Is It Selfish to Not Want Children?
- Cliff Young, Debbie Holloway
- 2012 23 Aug
EDITOR'S NOTE: he said-she said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to he said-she said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I have had this question for so long and have been praying about it. Is it selfish to not want children? I am single and waiting on the Lord for the right man and I have always wondered, would it be right to pray for a godly husband who also does not want any kids? Would this be right in God's eyes? Does this mean I should not get married? I have been told countless times that my feelings would change later on, but I am aware of that. I like kids but I just do not see myself raising any of my own.
Most every culture, organization or group has some sort of written or unspoken standard operating procedure and is usually based upon tradition, values, customs, morals or a combination of each. Even though the family structure in America has been under attack and is slowly deteriorating through liberal ideals, it is still a commonly held belief couples (on the whole) should have children.
However, children are not for everyone. When born to a couple who is not willing to sacrifice their own desires, in lieu of theirs, is not a positive environment for the child. When they are “introduced” into a troubled relationship in order to “solve” relational problems, it can often intensify the differences and accelerate the demise of an impending break-up.
Your pre-relational decision to not have children is not being selfish, but rather quite the opposite. Knowing who you are and what you want even though contrary to “popular belief” is not wrong. Many of us “go along” with what other people think we should be doing even though it is not the best course of action for our own life.
Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24
God longs for us to spend time praying fervently and specifically for what we want. However, we also need to be open to listen to God’s desires and wishes. We may get so specific and focused on what we want at times, we don’t allow (or accept) what God’s (better) plans are when we hear them.
2 Corinthians 2:14 says we should “not be yoked together with unbelievers.” In the same way, we should also not be yoked with those who want and are seeking different things in life, especially when it comes to having children. The right man will share in your dreams and help you to accomplish those things God has placed on your heart as you do the same for him.
Throughout your single journey, continue to search for His desire and His wisdom for your life, it is often found on a narrow road. You will not be disappointed.
To get straight to the core of your concern, no - I do not believe it is wrong or selfish to not want kids.
Your future is crammed with endless possibilities of ways you can serve, live, explore, grow, minister and establish relationships. The Apostle Paul was a man like this. He wanted to dedicate his life to God’s work without the distractions of a family. And he was pretty blunt about his personal opinions that having a family limits your freedom and potential. I once had a theatre professor in the same situation. Both he and his wife are called to the arts: they act, teach, dance, and travel. They could not pursue this calling in the same way if they had children, so they have chosen not to have them.
To be specific, 1 Corinthians 1:1 cautions that it is better to live unmarried if you don’t want the distractions of family life. But, if we are honest with ourselves and not being over-spiritual, this is largely because in biblical times birth control varied from “nonexistent” to “highly ineffective.” If you had sex regularly, you were likely going to get pregnant at some point. With today’s modern medicine that is no longer the case.
Many people will probably tell you that the Bible does mandate children. However, it would be more correct to say that biblical writers were thankful for children and considered children a blessing. If you notice, God never speaks to childless couples admonishing them for living childless lives. Many biblical figures cried out in agony to God, longing for children which they couldn’t have… but God is never seen approaching any biblical individual to request that he or she have some kids.
That being said, I have some cautions. As a follower of Christ, I believe you have this responsibility:
“You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
If you are able to find a husband who is fine with not having children (and believe me, they do exist) and you were to become pregnant, it would be your responsibility to accept that situation. Children are a natural fruit of sex- and if you aren’t willing to deal with the possibility of children, it would be safer to remain unmarried.
And, honestly, it is true: your feelings may change. My older sister grew up fairly terrified of children and is now the beautiful mother of three. She still doesn’t really care for children, but she really likes her own! God provides for mothers in that way. For that reason, I would caution you not to rush into any permanent surgery. You may find a wonderful man who would like to have children someday, and he may end up convincing you.
Regardless of the future, however, I want you to be at peace. Not all women were meant to be mothers. God is concerned with your heart and your life, not with how many babies you produce. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for not wanting kids! If anyone says to you “God told Adam to be fruitful and multiply!” – feel free to say, as Hodel reminds the overzealous Perchik in the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof, “Yes, but he was not speaking to you personally.”
HE is … Cliff young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Debbie Wright, Assistant Editor for Family Content at Crosswalk. She lives in Glen Allen, Virginia and is an avid writer, reader, and participant in local community theatre.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
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Publication date: August 23, 2012