, shot) in the US without progesterone in it, and progrsterone thins the lining of the uterus. Therefore, all hormonal birth control options in the US can abort a fertilized egg. If you know of a hormonal birth control that DOES NOT thin the lining of the uterus, I would love to hear about it.
Sorry Pam, but you’re the one who needs to research your BC pills. All hormonal birth control can cause an abortion. I went on the pill after getting married, and despite taking it at the same time every day religiously, I got pregnant. Talked to my OB and she said ALL hormonal birth controls thin the lining of the uterus to prevent pregnancy if ovulation occurs. Sadly, I lost that baby to a miscarriage, and my OB said that while miscarriages can be caused by many factors, the thin uterine lining from the BC pills could have played a role. So right then and there I knew they were not for me!
Pam, you are right that the 1st method of the pill is to prevent ovulation. However, that is only one of three methods hormonal BC employs. 1. Prevent ovulation 2. Thicken cervical mucous 3. Causing the lining of the uterus to be unfavorable to implantation. Method #3 is where most people decide BC is not the choice for their family.
This is an area that God has called us into not using birth control and trusting Him in however many children we have. He creates life and this is an area most people want to control themselves. And sometimes it is a little of both too where we may be cautious for a time (say right after having a baby an our emotions about having more children are bias) but we also know that even being cautious God can make anything happen if that is His plan. We currently have 4 boys and we suspect there will be more and our family and friends usually make comments (an definitely strangers) about so many children. We trust that God says children are a blessing and that He will equip us and provide for us.
Thank you for this post! I am a mom of two little boys, and am uncertain about having more kids after suffering from depression/anxiety after my last birth. It’s so hard to be the mommy I want to be when my brain/emotions seem to be working against me. But I’m starting to see that even through that dark time, God was teaching me to trust Him, and has redeemed so much of my pain already. My husband isn’t sure about having another child, because he doesn’t want me to suffer… but I’m trusting that God will continue to bring life to our family, whether through another biological child, or through adoption, or sponsoring a child. As for birth control, I learned just before we got married about the pill causing fertilized eggs to not implant, and we decided to use NFP. Since then, we’ve begun using the FAM method, since we have no objections to barrier methods as long as we’re being prayerful about God’s will for our family size. I’m grateful that you are bringing attention to this important issue, since I think many women still aren’t aware of the pill’s effects (not to mention what it can do to your health long-term!). I also really appreciate your comments about family size — it’s easy to judge what we don’t understand, but so important for us as believers to show love and seek to understand.
I don’t think there is one correct answer to the question. I mean, yes…. God has a plan and wants us to multiply, but we are also called to be stewards of the earth– understanding the environment and limited resources. Plus, coming from a family that lives pretty tight financially, I don’t think it would be responsible or fair to the kids we do have, to just keep pumping out the babies. We live in a world where unfortunately, money does matter…. health insurance, education, cost to eat healthy… I’m not talking luxury, I’m talking survival. I think we have be wise in our decisions. Personally, I like to give a lot of attention to my children. Some people have mastered the ability to divide their time, but I think it is a real challenge for most of us. My cousin comes from a family of 6 kids and he stopped at 2 children. He said he wouldn’t wish that on any child. He never felt he got the attention or opportunities a child from a smaller family did and could feel the financial strain his family experienced. Every family dynamic is unique and I believe God has a plan for everyone, but I also believe he gave us the ability to make these choices for a reason. I also feel called to serve my community, which isn’t easy right now. I miss working with the homeless and inner city kids facing all kinds of struggles. These are God’s children too and I think it is just as important to care for them. If not, who else will?
Wow! There are a ton of posts on this! Here are my two cents.
Pregnancy darn near killed me. I walked out of the hospital 30 pounds lighter than I had been when I first got pregnant. Between having hyperemesis gravidarum and having gestational diabetes, the fact that my daughter and I are here is truly a miracle. The phrase I get sick of is, “you can’t know what the next pregnancy will be like until you are pregnant!” That is the problem.
