Letting a Gift Be a Gift: Seminarians and Pregnancy

This blog touches on a topic that is quite relevant to a seminary community stuffed full of young married couples possessing a robust theology of the family. It is important that we possess such theology, for we live in an anti-child age, in which couples forestall marriage, swear off pregnancy, and ultimately produce far fewer children than in generations past. This is a troubling change, and it is right that we deliver the Word to those who will not deliver from the womb.

But I wonder whether we young folks who are able to make a theoretical case for marriage sometimes falter in putting such a case into practice. In the busyness of seminary life, and the assumption of financial debt that often comes with marriage, and the various and weighty pressures incumbent upon young couples (church, school, work), I wonder if our approach toward children slowly, quietly shifts such that children become a weight rather than a gift. The Bible's perspective on this matter could not be clearer: children are a gift (Psalm 127:3). The issue is settled with one solitary sentence. Children are always a gift. They are a gift whether you've been married for a week, a month, a year, or ten years. They are a gift whether you're indebted, doing fine, doing swimmingly, or nothing's doing. They are a gift whether you expected them, planned them, adopted them, or had no idea they were coming. In all situations, and to all couples, the Bible's word is this: "the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Ps. 127:3). We should thus receive every child as a miraculous present, one whose blessings take a lifetime to fully appear.

With my point clearly stated, I should point out a few things I'm expressly not saying. I'm not advocating the Catholic view that every marital act must potentially produce children; I'm not saying that certain forms of birth control are not acceptable; I'm not saying that couples should not make tentative plans regarding children. I'm also not saying that unplanned pregnancies are not challenging and do not necessitate some time for adjustment. I am saying, however, that the Bible's simple but unmistakably clear word on children should stamp our familial theology and direct our attitude toward children--whenever (and, importantly, if) God chooses to give them to us. When all is said and done, we future pastors will display love for the Word not simply by preaching it, but by receiving every child the Lord gives us as a living embodiment of His kindness.

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Comments are open.

- posted by Owen Strachan, April 23, 2007


Tony Kummer said...

Welcome to Said At Southern. I really appreciate your post. In my life, raising children while in Seminary has saved me from the professionalism that ruins so many guys in the ministry.

Being the pastor of my family has influence my whole vision for ministry. I think that is why Paul keeps saying elders must rule their households well.

Stephen Newell said...

So let me pose a question in regards to this particular statement: the Bible's simple but unmistakably clear word on children should stamp our familial theology and direct our attitude toward children.

Are we wrong to base our theology of marriage solely on the husband/wife, church/Christ relationship? Or do we simply have an incomplete theology of marriage? That is to say, are we leaving out our theology of children when developing or teaching our philosophy of marriage?

Ever since my wife became pregnant and miscarried back in January, for whatever reason such thoughts have consumed my thinking on this topic. Have I neglected to think of our relationship in terms of parenthood in favor of thinking in terms of us as husband and wife? Or are those types of thoughts appropriate only during certain seasons?

Owen said...

Thanks Tony and Stephen for the comments. I would say, Stephen, that it is right to base our theology of marriage on the church/Christ relationship and to focus on our life with our spouse. I think it is also right, though, to be thinking and praying about children. The paradigm of modern marriage in which one gets married without any thought to children is a bad one. So while children need not dominate our thinking, they should certainly be a good part of it as we think about the future. Any good theology of marriage must include solid thinking about children, and preparation (in some form) for them.

Tony Kummer said...

I think of serving my family as a very natural implication of all the humility talk and one another language in the New Testament.

Where better can a person learn to live out the others first ethic of Christianity?

Owen said...

Amen, Tony.

And I loved the above comment about one's family being an antidote to professionalism. So true.

Stephen, I've thought more about your words and simply wanted to pass along my personal sorrow regarding your wife's miscarriage. What a tragic event, and I will pray for you too as you even now recover.

G. F. McDowell said...

As an ignorant single, I thought I would chime in. As I ponder the issue and my overwhelming desire to marry, I have realized that if I am not ready for kids, I am not ready to marry. Ready in my mind means willing to do whatever it takes to bear the financial burden so my hypothetical wife is free to stay at home should she become pregnant.

I know that nobody is ever fully ready for marriage or children, but there should be at the bare minimum an open-ness to the possibility and a willingness to shoulder the burden.

Being around the happy, well-disciplined, kids at my church back home made me want to be a dad. At 28, I wish I'd had that epiphany earlier, but the Lord has been good to me and given me salvation. Dayenu!

ckhnat said...

As one who is in the midst of seeking to understand the implications of marital union and childrearing due to my own upcoming wedding ... I have been thinking a lot on the topic of the purpose of marriage and that intimate bond of sexual intercourse.

As all engaged couples do (or ought to do), my fiance and I are discussing plans for our future family. The hows and whens are overwhelming at times.

While still uncertain, I hold a great respect with those who hold the conviction that each time a couple engages in sexual intimacy they ought to be open to the possibility of God blessing them through the new life of a child as a result. I also respect those who view family planning as a solemn responsibility, putting off having children till they are able to best care for and provide for a family.

I am bothered, however, by a flippancy I have observed whether in the world or evangelicalism concerning birth control. Time and again I have encountered couples or individuals who view the blessing of birth as a blight to be prevented with medicine.

These persons SHOULD not be parents.

And I believe, these persons are not responsible enough to engage in sexual intercourse.