There are a myriad of reasons in contemporary society why a couple may decide not to have children. Chief among them is health condition that might endanger the life of the mother. A couple might also decide against having a child because of a demanding career.
There are also some religious persons like missionaries, nuns and Catholic bishops who have decided against marriage and having children in order to serve God. Some people are also too poor while others don’t just want parenthood owing to their past experiences. They don’t want to bear children who may have the same bad experiences they have had in their lives. There are also others who just hate parenthood.
The Bible says that children are a blessing from God and one of the blessings God gave to Abraham was to fill the earth. In African traditional society, marriage was not complete without children and the society would frown down upon a couple who failed to get children.
Though there were a number of barren women like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth documented in the Bible, each of their stories is about how their infertility was reversed. There are no biblical stories that centre on an infertile man. The imagery of barrenness is never applied to a man. The focus and preoccupation with childlessness in the Bible falls solely and consistently on women. Moreover, childlessness is never presented as a positive or acceptable condition.
Thus the implication is that God never wanted His children to remain childless. This brings us to the question: Should a Christian couple decide to marry but agree to remain childless?
“Absolutely not! Marriage is for procreation as written in the Bible and those couples who decide to remain childless are just selfish,” says Pastor James Kalinda of Christian Redeemed Church, Kicukiro.
Pastor Kalinda adds that the main purpose of marriage is threefold: companionship, sexual gratification and procreation. Thus it would be outrageous for a married couple to leave procreation out of the equation.
“According to the book of Job, socially, the position of the childless woman in the Hebrew Bible is ranked among the despised, the poor, the helpless, and the widow and contrasted with the mother who is blessed, joyful and rich in children. Therefore, a Christian couple cannot just decide against having children,” he adds.
However, Stephen Mangate, a medical doctor and member of Remera Catholic Church, says that he knows of a married couple where the wife is a leading cancer researcher. “The intense demands of her work exclude the time and energy for bearing and raising children – a sacrifice she and her husband are willing to make.”
But Mangate hastens to add that earthly pursuit of fame and richness shouldn’t deter people from having children. “I think that their decision is not cast in stone. Should pregnancy surprise them, they would make the necessary adjustments to love and take care of the baby. A childless marriage is not a fulfilling one.”
Rachel Umutesi, a Christian in Remera says that it’s an unusual choice never to have children. “Couples contemplating this decision need to ask themselves what their motives are. Are they being self-indulgent or making an idol of career or money? Or are they choosing this path prayerfully because they feel called to love God and serve him and others in a different way? Childless-by-choice couples should always ask themselves whether they have a special responsibility to serve God’s people in ways couples with kids can’t.”
WHAT'S YOUR VIEW?
Allan Muganda, teacher
Sometimes I ask myself what’s wrong with life without children as long as I find a woman who I deeply love. In the meantime, I think that kids are rewarding in the end. But in the meantime, I’d rather be able to enjoy my own life and not sacrifice this for children. And I don’t despise a couple who have decided to remain childless, for it’s their choice.
Julia Kaitesi, receptionist
It depends on what makes the couple happy. I would love to have children but I’m so afraid I will ruin them because I am not emotionally “equipped” to raise one. I think after establishing a career and traveling, then bring kids into the picture. But married couples should read the Bible and decide on what’s best before God’s eye. This needs a spiritual guidance.
Kids are like a glue that holds the couple together. You have to be strong enough to decide against having children. Such couple should think deeply because their irrational decision might come back to haunt them in future. I can never imagine a marriage without children. It’s also said that children are blessings from God and we all need to receive His blessings.