A few days ago, a blog commenter left a thoughtful comment on my post about 'Why i think having another baby is prolife'.
i hope it's ok if i post my response here - because it niggled and wiggled at my conscience for a few hours before i was able to put my finger on the part of her comment that gave me pause. i'll post that paragraph here verbatim, just so that i don't misquote:
I think it can be dangerous to encourage some couples to just keep having children. I have seen some mothers who, in my opinion, are barely mentally or physically able to handle the children they have. Yet they get caught up in some their friend's (who they admire) thinking that if they are following God's will, they must not control how many children they have.
i think i should probably clarify here that i didn't intend for my post to relay the message that if couples are following God's will, they must not control how many children they have. Perhaps i misworded something - or maybe she's reading into some of the other things i have posted on here and jumped to that conclusion - but it was certainly not my aim. But even that misunderstanding isn't what was bothering me...
It was the word dangerous.
i think the ideas that follow that word in that paragraph, are fairly mainstream thinking; that we need to be able to handle what we've got before we take on anymore. It's just that this type of thinking gets us measuring those around us - judging their capacity - in our own opinion, rather than trusting that God knows what He's doing when He breathes life. We often misjudge our own selves too... thinking we're unable when God has something much greater in mind. i'm sure this way of thinking would have excluded Rahab the harlot from the lineage of Christ - or a young unmarried teen from being the mother of Jesus... but in God's wisdom - there was no such exclusion.
The word dangerous reminds me of that time in history when Pharaoh was allowed to hold God's people in slavery - surely there are few times in history when it would have been more dangerous to have a baby... but God didn't withhold childbearing from His people to protect them from their inability to mentally or physically handle the children they had.
He chose that time to bless them even *more*. The midwives who chose to disobey the Pharaoh's orders to kill the Hebrew boys? - He blessed them with more children of their own. One of the reasons the Israelites were so hated and feared by the Egyptians was because of their ever increasingly large numbers.
We live in a day & age where birth control is socially acceptable - both in and outside of the church walls - for any reason - or no reason at all...Really - the whispered encouragement to think about the gift of childbearing can barely be heard above the roar calling for planning our parenthood...
There's a big part of me that wonders if gently encouraging men and women - married couples - to rethink their preconceived notions about the perfect number of children doesn't go hand and hand with the job outlined for the older women in Titus 2. Because isn't making a baby an expression of love to your husband? Isn't an openness to the possibility of having another child showing that we have a capacity to love? The older women are to "...teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind..."
i hope this comes across as gently as i intend it to, because goodness knows i wish i had a lot more wisdom and clarity on this topic. But i felt like it was a word worth making note of - and deserving of it's own post in defence of encouragement.
Carol - thank you for reading my blog & for posting your comment - even though i don't know you, you have encouraged me so many times. i hope you don't mind me disecting your comment a bit!