Parents Should Not Wait? Someone please explain this to me.

Christian J - October 9, 2007

First my own personal story which makes a two-fold argument:

I was married to my lovely wife with still 3 years left of undergraduate work to finish. My wife can be described as someone who wanted to finish her higher education before even thinking about children. On two occasions in the 3.5 years after being married, we both received strong, unsolicited impressions from God that we should have a child. Though the school I attend is quite expensive, I have received quite a bit of tuition help in the form of scholarships, grants and federal loans. The catch is that I live in NYC and that is where the real debt comes in. Just to live is expensive. Especially when a one – bedroom ceases to be an option. In short – I see a very distinct difference between luxury goods and debt. So that’s the gist of my experience of not waiting. Let me be clear. I have no doubt we were prompted from God through personal revelation to have our two amazing daughters. Not a day goes by that I do not thank God they are in our life. The reason for the urgency from the Lord is still partially unknown to me. I expect those answers to come at a later date. The point: this is not for everyone. Its these kinds of situations and questions that personal revelation is meant for.

So why the “one size fits all” counsel we received in conference? I am sincerely asking this question. Someone have an argument to make? I would love to hear it.

74 Comments »

  1. I should have been a little more specific. The counsel I am referring to is Sister Becks reiteration of President Benson’s counsel.

    President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children, and that in the eternal perspective, children – not possessions, not position, not prestige – are our greatest jewels.

    So I guess a more specific questions is, why the reiteration? I think there are “blanket” commandments. I don’t believe this is one of them.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 9:48 am

  2. I always took it as a healthy call for some self-doubt. So much of society is devoted to turning “whatever I feel like” into its guiding star that it’s nice to have a prophet, every once in a while, remind us that we’re probably full of it. It’s a bit of needed ego deflation.

    Am I putting that which hath no life before the important things?

    But once I made my decisions on how to conduct myself, I didn’t beat myself up about it much. I’d made my decision. Why worry about it?

    Comment by Seth R. — October 9, 2007 @ 9:51 am

  3. I don’t think there are ‘one size fits all’ commandments–there are ‘default’ commandments where we should start by assuming they apply to us unless specifically and directly guided otherwise by the Spirit.

    There are always exceptions to anything (see Nephi & Laban), but I think the point, perhaps, was we should *assume* we should have children by default after marriage unless specifically directed otherwise, not the opposite.

    Comment by KMB — October 9, 2007 @ 9:54 am

  4. True Seth. But that brings up another issue. We didn’t here this from our living Prophet. We’ve simply never heard this kind of language coming from him since he became President. Instead I’ve heard, “The number is up to you” which isn’t exactly the same issue but represents a shift in tone about child birth.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 9:59 am

  5. KMB,
    Interesting point.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 10:00 am

  6. Some wish to argue that equal marriage rights are wrong, on the basis that gay couples cannot naturally procreate. Several state supreme courts, for example, have hinged their decisions against marriage equality on this very point. These courts, and these individuals, clearly see reproduction as the chief purpose of marriage. At least some LDS leadership statements have supported this understanding.

    If a heterosexual couple chooses to “postpone” having children, I think that’s their own business. I would find it extremely hypocritical, however, if that same couple used the above argument in their religiously-motivated opposition to marriage equality.

    Comment by Nick Literski — October 9, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  7. My wife and I decided before we got married on the direction we would take in our lives regarding children. We felt that we would not control when children would come. What expectations did we have? Well, my wife’s sister didn’t have her first child until five years into her marriage. I have continuously heard that it takes some effort to get the timing right. So we assumed we would work for a couple of years (here in New York City) and then when a child would come, we’d go wherever we wanted to in America.

    Well, a month into our marriage, we find out that my wife is pregnant. We had ourselves a honeymoon baby! We were married on August 4. Ava, our daughter, was born on May 3. We did what we needed to do to live on just my salary so that my wife could stay at home for the first year with our child. Now that Ava is 17 months old, she is loving day care. We’re back in New York, both working and wondering just when the next baby will show up. :)

    I too do not like the ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of advice in General Conference. I find that unrealistic, and I do wish we’d get better advice. That said, I get from General Conference what I need, by preparing for Conference, to be in tune with the Spirit. The Spirit whispers to me what I need to hear from the talks.

    Comment by Dan — October 9, 2007 @ 10:34 am

  8. I figure that anybody that doesn’t have to raise my children isn’t entitled to decide when my wife and I have them.

    The 1999 edition of the CHI said that child-bearing is totally between the couple and the Lord, and that members of the Church should not judge one another in this matter. I imagine that the 2007 CHI is worded similarly.

    Comment by Steve M — October 9, 2007 @ 10:45 am

  9. Yes Steve. This is why it puzzles me.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  10. On a tangential note, are you still in NYC? That’s an amazing place to live, though expensive. It’s one of the places in the U.S. where you can live car-free which has got to make some difference financially…

    Is it difficult to have small kids there?

    Comment by C. L. Hanson — October 9, 2007 @ 11:17 am

  11. It can be difficult to have small kids here but its all we’ve known. Contrary to some popular belief, I think NYC can be a great place for kids to grow up. The car thing can be good and bad. Either way, we love it here and can understand why the rents are so high. My Sister-in-Law brags that she bought her house with lots of land in West Virginia for the same price that studios go for here. I try to remind her, “At the end of the day, you’re still in West Virginia.”

    Comment by cj douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 11:27 am

  12. It’s between the couple and the Lord, but having children is also a priority. It always has been, and has slipped off the priority list in the world, even in the Church.

    Couples can still receive revelation about the specifics, but if the commandment to multiply and replenish remains in force, and the world is singing a different tune (have ‘em if and when you WANT them, not necessarily when God wants you to) then it’s not so bad to be reminded of what prophets — past and present — have said.

    Note that she didn’t talk numbers, she talked priorities.

    Comment by m&m — October 9, 2007 @ 11:31 am

  13. I agree with m&m.

    Comments that it was a past prophet who said it, or that our current prophet hasn’t said it are certainly not well thought out. If we went by those thoughts we’d burn the scriptures and all the previous Ensigns.

    One of the problems we have with getting answers to prayers is God usually doesn’t tell us again personally what we’ve already been told. You don’t have to pray about tithing to know you should keep the commandment, you don’t have to pray about the WofW either.

    The commandment was given to multiple and replenish. It was emphasised by Pres. Benson in the quote already given, why are we looking for ways not to obey.

    Yes, I agree it is a personal matter for each couple to decide between them and God. But it should be a matter of fervent prayer and answer before we decide to wait…for whatever reason.

    And, yes we should not judge those who don’t have honeymoon kids. I’ve known a lot of couple who have not had children after several years of marriage. For those who choose it’s none of my business, nor mine to judge, for those who can’t the same applies. And in either case our comments and judgements are only a source of problem causing for everyone.