We are a military family living 3000 miles from our family, so our support system is limited. I cannot go through another pregnancy like that and still be able to take care of our daughter. How do I balance that?
Is it responsibility to accept that having another child would likely kill me, leaving my husband to raise our daughter by himself, and not have more children? Is it faith to try anyway? Where is that line?
In honor of full disclosure, I had a tubal ligation just after my daughters second birthday. He still wanted another baby, but couldn’t bring himself to admit it to me, let alone ask me to do it. I would love to give him a houseful of kids, but where is that line? Did He allow me to go through that trial to tell me that “one is enough”?
Well written post! Very balanced, I thought…
I don’t want to write too much. All I want to say is, after considering and praying about this quite a bit, we have felt a leading from the Spirit to prevent (using NFP–we don’t feel comfortable with hormonal birth control or other methods) so that the spacing between our children will not be too close. We have an almost 3 year old son and a 4 month son. Though I live a very healthy lifestyle, I have still had some issues with pregnancy (high blood pressure with both boys, gestational diabetes with my 1st). But most importantly, we feel a strong calling to train our boys in obedience to Christ. We also have been led to home school our children. I think having children every year or 18 months can make it challenging to really spend the time training and encouraging our children so as to establish them firmly in the Kingdom of God. That window of trainable time is really so short!
Not to mention that, though we exclusively breastfeed, my cycle started up at 4 months PP last time and is threatening to start up anytime now… I just don’t think having a child every year or so is the best choice for our family. But we’re open to having more kids in the future! Just taking one at a time, and trying to hear the leading of God’s Spirit… thanks again for the great article.
Great post. I am struggling right now. We have 3 kids- 6 mo old, 2-1/2 yr old and almost 5. For our first 2 we used barrier method for a year and then it was ‘fair game’ (lol). This time around, my husband has decided all forms of birth control (NFP, barrier method or otherwise) are against God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. I have to admit I am not in the same boat- for various reasons. My health is not at all the same since we started having children- I struggle with low energy and have joint problems. It is hard to submit to my husband and be open to God’s plan. At the same time, I know that even if we were trying to prevent pregnancy, God could still cause me to become pregnant, if that was His will…
would you be interested in some foodie tips to help with low energy and joint pain?
I am on a gluten free, dairy free diet. I also did some testing for food intolerances, so there is a long list of other food items I avoid. So, yes, I am trying naturally to build up my energy and heal my gut. I take probiotics and enzymes. Sorry for only now replying! I forgot about this article and I didn’t get a notification that someone commented on my post.
This is not a comment about whether or not you should use contraception. That’s between you, the Lord, and your husband :-).
However I just wanted to let you know I feel for you and understand the low energy issue. For me it turned out to be due to severe vitamin D depletion. Once I started taking enough fermented cod liver oil on a regular basis, it got better. It was relatively easy to fix, and it made such a difference!
If you haven’t done so yet, I recommend you get your vitamin D level tested. If it isn’t that, it might be some other nutrient depletion, or thyroid issues. Keep looking until you find the problem, and take good care of yourself in the meantime.
Growing babies does take a lot out of us, and us mamas need to make sure we get good nutrition. I recommend “Nutrition and physical degeneration” by Weston Price as an invaluable source of information about nutrition.
Ultimately, may God bless you and provide for you, may He not give you more than you can bear. May He lead and guide your husband and yourself, and bring you both to a place of agreement on this issue, in accordance with His will. Amen.
Thank you for the words of encouragement! I will have to check out the book.
We have done some testing, vit D is something I take in the winter, but not regularly in the summer…
I really think there are better words to use to refer to people who aren’t Christians than “heathen”.
Though her use of that word here was a teensy bit tongue-in-cheek, why does that word offend? It is precisely the word Scripture uses.
