So the question I have been asking people is: What should be the reason for a married couple to have children? The answers I have received go like this: to feel fulfilled; to experience being a parent; to pass on my heritage; to feel loved; to have someone take care of me when I’m old. Notice that these answers are rather self-centered. While children can certainly bring about these experiences, they are not the reason Scripture says we should have children.
Before David was born, Jan and I were challenged by Psalm 127, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” A stick becomes an arrow after it is whittled smooth to remove imperfections, equipped with feathers for stability and direction, and given a point to defeat the enemy. Likewise, children must be disciplined to remove wrong behavior, taught character for stability and godly principles for direction, and made to know that their purpose in the world is to defeat evil and glorify God.
One day Jesus asked some fault-finders whose image was on a coin. “Caesar”, was their answer. Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Genesis 1 says that we are created in God’s image. Therefore, as parents, our children do not belong to us, but to God. We are merely stewards entrusted by God with children for the purpose of making them into arrows useful in the Master’s hand.
Any parent who desires children for personal fulfillment may be setting themselves up for disappointment. It doesn’t take too many days of dirty diapers, crying, hitting, biting, shouting, name-calling, broken dishes, ruined clothes, rebellious attitudes, and a host of other grievances, to hope that there is a better way to find fulfillment. Indeed there is. From our experience, only when Jesus is our first love – our source for acceptance and significance, can we have the patience to love these warring little creatures in our home.
One has to be intentional to make arrows; they don’t just form by themselves. God entrusted parents, not schools, for this task. Jan and I were motivated daily by our God-given assignment to raise kids who were mighty in spirit, who recognized the enemy (lust, greed, rebellion, anger, selfishness, etc.), and whose purpose was to show up the world for the darkness that is in it so that the light of Christ could shine clearly through them.
A few hours ago I was talking with Hannah via Skype. I asked her why she would want children some day. Her quick answer, “To take on the challenge of raising kids who will be good. Our world needs good people.” Exactly!