Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
God methodically created the world in six days; and He created the world – not for Himself or just to have something to do out of boredom – He created the universe, the earth and all that is in the earth, for mankind; to be habitation. Creation was made for people – men and women – and humanity was made for God as an expression of and as the object of His divine fatherly goodness and love.
“So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them,‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:27-28)
God created man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” This is our Lord’s desire for mankind; that’s why the earth and the heavens even exist, they are there for you and for me. This means that God loves babies and children. But what about you? do we love babies and children? Well of course we; they’re so cute and cuddly – at least until they wake us up in the middle of the night every 2 hours to feed and get their diaper changed.
While we may claim as Americans that we value life and love children, statistics paint a very different picture. According to UN world population numbers, the US birth rate has been on a steady decline from 1950 to today. The population growth rate for America has been negative beginning as far back as 1990. The 1960’s and 70’s were extremely for our growth rate.
If you look at America in comparison to other countries, we rank 158 out of 225 nations for birth rates at 12.5 births per 1,000 people. China and Great Britain are right with us. Industrialized and developed countries in general have the lowest rates of childbearing. Canada is 10.3, Spain 9, Italy 8.6, and Japan at 7.7. At these rates, people aren’t even replacing themselves. It’s no wonder that the church is contracting and getting smaller. Who is there to pass the faith on to? We’re not multiplying to fill the earth with the faithful.
I’ve heard many rationalizations for this lack of child bearing; such as it’s so expensive to make a living and kids take up a lot of time and money. The cost of daycare takes the woman’s income in a dual income family. The world’s just so dangerous and insecure these days for children, what’s it going to be like when kids grow up in a world like we have today. We rightly fear for the culture and world of the future, but we as Christians trust God and His preserving of His people.
Perhaps the greatest fear and impediment to being fruitful and multiplying is the fear missing out. We’re so affluent that we want to have and do all that we can. Our culture and it’s people are so infatuated and addicted to entertainment, pleasure, possessions, and experiences that we’re constantly working to spend. We’re all about us and not much about other others. We want our kids and grandkids to have all that we didn’t; but are you and I worse off for not having everything? Perhaps were better off having been taught to value and work for things rather than having it all handed over to us.
So, in order “to be all you can be” and to “achieve your full potential” kids get in the way of these human goals and worldly ambitions. We love ourselves and our personal desires more than the closest neighbor of children.
I remember, and still on occasion hear today, the joke of large families having to be Catholic. It’s not uncommon to hear people speaking about parents of large families as they “must not know where babies come from.” We trivialize the family in favor of secular and workplace success. Stay at home moms are still viewed as poor women who need to be set free from their patriarchal bondage and misogynistic spouse to reach their potential and accomplishing something worthy in life.
It’s as if kids get in the way of our self-actualization and enjoyment in life. Children hinder and hold families back in terms of worldly and financial success. They’re a money drain in an expensive world; we can’t afford too many of them. it’s irresponsible to bring so many kids into the world. there are even claims of child abuse for bring a child up in this world and in an economic situation of low income. It’s more loving to abort and prevent children than to bring them into this world.
This is the thinking of the world. There are many who preach that no children is a much desirable way of life. You merely have to look at the example of many of the leaders of our highly industrialized economies such as France and Germany to name a few.
Hannah, Sarah and Elizabeth from the Scriptures were greatly desirous of children, but were barren. Hannah pleaded with God for a child, Sarah went so far as to give her husband another woman just so Abraham could have a child; and God blessed them. Are we today so desirous for children?
God from the beginning has had a much different plan: “God said to them,‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion’” (Genesis 1:27). God’s desire for you and me as His chosen people is to bear children, bring them up in the way and knowledge of the Lord so that we grow His Church and fill His eternal kingdom of heaven. How serious is God about children? The psalmist makes it quite clear (Psalm 127:3-5):
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
It is possible to have a large family by simply denying oneself the many things of this world that are offered. Modesty in all things can yield a happy life. the more people have does not make them happier as they are constantly striving for more; and that appetite is never satiated and fulfilled.
God loves children so much that He desires to call you His child, and He’s called you to be His through the waters of Holy Baptism. It’s in baptism that He marks you as His own; that you are made His treasured possession. “Seewhatkindoflove the Father has given to us,thatwe should be calledchildrenofGod;andsoweare” (1 John 3:1a).
“God’s only child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ! He, because I could not pay it, Gave my full redemption price. Do I need earth’s treasures many? I have one worth more than any That brought me salvation free Lasting to eternity!” (LSB 594; God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It; v.1).
God loves His child so much that He gave of Himself in Jesus that you and I might have a way to abundant life that has no end, the Way in Christ, to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. God is your creator who knew you before He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He’s your Father who will never leave or forsake you and preserve you unto eternal life.
God’s created for you, He’s created you and called you as His child, He’s given you forgiveness and life through Christ, and will continue to walk with you and supply all that you need for your body and life. All of this he does purely out of divine fatherly goodness and mercy.
God loves children and He loves you. All He wants is to multiply and fill heaven with His chosen children. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7). Amen.
Rev. Daniel Herb
Messiah Lutheran Church, Middletown, OH