Be fruitless and evaporate...

(By Tim) With well over half our country claiming evangelical Christian faith, surveys such as this go a fair way to defining the nature of that faith. When did you last preach or hear a sermon aimed at this gap in the wall...

The percentage of Americans who consider children "very important" to a successful marriage has dropped sharply since 1990, and more now cite the sharing of household chores as pivotal, according to a sweeping new survey.

The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages -- well behind "sharing household chores," "good housing," "adequate income," a "happy sexual relationship" and "faithfulness."

In a 1990 World Values Survey, children ranked third in importance among the same items, with 65 percent saying children were very important to a good marriage. Just 41 percent said so in the new Pew survey.

Chore-sharing was cited as very important by 62 percent of respondents, up from 47 percent in 1990.

   The survey also found that, by a margin of nearly 3-to-1, Americans say the main purpose of marriage is the "mutual happiness and fulfillment" of adults rather than the "bearing and raising of children."

(Thanks, Mark.)

   

Comments

One will never bridge the gap if one is not devoted to our LORD and His Word. He created the family for many, many reasons. The physical to present the spiritual.

Till women are honored and upheld as the LORD intended in their God given role as wives and mothers, not in careers and bread winning, you will see things go further down the toilet.

Too many today because of the love of money and prestige seek a career over the home. Many men want the wives to work to increase income and spending power. To do such is to increase the cost of living and trap others. It takes away from the man's role as provider/protector.

An honest and scrutinizing look at the damage of the feminist movement which all churches and many synagogues have so embraced will show how our society is becoming one of expendable individuals.

Without the family there is no protection. Children have become a liability. So too with our elderly. They drain on our time, energy and money.

Future generations are losing a foundation that teaches of the LORD, and makes them quite different from the expendable individuals they are now.

Instead of self sacrifice as our Messiah Yeshua exampled, we have selfishness to the max.

As Pastors, get into all of the Word, OT to see our foundation and the New to see it confirms what was first taught. Example in your own lives and then teach the men and women to get back to proper Biblical roles to be light and salt in our world.

I've seen this story several times now, but I don't really get it. If I were asked the components of a happy marriage, I wouldn't say children, either. Meaning, if God chose not to bless us with children, I could still be happy with my husband. It certainly wouldn't be cause for divorce.

That doesn't mean I would choose not to have children (fairly obvious I think, since I have 6!). And I do think raising children is important, especially raising Godly children in this era of secular, one-child families. I just see it more as "marriage is important for raising children" rather than "children are important for being married."

To say we submit, even with joy, to God's severe mercies is not to say they aren't severe. Every time childlessness is mentioned in Scripture, it's presented as a great sorrow. And when God removes their sorrow, they have great joy. Consider the joy when God finally blessed Zacharias and Elizabeth with a son:

"Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her" (Luke 1:57, 58).

Zacharias and Elizabeth were blameless before the Lord prior to this blessing, when they were childless, indicating they walked through that sorrow by faith. But all of God's Word presents children as a blessing from the Lord and those who have children know that one of the principal blessings they bring is the sanctification of father and mother.

So we're not dealing here with the necessity of choosing between two goods. Marriage is important for children and children are important for marriage. Thus when God states His hatred of divorce in Malachi 2, He explains that hatred by stating that through marriage He is "seeking a godly offspring."

Children are not a choice, but a blessing. Childlessness is not a choice, but a sorrow.

This reminds me of something that Leslie Taylor wrote on she and her husband's (Chris) blog a couple months ago that I found instructive.

"It strikes me that self can sometimes become so large in our perspective, that we aren't able to recognize a blessing. Self is actually a puny speck of nothing in the grand scheme of things, but when it's right up in front of your face, you can't see around it. It is only by the grace of God that we able to recognize his blessings and believe that they are truly blessings. When self is all that is before us, deep in our hearts we believe that God's blessings are really sound nights of sleep, bother-free evenings and weekends, the absence of responsibility, the freedom to take off and travel whenever one desires, extra income not squandered on diapers, none of which come along with children. It is an act of judgment to leave us satisfied with such trifles. It is by his grace that we can appreciate something bigger, something outside of and opposed to self."

