Should We Have (More) Kids?


You’ve read the blog posts. You’ve heard the opinions. You’ve felt the pressure. And perhaps you’re asking the question—“Should we have kids?” “How many kids should we have?” First, know that this is a glorious subject to be considering! Children are a marvelous—rambunctious!—blessing and heritage from the Lord. Second, know that, God has so spoken in his Word that you will have everything you need in order to love, serve, and obey him faithfully. He loves you! And he loves you, as your Father! It’s helpful to remember that no one understands the blessings, challenges, and expenses of having kids more than God. And this is the God you will encounter on the journey that follows below. Rejoice!

First Considerations

Before we look into the specifics, let’s attend to three crucial considerations. They will guard our steps, strengthen our hope, and light our path.

1. Renew our commitment to obey Christ in all things.

In the Great Commission, King Jesus commissioned his first disciples to make more disciples, and to “teach them to obey all I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20). Obedience to Jesus is basic Christian discipleship, and is one of its distinguishing marks.

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”
  1. Jn. 2:3)

2. Remember the gospel.

Every pursuit of obedience will fail without filtering that pursuit through the gospel, which says that Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father in all things, for us, as our substitute! He lived a life of perfect obedience, for us! His death on the cross washed clean all our sins! His Spirit of resurrection power now dwells inside of us! Because of what Jesus did for us at the Cross, we are finally free to obey him! We are finally able to obey him!

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18

3. Search the Scriptures for answers.

The Scriptures are the only place we will find out what God expects of us. There are many voices that will seek to influence us, but only the Bible speaks authoritatively to us as truth without a mixture of error.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

It’s important to remember that the Bible doesn’t promise to tell us everything we’d like to know about a subject, but it does promise to tell us everything we need to know, to “be competent” and “equipped for every good work!”

What the Bible Teaches About Having Children

God is kind to give us laws and wisdom about marriage, parenting, and other issues related to the family. But it might surprise us to discover that what the Bible says directly about the specific question of how many children we should have is singular, short, and simple.

Having renewed our commitment to gospel-empowered obedience, our search of the Scriptures uncovers a clear command from God, which doubles as a blessing:  

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…”  (Gen. 1:28, 9:1).

We are commanded to have children! We will look at some special circumstances below, but for a moment, let’s set aside all the “but-what-about’s?” and just let the command be what it is—“Be fruitful and multiply.” Clearly, the LORD God wants us to have lots of children—“…and fill the earth…”—so we need to make sure we’re intentionally cultivating hearts that love children, and regard them as blessings from God that are to be welcomed into our homes, churches, and communities.

A Few Special Considerations

1. The Sovereign Lord of Life Opens and Closes the Womb.

The Bible reveals to us the humbling truth that the LORD God alone gives life and takes it away, and therefore, in accordance with his mysterious will, he alone opens and closes the womb of childbearing. In Genesis, we see that God took compassion on Jacob’s wife Leah by opening her womb—giving her a son, Ruben (29:31-32). Later, in 1 Samuel 1, we learn the reason that Hannah was not able to conceive children was because “the LORD had closed her womb” (v. 5, 6).

Among other things, this means that obeying this particular command is not ultimately in our control. Losing sight of this can cause unnecessary guilt in the hearts of women whose desire to have children have gone painfully unmet. It is important to remember that there is a difference between refusal to obey a command, and inability to do so. A couple who loves children and earnestly desires to follow God’s command to have them, but are not able to conceive, are not regarded by God as being disobedient. As we have seen, God’s command to us to be fruitful and multiply is always tempered by his sovereign prerogative to open or close the womb.

2. What About Birth Control?

Surely, personal opinions abound on the subject of birth control. But we remember that Jesus alone is our King, and only he has “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:18) to speak on this question.

“Contraception” literally means against conception. With such a broad definition, we must acknowledge that contraception can refer to both a method of preventing pregnancy, and an attitude of the heart. As a method to prevent pregnancy, Scripture does not speak directly to the question of whether it is permissible to use them, and therefore we do not have the authority to command or forbid their use in all cases. However, this does not mean that the Bible does not give us sufficient guidance for making a God-honoring decision.

When we apply general principles of biblical wisdom to this question, we learn that, just as with all other Christian liberties, a believer’s freedom to use contraceptive measures is not unlimited. “The believer does not have the right to exercise unlimited dominion over his or her own body, but should view the body as a trust from the Lord, to be cared for in ways that are glorifying to God” (John Jefferson Davis).

