I know, I know, I’m going where many have perished.


I want to highlight two simple biblical principles that I think could help Christians have more confidence that they are pleasing God in this vital area of life. And of course, this is all under the sovereignty of God who alone can give life.

Principle 1: Multiply
God commanded us to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28).

Principle 2: Manage
God commanded us to subdue the earth and have dominion over everything in it (Gen. 1:28).

We have to hold both of these commands together and work out how to obey both of them to the maximum.

Multiply Only
Some Christians only seem to hear the first command – “multiply” – and just multiply and multiply until there is nothing left to multiply.

However, they sometimes ignore the second command which is to wisely manage what you have multiplied. Sometimes the result is mothers that are physically, mentally, and emotionally shattered; children that are neglected and disorderly; and fathers that stay away from home, then stray from the home.

There’s plenty multiplying going on but very little managing, ordering, having dominion. One command is obeyed at the expense of another. The quiver is full but the arrows are heading in all the wrong directions.

Manage Only
A far more common problem is that some Christians only hear the second command, and are so focused on maintaining order and control that they minimize the multiplying to ensure their own comfort and prosperity. Again, they obey one command at the expense of another.

Putting both principles together, the balanced and biblical way of looking at it is multiply to the maximum of what you can manage with God’s help.

This will look different according to parents’ physical, emotional, intellectual, social and financial resources.

We therefore shouldn’t judge people who choose a different path to us. They may have been blessed with the resources and strength to multiply and manage a far greater number than we ever will. I must say I’ve seen a number of beautiful large families who have both principles working really well.

But neither should we judge people who don’t seem to have multiplied much. There may be many good reasons for this which we are not privy to. They answer to God not us.

Having settled that, the only question that remains are the small matters of how to minimize or maximize the multiplying…

UPDATE: I’ve closed the comments now because while the earlier comments were useful contributions, we’ve started veering into unprofitable territory in content and tone. Thanks especially to R.C. Jr. for his thought-provoking, challenging, and constructive comments and engagement. Much to think and pray about.

  • HomeschoolontheCroft

    It was so interesting to hear this on Sunday morning – both taken from Genesis 3. We’d often talked about the ‘multiply’ and ‘train up a child’, which I suppose is the same two principles, but very ‘neat’ to have these principles given at the *very* beginning, and in the same ‘conversation’. It clarified things further for our family, thank you.

  • Vinnie

    Thank you for this. As my wife and I are expecting our fifth baby, I’ve been wrestling with this very issue. Your biblical insight is very helpful.

  • http://rcsprouljr.com/ RC Sproul Jr.

    Hey brother, Kudos for tackling this. I’m afraid, however, that you have erred here. Can you think of another situation where you would say that the call to obey command B implies obeying command A less? That is, wouldn’t it be wiser to say that we are commanded to multiply, and we are commanded to manage the gifts that God gives us. That’s like the servant who buried his talent. He could not excuse himself saying, “Well, if I’d have invested this talent and it had multiplied then I would have had more talents to manage than I could handle.” God never gives us more children then we are able, by His grace, to manage. Our failure to manage, in turn, isn’t a call to stop multiplying, but a call to start managing.

    • HomeschoolontheCroft

      I don’t wish to argue, but …. some people ARE given more children than they’re able to manage.

      • http://rcsprouljr.com/ RC Sproul Jr.

        I think not. I think some people are given more children than they do handle, which is not at all the same thing.

      • dorina

        But the Bible says that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. If God opens the womb and gives the reward, then I’m certain He gives the strength also.

      • mosquito

        Don’t listen to RC Sproul, Jr., HomeschoolontheCroft. God most definitely gives more children to some people than they’re able to manage. RC Sproul Jr.’s advice is based on the false proposition that God never gives anyone tasks which they cannot complete. That this is a false proposition can be proved by giving just one example where God did just that. Here is such an example. God placed his people under the Egyptian taskmasters who required them to make bricks without straw. They were not able to complete this task which God, in his sovereignty, placed upon them. This puts the lie to RC Sproul Jr.’s false proposition.

