Small Family, Large Family, or God’s Family?

My family is not my religion.

One of the more obvious themes of this blog is having a larger-than-average family in a small-family culture. I’m a mother of five active and challenging people. This job—or perhaps it’s better to call it a relationship–takes up my whole day, every day, and will do so for at least the next couple of decades, so it’s hardly surprising that that is what I blog about. “Write what you know” is good advice, so I stick with it. However, I wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea that the size of my family is  the cornerstone of my existence. It isn’t. Jesus is.

I have, in comments on other posts, been accused of “child worship” for believing that each child given to a believer, no matter the circumstances, is a blessing from God. There are those who believe that submitting to a husband’s authority is husband-worship. I have, on other blogs, been accused of “fetus worship” for being unbendingly pro-life. I have been accused in political threads of Ron Paul worship, of all things, just because I agree with him on many things. If you stand for anything at all, somebody is going to assume that that thing is the only thing about you, and thus, you must worship it.

I have, thankfully, been accused of Jesus-worship many times, also. That, I’m happy to report, is true!

With so many people on the internet randomly clicking in, reading through the lenses of their own preconceptions and stereotypes, then clicking away, never to return, it’s pretty easy to be misunderstood.I’d like to address a few of those misconceptions here, even though the people I am addressing are most likely never going to come back here to read it.

My purpose in this world, contrary to the belief of some, is not to have children! I’m very uncomfortable with the “quiverfull” label. It has a wrong emphasis on family size and, I believe, comes dangerously close to preaching an unbiblical, works-based model of salvation. If I had no kids, Jesus would still be my Lord and my God. If I have a dozen more (oh, my), Jesus will still be my purpose. My family size is an outworking of this faith, it is true. If I didn’t get my worldview from a Bible that considers children to be an asset, I would most likely conform to the beliefs of the World and have a smaller number of children. But a large family has never been my goal. Christ is my goal.

I could not care less how many children you have, or why, dear reader. I was once asked by a Twitter follower whether I “want all women to live that way”. I didn’t even need to ask what she meant by that. She meant “barefoot and pregnant”. The short answer is no. I wear shoes. (Kidding!)

It is not my place to want anything for other people’s lives. But the long answer is a little more complicated. You see, I do want all women (and men) to bring their lives and fortunes under the control of Christ, as any Christian does. Often, submission to the Savior brings about a lifestyle that looks remarkably similar to mine. Just as often, it brings about lives that look completely different from mine!

I’m not counting your children to see how much you trust Jesus. Sometimes God doesn’t give a woman any children at all, even while she is leaving it all up to Him. He knows what he’s doing, and I spend very little time worrying about the fertility of others. Whether you had your tubes tied for financial reasons, or had a hysterectomy due to health problems, or have infertility issues, or have a dozen kids, all of these things are pretty far from my mind unless you bring them up.

I’m not “trying” to have children. I’m simply sleeping with my husband (like a good Christian should) and letting the chips fall where they may. I’m often asked how many more I “want”. The truth is, I don’t want any more! I only want what I have, without attempting to look into the future to decide what will be best for me. I am content with five. I was content with four. I will strive to be content with any other number the Lord chooses for me. My contentedness is rooted in Christ, not in motherhood or in any of the other circumstances He brings about for me.

More kids does not equal more holiness. If the Lord closes my womb today and never opens it again, I will not consider it to be less of a blessing than if he gives me half a dozen more. He knows what He is doing. I am His vessel, and if he chooses to bring life into this world through me, I don’t believe that it is my place to say no. Nor do I believe that it is my place to wish for more than I have. I often say that every child is a complete blessing, and it is true. (This post from Shannon at HSBA turned up in my feed this morning, and I heartily agree!) I’m thrilled that I’ve got so many blessings, numerically, but they don’t prove my holiness. Your small family (or your childless one) doesn’t prove your unholiness!

I am not “judging” those who disagree with me. I am a Christian. I apply what I know of Christ to my life as faithfully as I can. I assume that all other Christians are doing so, as well, whether we reach the same conclusions or not. I do urge Christians to look at God’s word and see what He has to say that contradicts our modern world’s view of the purpose and structure of the family. I don’t believe that I am wrong in believing that the contraceptive culture is wholly unBiblical, but I do believe that many Christians are unaware of it and have no sin in their hearts when they unthinkingly go along with it. (James 4:17)

Further, there are others who have put a great deal of thought into it, and have still concluded differently. If God doesn’t impress upon other Christian men and women the same view of the family that I have, then I trust that they come to that disagreement honestly. I make no pretense of knowing their hearts.

