Children: Necessary or Optional?

two small boys laying on a bed playing with each other
by Christina Book

“First comes love and then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” At one point in time, this song would have come true for almost every couple. It was generally understood and expected that a couple have children once they married. But today, it’s another story.

“We don’t want to have children — at least not for a long time.” Really? No children? I’ve heard this several times now, and it’s made me wonder. What role should children play in marriage?

When I’m around little ones, I can’t keep away from them. I want to enter into their little worlds, to hold the babies, tickle the toddlers, and play with the kids. These precious little people are so dear to me, and I adore them. But I realize that not everyone feels the way I do. Instead of seeing drool dripping off chubby chins as cute, some are repulsed by it. And diapers? Well, that’s another story.

Even if it doesn’t come naturally to some of us to love and want kids, should we still desire to have them in a marriage context? Absolutely. Although having children is not the only purpose of marriage, one of the main purposes of marriage is to “be fruitful and multiply.”

God put Adam and Eve in the garden not only to take dominion over it and care for it, but also to fill it. If Adam and Eve hadn’t had children, none of us would be here. But God in His perfect plan designed marriage and called the first man and woman to have children. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28).

In the past, children were considered an incredible gift and blessing. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). How far we have come from a culture that embraced children as a gift. Now, children are often seen as a curse, or at least a burden, something that is holding us back from living a full and happy life.

On the contrary, Jesus loved children and considered them important to the kingdom of God. When the disciples thought that the children would be disruptive to Jesus’ ministry and tried to send the children away, Jesus rebuked them and said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

How many of us push kids out of our lives or decide not to have them because we think it will hinder our lives or ministry? I know there have been many times when I have ignored my little sister’s request to be with her for the sake of working on ministry projects, classes, or other things. Jesus said to let the children come. We should, too.

So, are children necessary to marriage or just optional? Children are vitally necessary. If a couple can’t have children of their own, they should adopt, do foster care, or look for ways to involve children in their lives. Building a family is one of the greatest joys of marriage, and it is, in fact, a call of God to raise up the next generation of Christ-followers and fill the world with His people.

Today, my single friends, don’t ignore the runny-nosed kids in your life. Hold the babies, sit on the floor with the toddlers, run around the yard with the kiddos. Cultivate a love for children. And when you get married, welcome kids into your life. You will be so glad you did.

Christina Book is owned by Christ, loves to minister, is a student at Moody Distance Learning, and blogs at www.mattersofherheartministries.blogspot.com.

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