    Comment by Don — October 9, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

  14. One of the unintended consequences of issuing counsel like this is that it can alienate couples who aren’t “waiting” to have children, but for medical reasons, or no reason in particular haven’t been blessed with a child. My wife and I spent five years trying to get pregnant, without success. However, during that time, we never had a Sunday at church go by without someone asking when we were going to have children. We did finally have a baby last year, but people still say things like we only have one child because we “got started late”.

    Comment by marcus — October 9, 2007 @ 12:55 pm

  15. One of the problems we have with getting answers to prayers is God usually doesn’t tell us again personally what we’ve already been told. You don’t have to pray about tithing to know you should keep the commandment, you don’t have to pray about the WofW either.

    Not to threadjack, but I have serious problems with this statement.

    Comment by marcus — October 9, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  16. Yes, I agree it is a personal matter for each couple to decide between them and God. But it should be a matter of fervent prayer and answer before we decide to wait…for whatever reason.

    Hmmm…my ex-wife had c-sections on every pregnancy, despite attempts otherwise. Each time, medical professionals advised that her uterus have at least six months to heal, before another pregnancy. We were one of the lucky couples who had zero difficulty conceiving, so if she was going to have six months to heal, that meant taking measures to prevent pregnancy. I guess we “sinned,” since we didn’t engage in “fervent prayer” before deciding to “wait” between children.

    Simply amazing. You’d think an all-wise, loving, deific father would want his children to use the brains he gave them.

    Comment by Nick Literski — October 9, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

  17. My feeling is that someone can stand up in conference and say general instructions from the Church, because they’ve been called to do so.

    If a couple decides whether or not to follow that instruction, then they’ll deal with the consequences, good or bad, of that decision.

    If I mistreat my neighbor because I assume that they’re selfish twits for not getting pregnant on their wedding night, I’m in big trouble.

    MRKH

    Comment by Mark Hansen — October 9, 2007 @ 1:34 pm

  18. C. L. Hanson,

    Is it difficult to have small kids there?

    No, in fact, New York City is a great place to have small children. They are all over the place, in fact. I can’t count the number of strollers I see on a daily basis as I walk to work in downtown Manhattan.

    Comment by Dan — October 9, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

  19. Yes, I agree it is a personal matter for each couple to decide between them and God. But it should be a matter of fervent prayer and answer before we decide to wait…for whatever reason.

    and

    parents should not wait

    Don,
    How do you reconcile these two statements?

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  20. Money is good. The worship or love of money is the source of all evil. Families are more important than careers. And children are more important than stuff. Nobody has to live in New York to repent of his sins, neither does anyone have to attend an expensive university. These are choices we make according to what we think is most important. The Lord is trying to teach us what is important and what is even more important.

    Besides, beyond a certain point, maturity can come only to those who marry and have children. The longer we procrastinate, the longer we will be relatively immature. Failure to marry or to have children after we do retards our eternal progress. It keeps us from growing up.

    God wants each of us to learn to be unselfish, and that comes from starting a family with children. It can be learned other ways. But those other ways are not nearly as effective.

    What’s the hurry? Well, what is the hurry learning to read? Why must it happen when we are six? Why not learn to read when we are ten or fifteen? Same thing.

    Comment by John W. Redelfs — October 9, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  21. I think it’s funny when people get upset with blanket statements in Conference. What would you rather have them say? “Pay your tithing, unless you have no income.” “Get married as soon as you can, unless you have extenuating circumstances.” “Obey the Word of Wisdom, unless you are dead.” Like someone else already said, there are always exceptions, but we don’t need a laundry list of them from the pulpit. Plus, they don’t have the powerful impact they need with those things attached.

    I’m pretty sure Steve Young doesn’t get offended whenever the GA’s tell worthy young men to go on a mission. Nor do I get offended when they tell me to get married or talk about anything having to do with families.

    One other thought. When Pres. Hinckley gave the Book of Mormon reading challenge, do you think he was really worried about people finishing it before the year was out? I really think he gave a deadline so people would actually DO some Book of Mormon reading! He wanted people to gain the blessings of scripture study.

    Comment by Bret — October 9, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  22. I have a HUGE problem with this counsel. What this does is give license to those who have kids right away and live their lives in accordance with gender ideals the right to judge those whose lives look much different. It often gives those who live differently the feeling that they are not part of an “in” crowd in the church. It segments lifestyles within the church rather than embracing diversity of choices/circumstances. It’s polarizing. I waited until I was 29 to get married because that’s how long I felt it took me to find Mr Right (though he turned out to be Mr Horribly wrong, but that’s another story). In the meantime, I got an education and climbed the corporate ladder. For two years, we didn’t want kids. When we did, I couldn’t get pregnant despite thousands of dollars spent on infertility treatments, including IVF. When all failed, we finally adopted overseas. I’m sure many in the church thought I was one of those “career women” who didn’t care about staying home and having babies. After the expense of medical treatments and the cost of an overseas adoptiong ($$$$$$), I continued to work. Then my marriage ended and I was incredibly relieved to have money to support myself and daughter. On the outside looking in, I’m one who others my judge and look down on. No one knows my situation but me and polarizing statements give some license to judge and others to feel judged and unincluded. I vote to keeping the rhetoric out and letting adults make decisions based on what they feel works for them.

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 9, 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  23. Money is good. The worship or love of money is the source of all evil. Families are more important than careers. And children are more important than stuff…. God wants each of us to learn to be unselfish, and that comes from starting a family with children.

    Why do we automatically assume that if a young couple doesn’t immediately have children, they must be selfishly pursuing money, careers, or worldly “stuff,” at the expense of family?

    For many young, childless couples, this assertion is untrue. Most fields that are lucrative enough to allow one parent to not work require an advanced degree, and the cost of education has skyrocketed in recent years. For instance, one year’s tuition at a private law school often falls somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000. According to the Princeton Review, the average law student graduates with upwards of $80,000 in debt.

    Many graduate and professional schools require that their students refrain from working while in school, at least during the first year. Consequently, unless the student’s parents have deep pockets or the student has a working spouse, he or she is required to live off of loans. Children born during those years will likewise be fully fed, clothed, and otherwise supported by student loans.

    Additionally, it is questionable whether there really is such thing as a “just in case” degree. Can a woman realistically get a college degree, only expecting to use it if her husband dies, she gets divorced, or she for some other reason is forced to support herself and her family. If she graduates from college but then never works until her husband dies of cancer 20 years later, what are the odds that her degree will be of much use at that point? Therefore, it seems prudent for a woman to use her training, pursue a career, and accumulate some working experience after graduating.

    For these (and other) reasons, it is very reasonable for couples that marry early (while still in school) to put off having children for a few years, at least until they are financially capable of supporting a family. And, generally, becoming financially settled requires a greater investment of time and money than it did in the past.

