We have a big family. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of having a big family. People have such interesting reactions when they meet us for the first time. I guess it’s pretty rare to meet a family of 9 nowadays, but an Asian American family of 9 is practically unheard of.
The first time I saw this clip below, I was laughing all day because we’ve heard them all.
Still. Probably THE BEST reaction I’ve heard was when my wife and I went back to our old church neighborhood, to one of favorite Chinese restaurants. It had been years since we were there and the owner asked us how many children we had. When we told her that we had seven children, she gasped and said “Seven children?!? HOW COME?” She’s such a sweet lady, and I’m sure it didn’t come out exactly as she meant, but we thought it was hilarious.
The funny thing is that when we talked about getting married, my then girlfriend from college told me emphatically that she didn’t want to have kids.
Kids are loud. They are messy and expensive. They are disrespectful and obnoxious. Despite her warnings, I still kept my dream of having a large family to myself.
When we first got married, my wife and I were practicing birth control. After probably a month or 2 into our marriage, my father came to us with a very simple message. He said “there’s no perfect time to have children. There’s always going to be something going on at work, with friends, or financial considerations.”
That’s all he said.
Later that month, Jenny came to me and said that maybe we could talk about children in 5 years. I was thrilled that she had opened her heart to having children . . . someday. And I was in no rush.
Less than a month later, we were pregnant while still on birth control.
I know it was a miracle because only God could move her heart and overcome medical science like He did. Despite all of our efforts to remain childless, God had different plans for us. I’ve written about it previously, but not too long after our first daughter was born, Jenny decided that she wanted to quit her job and stay at home with our child. Again, wasn’t part of the plan we had created, but He made a way.
Somewhere along the way, some friends from church started talking to us about the blessing of children, trusting in God’s sovereignty, and the miracle of life. Today, it’s known as the Quiverfull movement among some Christians. The premise of this movement is rooted in Psalm 127:3-5–
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
The belief, depending on who you are talking to, comes down to the idea that God ordains life. If you really trust in Him and believe that Children are a blessing and reward, then you will embrace any child that is conceived and commit to life without contraception.
Soon afterward, Jenny took to motherhood like it was what she was meant to be all along. We stopped actively practicing birth control altogether and God blessed us with 6 more children over the next ten years. Now, we weren’t necessarily trying to have more children per se. However, we weren’t actively trying to prevent it either.
After our youngest was born, her doctor had raised some serious concerns about Jenny’s health if we tried to conceive again. We had talked and prayed about what to do. In the end, we decided that I would undergo sterilization. So, we’ve stopped at 7.
Some Quiverfull Christians would frown on our decision and claim we lacked faith. Others might say ‘well why didn’t you stop sooner?’. The truth is that I’m so thankful we have seven children, but I don’t see it as a proclamation of our trusting in God. I would trust in Him whether we were childless or had a dozen. Birth control that prevents conception (not talking about those forms that work as abortion) is available because of advances in medical technology. If God has given us the wisdom to develop technology and medicine, why would using that wisdom show a lack of faith?
You could make a similar case that if you really trusted in God, you should be able to walk blindfolded across a busy highway because if He meant for you to die, you would. If not, then He’d maneuver all the cars around you like a giant game of Frogger. Or if you have such a distain for the technological wisdom of Man, then why bother getting shots or antibiotics or Tylenol or even bandages?
You could similarly claim that using maps or navigation shows a lack of faith. If God wanted you to arrive to your destination, by a certain time, you should just start driving (or walking) in whichever direction you feel led by the Spirit.
Christians shouldn’t fear using technology or medicine, but at the same time, our hope is not based in it either. God is sovereign and His will shall be done. My children keep me grounded. They force me to think about someone else’s needs. They provide me with endless entertainment and more funny stories to share at parties than all the Hollywood Screenwriters’ Guild combined. And ultimately, when they put their trust in me, as the Bible instructs us to have faith like children, I see the relationship that God wants me to have with Him.