Have you seen this?
It’s from xkcd, a witty web comic for geeks (and the girls who love them). This comic just happened to be published the day after I found out I was carrying our fifth child, who at the time was the size of a sesame seed, and for whose pre-natal care and delivery costs we appear to be about $2,000 short. How that shortfall came to be is a long story. We made a stupid paperwork mistake in our HSA contributions. Life goes on, and now we’ll just have to rearrange some priorities, work a little bit harder, and eat a few more beans and rice meals to replace the savings we’ll be raiding to pay the midwife.
Those darn kids sure are expensive, aren’t they? Too expensive to have!
Well, no, actually. I don’t think they are. This is a lie our culture continually tells about children, and even Christians fall for it, hook, line, and sinker. I’m not going to pretend that it costs nothing to raise children, but I will say that the financial costs aren’t anywhere near what “experts” tell us (and check out what Smockity thinks of experts today, while you’re at it). In fact, I’d say that you’re going to end up about as wealthy as you were going to be whether you add kids into the mix or not. Wealth, especially in a country like ours, has less to do with how many mouths you’re feeding and more to do with your willingness to work, your skill-set, and your ability to save rather than spend.
I know you’re all familiar with the Duggars. I’ve only watched a few episodes of their show, so I don’t know everything about them. But you know what? They don’t look poor to me! Of the large families I know personally, some are wealthy, and some are decidedly not. They are all, however, fed, clothed, and lacking nothing essential. Maybe they don’t have anything fancy, and their shoes are a bit scuffed (like mine), but they are taken care of. I also know families with two kids, or none, who are in dire financial straits, so I don’t see how we can blame our children for our financial situations.
Let’s stipulate that having children does, in fact, mean you’re going to be less wealthy, though. Pretend that every child you add to your family really does remove hundreds of thousands of dollars from your future purse. Does that mean preventing them from even coming into existence is the best way to secure your future?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (and, I might add, where the Fed does not inflate away). For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our culture sets parents against children, telling us that they’re a money-suck, and the only thing standing between us and a comfortable retirement. (And isn’t comfort the real purpose of living?) Even in the church, financially strapped parents are led to believe that their money troubles are partly due to the existence of their children and advised against having more…until the money is there.
Is this how God thinks of children? Does He think of them as consumer goods, to be “bought” only if we can afford to “pay for” them?
In God’s economy, children are wealth!
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young.
Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children.
Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
Children are not consumer goods. They are people, made in the image of God.
At the end of my life, if God wills that I should live to old age (which, given my driving abilities, seems like a longshot), I might die in somewhat less well-appointed circumstances than I otherwise would have. That may be in part because of the amount of money I’ve “wasted” raising my children–people whose existence I could have prevented with just a quick visit to the doctor.
It’s a fact that the cost of my kids’ education, clothing, and healthcare would be put into a savings account if those little people just didn’t exist. But those people will be there when I’m old, and when I die they’ll be sorry I’m gone. I doubt whatever is left of my retirement fund will feel so strongly about my passing.
You guys go ahead and worry about how much it costs to have kids. I’ll be over here enjoying the fruits of my labor—a living legacy of Godly children. For each mouth that God has given us to feed, He will also give us the means with which to feed them. It’s a promise He has made, and I’m standing on it.