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

–Romans 14:4

I have several more posts on the topic of faith and fertility, but it is a touchy subject that threatens to damage the cause of Christ if done unlovingly. I wanted to make sure that we’re all on the same page concerning holiness, lifestyles, and children before I wade into even more turbulent waters than I’ve been in before.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lisa Joy September 18, 2012, 9:42 am

    I so much appreciate your blog, Cindy! :) I think you did a terrific job of clarifying some of the misconceptions floating around out there, and I look forward to the next chapter! :) God bless! :)

  • Joshalyn September 18, 2012, 9:44 am

    I can agree with much of what your post, but to say “I don’t WANT more children” is a problem. I want all of God’s blessing on my life. I can truly say I am content with my family size, as I was content when I had only 2 or 3 children. I can also say that I am not intentionally TRYING to bump up my number of children. But to say that I don’t WANT them…well, that’s WAY too far for me to go.

    • Celena September 18, 2012, 10:57 am

      Maybe more what she meant by not ‘wanting’ more is simply just not being focused and spending all the time and energy actively ‘wanting’ more. She is content where she is, and if God blesses her with more, she will happily accept them. If not, she’ll be content with that as well. I think, often, the problem with wanting is that we get disappointed if we aren’t granted our wants. I have 2 children and am pregnant with my third. I’ve always ‘wanted’ four children, and I tend to find that at times when I am so focused on my desire for four, I enjoy the two that I have so far a little less, because I’m too caught up thinking about what I don’t have yet. On a tangent, it could be compared to money. We make enough to live comfortably, but more would always be nice. However, if I start thinking I want/need more money, I become more discontent with where we are at present. I’m sure I’m rambling a bit, and I apologize. :)

      • Cindy September 18, 2012, 1:47 pm

        Yeah. That’s what I meant. :-)

      • Tabitha September 18, 2012, 2:56 pm

        Well said.

  • Erica September 18, 2012, 9:45 am

    This is so well said! I totally agree :)

  • Diana September 18, 2012, 10:35 am

    Beautifully put! Excellent points, and a great job on explaining your position. I agree! :)

  • Shannon Wallace September 18, 2012, 12:03 pm

    Cindy…well said! Thank you for your honesty. :) And thank you for linking me up to you…I am humbled!

  • Rachel @ BubblyNatureCreations.com
    Twitter: BubblyNature
    September 18, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Very well written… I couldn’t have said it better! ;) Oh, and I really wish Ron Paul was still running… that is all…

  • Amy L September 18, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Excellent, Biblical, lovingly delivered. God chose to give us a small family – 2 kids, one with Down Syndrome. We were content with one; we are content with two. Following sound medical advice after multiple issues, my tubes were tied during the 2nd c-section and I had a partial a few years ago. We are thrilled that we have the two that we do. Had He called us to adopt, that was o.k. with us as well. We are just vessels. We are surrounded by many families that are large because they feel that God should determine the size of their families without intervention or prevention on their part. They love us; we love them. They know that God determined that our family be small. The world will never understand and that’s o.k. If the world approved of all that I did, then I would be extremely worried about my obedience to Christ. Love your blog. Love your heart.

  • Mary Jo September 18, 2012, 8:53 pm

    Love it! And I totally get what you said about not “wanting” more. Your happiness does not depend on it; you can be thankful for the blessings that you do have; and trust God to build your family– whether with many or with few. I had a hard time learning that lesson, but can truly say with the Apostle that I have “learned to be content.” He knows best and does well– always!

  • Alice September 19, 2012, 5:09 am

    I so agree!!! The only thing I struggle with is wanting more. I am trying to rest and be content, but I really struggle because I LONG for more children. I have to constantly try to keep taking my focus off that and onto whatever God has planned for us, even if it’s no more babies. It’s deep-rooted because all I ever wanted to do is have a lot of babies, from the age of 6 (when I first really sat down and thought about it!). I feel so sad that the number of years left to have children is dwindling, and it’s really hard for me to rest in God over it, though I constantly battle to do so. We are not trying to have babies either, or trying not to. I’m so grateful for six little blessings so far! I am praying for more, but trying to rest in His will.

  • Jen @ One Moms World
    Twitter: onemomsworld
    September 19, 2012, 8:37 am

    God’s family :)

  • Nikki September 19, 2012, 3:32 pm

    I just found your blog, and I have enjoyed reading it. There is so much wisdom in this post. I especially liked it when you said, “I could not care less how many children you have, or why.” There are so many different reasons why people chose to have more (or less) children, and it’s none of our business…as you said.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know that I stopped by and would continue to.

