Is it a moral requirement to want lots of kids if you are married? Is it morally incorrect to only want one or a few kids? for some reason? for any reason?
IFw e take “be fruitful and multiply”, and, especially the “be fruitful” part as a command, it would seem that we should, if not having lots of kids, at least want lots of kids if it were practically possible.
Also, I believe there is at least one portion in either the Psalms or the Proverbs that says something along the lines of having lots of kids in your metaphorical quiver is a good thing. So, then, if this is in inspired Scripture, should we not all be morally required to want lots of kids instead of just one or a few? Would it be sinful to have a desire, then, for only a few kids or one?
I don’t think it is a moral requirement to desire many children. The church asks that we be open to the gift of children, and that we only attempt to limit that gift [with NFP] for serious reasons, but I believe that is the extent of the requirements.
To use a personal example, my wife and I are unable to have children due to a medical condition. We are open to any children that the Lord might give us, and we have made reasonable attempts to correct the medical condition that makes us infertile, even including surgery…but [so far] those efforts have been unsuccessful.
How many children do we want? Well, to be completely honest, we are not sure we want children at all. In fact, we are still trying to discern what God intends for us, and what we want for ourselves. But we are open to following his call wherever it may lead, whether it be some miraculous restoration of our fertility, or a call to adoption, or something else. But it seems, at least for now, that God does not intend for us to have a large family, and we are content with that. In fact we realize that we might not be called to have any children at all, but to serve the church and the people of God in some other way.
For us, if we truly desired a lot of children, we would be suffering…because we would not have any reasonable path forward to attain what we desire. While we are unsure whether or not we are being called to be parents (e.g., through adoption), it seems clear that we are not being called to have a large family!
So the desires, in and of themselves, are probably morally neutral unless they are motivated by selfishness or some other sinful thing. What is important is our willingness to accept what God offers us, and, once we are offered it, our willingness to conform our will to his.
We have a permanent deacon at our parish. He and his wife have not been blessed with children, but that has made them able to serve the parish more fervently than they might have been able to otherwise. I don’t know whether they desired children, or whether this was difficult for them, but I do know that they accepted God’s call in their lives and they have been an incredible blessing to the people of our parish. For them, accepting God’s call meant accepting that they would not have any children.
When it comes to fertility and reproduction in general, I think the important thing is that we make an effort to do whatever God wants us to do. For many families, that probably means having many children. For some, it means having few or one. For some, it means having none. But there is no blanket decree that everybody should want to have many children, or else God would be leaving many couples unfulfilled! I think God really wants our obedience and our acceptance of what he intends for us, whether that be many children or none at all.
I don’t remember reading anything in the CCC or the Bible that states it’s a moral requirement to have a lot of children.
Besides, what is considered a lot anyway?
Is there a specific number that I can look up or does it have to do with spacing?
I feel that I have “a lot” of children.
I’m about to have 3 and they aren’t spaced more then 2 years apart.
For me and my husband…that is a lot.
Therefore we have decided to slow down and become quite serious with NFP and not have any more children for the foreseeable future.
Will we go for a fourth at some point? I have absolutely no idea and right now…the answer is absolutely no…but the reality is…I don’t know.
I don’t “want a lot” of children.
I have no idea what that number actually is because it’s a relative number. For some people…one child is a lot, for others anything over 5 is a lot and still others go well into the double digits and don’t feel they have “a lot” and could have more.
I don’t see anyone of them as more holy then the other just because they have loads of kids.
It is not a moral requirement to desire a lot of children. It is however a moral requirement to be open to life.
"CCC1643 “Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.”
And at least the Church does allow avoidance of unwanted pregnancy for a time. If the Church was truly tyrannical, as so many anti-Catholic seem to accuse, we wouldn’t have Natural Family Planning. We’re allowed that much, and we should see it as a rightly given gift. Also, I feel that you need to place your trust in God, that He won’t give you more children than you can handle.
I recall something from the Bible that seems to suggest this:
Psalm 127:4-5: Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. – RSVCE
This verse is the ver reason I started this thread.
So, again, I ask, is it a moral requirement to desire many children. After all, this verse is a part of the inspired Word of God. For those who think that it is not a moral requirement ot desire many children, how do you deal with the above passage?
Not to mention…that isn’t how that verse is supposed to be interpreted anyway.
According to this verse…what is considered a “quiverful”?
Give me a number…based on your interpretation.
