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Would it be a sin if a married couple decided not to have children?


Is the raising of children the primary purpose of marriage?

Thank you for asking a question on This is your Bible.

When they came out of the ark God blessed Noah and his sons:

Genesis 9:1 So God, and said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

From this the general intention of God is that people marry and have children.

At the same time there is no commandment that all should marry.

1 Corinthians 7:7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

From this we might reasonably deduce that the prime purpose of men and women is not the reproduction of children.

On the other hand Paul says this:

1 Timothy 5:14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

There is a balance to be struck.

Children are also to be seen as a blessing from the hand of God.

Psalms 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Psalms 128:3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table. 4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.

Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.

The general principle is for couples to bear children but there is no direct commandment that they must. Many couples cannot conceive even if they want to.

The teaching that sexual intercourse is only permitted for the purpose of procreation is not supported in the Bible.

The Bible does not say that it is sinful for a couple not to have children but I would like to suggest that the couple examine their motives for not having children.

If, for instance, a couple decide to remain childless in order to pursue individual careers and wealth in this life it would be symptomatic of a more serious problem in their attitude to God.

The couple will know their own reasons for deciding not to have children but they need to be agreed that the decision is in keeping with a life lived by God’s principles.

No one else can make the decision for them.

Titus 1:15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

The principle of meats offered to idols applies. It is not the eating that matters it’s the reasoning behind it.

Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

We need to be fully convinced in our own mind (as far as we can be) that any action we take is compatible with a life in Christ.

Romans 14:3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

I will add that if the couple in question have not believed the gospel and been baptised into Christ, sin is really an academic concept.

God bless you,
Glenn

 
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