Consider the Gift
The size of the average American family is shrinking. The decreasing US birth rate hit an all-time low during the pandemic. The year 2020 was the greatest decline since 1965 when the baby boom ended. In 1957 the birthrate was 3.77 births per woman. The birthrate has drastically dropped to 1.73 births per woman. 3.6 million babies born in 2020 is the lowest number of births since 1979.[i]
A recent Pew Research Center survey reports that 44% of non-parent adults younger than 50 say they are unlikely they will have children. 56% of these say their top reason is they just don’t want to have kids. 43% of those saying they are unlikely to have children answered: medical; no partner; financial; partner doesn’t want children and the state of the world including climate change, as reasons.[ii]
On the flip side, some predict that millennials have been in a holding pattern and are now preparing for births in 2022. Pregnancy test sales are up 13% over 2020.[iii] There was a 3% increase in births in 2021. That is the highest growth since 2013. Will the “hoped for” boom be enough to render the bust impotent?
Psalm 127:3-5 proclaims that children are a heritage of the Lord and considered a reward and a man is blessed if he has a “quiver full” of children. Jesus entered the world as a baby. He went through the stages of childhood. Mary and Joseph had other children to whom we can assume he was a helpful big brother. Jesus wanted children to be near him. Even amid his taxing schedule of preaching and teaching, he was aware of the children. In Mark 13 we read that he wanted the children to come to Him. When the disciples tried to stop parents from bringing their children to Jesus, He was “indignant”. The Greek word translated as “indignant” is a combination of two words: “much” and “to grieve”.[iv] Jesus was grieved that they would deny him access to the children. (Verse 14).
Jesus elevated the position of children. Romans of that time had full control over their children, even in life and death. Children were more of a commodity in the pagan world. Contrarily, it was the custom of Jewish parents to bring their children to the patriarchs for special blessings. Children were desired and acknowledged as important. Jesus extolled children when He said in Luke 18:15 “do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
What is the Christian response to childbearing? Going back to the survey by Pew Research Center, “white evangelicals are the only religious subgroup analyzed in which a majority (56%) say that prioritizing marriage and having children is better for society.”[v] Ask yourself what Jesus would do. Does God want you to fill your quiver, whatever number that is for you? Will you support those around you who have children and help nurture them to Christ? Children are a gift from God. Consider the gift.
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[i] https://churchanswers.com/blog/what-does-the-rapidly-declining-birthrate-mean-for-churches/ [ii] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/11/19/growing-share-of-childless-adults-in-u-s-dont-expect-to-ever-have-children/ [iii] https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/local/connect-the-dots/baby-boom-2022-covid-pandemic-birth-rate-increase-expected/275-9ae91ae0-03a9-49c0-aaba-82bca4a72ac8 [iv] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20127%3A3-5&version=NIV [v] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/12/16/white-evangelicals-more-likely-than-other-christians-to-say-people-should-prioritize-marriage-procreation/