Worse Than Infidels?

Joshua's lost tooth

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

~ 1 Timothy 5:8

A comment we got last week referenced this verse. Here it is:

“You shouldn’t have more kids than you can possibly afford. The Bible also says those who cant take care of their own are no better than infidels. Many smaller families are in this situation too but they saw fit to stop the baby machine. My problem isnt with large families but those who continue to have them but know they cant afford it and rely on others.” – RM

A little snarky, but RM brings up a point worth addressing. The verse should — like all Scripture — help guide your steps through life. If you feel a conviction to have and love another child, we say go for it. But what if financial burdens are in your lap, also?

Finances — or the lack of them — is probably the biggest reason people give for avoiding another child. We spend an entire chapter in our new book Love Another Child on this. From Chapter 3 “Financially Speaking”:

Should parents restrict having children if that provision seems to be threatened? You’ll have a difficult time finding a verse to justify that position. Nowhere in Scripture are children seen as burdens. Children are reinforced as blessings throughout.

So, when times are tough, what are parents to do? The rest of the chapter goes into some creative ideas. These are ideas we have come up with over the years because we’ve always struggled financially. Yet, we have kept welcoming children, refusing to mix the pressures of money with the inherent blessing of children. We’ve persuaded many other couples along the way, and none have come back saying, “Gee, I would have opted for a bit more money than this child God blessed me with.” Never.

We don’t think there is much persuading RM, but to those couples who genuinely struggle with financial burden that presses against their desire to have another child, don’t be so quick to throw in the towel. Certainly don’t cling to 1 Timothy 5:8 as justification. It’s a misuse of Scripture to justify a position that most of Scripture contradicts. Seek God’s guidance and you, we hope, will find creative solutions to managing your finances and affording another child.

What we challenge couples to consider is simply this: Change the view of children from being hinderances to being blessings. They are. Always.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Jenn

    Unfortunately we want to have 15% of our income going to our retirement and be debt free and in a nice house before we can “afford” children. We Americans want 250+ channels and flat screen TVs and cell phones for each child… “providing” has become a different equation… Even those committed to have as many children as God allows start to hold our breath as we approach 40… We aren’t treated well by the hospital or strangers… we risk our “retirement” years… America has a different definition of “provide” than the rest of the world. Provide USED to mean warm and fed… but now… we have bought the LIE hook, line and sinker.

    • Mel

      Not all of us who can’t afford children are in that category Jenn. Some of us have had major life obstacles including major medical issues with our children or business failues due to a struggling economy. In my opinion, it isn’t always selfishness that keeps people from having more children. I’m an American, but I don’t have aretirement account and we don’t have cable TV and I have many friends who live as I do.

      • Gaylene

        I don’t think Jenn is saying all Americans are like that but I can attest to many who are. I know several couples who want more children but say that can’t afford it but yet have nice houses, 2 or 3 cars, top of the line cell phones, cable. Yes, they are strapped, but they are strapped because of financial choices they have made.

        • Anonymous

          You are more on the target we were aiming for, Gaylene. Like we said,
          finances is the most popular reason people give when they explain why they
          avoid children.

    • Mlindsey

      Sorry, I couldn’t see my whole comment to give the full reply that I wanted. I find it really difficult to read comments like yours Jenn, because they don’t speak to the majority situation. Maybe I live in a little bubble, but most of the people I know are just barely able to warm and feed their children. I know people who have moved back in with parents, who have lost their simple homes. It’s really easy for us to look at people and judge their financial situations, but the fact is that unless we really know people’s stories, we don’t know why they are in the difficulties they are in. I guess I’m just trying to say that it isn’t always a lack or trust or a desire for material goods that gets in the way.

  • Amber

    We too struggle financially, we have had to except handouts and assistance this past year. We stretch every dollar as far as we can, and are still looking for ways to make it go farther. I know we have not done right with our money either. We made a few bad choices with our finances too. We ate out too much the beginning of the year, we blew money until we couldn’t even pay our tithes. That hurt and we have reaped condemnation on ourselves, not from God but our own guilt. this year will be different. We have determined to do things better and pay those tithes up front for the year. God is the one that said He would provide for us and those kids He blesses us with, not before they get here but once they are here. He also said He would provide for our DAILY needs, not for the week ahead. That is something God has been teaching us through the last 6 mos. Also during that time He has blessed us with another baby, due in July 2011. We don’t know how He will cover those costs and it means changing some things up in our house but we love and except this new life. We also determine to have things be different when he/she gets here. It might mean we have to go back to cloth diapers or can some things from the garden we will have this year but we will use what God has given us wisely and trust Him for the rest! Just my opinion: I really believe that if those that are in a bad financial place will look at what they have been given and what THEY did with those resources, and be honest with themselves. They probably made some bad choices, not saving in a time of plenty, not spending better, going without somethings that they really didn’t “need”. We tend to put ourselves in a bad place with choices we make and then want to blame things around us for it, loss of job, bad economy. We just need to be honest with ourselves and own what we did do right, what we did wrong and work for doing it all better. Then those babies that God does bless us with will be able to come freely and will learn to live better because they will learn from our mistakes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=799259836 Amy Woolley Pederson

    Our faith has to be in what God can do. During the times in our life when we have been the most financially challenged, facing the most hardship, facing the possibility of losing everything, we received the wonderful gift of another pregnancy. With confidence that our God can and will provide what we need, we have watched Him provide in ways beyond our wildest dreams.

