Generation Cedar

It does happen. About my 8th month of pregnancy, when ligament pains have me doubled over or I realize what a chore it is to walk to the bathroom. And then again, right after the baby is born, and I feel so LIGHT, and I can walk, and the birds are singing and the sun is shining and I’m ready to get back into shape and feel normal.

The thought comes….”I don’t know if I want to do this again. I’ve put my motherhood time in, right? I mean I have a house full already! It wouldn’t be wrong to just…stop, would it?”

It may not be. I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know the answer that comes back to me every time:

“God is intricately working out the details of our lives, governing every step, hand-crafting every life. And this life is about glorifying Him. And…there’s more to this life, to my life. The lives He gives me are eternal.  And, I don’t “choose to have babies.” No one can. I can only choose not to. Do I want to be the clay in the Potter’s hand, and see what He has in mind for His final masterpiece? Or do I want to sling myself off the wheel because I’m a little dizzy just now?”

That’s the answer I get; what He says to ME. That I CAN technically stop my next child from being born, and that may be OK. Or it may not be…I don’t think it’s always black and white. I do know that “it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” That pregnancy isn’t like sickness, something I think we are freely allowed to try to avert. That people are all that matter to Him compared to things and jobs and vacations…and even my temporary comfort.

But what if that one that I didn’t accept–what if he or she had a particularly crucial role in the life of another? (And don’t we all?) What if he or she would give birth to someone who had a critical role in the life of another?

It starts to sound like a fun premise for a science-fiction movie; one little move in history changes everything. But couldn’t it?

Are you the child of a woman who was the child of a fifth-born? Changed your life. Well, brought it into its very existence. It blows my mind. And THAT is why I don’t want to hinder what belongs to the Lord. Many things He gives me to choose; but I don’t feel qualified in the life-department. It  just feels too big for me.

Does it make you think?

Jonathan Edwards–5th of eleven children

Benjamin Franklin–15th of 17 children (Let that one sink in!!!)

Napoleon Bonaparte–4th of 10 children

George Washington–5th of 10 children

John Wesley–15th of 19 children (Susanna, mother, 25th child)

Johann Sebastian Bach–8th of 8

Sylvanus Crosby (grandfather of Fanny Crosby)–19th of 19

Celine Dion–14th of 14 children

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95 Responses

  1. To add to your list of famous people:

    -Pol Pot (the murderous Cambodian dictator) was the eighth of nine children.

    -Hermann Göring (the Nazi politician and war criminal) was the fourth of five children.

    -Osama Bin Laden (terrorist and leader of al-Qaeda) was the seventh (?) of approximately 50 children.

    As you can see, it cuts both ways. All of these people had crucial roles in the lives of others… mostly in the form of killing, brutal repression, terrorism and even genocide.

  2. -Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwean president) was the third of six.

    -Nicolae Ceaușescu (Romanian leader) was the third of ten children.

    -Adolf Hitler (leader of Nazi Germany) was the fourth of six or seven (Internet sources give varying info).

  3. Well, of course, Lily. (It’s not as if I don’t know it “cuts both ways”.)

    The whole point is that the workings of the world are huge and beyond us. What God is doing throughout all of history and far beyond our lives is mysterious and miraculous. He uses ALL lives, ultimately, for His glory, even when there is misery and destruction involved. However, most of the ills we bring on ourselves, so we can’t attribute to God evil that we have sown. The best we can do is LET GOD BE GOD, obey Him, fear Him, walk in His ways and He works all things for our good.

  4. “He uses ALL lives, ultimately, for His glory, even when there is misery and destruction involved.”

    So… you’re saying that the Holocaust, the Killing Fields and 9/11 were for the glory of God?

  5. “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—” Romans 9:22,23

  6. Sin and evil are not “God’s inventions.” I said earlier, most of the evil we have brought onto ourselves. God still ordained that those, through whom evil would be demonstrated, would be born. He still works out ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him… Pharaoh is another example of a man carrying out horrible evil. It’s not “God’s will” that evil prevails; we bring that on ourselves.

  7. “He still works out ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him… ”

    So the Holocaust, the Killing Fields and 9/11 were for the good of Christians? Or did the victims of the Holocaust, the Killing Fields and 9/11 not love God enough so they were murdered?

    1. You’re asking questions no one knows the answers to. That’s the WHOLE point. We don’t know what God is doing, or how or when. His knowledge spans throughout eternity, while we only get a tiny glimpse.

      Proverbs 16:4 says, ‘The LORD works out everything for his own ends-even the wicked for a day of disaster.

      Some of the time, evil and the instruments of evil, are a form of judgement. Sometimes, they are a testing for His people. And since I don’t have the brains or the time to write a thorough discourse on the sovereignty of God among evil, from what I read of this article, it explains things well. IF you really interested, you could read it.

      1. Cory ten Boom shares the story of a young missionary wife who was pregnant with her 5th or 6th child on the field, and how she was so disappointed about being pregnant again, because they were close together and they were struggling to live in a poor region in miserable conditions…and how they made arrangements to go into the nearest big town with a hospital and stay for a few weeks to ensure having the baby in a hospital. While they were there, one of the violent guerilla soldier groups who were rampaging swept through their village, and killed all the white people present at the time. In hindsight, they could see that God blessed them with a baby/pregnancy so to spare their lives, knowing as He did that they would be absent for those days…they couldn’t have predicted those events, but their whole family is alive, thanks to that baby’s presence, right at that time…and she spoke about how she really began to see that God truly was sovereign, and how she learned to trust and not question…Certainly it was horrible that anyone had to die at the hands of those violent men…but how convicting being that one family, knowing that GOD spared you…and how much worse if that wife had quietly submitted to the “convenient abortion mindset”…and had ended her pregnancy…or had had her tubes tied, to prevent more children?

      2. Sorry to be off topic, but if you are called Word Warrior, you must know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. Please, please, tell me this is only a typo.

        1. Yes, it’s a typo. It’s actually a pet peeve of mine, but alas, we humans make mistakes, especially when we are in a big hurry to answer a comment and don’t have time to edit and skim for typos. Thanks for pointing it out though.

        2. Diane,

          We are all prone to errors. For example, your first sentence was not correctly punctuated. Your closing quotation marks should have followed the period because commas and periods are always placed inside closing quotation marks. It was probably just a typo on your part.


          1. You know, Cayce, I am pretty sure that you were just trying to make a point (having nothing to do with sentence structure), but your comment about quotation marks outside punctuation is simply not true. I like to place them outside puncctuatuion marks, because it “looks” better to me, but it isn’t incorrect to place them inside puncuation marks. It just depends on how the quotation marks are used in a sentence. And, it may depend on whether or not you use American or British rules. I love grammar, and I have looked it up several times in the past.

