When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. Isaiah 43:2

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Be Fruitful and Multiply: Finances

This is my third and final post related to the book, "Be Fruitful and Multiply" by Nancy Campbell, and as promised, it deals with the financial aspect of having a large family.

Probably the most common objection people find with having a "large family" is finances. Our culture has instilled in us the notion that having a large family is not practical and certainly not ideal because it may mean you can't afford things.

So, here's the deal. This book does not argue that it is cheaper to have a large family. It does not claim that it is easy to send multiple children to college, etc.

What it does challenge is the notion of "richness." The perspective most of us have is that we are "rich" if we have things. We are "rich" if we can afford a nice car, nice house, nice furnishings, nice clothes, nice...stuff. And if having lots of children impedes our ability to have lots of stuff, then we will be "poor."

But here's the deal.

What is "rich?" And what is "poor?" In God's economy, one of the biggest blessings bestowed on couples is children, according to the Bible. Psalm 127:3-5 (among many verses) points to this. So, to deny God's blessing of children would make you "poorer" in His estimation. And that's a pretty big deal, don't you think?

Here's a story from the book that gives some perspective on "rich" and "poor."

"For nearly a year, our daughter lived in a one-room cabin with no running water, no bathroom, and no inside kitchen. She had five children and was pregnant with her sixth. They now have a bathroom, running water, another room added on--and a seventh baby! But they still don't have bedrooms or even beds for the children. There's no room for beds. Each night, the children take their blankets from the big pile in the corner and make their cozy spot on the floor in the all-purpose room. Is Evangeline a grumbling mess? No! Are the children deprived? No! They have a wonderful life! She is the most joyful mother in the nation. The children are happy and live adventure-filled lives. Some time ago, some young people gathered and began to discuss who where the richest people they knew. They all came to the conclusion that Evangeline and Howard were the richest! It had nothing to do with their material possessions. It had all to do with their joy of the Lord and their attitude."

Yes, you say, but isn't it irresponsible to bring children into the world when you can't necessarily pay for them to have "the best?" Well, first of all, what do you think of as "the best?" I know plenty of only children, or children with only one sibling, from very materially wealthy families, filled with divorce, alcohol, anger, and bitterness...and plenty who live in small houses filled with joy and laughter, lots of children, but not many "things." I can say that the latter are often happier, more well-rounded, and kinder children. This is not an absolute truth, of course, but interesting to think about.

The book also gives countless references to Biblical mandates to, "be fruitful and multiply." If this is so, and all the references I looked up seemed to indicate so, the author says:

"When God says, 'Be fruitful and multiply," faith obeys. Unbelief says...

"But how will I provide for these children?"
"But we only live in an apartment, we haven't built our own home yet."
"But we haven't got a big enough home."
"But if we have more than two children, we won't be able to afford their college education."

Faith simply obeys--and trusts God."

I guess the thought would be, if you obey God and believe He has called you to have many children, He will provide.

Another thought to consider--children might actually save you money!

"A bigger family teaches you how to be more frugal. If you don't have children or have only two, you probably will become more materialistic; you go out to dinner more, you buy "things" that you don't really need. We definitely don't need to have all the things that we think we do."

A great example of living frugally and being blessed is the Duggar family. They built their 7,000+ sq. ft. home without having to incur ANY mortgage debt. They simply lived a life where they only spent what they had. And God has blessed them richly...with children, and material provision for all 21 of them!

Of course, God does not simply tell us to have lots of kids and leave it at that. We have instruction throughout the Bible about being good stewards of His provision and being responsible people. The whole picture is this, in my opinion: If you obey God's command to be fruitful and multiply, but mooch off the system, parent irresponsibly, spend money inappropriately, fail to properly train your children and discipline them according to God's ways, and/or fail to lay your life down daily in search of the best for your children, then a large family is not going to be the blessing God intended.

If you are not willing to agree with your husband and submit to his leadership, or, if your husband isn't a believer, then the whole picture of God's blessings for multiple children is not fulfilled. If you refuse to tithe and give/serve as God asks, or if you are not loving to your fellow man (including your own family), you're still not going to a life as blessed as one who does, regardless of how many children you bring forth. Does that make sense?

You can't pick out one verse and say, "I'll have a big family because God says He'll take care of it," and ignore the remainder of the instruction manual that will make it possible for you to do it in a blessed way. If you're not willing to sacrifice and you don't view being rich in children as a blessing, if you would rather have a nice house and nice things than raise children, if you think that being a stay at home submitted wife is outdated or old-fashioned, having lots of kids may not work for you.

But, if you have been granted an extra measure of love for kids, you don't mind driving an older model large vehicle, you don't mind your house getting messy, you love the chatter and laughter of kids, you commit your plans and family to the Lord (prov. 16:3), and feel that the Spirit has led you to have a big family, you can do it! (Or rather God can through you.)

I'll leave you with this from the book:

"Jesus was born in a manger, in a barn, with the animals. Jesus was born to be King, but God did not provide a palace for His Son in which to be born. There was no beautifully draped cradle with lace and frills. Only straw! If it was good enough for God's son to be born in a barn, why do we think that we cannot afford children? We needn't own our own home nor have all the conveniences before we are ready to have a baby. We don't have to be in the "wealthy class." All we need is willing and welcome hearts. God will provide for the children He sends."

Perhaps the title of this post should have been, "What makes us rich?"

This book has really made me think. I have no conclusions, just lots of thoughts and prayers. I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about these thoughts. Now we can move on. :)


brooke said...

I love posts that get me thinking like this and I agree that different people have a different definition of rich.

I have friends who have only been able to have one child and I know they would desperately like to have more. I do feel "rich" most of the time because I have all the children I want (and one too many some times!) We are not rich by worldly standards but we have a happy (messy, loud, crazy) home and I love it.

However, I think the Duggars have taken it too far. There is no way they can afford to send all of those kids to college or possibly give each one of those kids the time and attention they deserve.

Even though, I could have more kids, I don't think it would be fair to my current kids to keep having them because with each child, I have less time to give to the others. Especially in today's world, where there is so much evil, I think kids need a lot of supervision and guidance and we have to be fully present as parents (where a generation or two ago that wasn't the case so much.)

Sorry for my long comments. I think we are on the same page. I think every woman knows what she can handle (finanically, sanity wise, etc) and she has to go with that. I love these posts because they get me thinking.

Rossie said...

What a wonderful post...and thankyou for giving your take on it!
Now having Canaan and each one before him, I see God's provisions in every area.
I have to say though that seeing the Duggar's I am often times convicted at the amount of time I spend do not spend with my 6 children. I do not put nearly as much effort in training nor the time invested in my 6 as they do their 19.
What I am learning is that God provides exceedingly abundantly for each blessing He gives us. I feel, and I believe my children and husband would say the same, that we are "richer" because of each other. With each child, I find myself feeling that God provided a new piece of our lives that was missing. Each one has an equally special place within our family. My favorite saying, "The more the merrier!"
Love you my friend!

Amanda said...

Thank you for the post. You have a great ability to express yourself, and I agree with so much that you say!