The New York Times recently ran an article on why fewer Americans are choosing to have children. Citing a Morning Consult Survey, they announced that some of the main reasons people are hesitating to have children are the cost of childcare, not having a partner yet, and wanting more free time.
The responses to this study are helpful as a window into the hearts of potential parents in our culture. Here’s the bottom line: we care more about careers, money, and free time than we care about having and investing in children. As a culture, we’d rather have careers and be wealthy than marry young and have kids. This is plain and simple selfishness, and we don’t even blink at it.
I’d like to point out the obvious: these sacrifices are just the tip of the iceberg. Children will destroy you. They devour your time. They consume your money. They deplete your energy reserves. They speed up your aging. They rob you of sleep. They turn your hair grey. And all of this is good for you.
God’s mandate to humanity to be fruitful and multiply carries with it an implicit call to humility and selfless sacrifice. If our children will survive after birth, parents must make sacrifices. If our children will thrive, parents must make significant, long term sacrifices to invest in them.
Parenthood forces us to love ourselves less, and love other human beings more. It forces us to question our priorities—is having a career or climbing to the top of our corporate ladder more important than this little soul? Is being comfortably wealthy more important than discipling those little hearts in your home?
The Apostle Paul’s instruction to fathers is especially relevant here:
Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Put another way, God calls us as parents to primarily invest in the spiritual growth of our children. There’s no way to do this while you remain your number one priority.
We know that God doesn’t call every person to marriage, and he doesn’t bless every marriage with children. That said, here’s a word to potential parents in our world:
If God blesses you with a spouse and the ability to have children, know that those children will destroy you, and that’s a good thing.