  • Kris Kelley September 19, 2012, 5:33 pm

    Thank you for this blog post! My husband and I wholeheartedly agree! May the Lord bless you for lovingly sharing what God has showed your family, as you follow Him!

  • Rebecca
    Twitter: momsmustardseed
    September 20, 2012, 6:49 am

    oh dear – did I tweet that? possibly. though….my table is short a few because of my disobedience….but, I rest in God’s grace and thank him for friends like you who grow me and help me learn more about him , so I can love others more…and leave the judging to him!!! LOVE YOU!

  • kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing
    Twitter: AdventurzNchild
    September 22, 2012, 1:35 pm

    Are you kidding me? you wear shoes? I gave that up a long time ago!

    love this:

    I make no pretense of knowing their hearts.
    Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
    –Romans 14:4

    – and – if you are headed into more turbulent waters than you’ve been in before – I’ll totally be sticking around to throw out a life raft if need be – lol – love it sister –

    – and – “fetus worship” ? really? ugh – seriously wrong with the fact that you can’t stand up for what you believe in (like not killing off unwanted children) without being called names. It’s a sad sad state of affairs we find ourselves in.

  • Brandy January 8, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Thanks for your post :) This can be a very complicated issue, and I appreciate your convictions while leaving room for others to have their own, in Christ.

  • Mary Anderson January 15, 2013, 9:20 am

    Thank you for this! My husband and I, a few months ago, came to this same realization. We say we want Christ to be over our whole lives, including our children. God has recently blessed us with a new little one (due this fall), and we are excited, even if we weren’t “planning” on it. :)

    • Cindy January 15, 2013, 10:58 am

      Oh, how sweet! Congratulations!

  • imlovinmyhubby February 15, 2013, 10:58 pm

    I just found your blog tonight and have been reading, pinning & posting for the last 2 hrs! I know so many people that think I’m crazy to have 7 kids and be open to God giving more, when there are numerous other verifiable reasons to label me as such ;) I have enjoyed your sense of humor and thought provoking outlook on life & family. I look forward to reading more!!!

  • Erica E July 30, 2013, 12:39 am

    I was directed here from Generation Cedar. I have to say I am impressed with the words you have written. Very. Too often I have noted Christians judging others on family size. And sadly, contrary to Biblical teaching, even our Churches tend to tell people NOT to have kids (or have more) if they aren’t financially ready. I find the thought down right depressing to say the least. Thankfully I now belong to a Church with a VERY active pro-life ministry that walks along side women/girls that are having unplanned (are there any different kind?) pregnancies and helping them get their footing during the first year of that child’s life by helping supply furniture, clothing, toys & food. They don’t preach on how many/few children a family should have and instead preach on following God’s path for your life. What is one person’s path is not everybody’s path.

    Thank you for saying so well what I wish everyone would think! God has blessed me with 6 wonderful children here with me on earth and 4 in heaven waiting on me when I get there. Sadly my DH didn’t feel the same as I and chose the vasectomy route. I wish he had let the Lord lead him instead of listening to those people around him telling him about how he couldn’t “afford’ another mouth to feed, or that he’ll never have a life of his own if he kept having kids. It’s really sad the influence that so many, even Christians, take from the world around them (including other Christians) and let that set the basis for their lives.

    I will be back to read more another day…and dig around your site. What I’ve seen so far look GREAT!
    Blessings to all!

  • Heather Jones August 4, 2013, 10:44 pm

    My husband and I decided years ago to allow God to control the size of our family. It was a road of disapproval from well….just about everyone! It was not easy for me either! I realized I could have like 20 children after all was said and done and that terrified me! 12 beautiful blessings later and much growing and learning, I have come to realize so much! I have many times found my identity in my children! I forget that I am not only a mother and wife but first of all, a daughter of the most High God! I can get lost in their lives and the ups and downs of it all that I forget who I am first! I hear so often that I am the one who choose to have all these kids and the questions go on and on. But I did not choose to have all these wonderful blessings but I allowed GOD to choose whatever He had for me. If I can trust Him with the little things, I then must trust Him with the HUGE things too! Whether that be many more or I am finished have children is up to Him! I will admit there are days when I am sure He thinks I am more capable than I think I am but then He reminds me that He is there and it is only through Him and HIS plan that I can fulfill what He has for me and my family. Thank you for your wonderful words and reminding me of many things that I have always wanted to say just not as eloquently spoken as you! :) Blessings to you!