            Somehow, though, I don’t REALLY think that was your point. 🙂 And, with certainty, I can say that it isn’t the point of Kelly’s post. 🙂

          2. Cathy,

            You are right that my point was about something other than punctuation, although I stand by my statement that Diane’s sentence was incorrectly punctuated. In American English, which is what Kelly uses, periods and commas always go inside quotation marks (unless using a single letter or number in quotation marks), though the placement of other punctuation involving quotation marks varies.

            My point was to defend Kelly from what was obviously an attempt to embarrass or shush her by pointing out an error. Even though I have never even met Kelly, I get great encouragement from her blog, and I grow very weary of the attacks against her. Diane’s tone came across as both condescending and insulting, obviously designed to shame. Kelly responded with grace and dignity, but I felt compelled to point out that we all do, indeed, make mistakes. Some of us make mistakes while attempting to do something good, and some of us make mistakes while attempting to do damage.

          3. Cayce,

            Not to belabor the point, but I will. I totally forgot that I had even written my comment on this blog, until I read Kelly’s new post moments ago. My memory is fading with age, and I am in CA, where I had awakened very early, after going to bed very late, and had, after my sweet, handsome husband left for work, drifted back off for a bit.

            The reason that I remembered that I’d written the comment is that, in Kelly’s new post, there are sentences written both ways, i.e., written with the period inside and outside the quotation marks. That is what triggered my memory. Although, if truth be told, I actually questioned whether or not I had actually written it this morning, or dreamed it!

            Since language came before rules, that is something to be considered. Grammar rules are in flux and fluid, and that particular rule is changing, as well. In fact, doing a quick perusal of the Internet bears that out.

            And, to clarify, my comment was light-hearted; hence, the reason for not one, but TWO happy faces.

            As an aside I think that it gets a bit silly to, in an effort to defend Kelly, point out an error in someone’s sentence structure. You can’t read tone. In fact, I would have thought nothing about it until you pointed it out. I reread her comment after reading yours, and I thought that using “please” twice, sorta belied the playfulness of the comment. And, Lord knows that I can be snarky with the best of ’em! Just ask Kelly. She and I have mixed it up a bit, but she is a sister in Christ, and I understand that we have differences. Additionally, I have corrected her a couple of times about spelling and grammar mistakes, as well. I would want to know if I’d used, for example, “their,” or “they’re” incorrectly, particular if it’s on a public forum. Kelly always wrote that she appreciated having the errors pointed out to her. Most times it’s just a matter of using computers, and being in a hurry.

            Yesterday, I posted a comment on FB on which I’d written “hew and cry,” as “hue and cry.” Now I know that the expression has nothing to do with color (I suppose you could make the point that it COULD denote colorful language {think blue}), but it wasn’t until several minutes later that I realized I’d erred.

            About two years ago, I read a piece by a Reformed writer who’d made two rather obvious errors in an online nationally published piece. He has lots and lots of readers. But, I was playful about it, by writing “Your Egregious Errors” in the subject line of the email. I asked myself if I would have wanted to be corrected (I even asked my daughter for her input, because I didn’t want to embarrass the guy), and since i would have wanted someone to point it out, i wrote him. In fact, i wrote him twice, because it wasn’t a simple misspelling, or an errant comma, but wholesale sentence problems. He quickly changed the “offending (note the quotation marks to denote playfulness)” problems, but not once did he write me back to acknowledge my emails to him. I was a bit peeved by it, but had to swallow my pride and let it go. It would have been nice to have had him write and say something simple like, “Got it,” but he didn’t. Allow one more example–another blog writer who has a major blog–he’s also a nationally known writer who writes from a Reformed bent, and Kelly has used him as a reference in some of her posts–used the word “ring” instead of the word “wring,” which pretty much changed the meaning of the sentence. I merely wrote “wring” in the comments section, and he thanked me, and wrote that his daughter had also pointed it out.

            And, I’ve used “and” @ the beginning of a sentence in this comment, which was considered taboo when I attended school in the covered wagon days, but that also has changed. However, my studly husbands approves of that practice, and he used to write for a local major newspaper in our area. So, he must be right, right? But, he also thinks that I use commas too freely, which is SO untrue.

            Anyway, sorry to hijack your blog, Kelly.

            I’m finished. Back to real life…

            DISCLAIMER: Since I am in a hurry, just assume that I’ve made some errors…not time to proof it any more this morning. BIG happy faces right here.

          4. Cathy,

            I love reading your posts! They’re always so full of good humor. 🙂 I wish the old avatars are back, though, so I can “recognize” you right away. I saw your 1:36 a.m. post and wondered if that was you or a different Cathy. I see your smilies and remember teaching you how to do them sometime in the past here (shameless self-promotion)! Such fun we have here at Kelly’s blog, LOL 🙂 Have a great day — and for the record, I forget if I’ve dreamed or actually done things, too!

    2. It is probably likely that there were some people who loved Christ that were murdered in any one of those events you mention. Being a believer doesn’t exempt you from begin a victim of evil in this world. And yes, God did work it out for their good, because they are now in His presence.

    3. Something to consider, Lilly, as we struggle to understand, in our limited capacity, the sovereignty of God, in the face of death, suffering and destruction like the Holocaust or African genocides, are the many miracles that took place even IN the prisons. There were many many Christians and Messianic Jews who loved God and took His message into the concentration camps. There are miraculous stories of provision that DO give God glory in a way that peace time “miracles” do not. Also, I sometimes think that througout history, terrible situations are a reminder to us all of the wickedness within each of our own hearts, and what mankind is capable of apart from the transforming power of God. Besides that, think of it this way, if there is no suffering, no difficulty, no challenges of any kind, and all of the world is peaceful and easy, what sort of character do we strive do develop? It is through difficulty that people learn tenacity. It is through hardship that people learn unconditional love or service. We learn to think of others and have compassion on others because of hardships and suffering. If there was no poverty, how could we learn charity? So while seeing and knowing of the hardships that others suffer (or are suffering through ourselves) can be hard, and it can be easy to wonder how a God who loves can “allow” such things, He is orchestrating more than we can ever imagine, using each of our situations, even if we are outside of his redemption (like Hitler) to showcase His sovereignty and power, and glory and yes, even His love…

      1. I know this is off topic but I wanted to mention it (since you mention Messianic Jews): Aren’t Messianic Jews those people who pretend to be religious Jews (while believing in a message that is antithetical to Judaism) in order to trick Jewish people into converting to Christianity? I always found that idea so very deceitful and underhanded. If you believe that your faith is an undeniable truth then there should be no need to lie about it, or dress it up as something else, in order to trick people into converting.

  8. Lily, what a horrible thing to say. If you don’t want to have children because you are afraid of them turning out evil, that’s fine. I don’t hear Kelly criticizing you or judging you. But when she is joyfully wondering out loud what wonderful plans God may have for her children, including the one she is pregnant with right now, it is extremely poor taste to imply that they are going to be the next Hitler. That’s just mean-spirited.

    1. I did not say any of those things. If that is what you read into my comments, I think it says more about the place you’re coming from.