    • David Murray

      Hi RC, thanks for your insights on this. I deeply respect both your theory and your practice (!) and I want to learn from you if I can. So, let me think more about what you are saying here. I do think there are times when we have to balance obedience to what seems like two conflicting commands. For example, on the one hand there’s my duty to sleep, and on the other hand, there’s my duty to serve God with all my might, to be self-denying, etc. I find that I’m always trying to balance these two commands, although I wouldn’t use the language of obeying one more and another less. I prefer to speak of full and appropriate obedience to each command. Another example might be the command to give my money to the cause of Christ and the care of the poor and the orphans. On the other hand, I’m working out how to provide for my own kids, college, health care emergencies, etc. They seem to conflict and call me to prayerfully and conscientiously work out the appropriate response to each that God would view as full obedience. Far from easy, and continually requiring the blood of Christ to cover all our shortcomings. Thanks for the input and, as I say, I’ll continue to chew on it and think this through.

      • http://rcsprouljr.com/ RC Sproul Jr.

        Let us suppose for the sake of argument that there is a number of children beyond which a given family would be unable to manage. How would one determine that number? It is profoundly difficult for me, as a single parent, to manage eight children. Too difficult? Apparently the God who opens and closes the womb did not think so. Which brings us to the point I suspect. If children happen, perhaps we ought to try to manage them happening. If, however, God opens and closes the womb, and children are a gift from His hand, would we not be wiser to leave the management in His hands? Of course we can’t ultimately take any management from His hands. The question is, will we joyfully leave the management to Him, or will we stubbornly try to seize control from Him?

        • trice

          but He also gave us the minds that developed the tools to manage the womb, and He can and does certainly circumvent those tools at times, while at other times leaves them to work.

          • trice

            and I’m just thinking, while humans are certainly set apart from the rest of Creation in certain ways, why is there such a huuuuge gap between the way many Christians want to deal with contraception (not talking abortifacients) as compared to other technology that mankind has developed in following the creation mandate? We certainly wouldn’t expect a farmer to simply throw the seeds out his door (which, sidenote, the door also being tech used to manage the elements that God sends our way) and say, ‘whatever plants grow (or do not), do so by the Lord’s will.’…

          • Nicolette

            Here’s an example to consider: Let’s say there is a young couple that has had five children in rapid succession. After the last ones being a set of twins, the mom says to her husband, “Darling, I’m exhausted emotionally, physically and mentally. For the past eight years I’ve either been pregnant or nursing. Could we take a break from having children for the next two years or so so that I (and my body) could have a break?” Can we really say that this couple is not fulfilling the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply?” Dare we say to this mother, “The Lord will provide!!!?” I think motives have to be carefully looked at. In this case, should an exhausted and overwhelmed mother feel guilty for wanting a break from child-bearing and child-rearing???

          • Julie

            As a mother who has actually had five children in rapid succession (five in five and a half years) I can tell you that while I never would have thought it possible to survive that (ha!), the Lord DOES provide. I could look at it from the perspective that I needed to slow down and get my bearings and recover and find more energy, or I could look at it that I needed to increase in character and longsufferingness and trust God to be gracious enough to teach me that. I have trusted God to provide enough rest and enough patience and enough mental wherewithal, and He has. Sometimes I can’t imagine what it would be like to add yet another source of chaos to my already intense life, but every time He sends us one, He also sends us the grace to deal with it and it is a great source of sanctification.

        • Grace

          RC, I saw your status yesterday and was intrigued and commented, and then read this blog and saw your comments (just happened that way, had no
          idea you would have commented!) but I am struggling in this area. My
          husband and I already have 3 children,
          and he works as hard as a man can work (stone masonry), and we have
          very little moneys. By very little, I mean the 5 of us are living in a
          one and a half bedroom apartment with no yard, and no money left over by
          the next paycheck. I have always wanted a large family, six children or
          more, but I can’t fit six children in this apartment, and I’m not sure
          how to move forward when we have so little money. So yes, we are
          currently practicing responsibility, but only by Fertility Awareness.
          What would you advice families like ours to do in this situation, since
          you don’t agree with limiting the amount of children you bear?

        • http://rcsprouljr.com/ RC Sproul Jr.