I have three kids. I consider that a quiverful and we are happy. I hope God is happy with us because we’ve been nothing but open to life during our marriage.
We had an unexpected pregnancy (our third) at a very, very trying time in our marriage but we’e accepted life as commanded by the Catholic Church.
God provided and we’ve moved on.
We’re still going to space kids and maybe stop here at three because, for me, anything more then that is too much to handle. That is my decision…backed by my husband and lots of prayer.
We’re still open to life of course…but we aren’t going to try for another.
You haven’t answered my question about an actual number.
I know that passage but that isn’t a moral requirement to have “lots of kids”. We don’t know what “lots of kids” actually is.
God wants us to accept any children he sends us…whether we are actually trying to have babies or not…all we’re asked to do is be open to life. That is our moral requirement.
Give me a number and tell me what is considered moral?
Am I more moral and holy then my friend who has 1 kid but has been open to life and used NFP to avoid another child because having another will probably kill her?
Am I less moral and holy then another 2 friends of mine who have 7 and 8 kids respectively but have reached their limit and are “done”?
Are they still not holy enough because they’ve decided to stop having babies after 7 or 8 kids?
How about the families that have converted to the Church? They can’t have any more kids after the two or so they were blessed with and either had their tubes tied, got a vasectomy or are past the age of menopause and it’s not possible for them to have any more kids.
Yet they converted, repented and are now members of the Church.
Am I more or less moral and holy because I’ve been open to life my entire marriage?
How do you explain the Church’s stance on allowing the use of NFP to space kids for just reasons that have been prayerfully discerned by the married couple?
How do you explain some of the holiest families from the bible that only had one child?
Elizabeth only had John, Hannah only had Samuel, Sarah only had Issac, and (of course) Mary only had Jesus. Those are just a few examples in the bible.
Mary is the real kicker here because she really only accepted one child and remained a Virgin for the rest of her life.
Is she not moral because she made no attempt at having any more children?
Or does she just not count because she is Mary?
BTW…I believe that verse is interpreted that children…however many you have…are a blessing, or blessings, sent from God and we should be happy with however many we have.
It’s NOT a command to have as many as we can to qualify as a “quiverful” whatever that means.
You forgot to add verse 3. 3 Certainly sons are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward. We as Catholics are to be open to the gift of children. No where does it say how many children is “many”.
Please give your definition of “moral requirement”.
The general principle is that we should be open to life. How this is applied in each individual situation is, of course, incredibly varied.
Not everyone has the same level of health, whether mental or physical; not everyone has the same quality of means to support a family; not everyone has sufficient reason to raise more children.
Therefore, being “open to life” is going to mean something different in any given situation.
What has to be avoided, however, is a feeling of selfishness, and of wanting to increase one’s material comforts at the expense of expanding one’s family. This requires serious discussion with one’s spouse, and may even require spiritual direction.
Misty, I notice that you quote the Bible a lot, and you seem to want to draw conclusions from specific verses. As Catholics, we don’t feel inclined to have to reinvent the wheel in every generation. We don’t need to prove things that have long been established by the Doctors of the Church and by other competent authorities. Therefore, a lot of our moral principles are simply taken for granted, and we don’t really need to check and double-check various Biblical passages to see if we’re on the right track. (Although the logic and reasoning of the Church on various issues is certainly Biblical. But it’s not our task to flesh all of that out as individuals.)
Catholics should love reading and praying the Bible, and many do. But we don’t really treat the Bible like a discourse on dogmatic theology, or like a sort of catechism, though it may fulfill those duties also. Our understanding of questions as lay Catholics comes from a much wider source than simply finding a passage in this book or another in that one.
I don’t know the number. In fact, I’m not really even arguing in favor or against one position or another. I am simply trying to understand all this.
You make some very good points in all this, especially about some parents only having one or two sons as seen int he Bible.
However, again, how are we to reconcile the verses about being “fruitful” and “multiplying” and those about having a “quiverfull” of children as being a good thing with the points you and others have made? After all, isn’t being “fruitful” having a lot of kids? And, arguably, isn’t “multiplying”? Unless these verses are merely speaking to the first humans, both Adam and Noah, since they, at the time, were the only ones, and, so, they were required to have lots of kids to populate the Earth?
But, what about the “quiverfull” verse? How do we reconcile it with the notion that it is “OK” to have only a few children or even just one?