      1. If I misunderstood then please forgive me. I read that Kelly was excited about the possibilities of what God may have planned for her children, and gave some examples of great things God did in the lives of children from large families. I read your response, giving examples of very evil people who came from large families. You didn’t really say what your point was, so one can only assume you meant it in the same context as Kelly.

        If that is not what you meant, I am curious what your point was.

        What place I’m coming from? I like Kelly. Although I’ve never met her, I think she’s a great mom. I think she lives her kids and is raising them well. I’m happy for her, and I agree that God probably has wonderful plans for her children. That’s “the place I’m coming from.” not sure what you meant by that, either.

          1. My point, as I’ve already said, is that it cuts both ways.

            I’m sorry if I offended you when I mentioned “the place you’re coming from”. I simply meant that if you can read so much ill intent into a fairly neutral statement, it probably says more about your own outlook (Is the glass half full? Is the glass half empty?) than it does about the statement itself.

  9. I get that you said “it cuts both ways.” I think my mistake may have been in my choice of words. I realize that you aren’t saying her next child *will* be the next Hitler, but rather, that her next child *could* be. Is that what you mean by “it cuts both ways?”

    I am sorry for my choice of wording there.

    1. No, that is not what I meant. I was not saying that Kelly’s baby could be or would be the next Hitler. I was just clarifying that this (determining family size, making decisions one way or the other) is not a question of one way = good, the other way = bad.

      1. I guess I missed the part in this post where she said every single person born to a big family could *only* be good. What I read was a joyful post from a Mom of a big family that didn’t really call for someone to point out the obvious (that it goes both ways).

  10. I love this post. My dad was number 7, and it never dawned on me that I might not exist if my grandmother had the option of preventing him…until I read the first list you posted several years ago. Amazing. Most of us probably wouldn’t exist because I’m sure there is some grandparent or great-great parent to the umpteenth power that would have been prevented had our current mindset existed back then.

    1. Very true for me… my paternal grandfather was the 9th of 9 and my paternal grandmother was the 7th of 7…. and my maternal grandfather was the 4th of 4…. so many today wouldn’t even venture to having 4 let alone 7 or 9 (my maternal grandmother was an only child.) It is very interesting to contemplate how one human being affects another… and God does bring good out of evil circumstances… I am pretty firmly convinced that without the sympathy of the nations over what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust, the modern nation of Israel would never have existed…. did He want Hitler to do such atrocities? NO! But, Hitler made his own choices… and God used His evil to bring about God’s own purposes instead…. I can’t give any examples, but I am positive that in every tragedy, there are many stories of God’s grace bringing other people through in amazing ways, working through the evil intent or natural catastrophe to bring about His purposes in each and every life. I have experienced it myself in my own personal tragedies, and I am convinced that there is no evil on earth that He cannot bring out of it, some great and wonderful good.

    2. I so relate to this, and remember something my mother-in-law said. She maintained that her “limit” for what she could handle and what she wanted was two. What is sad, is that she has four children, and my husband was number 3 of 4. I know she loves all four of her children, but it kind of hurts that she at one time really wished she had never had my husband or his younger brother. I look at my brood of six and am happy they are here, and look forward to seeing what great things they will do, too!

  11. Kim — I know, it is amazing to think how many of us would not be here if that had happened in all our families. It would be so much better for the planet, wouldn’t it? I know that’s a scary thought because we are humans, after all, and we love life and want to exist, and because it’s hard for our brains to process “not being here.” But those brains also give us the ability to realize that the overall health of the planet is far more important than any one individual person, and that we are currently so far beyond the carrying capacity of the planet (and have mistreated the resources on the planet) so badly, that we are approaching a “correction” which will not be pleasant for anyone. Allowing suffering that could have been avoided is really a shame, and I’m ashamed that we have (as a species) been so greedy that we are now going to bring suffering on the future as a consequence. Let’s just hope we get a second chance and that we learn from the present, to allow the natural checks and balances to keep our population to below the threshold of carrying capacity.

    1. Your comment is ridiculous AND wrong. God has His own checks and balances. He created the universe–including the natural time in which women are able to bear children (then He turns her time off). The planet is NOT running out of resources (you should do a little research that isn’t biased with some stupid agenda). And if anything is harming the planet, it isn’t the people themselves; it’s their selfishness. Perhaps THAT is what needs to be curbed.

      1. What is your evidence for this idea that we are not running out of resources? The world’s resources (certainly in terms of fossil fuels) are finite. How can you argue they are NOT running out?

        1. There are many, many resources; I would encourage you to research it for yourself.

          “Depopulation is more likely to cause economic distress than these other factors.”

          Overpopulation myth:


          “What America really faces is a demographic cliff: The root cause of most of our problems is our declining fertility rate.”

      2. Wow — that comment strikes me as mean spirited. Everything is written for a purpose, with a point of view or agenda — yes, even this blog. That’s the nature of writing, and writers and readers alike need to be critical thinkers and consider other points of view (even ones they don’t agree with).

        Given all I’ve read, I’m not sure that a lack of resources is main issue — it’s access to these resources that could be the problem. We throw out tonnes of food in North America while people starve in developing countries. There’s a lot of clean, available water in some parts of the world, but some areas still suffer severe draught and in some countries one of the top causes of death is water-borne illness. The issues certainly are complex!

        1. Emma–don’t be afraid of saying that a point of view is “ridiculous”. That’s not mean-spirited. We are far too afraid of offending, allowing utterly absurd thinking and ideas to float around. I don’t have to give credence to a statement about “the health of the planet is more important than individual lives”. We need to acknowledge that there ARE ridiculous theories, and not be afraid to call them so.

          1. Amen, again, Kelly. So many people have it all upside down–worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. And, they won’t see it unless God opens their eyes to it. Love ya! Hang in there!

          2. Admittedly, I’m an academic through and through. You can call an idea ridiculous and wrong, but you have to explain why.

            I can see where she’s coming from — I’m making an effort to see both sides of the argument here. In the past, more children died before reaching and more women died in childbirth. War, plague, famine, drought, etc. wiped out large parts of the population. We’re blessed to have advances in medicine, sanitation, lifestyle, etc, that save lives and extend lives, but that does mean the planet is getting more crowded. When you’ve read as much research as I have, it’s hard not to find the situation a little scary.

            I don’t think it’s a crime to only have one or two children — or no children at all, if that’s not you’re calling. The fact that not everyone is having a dozen kids makes it possible for people to have the choice to have a dozen kids. Perhaps one of the checks that’s in place is that some people are having fewer children and that balances out the people who have more children. Why judge people either way when we’re all part of the same system?

            I’m just teasing out ideas here 🙂 I haven’t been blessed with children of my own and likely won’t be, so I’m coming at this issue from a completely different angle.

  12. Kelly, thank you so much for being honest and sharing this. I, too, have felt this way. I remember enduring back labor with my 5th child and thinking to myself, “This is definitely my last, because I can’t do this again!” We’ve had 2 more babies since. I feel like I’m not “allowed” to even HAVE any discomfort during pregnancy, much less voice it, b/c many people see our choice to trust God with our family size as irresponsible or over the top. Thanks for the encouragement to persevere when it gets hard and for reminding us that it’s NOT about US.