          I don’t want to diminish anyone’s struggles, but I do want to seek to answer your questions. That said, I believe the answer is in my comment above. If babies just happen, then by all means, use your best wisdom. If, however, God opens and closes the womb, and if children are a blessing from His hand, then don’t you think He knows best? One of the ways I believe we are led astray here is that we think of the next child as a number, as a set of needs, expenses, energy drains. But that’s never what God gives us. He gives us Reillys and Donovans. Suppose Grace that your husband lost his job, and it were legal to get rid of one of your children. We know you’d never do that. You’d move heaven and earth for your children. You love your children. Just like you would the fourth, fifth and sixth child should God so bless you. Haven’t you all have challenges you thought you couldn’t handle? But you walked in faith and God sustained you? That has certainly been my experience as He left me with eight children and no wife. God has indeed given us minds, and my mind tells me that His mind is better, smarter, wiser than my own. And when I sit at my table looking at the olive plants all around I give thanks for His wisdom. Trice, I like your analogy. Because seeking to avoid the blessing the children is not throwing seed out at random and saying, “Whatever will grow will grow.” It is instead taken seed and throwing it in the fire, leaving land fallow and affirming you don’t want anything to grow. Hope that helps. Please know friends that I am well aware that you have no compelling need to embrace my view on the matter. I have no authority over any of you. But let me close with this- I’ve never known a Christian parent to look back and say, “I wish that child had never been born.” I’ve known many who regret seeking to manage God’s giving of gifts. God bless.

          • Grace

            Thank you for your response. I know I don’t know you, but I have been in prayer for you and yours lately. I want to best glorify God in all that we do. We will think on this more. Perhaps you are right, and I would hate to be in the wrong.

          • Sarah

            MOST EXCELLENT!!

          • mosquito

            You write: “God has indeed given us minds, and my mind tells me that His mind is better, smarter, wiser than my own” You’re a lucky man. I guess that you don’t need Scripture. What you need to know about God is in your mind.

          • Guest

            You write: “I’ve known many who regret seeking to manage God’s giving of gifts.” You’re still making me dizzy. Once you tell us to leave the management in God’s hands. Now you’re warning us against not managing things. What is going on up there in that head of yours?

        • Nils Holmgren

          This sounds like American first world privilege dressed up as Christian logic. Spend some time in the townships and rural villages of South Africa and you realise that “leaving it up to God” is a cop-out. Our economic and social circumstances most certainly do and should play a part in our stewardship. The ability to use our wisdom and manage the size of our families is a gift from God. It’s of little help to say to those who are economically destitute or educationally deprived that they shouldn’t stop multiplying, they should just “start managing”. Very naive.

          • Karen Butler

            This sounds like a first world problem projected onto the third world
            — Most Africans identify the source of their poverty as their corrupt
            rulers, and desire more children not less. They resent the population
            control propaganda foisted on them that is completely informed by
            western culture and attitudes toward children:

            woman, a biomedical scientist who grew up in rural Nigeria, begs
            Melinda Gates to consider funneling her 5 billion in contraception
            donations into services that women in Africa really need and want, such
            as “good health care, food programs for young children, better
            educational opportunities, support for micro-businesses and aid for
            nongovernmental organizations that protect women from prostitution,
            forced marriages and domestic violence.”

            She says, ““we, as a
            society, love and welcome babies even in the midst of affliction and
            instability”, she said.

            Maybe it is
            time for you and Mrs. Gates to give up your “white man’s burden”, for
            Africans, because they just don’t see babies as the threat to their
            living standards the way overindulged and entitled Americans do.
            Africans routinely echo Ekeocha’s words, that “our babies are always a
            firm symbol of hope, a promise of life, a reason to strive for the
            legacy of a bright future.”

        • mosquito

          According to your first post, the first line of your second post is impossible. Because, according to your first post, God never gives us more children than we can manage. You’re making me dizzy. Which is it? He doesn’t (your first post)? Or, He does (the first line of your second post)?

          • mosquito

            Your conclusion is a non-sequitur. You write: “Too difficult. Apparently the God who opens and closes the womb did not think so.” The Bible certainly has examples where God gave people a task which was too difficult to complete. For example, He placed His people under the Egyptian taskmasters who asked them to make bricks with no straw.

          • mosquito

            You write: “would we not be wiser to leave the management in His hands?”. It is astounding that you can ask such a question when God commanded us to manage things.

    • Jonathan Huff

      Are Christians sinning against God if they do not seek to have the most amount of kids possible? I would love to have a big family, but I watch my wife suffer through terribly rough pregnancies and see the toll that it takes on her body and I’m wondering if we should seek to have more than the four that we have so far.

      • http://rcsprouljr.com/ RC Sproul Jr.

