Continuing my interview with childfree Christian blogger I.Am.Free:
Laura: Many childfree Christians have a hard time reconciling not having kids with their faith–you have. How?
Quite simply, during my formative years no one ever told me that such a thing was wrong! I attended church regularly from the time I was born, both of my grandfathers were ministers, my parents read me Bible stories and devotionals before bed every night, I went to a Christian school where I rigorously studied the entire Bible… I was completely immersed in Christianity, and yet I never saw anything in my Bible nor heard anything from the pulpit to convince me that there was something immoral about not having children.
I should probably add that while I attended churches that some might describe as conservative and fundamentalist, they were fairly mainstream Protestant churches. Individual opinions might have varied about birth control or family size, for example, but there was never a church mandate against birth control or a mandate to have children. As such, my personal experience with mainstream Protestantism is undoubtedly vastly different from the experiences of my Roman Catholic sisters and brothers who hear the opposite message from their pope.
Even now that I have been exposed to Christians who believe there is something evil or rebellious about purposeful childlessness, I have still heard no compelling spiritual argument against it. No one has been able to present to me clear, Biblical evidence that every (married) person must bear children. Even “be fruitful and multiply” is considered by some scholars to be a blessing to humanity and not a command; but if it were a command… well, humanity has been fruitful and multiplied to the tune of about 6.7 billion. I think we have fulfilled that directive.
Laura: How have you dealt with pressure from family, friends, and the church to have children?
I.Am.Free: I have always been a woman of my own mind, and I have been well-known for bucking societal trends in many areas, including my career, my marriage relationship, my gender role, my financial decisions, and so on. Though some of my family and friends have given me a little flack about not having children, they have come to realize that I think carefully about everything I do and that I will do what I know is right, regardless of what anyone else has to say.
Between that and about twenty years of me being matter-of-fact about not having children, most of my family and friends have seen no point in trying to change my mind. As for the church, I have experienced no direct pressure to have children. Whenever I do feel any indirect pressure, I focus on the relationship I have with God and the confidence I have that I am following the right path. I also seek out churches that welcome people from all walks of life, and I would not hesitate to leave a church if I found it to be intolerant.
Laura: What advice would you give to other Christians who are struggling with being Christian and childfree (or who are wanting to be childfree)?
I.Am.Free: The first piece of advice I would give is to know what you believe and why. Some of what is taught in church is not based on Scripture or even church history, but is completely the invention of some person who misinterpreted or added to the Bible. Read the Bible for yourself. Look at the historical and cultural context of what you read. Question your church leaders. Determine which aspects of your church’s teaching are from God, and which are nothing more than human tradition.
The second piece of advice is to listen to what God is telling you. I do not want to sound as if God is some sort of crystal ball or the great vending-machine-in-the-sky, but I do believe that when we are open and receptive, earnestly seeking God, and prayerful, that God does give us direction and a peace about what we should do.
Lastly, stand strong. Doing the right thing is not always easy and often does not please others. For heaven’s sake, I have even heard of Christian parents who tried to discourage their children from becoming missionaries! But I think it will be difficult to be content unless you live the life to which you were called.
I.Am.Free: Thanks so much for your thoughts and insights. This topic needs to be talked about more to help those who may be struggling with being childfree and Christian.
So to you out there: Let’s hear your thoughts.
From I.Am.Free re: online discussion: In my experience with the childfree community online, many are quick to criticize religious viewpoints. I am certain that to the nonbeliever, much of what I have said about my faith will sound absolutely ridiculous, and I can appreciate that. While I am happy to answer any follow-up questions or make clarifications, I am not interested in defending my faith to anyone who is merely attempting to make me feel foolish.
As some of my dear friends are atheists or agnostics, I have had plenty of time to engage in challenging philosophical discussions on the spiritual and to analyze my beliefs in the presence of great skepticism. I welcome this, but I have found that it does not translate well into the online world. I hope that discussion will not deteriorate into a debate about religion.
Me—I’m especially interested in sharing with others your stories about being childfree and Christian!
I consider myself a combination of childfree and childless (I know, some think this is not possible, but I don’t have a better name för my situation)
And I’m a christian… When I got married I was supposed to have children (I thought I had to, since I got married) but there was a very big part of me that simply didn’t want to. The result: I became ill så that I couldn’t get pregnant. Coincidence? I think not.
Anyway, my point is, I stopped going to church after the wedding since I felt I was expected to soon show up with a pregnant belly… Which I almost did: my belly swells a lot så one lady asked me if it “was time”. A very uppseting question since I actually have a fobia about childbearing and most often I try to forget that it exists. Anything that reminds me of that (questions, pregnant women, babys etc) make me litterally panic…
Så I don’t dare to go to church again and hardly go anywere else. I even tried to lose weight så that this “belly incident” wouldn’t happen again. But in order för my belly not to swell I should stop eating and this is not possible. (I try though…)
Well, I see now my comment is a mess… but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say anyway…
I really like your blog and visit often and want to reply but it’s difficult för me to express myself in english…
But I do appreciate your posts så please keep up the good work!