    Also, my husband and I are both the youngest in our families, and we were both big surprises, being completely unexpected. We are both so thankful that we are here, and we frequently tell our 7 children how amazing it is that THEY are here!

  13. Yup. My dad’s the seventh of 12. My husband’s mother is the 10th of 12. I am so GLAD we exist! I’ve been thinking that exact thought that you had up there. I can never choose to have a child. If you think a child is a choice, ask one of those dear ladies who is still praying for a child in spite of the fact that a doctor can’t find anything physically wrong with them. Or the ones who suddenly find themselves pregnant after “giving up” trying (obviously they didn’t really give up “trying”, just “hoping”). It’s as if we’ve separated the act of sex from procreation so much that we don’t realize that ALL sex is “trying”, and all birth control is just thwarting what our bodies are trying to do…what they were made to do. Anyhow, I didn’t mean to write a whole post of my own, so I’ll quit now. 😉

  14. Kelly,

    Have to say that I never thought about being a child of the youngest (or one of the youngest) in a larger family. My late mother was the 9th of 10 children. Not quite so dramatic, but my late father was the 4th in a family with 8 children, although sadly only 6 survived to adulthood.

    On my side of the family, my sister and her husband have the most children — 6. She just turned 53 and her husband is 56. They already have 7 grandchildren, ranging in age from 10 y.o. to a due date of May 11. And two of their children aren’t even married yet! I don’t think likely all of their children will have 6 of their own, but I think it’s possible that they will end up with at least 18 grandchildren.

  15. This is a great post! It is something I contemplated many times over my childbearing years… even before I was saved, I wondered how people could think that they knew God’s plans? So many who talked about not wanting more children gave reasons that seemed to show me a lack of faith more than anything else…. it made me really think about what did *I* believe about God and His Sovereignty. Now, I really like to think about what kind of effect my 8th child has had on each of her siblings and likewise each of them on each other…. do you know, they would not be the same people if they did not grow up together in this family!?!? It is a mind-boggling thing to think about…..

    1. Maybe not wanting more children — or not wanting children at all — is also a sign of God’s hand? I understand where people are coming from trusting God to determine the size of their families, but I also think we can be motivated to action without waiting for external circumstances to make decisions for us.

      Maybe what seems like selfishness or a lack of faith on the outside is just another step in the path?

      1. I don’t think there can be any doubt that God calls some to a single life of service to him (the Apostle Paul was quite clear). The question to tease out is does/would God call someone to be married, but not have children? There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of Biblical support for jumping into marriage while purposefully steering clear of the whole procreation part. Note I said purposefully. There are many couples, like Abraham and Sarah, who married desiring children, but God has not granted that for them. That situation could be direct divine intervention (or lack thereof), or it could be God using all things (ie the side effects of our fallen, sinful world that induce infertility) together for good, giving a married w/o children couple a meaningful life of service.

        1. I would hope the answer to that question is yes! Just because someone doesn’t want to have kids or can’t have kids doesn’t mean they don’t desire the companionship, intimacy and partnership of marriage. IMHO, marriage is more than just procreating. People can find happiness and fulfilment whether they are parents or not, married or not.

          1. Certainly God gave Eve to Adam to be a help meet and a companion, but the command to be fruitful and multiply came before the fall. Genesis amply provides us with the model of a man and woman united together – certainly precedences for the union, and unions where children are not possible (due to health or age etc). But it comes with ‘be fruitful and multiply’. I can find no biblical precedence for marriage, but with a command NOT to have children. There is no scenario where blessing is given only if children are purposely not created. While the things you say of marriage may be true, you are basing those solely on human desires – there are many human desires that are not compatible with Godly wisdom or intent.

          2. Thanks for the reply! I can see your point of view, but isn’t the ideal situation to never marry at all? (According to Paul?) So isn’t getting married and having kids partly based on “earthly desires” as well because a married person’s attention is taken away from God from a spouse? So why is that sanctioned but not marriage with no kids? Why are some people more deserving of love than others?

            I’m not trying to be snarky — I’m genuinely curious what people think. I’ve always felt that the love of a spouse and raising children is another way to experience the miracles of this world and to know God in a new way (rather than being a distraction from God’s purpose as Paul suggests.)

  16. Well, this post certainly wasn’t what I was expecting when I came visiting from Get Rich Slowly! An interesting read.

    I just have to say that yes, you CAN choose to have children. One of my family members is adopted, part of our extended family has hosted foster children and we had a step-grandparent who choose to let us into her heart. IMHO, fertility is just one way God blesses parents and children. Not all paths look alike.

  17. Amazing. I came from GetRichSlowly (as many others above) and I’m really inspired! Me & my wife had our first one last year. We soon realized that one can simply not understand the joy kids bring before ever having them!

  18. Great post! Also wanted to share some encouragement in light of some of the discussion going on here. Kelly, I’m glad you’re not afraid to call ridiculous ideas as you see em – keep it up!

    In a similar vein, we have good friends and their mother was born when her mother was 47 – I always think of her when people start saying “but don’t you think she’s too old to have another child?” Good thing God didn’t feel that way about Abraham and Sarah!

    Thanks again for sharing truth.

  19. Kelly,

    Thanks for being so vulnerable in this post… I was having similar thoughts myself the other day… so thankful for your courage and openness. Carry on!

  20. I love this!! I am so black and white about things, so I do have a hard time with this topic. I like to say that I measure every decision in light of scripture, so when we decided what to do about family I asked the question, “What does the Bible say about children?” and went from there. But even as clear as that answer is in scripture I still have a hard time saying it’s a sin if someone else doesn’t see it the same way.
    You posted a wonderful article in the past about how the decision may not be sin, but can result in sin and many worldly problems. I think many decisions that aren’t searched out in scripture have that same issue. Thank you for your blog!!!

    1. Amber–it’s been hard for me too, because of the black and white thing. And yet I’m fully aware that some things can be unwise without being sinful. This one’s really tough.

      1. I think this is an easier to decision to make when you’re healthy and your kids are healthy. I know people for whom not limiting the number of children they have (if they have any at all) could be a devastating risk to their own health or their children’s (a family history of disease or birth defects.)

        It’s not a black and white issue, and the bible wasn’t exactly written for a 21st century audience. We do the best we can, and it’s not up to us to judge the actions of others.

        1. Just wanted to add that I’m not saying anyone here is judging. I just think we have to be careful assuming that what’s right for us is right for other people.

          I’ve enjoyed this discussion — thank you, everyone! It’s nice to have some different ideas.

          1. Emma,

            You said, “Just wanted to add that I’m not saying anyone here is judging.”

            But in an earlier reply to me you said, “Why judge people either way when we’re all part of the same system?”