        Jonathan, it is not my position that Christians should seek to have the most amount of kids as possible. Some may believe such, though I know no one who does. What I am seeking to affirm is something significantly different- that we ought to gratefully receive all the gifts God gives us, and ought not to seek to control (positively or negatively) how many He gives. Hope that helps.

        • Jonathan Huff

          Thanks for your response as this is something that I really would like to understand better. Just to clarify, we view children as a gift from God and want to have more, possibly by adoption. If I may rephrase my previous question. Would we be sinning against God if we seek to limit the number of children that we have due to my wife’s health? Thanks again for your time.

          • http://rcsprouljr.com/ RC Sproul Jr.

            Jonathan, I’m not really comfortable answering the “would we be sinning” question, especially knowing nothing about the scope of your wife’s health issues. I’d encourage you to talk it over with your pastor. God bless, and may He, one way or the other, fill your quiver.

          • Jonathan Huff

            Thank you again for taking the time to reply. May God continue to bless you, your eight kids and your ministry. You are in our prayers.

        • mosquito

          Your position is self-contradictory. If you are not seeking to control how many children He gives, then you are, by direct implication, seeking to have the most amount of kids as possible. After all, if you are not seeking to have the most amount of kids as possible, then you are, by direct implication, seeking to control how many children He gives. Why is this? Because, how many children He gives to you is correlated with your seeking to have children. The most extreme confirmation of this fact is seen by considering the fact that if you avoid sexual intercourse, then God is not going to give you any children.

    • AH

      Hi! Thank you for sharing. I agree with you but I have a sincere question that I continue to cry out to the Lord for wisdom over. I am wondering if you might share your thoughts on this. What if a woman wants to leave her childbearing in the Lord’s hands but her husband would like to have a vasectomy? Concerning a wife submitting to her husband’s leadership and yet having a strong conviction to leave it in the Lord’s hands, what do you believe a wife should do?

    • C. Zacharias

      RC Sproul Jr. I guess disagree with you or at least the arguments you make. It is true that ALL children are a gift from god, even the 16 year old girl that gets pregnant is getting a gift from god. And I’m sure she NEVER wishes that child had never been born. God opened her womb too but that doesn’t negate any of the decisions being made. We don’t tell young girls to sleep around and not to worry about getting pregnant because if you do – God wanted that for you. Not sure I’m making sense but I just think your argument is off. I LOVE large families like the 19 kid Duggars. But they feel they personally heard from the Lord that they should have as many kids as he would give them. AND THEY LIVE THEIR LIFE THAT WAY. I guess I just dont see what is wrong with the idea that we pray and are intentional with what we hear from god. we don’t just assume that if we keep getting pregnant it was gods idea, without actually taking time to pray and listen. I look both ways before I cross the street – I don’t just walk out in the middle of traffic and assume if I get hit – it was gods plan. I also lock my doors at night. Does this mean i’m trying to take control out of gods hand?

      • mosquito

        No, C. Zacharius, it does not mean that at all. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you differently. They are not doing exegesis of Scripture, they are doing eisegesis of Scripture.

  • Mike Southerland

    I agree with Brother Sproul below. However, were I to accept your premise, how to “minimize the multiplying” is no small matter. All forms of chemical birth control carry a risk of causing the abortion of an already conceived child. See Randy Alcorn’s book, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortion? Far too many professing pro-life Christians have unwittingly killed their children through poison they have ingested, taken intravenously, or had implanted inside themselves.

    BTW – God has always been faithful to provide the needs for me, my wife, and our nine children.

  • Jerrold Lewis

    I have to go with RCSJR on this one. As a father of 10 (one with down syndrome) we found our ability to “handle” each blessed addition as situation demanded. Believe me, once you reach 5,6,7, you begin to wonder how you could possibly, EVER, have another. :-) But the Lord supplies each need as they come. Then again, I wonder if I really “handle” any of them as I should, seeing my own failures as a parent. Anecdotal as it is, I know couples that can’t handle one. RC’s point below is salient.

    • Misty Huck

      We agree Pastor Lewis and have seen this played out in so many we know also. What we think we can handle and what The Lord knows we can handle are two entirely different things. I would have stopped at one or two, instead of the eight God has given. But, as He has provided He has given us strength. That is not saying there hasn’t been extremely hard financial, emotional and physical things. I wouldn’t be one to judge another in this. But I also don’t think we should limit ourselves and not see that God has some good ” gifts” for us as Christians. I look at our last couple children when I was so exhausted and think what amazing blessings and so worth the work!

