Sex, the Church, and Miss California: Having Babies for Jesus

meatcutsMarriage is a sacrament, as marriage is a covenant with God that brings a bit of heaven to earth as we restore men and women toward Eden.

But there’s more. You see, sex not only brings a bit of God’s joy to married men and women, it brings babies. And babies have souls. You see, a very human action creates one more soul with the potential to spend eternity in heaven. Sex thus is especially sacramental — and therefore is an act of worship (except when performed in rebellion to God’s design).

In fact, other than evangelism, nothing has a greater impact on God’s creation than the making of new souls — especially when Christian couples bring children into a home already filled with God’s Spirit. What greater gift could anyone give back to God?

Ironic, isn’t it, that one of the most basic human instincts can be redeemed by the gospel into becoming one of the highest acts of worship.

Therefore, we really need to encourage our married members to have children. I’m not going to go so far as to say this is a command. It’s not a sin to remain childless — but doing so deprives God and the world of a generation of Christians raised in Godly households, with strong nuclear families and with great parenting skills. That’s something to think about — and to preach about.

Now, many couples try to have children and fail. And others are poor candidates for parentage because of genetic issues and such. Sometimes there are some very good reasons not to have children. But God and his church desperately need our members to have children — and lots of them.

And God needs those who can’t bear children to adopt. We need to grab up all the kids we can and bring them to Jesus through Christian families. (Of course, many couples desperately try to adopt and yet are unable to find an available child.)

And, like I said, there are good reasons not to have children — but selfishness and materialism don’t make the list. The fear of responsibility isn’t a good one either. Nor is a lack of faith. It takes tremendous faith to ask God to entrust several little souls to your care — but faith is the essence of who we are supposed to be.

Two summers ago, I read The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out without Selling Out, a fascinating book by Mark Driscoll, who founded the Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I tried to write a review for the blog, but it’s a book that defies summary.

Mars Hill has grown dramatically by reaching out to the very secular, very un-churched Seattle community in unconventional ways. Driscoll has to face some problems that we Southerners don’t — at least not to the same extent. But those problems are coming this way.

Near the end of the book, beginning on page 184, Driscoll writes about the problem with “men in our kingdom culture.” He writes,

In Seattle, the young men are, generally, pathetic. They are unlikely to go to church, get married, have children, or do much of anything that smacks of being responsible. … If there is any hope for a kingdom culture to be built in Seattle, getting the young men to undergo a complete cranial-rectal extraction is priority number one.

While the rest of the organizations in the city are busy trying to clean up the messes made by these young men, including unwed mothers, fatherless children, and crime, we focus our efforts on converting them and training them in what it means to be a godly man. So far our training on everything from how to study the Bible, get a job, invest money, buy a home, court a woman, brew beer, have good sex, and be a pastor-dad to their children has been very successful for hundreds of young men. We now have unmarried men buying homes in faith God will give them a wife, and we have childless college men starting college funds in faith that one day God will have them a wife and children. …

In our kingdom culture, children are welcomed as a blessing from God because they will ensure that reformission continues well into the future. We value children not simply because they are cute or teach us life lessons but also because a reformission legacy matters. We believe that we should multiply and have lots of children, and then cultivate those children to live fruitful lives that include one day having lots of children who live fruitful lives.

Read the book. If you don’t think Seattle’s problems are coming, well, you’re right. They’re already here — just not as severely. You’d may as well get started.

You see, Driscoll presents a fresh approach to the gospel shaped by living in a city where very few are practicing Christians. Therefore, for him it’s easier to distinguish the world from the church. And having children — or not having children — solely for selfish reasons is worldly thinking. Planning your family self-sacrificially, rooted in the gospel and love for God’s work through the church, is Christian thinking.

We in the Southern churches have so incorporated worldly thinking into our lives that we think the decision of whether to have children or how many children to have is purely private and of no concern to Jesus or his church.

But sex between a Christian husband and a Christian wife is worship of God — it’s receiving a blessing from God. And bearing children is worship of God times a thousand. It’s human action that calls on God to make an everlasting soul to send to your care. And where would we want new souls to be if not in Christian families?

It’s a fact that as societies become more affluent, even though they can better afford children, they have fewer children. Europe is not producing children fast enough to replace the Europeans who are dying. Parts of America are in this sad state as well.

Why would wealth lead to fewer children? Well, it’s just plain old materialism and self-indulgence, isn’t it? We want the same stuff as the couple next door — and kids are expensive. And as more couples choose to buy beach houses and ski trips instead of school books and Legos, other couples follow suit.

Well, Driscoll has it right. We need to fill our churches with kids — and train our young couples on parenting and marriage and finances. And encourage sacraments in the bedroom. And for those who can’t have children, well, it’s no sin, but they need to roll up their sleeves and be heavily involved in ministry some other way. It’s all worship, you know.

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12 Responses

  1. Jay,
    I agree with everything you wrote in this post. Sex within a marriage is good and should be encouraged (and enjoyed). Men should be trained to be responsible husbands and fathers. And children are important to God.

    Thank you for encouraging adoption, too. Several adoption agencies affiliated with the Churches of Christ are listed at the Christian Child and Family Services Association website (www.ccfsa.org) for anyone who is interested in adopting children.

  2. Interesting information and some valid points were made.

    I still prefer to think of the number of children as a private matter. I can think of positive and negative reasons for having children.