Consider these truths that govern our freedom:

1) God is sovereign over us. Every believer’s joy and duty is to submit himself to the sovereignty of the Lord over his household. As he who gives life and takes it away, God opens and closes the womb according to his wise, good, oftentimes mysterious will (Gen. 30:22; 1 Sam. 1:6). It is never permissible for a believer to utilize contraceptive measures to seek to overthrow God’s total lordship over his life. Rather, we must cultivate an attitude of submission before the Lord—consulting his word daily to plan our steps, at the same time humbly acknowledging before our King that, finally and ultimately, he directs our path (Prov. 16:9).

2) God owns us. Our bodies are not our own. As created beings, we belong to the Lord our Creator. “You are not your own. For you were bought at a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19b-20). God can do with us whatever he wants (Ps. 115:3), and everything he does is good (Gen. 18:25; Dt. 32:4). For us, this means that what we do with our bodies is directly connected to our Christian witness to the watching world. When we make decisions such as these, we do so with holy trepidation.

3) God condemns abortion. Because #1 and #2 above are true, we have a duty to understand the medications we are taking—their side effects and a general sense of how they work. Many Christians are unaware that several modern contraceptives work chemically to essentially abort the fertilized egg. Such medications must be rejected in all cases, as Scripture is clear in its condemnation of all abortion. Check with a trusted doctor or pharmacist to identify appropriate options.

We’ve seen how, as a method of preventing pregnancy, contraception is not directly forbidden in the Bible, and therefore can be utilized in accordance with biblical wisdom, and one’s personal conscience. As an attitude of the heart, however, contraception is contrary to Scripture, and should be acknowledged as sin and repented of. Any ideology, movement, or attitude which speaks negatively about procreation is opposed to the Holy Spirit, who authored the Scriptures indicating that children are a God-blessed gift. As we’ve said above, all Christian couples should actively cultivate a heart that cherishes children as gifts from God, and should be eager to welcome children into their home, as the Lord wills.

3. How Many Children Should We Have?

While it is sinful to have contraception as an attitude of the heart, it is also unhelpful for Christians to speak flippantly about the challenges of parenthood. “Just have more babies” may sound pious, but it fails to acknowledge the physical, emotional, and financial responsibilities of raising children to the glory of God. As with the question of birth control, the Bible gives no direct command for how many children we should have. But when seeking to discern how many children we should have, we should consider:

1) The Bible extols large households. “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” (Ps. 127:3-5). Children are the future of our society! How much should Christians desire to fill the earth with children trained in the fear and discipline of the LORD God? As a general rule, we should cultivate hearts that, as the Lord allows, desire large families. “Fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

2)“Having children” is not the same thing as “discipling children.” If the Lord simply said to bring more humans into the world, then having as many children as possible might be reasonable for most of us. But the Bible reveals that God expects exceedingly more from parents than simply procreating. In addition to the common requirements of provision of food, shelter, and medical care, every parent is commanded to train up each of their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). This involves every conceivable aspect of teaching, training, correction, and discipline. God expects parents to teach each of their children the word of God—rehearsing the stories of God’s faithfulness (Dt. 4:9-14), teaching them the commandments of God, “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Dt. 6:7); laboring with intentionality to impart to them biblical wisdom for right thinking, godly living, and holy public repute (Prov. 1:8-19; 2:1-5; 3:1-12; 4:1-7:27).
Parenting is the Great Commission at home.

Having children is the making of disciples within our own homes. And making disciples is a weighty commitment to the physical, spiritual, and financial needs of every one of our children. Therefore, if Christians are to faithfully decide how many children they should have, we must prayerfully ask ourselves,

“How many children do we believe we can faithfully disciple?”

When considering such a glorious and weighty question, we should consider both the privilege and the responsibility of discipling children. Do we have a solid local church family? Are we in proximity to like-minded extended family who can help us? How are we doing financially? What is the current state of our health? Might we adopt children?

We understand that we do not know what tomorrow will bring, so we reject fearful inaction and make our decisions based on the best information we have today, trusting that “sufficient for the day is its own worry” (Mt. 6:34). We steel our conviction to obey Christ in all things. We remember the gospel that has washed us of all guilt and freed us to love others more than ourselves. We fortify our commitment to the sole authority of the holy Scriptures—mustering courage not to compromise on the divine standard of righteousness, nor to legalistically “go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). We plan our steps according to divine revelation and sanctified desires, and then we trust the Lord to direct our steps according to his sovereign, wise, and good plan for our lives.

And we train our children to do the same.


Martha Peace, Stuart W. Scott, The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family (P&R Publishing: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2010).