    • David Murray

      Hi Jerrold, as I said to RC Jr. too, I have the utmost respect for you and many others with big and beautiful families. I have so much admiration for all the skills, commitment, love, and endurance, God has given you all. I rejoice with you all in this.

      I think we all feel in some ways that even one child is too much to handle! Our shortcomings are so great and the responsibilities are so huge.

      What about this for a parallel situation? God gave Adam and Eve the whole world to master and manage. But they couldn’t do it all at once. The command to fill the land and subdue it could only be done bit by bit as God blessed the multiplication. Even in a perfect world, they would have had to make stewardship decisions about to where to go, when to go, who to leave in charge, etc. They were given more than they could handle and had to wisely wait until God gave them more hands to handle it :)

      Thanks for dropping by and for sharing your own experiences of God’s grace and mercy.

      From a father of five more than I can handle!

  • Abigail

    As someone who has always wanted a large family but has endured loss after heartbreaking loss, I’ve learned that this question of how many children I should have is entirely in the Lord’s hands. He gives, and He takes away, and people assume what they will about our motives for having a small family. As if it’s a decision we’ve made? It’s not always because of selfishness or laziness or inability to manage more.

  • Greg Gibson

    Here’s a Biblical Theology solution to the question. Jesus fulfills the WHOLE Old Testament (Mt. 5:17ff.) The Old Creation Mandate was to multiply physical children by procreation. But the New Creation Mandate is to multiply spiritual children by evangelism (Mt. 28:18-20; Lk. 24:45-51; Jn. 20:21-22; Acts 1:8, 6:7, 9:31).

    So how many physical children should you have? It doesn’t matter because Christ fulfills the Old Creation mandate so it is no longer binding.

    And how many spiritual children should you have? As many as possible, thousands, millions.

    • Jason Bolt

      Are you really suggesting that what happened in Genesis 1 was part of the Mosaic Covenant? Are you really suggesting that none of the Old Testament is binding on Christians today?

      • Greg Gibson

        Jason, I wouldn’t phrase it like that. But God calls Genesis “the Law.” And Genesis 1 – Ex. 19 is the historical introduction to the Old Covenant Law of Moses. (See “The Structure of Biblical Authority” by Meredith Kline. Likewise, the 4 gospels Mt., Mk., Lk., and Jn. are the historical introduction to the New Covenant.)

        Jesus said in Mt. 5:17ff that He came to fulfill (prophetically, typologically, and eschatologically) the WHOLE Old Testament. The New Creation Mission in Mt. 28 includes teaching disciples to obey all that Christ (not Moses) commanded. We are the people of the New Creation and the New Covenant.

    • Paul M

      You are so right…the OT “go forth and multiply” does not apply today, we live in a post-resurrection era. Prudent parents discuss and plan their family not “leave it up to to God”. That’d be like putting your hand into flame while praying not to get burned.

      • Karen Butler

        But that pesky New Testament scripture, “…by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world…”

        “…Praying not to get burned?” Are you sure you want to describe what God calls a blessing in such a pejorative fashion?

        • Paul M

          Not at all…wasn’t equating the two. I was merely offering a visual that we are to be prudent and rational with the gift and responsibility of children, not operate foolishly or without the understanding of consequence. God created the wonderful natural biology, but that does not mean we can be naive or frivolous. However, if a marriage can afford many children, and are blessed as much, then terrific! Who am I to say otherwise? Never would.

          Romans 12:1-2 is not the least bit pesky…it profoundly speaks to our faith in action within our culture and to not be swayed by it, all the while offering our best servant selves to God and others in the process. Not sure how that applies to the number of children we should have…which – on average – is declining as compared historically.

          • Karen Butler

            “Not sure how that applies to the number of children we should have..”

            Well, if your reproductive organs were left on the altar as a part of your entire bodies’ living sacrifice, instead of being taken back under your own control, then you would probably soon see how that scripture applies to the number of children you should have! Because this is exactly what sacrifical offerings are: ‘not my will be done, Lord — but yours.’

            God alone knows perfectly how we can be “our best servant selves” for him, especially as it concerns our future as married couples –he knows the best means by which we will flourish for him. Sometimes it is as a family without any children at all, or as a family with many. We can’t predict the future, and we don’t even understand our own resources hidden in Christ, until we are forced to really depend on Him.

