Before you read any Dad’s Corner, may I share a caution? Dad’s Corners are from a father’s heart to another father’s heart. It is our desire that these Corners would build the family up and never create a controversy between a husband and wife. It is possible to undermine our goal if a mom read and agreed with a Dad’s Corner and the husband didn’t. Never would we want to undermine respect for Dad in the direction he has chosen for the family. Therefore, we would encourage moms not to read Dad’s Corners first, unless as a couple, you have discussed and agreed who should read the Dad’s Corner first.
Recently I loaded the five younger children into the van so we could be off for Kansas City. The children’s big toy (backyard climbing playhouse) was in need of some repair. After about seven years in the Kansas sun, dry rotting had weakened some of the dowels and boards. Our mission was to buy the necessary replacement parts.
Each Saturday I try to spend some time with the younger children by running errands or on building projects. It is a special joy for me to spend time with them. Understand, I’m not saying that they are perfect every minute as we do have opportunities for growth (either on their part or mine). However, in general, I love being with my children, and next to Teri, there is no one I would prefer to spend time with. In between conversations in the van, I thought back to the early eighties when we only had three of the eight children we now have.
We lived in Clearwater, Florida, and had some very difficult times. I’m hesitant to share such a level of personal trial, but it might be an encouragement to some. Teri and I loved the Lord Jesus and were growing in knowledge and our relationship with Him. However, due to her body’s inability to regulate progesterone, Teri was suffering with extreme depression.
In addition, the three children we had were presenting significant challenges for Teri to cope with. The medical community, and even a Christian counselor, had no solutions for us. It became clear to us that three children were all that Teri could manage, so we looked to ways of eliminating further pregnancies. Members of our conservative church accepted surgically cutting off more children through sterilization as a practical way of doing this. I sought counsel from her dad and others, and all were supportive that it was the wise thing to do. So, around 1984 we cut off the possibility of more children. We were content with our decision. We enjoyed our three greatly, and I spent all my free time with my family. However, we truly felt it was necessary to prevent future pregnancies.
In 1985 we moved to the state of Washington, and we continued to grow in the Lord Jesus. We still had some very difficult times, but it was getting better. One thing began to trouble us, though. We started to feel that we were wrong in cutting off more children. We would frequently re-evaluate the decision even though we “knew” that it was imperative that we did it for Teri’s well being. This continued to be a subject of discussion and prayer until one day I was home from work, ill.
I told Teri that I was going to find out what the Lord had to say about children and settle the matter right then. I spread my Bible and reference books out on the bed. I began looking up each verse about children to see what God had to say. I started in Genesis and continued through the Bible. After a while I had tears running down my face, and my heart was broken. I cried out to the Lord, “God, I was wrong in cutting off additional children. I can now see that children are our heritage from You. They are our reward and, next to salvation, the most precious gift You could give us on earth.” I will share what God has shown me regarding children.
“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” (Psalms 127:3-5). I thought about the issue of inheritance and how happy most people are to be informed they are in someone’s will. Imagine someone being told that they would inherit a tremendous amount of gold and saying, “No thank you. I have enough and am very content with what I have.” No one would refuse the inheritance because of the value that is placed on gold. Frankly, had I truly valued children we would not have had them surgically cut off.
The word “heritage” also draws our thoughts toward the One giving the inheritance. Usually, when parents leave an inheritance it is out of a desire to bless their children with something they will cherish as a token of the parents’ love. Had we understood the preciousness of the gift of children from the Father we would not have rejected more children.
Malachi 2:15 reads, “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. . . .” God’s purpose in marriage is to produce godly seed. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. . .” (Genesis 1:28). God never took the command back. In His Word, He never told Teri and I that we were to decide how many children to have. Had I understood His purpose and command for marriage, we would not have cut them off.
As I reflected on the physics of intimacy, it was clear that God intended to be the One in control of the family size. Truly God gave man an ongoing desire for intimacy. However, He did not give man the natural ability to control whether there was conception during times of intimacy. This was no mistake, but clearly God’s plan. God’s creation of the body is so incredibly perfect. Had He intended us to be in control of whether children were conceived, He would have designed that control into our bodies. As science has progressed, modern man has figured out ways of preventing pregnancy. If that had been God’s intent, however, He would have designed that into the “system” at creation.
Some might have said we were foolish and “not counting the cost” in considering reversal surgery and risking another pregnancy. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28). However, this verse speaks of commitment. It does not say we must consider whether we can afford more children. Jesus was challenging the disciples to evaluate their level of commitment. If Jesus meant this verse to be applied to whether we have the funds for raising children, He would have been contradicting His own teaching.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-27, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” By feeding the birds of the air, Jesus meant their offspring would be fed as well. Jesus continues and compares those who would worry about such things with the Gentiles. They had no god who would provide for them and therefore had reason to worry.
That is why I believe this issue strikes at the very heart of our walk with Christ. If I choose to let Him be in control of my family size, then I must trust the Lord to provide. That can be a scary thing. Not until I began writing this did I notice the “therefore” at the beginning of Matthew 6:25. It refers back to Matthew 6:24, which reads, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
The fact is if I let the Lord choose the size of my family, He might not let me have the standard of living that I’m accustomed to, or I might have to sacrifice for my children. Even if I were called to sacrifice for my children, isn’t that the essence of Christianity? Are we not to die to self for the sake of someone else? The servant says, “Lord, I am Yours, and You tell me what You want me to do.” That is why I have come to believe that this is one of the greatest issues within the family and church today.
I was convicted that we were wrong in taking matters into our own hands and determined to set it right. Almost immediately, we sought out a doctor and prayed that God would provide the funds to reverse the previous surgery. Within a short amount of time, God provided a doctor and the funds for the surgery.
Once the decision was made, a funny thing began happening in my heart. Even though I knew the decision was right and children were a blessing from God, I was still a little apprehensive about more children. However, the closer the surgery came, the more excited I became about more children. The Lord took our small step of obedience and replaced our fear with joy and trust.
Frequently, when I look at my family seated at the dinner table, I can’t help but wonder how many more there would be if I hadn’t made a poor decision. Even now with self-employment, RH factor complication, Teri’s age, and miscarriages, I know we can trust a mighty God.
This seems to be a forbidden subject in the church, but in Dad’s Corners, I’m able to share my heart and experience. Most men have never sat down with another brother and heard him share about such things privately. If this strikes a chord in your heart, praise God, but if not, forget it. May God bless you as you strive to be the man God wants you to be.