    And besides, the CHI statement that decisions regarding child-rearing are between the couple and God, and that members should not judge one another in this matter, seems to be the best policy. Over the past couple decades, the Church has moved away from dictating these matters, leaving birth control and child-bearing decisions to the discretion of the members. To insist that couples have children within a given time frame after marriage seems to contradict this policy.

    It should also be noted that waiting 4, 5, or more years after marriage to begin having children does not contradict the commandment to multiply and replenish. The couple is still multiplying, just according to a different schedule.

    Comment by Steve M — October 9, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  24. You’d think an all-wise, loving, deific father would want his children to use the brains he gave them.

    And where do we know that He says otherwise?

    Don,
    How do you reconcile these two statements?

    I’m not Don, but it’s about intent. If we wait for selfish reasons, that’s probably not what God would like us to do. If we wait because He’s told us to, that’s different.

    As to the person who was judged because of infertility, that (judging) has also been soundly condemned. It seems to me that sometimes we have trouble integrating all the counsel we have received. I think we make it harder than it needs to be. We need to take it ALL into consideration — knowing the doctrine (which is what Sis. Beck was getting at), being prayerful (a no-brainer in our faith), being willing to sacrifice our comfort for God’s will (also part of our faith), not judging each other, not competing or comparing. Really, folks, it’s all there. And we aren’t supposed to be commanded in all things. We take the general counsel, and figure out what God wants us to do about it specifically.

    Comment by m&m — October 9, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  25. And where do we know that He says otherwise?

    Assuming you mean deity when you say “He,” deity doesn’t say otherwise. Rather, Don implied otherwise, saying that no couple should “delay” having children for any reason whatsoever, without “fervent prayer” first.

    Comment by Nick Literski — October 9, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

  26. Bret,
    It didn’t offend me. Remember I’m the one with two kids and still in school. I just know for me, the guidance came with out anyone telling me in GC. It came to me as I said daily prayers through personal revelation. Instead of “parents should not wait” I would prefer “parents should counsel with the Lord daily”. I guess its wording that mostly bothers me. But I also agree with you and m&m. Its all there. Maybe we shouldn’t take everything said so literally and out of context……

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

  27. Comments that it was a past prophet who said it, or that our current prophet hasn’t said it are certainly not well thought out. If we went by those thoughts we’d burn the scriptures and all the previous Ensigns.

    Actually, such comments raise an important issue–how do we know when past counsel is still applicable in Mormonism?

    Unfortunately, “doctrine” is a pretty vague term in Mormonism. Short of explicit prophetic pronouncements of what does and does not constitute doctrine (which are relatively infrequent), we don’t have any well-established means for determining when a principle “becomes” or “counts” as doctrine, or when a past principle ceases to be considered doctrine.

    Often, rather than explicitly refuting or retracting a past teaching (e.g., blood atonement, past racist teachings), the Church negates by way of neglect. Gradually stop teaching the doctrine, sweep it under the rug, and it eventually passes from mainstream belief (hopefully, anyway).

    This presents a conundrum–When does a teaching pass the line separating doctrine from “statements made as a man”?

    I don’t have a definite answer, but I think that official publications, statements by the living church President, and general authority trends are decent indications of present Church policy and belief.

    So the argument that a piece of counsel may not be doctrinal since it was said 20 years ago by a dead prophet hasn’t been renewed by the living prophet, may not be as meritless as you believe. The argument doesn’t support burning past Ensigns or scriptures, but recognizes the relative weight given to living authorities.

    Comment by Steve M — October 9, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

  28. Sorry, that last paragraph should read: “So the argument that a piece of counsel may not be doctrinal since it was said 20 years ago by a dead prophet and hasn’t been renewed by the living prophet, may not be as meritless as you believe.”

    Comment by Steve M — October 9, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  29. For those who said we’ve been told not to judge… You’re absolutely right. But when we hear talks/counsel given that says “righteous members won’t delay” or “those who ‘know’ do xyz”, that often leaves some feeling pretty dang great while others may feel some sense of shame. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t happen. But let’s face it– it’s polarizing. It leaves some feeling “in” and others feeling “out.” And let’s be honest: that judgement happens in our church in droves. And for those of us on the outside? Well, I can only speak for myself. I often feel like an alien in church. I keep going to church with a smile but I definitely don’t fit in quite as comfy as others do.

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 9, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

  30. Families are more important than careers. And children are more important than stuff. Nobody has to live in New York to repent of his sins, neither does anyone have to attend an expensive university. These are choices we make according to what we think is most important. The Lord is trying to teach us what is important and what is even more important.

    John WR,
    We don’t have to do anything. But since your making quite a few assumptions I’ll give you a little more background. For the past 8 years, I have made 6 or 7 major decisions. None of them have been made without asking God in prayer what I should do. So, yes I did not have to follow the promptings of the spirit but would you call that a wise choice? Plus, to say that family is more important than education is a cheap trick. Of course family is more important! Does that mean we shouldn’t obtain an education?

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 9, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

  31. Plus, to say that family is more important than education is a cheap trick. Of course family is more important! Does that mean we shouldn’t obtain an education?

    But again, CJ, it’s all there. The Brethren are very, very clear about the importance of education. But they are also about priorities, and that was an important theme in this conference, particularly from Sis. Beck and Elder Oaks. Again, context and complete understanding of ALL the teachings can help us not get caught up in an either-or mentality. We limit ourselves if we take a swinging pendulum approach to what we hear.

    Lulubelle, I’m very sorry to hear you feel like an alien. I hope with God’s help you will be able to find your place and feel at peace. The judgment happens and it’s hard and sad and frustrating. But I don’t think anything the leaders say would really change that. Only a change of heart will change that. (Enter Elder Bednar and others from conference. :) It’s really all there…we just are too apt to not internalize and implement it all…we are all works in progress, and unfortunately, sometimes that ends up hurting other people.)

    Comment by m&m — October 9, 2007 @ 5:08 pm

  32. I think also, if we are having trouble with our own circumstance, we project our feelings at times on other people and magnify offenses that come.

    Comment by E — October 9, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  33. Oh, come on. It doesn’t seem to matter what the doctrine is, somebody will always find offense. As long as there has been counsel and advice; as long as there have been commandments, there will always be somebody who finds it offensive or “not for me.”

    I don’t think it’s too hard to internalize what we’ve been told and then decide for ourselves how to proceed. Especially if it involves other people (such as marriage and children), since obviously more than one decision is to be made.

    But see, CJ, sometimes, people DO NEED TO BE TOLD. And often, the Lord can’t get to them through the Holy Ghost, and so He gets to them through Conference Talks. Or a nieghbor. Or a Bishop. Or a Mother. I’m not implying that people don’t listen to the Spirit or don’t want to listen to the Spirit –it’s just sometimes we ignore it. And so those talks, given in Public, may just very well be for those few that really needed to hear it. Again. But LOUDLY this time.