            So why would you leave such an eternally significant question up to your own darkened understanding?

          • mosquito

            Yeah, Karen, I’m sure of that. What is this, proof by intimidation? What is this, proof by appealing to revered figures from the past? Your argument is empty. Appeal to authority is one of the most basic of logical errors. Which implies that you are quite illogical.

          • mosquito

            Karen Butler, you write: ”

            “Not sure how that applies to the number of children we should have..”

            if your reproductive organs were left on the altar as a part of your
            entire bodies’ living sacrifice, instead of being taken back under your
            own control, then you would probably soon see how that scripture applies
            to the number of children you should have! Because this is exactly what
            sacrifical offerings are: ‘not my will be done, Lord — but yours.’”

            This is another one of your empty arguments. Your prognastication of what would probably happen is nothing but a bald, unsubstantiated assertion. I don’t know if you know this, but bald, unsubstantiated assertions do not advance your position one iota. So, by making such an assertion, you are wasting everyone’s time in this discussion, including yours.

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  • Seth Fuller

    The second rule doesn’t teach one to “manage” by having less children, which is what you seem to imply. How do you get that out of this passage? Quite a leap. If parents are having a hard time with lots of children, the answer is not to stop having them. The answer is to go to the Lord for help and seek His mercy and strength. The Scriptures teach us to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not to lean on our own understanding. If I may speak frankly I think that’s what your post does. It leans on human understanding. We are to follow God by having children. We trust Him, and though it may be incredibly hard, He is faithful. Lord bless you, Seth Fuller, father of 5 ages six and under.

    • Wildflower

      It also seems quite a leap to imply that the instruction to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” means that parents should have children at every possible opportunity of which they are capable during their childbearing years. As with many other teachings, this has to be seen in light of all of Scripture, including passages such as those that instruct us to ask God for wisdom and He will give it, to be good stewards of all our resources, and to provide for our household. This certainly seems to be an area of Christian liberty where each couple is free to act in their own conscience before the Lord and answer to Him, not be judged by others (Rom 14:3-4). I thought this was a well-balanced article.

      • Paul M

        Nicely stated.

      • Karen Butler

        “As with many other teachings, this has to be seen in light of all of
        Scripture, including passages such as those that instruct us to ask God
        for wisdom and He will give it, to be good stewards of all our
        resources, and to provide for our household.”

        But it is a teaching that is in line with two thousand years of church history — eras that have seen more privation and persecution and suffering than we can possibly imagine. Yet our forebears never considered the possibility that it was wise to limit children in the view of a difficult circumstance. Birth control was universally condemned. Yet this modern view of ‘stewarding’ the number of children is the offspring of a culture that is the most prosperous and privileged the world has ever known. Curious!

        • mosquito

          I’ve already dealt with the illogic of your favorite argument, proof by appeal to revered figures from the past. In short, it’s an illogical argument. Since you repeat it, this demonstrates what an abysmal hold you have upon logic.

          • mosquito

            There is nothing curious about the present state of affairs. It is exactly what one would find when progress is made. You just gratuitously assume that no progress has been made and then baldly declare that no progress has been made. That’s circular reasoning. Which once again shows how illogical you are.

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  • vickchick57

    “…that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 COR 2:5 This is the verse the Lord gave me when a Christian said something very hurtful to me when I was pregnant with my 6th and last child. He showed me through His Word that He had provided for others through the ages and would provide for us as well. And He graciously did! I used to believe that people should have more kids than they did, but God gives us wisdom as to what is good for our families. Do I think that some people should have more and don’t (barring physical problems)? Yes, but that is between God and the believer. I do know, however, that He will take care of His own, as He promised. If anyone is fearful of having more children for that reason, He is faithful!

  • Doug

    Dr. Murray, Thanks for this post. I hope you will follow up with thoughts on your concluding “question that remains”. I hope you can also consider, in regard to that question, how certain medical situations impact that. My wife and I have had five births and two miscarriages. She has had 5 c-sections. Our OB has not indicated that we need to reconsider future children for health reasons, but what if he did? (We had to change OB’s after the third, but not because they recommended no further children; their practice had a policy of no more than 3 Caesarean’s.) I know we should trust God, but I also take physicians’ advice into consideration, because he uses them as well. If it was a very high risk of death to the mother to have future pregnancies, how do we navigate these waters? In ancient times, there certainly weren’t the number of contraceptive methods available today, and even among the methods today many are problematic, some for practical/effectiveness factors, and others for moral reasons (like abortifacient drugs). I believe in the sufficiency of the Word, but I find it tricky to figure out how to understand and apply it in the area of contraception (at all) and in evaluating the methods (if any) in a situation where a husband and wife have been warned about a great medical risk.