Thank you for this interesting post! Different traditions interpret teachings along different lines, but I think we can all agree that God intends for our world to be a warm place for children to grow. I found myself considering my options after the birth of our second child only to discover that I had breast cancer. After surgeries and chemo, I’m going strong with my two lovely children, but I do not envision having more. The medication I am on now to prevent reoccurrence can have side effects to babies. After prayer, we choose one of only two, impermanent options, copper iud. I felt this was the best option as harming an infant was nonnegotiable and due to chemo it was unlikely I would know I was pregnant for some time. Perhaps adoption is in our future. In any case, I grieved for the loss of future children for some time. I always try to tell parents of large families how beautiful their family is or at least smile. Please don’t judge those of us walking down the aisle with just one or two kids in tow. I don’t know your story and you don’t know mine. Lets just smile with God’s love at each other’s beautiful families and work together to create a world that loves and honors children and childhood.
I just have to add my thoughts. I have three darlings and there once was a day that I dreaded the thought of another unplanned pregnancy. After our 3rd baby in three years my husband and I decided a vasectomy was the right thing for us. We rushed the decision and I’ll be honest in saying that we didn’t do it prayerfully. It just seemed like the thing to do, as every other family around us had made the same choice. (Also, many years of using the pill have caused many unpleasant side affects for me-including the need for surgery-I regret that choice now too) Now, six years later, we both deeply regret that vasectomy. Of course we know it can be reversed, but we still mourn over what could have been in those last six years. Yes, I know that if God can raise the dead he can work around a few snipped tubes. I understand that. I think what it came down to for us was the realization that in our lives we were living a contradiction. We trusted God with things like our callings and our ministry, where we lived and the jobs we took. If we trusted him to sovereignly guide those things, how could we not trust him to guide the size of our family? We realized that we were fully offering every part of our lives to God, except our fertility. And we feel that we really missed it on that. Are children stressful? Yes. Are they expensive? Of course they are. But they are also an incredible way for God to grow in us and show us all the wonders he can do. If children are indeed a blessing as the Bible says, how can I limit myself to receiving the blessings of God? Who wouldn’t welcome more blessing, even though it comes with lots of hard work and stress. I guess now, on the other side I can’t help but remember how he provided everything for our first three children. God doesn’t change-and he would continue to provide had we more children. Also, I believe he’s good enough to know what our family needs. And I have to trust in that.
Thank you. This is beautiful and such an inspiration to me!
This is an honest and brave look at your past choices. God will use your testimony, Gina, for great good. Humility and honesty is ALWAYS attractive. Thank you for sharing this.
Beautiful and brave. May God bless your decision to be open to His will for your family. What a wonderful testimony with deep-rooted honesty. God bless you.
couldn’t find the awesome button. 🙂
Under the pressure of family, I had my tubes tied after the birth of my 4th child… I could literally hear God scream NO, when the surgeon asked me for the final time if I was SURE in my decision. I grieve the loss of the child(ren) God may have had instore for us. And you know what…. in trying to make others happy with me, I made myself miserable in not listening to God. I know GOd has something in store for us, I just have to trust Him… which I am learning to do DAILY!
Thank you for your post, the Lord used you to speak to me and my heart.
Gina, thank you for your comment, such a good testimony! I also felt pressured by society after having 2 babies close together (14 months) and wanted to wait for 2 years to “get back on my feet” even though my pregnancies are really problem free. I even told friends that I would be NOT pregnant for the next two years and fitting back into my old clothes! I got an IUD and if I had listened to God the day I got it in, I would’ve just walked away from the office without it. I was there for nearly 4 hours while they tried to get it right! I even had to have an ultrasound to make sure it was sitting right and have it re-adjusted several times by several different doctors! What an ordeal! I kept it in for about 5 months and never felt like my body really liked it and it never really set well with me. I ran across a blog on Cindy’s website (Getalonghome) that challenged my thinking on fertility and started praying and researching. I was so scared to talk to my husband about it because this (the IUD) was something we had agreed on and I wasn’t sure he would be interested in changing our plans now. But when I shared what I had learned, he was quick to say “Let’s take it out! I never felt right about it to begin with!” So here we are celebrating our 4th blessing, just 5 weeks old. I have 3 boys under 3 years old (and a 7yr old)…I said I would NEVER be able to handle it after I had 2 under 2. But God gives me grace and helps me through each day. I am seeking God and figuring out with my husband what God’s plan is for us now and in the future. But I am so thankful that I found someone to challenge my thoughts and confirm what God was already prompting my heart!
