This morning I read yet another article slamming the Duggar family. Now before I continue, I must confess that I used to feel the same way. I felt they were entirely too fake. I mean no mom of more than one child could really be that calm and peaceful, right? It's not normal to truly enjoy children that much...especially that many children! She has to be on something!
But my heart has changed over the past two years.
It was two years ago that God began to break my heart. He showed me the millions of precious children around the world who are in need of love and family. MILLIONS!
So that you can have some facts at a glance, here are some from the Show Hope website.
What is the need?
* Over 130 million children have lost one or both parents.1
* Every 18 seconds another child becomes an orphan, without a mother or father.2
* At least 16.2 million children worldwide have lost both parents.3
* Every 14 seconds a child loses a parent due to AIDS.4
* Conflict has orphaned or separated 1 million children from their families in the 1990s.5
Where are they?
* 43.4 million orphans live in sub-Saharan Africa, 87.6 million orphans live in Asia, and 12.4 million orphans live in Latin America and the Caribbean.6
* 1.5 million children live in public care in Central and Eastern Europe alone.7
* At any given point there are over 500,000 children in the U.S. Foster Care system.8
* In some countries, children are abandoned at alarming rates, due to poverty, restrictive population control policies, disabilities or perceived disabilities, and cultural traditions that value boys more than girls.9
I don't know about you, but facts such as these seem so sterilized to me. The numbers are alarming, but still, they are just cold, hard facts. They might slightly surprise you, but don't necessarily break your heart. They're just numbers. As God was leading me to learn more about the "plight of the orphan," He led me to the personal stories. The stories of families who are out there walking the road, helping the children, struggling to bring home one or more of the children, and/or helping others to do so. Stories of families who gave up their "American Dream" to go to third-world countries to help these precious little ones. Stories of families who use what they have to help in any way they can. Stories of families who are stepping out of the imposed expectations of "marriage, two kids, a dog and a white picket fence" to help the "least of these."
Incredible stories of faith and struggle, love and tears, appalling circumstances and Divine deliverance.
Stories of faith, like the Fulp family.
Stories of amazing love, like the Salem family.
Stories of perseverance, like the Davis family.
Stories just beginning, like the Bonnet family.
Stories finally coming to fruition, like the Abell family.
Stories of advocacy, like the Rice family.
It is these stories that have so touched my heart and changed my soul. And how could I watch the short video I shared in my post entitled Sweet Babies, and not be moved? How could I read all the amazing personal stories and not be changed?
Children are a blessing.
We all hear this. We all say this. But do we really, truly believe this and live this? Sure, we can argue with the people who advocate for zero population growth about the value of children. Sure, we can get all kinds of worked up over child abuse atrocities. Sure, we can have a lengthy debate about why the murder of unborn babies is a horrendous tragedy. Sure, we complain about those parents who are always complaining about their children. Sure, we can admire those who open their homes to an orphan or two.
But at the same time, we find families like the Duggars absurd. We find reasons to hate them and pick apart their lifestyle. We don't understand why they would possibly want that many children. I mean, one or two or even three children is ok. If you have four or five, you are pushing the limits of rational thought. Six or more and you are just plain crazy.
And the funny thing is, it doesn't seem to matter if the number is six or sixteen. Large families are viewed as ridiculous and weird. An article I read just this morning criticizing the newest season of "19 and Counting" uses words such as "creepy" and "freakshow" and refers to Michelle Duggar as "the broodmare". Another article I found (penned by Margaret Sanger) starts off with this statement, "THE MOST serious evil of our times is that of encouraging the bringing into the world of large families. The most immoral practice of the day is breeding too many children." In it she implies that having more than three children puts your children and society at risk for a number of issues.
In many articles that have come out recently, we see this mentality. Children are viewed as inconvenient burdens. They take up all our time, money and sanity. We have better things to do than raise kids, right? It just isn't worth it.
Unfortunately, even Christians have this mindset. Tell the truth. If you saw a family with six kids walk into your church, what's the first thought that would go through your mind? Probably not "What a beautiful family!" Or what if the family had twelve kids? Your thoughts would probably be closer to "Don't they know what causes that?!" (As if they accidentally had a dozen children...) I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this phrase, whether it be at church or the grocery store, "My! You sure do have your hands full!" And I only have three!
Recently, Michelle Duggar experienced a miscarriage. That, alone, breaks my heart. The loss of a child is heartbreaking, regardless of the circumstances around it. What breaks my heart even more are the reactions of so many. I heard the same sentiment from numerous sources: this family should be happy with the children they have...it is absurd that they would be mourning the loss of this baby. "Sure, losing a baby is hard, but they brought it on themselves" seems to be the average opinion. As if they deserved to lose the baby because of their desire to have as many kids as God will give them. Do you see the absurdity of that?
As Christians, we should view others in the same way Jesus did. Jesus did not look down on children. In fact, He welcomed them. Mark 10:13-14 is my favorite version of this story.
"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'"
The disciples felt that Jesus had more important things to do. Children were not important. They were not valuable. The disciples were merely trying to prioritize all the requests, and children weren't even on the list! But what was Jesus' response? He was indignant. INDIGNANT!
Dictionary.com defines indignant as "feeling, characterized by, or expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base."
That is how Jesus felt about restricting the children. He didn't view them as burdens. He didn't view them as a waste of his time and energy. The mere implication that He would view them that way was offensive to Him.
Do you get it? Do you really get it?
As Christians, we should not look down on large families. We should not criticize those who truly do welcome the little children, whether those children be biological or adopted, "perfectly healthy" or have special needs, whether it be six children or sixteen.
Children are a blessing.
And that should be more than just a platitude. It should be our firm belief. And as such, it should change the way we react to large families and children in general.
I'm not telling you that your family needs more children. That is between you, your spouse and God. I am telling you that if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, then you need to love and welcome the little children, as He did. Encourage, rather than criticize, those who are welcoming children into their homes.
In my attempt to find opinions on both sides of the matter, I came across this article which so eloquently and accurately assesses the situation.
"Why are people impressed that Jay Leno owns 20 motorcycles, but disgusted that some religious families choose to have 10 children?
Let’s not finesse the response. We all know why. A world that has lost its innocence has trouble appreciating beings who are innocent. A world that has become selfish has soured to the idea of leading a life of selflessness. A world that has become grossly materialistic is turned off to the idea of more dependents who consume resources. And a world that mistakenly believes that freedom means a lack of responsibility is opposed to the idea of needy creatures who 'tie you down.'”
We know that we are supposed to be in the world, but not of it. And I'm sure that many of us feel that we are doing a good job of that. But take a minute and ask yourself, when it comes to children, am I "of the world"?
We should be setting the example of love. We should be a shining light for the world to see. We need to realize that this Babylon has seeped its way into our psyche and made us look and act just like the world around us when it comes to children. And we need to change that.
Children are a blessing.