Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Families and the like

Pastor Stuckwisch has a Fantastic Post on Big Families that is one of the more well thought out discussions on the debates concerning "birth control" and the like. I highly recommend reading it. He is neither legalistic nor libertine -- which is a hard place to be, but the right one.

I will add an additional idea that I will put forth here. There can be valid and good reasons why a husband and wife might seek to avoid a pregnancy (just as there can be very bad ones as well) -- the reasoning and rationale must be examined before the act can be judged. Our Lord condemns even the putting of money into the church's plate if it is given for the wrong reason -- reasoning is important.

With all things, when you are making a decision, the thing to ponder is whether or not the decision is being made out of love or out of fear. It is out of love that I do this, or am I afraid of certain consequences? And then, having done your best to act in love. . . you take what the Lord gives you.

Right now, me bride and I are planning on waiting until she gets out of school. We both find education to be very important. Could we handle a kid before she gets out -- sure. If God sends one, hooray! But, as a husband it (in my opinion) is a better demonstration of love to my spouse (and she agrees) to try to hold off for another couples of years. Other people could be in the exact same situation - even ask me for advice - and I might tell them to not try to wait - depending upon their reasoning. Perfect love casts out fear -- if you are fearful, then check what you are doing and why you are doing it.

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Actually - the stranger thought that my wife and I have discussed is this: If we decide as parents that we need to have a parent at home full time in order to raise the kids, it would be me. My wife will be better able to earn income (nurse trumps pastor) and I have stronger talents in teaching -- hence if one of us were to stay home it would probably be me, and we'd probably start homeschooling. Now, as I have some flexibility as a pastor, and she should have some shift flexibility, we may very well try to keep both working for a while and save up quite a bit -- but if that doesn't work, I get to be a stay-at-home padre.

My calling as a Husband (and a hypothetical calling as a father, God willing) is the highest calling in my life - one that ends only upon my death. I don't know if we Pastors always remember that. Perhaps this is part of the perspective I have having become a husband only after having become a pastor. But in all things, act out of love, not fear.

3 comments:

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

I am going to be so completely politically incorrect here...and with all possible respect.

It is clear you don't have children yet...and those hormones and desires have not been alighted in your wife -- nor has the protector and provider been awakened in you...and you won't know what I mean until you actually have a baby.

The amount that your wife can make is nothing compared to the pain it would cause her to leave her baby every day even in your hands. God made women with breasts and oxytocin and prolactin and gave babies the need to feed frequently, and also gave them just as passionate a desire for their mothers in the first few years for a reason. Babies and mothers belong together...and an extra $20,000 year or all the rational reasons why that would work better cannot erase that. It is her job to love the baby, your job to love, protect, and provide for her.

I'm a mother, a lactation consultant, and I've counseled families in many different situations. I have a degree in psychology and child development. I also planned on being that woman who had the masters degree and career and would be making more than my husband and my kids would be in a good private school, etc. I'm a homeschooling housewife.

The best laid plans do not work as
well as they seem to from afar. I've seen family after family have the rational arguments you have presented, and then the woman is crying on my shoulder because it breaks her heart to leave her baby with daddy, grandma, the nanny, etc. every day...but she doesn't have a choice..because that was their plans before they even had the baby. It doesn't matter how well the baby is taken care of and how frustrating pumping is, etc., leaving every day and going to work is very hard on a mother.

You probably think I'm full of it now and what you are saying sounds like a great idea...but seriously think through the design that God has had in linking the mother and baby endocrine-wise, in the benefits of breastmilk (and not all of them can be made up for in pumping and bottle feeding), in the fact that mothers biologically crave to be with their babies, and babies biologically crave to be with their mothers. All of this is on a very basic level.

Make your plans, but allow for a period of time - six months, a year or so for her to be home with the baby before you both make the decision for you to give up your call and for her to become the breadwinner.

When she starts working, before baby comes, save her income -- use it to pay off debt or put into savings, and continue to live off of yours, so you are in the habit of living off of yours. Many of us live off a meager pastor's salary, and our families are blessed. I've driven beaten up cars, had couches that were falling apart. We've really sacrificed so that I can be with our children, and my husband has never put his call before us...but provides for us, cares for me, and daily loves and spends time with his children. It is all where your priorities are.

You provide for your family on so many different levels other than who can make the biggest income. And the nice thing about nursing is one of the most flexible careers out there and has a huge amount of options for part time work to supplement income if needed.

Being a husband is your highest calling, but I am still unsure how that means that because your wife has the vocation of being a nurse (at least before she has a baby), that it trumps a divine call to care for God's flock. It is not so easy to walk away from that call as you would think...and your wife's vocation as mother gives her a natural insight into teaching her own children that your talents in teaching others cannot hold a candle to.

The best thing you can do for your wife and your future family is to save your money, stay out of debt or get out of debt, so that when that paycheck doesn't seem as important as making sure the mom can do what is in her heart and what it is best for the baby...you have the means to truly love your wife.

That baby changes EVERYTHING. Make sure in loving your wife that you make enough room to throw out all of the rational arguments for how to structure your family when the time comes...because unless you are completely inflexible, and I don't think you are...you very well might.

So forgive me for being forward. But I heard so much of what I used to say in what you are saying. I really wish that someone had told me this, taught me about how my very body was designed by God to grow a baby and continue to nurture it after he's no longer in my womb, and how that process of separating takes years, and that is the way God designed it...and the blessing that my husband has been in taking care of me, not trying to replace me....

Well, maybe I wouldn't have listened. Maybe I would've thought that person was full of it. But I at least might have come to the lessons that I had to learn a little earlier than I did. Who knows?

God bless you and the family that God has planned for you. He promises they will be blessings.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I don't think you are full of it and certainly no apologies were needed (although perhaps a touch long winded, but hey, like a Pastor ever has room to comment on someone being long winded!). Yes, plans may change, and if may be that me bride ends up being at home. . . I am not denying that possibility at all. It's just that this is not the current plan (the current plan is to be flexible enough where she can work, perhaps whether full-time or even just a few hours part-time).

The more likely cause for me to stay home full time would be when the kids start getting older. . . if it becomes clear that unless they are well trained they will turn into unibombers, then I would probably stay home and home school.

But at any rate - the thrust of that decision needs to be on the basis on love - not fear -- and not desire either. Decisions need to be made on the basis of what is best - not what is most pleasing (although quite often the two can line up nicely). Rationality isn't a bad thing.

I am more interested in the way in which fear can be used to pressure decisions one way or another. On the one hand you have the leftist womyn's lib. crowd saying that a woman isn't living up to her potential if she's not outside of the house (that's fear), and then there can be the opposite reaction where if a woman does have a job she is rejecting the God who gave her breasts and uterus (again, fear). When it comes time to make that decision, we will strive not to act on the basis of fear but in Christian Freedom and love - which is the proper place to be (and can be quite different for different people).

But, what happens will be what happens. We both have come from families where mom has had to work, so I don't think either of us have expectations of the absolute necessity of child raising. This is why we are leaning this way in our thoughts now. But then - who knows, who knows?

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

"perhaps longwinded."

guilty as charged... :)

Happy Thanksgiving