Is It Wrong for a Married Couple to Decide to Be Childless?

A Little Lesson

Is it sinful for a married couple to decide not to have any children? What about the Bible’s commandment to”be fruitful and multiply”? Are there times when it’s appropriate for Christian couples to use birth control? Learn more in today’s Little Lesson!

Picture of married couple thinking about having children

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

Today’s question again is from one of our beloved viewers, and I’ll just read their question to you verbatim as they wrote it to me.

What are your thoughts on intentional childlessness and/or whether limiting the number of children you have to one or two should be considered outside of the spirit, vision or intention of God’s message and commandment to multiply?

This is actually a much more involved question than what I let on in my introductory question, not only asking about intentional childless marriage, but intentionally limiting the number of children that one has, which is only possible through some form of birth control. There are natural forms of birth control, of course, that people can practice, a form of abstinence during the time of fertility, if you can figure that out. You can, but it takes a little bit of doing.

Let’s first talk about intentional childlessness. Well, I think let’s go to the heart of the matter. The question would be, why? Why would a married couple not want to have children. Because having children is generally considered to be a wonderful blessing and it’s fairly normal to want to have children, for all the joy that they bring into your life and also for the wonderful opportunities of sacrifice that one makes on behalf of one’s children to demonstrate love, God’s love for those kids.

My personal feeling would be that unless there was a specific calling from God to be childless for the sake of the kingdom, like for example, a married couple that’s got a specific ministry in a very hostile country or something where their lives are in danger and they would be endangering the lives of their children as well, I could see that there could be some exceptions there. I’m looking for that higher principle that would say it’s actually a good idea, a good thing to not have children.

I suppose you could sit and think of a list of specific examples, but they’d all be fairly unusual, I think. Okay, it’s interesting that for me to say that, but now to answer this next question, what about limiting the number of children? Limiting the number is right kind of in the same boat, isn’t it, as intentional childlessness. It’s just a lesser form of childlessness. You’re intentionally limiting the number of kids that you have.

Before I go into that, it is interesting. For some time, scientists and world population actuaries or whatever they call themselves, were worried that eventually the earth could become overpopulated and not be able to sustain all the people. Theoretically, we have the world. There’s only so much space here and so much land, and so forth. There are finite resources.

That became much, much less of a worry when it was finally determined that it’s very improbable that this will ever happen, because as people prosper, as nations and as geographical regions prosper and people have more opportunity and more material things and so forth, the birth rate goes down. It’s just a fact.

I’m sure there’s a number of reasons why that is, but people limit the size of their families for numbers of reasons that make sense to them. In wealthier cultures, one of them, of course, is they have access to birth control. And so, they’re thinking, well, quality, not so much as quantity because the world is a very complicated place nowadays, and it takes a lot of effort and a lot of money to raise a kid. Once you get past a certain amount of kids, if they’re too close together, how are you even going to transport them all around?

These are the kinds of practical questions that come up. I’m not going to be pointing my finger at anybody and condemning them for that. Those folks who argue against birth control and say, for example, that you’re preventing a child from being born that could have become a child of God, I have no argument against that.

I think that’s a strong argument, but not one that was enough to persuade me from limiting the number of children that my wife and I had. Now we had three children. Actually, we intended to have two. Surprise. I’m so glad for that surprise today. I was very glad for that surprise even before that  third child was born. Looking back, I wish we would have had more children. It’s too late now for us, but the Lord has given, through our children, 10 beautiful grandchildren. You just can’t get too many of them.

I guess I’m not going to be able to provide a definitive biblical answer on this. I could certainly encourage you, if you’re thinking about family planning, to be in prayer about it because what it comes down to is obedience to the Lord. We don’t want to prevent children from being born that God wants to be born, but on the other hand, think of it logically on the other side. You could argue then that you should have as many children as you possibly can as quickly and as close in proximity as you possibly can, and just fill the earth and multiply because that’s what God said, to multiply.

There are other principles that come into play there. “Husbands love your wives,” would be one of them. Another one is all the logistics and practical implications of providing for all those children. Okay. I’ve had some friends who are strongly against birth control. They give me the biblical reason. “We don’t want to stop any children that God wants.” I always tell them, I don’t have any argument against that, and more power to you. I jokingly said to some of my friends who only has two kids, “Well, you really haven’t obeyed that commandment to multiply, because if you only have two kids, you’ve only duplicated yourselves. You haven’t multiplied.” I’m just joking when I say that.

The commandment to multiply, by the way, wasn’t given to everybody. It was given to Adam and Eve, and I it was given to Noah and so forth. I don’t think there’s a reason to think that God’s expecting us to have gazillions of children, that somehow he’s got a big number in mind, and that’s the all-important thing.

Boy, I wish I had a better answer. Thanks for asking that. I just hope that if we disagree, that we can do it in an agreeable way.

Okay. That’s the best I can do. Wish it was better. Thanks for joining me. God bless.