Oh, how I can relate! After our third, we did what everyone else seemed to be doing at the time. My husband had a vasectomy, and it is our biggest regret. I only wish I had read articles like this, received counsel from Titus 2 women, and truly understood God’s Word, before we made that decision. Thanks for sharing your story!
I would have to disagree with the declaration that all birth control pills are abortifacients or that the pill is not for Christians. Maybe if you’re Catholic or Mormon you are taught that but most Christians are quite alright with the pill and the wording here is very offensive, not educational. If you want to educate women about the potentially harmful effects of artificial hormonal contraception please do so more gracefully. I know that you mean well but it’s not all black and white either.
Anyone is welcome to disagree. That comes with the territory of a discussion. There have been many differences of opinion in the comment section – and all opinions are welcome. We do need to be careful, however, to differentiate between opinions ABOUT facts – and the facts themselves. It may be my opinion that the sky is green, but the fact is – it’s blue. I can share my opinion, but I might eventually come across someone kind enough (and brave enough) to point out the fact that I’ve got my colors mixed up. That doesn’t automatically make the person offensive or ungracious, does it? In fact, it makes the person rather helpful, don’t you think?
You see, we live in a world where everyone is right. But aside from the fact that this defies the rules of logic, a little child IS going to come along eventually and point out the fact that “the king is naked.” This is always uncomfortable and causes a bit of angst. I apologize for that. Someone else might read this though – and be grateful to have discovered the truth about the pill. It is for THAT person that I addressed the issue briefly in the article (putting that link in for further study). THAT’S the one I am hoping to help. And I don’t want to help her with my own silly, human opinions. I want to help her with the medical facts and how they relate to God’s Opinion about human life.
I just want to assure you that there are women out here that would be grateful for this information. I had a sweet friend who shared this with me. I had NO idea bc pills caused abortions. I am so grateful that she cared enough for me to educate me in a nonjudgemental manner. So thank you for doing the same.
I agree; I had never heard of the Pill being an abortifacient. of course, I don’t just swallow everything I read on a blog, hook/line/sinker… but I will DEFINITELY be researching this, and I am very glad she brought it up. Thankfully, I avoid hormonal birth control for a plethora of other reasons, but I still want to be as informed as possible. Thank you.
Honestly I think Christian woman are only ok with the pill because they do not understand how it works. As a Christian woman I went on the pill when my doctor told me it only prevents ovulation, and was appalled to learn it does much more than that. Doctors are not explaining all the ways these drugs work, so women are not making informed choices. Nearly all my christian friends are also appalled when they learn this info their doc had not told them. If you are a Christian and believe in the sanctity of life,you should be concerned about the potential abortifacient properties of hormonal birth control.
WOW. Just wow that you have brought this subject into your blog. This topic has no place anywhere except between the woman and her God. Unscribing now.
As a Christian, I would have to disagree about what topics are “off limits” for Christians to discuss among themselves, and I would ask you to consider what Scripture says as well. As believers, we are one Body, with each member affecting the other. We are no islands unto ourselves, and there are really very few topics I can think of that shouldn’t be discussed in an “iron sharpening iron” way among each other. Assuming you’re not a believer, your comment would make sense and you can ignore mine. But if you are, remember that Paul urges us to admonish, encourage and rebuke one another in love. This was a beautifully balanced, loving post that causes God’s people to look at Scripture about the very important issue of life. What could be more important for the Body?