    • Anonymous

      Very well said, Amy! We’ve been there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=799259836 Amy Woolley Pederson

        I am moved to tears to tell you what happened this morning. About 30 minutes after I wrote my above comment, a bag was found tied to our front door with $500 cash in it with an anonymous note. I don’t understand how people can doubt God. We are called to have the faith of a child. He wants to provide for us, He wants to be our strength in our weakness. We are simply called to believe. How can we not?

        • Chris Jeub

          That is awesome, Amy! We have a lot of stories like this, too. God is good.

        • Anonymous

          Wow! That’s awesome, Amy. We have similar stories. It seems when the world
          shakes their head at our faith, something like this drops in and reminds us
          He has everything under control.

        • http://creatingtreasures.blogspot.com tereza

          God is always faithful and He loves us so! :) Rejoicing and praising Jesus with you. :)

  • JAC

    I think the Duggars’ book, 20 AND COUNTING, could be helpful here, because it includes a lot of personal history showing that the concept of what people “can possibly afford” is really dependent upon God and His provision when we step out in faith.

  • Sargents

    I think we are seeing two different trains of thought in this post, and others like it. One is from those who see life through the eyes of temporal, tangible human understanding. (What we see in front of us is all there is.) The other acknowledges a God who is alive and well and dearly loves His people. Neither sees life as always being fair, and both see that there are many struggles and trials this side of Heaven. I have walked with God for almost 40 years now, and He has never let me down or forsaken me. But to know that I have more than some is truly humbling. I was raised in a well-off family, with many opportunities. I married a man who works hard for his family. And I have been given the gift of many children. None of those things did I work really hard for. My earthly, temporal situation is full of blessing. And yet, if I do not know God, it is worthless. If I am always looking at the culture for my cues on what to believe, my faith dries up. If my husband works hard but does not care to acknowledge the Most High, he misses the reason for his existence. If I cannot lead my many blessings to the Living Water, my ‘job’ lacks real value. In all things, whether financially, realationally, or whatever, life is worth living if we know Who we are here for. And yet, though I have blessings, my life is not always easy. There have been many times that discouragement and fear have completely taken over my thoughts. So, I can understand to some degree those who see things in a way that frustrate them and make them feel they cannot go on. However, that does not change the fact that God is on the throne and He loves to care for His own. My fears are usually my worst enemy. If this scripture above is true for man, what does that tell us about the God who wrote it?

    • Anonymous

      Right on target!

  • Rachel

    Well– define struggle. poverty, needs, etc. We are the among the wealthiest nations if not the wealthiest nation. A family who would really ‘scrape the bottom’ in America is most likely still better off than a huge portion of the world……and they often have more children per family! You only starve if you want to in our country. Last year was the hardest one we have experienced yet. We had our third baby a week before my husband lost his job. Sometimes during the year that followed, the only thing that kept a smile on our face or gave us any hope was our sweet, silly, little baby boy.

  • Lisajones1121

    We only have one child and struggle financially, not because we have a child but because we are both full time students. It is intereseting that we would be judged harshly if we had a large family even though or circumstances would be the same. It is amazing how much you can live on a month and get by. We are richly blessed and in many other ways but we have everything we need.

  • Lauren G.

    I just want to preface my comment by saying that I’m trying to understand you as respectfully as possible, but I truly just don’t get the inconsistencies in so much of what you say…

    You say “It’s a misuse of Scripture to justify a position that most of Scripture contradicts.” If there are contradictions within the Scripture, how can it be God’s will at all? Isn’t God supposed to be infallible? If you are going to pick & choose the parts of the Bible that justify your lifestyle, don’t impose that onto others as God’s will. Financial burdens are a REALITY that have nothing to do with a person’s religious beliefs. Some people literally cannot afford another child. Some people struggle to feed their families every single day. Having another child is a choice & making that choice when you can’t afford it is irresponsible.

    • Anonymous

      On contradiction: That’s our point. Holding up one verse to defend a position that is contradicted elsewhere is illogical and unsound. This is what RM was doing, hardly a solid understanding of faith and Scripture.

      On affordability: If you insist that “some people literally cannot afford another child,” we suppose you (for them?) are throwing in the towel. That’s a popular choice couples are making nowadays. We encourage couples to reconsider.

