Sunday, September 15, 2013

If the kids are missing

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.


Elena said...

The concept of marriage and family is so misunderstood in the Protestant churches. There is very little understanding of the vocation of marriage and family - almost as something that gets in the way of ministry. And a gathering of such catholic couples would be more like 21 children and ever increasing which would then move the gathering from a nice house to a church basement! Last night we had 11 kids plus two in utero here and that was us plus my maid of honour and her sister and their families.

Julie Culshaw said...

Jonathan Last in his book What to Expect When No One's Expecting says that China has a one-child policy by force, but the West has a one-child policy by choice. Most people are oblivious to what this means for us all.

Jenna said...

The choice to be childless among devout Christians has wide-reaching ramifications, but what troubles me more is the effect it has on the particular couple. I recently learned of a couple I was friends with who are devout Christians divorcing due to infidelity. They were married young but chose not to have kids 'until the right time.' The 'right time' never came because their marriage fell apart. I can't help but think that the incarnate, visceral symbol of the union between spouses that a child is, might have cemented their love and saved their marriage.