            There is nothing in my post, by the way, that would even give you reason to suggest I’m “judging.”

            And, now that I see that Scripture isn’t your standard, I understand you leaning toward the relative answers…”What’s right for one may not be right for another”…that’s quite a dangerous belief, depending on the issue.

          2. My apologies for the confusion! I was speaking in general terms, not directing that comment to you or anyone here.

            I wish I could meet you in person — it sounds like we would have a very interesting conversation! I think you would also find that what I actually believe is very different than what you think I believe. It’s so hard to tell from snippets on the Internet, isn’t it?

            Thanks for the responses! I’m learning a lot.

        2. Emma I must disagree. The Bible was written for a 21st Century audience. God had us in mind when He wrote it. 2 Timothy 3::16-17
          “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

          Scripture is for ALL people for ALL time, and is VERY relevant today.

          1. Thank you, Stephanie, that’s what I was about to write. To dismiss Scripture as an outdated history book is to cast off all standard of right and wrong, and become one’s own god…basically what most in our country have done, thus the moral anarchy.

          2. I’m not dismissing scripture at all. You’re reading things into my words that aren’t there.

            I’m just acknowledging the fact that the Bible doesn’t directly address some of the challenges we face today. For example, everyone commenting here is obviously using technology — but some Christians don’t (the Amish, for instance). Some Christians will accept blood transfusions or organ donations and others don’t. Some Christians don’t drink. Some don’t invest in the stock market because it’s considered gambling or stealing. Some don’t vote.

            Much of the scriptures transcend the generations, yes, — but there is a lot of variety in how various denominations say we should apply them to modern life. I’ve talked to a variety of people from a variety of different religions and they’ve said the same thing: “I prayed for guidance and was shown this was the right path, this is the right religion.”

            It’s confusing! That’s why I try to learn what I can and try to understand different viewpoints (though I don’t always agree with said viewpoints.)

          3. Emma, you mentioned this-” I’ve talked to a variety of people from a variety of different religions and they’ve said the same thing: “I prayed for guidance and was shown this was the right path, this is the right religion.””
            And you are right, this is a very typical response, but the problem is it’s pagan and man-centered. Just another thing modern Christianity has adopted and manipulated for it’s purposes. The only way we can be shown anything is when it is compared with scripture. I have lived a pretty colorful life and I can promise you that there has been an answer of some sort in scripture to all I’ve gone through. The hard part is finding the root of the issue. That’s why I mentioned my earlier comment. If I were to go to scripture and seek where it says, specifically, that we should let God plan our family, then I would come up dry. But if I find the roots- God’s sovereignty and His attitude for children, well, then I have an abundance to delve into. So many people will give the mystical response- “Well, God gave us peace about stopping at 3 (or whatever #) children.” They seem to forget that our ways are not His, and that our heart is deceitfully wicked. I can’t find anywhere in scripture about God “giving someone peace” about such a thing, but I can back up why I believe the way I do. We also have to remember that doing God’s will doesn’t always give us “peace” sometimes it is terrifying, and overwhelming. We have our flesh to fight with after all. I understand where you are coming from, though, a few years back I probably would have responded the same way.

          4. Thanks for your response, Amber! Very good points. I guess the difference comes in how various religions/denominations apply the scripture to their lives. For instance, my friend who is a Jehovah’s Witness is no less devoted than my friend who is Catholic, but those Christian denominations vary greatly in their beliefs. Both are looking to scripture for guidance, but don’t necessarily interpret or apply it in the same way. (A couple of examples: blood transfusions and religious imagery.)

            I was intrigued by your point about our hearts being deceitful — but does that mean if we pray for guidance on any issue, that we shouldn’t necessarily trust the answer either? If people are praying for guidance as to what church/religion they are meant to be part of and their heart is lying to them, how do we trust anything?

          5. That is a good question :). I would answer this two ways:
            1) The closer communion we have with Christ through prayer, Bible study and scriptural living, the more we will be able to discern God given peace from selfish peace.
            2) If we are peaceful about a situation we can’t back up scripturally, we need to seek wisdom from Godly men and women to lead us in the right direction. Finding the roots of an issue can be very difficult and I think that’s the main issue for many good Christian men and women, but it is not impossible.
            I would urge you to look up Voddie Bauchams sermon “Spirituality and Your Mind”, it was transforming for me on this topic.

        3. Emma,

          The problem with your measuring stick is that it can only gauge from a human perspective. Deciding which lives should be born based on temporary and/or unforeseen circumstances is short-sighted at best. You mentioned history of birth defects, for example. Consider this question:

          “If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis; would you recommend that she have an abortion?”

          If you say “yes”, you just killed Ludwig Van Beethoven.

          God gives life and knows the future. We don’t. Your suggestions begin the slippery slope of what leads us to abortion and then on the more heinous forms of it, and there is no stopping. We simply can’t take on the role of determining whose life is worthy of existing; we make a huge mess of things when we do. That’s why this question is so difficult and must be entered upon with the greatest fear and trepidation.

          1. @Word Warrior — I think you misunderstand me. I am in no way suggesting that some lives are more valuable than others or that abortion should be considered an option. It’s really hard to get a sense of someone’s beliefs from comments on a blog post, isn’t it?

            It’s just that I’ve seen cases were a pregnancy could be life-threatening for the mother or where a couple who lost a young child to a devastating congenital condition adopted a child who needed a good home instead of continuing to have their own biological children. Am I correct in interpreting your comments as equating this to abortion?

            If that’s the case, I can see where you’re coming from but I don’t know that the issue is as clear-cut as “preventing pregnancy = abortion”. My upbringing and life experiences are very different, so I find this discussion really interesting.

          2. No, I’m not saying that preventing children = abortion. That would be to say they are the same. I AM saying that a mindset of “control” is at the core of both preventing and aborting and for that reason, we must carefully consider the origin of life and in whose hands it lies.

            I am saying that the subject of preventing children based on our own human conclusions (i.e. “the baby might have a birth defect”…or financial reasons, etc.) is a slippery slope. Abortion could have never been embraced had we not first come to a place where we felt like we knew better than God about preventing life because of said circumstance.

          3. Thanks for the clarification 🙂 My church doesn’t teach anything about birth control or family planning either way, so it’s been helpful to be part of this discussion. I’m impressed by how complete your trust in God is.

  21. Just a comment, since my wife directed me to this post.

    In the Eastern Orthodox (Christian) tradition, it is considered that the union itself (and not the children) are the primary purpose of marriage. Indeed, the children are themselves but a gift, realistically, a side effect of that union practiced according to the will of God. This is based on the scripture where Paul compares the union of Christ and his Church to the union of man and wife.

    As for the environmentalist claptrap mentioned earlier, access or understanding of the use of resources is often as much a problem as raw numbers; if you consider the actual mass of our planet, it’s insane… staggeringly huge. Now, much of it is currently unusable, but you could argue that you need people to figure out how to use the stuff we don’t currently use. I think that pushing hard for extra kids would be a problem as much as trying to have too few (or none) if embraced as a uniform way of thinking; as an ideology for all.

