I made the mistake of listening to some millennial, hipster-type folk discuss their reasonings for not wanting to have children. This is a topic I hear discussed often, but as I make my way through the end of my third pregnancy, struggling really for the first time with the intensity of physically laying down my life for the sake of another, I am genuinely nettled as I listen in on the wisdom of the world.
We hear it all the time: Kids wreck your life. Your body. Your home. Your sleep. Your vintage, green and blue dinner plates. The strawberries you just transplanted. Your ideal vacations. It’s true, you can’t go to the bathroom without some little person sending out a search party. And then celebrating right in front of you when you’ve been found. While you’re sitting, sighing, and still on the toilet.
When viewing it one way, parenting is a full frontal offensive on cherished parts of yourself. It’s an offense on my ability to do what I want, when I want, and how I want. It’s an offense on my desire to get nine hours of sleep at night. It’s an offense on my dreams of having a curated, minimalist home. It’s an offense on my goals to have leisurely mornings. It’s an offense on my grocery budget and the inner Nutritional-Priestess that never wants to see a box of Goldfish or Graham Crackers behind our cupboard doors. It’s an offense on the many writing projects I’d love to accomplish and books I’d love to read.
The heart of the problem? It’s an offense on my selfishness.
When viewing it appropriately, in light of capital-T Truth and the help of God’s grace (and not what culture is telling you), parenting is one of the most beautiful pursuits a person can have.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
My generation isn’t having as many kids as previous generations. But my generation also doesn’t have appropriately ordered affections: for Christ, as well as for other eternal things (like people). The reason the idea of becoming a parent is so horrifying to some is that it’s a call to come and die. Now that I’ve been one for a few years, it really is the clearest picture, aside from marriage, of the gospel I will have this side of seeing Jesus face to face.
Thank God—literally—that He is not a parent who valued hobbies that made him feel satisfied more than He valued the cost of sending His son to die for enemies. (Some days, yes, kids do feel like enemies.) I’m so glad He didn’t abandon me in my sin for some better career opportunity. Or a fun Instagram-able trip to Iceland. Or getting to the next level on his Xbox game.
My generation thinks real life and accomplishment lies in the art and design degree. Writing a book. Making a platform for ourselves. Reaching our next level of ideal success, be it whatever your heart can desire or imagine. If you call yourself a Christian, this is a problem. Why? Because in no way does this reflect the mind of Your Savior.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Phil. 2:5-8
Feminists, what you call your strength, your empowerment, I call your weakness.
Consider these two thoughts:
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
“Your Liberty will flourish, protected by God and man, so long as you hold it – not as the right to use or abuse your faculties in the direction it may please you to select – but as the right of free choice . . . of the means of doing good.” -Mazzini
My problem with so-called “Christian” Feminists who talk about female empowerment that informs their decisions on childlessness and lengthy career pursuits, etc, is that what’s really going on is slavery to self. (And by the way, I am a mom and I have my dream job. I have had a paid position on staff as the Content Editor for Deeply Rooted Magazine for going on four years now. I travel for work. I write what I want, when I want. I get to chat with, write with, and physically hang out with “Christian celebrities,” if you will. I have enough work, paid and unpaid, that I regularly turn down projects. Honestly, this doesn’t matter, but my point is that I’m not “wasting” my brain as a stay at home mom). You’re enslaved to the newest version of female power that culture has created. Enslaved to sinfulness. (Also, in this particular conversation not once did any of the men or women I heard talking say they were forgoing having kids for the sake of reaching the nations with the gospel. That may be the only viable reason in my mind to, for the lifespan of a marriage, resist having kids. And even then, you should probably just be single if that’s the case.)
The strongest women in my life are those who have taken it upon themselves to reflect the beauty of the gospel through childbearing. They are beautiful because they are spending themselves for others. They are those who put in the literal twelfth load of laundry on a Monday afternoon, folding and putting away clean clothes with prayers, while dinner is bubbling away on the stove, that this hard work of faith (parenting) is making a difference for future generations. It’s a walk of faith because a lot of the time things do look like Hurricane Chaos came through the door, even if the victims (and inventors) of the storm are running around with huge grins on their faces.
But, I really can’t say it anymore bluntly: Sister, but if you actively chose to forego having kids, you are missing out on so much life, joy—and yes, mess—but beautiful mess. Jesus Himself said there is a certain type of life one can only walk in after a person has died (John 12:24). Remember, death is offensive. It’s supposed to be. Jesus died to break the claim and offense that death and sin had on us. But the joy that Christ offers us in Himself is not even worth comparing to the things we lose when the new subway tile gets cracked or you lose a few hours of sleep this week.
Christ’s Kingdom is a paradox. Ladies, this means that those who are least among us, who get down on their knees and clean up the oatmeal from the hardwood floors morning after morning, who stay up late into the night listening to troubled teens, who give themselves to caring for sick kids, and yes—who set aside a career for the mind-challenging, strengthening, and growing work of raising humans for the Lord—will be honored with glory in God’s Kingdom.
So, Christians, husbands, and wives: please pursue the most dynamic life and marriage you can, and that comes by means of creating other unique humans, and personalities, to learn about, to challenge you, to serve, and to make you more of who you actually are than that twenty year career ever will. Go with the abundant grace Christ offers you and let the offensive calling of parenting be the very means by which God brings about holiness in you.