A few years ago Opinionated Friend and I got into a discussion with someone about that verse in the Bible that says "Be fruitful and multiply." Person A's contention was that God was telling us to have children, as many children as possible. The Bible says it, we should do it, don't ask anymore questions. Opinionated Friend and I contended that we were also giving a brain and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that sometimes we didn't need to have children to "be fruitful and multiply", that maybe the best thing for us to do was to be prayerful and aware of who God had created us to be.
I've been thinking about that whole conversation a lot lately, as more and more people around me share their news of impending parenthood. While happy for those who are going to be parents for the first or second time, I'm also becoming more aware that having children is more than about being fruitful and multiplying. Children aren't just a commodity to be owned, they are a life that needs, no, demands respect, continuity, trust, love and lots and lots of time.
I love Adventure Boy and Train Guy with my whole heart. My heart melts every time I hear "Hi Britt-any" coming from Adventure Boy's mouth. I love when Train Guy spontaneously comes over for a hug and a kiss. I love watching them grow and learn, explore who they are and test the limits of those adults around them. They are two bright lights in my life. At the same time I am completely aware that they require more attention than I feel prepared to give at times. They desire consistency, steadiness, time, love and patience and there are many days when patience and time are the last things that I have. They also remind me that I am a very selfish person.
Coming from the other end of childhood, I also know that if children aren't given time, love, respect, consistency, steadiness and patience that the end result of childhood can be very, very tough. Even when given all those things the teenage years can be horrendous for parents and teens alike.
Someone who was that fruitful multiplier in my life has made a deliberate choice not to have children. Her name came up in conversation one day and someone else said "She's going to regret that when she's old and there's no one to take care of her." I sat there wondering if having someone to take care of you in old age really was a good reason to have children. (I know people who are older who don't want their children to have anything to do with their lives...they call it interfering or telling them what to do, which leads me to wonder when did caring about someone turn into interferring? Oh yeah, teenage years.)
What's my point? We shouldn't have children to take care of us when we are older or because it's expected of us. Children aren't a commodity. They are people, human beings with needs, wants and desires same as the rest of us. No one chooses to be born, it just doesn't work that way. Adults do have a choice and we need to start realizing that our choice effects more than just our life, it effects the lives of the ones we choose to bring into the world. Whether that's one or 18 (have you seen that show??) parents have a responsibility to care for and love that child with all that is within them, until the end of their days.
I don't know that the whole point of be fruitful and multiply meant just have as many kids as you can possibly have, sometimes I wonder if our fruitfulness comes about in different ways. Maybe the fruitful multiplying that I'm supposed to be doing is exactly what I'm doing pouring my life into the lives of the teenagers that are around me. Maybe I'm not supposed to have children myself, but spend my life being a positive, compassionate, Christ centered adult who works with teenagers and leads music at VBS. God and I are still talking about all of that.
What I do know is that when I look around the world, I see a lot of people who have been fruitful and multiplied and a lot of kids who are looking around wondering where those people went. Be fruitful and multiply, that's what I'm contemplating today.