Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127: 3-5
I was invited by a member of a Pentecostal church to a gathering of young married couples to speak about the 40 Days vigil coming up here in Halifax.
Seven couples gather once a month for sharing and last night was their first gathering of the year; so they were going to discuss plans for the church for the year, new ministry proposals, etc. It was a happy, informal gathering with lots of in jokes, compliments on the host's homemade pizza, friendly teasing, that sort of thing.
Being the matron of the group along with the woman who invited me, we just hung back on the sidelines and enjoyed a cup of coffee while they carried on. Very likeable people, warm friendly people. But I kept wondering where were the kids? Seven couples, and there were a total of three children. Three couples each had one child.
Now I don't know why the others didn't have children; there could be any number of reasons, infertility being the worst of course. But it struck me that there was something wrong with this picture.
If these are the young couples of one Pentecostal church here in town and they aren't having more than one child per couple, (and my friend told me that this was about it for the young people in their church, there weren't many more in their congregation of about 150), we have a real problem. If Christians aren't willing to have children, they have completely bought into the one-child mindset that our western society has indoctrinated everyone with.
Children are a sign of hope. When a man and woman have a child, their world changes. It is no longer about them. It is about the new person that has joined them and it is about that person's future. And it becomes about family. Take away the children and you have basically sterilized the concept of family.
I know there are couples who cannot have children and I know that is a heartbreaking situation. And I would never dare to criticize their situation or to give advice. But four of seven couples without children doesn't say infertility; it says choice.
How sad. Because if Christians aren't having children, then they are admitting that it is all about them and they have lost hope. I heard one young pastor actually say that Christian couples are afraid to have children in this world and another Christian couple said that they felt called to ministry not to having children. That is simply wrong. Christian couples witness to the world about their faith precisely with their families, by doing well something that the world has abandoned - the raising of new souls for the Kingdom.
I thought of a similar gathering of Catholic couples and I had to admit that the Catholics would win. Just in strength of numbers. If seven young Catholic couples got together to share their faith once a month, we are automatically assuming that these are couples to whom their faith matters. I would venture to guess that seven Catholic couples would mean at least 12 to 15 children at such a gathering.
It really is time for pastors to break the silence on this entire issue of family, children, abortion and contraception. Because the contraceptive mentality will destroy the church more quickly than loss of faith. And by "church", I mean the entire body of the Christian church, not just one denomination. We are all in this together folks, it is not Catholics against non-Catholics, we form one body in Christ.