Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5).
How strange Psalm 127 sounds to our modern ears: “Children are a blessing. A reward! A heritage! And blessed is the man who has many!” This celebration of children is not peculiar to Psalm 127, but is the consistent testimony of the Scriptures. Even from the beginning, childbearing is a blessing: “And God blessed them. And God said to them ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth …’” (Gen. 1:28). The corollary is also evident in the Scriptures—barrenness is roundly lamented.
In our culture, however, we proclaim “Children are a choice! Blessed is the man or woman who decides to have one, and blessed is the man or woman who decides not to. Blessed is the one who is able to have a child and maintain their career or lifestyle. Blessed is the couple who has their boy and their girl!”
One reason that abortion is so prevalent in our culture is that too much of the church has bought into the idea that children are a choice, the implication being that there are times when children are a blessing, and times when … well, they are not. After all, there are many things we desire—a particular education, or career, or lifestyle, or community of friends/peers, or whatever—and children may or may not fit into that larger picture. And we act accordingly, thereby buying into our contraceptive culture, at least in part, where sex is separated into neat categories of procreation and pleasure, marriage is optional, and children are celebrated when they are planned or wanted, and often done away with when they are not.
Our world is ignorant of God and His ways. Yet it is the world in which we live. My point is not that the church should tell a woman unexpectedly pregnant that, for example, her baby is more important than her education or her career and that she should rejoice in this blessing of the Lord. Rather, the call of the church is to listen, never despising the dreams and plans of a mother, and perhaps serving her in such a way that she can reach those plans, even as she carries her baby to birth or chooses to raise him. But to assume that we can bear faithful witness to the blessing of life while buying into the assumptions of our contraceptive culture will blunt our effectiveness in our efforts for life, and we won’t know why. A culture of life celebrates life.
Paul’s words are ever a word for the Christian church: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:2).