Can a Christian Family Ever Be Too Big?

4465 reads

There are 16 Comments

Easton's picture

"Too big" is rather subjective -- for me 3 kids would be "too big".

 

Jim's picture

When shopping for a used car, you look for a school bus! Too big! And all you can afford is the 1936 model! Too big!

 

Easton's picture

Then that explains it.

The biggest form of transport I have ever owned was a 1974 Ford Galaxie 500 -- and I was single at the time (and stayed single for a looong time - that was one ugly car).

With a family, my biggest family car was a 1990 Geo Prizm (GM's version of the Corolla).

There must be a link between car size and birth control, i.e., family size...

Matthew Eastland's picture

I'm surprised to not see a large and heated discussion taking place. 
I will admit that it's been about five years since I was last on SI for a discussion on this matter, but I find it hard to think that the same people being here this hasn't turned into another large discussion.

Yes, I do think that there is a limit on how large a family should be.
I don't think there is some set number for every case, but a number that should be based on the capabilities and situations of the Christian household in question.
I know families that can and have supported a large number of children successfully and brought them up well both naturally and spiritually. I've also seen families that have had more children then the parents were capable of raising properly or even giving the necessities of life without major difficulty.

Would you say that an unemployed father and a stay-at-home mother should keep producing more children with no thought for the fact that they struggle to feed, clothe, and house the ones they already have? That sounds like "tempting the LORD" to me.

Jim's picture

Matthew Eastland wrote:

I'm surprised to not see a large and heated discussion taking place.

 

...

 

Yes, I do think that there is a limit on how large a family should be.

I don't think there is some set number for every case, but a number that should be based on the capabilities and situations of the Christian household in question.
 

My point above when I said "Not my business - Between a husband and wife" is that who should "some set number"? 

Churches don't take a position on this issue because it is so personal and private. There's a reason why churches wouldn't excommunicate someone for too few or two many! (Actually too many could be a tremendous blessing to a small church!)

Kevin Supra (father of 15) will weigh in for sure. But even his church doesn't have a rule. 

-----

Update: Our number was "3"

Matthew Eastland's picture

Certainly it is an issue to be decided by the family in question and based on their consciences, but we should always be able to supply the proper biblical principles to be able to help those looking for guidance and to make informed decisions for ourselves.

I have met multiple people that have attempted to lobby my church in order to make it an issue of separation. There is a strong lobby out there that declares that birth control is wrong and wants to eliminate it within the Christian community.
The fact of the matter is that it is an issue of Christian liberty and those that wish to enforce their particular viewpoint on others could be considered to be causing sedition and discord within a congregation by doing so.

So, in the end it is beholden on us to be able to give a sound and scriptural reply to those around us.

Our current number is one, but we intend to have more.

Brent Marshall's picture

I was struck by the paucity of Bible-based reasoning in the quoted comments. How can a Christian leader expect to provide a useful answer to this question without beginning with God's revelation?

Things That Matter

As the quantity of communication increases, so does its quality decline; and the most important sign of this is that it is no longer acceptable to say so.--RScruton

G. N. Barkman's picture

But isn't that the point?  The Bible teaches that those issue which are not required or forbidden in Scripture are in the realm of Christian liberty.  Each Christian must decide for himself, and others must respect his decision.  Why should anyone presume to tell another how many children they ought to have?

G. N. Barkman

Matthew Eastland's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

But isn't that the point?  The Bible teaches that those issue which are not required or forbidden in Scripture are in the realm of Christian liberty.  Each Christian must decide for himself, and others must respect his decision.  Why should anyone presume to tell another how many children they ought to have?

The fact of the matter is that people do try to force this on others and many don't consider this a matter of Christian liberty.
Maybe others here haven't seen the war that is being waged by some on this matter, but I guarantee you that it's out there.

