How many children should I have?

I want to highlight two simple biblical principles that I think could help Christians have more confidence that they are pleasing God in this vital area of life. And of course, this is all under the sovereignty of God who alone can give life.

Principle 1: Multiply
God commanded us to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28).

Principle 2: Manage
God commanded us to subdue the earth and have dominion over everything in it (Gen. 1:28).

We have to hold both of these commands together and work out how to obey both of them to the maximum.

Multiply Only
Some Christians only seem to hear the first command – “multiply” – and just multiply and multiply until there is nothing left to multiply.

However, they sometimes ignore the second command which is to wisely manage what you have multiplied. Sometimes the result is mothers that are physically, mentally, and emotionally shattered; children that are neglected and disorderly; and fathers that stay away from home, then stray from the home.

There’s plenty multiplying going on but very little managing, ordering, having dominion. One command is obeyed at the expense of another. The quiver is full but the arrows are heading in all the wrong directions.

Manage Only
A far more common problem is that some Christians only hear the second command, and are so focused on maintaining order and control that they minimize the multiplying to ensure their own comfort and prosperity. Again, they obey one command at the expense of another.

Putting both principles together, the balanced and biblical way of looking at it is multiply to the maximum of what you can manage with God’s help.

This will look different according to parents’ physical, emotional, intellectual, social and financial resources.

We therefore shouldn’t judge people who choose a different path to us. They may have been blessed with the resources and strength to multiply and manage a far greater number than we ever will. I must say I’ve seen a number of beautiful large families who have both principles working really well.

But neither should we judge people who don’t seem to have multiplied much. There may be many good reasons for this which we are not privy to. They answer to God not us.

Real men multiply to the maximum of what they can manage with God’s help.

Discussion Questions

  1. What bad motives may be behind people minimizing the number of children they have?
  2. What bad motives may be behind people maximizing the number of children they have?
  3. What factors should be considered when deciding upon how many children a married couple may be able to manage well?

Further Reading

Although these articles are focused on contraception, a subject I did not explicitly cover in this video, they do discuss the biblical principles behind the question that this video addresses.

The difference between birth control and contraception

Can Christians Use Birth Control?

The Bible and Birth Control