    There may be positive reasons to limit our number of children. I remember it being pounded into us in school (1960’s) of the growing population explosion and the earth’s inability to sustain (and provide food) for such growth.

    Do the poor have more children to provide more happiness since they don’t have money? I don’t know.

    For the record, we have three children. One has graduated from and the other two are enrolled in our Christian universities. When we were married, I wanted two children (reason given above) and my wife wanted five. Her doctor limited her to three for medical reasons. It turns out we just found out the magnitude of health issues that are still present from her last pregnancy 22 years ago.

    One more reason for keeping the choice of children private: We were at one time declared an infertile couple. We were trying every reasonable method possible to have children at the same time people were pestering us why we didn’t have any yet. That was a very frustrating two years. And most of the loving abuse came from church folks. At the time I might have walked out of a sermon that sounded like this post (although I understand and can somewhat support the reasons given).

  3. very well written. I appreciate what Mark Driscoll tries to do in the Seattle area and he and other emerging church leaders have some ideas that we should all consider. What will Christianity look like within a given cultural context is the question in dealing especially with missional evangelism.

    The world over [even more so in other cultures, especially in Muslim cultures] sex is generally viewed as “dirty” and something not to be discussed, but in the context of marriage it is good. God has said that it is good.

  4. Excuse me? If I read this and some of the related posts correctly the implied recommendation is that Christians should produce children for the purpose of enlarging the kindgom and/or improving the community. I can’t think of any biblical basis for this concept, but I can think of dozens of ways for singles and couples to have a tremendous impact on developing young people–other people’s children. Adoption is a good one, but only one.

    Instead of talking about increasing family size, or sex (which we’ve done often in my church circle–and rather crudely at times), how about teaching on how the whole church can help train/encourage future ministers regardless of their family status.

    If there is little to no hope of reaching those born outside of a Christian family, what is the point of Christianity?

  5. Rich,

    When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, nothing is private. Nothing. We gave him everything we are.

    Therefore, every decision we make must be made in light of our commitment to Jesus — even the decision to have or not have children.

  6. It’s also difficult if you’re single, pursuing your relationship with Christ and responsibility (the things Mark Driscoll points out), and your church family and other Christians keep asking you how your dating life is going. And if you do have something as innocent as grabbing coffee with someone, it’s blown completely out of proportion. 🙂

    But this series of articles also makes me think of the blessing of laying a solid foundation for a family some day and being a special waiting witness for the family to show up.

  7. Jay,

    Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant by private. I agree that “every decision we make must be made in light of our commitment to Jesus”. However, I believe the decision to have children is too complex for anyone to judge me based on the quantity I and my wife have.

    You make some good points. We had decided to begin the adoption process for similar reasons but our family became victims of a violent crime and it was all I had in me to keep our kids sane and keep us together. My wife should get the most credit. A child psychologist told us that 90% of couples get divorced after such circumstances. That was 16 years ago and we’re still together (although I am probably still frustrating my wife).

    I do agree with the ideals you presented. Our choice of children should not be from selfish reasons. But life is sometimes too complicated to say we should have more rather than less. Paul recommended for some not to marry at all.

    Sorry for the venting. I may be taking your post too literally. We probably agree much more on this subject than I sound.

  8. bdc,

    I was beginning to have similar thoughts.

    One is not irresponsible because he or she chooses not to have children. I would call that being responsible. Do not judge me for choosing not to populate the world or God’s Kingdom and I’ll not judge you for choosing to do so.

    Parents and Church family should simply leave the question of having and raising children to those whose (worldly) bodies are producing them.

    Sadly this entry reminds me of thoughts a cult leader would have.

  9. Before we populate the kingdom we need a culture and tradition of premarital concepts. Dating is an oddity in the idea of Christianity and the lack of Biblical help makes one wonder what is the real solution. Personally I don’t see a lot of happy marriages in the church now days. It seems that until we can claim (we as a denomination) have a certain standard for staying in an life time commitment birth control sounds like a better alternative.

  10. I really appreciate this post. Haven’t heard of the book you mentioned, but I need to look for it. Incidentally, I think Paul had some of this in mind in the closing verses of 1Timothy 2. For the record, I think you answered most of the objections well-meaning folks have registered in their comments here in your original post!
    —JLP

  11. There are Christian people who don’t have the desire to produce children. I can’t explain why that is, but it is a fact! And there are Christian people who have children, but are not suited to be parents. These people should have had children. It seems that those who advocate producing children for the sake of producing children are attempting to engineer Christian society to have it become what they believe it should look like. Its the old story – pastors exercising power and control over others.

  12. 14 years ago I took this matter to my father – with all the violence and evil in the world I don’t think I want to bring a child into it. His answer was along the same lines as this post – if my wife and I don’t bring children into this world, training them in the gosple and in ways that would improve the culture “who will?” I constantly come back to that question – “if I don’t who will?” In that one statement my father gave me a mission field in my own home. My wife and I constantly discuss cultural matters with our children and how the Good News can improve the world beyond measure. We see it as our highest responsibility as parents and Christians to “raise up [our children] in the way [they] should go…” This in no way removed my worries of an evil world surounding my kids, because they still have freedom to choose not to follow Christ. But it strengthens my hope because I have faith God will work it out for those that love Him.

    Steve Valentine

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