    However, due to the understanding of the difficulty of pregnancy and the ease with which it can be stopped or prevented means that in our time we will automatically favor too few children over too many. As nations develop and modernize this becomes the trend. This is not a positive trend, in my view, but reflects a previously naive view about reproduction, i.e. possibly a thoughtless or pettily selfish approach to childbearing, with each thinking, ‘If I could have fewer of these, I would…’ – essentially, taking for granted our responsibility to pass on the good that we have acquired in this life, both in material and spiritual things. The way we worry over resources (as opposed to baldly claiming we’ll never run out) is probably a symptom of this affection, one of decrease and decline and self defeat, one of little confidence in one’s own civilization or faith.

    So just my opinion – we need to go into space and colonize it (while causing as little destruction as possible) because humanity needs to grow. If we think of a plant, we will remember that the plant’s life is in its growth; if it ceases growth it begins to die. Humanity and specifically societies are organisms of a kind (which is the conservative to reactionary position on social order) that need to grow. If they grow explosively, there will be problems. But if they find themselves in a situation where they cannot grow but must shrink or stagnate, they will go the way of Easter Island and other groups that lived in unremitting scarcity and despair: they will eat themselves alive.

    Resources are finite, but so is humanity. All resources used are recycled, whether slowly or quickly, and all waste will eventually become a resource. It is our job to make a more human world, one with fewer crowds – where people don’t think like mobs. That’s not a numbers thing really, but a quality thing, how we treat each other and how we raise our children (we currently have two.) Consider Cain, who acted just like those mobs of people from the Boxer Rebellion to the Jews who demanded the crucifixion of Christ. And there was just one of him.

    Which is a segue – to my overwrought conclusion. In the 20th century, over 100 million Christians died. That is more than all the other centuries combined. Though this was a great evil, it was also a great good – as these became witnesses and lived – recapitulated – the sufferings of Christ, which we should all desire to be granted worthy to do.

    On this day, the after-feast of the Great Martyr and Confessor George (translated because you can’t celebrate it during Lent) I send my greetings,


  22. Kelly,

    I think you are precious and have been reading your blog on and off for the last 4 or 5 years (?). I think it’s great that you feel lead to “let God plan your family”. What a gift to be given so many children! With that said, I do believe that we have freedom in regards to how many children a couple should have (never free to kill). I personally feel lead to practice natural family planning. I believe natural family planning has been around since the beginning of time. Sin is in the world and because of it, we all have our limitations and struggles. I believe if our lives are hidden in Christ, we will naturally want to have children. But there is no command in Scripture to have as many children as you can. I believe it was Douglas Wilson that said (in regards to how many children a couple should have), “Where the Word of God is silent, we should be silent”. God is in control of everything. I think that sometimes reading these kinds of blogs can put pressure on Christian women. I understand why you feel the way you do and why you write so much about this topic, because we are living in a time where abortion is prevalent, marriage is not valued, children are looked at as a choice to satisfy our selfishness, but shouldn’t our main focus be on Christ and what He has done for us? The Gospel of Jesus Christ should be our focus. The Holy Spirit teaches us. I just find that when I focus on the law (whether it’s God’s law or man made laws) instead of Christ, it starts to become a “work”. “The law commands, but it does not give us any power to fulfill its conditions. On its own, more advice (law, commands, exhortations) will only lead us to either self righteousness or despair. Yet the more Christ is held up before us as sufficient for our justification AND sanctification, the more we begin to die to ourselves and live to God”. ~ Michael Horton Christless Christianity. The fruit of faith is real, its just not the same as the fruit of works-righteousness. I know that not preventing pregnancy is not necessarily a work. I’m sure it could be argued that preventing pregnancy is a work. I just find that when I focus on Christ and what He has done for me, sanctification is a natural result. “Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing and realizing of the Gospel in our souls”. ~John Owen (John 17:17)

    I think it’s great that your desire is to be open to as many children as the Lord gives you. You are a beautiful person and mommy. Children are a blessing! (I hesitate to write this because I do not want to cause conflict). 🙂

    1. Jamie,

      Thank you for writing and for sharing your viewpoint. I do want to make sure you understand exactly what I have said, and what I believe.

      Notice this: “That’s the answer I get; what He says to ME.”

      And also, I’ve always wondered why it is assumed that I believe that one should “have all the babies they can”, which insinuates an effort or a “trying” to have babies. I don’t believe that.

      And on multiple posts on this topic, I have made it clear that I do not believe it is always wrong to space/delay children, with natural methods, if a couple, as you said, are truly seeking the Lord and due to some circumstance–health, etc., they feel it would be the right thing. That’s a tricky place to be, in my opinion, but I did want you to know I have maintained that position for a long time.

      By and large, most Christians, even those who would say they are “focused on Christ” don’t even consider God’s role in their fertility, and that is why I continually make these points. I assume that most people reading here ARE Christians, and my passion is to challenge them to submit all their thoughts to Christ, instead of being swayed by the thinking of the culture.

  23. Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for your speedy reply! 🙂 I have read your posts where you have said that you do believe that it is sometimes O.K. to space/delay children. But you also seem to imply that these reasons are very limited. You also said in your comment above that this is what God says to you, but your writings seem to imply otherwise. What I meant by saying that there is no command in Scripture to have as many children as you can, is that there is no command in Scripture to be “open” to having as many children as you can (by natural means). It’s very easy to find our righteousness in things we do instead of finding our righteousness in Christ. Please understand that I am not implying that every couple who is “open” to having as many children as the Lord gives them, are finding their righteousness in having babies. But I do see this a lot in the Christian community. Just as it is easy to find our righteousness in anything “good” that we are doing, when we take the focus off of Christ and put it on us.

    Douglas Wilson writes this about birth control.

    “As each married couple make their decisions about this, and as pastors help them, they should take care to make careful distinctions with regard to motive, as well as a sharp distinction between principles and methods. We must learn to distinguish between a couple postponing fruitfulness for no reason other than that the worldlings told them they should spend some time surfing together in Argentina first, and a seasoned married couple with six kids who stop having them because their covenantal hands are quite full. It appears that the former do not understand the creation order at all, and that the latter don’t have any problem at all understanding it. To focus on birth control in isolation interferes with such essential distinctions from being made”. You can read the whole article here:

    I believe that if we are true Christians, and are regularly being washed in the Word through reading, being under sound preaching, taking communion, prayer, then we will think about fertility, children, marriage, etc. I just think that sometimes we can put certain laws, beliefs, exhortations, before Christ and what He has done. I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we should be focused on. The Gospel needs to be remembered every day. Even Christians need to remember the Gospel.

