What is the biblical basis for the belief that people, generally speaking, must have children? I'm not referring to prohibitions on artificial birth control, but rather the idea that married people should attempt to have children.

I have heard many people say this, but I don't know what Bible passages they use to defend the idea that everyone should have children.


1 Answer 1


What is the biblical basis for the belief that people must have children?

I remember reading in a magazine once years ago that people in poor countries had lots of children because that was their investment in the future, sort of their retirement program. They contrasted this with people in wealthy countries who have few children because the productive years of their children are taxed to support the state. The implication was that there was no incentive to invest the time, money, and toil if you would not reap any reward.

The rise of the nation state and the accumulation of wealth to facilitate this view are only widely available since the industrial revolution. The Bible is written by and to people who only know the more natural way of family and children. In a similar way, there is no biblical basis for saying that we must breathe, it is just a natural process that is taken as a given.

The option of avoiding children is now available using various chemical and mechanical technologies of birth control measures including abortion. To consider the biblical basis for not making use of this technology. We need to derive a doctrine from various verses;

Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Here we should consider that if children are from the Lord, then acting to prevent this would seem in opposition to the will of God.

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

If God has a general plan for humans to fill the earth, then acting to avoid this may also place us in opposition to the plan of God.

Psalm 22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.

If God gives us life before birth, terminating that life may bring retribution.

Revelation 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Psalm 106:38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

It may be that one of the oral contraceptive mechanisms (implant failure) actually causes an abortion. However, even if the extinguishing of unborn life is avoided, the problem remains of setting a course in life apart from that God would have us walk.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The Bible describes a final accounting. The Christian will stand before Jesus and may have to explain why he decided that his own plans and purposes were more important to him that what Jesus would have for him.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

For the unsaved, their accounting will be according to their works.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

While the Bible does not specifically say the people must have children (which would be difficult for the infertile), The two most intimate relationships we can have (husband / wife, and parent / child) are integral to the process of having children. These relationships are considered so fundamental that the Bible often makes use of these relationships to illustrate other points.

The choice not to have children while often cloaked as being prudent or responsible often is used to allow two people greater personal indulgences. This mind-set is rebuked when it is applied to prayer.

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

One might want to consider if the technology of birth control and abortion can be used as any other technical innovation such as the electric light with little regard to biblical relevance.

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    Re: the Genesis 9:1 reference – this same commandment was given to Adam and Eve as well. In fact, it was the first commandment they were given after they were created (Genesis 1:28). Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 1:33
  • In my mind, Genesis 1:28 is the most important passage, since it was the first. Also, "multiplying" implies having more than 2 children, since the population would only be replaced if each couple had fewer than 3 children.
    – user22553
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 19:03
  • @Dialogist What about multiplication by zero or one? ;-) Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 19:11
  • @Nathaniel - that would not be a fruitful multiplication
    – user22553
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 19:23

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