“You cannot be a good mother to more than one child!”

During my many trips to China, it was a common experience for someone to come up to me, after I taught a biblical view of human life and human value, and say to me, “You cannot be a good mother to more than one child.” I heard this many times in China. The reason for this is that in China, during the period of the one Child policy, it was common government training and propaganda to enforce the one child policy by sending out the message that no one can possibly be a good mother to more than one child. Of course the one child policy in China led to many, many tragedies.

Number one, it meant that most of the baby girls were identified through ultrasound or other means and were terminated because, if you could only have one child, you wanted to have a baby boy for both cultural and economic reasons. It also meant that girls, being in the minority, became more valuable. They became much more susceptible to being kidnapped or even being resold into terrible tragedies. It led to a lot more unfaithfulness in marriages. For example, if you didn’t want your wife to get pregnant with a second child and put her at risk for multiple abortions, you started to go outside the bounds of marriage for your sexual fulfillment. The more this policy was promoted the more it led to greater destruction.

This policy lasted for about 36 years. It was sort of formalized in 1979. It ended with an announcement in 2015, and the reason it ended is because of the population. Population demographers could recognize they had created a terrible situation in which the only reason that the Chinese population was not in rapid decline is because people were starting to live longer as their economy grew and health services improved. But they were in a panic to stop this trend of killing all the baby girls. And finally, in 2015, they said you can start to have two children.

They changed that again to three children, just last year, but none of it is working. The birth rates in China continue to drop. The reason is because people would say, “Well, why would I want to be a bad mother? No one can be a good mother to more than one child.” So this propaganda is coming back upon the government as a form of rejection. It is a serious problem, and it is not just a problem in China. It is a problem everywhere. It is even a problem here in the United States. Only here the decline in birth rates is covered up by all of the immigration that is taking place here. In Russia and in most of Europe today, there is a serious birth rate decline and these lead to great economic problems.

On the other hand, while you reject that horrible view of human life, I am not sure that many of us really accept the biblical view of human life and children either. Let me give it to you as it’s described to us in Psalm 127:2-4, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest. Eating the bread of anxious toil for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.”

This is quite the contrast of saying, do not eat the bread of anxious toil. Do not get up early and go to bed late and spend all of your day pursuing economic wealth and riches. It just eats away the joy of living. And in contrast to that, it is saying that our wealth, our treasure, what makes us rich in a biblical worldview is our children and our sense of family. It says here, “Blessed is the man with a full quiver.” Wherever I mention this, especially in the western world, people react just as negatively to that as they do when I tell them about the eastern worldview of children.

We do not have to have as many children as possible. That is possibly true. That is not what I am saying, but people hear it that way somehow. They are suggesting that when the Bible says the blessed is the man with a quiver full of arrows, meaning children, that we need to have as many children as we possibly can. That is not what it’s saying. It is saying that we ought to value children, period. The Lord brings us more than one or two or three or four or five. It is okay.

I had a good friend who lives in Wisconsin, and he called me some years ago to announce that he was having his fifth child. My response to him was, “Wow! You are a rich man.” And on the other end of the phone, I heard him start to weep. And I said, “What’s the matter?” And he said, “You’re the first person who has actually said something positive when I said that. We’re having our fifth child in America. In much of the world today, if you do decide to have 3, 4, 5, 6 children, you will be much criticized and scorned. Most of us are rejecting the biblical view of human life and family as well.

If I were to give you a quick summary of the biblical view of children, I would probably use a quote from this book by Andreas Steinberger called God, Marriage and Family. He writes here, “The esteem in which children were held in ancient Israel can be attributed to several factors and convictions. The belief that every human being is created in the image of God.” That is foundational, that is the bedrock of our belief. Should God give you something that is actually made in His own image, He is giving you something that is a blessing and is a rich treasure. That is the first point.

Point number two, “The view that children ensure the perpetuation of humanity and the fulfillment of the divine mandate to subdue and cultivate the earth.” The Lord has commissioned us to go out and have children. Why are we so anti-child here in the west as well as in the east? I think the answer is because we are all eating the bread of anxious toil. We all want to go out and make ourselves wealthy and have things and we can not see beyond this material world.

Point number three, “The notion that the conception of children was ultimately a product of divine action, and hence, a sign of God’s favor.” Every child is not just manufactured or made. It is created by God and given as a gift. This is true for all human beings. This inherent dignity that is attached to children, made in the image of God, heightens their value in our eyes, at least it ought to, from a biblical worldview. Andreas goes on to say, “The belief that, in a sense, parents live on in and through their children. Hence, the worst fate was for one’s seed to be cut off (or infertility was painful).”

Do not eat the bread of anxious toil. That is what I am trying to teach myself. Work hard, prosper as much as you can, but make your life values and your life goals align with a biblical view, rejecting both the eastern and the western view of children. I came to this conclusion: It is wrong to say you can’t be a good mother to more than one child. I always say to the women in China, “How many children did your grandparents have?” “Oh, they had eight or 10 or 12.” “Were they good parents?” “Yes, they were good parents.” And immediately that propaganda would begin to fall away.

If the Lord gives us more than 1, 2, or 3 children, it is because He is also giving you the great capacity to love and rear more and more children up in His name. It’s your mission field that God is giving you. What we value then is family, God, and time for worship. We value time to help the hurting through missions and the time to reach a lost world with the great news of the gospel. These are things worth living for and dying for, if necessary. They are a great replacement to eating the bread of anxious toil that in the end leaves us pretty lonely and isolated. Reject China’s view of children, reject the western view of children, and open yourself up to the biblical view of children. Blessed is the man with the full quiver. As many as all Lord wants to give us, let us have an open heart to it. Thank you.