Pffffft, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Only between a woman and God? How silly. I can only assume you are not serious, because that is a rather nonsensical statement.
This was a thought-provoking post, but the title seems a touch misleading. While the concept of birth control was brought up in the first half, only one kind was mentioned, and only in one paragraph. The rest of the post seemed to be devoted to various family sizes and how to be understanding of someone else’s choices (or barriers). I’m not saying that’s bad, merely that I could have taken more info on the title topic.
I haven’t read every comment, so forgive me if this was already stated. I would like to recommend using the Marquette Method of NFP. It is excellent for achieving and avoiding pregnancy. Using the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor, you can track your most fertile days and abstain during that time period if you and your spouse need to avoid a pregnancy at that time. It also tells you your two most fertile days which are perfect for achieving pregnancy. It works well for breastfeeding mothers. Check it out.
So, this comment is a little different from all the others…when I read the post title, I thought the subject would be a discussion of different types of birth control rather than discussion of different-sized families. I still enjoyed the article though!
For those who think the pill is not an abortifacient, can you site your sources? Everything I have found says it is. Here is one: http://www.pfli.org/faq_oc.html
I think most women on the pill are unaware of how hormonal birth control actually works. Most doctors do not tell these women the whole truth. Well meaning doctors just say it prevents ovulation and leave out the part about the cervical mucus and thinning if the uterus. I think a better way to say it is that hormonal birth control has the potential to be an abortifacient for every sexually active woman and there is no way to know how often you are ovulating and fertilizing an egg that never gets a chance to implant. I know women who were virgins on the pill to regulate their painful cycles, obviously its not an abortifacient then.
I believe God is the author of life and to think otherwise would be contridicting his word. Prayfully seek his anwsers thru prayer. God loves children and wants us to have a heart for them as he does.
This post was a very good reminder not to judge other women. I grew up with a judgmental mom who taught me to do the same. I used to look upon couples with one child and consider them selfish to stop there. I looked upon those with two — boy and girl — and think how convenient it was to stop when you have one of each. However my plans for my life have not been God’s plans. I didn’t marry until 34 and then struggled with infertility for four years. We finally had a daughter. We started trying again right away, but alas, nothing. I realized that I might end up as one of those families with only one child. I realized that there are stories that I don’t know, and how wrong I had been for judging. God finally blessed us with another child, a boy. Since I had him at 41, we had to give serious thought as to whether we would try for more as had been our original plan. My husband decided that we needed to stop given our age. I was sad at first, but now I’ve accepted it. If anything, the strain infertility took on our marriage was not good. God might still surprise us as we aren’t doing anything but avoiding my fertile time and that will be okay. However, now I’m part of the two kids, one of each group. Eek. That’s another group I judged. Really, isn’t God more interested in my holiness than the number of kids, so to speak. I feel called to motherhood and refer to my two children as God’s blessings and gifts to us. One other thought, I have a friend who thought that she wasn’t called to motherhood because she only had three kids. Her SIL judged her because “the call to motherhood was having as many as you possibly can and homeschooling.” I reassured her that God calls moms to motherhood and gives different numbers of kids. The calling doesn’t equate number of kids or schooling choice.
We had a “surprise” baby right after we were married. We’d love to have a large family someday, however we’re living with family due to a work injury my husband received (no workman’s comp or jobless benefits) and I’m supporting the family full time. At our lowest point,, when our son was just 2 weeks old, we found ourselves homeless, carless and jobless with only 19 cents. Right now we feel it would be incredibly irresponsible for us to get pregnant again. We don’t have any way to support more children right now.
