Childlessness in the Bible

Life was clear-cut in Biblical times. If you didn’t have a baby, it was because you couldn’t conceive or couldn’t carry a pregnancy to term. None of the husbands said, “I don’t want to have kids.” Maybe they thought it, but they wouldn’t dare say it. Couples needed children to help with the work and to carry on the family to future generations. Some poor woman on her 15th pregnancy might have wished for a condom, but we don’t hear about that.

I recently happened upon a website that lists all the women in the Bible who suffered from infertility. It’s important to note that all of these women eventually gave birth: “And she conceived and bare a son.”

We’ve got Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac; Rebekah, wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau; Rachel, wife of Jacob, mother of Joseph and Benjamin; Manoah’s wife, the mother of Samson; Hannah, wife of Elkanah, mother of Samuel; Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias and mother of John the Baptist, and a Shunammite Woman, whose husband and son are unnamed.

We also read about St. Anne, patroness saint for childless people, who conceived the Virgin Mary in her old age. And, at another site, we read about this prophetess who was unable to conceive for a long time, but eventually became a mother of six “through devoted prayer to God.”

I would love for the Bible to tell us about women who were never able to conceive or whose husbands refused to give them children. There must have been some, but we don’t read about them in the Bible. The choices were much clearer in those days. If you could have children, you did. If you couldn’t, you prayed for divine intervention.

The issues are much more complicated now, but I suspect prayer wouldn’t hurt. If nothing else, pray for clarity and peace. Run through the Serenity Prayer. If you’re not religious . . . well, I welcome your suggestions.

9 thoughts on “Childlessness in the Bible

  1. Hi Sue, The only thing I have now is prayer. I used to pray and ask for kids – my and my husband's biological kids. I knew it would be a miracle though. Now I’m praying for clarity and ask God to help me and choose my way and make me and my husband happy no matter which way we go next – happy without regretting about anything.Thanks again for your blog and questions that make us think.Olga


  2. Hi Sue,All I have left is prayer because I've given up on child bearing. Partly because of my spouse.Thank you for the link. I'm hoping it brings me new hope, & strengthens my faith.God bless,Shawn


  3. Hi Sue,Read your article. Please include me in your prayers as well. I am married for the past 3 years with a good husband. We are almost 30 now, but he is really not interested in having a child now. That’s what he says, not sure why, but please pray for us both to have happy news soon. It is absolutely His grace if I bore a child. Seems no problem medically but God should heal our inner selves if any and should bless us.Thank you.


  4. I’m searching, hoping, praying, I’m doing everything possible to conceive. My husband and I are trying so hard. We are both great to and for one another. We believe and practice good faith, but still nothing. It’s so hurtful to see others with their children and they mistreat them. We pray for our children, but still nothing. I’m starting to just feel so down. My husband too. It’s becoming more of a job. Best wishes to you all. I pray that all of us will be fruitful soon.


  5. Anonymous, I hope your prayers and dreams result in a child soon. It's hard to know why some people conceive without even trying and others try and try with no success. Keep the faith. Love each other. See a good doctor if you haven't.


  6. After being unable to conceive and praying for a child, god gave me cancer instead. Prayer didn’t give me children, or clarity, or peace. My marriage doesn’t have better, health, or richer, just worse, sickness and poorer. God has forgotten about me and doesn’t listen to my prayers.


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