CHILDLESSNESS IS AN UNFORTUNATE THING
“10. I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved. 11. As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird – no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception! 12. Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them until not a man is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them! 13. Ephraim, as I have seen, is planted in a pleasant meadow like Tyre; but Ephraim will bring out his children for slaughter. 14. Give them O Lord – what wilt Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. 15. All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels. 16. Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will bear no fruit. Even though they bear children, I will slay the precious ones of their womb. 17. My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.” Hosea 9: 10-17
“25. But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. 26. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfil the number of your days.” Exodus 23: 25-26
“13. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. 14. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.” Deuteronomy 7: 13-14
When God decided to punish the corrupt nation of Israel some twenty-six hundred years ago, how did he do it? He prevented conception, pregnancy and childbirth, and killed the children who survived. God views childlessness or less children than possible as a negative occurrence, something which he uses as a punishment. Doesn’t it say a lot about our dying and impotent culture, which welcomes birth control (with its resultant few or no children) as a “great scientific achievement” and a “blessing to mankind.” Birth Control brings about a lamentable catastrophe according to the Bible!
Commenting on Genesis 17, Luther had this to say about sterility, “…saintly women have always regarded childbirth as a great sign of grace. Rachel is rude and exceedingly irksome to her husband when she says (Gen. 30:1): ‘Give me children, or I shall die!’ She makes it clear that she will die of grief because she sees that barrenness is a sign of wrath. And in Ps. 127:3 there is a glorious eulogy of offspring: ‘Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward (that is, a gift of God).’ Surely it is a magnificent name that children are the gift of God! Therefore Hannah laments so pitiably (1 Sam. 1:10), and John’s aged mother Elizabeth leaps for joy and exults (Luke 1:25): ‘the Lord has taken away my reproach.’ Thus when the world was still in a better state, barrenness was considered a sign of wrath; but childbirth was considered a sign of grace. Because of the abuses of lust, however, this remnant of the divine blessing gradually began to be obscured even among the Jews, just as today you could find many greedy men who regard numerous offspring as a punishment. Saintly mothers, however, have always regarded this gift – when they were prolific – as a great honor, just as, conversely, they have regarded barrenness as a sign of wrath and as a reproach.”(Luther’s Works, Vol. 3, p. 134-135)
Moving on to the other Scripture passages in our list, we can see that God promised great blessings to Israel, among them (Exo. 23:25-26) the negation of sickness, miscarriages and barrenness. Christians and heathen both view sickness as a bad thing, and Christians view miscarriages (at least caused miscarriages, that is, abortions) as bad. But when it comes to deliberately causing one’s own sterility (whether temporary or permanent, via birth control), most Christians unite with the heathen and declare sterility a good thing! As for Moses, he seems to view sickness, miscarriages and sterility as bad.
In Deuteronomy 7:12-13, it gets more pointed. Moses says, “God will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb…. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you….” Once again, we see barrenness, male or female, as a bad thing. Since barrenness is a bad and undesirable thing, so it birth control, since birth control is temporary or permanent sterility.
Yet, in our culture, barrenness is “no big deal”, and people are always attempting to tell sterile couples that “everything is all right.” But everything is not all right! Listen to what Martin Luther had to say, commenting upon Rachel’s great desire to have children: “…from this it is clear that the very saintly women were not lustful but were desirous of offspring and the blessing. For this was the cause of envy in Rachel, who, if she had been like other women whom our age has produced in large numbers, would have said: ‘What is it to me whether I bear children or not? Provided that I remain the mother of the household and have an abundance of all other things, I have enough.’ But Rachel demands offspring so much that she prefers death to remaining sterile. I do not remember reading a similar statement in any history. Therefore she is an example of a very pious and continent woman whose only zeal and burning desire is for offspring, even, if it means death. Thus above (Gen. 16:2) Sarah also showed a similar desire for offspring. And in both this feeling is decidedly praiseworthy. ‘If I do not have children, I shall die’ says Rachel. ‘I prefer, being without life to being without children.’ …Consequently, she determines either to bear children or die. Thus later she dies in childbirth. This desire and feeling of the godly woman is good and saintly….” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 5, p. 328)