Or maybe it’s your neighbor whose family size has you worried. There seems to be a lot of that going around these days. Just yesterday an older lady—the greeter at Walmart, actually—stopped me and asked me how “all these young mothers” thought they were going to pay for their kids. (I’d have borne the insult gracefully if I’d thought she meant I looked too young to know what I was getting into. Alas, she didn’t seem to be including me in her definition of “young mothers”.)
If it were just one lady whose age appeared not to have fostered wisdom, I probably wouldn’t bother blogging about it. But it’s not just her. Daily, I get internet searchers wondering why Christian families are having children they can’t afford, along with Christians who are wondering how they’re going to afford the blessings God is sending their way. Strangers on the street tell me that they don’t understand how I can afford my kids. My own grandmother wants me to stop having kids because they cost too much!
What these questioners overlook is the fact that a) we’re talking about Christian families and b) children, Christian or not, don’t cost a dime.
Children are not consumer goods. Let’s take the second point first, since I know that’s the one that is really killing you. It’s simple enough: If you think you can’t afford your next child, would you mind telling me which store you plan to buy him from? Is there a discount for bulk purchases that I’ve been missing out on? And who is going to repossess him, should you need a few extra months to pay off the midwife? You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I’ll touch on this much more in a later post, but I am one hundred percent serious when I say that children don’t cost a dime.
Christianity is the key. Searchers who ask why Christian families think they can afford so many children answer their own question. I propose that the reason that they can afford the large family lifestyle is because they are Christians.
Stay with me for a moment. I am not saying that Christians are wealthier, smarter, or somehow less expensive to feed and clothe than non-Christians. We come from all walks of life, after all. However, the Bible does provide a great deal of financial wisdom for those who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to take advantage of it. The rest of the world kinda-sorta knows these things, as the large number of personal finance blogs indicates, but Christians often literally take their faith to the bank.
People who take God’s word seriously concerning family structure and His love for their offspring are equally likely to believe biblical truths about earning, spending, borrowing, giving, and saving. Believing these things, they are more likely to live by them, however imperfectly, than those who haven’t heard the word of God. Not every large family has the best grasp on these principles, it’s true, but it has been my experience that larger Christian families are much more likely to be debt-free and financially independent than even most smaller Christian families or childless couples.
In fact, what looks like scarcity to our credit-driven culture is often just a different set of values. My shoes aren’t always in the best condition, we live in a less well-appointed home than many would think acceptable, and our cars are beaters, but we’re debt free and building our savings. And yet, our neighbors seem to think we’re broke!
Some of my large-family friends are (by my lights, anyway) filthy rich, and others are struggling to keep the lights on, but none of them show any bitterness toward their children when the bills come due. This is because they know that the mere presence of children hasn’t done anything to change their true financial situation. They don’t measure people in dollars and cents.
God provides. For all Christian families, whether large or small, it always comes down to this: God provides for His children.
My father often used to talk in his sermons about a time when his daughters had no shoes, and he had no work boots. He cried out to God for help, and what do you know? My grandmother dropped by with shoes for both kids (note that our family was a “manageable” size, and yet we were poor), and he found by the side of the road a new, unworn pair of boots that were the size he needed. My father was working as hard as he could, but it was a bad economy, and he came from a poor family himself. He was doing his part in trying to provide, and it still wasn’t enough for our family’s needs at the time.
But God had enough for us!
I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.—Psalm 37:25