    Comment by Cheryl — October 9, 2007 @ 5:33 pm

  34. Issues like this remind me of this oft-quoted statement from Joseph Smith:

    “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

    The principle here is that we have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, and that having children should be more important that worldly pursuits (not to say that worldly pursuits are the only thing that could preclude having children quickly).

    So the question is now: How do we govern ourselves in accordance with this principle? That is a matter for couples to ponder and pray about for themselves. It is impossible to give a one-size-fits-all rule regarding such things, which is why being close to the Spirit is so important. Principles are one-size-fits-all. How we should act according to those principles is not.

    Comment by Mike — October 9, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

  35. Dang. I should’ve just waited for Mike to comment. I agree with you completely!

    Comment by Cheryl — October 9, 2007 @ 6:54 pm

  36. I love KMB’s point. It’s perfect. And so is Mike’s.

    And folks, it’s a fallacy to assume that “the reason” people choose to delay having children is always either money or education. There are many, many others.

    Comment by Rusty — October 9, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  37. Yeah for Mike. Well said.

    Comment by m&m — October 9, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  38. There are many young couples in my ward having children. Often the father is a student and the mother ends up staying at home with the child. No jobs, just student loans. No health insurance, just Medicaid. Where is the self reliance? How is it ethical to bring a child into the world when there is no way the parents have the means to support the child? How is this in harmony with church teachings? I do not understand how this is justified.

    Comment by nerp — October 9, 2007 @ 7:22 pm

  39. Guys,

    This was a wonderful talk. No question about it.

    Though Pres. Hinckley did not deliver the address, Sis. Beck did not likely shock the First Presidency or others with her words.

    She had a very similar talk at the week-before Women’s Conference. If President Hinckley–the living prophet–had any major objections to her points, he might have headed her off before Sunday morning’s conference.

    My guess is that Sis. Beck was the perfect person to speak out on this topic. After all, she is a woman. Nobody could have presented the topic more effectively.

    I don’t understand why anyone would question if her words were santioned by (though not directly delivered by) the First Presidency.

    Go, Sis. Beck.

    Comment by Janice — October 9, 2007 @ 7:33 pm

  40. Well said, Alicia.

    Sis. Beck did a great job. She was not judgmental, yet encouraged us to work hard with our families.

    I don’t imagine Pres. Hinckley was thinking this after the Women’s Conference: “Geez. Where did she get those ideas from? People are going to think her talk is authoritative and fully sanctioned by the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12. I really hope she won’t repeat this during the General Session on Sunday morning!”

    In my view, if Sis Beck’s teaching was not made for women in our day our effective, inspired leadership would likely have managed the situation differently.

    This is counsel from a woman to LDS women in a complex world on a fundamental topic: having and raising a family.

    Comment by alicia — October 9, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

  41. I have grown up in a family outside the Church. My parents were never married and my sister and I were both unplanned pregnancies. My parents took care of us the best they could, but were financially and emotionally unprepared for children. I can’t speak for anyone else. But I have spent the past 17 years coping with the fact that my sister and I were not wanted when we were brought into this life. Such circumstances scar children–sometimes for life.

    When you grow up in a situation like mine, you realize that even though money cannot buy happiness, love doesn’t feed people and good intentions are not enough to raise a child– especially when the good intentions are coming from a young couple.

    Question: How many young couples are not financially or emotionally prepared to raise children? Answer: Most of the young couples I’ve ever met. And I’m a martial arts instructor. I teach ages 4-6 twice a week. I’ve met A LOT of young couples. I’m the one that people bring their children to because their child can’t sit still, has no respect for anyone or anything, and medication isn’t working anymore. Young couples have no idea what they’re doing, and it’s creating a generation of belligerent couch potatoes, video game addicts, and kids that expect instant gratification in everything they do. And the kids I’m talking about… are 5 years old.

    How many young couples like these are in the Church? How many of those couples now feel pressured to have children because of Sister Beck’s erm… interesting choice of rhetoric?

    Children are wonderful spirits that I enjoy being able to teach. I love my Heavenly Father because He gives us children. So I can only hope that Sister Beck didn’t mention that responsible, mature, worthy, dedicated, secure, righteous, prepared young couples should not delay in having children because its such an obvious statement. I can only hope that she trusts that such clarifications are unnecessary; that her lack of adjectives is proof of her faith in our common sense in regards to the most precious and innocent spirits in our lives.

    Because if that’s not the case, and there’s a chance that these fragile little spirits could be jeopardized the way I was in my youth, at the encouragement of a church general presidency, I would not know what to think anymore. The hole that would be torn into my universe would be astronomical.

    And since Sister Beck was set apart by our priesthood-holding Church leadership, a divine and sacred authority from the Almighty Himself, which of the above makes any sense at all?

    Comment by Paradox — October 9, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

  42. Paradox-
    I’m sorry you had lousy parental upbringing that happened to be based upon immaturity. But the LDS couples I know that chose to wait until they were emotionally and financially ready to have children were still first-time parents. And they sucked at it just as much as I did.

    Everyone is a great parent until they have a child.

    Everyone is a judge until they are judged.

    Everyone is a critic until they are criticized.

    Who has the right to make blanket statments? God. Who speaks for God? His prophets. President Beck is included in that; she speaks for the women of the Church. And the words they speak at General Conference are scripture. Modern-day-living-prophets scripture. So it’s been said before? By other prophets? That have died? Well, duh! How many times did Christ repeat His teachings in the scriptures? How many times are things repeated at Church over and over and over and over? Is the Temple Endowment new each time? Did I miss something?

    Just because society changes doesn’t mean scripture/prophetic counsel will. Just because it’s hard to hear, doesn’t make it wrong. I said this on another post, but I’ll repeat it here. If our Leaders told us what we wanted to hear all of the time, then we’d all wind up in Hell.

    Comment by Cheryl — October 9, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

  43. Besides, beyond a certain point, maturity can come only to those who marry and have children. The longer we procrastinate, the longer we will be relatively immature. Failure to marry or to have children after we do retards our eternal progress. It keeps us from growing up.

    You have got to be kidding me.

    Comment by veritas — October 9, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

  44. Paradox,

    I’m sorry for the pain you have experienced.

    But I guess my question is if young couples aren’t ready for parenthood, are they ready for adulthood, marriage? Our covenants demand more than what you are describing, so if people aren’t ready for these responsibilities, I doubt the issue is just emotional or financial. These are the very things we are being taught about, to be the kind of parents who give our children more than what you are seeing (and so adults can be more for their children). The gospel, when truly lived, can prepare young adults for these responsibilities. Even so, parenthood does require faith as well.

    This seems like a problem that goes deeper than just about when to get married and/or have children. And I think you can take comfort in the fact that our leaders encourage so much more than what you describe from the time we start our lives. And they certainly encourage parenting that is very, very different from what you are describing.

