If you read my page Radical Faith, Radical Obedience, Radical Life, you will see that Christian and I don’t practice family planning. I sometimes say that we are “quiverfull” for simplicity because most people know what that means, but in all honesty we don’t really identify ourselves that way. For us it’s simply part of being radically obedient to our Lord and Saviour.
Once, during a discussion in an Introduction to Ethics class in college, I stated that I would never enter into a relationship with a man who was not a Christian. There was a lot of (mostly) respectful debate over the issue and most of my classmates disagreed with me, but for me it comes down to this: what good is religion that doesn’t change your life? If I say I am a Christian and try to live a Christ-centered life, why would I want to try to build a relationship with someone who does not have the same worldview or who has a completely different set of values than I do? It doesn’t make sense. What good is religion that has no impact on your daily life? None. It has no value.
So, when it comes to family planning, housecleaning, child-naming, wall-painting…everything should be evaluated in light of what the Bible says. Some things, the Bible is very explicit about, somethings not. When it comes to grocery shopping, there is no verse of scripture that I can look up which tells me if it is ok for me to purchase soda, potato chips or one brand of cheese over another. However, there are many verses which instruct us to care for our bodies as temples of the Lord, or to work and care for the Earth which we were placed here to tend. There are also many, many verses which address fiscal responsibility and proper money management. It is up to me to prayerfully make the best decisions that I can, based on the information available to me. The same is true for family planning.
The Bible actually has quite a bit to say on the matter of children, pregnancy and childbirth, but before we get to that, let me just explain how I came to the realization that family planning is bad.
Christian and I were married August 7, 2010. I was on the pill at the time and had been for a number of years because I suffered from Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) which basically meant that I had PMS on steroids and was bed-ridden for the first day or two of my cycle each month. The hormones delivered via the pill, prevented my symptoms from becoming so severe and allowed me to function more or less normally during that time. However, it did some very weird things to my emotions. I felt completely out of control of myself. I would get mad for no reason, and intellectually I knew that I was being unreasonable, but I didn’t feel like I could control it. I would go days of barely speaking two words to Christian for fear of biting his head off if I opened my mouth. We knew that we wanted kids but when we said “I do” we were both unemployeed and had thousands of dollars of student loans, so we didn’t think we would be able to afford kids for quite a while.
A couple of months into our marriage I was really wanting to get off the pill but I was terrified of what would happen if my PMDD symptoms returned. We considered alternative contraceptives but didn’t find anything we thought would really work for us. About that time, the Lord began working on my heart. I heard an interview on the radio of Steve and Candace Watters talking about the book they co-authored titled, “Start Your Family.” Basically it was designed to challenge Christian couples on their world-view. And it worked. It really made me stop and think about how I was viewing children. The Bible clearly states that children are a blessing (Ps. 127 &128). However, the American culture says that children are expensive and the prevent you from having a fullfilling career, or being able to travel or sleep in late on Saturday. I was very convicted that I had been thinking of children as an expense we couldn’t afford rather than a way that God may choose to bless us.
I approached Christian with what I was feeling and while he understood what I was saying, he wasn’t immediately convinced that we should do away with the contraceptives. I was still very nervous about what to expect if I went off the pill and while he was working and we were making ends meet, we still didn’t feel that we could afford a child. So, we prayed about it, and talking about and read what the Bible had to say. In the end we both became convinced that to try to exert our own influence over our family size is hubris. Basically, if we believe what the Bible says about children (that they are a blessing and reward from God) and what the Bible says about God providing for us (He will never give us more than we can handle and He has plans to prosper us), then, in light of all that, trying to plan our family according to our own wants, we are looking God in the face and saying, “We don’t want your blessings. Why don’t you bless us some other way, but not with children.” or maybe, “We want you to bless us in two or three years, but not right now, right now we want finacial blessings.” We are assuming that we know better than God how many kids we should have and when we should have them. Otherwise, if we trully beleive all of those things the Bible has to say about children and providing for us, then we would be willing to let God act in our lives, bless us as He sees fit, when He see fit and provide for us in the same way.
So, in January, after about six months of marriage, we agreed that we would never again use either contraceptives or fertility treatments. Instead, we would live our lives as husband and wife, striving to honor God in our daily lives and if He chooses to bless us with kids, great, if not, that is ok too. Ironically enough, after going off the pill, not only did my PMDD symptoms not return, my emotional state significantly improved, as did our satisfaction with our physical intimacy. We felt liberated and like the stress of constantly thinking, “Did I take my pill?” or “When should we have kids?” all of that was no longer an issue.
In May, we made the decision to move to be closer to family. This meant that Christian quit his job and at the time we moved, he had not yet found another job. So, when on July 13th I took a pregnancy test and saw that positive sign, we were super excited, and also super under employed. As a testament to God’s faithfulness, He blessed Christian with a part-time job the same week we found out we were expecting. So, we then had income but there was no way we were going to be able to afford health insurance for a baby. I, being young, am still on my parent’s insurance, so we were able to afford my drs appointments.
So, we began to prepare and plan for the birth of our child. Our family blessed us with many hand-me-downs, and gifts all the while making not-so-subtle comments about bad timing or unplanned pregnancies. Then in January 2012, when I was seven months pregnant, Christian was promoted to manager which came with a $3/hr pay raise. Now, we would be able to afford health insurance! Again, God had proven himself faithful and provided for our needs in His time, not in our time.
Micah was born on March 16th. You can read all about his story on my post, Micah’s Story. Long story short, our planned out-of-hospital birth ended up in a c-section. Immediately after his birth, I was so happy and excited. We loved him to death and were so happy to be parents, but we both also experienced some doubt and anxiety concerning our committments about not planning our family. Doctors kept telling me that I should wait 18 months before conceiving again, which gave Christian pause as he was concerned about my health. The health concerns is not what worried me though, it was our family. Everyone was very excited about Micah, but it didn’t take more than a couple of weeks before I started hearing comments like, “We sure hope you’re going to wait a while before having another.” or, “I bet you changed your mind now that you know what you’re getting yourself into.”
It took a lot of prayer and repeatedly reading Psalm 139 to quiet my doubts and stop worrying about what others think. We are at peace with our decision and honestly believe that to really trust and honor God with this area of our lives, we must leave things up to Him. If it weren’t for my less-than-supportive family, I wouldn’t have any qualms whatsoever. I feel that my health is better and mine and Christian’s relationship, as well as our relationship with God has only grown stronger and closer since we decided to (un)plan our family.
I hope this has given you some food for thought. Please, feel free to contact me with any questions or (respectful) comments.