Take care 🙂
Artemis~Thanks for writing. Can you write more about how you consider yourself a combination of childfree and childless? It sounds like you really don’t want children but the church expects you to have them, so you avoid church. The belly incident sure sounds upsetting. Thanks for your kind words about the blog. Please keep writing–your English is good! ~L
As someone who is a Christian and rabidly childfree AND pro-choice, I tend to butt heads with others on those views. Especially because of where I live. A lot of the population is Catholic, thus it’s very much about the whole multiply thing. I was never pressured as a child or by my family ever to have kids…but I know many women my age who were raised in families expecting a lot of children when they were old enough.
But I also hold a very open view on my Christianity. I do not like rabid conservatism and the blind following. I think God made us a bit smarter than that. And bodily autonomy is one of those things God wanted us to have.
Your are fortunate that you’ve never been pressured by your family to have kids! A lot of Christians have trouble with the pro-choice thing. If someone asked you how you can be christian and pro-choice what would you say? ~L
Ironically, I had this same argument with a friend of mine. He’s a very Christian guy. Of course, he didn’t want to listen and got particularly angry when I told him that as a man, no, he shouldn’t have a say in what a woman does with her body unless he is the father of that unborn child. It didn’t get very far. =/
But I tell them there’s a time and place for everything. Nor is it our place to judge. You personally may find it “unholy”, but that really IS your opinion. And opinions are, like, well, assholes. Everyone has one. :p And after all, there is the famous Luke 6:37 (“Do not judge, and you will not be judged…etc, etc.”) passage. A lot of people say it, but they don’t USE it. Are there times we must judge people for our safety/own selves? Yes. We’re human, it’s going to happen. But in the long run, is it right and moral of me to tell someone what they can do with their body? No. Not unless they’ll be seriously harming themselves.
I think many Christians have forgotten the words “tolerance” and “unconditional love” over the many years. Or have very selective hearing and think it only applies to “certain people”. I say that’s foolish.
I think there is a lof of “my god is the right god” and “my beliefs are the right beliefs” out there. A lot of people believe that abortion is murder so they do believe a human is being harmed, so they have the right to stop a woman from murdering her baby. I am with you-it is their religious belief and should not be forced onto others. ~L
Thank you for your question =)
I´ll try not to bore you with details since it’s a long sad story…
I can say like that:
I feel childless because I could not choose to have a baby (had I wanted to) due to various medical condition (among other). I actually, right now, can’t even TRY to have children… Så I don’t feel this is 100% choice for me.
But I also feel childfree because I’ve never felt the urge to have children. I think the only reason I sometimes feel sad not having children is the isolation that I experience and all those things childfree women have to endure…
I just want to fit in and have a “normal” life but it seems I was not made to do that… And I like myself that way, it’s just that it’s hard sometimes… being different…
Remember you are not alone–lots of people out there who have chosen not to have kids, or medical conditions chose for them. And what is “normal” anyway–it is whatever you want it to mean 🙂 ~L
Thank you for posting this article. I am an Anglican and years ago I struggled with the guilt thing of being Christian and not wanting children. One day I spoke to a friend who I knew had done a great deal of study on the bible and is now married to a Minister. We were catching the bus home and I remember her face when I told her how I felt. She gave a small laugh and said “Oh Heather, as if God cares that you choose not to have children”. I could feel years of built up pressure melt away. I believe that it was my destiny to be this way for a reason, some of which are becoming clearer now in regards to my nieces and nephews. Aunty Heather is always there to spoil them – and as they say, give them back at the end of the day.
Your friend’s comment is such a keeper! I am going to point people to your comment when they contact me about struggling with this –! ~L
I’m a childfree Christian. I am struggling with the controversy of it as my priest told me that “Women will be ‘saved’ through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2: 15) is my biggest issue with this. Don’t know if this means that if we don’t bear children we won’t be saved… It’s hard and now I stopped going to the church because I simply don’t agree to have a child just so that I’m saved. I think that’s selfish. Thanks for posting this great interview! It was very inspiring to find out there are other Christians out there dealing with this… Thanks!
Violetta, Oh my I was not as familiar with the 1 Timothy 2: 15 – more talked about the be fruitful and multiply thing — while I think there are many agnostic, atheist and non-religious people who don’t have children by choice, indeed you are not alone….wish there were people speaking like I Am Christian…you might find this post interesting too http://laviechildfree.com/2010/08/insights-from-a-childfree-mormon-feminist/