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The Good Life Includes Children

14 November, 2009

In modern times, many people consider themselves blessed to not have children. Europeans—and I would include Americans—believe now more than ever that the traditional family-unit is not worth striving for. Steven Ozment, a renowned and modern European scholar, considers this trend in an article published in The Weekly Standard called Diminishing Europe. He specifically focuses on Germany as it is witnessing historically low birth rates. In light of the upsurge of Islamic peoples in Germany, Matthias Platzeck, chairman of the Social Democratic Party, sadly notes the differences of German families and their Islamic counterparts. Unlike the Germans, Muslims are extremely devoted to their families, tradition, and work. Platzeck worries that the reason for this is that most Germans want “a fun-filled life in the moment” (Spass im Tag) instead of the struggles that come with having children.

At times even I find myself feeling cursed to have children. I wonder what a life without children would be like. After all I am an aspiring scholar, longing to pursue the rigorous and taxing life of an academic. I catch myself thinking, “Life is so complicated with children. They are getting in the way of my dreams, hopes, and expectations.  They are very expensive, and I could accomplish so much more without them. Indeed, I think I would be so much happier if I had much-needed freedom.”

But this attitude is entirely sinful and unbiblical. In biblical times women thought they were cursed if they were barren, and men did not want to be married to them. In many cases, to not have a child was to have an incomplete life. From the very, God commands people to be fruitful and multiply. A man, whose quiver is full as the Scripture says, is a blessed man. I could go on and on.

And the command to be fruitful and multiply is not just intended for Christians, but it is a command for all peoples. It is a creation—as distinguished from a redemption—ordinance that all societies share in common, irrespective of race, culture, or creed. It has significant implications for the lasting happiness and joy of people and for the future of good societies. Platzeck sees this breakdown of the family as detrimental to German society and feels the future happiness of people is dependent upon children. Ozment describes Platzeck’s sobering disconcertment,

In his best interview moment, Platzeck, echoing a more famous German, admonished his fellow countrymen and Europeans to let the tempting, ephemeral, self-indulgent moments go, and reach out for something larger and more lasting, what he called prolonged “joy in life” (Freude am Leben). Training a new generation in the way it should go, he allowed, is the supreme challenge of a people and a nation. Living for the moment does not help a society develop itself. It is children who give meaning to life. A society without children is a society without a future.

When we are tempted to discount the importance of children, we should recall not only what the Bible says about them but also what societies would be without them. Westerners need to cultivate our love and appreciation for children. Our happiness, traditions, and joy depend on them. If we do not, the fleeting moments of the present will meet the lasting moments of our old age. Dying alone, we will realize that we have squandered our whole life on our own pleasures and selfish dreams. As I type this, I wonder what my life would be like without Erin, Jackson, and Ella, and I am struck by a deep sense of nothingness and lack of identity. My family brings me joy, and the short-lived moments of pursuing my own dreams, which I would have to trade for them, would only bring me long-term sorrow.


  1. Jason permalink
    14 November, 2009 5:20 am

    It’s incredibly ironic that Muslims are acting like good Protestants in the Land of Luther.

  2. Screaming Badger permalink
    15 November, 2009 2:22 am

    Thanks for this post. I have five children and, as you do, sometimes wonder what life would be like without them. As much as I would (possibly) get done, I can’t imagine life being nearly as enjoyable. I think that most of the church has conveniently forgotten that children are a blessing and treats them, instead, as a curse – or at least an inconvenience. What selfishness. Though I tremble at the thought of preparing and aiming my young “arrows,” I rejoice every day that God has filled my quiver.

  3. 15 November, 2009 6:38 am

    Well, I’m 46 now. I didn’t get married until last Spring. I know exactly what it’s like to chase my dreams, live in the moment and to explore new worlds by myself. It was easier, and not nearly as stressful during bad economies.

    Yet all of those pursuits and so called freedoms for self pale in comparison with watching 5 yr old Isabelle sneak into our room this morning to greet her baby sister or with watching her laugh and play with Alisia on the couch after breakfast (mom and daughter are beginning to look more and more like sisters). It was a perfect morning that I’ve had to work hard for. But I was not by myself.

  4. 15 November, 2009 3:28 pm

    Thank you for this thought-provoking article. Even though it is true that we will truly be more happy (particularly in old age) with children, I do think there is a more important reason for having children than our own happiness. Acts 2:39 tells us: “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” A very important way, if not the most important way, of making disciples and building up the kingdom of God is through having and raising children.

    But, we should not think of having and raising children just as an effective strategy. When we have and raise children, we demonstrate our faith in God’s covenant which is not only with believers but which embraces their children.

    • Olivia Smith permalink
      16 November, 2009 3:32 am

      Thank you very much for reminding us of what a blessing children are. I never realized how self centered I am until I had children. They sure do have a way of helping us get rid of our selfishness and in my opinion are one of God’s greatest tools for our sanctification.

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