Marriage

“Fecundiphobia”

female symbolThank you, Kristi, for bringing this excellent article to my attention. Now, I bring it to yours:

“Fecundiphobia: The Growing Fear of Children and Fertile Women” by Mollie Hemingway

“…the fact is that, as far as the media are concerned, abortion is a sacrament. And keeping the womb empty at all costs during all, or nearly all, of one’s fertile years is the sine qua non of modern American womanhood. Woe to the woman who ‘chooses’ otherwise.”

Marriage: One Mom, One Dad

“I like it,” I said to my husband yesterday at the Defend Marriage Lobby Day at the Illinois state capitol building. I was referring to the yellow button we had each been handed at the registration table.

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“Yes,” he agreed as he pinned his on his jacket. “It’s a clearer confession of what marriage is, rather than just ‘one woman, one man.'”

Still, I found myself fighting back tears as we stood in line waiting to talk to our state representative. Here we were, a barren couple, wearing buttons which publicly exposed our shame. My husband and I are one man and one woman brought together in marriage, but we are not one dad and one mom; and the truth stings.

But, it is still the truth.

That’s what marriage is, really. It’s God’s good ordering of His creation. It’s not passion and attraction and preference and romance, though – don’t get me wrong – it is a delight when marriage includes such things. Marriage is God’s blessed institution of the family unit in life. It is one man and one woman joined together that they might be one dad and one mom. We know this to be true, because it is the one flesh union of husband and wife over which God spoke the blessing of children in His words “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:26-31); it is the distinct parental unit of dad and mom which God commands children to obey in His words “Honor thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). It is the unique joining together of husband and wife which Paul uses as a picture of Christ’s relationship with His bride, the Church, when he writes, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:22–6:4).

That’s why even the barren can confidently confess to the world that marriage is one dad, one mom. Though the cross of childlessness weighs our shoulders with grief and pain (and sometimes, on days like yesterday, shame), it does not make our marriages null and void. We are still fruitful in marriage as man and wife, even though God in His wisdom has not blessed us insofar as to multiply. Soli deo gloria.

Is procreation an intrinsic quality of marriage?

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signQuestion Submitted: At a recent theological symposium, I posited that we in the Church need “to return to teaching properly about the positive locus of marriage – teaching about its procreative purpose and nature.” Another attendee replied in part that “procreation is NOT an intrinsic quality of marriage, as we do not say the infertile are not married.” If I had had a chance for rebuttal, I would have pointed out the error of his logic. Bipedalism is an intrinsic quality of humans, despite the sad reality of paraplegia. It would be very helpful to hear how you would counter the idea that infertility invalidates the argument that procreation is an intrinsic quality of marriage. I have my own answers to this false argument, but I would like to make sure I have an answer that is sensitive to the minds of those who suffer from infertility.

My pastors taught me that God institutes and defines marriage in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2. We learn in verses 1:27-28 that God created man in His own image; male and female He created them, and He blessed them. He told them to be fruitful and multiply, and God saw that “it was very good” (Gen 1:31).

The gift of procreation is not only a blessing God speaks over marriage, but God sees the blessing of children as good.

Barrenness is not good. Barrenness is a brokenness of God’s good creation. Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, low sperm motility, ovarian and cervical cancers, miscarriages, childlessness, and the groaning of all creation came about as a result of man’s fall into Sin; and we don’t use the effects of Sin to redefine that which God institutes and calls “good” in His Word, nor do we use the effects of Sin to defend the notion that procreation is somehow not a part of God’s intrinsic design of marriage. That is my biggest qualm with the other attendee’s rhetoric. His thesis does not fully confess barrenness as a post-Fall reality. Barrenness proves nothing about God’s procreative intent for marriage other than that God, post-Fall, allows the cross of barrenness to burden the shoulders of some married couples.

In regards to being sensitive to the barren, we should be careful not to turn God’s good, fruitful blessing for marriage into man’s good work. Scripture tells us that having children is not a law of God for us to keep but a heritage from Him for us to receive (Psalm 127:3). None of us would have children apart from God’s merciful blessing and giving. Only God in His wisdom knows why He does not open the wombs of the barren, and we should not burden the consciences of those who are unable to have children by suggesting they should be able to outwit the very Author of Life.

And as for using the existence of barrenness as an excuse to avoid the gift of children in marriage, I can think of no place in Scripture where God calls that good.

A Good Reminder

I watched as my husband read his Father’s Day card. Silent tears of grief slid down his cheeks.

“I am sorry I have not given you any children,” I whispered. My own tears dripped down my chin.

My husband cocked his head to the side, slightly surprised. He smiled sweetly, knowingly at me.

“It is the Lord who gives children,” he said.

Oh, yes. That’s right.

Even I need a good reminder now and then.

Father Watching His Infant Sleep