The blog can be found here: http://taylorwest.blogspot.com/

How wonderfully sanctifying our four children have been and still are. I cannot believe how selfish I was 7 years ago. I thank God for His mercy of children to me and rejoice as friends and family receive this blessing as well.

I really don't disagree with anything you are saying. Like I said, I would never choose not to have children, at least not at this point in my life where I've learned to see things a little bit the way God does.

I agree that not having children would be a great sorrow. I know people who either can't have children or have a lot of trouble conceiving, and I see how hard it is for them. But is being unhappy the same thing as being unhappy with your marriage? I don't think so.

For example, I suffer from clinical depression. I'm unhappy a lot of the time, sometimes for no good reason and sometimes because something unhappy is affecting me way more than it should. But my husband is usually a great source of comfort to me. He helps me keep things in perspective, encourages me to continue my treatments when it feels like they aren't working, and sometimes just holds me. He also introduced me to Christ, and he's the one who reminds me that God hasn't left me when I feel alone. So even if I am unhappy, I'm very happy with my marriage.

Along the same lines, I think I could be happy with my marriage even if I didn't have children. I think, like with my depression, that my husband would be a great comfort in childlessness. Especially because he loves children, too, and it was his idea to have a large family. On the other hand, issues like infidelity, poor anger management, or selfishness would cause us to be angry with each other. And yes, even a bad sex life. It took me years to really appreciate the importance of sex in a Christian marriage, and to get that it wasn't just about me and what I wanted. Even Paul talks about the importance of not denying each other in that way. So if someone asked me what was important for a good marriage, I would probably think those were the kinds of things they were asking about, even though I do consider raising Godly children to be an extremely important part of life.

(I think if someone asked me "What is the purpose of a Christian marriage?" I would say "Raising Godly children," among other things like "Mirroring the relationship of Christ and His church." But I don't think that's the question being asked here.)

Basically, I just wonder exactly how the questions in this survey were worded, and whether the results might not be colored by people like me who think children are extremely important, but didn't understand what the researchers were getting at.

Oh, I just saw that at the end they did ask what the purpose of marriage was. I would not be in the 2/3 that said "mutual happiness and fulfillment." My comments were directed at the first part of the article, saying that people did not list "having children" as being a factor of a successful marriage.

The married folks who do want children are postponing it for so long that in order to finally fulfill their "right" to have children of their own flesh they are spending tens of thousands of dollars on ungodly technology that flushes more children down the drain than they could ever bear. The irony of that is, the more rounds of chemicals and hormones they pump into their bodies, the LESS likely it is that they will be able to actually bear ANY children. Either way, technology is demanded to assist in their choice of happiness-inducing events (or non-events as the case may be).

While I recognize the truth of what other respondents here have said, when I read such responses, a "yes, but. . ." and the words of the Apostle Paul always echo in my ear. As you uphold women (and men) who embrace God's vision for marriage, don't forget those men and women who are coming to embrace Paul's vision for a life of singular service.

Kamilla

I too wonder about the nature of this survey and its 'findings.' Perhaps the results wouldn't be so stark if the questions were worded differently.

With that said sociologists have coined a term to define couples who choose not to have children: DINK (Double Income No Kids). Obviously you see the double entendre. To find Christian couples in this category is particularly sad.

On a purely pragmatic level people need to understand the seriousness of a nation's low birthrate. Unless a country's population is growing through through natural reproduction it will face labor shortages, a shortage of tax-payers, etc. The only way this can be overcome is by massive numbers of immigrants.

Europe is a prime example: its birthrates are far below replacement and many countries are facing an identity crisis as immigrants are literally having more children than the native population and are refusing to assimilate. Time will tell what Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain will look like in 25 or 30 years. In Israel, the birthrate is so low that if it was not for the immigration of Russian Jews and Jews from other parts of the world, the Palestinians would be in the majority.

The Scriptures are clear: "Children are a gift from the LORD. Be fruitful and multiply."

Dave,

Several years ago my wife coined an expression that is used consistently in our family now. She calls them DINK WADs (Double Income No Kids....With A Dog)

;-) I'm sure you know the type. Fits quite well with this article as a matter of fact.

Uhm, Archie, surely I'm not the only one who knew that sort of friend in college and knows the other usages of the "w" word. Are you sure you want to use that one?