    “The more we talk about Christ as the Bible’s unfolding mystery and less about our own transformation, the more likely we are actually to be transformed rather than either self-righteous or despairing. As much as it goes against our grain, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for justification and sanctification. The fruit of faith is real; it’s just not the same as the fruit of works righteousness”. Michael Horton Christless Christianity

    Focusing on Christ and what He has done (The Gospel, “Good News”, justification), is the heart of sanctification. Having children is a beautiful, beautiful gift from God. But we should be careful not to turn “letting God plan one’s family by being open to as many children as the Lord gives them” or “letting God plan one’s family by limiting the amount of children the Lord gives them” into a law. Our focus should always be on Christ.

    1. “Having children is a beautiful, beautiful gift from God. But we should be careful not to turn “letting God plan one’s family by being open to as many children as the Lord gives them” or “letting God plan one’s family by limiting the amount of children the Lord gives them” into a law. Our focus should always be on Christ.”

      I agree with you 100%.

  24. I felt called to comment on this post. I am currently very early pregnant with baby number six. I am Roman Catholic and firmly believe that all intentional acts of sterile sex is immoral. Spacing babies purposefully is not necessarily wrong when done for reasons prayerfully determined by the couple. Can the couple selfishly use reasons to postpone pregnancy, even indefinitely, yes. Can this be a sin if done for selfish reasons, yes, but I can not determine when someone is postponing for selfish reasons. Only God knows the heart. A sin of selfishness is not the same as the sin of intentionally rendering the marital act sterile. When couples sterilize their love they change the meaning of sex. They are not giving love freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. They say I give you all that I am but I’m withholding my fertility and I’m not open to this union being fruitful either. This is why the Catholic Church teaches against all forms of birth control. It literally changes sex and causes a couple to lie to each other with their body. This is the beautiful thing about natural family planning when a couple really feels they have a just reason to avoid a pregnancy. With NFP every act of intercourse is truly an act of loving freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully if The Lord wills. Choosing to postpone sex during a woman’s fertile time is not changing the meaning of sex. I have been dealt this reality with my current pregnancy. My husband and I had prayerfully decided to postpone a pregnancy at this time due to some major life changes we are currently undergoing. Guess what, God had other plans for us. We were using NFP and I had a very unusual cycle and we weren’t following the rules to a “T” and God has blessed us with this pregnancy. I know his will is always perfect for me even when it’s different than my own plans. Praise God for his gift of life and fertility! I really enjoy this site and find it so encouraging. Thank you.

  25. Dear Kelly,

    I really enjoy your blog as purposeful education is something that matters very much to me.
    Still, I always find that this dichotomy between Godly Mothers Of Many vs. Worldly Obsessed Childless Women leaves out many of us.
    I’d love nothing more than being a mom of many. I have been blessed with the sweetest little boy, but my heart yearns for more.
    Alas, my boy took a lot of time to arrive. And when we tried for a sibling, another lot of time passed. Then another pregnancy, where the life of my baby was cut short while still in my belly, due to serious illness.
    While I thank the Lord for my healthy son, and try to still count myself lucky for bearing my little angel for 14 weeks (I have many friends struggling with infertility), I can’t shake that feeling of not belonging in a church and a movement where the absence or scarcity of children is thought to come from human intervention.
    Well, sometimes it isn’t.
    I’d really love for us non-moms, or moms-of-angels, or moms-of-few, not to feel like second class citizens in blogs like yours.

    Sisterly hugs,

    1. Kat,

      I am so sorry you feel that way and am especially sorry you feel that way here. I have never intentionally conveyed that “moms with more are more godly”…the very idea is despicable to me. (I have many hurting friends who are infertile as well.)

      This post, for example, was written from a very direct “my point of view”. It was simply a personal account of what I’m feeling at this time in my life and a reply to so many who criticize me for “not stopping.” I think if you understood that side of it, you may understand even more why I write *explanations* so much of the time. My intention is certainly not to make mothers who are infertile feel bad! My intention is to combat a SERIOUS problem among the church of not valuing life and not valuing children.

      Perhaps you should probe a little deeper into your feelings and not blame your hurt on me when it is clear why I speak about children the way I do. You will NEVER find me insinuating that to have more children makes one more godly; the aforementioned problem is that we DO live in a culture where convenience, time and money have take the front seat to everything else and it has radially affected our view of children.

      What you are suggesting is the same as if I were to focus more on the importance of faithfulness in marriage and avoiding divorce. Any divorced person may “feel bad” reading that but it doesn’t mean I am purposely beating up on one class of people; I’m simply stating a truth, from God’s Word. We can’t NOT speak truth for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. I’ve always been bothered by that notion because I think that’s why so many pastors avoid these important topics. We’ve got to be discerning enough to hear a truth (“children are a heritage from the Lord”) and see it for truth, not as a slight against us.

  26. Dear Kat,

    I do understand how you feel. I have been there. I think that is the danger of reading personal blogs. It is so easy for us as women to find our identity in being a mom instead of finding our identity in Christ. There is a very fine line here. This is why I wish that there was more talk in the Christian community about the Gospel instead of talking so much about having babies, homeschooling, or anything else “good” for that matter. I believe it is more important to just preach the Gospel instead of talking so much about how we are to live (imperatives). I can say from experience that “the more we talk about Christ as the Bible’s unfolding mystery and less about our own transformation, the more likely we are actually to be transformed rather than either self-righteous or despairing. As much as it goes against our grain, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for justification AND sanctification”. Until we realize that it is not about how many babies we have, we will despair while reading blogs where we feel like we don’t measure up. The good news is that none of us measure up. Even the homeschooling mom of many breaks God’s law every day whether in thought and/or deed. It’s not about following precepts, it’s about following Jesus. The law comes to throw us off our thrones and the Gospel comes to seat us with Christ. Even Christians need to remember the Gospel every day.

    Martin Luther said that “If we understand justification we are in the clearest light; if we do not know it, we dwell in the densest darkness”. It’s all about Jesus Christ! Jesus takes our sin and gives us His perfect righteousness so we can stand before a Holy God. The “cloak” of perfect righteousness that Jesus gives to us can never wear away or lose its perfection.

    1. Jamie and Kat,

      There is something I hope you understand…..

      Orthodoxy (what we believe about God) and orthopraxy (how we live) go hand in hand. I blog to Christian women, in a Titus 2 fashion, women who already have the finished work of Christ done in their hearts. The gospel is the foundation that is already laid in a believer’s heart. That is the beginning of a life of sanctification, a life of seeking “how then shall we live?” and is vitally important.

      To say to believers:

      “The church largely holds an incorrect view of children which has had negative implications on us all, and we need to study to know God’s heart and begin to think like Him and treat children as He sees them for the advancement of the Kingdom”

      is NOT the same as saying,

      “If you have lots of kids you’ll be more holy than everyone else.”

      To derive at such a conclusion here, especially when I’ve emphasized that point multiple times, is to miss the mark completely.

      And that goes with all other subjects. If I talk about the importance of fidelity in marriage and how God’s desire is for married couples to stay together, it’s not saying that doing such is the “essence” of being a Christian. It’s just an extension and it needs to be talked about, and we need to be reminded.