Finally, a mom of “many” who isn’t adamantly on the “just trust God with your family size/everyone should have as many as they can” train. Your perspective is right on. Thank you. While I’m all about trusting God(of course, if we’re Christians we’re supposed to do that!), sometimes what some call faith is actually foolishness. I’m not against families who don’t prevent pregnancies (I come from a big family!), but I agree that we all ought to respect one another’s decisions in that area. Women ought not to feel pressured to “give God their womb”. Decisions like family planning should be a prayerful consideration between husband and wife. Yes, we women think about it more, being the one who bears the children, but ultimately we should submit to our husbands. For those of us whose husbands don’t want us to get pregnant, we need to submit to them as our head. To do otherwise would NOT be trusting God.
For women like me, it would have been foolish to not prevent pregnancy after my last son. He was born 8 weeks premature via c-section, and my cycle returned before he was 6 weeks old. To get pregnant again that soon would not have been trusting God, it would have been foolish. Foolish for my own health(recovering from surgery for one!), the health of my son(who, at 4 lbs, desperately needed all the nourishment he could get from me), and the well-being of my 1 1/2 yr. old and husband.
I think perhaps some people who have babies every couple of years, with no health problems, think that that’s the way it should be for everyone. Well, maybe so, but in a sin-cursed world, life isn’t perfect. If they had a c-section, a premature baby, hypermesis, infertility problems or some other health issue, maybe they’d get off of that critical train. Sometimes we don’t know what’s going on in other couple’s lives, and it’s not usually our business. My sister gets questioned all the time with “when are you starting a family?” or what do you believe about family planning?” What people don’t know is that she’s had a miscarriage and is struggling with infertility. But she may not want to talk about those things with just anyone. Maybe I’m getting a little off subject, but that’s my rant. I hate it when nosy people ask newlyweds when they’re going to have a baby. Maybe they don’t know, or maybe they’re trying to! People need to mind their own business!
Yes, God does certainly choose different sized families for different people to accomplish his purposes. He chooses to bless some with lots of children. He chooses to leave some childless. While that may be looked down upon(and if it’s for selfish reasons, it IS wrong), sometimes that’s God’s plan. I know childless couples who love kids and are very involved with children’s ministries, yet God did not give them their own. He is sovereign.
Thanks for this thoughtful post.
I must say the idea of large family vs small family, or that a mama-of-many might be judging me for only having three kids, is not something I’ve given much thought to. I think the idea that having many kids is a sign of God’s blessing (or of being willing to do God’s work in general) is just not very big in Australia, at least compared to in the US.
I can’t help myself, I just have to add two things. One (and okay, this is a little tongue in cheek), – just wanted to point out that *even heathens* can be blessed by God. So maybe their large families are also a sign of His blessing?
More seriously, the Bible also calls on us to be stewards of the earth. So while it is true that “Nowhere in the Bible do you see God instructing humans to avoid having children for the sake of the Kingdom or so that they can take more vacations or have a nicer home or pursue a better career”, it can be argued that at this point in the history of the planet, choosing *not* to have children (or to have fewer than ‘replacement’ levels) is also following the word of God. Of course, there are arguments both ways, and I agree with you that essentially, God’s intention is not that we all live the same life, so it’s helpful to simply make our own choices (prayerfully, if that’s what you do), and not judge other people’s. But I think it’s worth noting that being good stewards *might* include not contributing to overpopulation, just as being fruitful and multiplying *might* mean having lots of children. Both are open to interpretation.
So well written, Natalie. Nailed it.
