Are children a risk or a blessing? Of course children are a blessing, most couples say; then again, many say they're not ready for this blessing just yet. In fact, most married Christians use thermometers, spermicidal jellies, contraceptive pills, and lovemaking techniques to delay this blessing.

Why is that? What happens when we treat childbearing as something to be delayed or avoided? This essay explains how one young couple answered these questions. An accompanying essay by Raymond C. Van Leeuwen reaches different conclusions. Both essays raise theological, ethical, and historical issues that all engaged and married Christians need to discuss. Finally, an article from Jenell Williams Paris debunks pervasive myths about marital sex.

Dearly beloved," the minister began, "we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony."

The congregation was silent in rapt attention, except for the occasional cry of a disgruntled baby who had little interest in the sacred occasion.

"Marriage is an honorable estate," the minister continued, "and not to be entered into lightly, but reverently and soberly, duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained."

"First, it was ordained for the procreation of children."

At this point, a guest later reported, the calm was interrupted by a snort of disapproval—"humpf!"—from one of our relatives, who crossed her arms in dismay.

That snort summed up a good deal of modern thought on childbearing. Partly thanks to the wide availability of artificial contraception (along with dual careerism in an increasing number of marriages), married couples these days are having fewer and fewer children. Many Christians see ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
High Court Injustice Subscriber Access Only
What you can do to help persecuted Christians in Pakistan.
Current IssueWhat the Church Says to Terrible People
What the Church Says to Terrible People Subscriber Access Only
‘Welcome to the club.’
RecommendedUnderstanding the Transgender Phenomenon
Understanding the Transgender PhenomenonSubscriber Access Only
The leading Christian scholar on gender dysphoria defines the terms—and gives the church a way forward.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes.
Christianity Today
Make Love and Babies
hide thisNovember 12 November 12

In the Magazine

November 12, 2001

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.