Parenting, Sex, and Birth Control are “hot topics” I often get asked about. Here are my boiled-down thoughts on these things.
MY THOUGHTS ON PARENTING
My favorite book on the subject is Raising Godly Tomatoes, by Elizabeth Krueger.
In general, my thoughts are:
- GREATLY LOVE & show affection to your children.
- Keep them close to you.
- Stay home and guard your commitments.
- Be careful about the appetites they are developing.
- Let the Bible inform you about your child (rather than parenting mags, blogs, psychologists)
- Watch to learn the way they are each “bent,”
- Discipline them in the way you mean for them to go (don’t just tell them what NOT to do; show them what you WANT for them to do).
- Don’t let them walk all over you.
- Don’t wait to discipline until you’re furious & out of control.
- Be the authority in your home.
- Be stubborn in seeing to it that your children obey you.
- Tell them the truth– yes, even about sex.
- Think ahead, and be fiercely committed to their long-term good, rather than your (or their) short-term comfort/happiness.
- Being a Christian mother means fighting your own sin (like yelling/fits of anger).
THINKING CHRISTIANLY ABOUT SEX
If any Christian adult, man or woman, asked me for the most helpful article about sex, I would point them here: THE MEANING OF SEX by Jonathan Leeman — It’s long, but it is a very thoughtful presentation of a biblical, Christian understanding of why God made sex, and a helpful drawing out of many of the lessons and blessings of marital intimacy. This is a foundational piece that can help provide a good framework for thinking biblically about sex.
If I was asked about the most helpful video teaching about sex, I would point them here: MARRIAGE IN GOSPEL FOCUS – I LOVE this WONDERFUL talk by Tim & Kathy Keller (I recommend each of their parts for any Christian to hear!) — This talk touches on culture & its relationship to sex, underlying beliefs of our culture, gender roles within marriage, and how the Bible & specifically the Gospel can help resolve culturally harmful ideas about sex. [Their talk is based on this book.]
We talk openly with our children about sex, and view that continual discussion in our home as a critical part of rightly preparing our children to live in this world, but not of it.
- Is It Biblical to Teach Our Kids About Sex?
- The On-Going Talk (Talking With Your Kids About Sex from Birth to Age 2)
- The On-Going Talk (Talking With Your Kids About Sex from Ages 2 to 5)
- The Truth About Sex & How It Affects Our Parenting
MY VIEWS ON BIRTH CONTROL
As a “mom of many,” I sometimes get asked about birth control. My thoughts on this are more about heart and motivation as we think about overarching principles, than they are about behavior (although I am against abortifacient birth control methods, no matter the reason).
I want to tread carefully here, because I do not wish to harm the conscience of those sisters and brothers who have strong convictions in this area, nor do I want to heap up Pharisaical “heavy burdens” like Matthew 23:4 describes (“They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.”).
Ultimately, the only person’s convictions who I will have to live out are my own. So I don’t want to sway someone who feels convinced that they are not to use birth control, that they should use it, and I don’t want to sway someone who feels freedom in this area, to suddenly feel constricted.
That said, where my husband and I have focused is this: our attitudes before the Lord. Are we willing to receive what He gives, at any moment? For us, that has not meant “no birth control, ever.” There have been a number of times where, out of concern for my health (after one of our three miscarriages), or to give me a small season of mental/emotional “pause,” we have utilized non-abortifacient birth control. My husband has looked to verses like “live with your wife in an understanding way”– 1 Peter 3:7– and “love your wife… nourish and cherish her”– Ephesians 5:29– as his guideposts in this area.
Most often, for us, that has looked like using non-abortifacient birth control for the year after having a baby.
That said, even in those moments, we’ve submitted ourselves to the awareness that God could give us a child at any time, and made sure that we enter into those times of purposeful “rest” with the attitude that we believe we are doing what is best and wise in stewarding my body and soul, but that God knows better than we do, and that if at any time He was to give us a child, we would gratefully receive him/her as God’s rich blessing.
As I said, though, where we have felt freedom, others may not. I don’t wish to wound the consciences of my brothers and sisters. But that is where we have landed.
We believe that:
- God is sovereign, good, and has built knowable rhythms and routines into this world.
- He has, generally, made women fruitful for a lengthy season of life, and He built sexual desire into us so that, with regular sexual activity, we would frequently be in the position of possibly having children.
- Children are a gift, and each is a uniquely-created image-bearer of God.
- He is our Provider, and He is faithful.
- Whatever we do should be done in faith, so — no matter what our birth control decisions are– fear should not (ever) be a motivation for us as believers.
- Biblically, we’re to count the cost before we build, and to faithfully teach, love, and discipline our children (meaning, children come with responsibilities).
- Our bodies and minds are fallen and subject to the fall, which means while some women face infertility, and some face hyper fertility, each family must discern how to best steward mom’s body, mind, and health. And each must carry his own load.
- Wives are to submit to their own husbands, and husbands are to live in an understanding way with their own wives.
I would – always- caution ANYONE against an attitude that says, “we are DONE. D. O. N. E. Capital D. Done!” If we are married and regularly intimate, there is always the possibility of children. And I think we should all check our hearts, no matter what outward choices we are making/not making about fertility, to be sure that we are people who would trust God’s beautiful sovereignty and welcome what He calls gifts (children) if He was to ordain that for us.
There is a dual nature of privilege and responsibility that comes with the gift of children. As a metaphor for children/fertility, I have always appreciated this quote: “One can have a high view of apple trees and not plant them a foot apart in his garden.” We approach children as a wonderful blessing from God, and simultaneously we recognize that there is a potential “cost” to my body & mind. So, like the orchard planter does with his land and apple trees, we seek to steward “ME” well, too.
We believe that trusting God’s providence and sovereignty in the midst of our human choices is a wonderful thing to train our hearts to do– in all areas, including this one of conceiving children.