Where does God fit in the baby decision?

One of my frequent commenters tugged my heartstrings yesterday with her tale of the marriage that ended with an annulment over the child issue and whose ex—who refused to convert when they were married–has since joined the Catholic church and attends with his new fiancée. He even stands up front and sings solos. This has made it hard for her to keep going to that church. If he had converted when they were married, their story might have turned out quite differently.
I have probably mentioned this before, but I was amazed in researching Childless by Marriage to find that almost no one included religion in their decision-making about babies. How could so few think about God in making this huge decision? I don’t get it.
In the U.S., statistics show that nearly half of Americans report that they go to church every Sunday. But do they really? According to a recent NPR story called “What We Say About Our Religion, and What We Do,” one in five say they aren’t affiliated with any religious denomination, and many of those who say they go to church don’t actually do it. Personally, I know a lot of good people who don’t have anything to do with any kind of religion.
No matter what kind of religion one practices, wouldn’t it make sense to pray, meditate, or light a candle when deciding whether or not to have children? The Bible tells us to “go forth and multiply.” The Catholic faith dictates that married couples must welcome children and raise them in the faith. Most other religions at least preach that babies are a good thing, if not an essential part of life. Yet couples are making this decision without any consideration of their faith.
I’m trying hard not to preach here. I’m as bad as everyone else. Did I pray over it when motherhood was still an option? I don’t think so. Did I use birth control when my church says I can’t? You bet. I may even have asked that I NOT be pregnant a couple times when I was single. Maybe I got what I deserved.
Dear readers, help me understand. Why do so many people leave God out of the baby decision? I know even asking the question could make some readers angry or make them turn away. But I’m asking. Where is God in all of this?

12 thoughts on “Where does God fit in the baby decision?

  1. Ha ha. Your “frequent commenter” is present and accounted for. I'm glad my story sparked something. My first husband was quite clear on the fact that he wouldn't convert. I naively didn't think it mattered. I also naively thought that he wouldn't care if our children were raised Catholic. We eloped to avoid the “married in the church issue”. Funny how those naive, non-existent issues turn into huge problems. And funny how my exs' attitude changed when he met the right person.I married the wrong man quickly to escape my family home, which I would describe as “without joy”. Not hostile, not sad, not angry. We worked hard, ate well and slept easily. Family time happened out of a social obligation to celebrate a holiday or something like a graduation. We ate dinner as a family every night, but I couldn't tell you my dad's favorite meal. I have no idea what truly makes my mother happy. In short I didn't marry because I was crazy in love and wanted to start my own family. I married for the hope of a more joyful life with a super nice guy. I didn't consult with God at all.Still he was there. Probably right at my side, face-palming in frustration at my cavalier attitude. Married life turned out to be easy – but hard. We liked the same movies, restaurants, music. But we weren't growing closer, we weren't thriving as individuals. We weren't even praying together, and that bothered me.A “Cradle Catholic” doesn't always appreciate her relationship with God. For many of us, we're told what to believe. We dress in white on the appropriate sacraments, attend Sunday Mass and question little. Such was my experience and I did my part. I was shocked to discover that simply following the commandments wasn't going to give me a charmed life.Today I consider myself a Christian who worships in the Catholic faith. Devout Catholics probably do not approve of my “pick and choose” attitude, but it gives me a comfortable grounding point with God.I don't pray for God to give me a child. I now pray that he gives me the courage and strength to be a good mother should he choose to make me one. Some days I'm a mess and the stresses I have are too much for me to handle. I can't imagine I would be a fit mother and those days I'm relieved that I don't have the responsibility. God knows what we can handle, and I can only surmise that he feels I have enough on my plate at the moment. Still, I want what I want and I'm anxious to have it. When I feel sorry for myself for not having a child I visit here.I guess to make short of your question, “Where is God in all of this?” . . .In the beginning I had blind faith in God and didn't pray or make good decisions. I ran off of assumption that God was watching my back. Today God is everywhere and I turn to him often – but I fear I may have invited him too late.Anon S


  2. I am a Christian. After 7.5 years of trying to conceive and two miscarriages I now pray for God's will to be done in our lives and the strength to cope with whatever that means.


  3. A quickie sidebar comment from the God? decision?? far left field of childlessness.I had NO decision in the matter, due to being sent from God's baby heaven with inconceivable repro parts. However—I'm sticking with Elizabeth and you, Sue, on what I'm taking to be a reference to the first few lines of The Serenity Prayer – my ” mantra ” for 2013 and who knows how long.


  4. Anonymous,
    The Serenity Prayer is the best one I know. A refresher:
    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


  5. Being childless has opened up my eyes to many things. One is the role religion plays in family size or even the decision to have kids at all. I became quite familiar with the Quiverfull movement. This is a radical pronatal group which shuns all forms of birth control, regardless of finances and the mother's health. or mental state. My mind also turns to third world countries where women are controlled by the men and have dozens of kids they can't feed. Though not childless by choice, I count myself blessed to be in a country where I and others can exercise rights and that I am not part of radical religions. Maybe that is the part God plays, if you believe, that is.


  6. Amen. At least we have a choice. It would be good to consult God, but He gives us free will. If other humans try to take away our right to choose whether or not to have children, that's just wrong.


  7. Quiverfull is interesting but scary. Have you ever heard of “A Handmaid’s Tale”? It was written some 25 yrs ago about a futuristic US society that puts infertile women out to pasture. It is a precautionary tale of what may happen when one extreme group takes over.Yes, thankfully we aren't China that formerly had a stern one-child policy or third world countries where women have no birth control access.


  8. A., I have read “A Handmaid's Tale.” Any system that takes away our choice about whether or not to have as many children as we want is frightening to me. We don't all have to have children, but should all have a choice.


  9. So I stumbled onto this blog because I'm truly in a bad spot because I am a childless guy, in my late 30's, and it's killing me. I was married to a woman who never wanted kids until she turned 30, but even when I broached the subject, it was always “it's not the right time…” or some other reason. This same woman has now thankfully found a great guy (I'm friends with both of them), and they are expecting their first child in two weeks. At first, I was totally thrilled for them and glad God had blessed them with kids. But now as her due date approaches, I'm just angry that we never had kids. Angry at her? Eh, not as much as I am at God for not getting this simple gift of love and life that everybody else seems to get but not me. I'm an Anglican, and I do not question God’s will and all the great things He has given me–I fish for a living (which was a great refuge during my divorce), I've seen things most people only dream of, and have more stories that will turn hair white than most. So why is it that I can't have the same simple things that others have? Am I so selfish that I cannot appreciate my gf's kids, who are wonderful and I love dearly, because I would like to see my own face in another and my gf doesn't want any more kids? I wrestle with this anger every day, and I ask for God's love to fill the void, but it keeps getting bigger. As for the conversion factor, I did it for my ex, and since have returned to my roots. It's better to find someone of a similar faith, because even Catholics and Anglicans have differences that are hard to overcome.


  10. Anonymous Sept. 21, I'm so sorry this happened to you. You have every right to be angry and feel cheated. I'm sure a lot of readers here, including me, can identify with those feelings. To have your ex go have children with somebody else when she wouldn't do it with you is so hard, so not fair. There's nothing wrong with preferring to have kids who look like you. We all want that. I hope you can find a way to deal with all these feelings and find peace and blessings in the life you have.


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