    • SCD

      I am in the same situation. I’ve had 2 c sections and the last one was very scary and very rough. What happened to me wasn’t normal and my body just didn’t work the way it was supposed to. I bled too much during the surgery and if I have a 3rd, it could happen again and it could be worse. So I take that as, I need to be wise. I would love another biological child but I do need to take my 2 children and husband into consideration. I think if the number of kids you have is all that you can safely have, then that is all you can have. I’m not going to do something and know that the outcome will probably end really bad and just expect God to fix it. He gave me a brain to think. He’s given 2 kids and I need to care for them. That being said, no one has mentioned adoption I see. It’s a very good thing and is really needed.

      • Doug

        Our medical advances really muddle the issue for me at times. A c-section would have been unknown, impossible or dangerous in ancient times, right? The very thing that can save two lives today wouldn’t have been available. When that life-saving procedure has resulted in a condition or the knowledge of what internal issues may affect future pregnancies, and such knowledge clearly points to danger…. I think people in these situations need some careful, patient instruction on how to start thinking about this. I know God is omniscient, and that He is faithful. But I’m still trying to figure out how His Word speaks to this situation – my limitation, not His.

        • SCD


  • Karin Kerr

    I found this article very interesting. We are wrestling through these thoughts all the time,
    especially as we have 7 children and are always asked if we will have more. I
    feel confident to reply that it is in the Lords hands… but that does not stop
    us from working through this again and again and again. Romans 14:22 says “The
    faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has
    no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.” As this is not
    part of the salvation issues I believe we should allow our brothers and sisters
    freedom here. Romans 14 “12 So then each of us will give an
    account of himself to God.” I am grateful for the conversation though as
    I do believe it is a very good one to be having. Thank you David for tackling

  • Alan Sherban

    Great thoughts on the topic, brother Murray. And a cherry on top to get to read RC Jr in the comments.

    The wording in Gen 1:28 is, unless I’m mistaken, a verbal hendiadys, which implies the connection between God “saying” (I guess that’s where the command nuance comes from) and God “blessing.” That is to say that these two concepts ought to be linked in our understanding of having children and having dominion. We cannot joyfully carry out the commands without knowing that the good Creator granted them to mankind for their universal blessing.

    I think one point you’re making is that there are some Christians who fail to see child-having as the blessing God intended it to be. And it’s a really good thing for a married couple to seek to pursue as much of that blessing as God will providentially grant to them.

  • Bill from the Keystone State

    Whatever your mindset is, you must show respect to and acceptance of your brethren with whom you may not have the same views on this question. I happen to agree with Dr. Murray’s perspective because it is balanced and realistic and reflects that in these kinds of situations, we are not entitled to be involved as if we were in positions of judgment. I cannot and will not take issue with those couples with more children rather than fewer (praise God for making it possible). But in the same vein, it’s out of place for them (or those with similar inclinations or perspectives) to try to force (even/especially in subtle ways) or manipulate those with fewer kids or none to believe the same as they do as if they were disobeying God and deserving of His wrath/disfavor. We cannot presume that His blessing with any of us will be the same as with others. Remember as well that it is understood here that abortion is murder, even immediately after fertilization has occurred. On this basis, God is sole judge just as Dr. Murray wrapped up his article by asserting.

  • mosquito

    The author is quite confused. He gives two commands and calls them principles: Principle 1: Multiply
    God commanded us to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28).

    Principle 2: Manage
    commanded us to subdue the earth and have dominion over everything in
    it (Gen. 1:28). I’m sorry, commands are not principles, principles are
    not commands. He then states a nonsequitur: “Putting both principles
    together, the balanced and biblical way of looking at it is multiply to
    the maximum of what you can manage with God’s help.” “Principle” 1
    merely commands to multiply, not to multiply to the maximum. If one only
    has one child, one has obeyed the multiplication clause of “Principle”
    1. The author is just making up the idea that multiplying to the
    maximum, within appropriate limits, is in view in “Principle” 1. In
    short, the author’s advice is coming about by eisegesis, not exegesis.

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