One of the most common deciding factors for couples trying to decide when it is the right time to have children is the current state of the world they live in. I have heard many couples and individuals speak about their hesitancy about having children of their own for concern that they would be doing those children a disservice by bringing them into a negative environment.
Sinful Patterns Can be Broken
When it comes to having and raising children, Christian parents should have the most confidence than anyone else in the world about bringing new life into our broken and sinful societies. The role of parents in their children’s lives can be seen well in the second commandment (of the 10 commandments) regarding the forbidding of idols when God makes the statement,
“I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands (of generations) to those who love me and keep my commandments.”
In this statement, God promises to visit the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation in the sense that when generations copy the sins that were modeled before them, those younger generations will suffer the same fate as those who were disobedient before them. God does not punish future generations for the sins of past generations, but He is a just Judge who judges righteously. However, God makes another promise that He will show His steadfast love towards the thousands of generations who love Him and keep His commands. In other words, in the same way that children will be punished for copying the sins of their fathers, children (to the thousandth generation) are promised God’s steadfast love when they follow in the footsteps of righteousness that should have been taught and modeled for them by their parents. The emphasis here are the “thousands” versus the third and fourth where God’s love is magnified above His justice. God will never tire of rewarding righteousness and those who love Him!
The hope this passage gives Christians is that cycles of sin can be broken through the obedience of parents teaching their children God’s Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every parent has the opportunity to choose what they will emphasize in their children’s lives, and parents who choose to emphasize the importance of knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will have the best chance of turning sinful cycles around that may have existed for several generations in their family. If someone is afraid of having children of their own due to addictions, abuse, neglect, or childhood trauma; they can be confident that their faith in Christ is enough to guide them in all righteousness when it comes to raising children of their own.
A Generation that Remembers
Another key passage that gives Christians confidence is Jeremiah 29:6;
“Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters, and multiply there and do not decrease”
In this passage God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah after a false prophet (Hananiah) told the exiles of Jerusalem (who are now slaves in Babylon) that God would free them from captivity in two years. God’s message through Jeremiah was that they would, in fact, remain in exile for seventy years!
It would have made sense to the exiles to hold off from having children and establishing lives in Babylon if they knew they would be moving again in just two years. However, since God’s plan for them was to remain in exile for seventy years, He commanded them to get established (build homes and plant gardens) and have children so that they would not decrease. This becomes particularly significant when the exiles return to their land 70 years later and the current generation speaks about remembering the sins of their fathers and how they must turn from them and live obediently to God (Nehemiah 9:29-30). If the Israelites in exile were not faithful in having children, then how would there be a remnant of God’s people who could remember the sins of their past generations so that they can break the cycle of disobedience in order to bless future generations?
We see here that even during the most difficult times of oppression, there are still good reasons for God’s people (Christians) to have children. When we can be mindful of future generations, and not just our own, we can be confident that God can bless our children by allowing them to learn from our mistakes and go on to bless the next generation by leading them to a healthy fear and love of God which leads to a faith in Jesus Christ and eternal life.
Preserving What is Good
One last reason I will share why Christians can be confident to bring children into this sinful and broken world, is a New Testament example of Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5:13;
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men”
Jesus calls His disciples the “salt of the earth”. As salt was used primarily more as a preservative than for taste in the first century and Ancient Near East, I believe Jesus was bringing to mind the fact that salt was preserving something that was in a slow-constant state of decay (usually used for meat). The fact that the meat was constantly decaying and it was only a matter of time before it wasn’t good to eat anymore, the salt that would have been packed around the meat to preserve it would be the only thing keeping the meat from going completely bad.
Those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are to the earth as salt was to meat. Those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God and admit that they are utterly spiritually bankrupt without God’s intervention, are the presence left in this sinful and broken world that keeps it from being completely depraved and hopeless. The fact that the Spirit of God and Christ dwell in His people here on earth, is the only real goodness that exists. The only goodness that Christians can claim to have has been given to them in the form of God’s Spirit which dwells in them and empowers them to do the works of God in their lives.
If Christians truly want to save the world and change it for the better, one of the best chances they have is to have children of their own. God has placed parents in a god-like authority over their children. Who has more influence over the life of their child than their parent? I believe God created the family unit to be the most influential realm of our societies for good reason. If Christian parents are diligent in teaching their children about God and Christ and His saving message, then there is a good chance that the world as a whole would be directly impacted from Christians all around the world raising up a new generation of God-loving, God-fearing people.
If you are someone who knows that you eventually want to have children but are just concerned about bringing a baby into this sinful and broken world; my encouragement to you is to NOT WAIT (assuming it would be in the context of a marriage relationship between a man and a woman), because this world desperately needs more salt!