There is a decently sized and well-organized movement that focuses on trying to claim that birth control is wrong and that Christians should have no part in it.
I have watched a minister being assaulted (yes, it's a harsh word, but I can't think of one that applies better) by people in said movement. They take up massive amounts of time, undermine the authority of those disagreeing, and cause dissent and anger in congregations.

With the fact that a battle is being fought out there, and that those pursuing said agenda try to use scripture to prove that they are right and those using birth control are acting in sin; it is beholden on others to be prepared with the word of God to show how it is a matter of liberty. That means having open discussion on the matter and presenting passages to demonstrate the point.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I honestly had no idea this was an issue. Give us some more info. Like Bro. Barkman, I am in the dark on this controversy. You obviously have some experience with this matter. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

There are times when I think 'discerning God's will' is code for 'not engaging my brain'.  Sometimes it really is OK to use our God-given common sense to make prudent decisions, especially where we have principles but not a mandate. I don't believe that God 'tells' people how many kids to have. How does He do that? A strong feeling? A sign? How is a family 'called' to have a bunch of kids, a few kids, or no kids?

As for folks who are rabid quiverfull types, there are some battles that one can become involved in that distract from the Gospel. IOW, time spent reasoning with unreasonable people is time away from helping folks who are looking for truth and contending for the faith. 

I also think that this discussion inevitably and quickly ends up in very private territory. For instance, when telling someone our children's ages, there is an 8 year gap between our oldest and our secondborn. Sometimes people ask why there is a gap. There are some very personal issues in that gap that I don't feel compelled to share, that have nothing to do with spirituality and everything to do with "It ain't nobody's business" why there is a gap. 

And how does one even begin to discuss reproductive issues without delving into sexuality? It's a topic that should be reserved for husband/wife and spiritually mature mentors who are qualified to counsel couples who want or need advice. The last place anyone should look for a role model of ANY kind is television. Oy vey. 

Matthew Eastland's picture

Honestly, I'm not shocked that people haven't heard to much about this.
This issue is one that in many cases doesn't become manifest unless you already know it is there or you are in a smaller group where it makes a bigger impact.
In all of my time at Bob Jones schools (Jr high through bachelor's degree), I never once heard the topic of birth control mentioned at all. I imagine that's both because the entire idea of sexuality, even within marriage has become so taboo within many circles, and also the fact that it really is a matter of Christian liberty. Those two things combined made it so neither teachers nor students really addressed the issue at all in class or conversation.

My experience with this comes from being in a smaller church, where issues among the membership is far more visible than in larger congregations.

I've observed certain traits about those that pursue this agenda that might help make them more identifiable.
1. Those supporting this idea usually hang out more in the churches on the very conservative end of the spectrum (like Vision Forum).
2. They usually find congregations with memberships and ministers that have reached the same conclusion.
3. It's not an issue that usually comes to light immediately, but emerges over time as they interact with others.

Their usual tactics are to take various passages from scripture on children and reproduction to apply them as blanket statements and commands toward all mankind.
You'll hear them make statements like these: "Children are a blessing, so you're denying God's blessing in your life." "You don't have enough faith in God, since you're saying you couldn't handle more children." "God told us to be fruitful and multiply, and you're disobeying that." "You're playing God and trying to overrule Him by stopping the natural process."
Now many of those statements are made by people that don't think birth control is sinful (I have just spent about 30 minutes trying to find an old conversation in the archives on here in which I saw SI members use many of those statements), but they are applied with more force and then used as condemnations by these people.

I've seen several episodes in which this issue played a prominent role and eventually led to problems within the church.
I've seen a family that continuously harassed the minister on the topic over a course of months while haranguing the young married couples that had no children yet as trying to fight the will of God. After months of said behavior, they were told that they needed to stop causing problems within the congregation, trying to undermine the minister's authority, and trying to overrule the liberty of their brethren, then they needed to leave. They chose to leave.
The other circumstance went so far as the family stating that a term of marriage for any of their children was that they were forbidden to use birth control.