Scripture tells us to multiply and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28) and that children are a blessing from God (Psalm 127:3-5; Prov. 17:6). So, if individual Christian couples are not obeying the command to fill the earth by having children, are they sinning? First of all, the earth is pretty full of people. So that requirement is being met in the physical sense. But, connected with the command to fill the earth is to do so for the glory of God, and having godly children is one of the ways to accomplish that. Second, there are people who are incapable of having children. Can we say that they are in sin because they are incapable of having children? Of course not. Third, there could be circumstances in which having children would not be wise such as in a time of heavy persecution, being homeless, or under extreme financial difficulty. This is not to say that God cannot provide through such circumstances, but we are to be wise to consider all of our options when deciding to have children. Then again, what about a Christian couple who is very financially well-off, quite secure, etc.? If they choose not to have children, are they sinning? I don’t believe so because I can’t find anything in Scripture that mandates every single Christian couple ought to have children. Perhaps such a couple might decide to use their resources for supporting missionaries and ministries for the preaching of the Gospel instead of having children? Is that wrong? I don’t see how. They would, in a sense, be eunuchs for the kingdom.
“For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it,” (Matthew 19:12).
Jesus taught that there are eunuchs for the kingdom. That means that they would not have children, and they were seeking to live in order to expand God’s kingdom on earth. If it were an automatic sin to not have children, then the eunuchs would have been in simple rebellion. But, Jesus does not condemn them.
In addition, many Christians might not be very good parents. Just because they are saved, doesn’t mean that their temperament is right for parenting. The truth is that some people are bad parents. This is not to say that they cannot become better parents by following the teachings of Scripture. However, a lot of people are still under bondage to past sins. They could be struggling with issues of selfishness, anger, addictions, etc. In such a case, it might be best not to have children until various issues are worked out.
Then again, there are people who don’t like children and lack the patience for them. Maybe they are aware of this and choose not to have children because they honestly believe they would do more harm to the children than good. There also might be Christians who have serious financial struggles and are not ready for child rearing. They may postpone having children for a while and later decide not to have any at all.
Birth defects could be another concern. There are certain genetic conditions that can be passed on to children that can have serious side effects. My wife, for example, has a genetic condition that weakens connective tissue throughout her entire body. She’s on medications and has had several surgeries because of it. But, we did not know about her condition until after we had children. In our case, I believe that had we known about this before we had children, we still would have decided to have them. But, such considerations must be decided by Christian couples depending on what genetic anomaly they may possess.
I have known Christian couples who have decided not to have children so that they could adopt. Now, in this context they are both not having children and also having children. They’re not having them by birth, but they are adopting and raising children for the glory of God. I do not see how their decision not to have biological children could be said to be sinful.
So, it does not appear to be automatically wrong for a Christian couple not to have children. A single universal condemnation of couples who choose not to have children cannot adequately address every circumstance. We must be careful not to judge too quickly. And finally, should any Christian couple who does not want to have children find themselves pregnant, abortion is not an option, and they should have children at that point.