By Marcelo Tolopilo
The apostle Peter warns believers to live in a sober state of evaluation because our mortal enemy tirelessly seeks our ruin (1 Peter 5:8). Though his hurtful schemes are manifold, one of the most effective weapons in the devil’s arsenal against the Christian is worldly thinking. The war for values and behavior always begins with the battle for the mind.
If we are not vigilant to enlighten our minds with God’s truth, the prevailing winds of worldly wisdom (often the consensus of popular opinion expressed in pop culture) can invade our reasoning and unwittingly influence our core beliefs. These beliefs then shape our values, which in turn direct our deeds. Left unchecked, that’s a recipe for the ruin of many.
It is therefore incumbent upon us (Christians) to evaluate and align our thinking, our values, and our way of life by what God reveals in scripture so that we might joyously experience life as He designed it. One area where I have seen the world’s perspective influence Christians ““ particularly Christian parents – is in the way we view our children.
The underlying negative view of children by our culture
Our culture’s primary negative attitude toward children can be summed up in the term “liability.” While most people appreciate babies and children, our current value system puts an even higher premium on personal wealth and freedom. For many, children seem to get in the way of both; hence they are viewed as an impediment to our personal affluence and mobility.
From a purely pragmatic point of view, that assessment is correct. For example, raising children is an expensive endeavor. In 2001, a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the average cost of raising a child from birth to his/her eighteenth birthday to be roughly $250,000. Adjusted to today’s dollars that figure would be greater. Keep in mind the survey did not accommodate the cost of college education, nor expenses incurred for young people living at home beyond their eighteenth birthday.
It takes a lot of money to raise kids, and that cost will significantly trim our wealth and therefore have a direct impact on our ability to fulfill our personal wish list (comforts, leisure, etc.).
Furthermore, having children will absolutely limit our personal freedom. A couple accustomed to dinner for two or an adventure for two, daily plans for two, shopping for two, etc., suddenly find themselves planning their world around a nine pound person – a fait accompli!
Once mom and dad come home from the hospital with that precious bundle in a blanket, just planning to go to church becomes a commitment akin to packing up the wagon and heading west with the pioneers. Dinner (a humble burger) and a movie (a two dollar theatre with sticky floors), becomes a logistical feat on the level of a space shuttle launch: (angling for a babysitter, coordinating pick-up and drop-off, start time/end time, negotiating hourly rate, bottles, baths, diapers, wipes, pet blankets, pj’s, medical release forms, ad infinitum).
Having children will affect the car we drive, the house we buy, the vacations we take (or don’t take), the activities we do, etc., etc. Because of the toll children take on contemporary values (affluence and personal freedom), offspring are generally viewed with an asterisk on life’s “to-do” list ““ i.e., “They’re cute and carry on the name, but they’re pricy, limiting, and there’s an embargo at two.”
That seems like a harmless enough attitude. It would be considered wise in contemporary discussions, yet that self-obsessed assessment is at the core of two of the greatest ills plaguing western culture, the neglect of children and the holocaust of abortion. This pragmatic perspective of life leads people to view kids as something less valuable than personal rights, instead of someone of infinite value to God. If kids are of lesser worth than our perceived personal needs, they can be mistreated or ignored. Furthermore, if children get in the way of one’s freedom (sexual, or otherwise) life within the womb becomes a matter of personal choice that can be terminated at the discretion of the host carrier.
Clearly, no reasonable Christian would accept either of these practices (child neglect or abortion), but here’s the $64.00 question, “How much has the world’s pragmatic way of thinking (regarding children) infiltrated our minds and shaped our values, and perhaps even our parenting?” The only way for us to reflect accurately on these questions is to briefly consider the Bible’s, or God’s outlook on children.
God’s perspective on children
There are many scriptures we could consider at this point, but both time and your patience beg me to get to the core of the issue. With those limitations in mind, I want to bring one scripture to your attention that succinctly puts forth the biblical view of children. This clear perspective is found in Psalm 127:3-5. In his wisdom Solomon instructed, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” God tells us that offspring are a divine gift and a reward! From a biblical perspective children are seen as a benevolent outpouring from God Himself. The term”gift” means an “inheritance,” that is, a valued, undeserved possession that a person awaits with great anticipation. The word”reward” is most often translated “wages” and refers to the fruit of hard work. The common thread in both terms is the idea of great value. Far from being a liability, the Bible tells us children are a divine treasure of unspeakable worth. Further debunking the idea of “the liability of children” are the following words, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth: they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”
The key concepts highlighted by these words are “vigor” and “defense.” These verses underscore the reality that children are an asset to their parents, particularly as they grow older. As the years pass by, the frail little ones we nurture become themselves a source of strength and protection for us.
The conclusion of the Psalmist regarding children is simple, “How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Liability? No, the word the Holy Spirit uses to describe God’s view of children is “blessed.” A better translation of this term would be “bliss.” “Oh the happy bliss of the man whose quiver is full of children.” That, my friends, is the direct opposite of the value the world often places on children. It is God’s view that must shape our thinking, values, and actions toward our children.
With that perspective fresh in mind, ask yourself, “Do I view my children as anything but a gift and a blessing from God? Have I expressed my deep gratitude to the Lord for the inheritance God has given me in my kids? Am I afraid to have more children because they may interfere with my perceived rights and desires? Do I see my children as an eternal treasure, a stewardship from Him, souls to nurture and mentor in God’s ways? Am I investing my life without reservation to lead my children to salvation and full maturity in Christ?”
May our answer to these questions and our actions in these matters reflect the heart of the One who has entrusted us with the “gift” and “reward” of children.
The words, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert” in 1 Peter 5:8 are back-to-back imperatives. This is a double command exhorting us to live a thoughtful, vigilant life.
There is a growing trend in obstetrics of the practice of prenatal diagnosis in order to terminate the life of disabled children, or to identify gender for the purpose of sex-selective abortions.
NASB Exhaustive concordance
NASB Exhaustive concordance
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament