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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– posted by Owen Strachan, April 23, 2007

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