Kamilla

I was happy when this article came out. I am a barren christian married woman who was wondering whether a marriage can be worthwhile with out kids.

Quite frankly, I was taught the purpose of marriage WAS to have children. It was nice to know that, though other people enjoyed their children, it wasn't intregral to a happy marriage.

Just my 2 cents!

---Autumn C.

P.S. I didn't prolong getting married and conception to acquire more things, if that makes a difference.

I got married in my 20's and have been hoping to experience God's blessing of children since honeymoon day number 1!!!

Kamilla,

We don't have a clue what you're talking about! My husband and I must be missing something. Are you implying there's something inappropriate sounding about that term?

Heather and Archie

Perhaps it was just my odd assortment of friends in college? Chalk it up to my mistaking the BSU for a wholesome fellowship. I'm glad you're not familiar with that particular use of the word!

Kamilla

Kamilla,

I for one understood your comment, all too well. God brings some of us through those paths for His glory. Thankfully, He protects others from them, at His discretion. Don't forget where you have come from. The BSU fellowship, those college friendships, will be used by God to redirect or edify someone down the road, I'm sure. Watch for it. Pray for it.

You and Heather and Archie handled this very graciously.

Love,

Rachel

Nice to see this blog is back after all the technical problems. Also seems quite active. Anyway... the third part of the defense was completed while you all were down (link above goes to it). It addresses the issue of childlessness and perpetual virginity as it was seen by the early church (I pick the late 4th to early 5th century).

Interestingly what I found when I dug into Jerome (as per the request) was that once an orthodoxy did form it did not agree with the theory of biological sexual determinism but rather had a theory of gender. Further that biblical commands were understood with respect to genders not sexes.

This zen koan came to me while reading the previous blog post and then this one:

Music is to Church worship what kids are to a marriage.

We can have either with no kids, bad kids or someone else's kids.

I'd love to see a study of those 'married with no kids' (by choice, and not by providence) who are in fact mutually happy and fulfilled. The problem here, sadly, is that the deception of the world, the flesh, and the devil lead us away from that which God ordained for our joy. These couples fail to see that children, as a gift from God and for the glory of God, are the key to mutual happiness and fulfillment. They are also part of God's design with the whole 'chore sharing' deal (- he said with his week old daughter on his lap after the midnight feeding).

Would it not be better to have a happy marriage first before children are brought into the picture?

Have we not all learned that things and people are not what make us happy. Each individual is responsible for their own happiness. A child will not bring happiness no more than a cute puppy would.

This study, if true, is quite beautiful. Because it shows that for a couple to live in complete harmony they must be willing to shoulder the burdens and responsibilities of something that seems so insignificant - sharing chores. If a couple can not settle on who is going to do what chores than why would anyone think that a child would bring happiness to their marriage. They are at odds from the very beginnning.

Would anyone of you who have reacted negatively to the study suggest to a young, battling couple to have children to solve their marital woes? I think not. Sane people would tell them to work out their differences first.

The last time I will say it: Children will not bring happiness to a marriage. The happiness needs to be their already.

And having children is not the purpose of marriage. It may have been in ancient times but it is not now and I am very thankful for that.

Liz, thanks for your comment. Hoping to get more wisdom from our readers on the subjects you've raised, I've posted your comment on our main page and asked readers to respond.

Not knowing how truly accurate such a survey is, I'd have to say the results are sad indeed. As someone suggested, the wording of the questions could have skewed the results slightly. Hard to imagine children coming after sharing of chores.

That being said I would not put children as the primary purpose of marriage but rather it's natural and joyful desire. So that man should not be alone is the primary Biblical purpose of marriage and in order to be properly devoted to one another that should be kept as a loving thankfulness. When children arrive then the heart and home expand. When children do not arrive though the loss is regretful, there is still the comfort of two who love each other. And that example of godly devotion is really the center of the life of the marriage that needs to be shared with any children who arrive. The marriage is the purpose of the marriage; the children are the natural outcome.

Dr. Al Mohler had a nice post a few days ago entitled 'Why the Baby Bust?' It documents well the point I made earlier on this blog but is also strongly supports the theme of the original post: Be Fruitless and Evaporate. The link is below.

www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=988

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