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Is it sinful to not want children for yourself?

Weekly Q&A

Is it sinful to not want children for yourself?
Posted on September 15, 2020  - By Dr. Scott Shiffer

This is a dicey question but — while some couples are not destined to have children, what about those who may not want children (for whatever reason). There is a lot of pressure on couples to have children, but what if they’re not very keen to? What if they’re happy by themselves? Is it sinful to not want children for yourself, even though you can appreciate that they are a blessing to those who choose to have them?

I know a couple who are childless by choice. They are a great couple, and they do a lot of ministry. They have said for years that they do not want to have children and that they do not believe they are called to have children. In the early years of their marriage, many people told them that they were wrong for not wanting kids.

Some people told them that they were selfish. Others told them they were turning their noses at God’s calling for people to “multiply and fill the earth”. Years later, many of those same people that gave the couple grief over not having children came to learn that having children directly affects how much you can do for the Lord. When you have young kids, there are mission trips you cannot participate in. When you have children, you cannot always drop what you are doing to go serve someone in need. When you have children, your family becomes your first ministry.

Over time, many have come to believe that this childless couple was, in fact, doing as God had called them to do, and can see how God uses them today. They came to realise that while God calls many couples to have children, that calling is not a universal mandate for every couple, but a general mandate for humankind.

While God calls many couples to have children, that calling is not a universal mandate for every couple, but a general mandate for humankind

Parenthood and spirituality

In the New Testament, Paul addresses the issue of marriage in Corinthians. He states that believers should not marry unbelievers, and he also says that it is easier for people to commit to long-term ministry if they do not have a family. He goes on to say that he desires for people to remain single as he is single for that very purpose. This does not mean that Paul is against marriage. It does not mean that Paul is against having children. On the contrary, Paul says that anyone who desires to be married should marry and have a family.

There is no reason to think that being single is more spiritual than being married or that being married is more spiritual than being single. In the same way, having children or not having children has no bearing on the status of one’s spirituality or his or her walk with God.

We serve a God who is very big and can use people in different ways for His kingdom, whether single with no children, married with children, married without children, or even single with children. God chooses to use people who make themselves available to serve. He places desires in our hearts for service and leads us as we trust Him.

Some people are just not called to have children. They should not be made to feel bad about that. They should not be told they are disobeying God. Instead, they should be supported and encouraged in their calling. However, if one is called to have children but refuses to do so, to that person, it is sin. So, whether called to have children or not, we should follow the leading of the Holy Spirit when we are convicted.

Dr. Scott Shiffer

About Dr. Scott Shiffer

Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Faith and Culture Now, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations, including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for many years. Scott is married and has four children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges every day.



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