Going out to eat with six children is always an adventure, not because the children misbehave (they are good children), but because everyone seems to feel they have the right to share their opinion about the size of our family.
If you are one of the 5 percent of American Christian couples with more than two children, you have probably had some smirking witster approach you with this question: “You do know what causes that, don’t you?”
In fact, we know full well what causes children to be born into our family, and we are well-practiced in the procedure. Children are the fruit of attraction, intimacy, potency and passion. And whether these are found in a church or in a home, they are designed to result in reproduction. Multiplication. Childbearing.
Why is our culture so constipated about kids? Why do professional women look down their noses at us like we are exceeding our oxygen quota by spawning so many Neeselings? Do children emit greenhouse gasses? Are they consuming more than their fare share of resources? Are they inconveniences to enlightened, independent adulthood? Are they hindrances to marital happiness?
When did we become allergic to parenting? When did children stop being blessings and become obstacles to fulfilling our dreams and destinies? When did America decide that children were no longer honored guests in our homes, but unwelcome parasites in our wombs?
Once, great-grandmothers felt that God had entrusted them with children. Now, God has burdened us with brats. When did our attitudes shift?
If the typical “large” American family were to name their children based upon their honest feelings about them, an introduction would go something like this: “This is my son, ‘Trophy-Child.’ My daughter, ‘Fulfilled-American-Dream.’
And this is little ‘Inconvenient-Deviation-From-Our-Plan,’ but we call him ‘Oops’ for short.”
The Church has bought into the popular theology of politically correct family values, which is more accepting of homosexuals than children. A modern family can be a dad and mom, two dads or two moms, or any combination who are living in perverted relationships with one another. As long as there are not more than two kids. Our perspective is screwed up!
We think large families are the result of irresponsible stewardship of resources and poor reproductive planning. The biblical view of childbearing is absolutely contrary to that position. From a biblical perspective, being able to reproduce and raise children is the proof of a godly man’s power. Jacob called Reuben, his firstborn, the FIRST sign of his strength (Genesis 49:3). He went on to prove his strength 12 more times.
Interestingly, we measure God’s strength by the same standard. We all agree that God is OMNIPOTENT. The word potent means powerful, but it also means “able to reproduce.” In other words, God is all-powerful, but He is also a Father who is “all-able-to-reproduce.” His power is demonstrated in His creation of life and in the formation of His children into His image—the reproduction of Himself in us.
What if we are most like God when we are reproducing children and discipling them to maturity? What if our marriage best represents Christ’s relationship with His Bride when the power of our intimacy (worship) is proven by our fruitfulness (creating disciples)?
Sadly, the decline of the American Church is due in part to our negative perception of childbearing. In contrast, the global rise and spread of Islam is not due to the superiority of its religion, economics or military strength: it is due to the superiority of their potency. In our day Islam is more potent than Christianity. Not because its god is more potent, but because its people are more potent. They have embraced the inheritance of childbearing. And they are literally taking over the world through superior multiplication.
Christian couples need a paradigm shift—a return to the perspective of God.
According to Psalm 28:3 a righteous man’s wife is like a fruitful vine. Psalm 127:3-5 asserts that children are a reward from God and evidence of His blessing upon a righteous man’s life. So, here’s a perspective change: children are God’s badges of honor.
The world says that children prevent us from accomplishing our goals. God says that children are our heritage. As couples, we can forsake parenting and focus upon the transient success of our personal goals, or we can invest our lives in success that will succeed us. As for the Neeses, we believe that the only things worth doing in life are the things that will outlive us. Parenting is investing in generations of success. Our children will be greater than us. Their children will be greater than them. And our great grandchildren will prove the power of our lives as they carry on our heritage of godliness. True success is proven through succession. So here’s a second perspective change: children are God’s plan for our successes to outlive us—part of our eternal reward.
You may be thinking, “Yes, but parenting is so hard, so expensive, so time consuming, so inconvenient.” Well, of course it is. “But,” you might say, “the Bible says that children are a blessing from God. Isn’t that a contradiction?”
Not at all. Our confusion is in our misunderstanding of the word blessing. A blessing is not something God gives us to make life easy. When God blesses us, He is catalyzing destiny in our lives. A blessing pulls calling out of us. It shatters our mediocrity and sets our feet upon the path of greatness. Children bless us because, in parenting them, we embrace an essential ingredient to the fulfillment of our own destinies.
We, Jen and Zach, are not just parents, but being parents is essential to our becoming the people that God designed us to be. And each individual child contributes something to who we are – they contribute to the fulfillment of our created purpose.
So, though they are a blast to make, children are not a blessing because they are always easy to have around. Children are a blessing because they train our hearts for destiny and equip us for our Armageddons.
How do they equip us? God says that children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. In other words, when we are raising a child, we are fletching a shaft. We are sharpening an arrowhead. We are practicing our marksmanship. And when the day of contention comes (as it does each morning), we knock our children on the strings of our bows, draw them back, aim them at our foe and we let go. Those children will fly straight to the heart: they will pierce him and break his charge, topple his minions from the walls and cause confusion in his camps. Our children will thwart the devil’s plans and pulverize his resolve. Why? Because that is what they were born for. And they will sense the pleasure of God as they do it.
When we have family prayer time in the Neese house, we are firing flaming arrows into the enemy camp. And it scares him to death. Arrows don’t see their targets and flinch. They don’t doubt the archer’s aim. They just fly and strike. That is the blessing of a godly man and wife. As we raise these children we are promoted from the ranks into high command. Zach becomes the general, Jen the Field Marshal and the children are the troops. The eight of us are a more formidable opponent because of our numbers, training and discipline. We are pack, and we are powerful.
So allow us to introduce you to our family. We know exactly what caused them, and we are honored to have the privilege of parenting them. If we were to rename them according to our feelings about them, it would sound something like this: “This is my son, ‘Vanquish.’ My daughters, ‘Javelin,’ ‘Morning Star,’ ‘Trebuchet,’ and ‘Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.’ And this is the baby, ‘Beloved,’ but we call him ‘Kick the Devil’s Tail Up Around His Ears’ for short.”
You’ve probably heard of them. If not, you will, we assure you. They are the proof of our potent intimacy. They are our reward from God. They are our blessing and our inheritance. They are daily catalyzing destiny in our lives. And they are going to conquer the world.Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe