During my recent visit to Koorong, I began talking to people about childlessness as the subject of my next book. One of the people I spoke with happened to be a Koorong staff member, and he helpfully did a search on childlessness.
His search yielded one result, Deliverance from Childlessness¹. Besides further convincing me that more writing must be done on the subject of childlessness, this result also piqued my interest in this lone text on the matter. I gave it a quick read.
It was awful. I am hesitant to use the word – I don’t want to diminish a fellow writer’s efforts – but it really was terrible. And it wasn’t just the fact that the author used caps lock for entire sentences at a time. (Don’t people realise this is the social equivalent of shouting?)
No, the thing that disturbed me the most as I skim-read the content was that the book seemed to suggest that childlessness was a problem. It posited the idea that childlessness is the result of insufficient or bad faith, and therefore must be fixed.
I’ve got a problem with this. There, I said it. I’ve got a problem with people saying that childlessness is a problem. I’m fed up with Christian folk being blamed for their state of childlessness. I’m sick of being told how to “fix” it, as though there’s something wrong with me if I don’t have kids.
For some people, childlessness is a problem. But it’s usually a problem the other way round; that is, the state of being childless causes problems such as depression, doubt and loneliness. It is doubtful that childlessness is the result of someone’s sinful state or lack of faith. After all, plenty of non-Christians seem to have kids without any trouble at all.
Being childless is not akin to sinning and is not necessarily the result of sin either. In Old Testament times, God punished people’s sin by denying them children. Fortunately Jesus changed all that. Jesus introduced people to grace and used their problems to glorify God, not punish sin. The concept of childlessness being the result of past sin no longer applies.
Some people are childless by choice. Perhaps they feel they are too young or too old. Perhaps they have financial or practical factors to consider. Maybe there are health or mental health issues to take into account. Possibly some people do not even want children.
Imagine if we blamed such people for their own childlessness or implied that their childlessness was a problem. I have been approached in that way, where people have implied that there is something wrong with me, and I felt thoroughly misunderstood as a result.
Sometimes we make assumptions about ourselves too – “I can’t have kids, what’s wrong with me?” – and that’s probably not very helpful either. Some of us already blame ourselves. The last thing we need is someone else reinforcing that blame.
God might be in the midst of our childlessness. He might use it to draw us closer to Him and to glorify His name. Childlessness does not always need to be “solved.” We need God’s grace in accepting one another and ourselves just the way we are, whether male or female, single or married, parents or childless.
- Banks, B 1990, Deliverance from childlessness, Impact Christian Books, Inc., Kirkwood, MO, USA.