    This heralds back to what Sister Beck was teaching (and what the practical gospel application is all about that we hear all of the time)…it is essential that we provide an environment in our homes where young adults to be prepared for the duties and responsibilities of adult life (particularly covenant adult life) if they aren’t prepared young. It’s essential as adults that we live a life that is infused with the Spirit and power of God so that we and our children have the best possible chances in life and eternity.

    The Lord expects that our young adults will be ready for these responsibilities. This is the message at all levels, from the Primary on up. The problem isn’t in the counsel that is being given — it’s in whether or not it’s being accepted and lived. That’s the way I see it.

    For those like you who come from a home without the gospel (without covenants, without married parents, etc.), you have seen what life is like without it. And you come with struggles because of that. But note that the counsel given all around prevents that kind of life from the get-go. And you can give the next generation more. Trust in God…and do your very best. And try not to internalize too much what you are seeing around you. It’s not all like that. I see so many parents doing so many good things. With the gospel as the foundation, children have a lot of hope.

    And remember that for those children whose lives aren’t ideal, the Atonement can make up the difference. Part of the plan involves imperfect parents.

    Comment by m&m — October 9, 2007 @ 9:58 pm

  45. and I really hope that my comment doesn’t sound dismissive of you. I just think the counsel we receive not to fear is important, all the more so when it is generated by things that are out of our control (like other people’s choices and the pain others experience…even children). We can’t change those things, so we can hope in the good and potential that is there because of the gospel. :) Hugs.

    Comment by m&m — October 9, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

  46. Elder Oaks and Elder Nelson have both spoken on this topic of “rules and exceptions.” Links to their talks are here:
    http://indybooks.blogspot.com/2005/12/rules-exceptions-quote-by-russell-m.html

    Comment by Bookslinger — October 9, 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  47. A few years ago I knew of two young couples who were attending school. The men were in dental school together back east in a very expensive program. Both of them were using student loans to fund their efforts. One couple was not having children and were working hard to limit the amount of indebtedness they were incurring. The other was having a family, full speed ahead with several small children. Both men became dentists, one with more debts and several children. The other had fewer debts and no children.

    Which of these two families was better adhering to the Lord’s counsel as given to us through the holy prophets?

    Comment by John W. Redelfs — October 10, 2007 @ 12:59 am

  48. For those who said we’ve been told not to judge… You’re absolutely right. But when we hear talks/counsel given that says “righteous members won’t delay” or “those who ‘know’ do xyz”, that often leaves some feeling pretty dang great while others may feel some sense of shame. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t happen. But let’s face it– it’s polarizing. It leaves some feeling “in” and others feeling “out.”

    I am not following this line of reasoning at all. If we have prayerfully made our decisions, why would you care what anyone else thinks?

    Out of curiosity, so that we can avoid this in our own congregation, how do people express their judgement?

    My ward is very mobile (about one-third turnover each year) and to most people it appears that I delayed childrearing until age 36, because we only have two children at home, and there was a 10-year gap and the older children have all been married for years.

    So from all outward appearances, we are the typical yuppie couple who put off children. But I’ve never once had anyone indicate that they judged me for that decision.

    Comment by Naismith — October 10, 2007 @ 2:22 am

  49. Which of these two families was better adhering to the Lord’s counsel as given to us through the holy prophets?

    Neither. Both should have skipped dental school and had more kids. Besides, the men probably don’t do their home teaching and are addicted to pornography.

    Comment by Peter LLC — October 10, 2007 @ 4:02 am

  50. Which of these two families was better adhering to the Lord’s counsel as given to us through the holy prophets?

    The one (or two) that pondered and prayed about it and make the decision that they thought and felt would allow them to best live the principles involved (refering back to my post #34).

    Let me be clear that I’m not suggestion moral relativism. There are wrong choices, but there can also be multiple right choices as well, and sometimes (not always) the right choice can change from person to person depending on their situation, and no one can truly judge whether the decision was right unless you are the person making the decision, or God. As a general rule, I think if you’re doing something that would make you have to answer for it in a temple interview, that’s wrong. Other than that, the church pretty much lets us choose for ourselves how we live the principles we are taught.

    As for going into debt or getting government aid to fund having children, I can see arguments either way, but I’m not going to enumerate them since I’m trying to stay true to my original point that it’s between the couple and God to decide how to best live the principle.

    Comment by Mike — October 10, 2007 @ 4:49 am

  51. Paradox,

    If people waited to have children until they were ready, no one would have children.

    What your observations mean to me is that we aren’t doing a very good job preparing our youth for life. If we are going to encourage them to get married and have kids, we need to be preparing them better for that. Perhaps we can agree on that?

    Also, I’m not clear on if the young couples you are refering to are people that chose to get married and have children or people who had children as a result of immoral behavior as young people. The latter is increasing in our society, which results in the problems you are describing. Clearly we are not condoning that.

    Comment by Mike — October 10, 2007 @ 5:07 am

  52. Why should parents not wait? You really want an explanation?

    “Any effort or desire on the part of a married couple to shirk the responsibility of parenthood reflects a condition of mind antagonistic to the best interests of the home, the state, and the nation. No doubt there are some worldly people who honestly limit the number of children and the family to two or three because of insufficient means to clothe and educate a large family as the parents would desire to do, but in nearly all such cases, the two or three children are no better provided for than two or three times that number would be. Such parents may be sincere, even if misguided; but in most cases the desire not to have children has its birth in vanity, passion, and selfishness. Such feelings are the seeds sown in early married life that produce a harvest of discord, suspicion, estrangement, and divorce. All such efforts, too, often tend to put the marriage relationship on a level with the panderer and the courtesan. They befoul the pure fountains of life with the slime of indulgence and sensuality. Such misguided couples are ever seeking but never finding the reality for which the heart is yearning”

    David O. McKay, Relief Society Magazine, v. 3, no. 7, July 1916

    Comment by John Mansfield — October 10, 2007 @ 5:27 am

  53. I’m sorry, but I think it takes true “brainwashing” to get someone to buy into that quote from McKay. Only “worldly” people limit their children to “two or three” they can actually afford to feed and clothe? Such couples should be raising “two or three times that number” with the same means? Oh, and don’t forget! The couple should be raising those 6-9 children on the earnings of ONLY the father, because it would be wicked for the mother to work outside the home.

    I also think you’re choosing your quote very selectively, John. I can’t for a moment imagine Hinckley giving such “counsel.” Further, you conveniently omit the fact that your quote comes from a time when the LDS church taught against birth control, which is no longer the case.

    Comment by Nick Literski — October 10, 2007 @ 7:20 am

  54. Nick’s right John. What are you trying to pull? 1916?

    Overall, I appreciate all the comments. I’ve really heard some great answers to my question above.

    I just need to throw at one threadjack: If its acceptable for every couple to acrue thousands of dollars in debt so they can have kids a few years earlier while relying on Medicaid and other state run health insurance, then why is the majority of Mormons in the US Republican who favor limited government and oppose universal health care? With respect to President Bensen, doesn”t his political ideology conflict with his above counsel as it pertains to economics and the role of government?