      The church’s mistake has been precisely what you suggested in that pastors have steered clear of orthopraxy to keep from hurting feelings and offending. It’s basically an avoidance of pointing to Scripture to say that anything is right or wrong. It’s a relative gospel to preach Christ without teaching doctrine that will “come out of our fingertips.”

      My passion happens to lie in seeing the Christian community embrace children as God does, and raise them for the glory of God because I think these two things are a HUGE part of our pitfall. I think it’s NOT talked about enough. I know scores of Christian men and women who hear the gospel every Sunday and still don’t make the connection with a transformed life, allowing His spirit to permeate their thinking and living.

      Once upon a time, the church was much more vocal about what it means to live a life for Christ.

      Ironically, since the topic of having children is the focus of this particular conversation and since Martin Luther has already been quoted, consider something else he said:

      “[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive.”

      Far more a staunch position than I take.

      So, it’s not about “measuring up” and I make it clear (since you did mention it) that I fail every day and am not using any sort of standard for righteousness except Jesus’s blood for me.

      But it is OUT OF our love for His gift that we pursue (and blog about) our orthopraxy. “If you love Me, you will obey Me.”

      I hope I’ve been clear about my position.

      1. I agree with everything you said. I think you did an excellent job of explaining your beliefs. I do believe that we need both the law AND the Gospel. Please forgive me if it sounded as if I suggested otherwise. But if we are truly Christians, God’s laws are written on our hearts. The so-called Christians that yell, “Grace! Grace!” and live whatever way they want, do not understand what radical grace is. Once our eyes are opened to God’s amazing Grace, we will live differently. Through the gospel preached, the Spirit creates faith in our hearts and confirms it by the sacraments. In the same act of faith, one is justified and renewed. I believe that what we need most for sanctification is more proclamation of God’s free grace in Christ. On the basis of justification, good works are the fruit of faith. The Spirit creates faith through His Word; faith clings to Christ alone, and this faith produces the fruit of the Spirit. Both justification and sanctification are gifts given in union with Christ. Through the same act of faith we embrace Christ for the imputation of righteousness (justification) and gradual conformity to His likeness (sanctification). Justification is a legal verdict pronounced on us; sanctification is the Spirit’s work within us, bringing forth good works.

        Michael Horton writes, “The answer to the antinomian and legalist alike is the gospel. The antinomian has too narrow a view of the gospel, as if it were mere fire insurance- canceling our debt without actually marrying us to Christ- while the legalist turns the gospel into law. However, Paul returns to the gospel and simply announces that through our union with Christ by faith we have not only justification but sanctification. The gospel not only announces God’s work for us in Christ; it is also “the power at work within us” (Eph 3:20).

        Horton writes in his book Pilgrim Theology, “As counterintuitive this may seem to our natural way of thinking, Paul says that the Gospel is the answer not only to our guilt and condemnation but to our corruption and slavery to sin. As strange as it sounds to say that God pronounces the wicked just, it is even stranger to imagine that what we need most for sanctification is MORE proclamation of God’s free grace in Christ. Perhaps guilt can be assuaged by the preaching of grace, but now that we are justified, don’t we need directions for practical living? Indeed we do. It is always the case that we need God’s law to direct us. However, it is dangerous to assume that the law can EMPOWER us in sanctification any more than in justification”.

        Horton continues, “Even though the Corinthian church has become filled with immorality, strife, division, and immaturity, Paul begins both letters to this body by addressing them as “saints” (holy ones) and re-introduces the wonder of the Gospel. Precisely because their status was defined by the gospel’s indicatives, the apostle could recall them to repentance as the only legitimate response. This looks back retrospectively to our election in Christ, which is frequently mentioned as the ultimate source of our sanctification (Jn 15:16; Eph 1:4; Col 3:12; 1 Th 1:2-7; 2 Th 2:13-16; 2Ti 1:9-10; 1Pet 1:2).”

        “Most people think that the goal of religion is to get people to become something that they are not, the Scriptures call believers to become more and more what they already are in Christ. Because they were definitively sanctified or set apart as holy to the Lord, the Corinthians must reestablish proper relationships, order, and behavior in the church. Their practice must be brought in line with their identity. Here again the indicative is the basis for the imperative. We are holy (definitive sanctification); therefore we are to be holy (progressive sanctification)”.

        Even before Jesus tells the disciples about their own fruit-bearing life as part of the Vine, He declares, “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). He reminds them of who they are in Him.

        The sprinkling of Christ’s blood purifies (the Gospel) “our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (our grateful obedience)” (Heb 9:13-14).

        Perhaps the reason why I believe the way I do is because even though I was saved from a very young age, I focused so much energy on obeying the law thinking that I was being pleasing to God, and I also spent years vacillating between self-righteousness and despair. But when I finally stopped focusing on myself and my performance, and started to focus on Christ and what He has done, I finally realized the freedom that I had in Christ and am now able move through life in thankful obedience. I now read the whole Bible in a new light, through a lens of GRACE. The gospel has begun to leap off the pages! I feel like I found a treasure! C.S.Lewis says, “Your real, new self will not come as long as you are looking for it,” he adds. “It will come when you are looking for Him”.

        1. “Even as a christian, my faith will actually be weakened when it is assumed that I already know the gospel and now I need just a steady diet of instructions. I will naturally revert to my moralistic impulse and conclude either that I am “fully surrendered” or that I cannot pull this off and might as well stop trying. When my conscience leads me to despair, the exhortation to try harder will only deepen either my self-righteousness or my spiritual depression. In other words, it will draw me away from my location in Christ and gradually bring me back to that place where I am turned in on myself. If the conscience is to find peace with God, there can be no help from the law; in fact, it is the law that arouses my conscience to my utter sinfulness”. “Our default setting is law rather than gospel, imperatives (things to do or feel) rather than indicatives (things to believe). Everyone assumes the law. It is the gospel that is a surprising announcement that none of us had a right to expect. As such, it has to be told-again and again”. ~ Michael Horton Christless Christianity

  27. Hi Kelly, Been meaning to ask you this and this is as good a post as any. Do you have any “tricks” to keeping your breastmilk if you are pregnant while still breastfeeding another baby? Thanks!

  28. I did not read every single comment. I am 56 and have never been married but I don’t see why a woman (OK-a married woman lest people think I condone what Nadia Sulieman did)cannot have as many children as she and her husband want AS LONG AS THEY CAN TAKE CARE OF THEM WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT HELPING THEM. No food stamps, no medical assistance, no section 8 housing. The Duggars have 19 and no government help whatsoever and I also read somewhere they have no debt. If you can do that and raise great kids like it seems they are doing, more power to you. If you want to let God decide how many kids you’ll have, in my opinion, no one has the right to tell you that you are wrong.

  29. I won’t call this doctrine 😉 (and I know you don’t intend it as such!!!!) but this is a VERY interesting perceptive– especially that list at the end 🙂 It DOES make one think! 🙂

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