My wife and I recently celebrated the birth of our second child. Hartley Samuel Vallorani is named after his great grandfather, a godly man who unselfishly raised five children with his wife, Margaret. The birth of our new son gives us what many Christian families today would say is the perfect number of children: two. One boy, one girl; we have it all. In fact, statistics from all over the country support this; the national average in 2004 was 1.8 children per family.
Selfishness aside, there are many reasons why the number of children per family continues to decline. Advancements in birth control methods, increases in the cost of living, the change from an agrarian to industrialized society, cultural pressures, and most importantly—the lack of a Biblical worldview—all contribute to a false understanding of the crucial role of the family to the culture as a whole. I recently read Voddie Baucham’s new book, Family Driven Faith. In the first chapter, Dr. Baucham talks about the “anti-children” attitude that now exists in America. He shares the example of a family with five children that he met while traveling around the country speaking at churches. This family attended a Sunday School class that would occasionally makes jokes like, “Don’t you have a television?” or “Haven’t you figured out how to stop that?” When the family had twins, the teasing became even more serious. The other parents in the class begin to question this family’s responsibility, sanity, and wisdom.
A recent example of this anti-children philosophy in America showed up on ABC’s new sitcom, Carpoolers, which airs on Tuesday nights. Last week’s episode explored the family life of Aubrey, one of the lead characters of the show. Aubrey has at least four children and a wife that never leaves the comfort of her recliner. Interestingly, you usually see the entertainment media portraying the father in this way. Aubrey is stressed out at home since his wife doesn’t lift a finger and he bears the burden of getting the children ready for school and taking care of them once he gets home from work. The children have the run of the house and Aubrey can’t manage them. To escape the insanity, Aubrey pretends to go to work, but instead uses sick days to hide out in a motel during work hours to get some alone time. When Dougie, one of the other carpoolers follows him to the motel and finds out what he is doing, he decides to enlist the help of his new bride, Cindy, and offer to help Aubrey in his relationship with his wife and kids. When Dougie & Cindy show up at Aubrey’s house, Aubrey sees his opportunity to escape by picking up pizza for the kids. Dougie & Cindy are left alone with the rambunctious children. When Aubrey finally returns, the newlywed couple is clearly frazzled and disillusioned by the experience.
The message you are left with, as a viewer, is that kids are uncontrollable and make your life unbearable. Instead of being viewed as a joy and valuable members of the family unit, Aubrey’s children are portrayed as intruders into what should have been a happy and worry-free existence. On the other side, Dougie and Cindy—who have no children—seem to have the perfect marriage with no kids to spoil it. The message is clear, although it is never explicitly stated. The anti-children mentality of Carpoolers is the same as what Dr. Baucham claims is becoming more and more prevalent within the Church.
When I first read Family Driven Faith, I assumed that only a few people actually think this way and that most Christians were a bit more understanding—even if they would never consider having more children of their own.
Well, I was wrong. In the last couple of weeks, I found out first-hand that Christians aren’t so understanding—even in the Bible-belt of the South! I was recently speaking to a vendor with whom American Vision does business. Since my wife and I were preparing to welcome our second child, we got to talking about families. I told him that we have several large families at American Vision. My brother Brandon, our V.P., has four and counting. Eric Rauch, our director of communications has five. Our art director, Luis Lovelace, has seven. My wife and I had identical twin boys that were born prematurely and passed away, so we actually have four. I also shared with him that we have several families that support our ministry —some with up to 15 children. Suddenly his attitude changed. He became almost angry that parents would be so inconsiderate. He informed me about all the activities those kids would miss, not to mention all the added responsibility they would have to take on to help around the house. I was speechless! How could giving life to a human being be considered a bad thing?
In reality, this man thinks exactly like the writers of Carpoolers and most families today. “Let’s have two, maybe three kids,” they say, “and give them every material, social, and athletic opportunity available.” And we could add that they must attend the best colleges possible.
I also got the same response from my neighbor. She responded, “Don’t they believe in birth control?” I told her….NO! Many Christians today base all of their thinking on the cultural way of doing things instead of the Biblical way. God’s Word emphatically states that children are a blessing:
Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127: 3-5)
American Vision recently began offering a new collection of music from Nathan Clark George. Like Judy Rogers, Nathan takes all of his music straight from Scripture. The verse shown above is the inspiration for the second track on Nathan’s album, Rise in the Darkness. I encourage you to pick it up and listen to it with your whole family. You will enjoy God’s precious Word put to music.
No matter how many children you have, I pray that the next time you meet a large family, you will reconsider using critical words. Instead, give thanks to God for their commitment and offer encouraging words of praise.