    Comment by cj douglass — October 10, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  55. What am I trying to pull? Oh, mostly to snatch a fleeting opportunity to throw out the phrase “the panderer and the courtesan” under the cover of actually quoting an apostle. I do think McKay’s description is far more true than not. The “pure fountains of life” have been befouled to the point that destinction between the married and unmarried states has been smeared into a muddled continuum of cohabitation, lengthy engagement, and prolonged intentional childlessness.

    Ezra Taft Benson was consistent in his counsel to have children early and stay away from government assistance. He told young men to take a semester off from school if needed to provide for their families.

    Comment by John Mansfield — October 10, 2007 @ 8:34 am

  56. For those like you who come from a home without the gospel (without covenants, without married parents, etc.), you have seen what life is like without it. And you come with struggles because of that. But note that the counsel given all around prevents that kind of life from the get-go.

    Well, this sounds just a tad bit elitist, no? I believe the gospel truly enriches lives. But no being LDS does not ensure unhappiness. I’m sure we all know several LDS families we wouldn’t trade places with for $10million. And I know some really fabulous, functioning families that belong to other faiths.

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 10, 2007 @ 8:51 am

  57. John Mansfield,

    We could debate your last paragraph for years but taking a year or more out of schooling to start having more kids than one can afford is really a bad way to approach education, which leaves one (hopefully) able to be independent and self sufficient for life. And nearly every family practices birth control of some sort or there\’d be lots more LDS families with 12-13+ kids. And, pray tell, where does this take into consideration the physical and mental health of those in a family? Not everyone is prepared to handle that size of a family. Quotes like these, and mindsets as these, are dangerous.

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 10, 2007 @ 8:55 am

  58. Naismith,

    Let’s see… How about:

    “How can you leave your child in daycare while you go ovv to work? I could never do that!”

    “I didn’t know you worked. Have you thought about home business if you really need the money?”

    “When are you adopting another child? You know, only children tend to have loads of issues as they get older. And it’s so lonely for them.”

    “We found that by sacrificing in many ways, like travel, I was able to stay home and take care of my kids, rather than farming them out to someone else.”

    “Oh… wow, you work? I thought you were home taking care of your daughter.” (this from my former bishop)

    I could list more but you get the picture.

    How about all the other activities that are planned where most working moms can’t attend? Like… exercise classes, book clubs, outtings, writing clubs, temple visits, etc that are held during the workweek and in the middle of the day? How about the playdates that are almost universally held during the middle of a workday where my daughter could never participate? These “social” interactions, which are so important in building relationships and fostering one feeling like they are part of the larger group, have numerous times left me totallye excluded. The end result is that my circle of friends are almost without exception non Mormons. I wish it weren’t so but I’m just not available to participate in these activities.

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 10, 2007 @ 9:00 am

  59. From above:
    ” We felt that we would not control when children would come”

    I suppose some feel it noble to “let God decide” on the spacing and number of children. If it (a pregnancy) happens, it is God’s will, right? What about the unwed 13-year-old who gets pregnant? Is it God’s will? What about the devouted married couple who are not so blessed? Is it God’s will?

    I think we need to take responsibility and use our intellect within our homes, too. I know the (many many) young families in my unit very well. I know that many do not feel theologically comfortable with birth control (especially the ones married to older men with long memories). I also know that of the babies born this year, only 2 families have handled the addition seamlessly. Others have had major issues (PPD, other health issues, overwhelmed at having so many such young children, financial crisis, etc.) I have also had numerous mothers confide to me that a–they wished they had waited to add and asked my advice on BC (not shy to offer it), b–this was an unintentional pregnancy and they were not ready for it, c–their husbands had pressured for the pregnancy and the women didn’t feel ready, and most sadly d–maybe this baby was a mistake.

    It makes my heart ache. Even though I think many of these women have been strongly influenced in their decisions by this and previous similar counsel, the counsel cannot be blamed. We are each individually accountable.

    Have you ever seen a man or woman get up and testify about how the doctor had warned them another pregnancy could kill the mother? Maybe others see getting pregnant anyway as a sign of great faith. I cannot help but think it is also somewhat selfish and foolhardy. Does not God sometimes speak through doctors?

    Pray over these major issues. Pray about having a child and WHEN to have that child and HOW to have that child. Pray to God for guidance to see if your wife is ready for significantly more work and if you have the resources to share with all.

    Comment by a spectator — October 10, 2007 @ 9:00 am

  60. Oops. Sorry about the all-itallics!

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 10, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  61. Easy John. I wrote, “what are you trying to pull” with a smile on my face.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 10, 2007 @ 9:17 am

  62. Lulubelle,
    My intent was not to sound elitist. If you note my comment, I was talking particularly about the fact that her parents were not married. I am certainly not saying that being LDS is the key to happiness, nor that those who aren’t LDS can’t be good parents. Please try to give the benefit of the doubt. It may actually help you feel better, too. :) (I say that not to be snarky, but in sincerity).

    Comment by m&m — October 10, 2007 @ 9:51 am

  63. Ok, M&M, I feel better already. Thanks. :-)

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 10, 2007 @ 9:57 am

  64. Lulubelle, I’m hoping the smiley means that we are ok? :)

    a spectator, you bring up points that are consistent with counsel we have received.

    Read the entry on birth control in True to the Faith, for example. It teaches the doctrine (children are a blessing, multiply and replenish is a responsibility, etc.) but then says that once we understand the doctrine, we are ready to prayerfully make a decision about when to have children and how many to have. “Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.” We are NOT being told to not think, ponder and pray.

    Other leaders (like Elder Oaks, for example) have talked about having all the children we can care for. He then explains that caring for them involves physical, emotional and spiritual needs. But he also talks about the faith it takes to have large families. There simply is no one-size-fits-all approach that is being taught. I did a post on this a while back at my blog that compiled all the counsel I could find from the last decade, if anyone is interested.

    Also, even back in Pres. McKay’s time (and throughout the 20th century), there were numerous statements made that made exceptions for mother’s health. I think we don’t appreciate how similar the counsel has been through the years in many ways.

    I think that our leaders expect us to not sit and wait for them to give us every jot and tittle of direction, but that we will also take the counsel and doctrine and direction to heart. I think they require both faith in their counsel but also faith in the sense of action and trusting God to guide us — and then being willing to do what He says.

    Another thought: My suspicion is that more often than not, those who are the exception to things like this don’t want to be.

    Comment by m&m — October 10, 2007 @ 11:32 am

  65. M&M–right, I know that this direction exists. Why do you think people don’t believe it or act on it? I have no problem with people having many kids (one of 10 myself, was a great experience; would love to have a big family), I just think they need to do it in a smart and prayerful way. Elder Cook, new apostle, had 3 kids. No idea why–divine guidance, financial or health issues, too many church meetings–but obviously no one thinks his spirituality is lacking. Yet for so many women (and many men), they seem to link quantity of kids with spirituality.

    n/b–both research and my own anecdotal experiences and those of friends seem to bear out that being a child in a large family is an excellent and enjoyable experience for the older kids, and much less so for the younger ones. I just think that is interesting, but off-topic, sorry.

