Does God expect everyone to have children?

God does not expect us all to have children. Many of us are single, and many who are married are infertile.

In general, bearing children in the context of marriage is the biblical norm. It is required to fulfill God's charge to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…" (Genesis 1:28). In the Bible, infertility was an anomaly worth mentioning, and there are no recorded instances of a couple voluntarily remaining childless—although there are examples of a husband remaining so dedicated to his infertile wife that he did not seek a second wife or concubine. Nowhere in the Bible did God condemn an infertile couple. Several times infertility was brought to an end with the birth of a significant Bible character (Genesis 21:7; 25:21; Judges 13; 1 Samuel 1; Luke 1). Twice God granted fertility to women for the expressed purpose of comforting them (Genesis 29:31; 2 Kings 4:8-17).

Fertility and the pains of infertility were more cultural than spiritual. Children were necessary to expand family holdings and provide for parents in their old age. Women, especially, relied on their sons to care for them. That cultural expectation seems to center more around women than men. Abram was still the leader and patriarch of his extended family without direct heirs; it was Sarai who felt so aimless without children that she offered up her handmaiden Hagar as a surrogate (Genesis 16). And it was typically women, not husbands, who harassed other infertile women (Genesis 16:41; 1 Samuel 1:6).

The more accurate question is, "Does God expect all fertile Christian couples to have children?" The Bible doesn't say. The omission may be because children were seen as such a blessing that it was assumed all couples would want them. But still, we cannot add what is not there. Nowhere does the Bible say that all fertile couples must have children.

What the Bible does say is that we should seek the Kingdom of God over worldly affairs. We should seek wisdom for our own lives (James 1:5), submit to God (James 4:7), and realize that what we gain in this world will burn away (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). God is more concerned with our spiritual heritage than our earthly influence. For many, this includes raising godly children who can go into the world and reach others. For others, it may mean serving God with our whole attention. Whether children are in God's plan or not, our priority should be earning treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:20). It is not biblical for men or women to avoid having children for the sole purpose of gaining worldly power or riches.

This leads us to a conversation about adoption. It is telling that when the Son of God was conceived with no earthly father, God provided Him with one in Joseph. Adoption is an immensely biblical choice for both fertile and infertile couples. It is not obligatory, but the Bible gives every indication that adopted children are just as valid as natural children.

God does not expect us all to have children. God doesn't even mandate that every fertile Christian couple must have children, or that every infertile couple must adopt. God does expect us to follow His leading in our lives. We should not dismiss the idea of parenthood for selfish reasons or for the sole purpose of worldly gain. We should come from a place that acknowledges that God's norm is for married couples to have children—and it is one of the primary tools He uses to help us develop spiritual maturity and a Kingdom heritage. From there, we should seek out His guidance for us and accept His personal leading.

Related Truth:

What does the Bible say about infertility?

What does the Bible say about birth control?

Does the Bible say anything about permanent forms of birth control?

Should children always be considered a blessing from God?

Does the Bible talk about miscarriage?

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