Childfree Christians: Challenging Be Fruitful and Multiply

Katherine English wrote an interesting post, “Free to be Childfree” on Café-Stirring the Spirit Within.  It asks questions childfree Christians often struggle with. She writes that “it seems that there is instruction in many parts of the bible to be ‘fruitful and multiply’” (Genesis 1), and asks what does this mean for women who choose not to have children–are those women still living as God intended?

English lists some common reasons why people decide not to have children based on a survey of 171 childfree (there are more common reasons than what she lists from other research-interview research I’ve compiled over the last ten years), and talks about how like many childfree, Christian childfree women are often judged and misunderstood.

At the heart of her piece, she challenges the fruitful and multiply idea with some great points.

With all the damaging effects of overpopulation, including deforestation, hunger, climate change, war, and pollution, she argues that childfree women are helping to create a sustainable society for those who do have children. English points out that while the Bible has the fruitful and multiply point, there are “just as many passages about caring for the hungry, sick, and homeless. The world needs to see women who choose to live childfree as caring for their neighbor. They will help to make a better, more sustainable world for those of us who do.” I say Amen to that!

In addition to this point, there is good deal written about further interpretation of the requirement or “command” from the bible to be fruitful and multiply. Looking at both books of Genesis and other biblical writings, it can alternatively interpreted that having children is not so much a command as a “blessing” from God. In other words, it is not a mandate to us, but something that is bestowed upon us from God.  Christian Ethics professor Kenneth Magnuson discusses this idea in relation to Christian couples dealing with infertility. The interpretation of children as a blessing from God opens the door for infertile couples to not feel they have gone against God’s will if they do not have children.  This interpretation and others that are similar should invite childfree Christians to feel the same.

For those childfree that struggle with feeling your decision has goes against the church, get to know both books of Genesis. Read scholars’ different interpretations of the supposed biblical mandate to reproduce. You’ll find that the fruitful and multiply biblical mandate is not as ground in stone as you might think, and that when it comes to children, there are many ways to follow God’s will.

Childfree Christians let’s hear from you. If you struggle with your religion and childfree choice, tell us why. Those who do not, or have reconciled it in your heart and mind, tell us about this!

6 thoughts on “Childfree Christians: Challenging Be Fruitful and Multiply

  1. Thanks for this article! My husband and I, both Christians, decided long before we were married to not have children. Two things have helped reconcile our decision: the support of our goldly pastor and members of our church (very infrequently do we get the “you’ll change your minds” comment), and the firm belief that God has built us to serve in other ways. He has affirmed a different path in life for me – going back to school for a degree in Christian counseling – and it is child-free. This decision not to have children has been met with deep peace, a wonderful marriage, happiness with our friends and family, and freedom to puruse service to others in God’s name.

    1. Michelle,
      Thanks for writing. I love knowing there are churches out there with the views and support you have received. Many Christians are not so lucky…Indeed we are here to serve in many ways, and it just does not always include parenthood~L

  2. After reading a terrible post on Christian Post, I am happy with the reasoning posted here. Our church is much more accepting that most fundamentalist churches, although some members still see our choice as selfish. I reason this choice the same way I reason being a vegetarian. Yes, God said in Genesis that everything on this earth was here for us to eat, but horrid farming practices, global warming and hormone and drug-riddled products didnt exist. Likely, the earth’s problems weren’t the same in Genesis. Yes, He forsaw what humanity would do to the Earth, but that doesn’t mean I have to follow all the other sheep off a cliff, right?

  3. I just wanted to thank you for this article.
    And for the comments some of you wrote too. I’ve been agnostic for a while, but still raised in a Christian familly and also met a Christian man recently.
    So I had to rediscover certain things and ideas I had about faith.
    Because my mother somehow turned it into a negative experience for me.
    I’ve been having a hard time not to consider myself as a failure for my lack of interest in children. I don’t even have any sort of hate for them, I just feel ashamed whenever someone confront me to motherhood. I do my best to encourage people in their life choices, because this is my own way to feel “fruitful” and I wish someone told me it was ok to being so because to this day, this is still a very touchy topic for me.
    I deeply feel ashamed of existing because it’s something I always knew about myself and it seems that my mother feel pretty sad about it.
    I fear losing my partner because of this.
    I even consider leaving him if he ever want to be a father one day.
    But reading you makes me feel a little bit better and more at ease with my faith.
    If it have to happen, so be it.
    Although I’m not sure that I can feel happy knowing it might happen…
    I’ll try to have faith.
    Thank you.

      1. Thanks for the link, I’m not a native english speaker (I’m french) but I try to find all the ressources I can in different languages because it appear to be hard to find blogs or interview on these matters in my own language.
        But I hope to be able to share what I find with people who might need it despite the language. So thanks again.

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