    Comment by a spectator — October 10, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

  66. We have five wonderful children who are sound in the Gospel and in their personal lives. (Not that there have been no problems.) We were parents 10 months after our wedding. I can identify financial “absences” in my life due to our “childbearing” decisions. Did I trade financial ease for children? You betcha! Do I wish I had a reversed situation? Nope, and so grateful.

    Comment by mondo cool — October 10, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

  67. m&m: Yes, and thanks.

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 10, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

  68. Lulubelle,
    I’m glad.

    (I do hope that my followup comment wasn’t interpreted by anyone to mean that I don’t think being LDS can contribute to happiness. I do. I can’t imagine life without the gospel. But I know that being LDS is not a guarantee against struggle. Happiness is partly about our own attitudes about life, too. And there are plenty of people without the gospel who are able to face life with optimism and faith in their own right. I celebrate that, in and out of the Church.

    spectator,
    Even your clarification is included in the counsel, so to me it should go without saying. Ii think sometimes the inclination is to take one talk and assume that is the definitive statement on a topic, rather than do some searching and pondering and assessing the talk in context. It’s impossible for a speaker to cover all the bases in one talk, so to me, it’s essential that we be intimately familiar with all else that has (especially recently) been said on a topic.

    That said, I totally understand what you mean about equating righteousness with the number of children, and here’s one reason why. To be honest, I have struggled with that, as someone with three children (who has wanted more but cannot at this time have more), I sometimes feel that my life doesn’t externally reflect my feelings about the commandment to multiply and replenish. I want people to SEE how I FEEL. But I know one of the lessons I need to learn is 1) not to care about what others think, but only about what God thinks and 2) not to look to external measurements of my worth. I am coming to really hold onto the fact that what matters is my heart and desires, not the number of heads in my house alone. It’s not a competition with anyone else — each of our journeys is personal and invididual. The key is making sure we are in line with God’s will. We start with the counsel to figure out what the rule is and then figure out how to specifically implement the rule in our own lives.

    The Lord can help us make those decisions. And I want to add that sometimes He will trump our decisions, and that shouldn’t be dismissed as a mistake. I know both sides of the coin from personal experience. I have two surprise babies that, if they hadn’t come when they did, I might not have them, because now because of my health we can’t have another. And we have felt guided toward that decision. I keep hoping it will change, but I know that God cares about my health as well as the commandment to multiply and replenish. It’s not multiply and replenish at all costs. But because we have the ability to control these decisions to some degree (birth control), we also have accountability (another point True to the Faith points out).

    Comment by m&m — October 10, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  69. I feel for you m&m–thanks for sharing. Here’s hoping you get what’s best!

    Comment by a spectator — October 10, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  70. Everyone is the exception (& in this, there are no exceptions)!
    How often do people feel that what God or their parents or their prophets (or prophetesses) advise them to do applies to either everyone else or just someone else (but not them)? A good number a good part of the time.
    I’m sure that Laman and Lemuel felt exempted (and they certainly murmured as much as any modern-day – or even post-modern-day – church members do)!
    Interestingly, regarding those who point out the high price of either living in Sodom & Manhattan, (or Gomorrah & Provo, for that matter), a number of number crunchers have concluded that a majority of people in the world are now living in urban centers, and, that this phenomenon has finally occurred just in the last year or two (most project between 2005 and 2006 as the ‘tipping’ year/s). Which helps me, in part, to understand a warning given by Isaiah—

    “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!”

    —Isaiah 5:8

    At least one of those who noted this tide change, hailed it as a means by which to get people to limit family size (since urbanization leads, sooner or later, to high real estate prices, and hence higher living costs, which puts space at a premium, driving up the cost of living, and hence, to have or raise a family)!

    That same person also relished the fact that urbanization leads to wives not getting along with husbands, or children obeying parents, and, in short, can contribute, somewhat or greatly, to the disintegration of the family.

    Going back to what one poster has said, that one/some general authorities have advised members to have (only) the children they can afford — I would have to say two things in response to this—

    Funny, but I find that in no way coupled with the Lord’s command (both in the scriptures, as well as in his ‘House’ (Temple), to “multiply and replenish the earth IF…” Of course, this does not mean that we face child bearing and child rearing without doing all we can before and after we bring children into the world to provide for them.

    Secondly, I sure am glad that neither my parents, nor my wife’s parents, heeded this advice. If they had, neither I nor she would likely be here (I am the 6th of 8 children, and she is the 11th of 12). Nor, would I add, would many, if any, of our own nine children been brought and welcomed into this world.

    I earnestly believe that when we are commanded to follow the Savior, I believe that applies greatly to “Suffer(ing) the little children (i.e., babies) to come unto (us)! And, would add, that certainly, indeed, (for) of such are of the kingdom of God! I know that I and my wife have been blessed as we have cheerfully, though never easily, welcomed young ones into this world and into our family and home!

    Furthermore, I would suggest that “trusting in the arm of flesh” or “making flesh (our) arm” often means trusting in our own arm, purely our own efforts, solutions, abilities, wisdom, etc.

    A week before Sister Beck gave her talk, I spoke on this timely topic in Sacrament Meeting. In researching the topic (of having children, and as many of them as the Lord will bless us with), I found that essentially no one in the Church, among the leadership of the Church, had truly addressed this issue since President Benson’s presidency, or as clearly and concisely as President Kimball did during his tenure as Church President.

    Sister Beck’s clarion call, I find, to be most refreshing. I also believe it firmly to be divinely inspired!

    Furthermore, I believe that the advice President Hinckley has given while Church president is not and should not be construed to be replacement doctrine. For while he has indeed admonished members to get as much education as they can, this has neither been given, to my understanding, to counter the command and indeed covenant for Church members to continue to multiply and replenish the earth.

    However, essential silence on the subject for a generation may have induced members to follow the ways of the world. I know that in returning from my mission in the mid-1970′s, in my first term at school, there was at least one full day’s lecture given in every one of four different classes I had (and only one was in biology), as to why and that we should limit the number of children we should bring into this world.

    The hymn, “Shall the Youth of Zion Falter?”, unfortunately, can be answered with a resounding, “YES!” That is, in 1982, the year our oldest daughter was born, there were about 124,000 children of record. And, that same year, Church membership grew to a little over 5 million. Last year, according to what was reported in General Conference last April, with a membership totalling over 13 million members, we couldn’t even muster an anemic 100,000 children of record!

    To put it otherwise, if the rate of increase (and baby blessings) had been the same in 2006 as it was in 1982, there would have been over 310,000 children of record brought into the Church!