I agree with Betty. The issue here is not about having just 1 kid or 10, or one mother being more blessed than another, or one mom being judgemental of the next mom who does not have the same number of children as her, but the issue is how much you, as a family unit, can manage and handle ALL your kids responsibly, raise them properly, give all of them sufficient quality time and provide a decent and nurturing environment that they deserve, with whatever resources and income YOU have. I’m talking about the basics here, not the luxuries. Some of us aren’t simply rich enough to just keep on getting pregnant. And what if your husband is too lazy to put on a condom 99% of the time even if you already bought him 100 pieces? what if your husband isn’t a hands-on person with your children and most of the time you are left to do the bulk of the dirty work alone? For me, it’s more of a crime to keep “popping out the babies” knowing that even before they were made, you know in yourself that you won’t be able to give them the care, time, and attention that they deserve than to take care good of yourself and the family that you DO already have by opting for hormonal birth control because your husband is not cooperative enough to make natural methods work. Heaven and the government will not pay for all the children I pop out that you can’t raise and provide for properly. And just because I am fertile enough to keep on getting pregnant every time, doesn’t mean I should have no control over which eggs of mine get fertilized or not and leave all chances of conception to chance. I sure hope that’s not what is meant by “giving your womb to God,” and sinning against God if you don’t. God called us to be responsible stewards of the earth, of our resources, and responsible parents to the children that we already have. I am happy for all the mothers who have the number of children they have be it 1 or 100, but I sure don’t like to be told to keep on having babies just because I am able to, and that it is a sin to prevent conception from happening in my womb. We don’t live in paradise to indulge in that anymore, and the God I know wants me to be responsible, not careless.
Well said, Colleen.
I have a different issue I am struggling with right now, with my doctor putting my 16 year old daughter on the pill. She is not sexually active. The reason they put her on the pill was because she was not having a period. (only a couple a year). So they said she needed to be on it to balance her hormone levels. she has been taking it for 6months and has gained 20lbs during that time. I want to take her off the pill but I am afraid of any health consequences??
Danielle, I’d suggest you have your daughter stop taking the birth control pills ASAP. She could either finish the current pack of them, or just quit immediately. There shouldn’t be any negative health consequences from going off the pills immediately, other than she may have some bleeding (the fake pill period) shortly after quitting them. Taking birth control pills do NOT balance out your hormone levels, they override them with articifical hormones, and with an artificial period. As soon as she stops taking the pills, the underlying hormonal imbalance will still be there. It’s not a real treatment, it’s just pretending to be one. Plus, she’s having negative side-effects (significant weight gain) from them! (There are many, many other negatives to the Pill – google it!) If you have a NaPro (Natural Procreative Technologies) medical provider within driving distance, that would be ideal. If not, you can at least get help identifying and tracking her true, unmedicated cycle from a NFP instructor. There is a list of Creighton model NFP instructors and medical consultants (NaPro providers) here: http://www.fertilitycare.org/. A lot of midwives will also be able to do hormone testing and recommend safer alteratives if she needs to balance her hormones.
As Trina already said, the pill does NOT give a real period – it is just a fake bleed. I went on the pill a couple months ago in preparation for getting married, and my cycle feels SO different now. I don’t ovulate, and the monthly bleeding is fake. Everything just feels so different; so wrong, now. We are not really happy with me being on the pill, and plan to reevaluate after a couple months of marriage (we were not sexually active until we got married).
I have quite severe acne, and am currently taking some supplements to balance my hormones. My cycle has never been very regular, and taking these supplements is meant to help there, too. I would suggest finding a more “natural” doctor, and asking him/her for recommendations of how to naturally balance your daughters hormones.
I hope you will be able to figure this out in the best way that works for you.
I too was put on BC at age 16 for the same reason. It did not ‘fix’ the problem, only put it on pause. I spent many years fighting infertility but have 4 beautiful children and we are in prayer about a 5th. Currently, I am 36 years old and I can tell you that in the last 20 years the ONLY thing that helped to change my hormone imbalance was proper nutrition. Cutting out the processed foods and eating food as close to how God provided it and as far from man’s influence on it.
I am curious what your daughter feels about the BC Pill?
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.
I am a sinner, saved by Jesus’ awesome work on the cross. I’m not sure this discussion belongs in such a forum as a blog, would maybe be best in person with a person questioning what the spirit is trying to tell them. I was that person, having two kids and believing I was done. God interrupted my plans, blessed me with my third. Then I thought I was really done. A few years later, God placed a desire for another child, I was torn between what I wanted and what God was pressing on me. Through prayer, he worked it out in my heart and I became open to having another, so I have 4. I’m desiring more now but convinced it’s his calling on my life, I’m 40. Still struggling with his calling. We are not all the same, what is right for one of us may not be for the other. We are at different places in our spiritual walks, I’m sure we should seek unity, not find ways to be divided.