      On irresponsibility: This is our point, plain and simple: Children are blessings, always. In our opinion, parents who embrace this truth are ready for the responsibility of children, finances hardly a barrier, or at least much smaller than the parents who insist they can’t afford them. Parents who insist they can’t afford them, well, perhaps aren’t ready. We see children much differently, much more positively.

      Thanks for the post, Lauren.

      • Sola

        Do you think it is possible that some people, a small family is enough? What about those who decide to limit their families, are they wrong? I know my limitations. I have two beautiful, wonderful, fantastic children who are a lot of hard work. Both of my children have disabilities and caring for them means a lot of hard work, a lot more than would be typical. I know that by limiting my family to two children, I am able to be the best mother that I can be for my kids. If I had another child, the chances are almost a certainty that the child would have the same disability. By having another child I could be stretched even more thinly than I am now. I could not be the type of parent I would want to be.

        By limiting my family to two I have ensured that my children get the best of me. They need that, now please tell me is that wrong?

        • Anonymous

          Sola, you would get a lot of answers in our new book. You should order it. Real quick, though:

          1. You will not hear us tell you you’re wrong for your convictions. If God is telling you to stop, by all means, stop. Our message to love another is unique to many parents who have the opposite conviction.

          2. If you had a 3rd child, that child (even with disabilities) would be a blessing. We’d be in anyone’s face who tells you otherwise.

          Children are blessings. Always. Are you saying that is wrong?

          • Sola

            My children are indeed blessings. However they exist and therefore their rights to have a mother who can give her best outweighs any hypothetical rights of any hypothetical future children.

            A mother who is exhausted, burnt out and sick with stress is not one who can give her best. I have come close to that from time to time, if I had another child I know that would be the result.

            It would be fantastic to have that choice which you have. But not everyone can and some people have to take matters into their own hands (contraception) to prevent pregnancy.

            BTW, why did you block me from making comments previously? I might have disagreed with you in your Poverty post, but at no point was I rude or disrespectful.

  • Nicole

    We are not well off by any means yet I can honestly say that with each child God has blessed us with He has also blessed it with the means to provide for it.

  • Hopfam88

    To Laura G,
    We use Scripture to interpret Scripture…it doesn’t contradict itself at all, it simply clarifies. This passage is not talking about the number of children a person should or shouldn’t have, but his moral obligation to work hard to provide for those in his direct family (specifically widows, actually!). Many other scriptures speak to multiple children being a blessing :). Even the apostle Peter writes that some things that Paul wrote are “hard to understand” (Paul wrote 1 Timothy) and that people will misquote and misinterpret them if not careful. It’s worth really studying with an open mind and open heart and using good principals of interpretation (which are used in any field of literature, not just Biblical Studies) to decipher carefully. Good luck to you and God bless your search for understanding!
    Heidi H.

  • Hopfam88

    Oops..”principles”, not “principals”! :)

  • Sola

    You advocate ‘loving another child’, so why don’t you? No, I don’t mean have another baby, I mean foster and adopt a child from the foster care system. There are thousands of children who are languishing in the American care system who are crying out for good families. Some of these children will never be adopted because they are ‘damaged’ and everybody wants that cute little baby. So why don’t you put your money where your mouth and ‘love another child’, one that really needs some love.

  • Renee

    I could not afford to have my children when I did. I was sick and the doctors told me it was not the best decision. I chose to have my babies and put my faith in God to make a way. Some times are tough and others are a major blessing in my life. My children have given me the love and drive to do what it takes each and every day where I might have otherwise given up because of my illness. They are a true blessing to not just me, but so many others in life. They have a love for others and a drive to make the world a better place. They are Children of God and if I would have made the decision strictly by finances whether or not to have them, they would not be here, and I would have missed out on so many wonderful blessings, and knowing no greater love than having children.

  • Cordova45

    God provides what you need. If you have faith and believe God will provide He will. Remember it is what you need, not your wants or what society thinks you need.

  • Gaston Joya

    I have been struggling with 1 Timothy 5:8 for quite some time now, simply because it hurts and it’s very true. All the while, I had been justifying my “not being able to make both ends meet for my family” by saying that my string of financial setbacks (business is bad lately) is part of God’s plan so I shouldn’t be anxious; the love of money is the root…; be content… I have even been choosy about the offers of employment because I have been influenced by well meaning brethren that “that kind of job will take time away from church..” and all that. In the end, this verse has jolted me out of “spirituality” and brought me back to “reality” that in the eyes of both the world and God, you are still judged by how well you live.

    • Anonymous

      Great response, Gaston. Thanks for posting, and God bless your search for good work!

  • Lo V.

    What about relatives that refuse to visit or only allow limited contact, when they could do more? I have 2 brothers and a nephew that I haven’t seen in about 8 years and my children are very hurt by it. My husband is retired so we are on a limited income and can’t afford the visits as much as they can.