“Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.”
(Ecclesiastes 4:2 – 3)
A glance through the book of Ecclesiastes would reveal the evil realities of this present life in its fullness. Take a look at the verse above, Solomon says that he praises the dead more than the living. He then says he praises more than both those who have not been born. That is how evil life is. There are three categories Solomon presents to us, the dead, the living, and the unborn. The worst is the living. The dead is worse than unborn on account of the fact that he had lived (tasted of the evilness of life). The best category is that of those who have not seen the evil work done under the sun.
I know many reading these would wish to put forward a positive view and say life is not that bad. Let them think what they will, but even Jesus did not deny that life is evil, for he says, “… Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34). Seeing the graveness of the evilness of life, what moral wickedness shall we then ascribe to those through whom souls are introduced into the world? It is morally evil to be introducing people into an evil world bringing them from the best state in Solomon’s categories to the worst. It is an evil that I believe God shall judge.
Furthermore, as women wept for Jesus as he headed for Calvary, he told them, “For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.” (Luke 23:29). While it is not in every age that things get this bad, there is always a risk of things getting this bad. So giving birth to children is bringing them into a world with such frightening possibilities.
However, what Solomon spoke about was life under the sun. This, as explained by the late Dr. Selwyn Hughes (1928-2006), means Solomon referred to life without God. This he explained that, throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, everytime Solomon focused on life under the sun he always presented pessimistic views of life. But when he shifts his focus above the sun, where God is, his view of life becomes positive. Nevertheless, it does not change the fact that we live in an evil world.
Therefore, the only life that is good is that lived with God and guided by God. For this reason, the only justifiable reason and moral grounds for giving birth is that parents do all within their power to make the life of their young good. This has to do with catering properly for them and loving them. But that is just a little bit of it. One may provide sufficiently for children but that child ends up living a bad life. What is more important than provision is proper upbringing. What good does it do a child to be well fended for but because he lacks proper upbringing ends up as a criminal and faces the firing squad? Then what is most important than them all is that we recognise that this life is a transitory one. If this life is good without the eternal life being good, that person is of all people most miserable. What good shall it do to be well fended for, brought up well so that he does not face a firing squad, he lives a good life and is respected of all, but faces the Devil and the hosts of hell for all eternity? For this reason, parents most importantly need to bring their children to Jesus the Saviour of their souls. They also must teach them to hold right values and maintain a virtuous life. And they must also provide adequately for the needs of that child (financially, emotionally, psychologically, etc.). Parents need to be prepared and be resolved to show deep commitment to these things before giving birth else they are doing that which is wicked and morally bad and God shall judge them for this evil.
In an unpredictable world, keeping the children that one gives birth to from the evils of life is often beyond what men can do or guarantee. However, they must be resolved to do and do all that is in their power to do the best for their children. It is one thing to fail due to unforeseen events while one is trying his best, it is another thing entirely not to try or to, as insensible and irresponsible people, give birth as fishes do.
All the blessedness of parenthood and baring of children is reliant on their proper upbringing. Christian parents must therefore see the all important responsibility on their shoulders and not trifle with it. Richard Baxter, in his deeply devotional book titled, “The Saint’s Everlasting Rest,” wrote, “From you they received the defilement and misery of their natures; and therefore you owe them all possible help for their recovery.” It is true that children receive the defilement and misery of their natures from their parents. Some suffer from sickle cell, others albinism, etc. When a child is born, it is so prone to all manner of sicknesses. But parents do so much to protect them from these sicknesses, should they not also protect them from the sicknesses of the character, and most especially from the “sickness” of eternal damnation?
So Christian parents need to ask themselves if in giving birth they shall be doing that which is wicked and morally bad. After thinking carefully, they can give this question and answer that goes something like, “Life is evil yet shall I give birth to children for I shall raise him unto the Lord to see the goodness of God in the land of the living, and do my part dutifully if perchance he shall be granted eternal rest with God.”
Prayer: Dear Father, teach us the role of parenting and give us the wisdom to carry it out successfully as you desire. Let each thing we do to bring up our children be effective. As we progress through this section help us to understand fully your expectations of parents and the grace to meet your expectations. In Jesus’ mighty name we ask. Amen.