“You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. ‘For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,’ says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:13-16 New King James Version).
When we look at verse 15, we see that God made marriage because He wants godly offspring. This goes against our culture that says marriage is for companionship and happiness and sex and having a partner in life. These things are all important and are the blessings of marriage but they are secondary. God created marriage first of all to provide structure to raise up the next generation. His whole big plan since the beginning of time is that He is building a kingdom family and the natural way that we are involved in doing that is through having kids.
Our marriages are a picture of Christ and the Church. On the spiritual side, as we draw into an intimate relationship with Christ, spiritual life flows out of that and we share our faith and other people come to salvation. The natural reveals the spiritual. As we come together in intimacy with our spouse, the natural result is new life. It’s a beautiful picture!
Talking about childbearing is a painful subject for couples who have lost children to miscarriage and/or infertility. While Joe and I have never dealt with infertility, we have suffered loss. Our baby Joseph was born premature at 21 ½ weeks and struggled for breath. The hospital wouldn’t do any “life-saving measures” because he was too young and he died in our arms within the hour. Eleven years later, our son David died in utero at 16 ½ weeks (see “Safely Home” blog post). Joseph is buried in Saskatoon; David in Colorado Springs. Two little graves for our sons we carry in our hearts every day this side of eternity.
I also had one miscarriage at 10 weeks pregnant and we’ve had two very early miscarriages (“chemical pregnancies”). Last time, I had a positive pregnancy test one day and the next day, I started bleeding. At 43 years old, I wasn’t really sad in a logical sense, but it seemed like there was an instinctual grief that kicked in. I cried and cried and blamed other things but when I was honest with myself, I felt like there was a primal grief happening in my soul that I couldn’t explain.
My heart goes out to women who haven’t been able to bear children. I want to encourage you that not having natural children doesn’t mean your marriage doesn’t have purpose. I believe your purpose is still to bring about godly offspring. The natural partnership of parenting (the bearing of children) isn’t there so your mission will look different. Maybe it’s adoption or foster parenting. Maybe it’s ‘adopting’ a struggling mom and helping her out. Having young children is a very difficult time for many women. I can think of several moms who are completely overwhelmed right now. You might see them at church and they’ll smile and say they’re fine but I guarantee there’s not a single mom of little kids who wouldn’t appreciate a break from her kids.
The purpose of each of our marriages, whether we have a dozen kids or none, is to build the kingdom of God through godly offspring. This could be adults that we are discipling in the Lord because they are youngsters in Christ and/or literally children. I think it’s both.
I was at a worship service not long ago and the sanctuary was full of people praising God but something was missing and then I realized there was only a handful of children there. And I just felt a sadness because these people were loving God but they were out of order because God never intended for us to be separated by age demographic. Worship is for everybody! And the Holy Spirit said to me, “Tell them to bring their children.” A lot of the people were older and their kids were probably grown but they would have grandkids and great-grandkids and even if they didn’t, I’m sure they had neighbor kids who were hungry to know about Jesus.
Matthew 19 talks about this. In verses 13-15, we read, “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.”
Children are a blessing! Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” A quiver is what you hold your arrows in. The world says, ‘Have a couple kids then save for retirement when you can kick back and relax and enjoy life.’ That is not biblical! God says children are your heritage and your reward. In Deuteronomy 28, we read about the blessings of obeying God and notice that ‘the fruit of the body’ is right up there near the top of the list:
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out” (vs 1-6).