Dear New Hope,
Our Worst Decision
The worst decision of our married life was around 2006. It was a simple procedure called a vasectomy. I could give you a lot of reasons for making the decision, but the bottom line was:
- We had 4 children under the age of 5.
- My wife and I were tired and exhausted, living in a fog.
- We felt our duty to procreate was accomplished.
Little did we know that within 2 years of that decision, God would change our hearts and we would want more children. We prayed about God’s intervention, but here we are, 12 years later, looking back on the “what-could-have-beens” and “if-onlys” with a twinge of regret.
An article in May of 2018 caught my attention. It was entitled: “Births Hit Lowest Number Since 1987.” The article reports that “American women are having children at the lowest rate on record” and that the average “fertility rate for women age 15 to 44 was 60.2 births per 1,000 women—the lowest rate since the government began tracking it more than a century ago.” Compare this to America in the 1960’s when the fertility rate was double that.
All of this pales in comparison to the women of Israel who are having babies at unprecedented rates. In a Wall Street Journal article called “God said, ‘Be Fruitful and Multiply’”, Robert Hamilton revealed the staggering rates of fertility among our Jewish friends. He writes:
- “The fertility rate for Israeli women stands at a robust 3.1 [children/woman], nearly double the level of most European nations.” Hamilton’s article says, “Israelis are taking Genesis 1:28 seriously. The Jewish state’s fertility rate is 3.1, far above replacement.” (Replacement rate compares how many children need to be born to make up for those dying each day.)
- Orthodox women have a fertility rate of 4.2. Traditional religious and not so religious have a fertility rate of around 2.8.
- “The “ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jewish women bear an average of 6.9 children.” By comparison, the average number of children in American homes stands just under 2 children per home.
The article ends with a quote by a Jewish sage: “A child without a parent is an orphan, but a nation without children is an orphan people.” If there is any people who know the devastating consequences of a nation without children, it is Israel. They know the pains of being an orphan people whose children have been wiped out by war and disease.
What’s the Point?
I want to end by encouraging you with the following:
- If you are of childbearing age, I encourage you to take the Genesis 1:28 mandate seriously. We are called to be fruitful and multiply. No, there is not a magic number of kids we arrive at and are automatically done. Each family needs to decide based on several key factors, including the health of the mother. But frankly, most couples stop having children way before we need to.
- If you are grandparents, pray and encourage your children (appropriately so) to have lots and lots of babies. The Psalms are right: “Children are a blessing from the Lord.”
- Encourage people to consider other steps that are not as irreversible. Yes, there are seasons where a couple needs to wait before another pregnancy. I understand that. But encourage people to wait on the Lord during those seasons when life is hard and they are living in a fog. There are more practical steps to take before making a final decision which cuts off any future chance when God may change your mind.
- If you have been contemplating having another child, I encourage you: it’s time. Prayerfully ask God to give you more children.
- If you have desired children, and, for some reason, have experienced roadblocks of infertility, know that my heart breaks with yours. Though our journeys may be somewhat different, we, too, have shed tears over an empty womb and our inability to have more babies.
Beauty from Ashes
In the aftermath of our bad decision, a man came to me with the same dilemma. He and his wife had plenty of kids, were tired, and were ready to be done. I told him our story, cried with regret, and encouraged him to “wait” and not make a permanent decision because God may indeed change their minds.
They waited. A couple years later, God did change their minds. They got pregnant for the 5th time, and on April 16th, 2014, a beautiful baby girl was added to their home. She is a precious girl whose life was designed by God before the foundations of the world. And I rejoice that, in one small way, God used my advice to help parents wait and reconsider.
As for you, New Hopers, I am glad that God created each one of you. And I’m glad that your parents birthed you and raised you. Each one of you is a blessing and I praise God for you.
You are loved,