    Certainly, the decision as to how many children to have, and when to have them, should be between a husband, his wife, and the Lord.

    But, the results beg the question, ‘How much has the Lord been involved in that decision-making process among couples in the Church, in the past quarter century?’ Many things can and do dwindle. Sometimes, this appears that can include faith and works.

    Truly, a people (overall) can be judged by their “fruits”. And, recently I discovered, that the ancestor from whom most of us claim either descendancy or at least blessing in the Church, Joseph’s son, Ephraim, means “fruitful”.

    Of course, our “fruits” included not only our actions and how we treat those who are already in the world, but must, I believe, include our faithfulness (and/or lack thereof), in helping to bring the “fruit of the womb” into the world.

    When studying for my Sacrament meeting talk, I was led by a quote by President Kimball to Psalm 127. It reads—

    “EXCEPT the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it…” —Psalms 127:1

    After reading that first verse, I found the following at the end of this very short psalm—

    “3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

    4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

    5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” —Psalms 127:3 – 5

    A prophecy first given by the Old Testament prophet Micah (the same prophet who foretold that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Savior), points to an issue that has been a matter of great debate at least since the year (2005) that President Hinckley admonished us to read and finish reading The Book of Mormon. The Savior essentially repeats this prophecy three times, as recorded in 3rd Nephi. The prophet Mormon, after telling of the utter demise of his own people, the Nephites, turns, at the end of Mormon 5, to us “gentiles” and alludes to that very same prophecy the Savior emphasized.

    Here is the third declaration of that prophecy, as found in 3 Nephi 21:12-13—

    “12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

    13 Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.” —3 Nephi 21

    In chapter 20 of 3 Nephi, the resurrected Christ identifies this “remnant of Jacob” as the remnant of Nephites and Lamanites he is then speaking to (or, rather, their descendants).

    We have an estimated 12 million aliens, many, if not most of them, from Mexico, Central and South America. Many of these have the blood of Lehi in their veins, even with the supposed mitrochondrial DNA evidence to the contrary not withstanding.

    Verses 14 and 15 in 3 Nephi 21 refer to an event which came to my understanding in December of 2005 when I was finishing reading the Book of Mormon per President Hinckley’s admonition. And, I see in the fulfillment of those latter verses how easily the previous two verses could and may very well be fulfilled.

    Since 1974 (and Roe v Wade), there have been about 50 million abortions in this country. Without even that, however, how many children have been prevented (by the pill, or other means) who could have come into the world if only we (especially we in the Church) had invited and not discouraged them from coming?

    Now, we are awash in aliens to our language and culture, who have to be brought (or allowed) to come in to plant and harvest our crops, and to fulfill so many jobs (the current low unemployment rate in this nation will, without help, lead sooner or later to major macro-economic problems)!

    An article in USA Today that came out within the past two weeks, pointed to the fact that about 70% of those in their twenties in this nation (US) are not married. This does NOT mean that many are not co-habiting. The bastardization (a problem of parents and not of children) lead to the experiences of those like that of one poster in this thread gave. Like the refrain in “Officer Krupke” from the musical “West Side Story”, we hear, “They didn’t wanna have me, But somehow I was had.” “Ain’t it the truth!” (unfortunately)!

    There is a “birth dearth” growing worldwide. And members of the Church, regardless of our generally larger families in the US, our fertility rate in this nation is about the same as is average among all people, overall, worldwide! And, great economic and social upheaval and turmoil await most of the world for the downward direction the number of births are going.

    What we need, is less murmuring, and much repenting.

    Consider that when Jesus’ own disciples prevented children from coming to him, he was “much displeased.” I do not doubt that, overall, in this regard, he is “much displeased” with us!

    Comment by Diligent Dave — October 12, 2007 @ 7:22 am

  71. Nobody knows better than you when to have children. Heeding to ANYONE’s counsel is a recipe for disaster.

    Would you let someone you don’t personally know manage your finances simply because they say they are divinely inspired?

    How about watch your kids? or drive your car?

    Comment by Mr. Blue — October 12, 2007 @ 9:38 am

  72. Diligent Dave,

    There are many reasons for declining birth rates. For one, we don’t need as many kids as they used to. The kids we have tend to actually survive past infancy and make it into adulthood. For a while, you might give birth to 9-10 kids, but maybe 4-5 would survive past a few years. We don’t need our kids to work the farms or bring in an income. We tend to place huge importance on quality of life, like education, medical, etc, which doesn’t come free. Women have attained more freedom than ever in this country (in some countries, women have been emancipated for far longer) and are exploring options available to them. Choices are great, by the way. If I want to have lots of kids because I choose that, fantastic. If I don’t, fantastic, too. I’m happy you’ve been blessed with lots of kids because you wanted them. If you’re great parents and you’re raising future healthy productive adults that will benefit society, then that truly is fantastic. The world needs more great parents. If you’re having lots of kids because you feel you have to and thos kids are not of your choosing, you are unhappy with those choices, you do not have a happy home, and your kids are suffering because of it, that’s horrible. For me, having a large family like you describe would send me suicidal. Growing up, my mom stayed home with her three kids. She hated it, was depressed all the time. I begged her to get out of the house and get a real job. Life unfulfilled. No picnic for us kids at home, or for my dad. When my youngest brother was finally in school full time, she went back to work. Depressive episodes dropped easily 65%. That meant happier family, happier marriage, happier mother. In the years that mom stayed home, she babysat for extra cash. I grew up with a jillion kids in the house. I hated it. I hated the kids. Up until I was about 26 years old, I didn’t even want kids. Crying children in church made me crazy. I have one now, adopting another one in the next month or two, and my life is what makes me happy and has lead to a happy home, functioning kids, happy (new) marriage. “Man are that they might have joy.” Go find yours and leave those of us who choose a different path in peace with our decisions.

    Comment by Lulubelle — October 12, 2007 @ 10:10 am

  73. What I have discovered on my 19 year journey thru parenthood is that there are busy bodies at every stage of the game. Mike and I married young and when we were good and ready after four years we had a child. During that time there were a few negative comments on our childless state. I think that most assumed that we had fertility problems and thus left us alone.

    We then had another child four years later and a stillborn two years after the oldest two. We had more negative comments about our small family when we had just a few children. Two years later we had two babies two years apart in my late thirties. I then had comments about having too many babies so late in life. There were a few mocking comments about Joanna who appears to be perpetually preggers.

    Finally we have adopted in my mid forties. Again negative comments about my advanced age and having a large family. It is funny we now have a larger family than those who started earlier and had their kids close together. I think that whether you have a large/small family; start your family early/late into your marriage it is no else’s business. We all do the best we can.

    Luubelle-hang in there you are one of my favorite people.

    Comment by JA Benson — October 12, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

  74. FWIW, we waited, but not because we wanted to. We celebrated our first anniversary with a miscarriage and it was nearly 3 more years before our oldest daughter was born.

    Comment by Kim Siever — October 12, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

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