I feel this blog post very clearly *didn’t* create a divisive spirit but clearly stated the things that are TRUE and clearly in the bible.
I am past child bearing age so I am speaking from past experiences. We started out using birth control pills, timing our two first children. Then, after a 5 year gap, discovered that the pill is an abortificiant. We quit that and chose a barrier method. A year or two later, we were convicted that we NEVER prayed about these choices…. how can Believers not pray about something so important?????!!!!!
After we prayed, we were personally convicted to leave our reproduction to God, totally. It took 3 years to get pregnant and then another 3 for the next pregnancy. That last pregnancy was very problematic for both me and the baby. During this time, my husband was praying furiously seeking God’s will for our family. In the end, he felt sure we were being called to end this season of our lives and six months after the birth of our last baby, my husband got a vasectomy. This was very tough for me so I prayed and prayed.
God is good. He comforted my soul and mama’s heart. Through my prayer time I came to understand that God wants us to consult with Him/pray for guidance for all the things in our life. Why don’t people pray about something so important as having babies?????!!!!!
I tell younger women who are searching for answers in the area of birth control that it isn’t a matter of “is condom use Godly?” “Do we have to keep having babies until God shuts the womb?” “Is sex only for procreation or is it a gift to marriage?” The real question is “Are you willing to seek God’s will for the use of your body for procreation? Are you willing to follow the leading God gives- not man’s leading?”
I started taking birth control about a month before my wedding, as suggested by my doctor so we would not end up with a “honeymoon baby”. I had quite a few side effects, but assumed that was normal. About 7 months after we got married, my husband felt led that we should not be using birth control and we threw it all away. Literally, days later, we were pregnant with our sweet daughter. She is the joy of our lives and just turned one. When I went to my 6 week post-partum check-up, I was again given a year’s worth of pills. I brought them home and took about 3 before we realized that it wasn’t for us. If God should bless us just a year later with another child, then we would be overjoyed. We assumed that since we got pregnant with our daughter so quickly that the same would happen with the next pregnancy. That have been the case so far though. We have been praying and trying for a baby, but are not pregnant. I have come to truly value my fertility and my baby, knowing that I’m not even slightly in control of either. I pray that God will bless us with more children, but I also post that He will teach me to be content with what we’ve been given. Our daughter is a blessing and many women don’t even have one child.
I too, was hoping for a discussion on natural methods of birth control. I was not expecting talks about the size of families, but it was a good topic to consider.
Please read Pope John Paul VI beautiful encyclical titled Humanae Vitae ( latin for Of Human Life). Humanae vitae talks of married love as being fully human, total, faithful, and fruitful. This is the best explanation on this wonderful document….http://www.ourcatholicmarriage.org/nfp/humanaevitae/
I feel that this was a well balanced discussion and should not be taken with offense at all. I personally come from a small family and now only have 1 child. I am on birth control and will probably continue using (at least right now). My husband is borderline new believer (compared to me) and while we are both growing and know for a fact that having a lot of children right now would not work for us. We’ve already had such marital problems just trying to transition from single life to married life to married with a child life. Very TOUGH for some..maybe not all. Maybe this will be something that we will consider in the future. Praying that God keeps his hand on our marriage and family as we grow in Him! Thanks for the discussion!
I am a mom of 2 and i’d like to keep it that way. I don’t get heat but people often ask when I’m going to start working on the next one. I say, “two is good”. I never thought to be offended. I wasn’t. My husband promised he would help me if I had another baby after I had my first. He had baby fever and wanted a son. I gave him one (God’s plan). I love them dearly and flip over backwards for my family. But my patience and health deteriorate with each pregnancy