How many children should a couple have and how often?
Children are a blessing from the Lord, but many today do not understand a child’s importance. So some couples have aborted their children, refused to have children, or delayed having children because they consider children to be an inconvenience. Some do not want children because the additional cost will lower their standard of living. Still others do not want very many, if any, children because they fear how the children will mature. But scripture tells us why children shame and disappoint their parents.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. (NASB) Prov. 29:15
But God encourages us to have children – many of them. In Psalm 127:5, God says children are a blessing if a man has his “quiver full of them.”
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them . . . (NASB) Ps. 127:5
God does not tell us how many children we should have or how often we should have them. The first time that God said anything about having children was to Adam and Eve.
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth . . .” (NASB) Gen. 1:28
The next time God spoke about children was to Noah.
As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it. (NASB) Gen. 9:7
How Many Children
On both occasions God encouraged them to have children, but He has never told us how many or how often. I believe God did not give us guidelines because each couple has a different situation. Here are three guidelines that you want to consider.
It is important to remember that God controls the womb. He can close it and He can open it. If a woman discovers that she cannot have children, she should go to her Maker and ask Him to allow her to have children. Hannah is a wonderful example of a woman who could not have children for years and then she prayed and asked God to give her children.
. . . but the LORD had closed her womb . . . She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly . . . Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel . . . (NASB) 1 Sam. 1:5, 11, 19-20
It is our Lord who decides who is born, to whom they are born and when they are born. The Lord puts children with parents and parents with children. What a great lesson for parents and children who struggle with each other.
Financial support is also necessary for the family. The larger the family, the greater the financial obligation. Scripture has some severe comments about fathers who do not support their families.
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (NASB) 1 Timothy 5:8
But we must also be careful not to limit the size of a family because we want to be wealthy, have possessions, or have a comfortable lifestyle. That is not what the Lord had in mind.
It is also important that husbands and wives are in agreement about the number of children they should have.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (NASB) 1 Pet. 3:1
You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (NASB) 1 Pet. 3:7
The couple should agree on the timing. The medical profession usually advises that it is best for a woman to have children when she is her 20’s and 30’s. There are fewer complications for both the mother and the child when the mother is neither a teenager or already planning retirement.
God does not tell us how many children couples should have. In fact, God has made some couples infertile (1 Sam. 1:5). It is our God who ultimately controls how many children we have. It is amazing that God allows us to care for new life that He has brought into our world. What a great and wonderful privilege and responsibility! Physical birth and growth are a picture of spiritual growth (1 John 2:12-14). He makes us His children by His Spirit. He grows us by His words, example and discipline. This is a pattern that parents should follow. Thank the Lord for His example.