News Articles

Couples opposed to childbearing not ready for marriage, panel says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Pastors should think twice before marrying couples intent on not having children, a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor said recently on the nationally syndicated radio program “FamilyLife Today.”

William Cutrer, professor of Christian ministry at the Louisville, Ky., school and a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist, was a guest on the program July 15-19 during a week-long discussion on “a biblical approach to family planning.” Joining Cutrer on the program were hosts Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine; Mark Povich, a doctor who practices medicine in Michigan; and authors Sam and Bethany Torode.

Cutrer said that Christian couples too often have an attitude reflecting the culture’s self-centered approach toward children.

“We tend to be selfish individuals and unfortunately, we live in a culture that has made children more of a burden and interfering with what our normal plans would be as we view our lives,” he said during the July 15 broadcast. “We see marriages fulfilling us when in fact I’m not certain at all that’s what God had intended in the (marriage) covenant.

“The (marital) relationship is one of sacrifice and other-seeking, a relationship with God first and then a beautiful covenant intimate relationship — husband and wife — where you grow to know one another in very deep sorts of ways over time. And children are often — and I think naturally, if I may use that term — the outpouring or the fruit of such a relationship. For some that means quite a number of children. For others, because of genetic or medical problems, they may not be able to have children at all.”

Lepine then asked the panel their thoughts on marrying couples opposed to childbearing. He told of one Christian couple who had decided not to have children because they believed kids would inhibit their opportunity for ministry.

Cutrer said while he would not superimpose his understanding of God’s calling on someone else, he would be hesitant to marry such a couple.

“… I would be very reluctant to marry a couple who had decided up front not to have children,” he said.

Povich, who has nine children, agreed.

“[A]t least in my experience, children are a huge ministry,” he said. “I think (that the) the primary ministry that a wife and a husband have together is to raise godly children. And I think other ministries come secondary to that. And I agree with Bill that if a Christian couple is not wanting children, I would question whether they really ought to be getting married — understanding that God’s purpose for marriage is to raise children, if he so blesses them.”

Rainey argued that Genesis 1:28 — where God tells people to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” — is a command.

“He commanded us to multiply, and not just multiply children but multiply a godly legacy,” he said.

Rainey also agreed with the other panelists, saying that childbearing is a selfless act.

“I believe (God) is whacking away at our selfishness,” he said. “I believe he wants to redeem us from our self-absorption and wants to call us to deny ourselves and outlive ourselves by investing in future generations. But I fear there’s a generation of young married couples growing up and getting married today who don’t view children like that. They view children as more of a limited commodity or something that they’re going to control and it’s not going to encroach upon (their) lifestyle all that much.”

Broadcasts and transcripts of this program are available in the archives section at www.familylife.com.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust