Monday, November 15, 2010

Married for God - Chapter 3

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

Chapter 3: What is the point of having children?

Ash sets out over the next few chapters to expand on the Christian reasons for marriage, which he outlined in Chapter 2:
  1. Children rather than barrenness: sex is in order to have children, and children are a good thing.
  2. Faithfulness rather than selfishness: sex is for faithful intimacy, and intimate relationship is a good thing.
  3. Order rather than chaos: marriage guards sexual desires from destroying society, so that society does not descend into social chaos. (p30)
If asked for the reasons for marriage, would you come up with these?

In short, children are a blessing, not a curse. They are a gift from God and we need to be always open to having children. Ash suggests that if you do not want children, or if you view them as a curse, you should not get married.

Do you talk with engaged couples about whether they want to have children, and why?
Of course, a child may be an inconvenient blessing. A child will usually be an expensive blessing. A child may and often will be a blessing that takes us outside of our comfort zones and into the arms of grace. A child is usually a blessing that will be accompanied by sleepless nights and many tears. But he or she is a blessing and we must not forget this. (p57)
I found this statement really helpful, it wasn’t all “yes kids are wonderful, of course you should have children”. It was an acceptance of the realities of life with children, but still an insistence with they are a blessing. We often think this ourselves – yes, they are wonderful, yes, we are so glad we have them; but it’s really hard work at times.

In addition, we don’t just have children because they fulfil our desires or because it is expected of us, we do it with the intention of raising them to serve God.

Ash goes on to discuss three issues relating to children:

1. Is it right to deliberately not have children?

He says, categorically, no. Children are a blessing from God, and therefore a lifestyle choice not to have them (or open to having them) is not an option for Christian couples.

What do you think about this?

2. What if we cannot have children?

For those of us who cannot have children, we should grieve that loss, and the real pain that it brings:
The pain of childlessness is a unique pain… There is no date on which a couple become childless, no funeral anniversary on which to focus grief, no photograph or memory of the son or daughter who never was. (p58)
Fruitful service for a couple does not depend on having children. There are many ways loving service can be worked out in a marriage.

Do you talk about this possibility with engaged couples? Do you speak about “if you have children”, rather than “when you have children”? If this is your grief, how is your marriage serving God in other ways?

3. What about contraception?

This was a very brief segment, which I felt needed more. However, what he said was helpful:
The important thing with contraception is that it should be part of a lifetime together which is fundamentally turned towards the blessing of children, rather than turned against (p61).
Have you thought about the contraceptive methods you use and how they work? If you counsel engaged couples, do you talk about contraception with them?

We have just started doing this, I have prepared some information outlining the issues regarding contraception and we give it to couples when we first meet after they become engaged. We do not make suggestions as to what methods people use, but are raising issues that they might be unaware of. If you are interested in reading a little more about contraception, have a look at posts that Nicole and I have done previously on this topic (including the comments!)

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