Is getting married and having children selfish?
I truly appreciate your dedication to assisting people with their questions. It has been a blessing to my life. I have a few questions for you that I wasn't able to find on your website. If you wouldn't mind answering them, here they are:
- Is getting married selfish since it takes away our focus from solely God to become a focus on our spouse and God? I understand that marriage as a whole, is teaching you selflessness, but the idea of it taking your focus from God is a different story.
- Is having children selfish? I feel that by having children, I am bringing someone else into this difficult life. I'm bringing them into a world where they will forever struggle against their own personal desire to do what is right in God's eyes. If I had the choice to have not been born, I would choose that rather than hope that I am not slipping up when Jesus comes back, and I haven't repented yet. I think it is better and less selfish to adopt a child who is already here, who is parentless. What is the point of having your own kid other than wanting to see what you and your spouse's genes will create? Every other part of raising a child can come from adopting one of the many children without parents.
- I was reading your outline, "Why Get Married?" and I read the sentence stating "The marvel of marriage is that two genders - male and female - blend together to make one new whole." That made me think of Genesis 1:27. I've never really understood this verse: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." -- like how we're created in His image and why it specifically mentioned the genders after that. But after reading your sentence it made me start thinking about God's characteristics and how they are like both a man and a woman. He's protective, he's a provider, he's jealous, etc. -- I think of those things as male traits. But at the same time he's a comforter, he takes care of His children; he's merciful and caring, etc. -- like a woman. What do you think about this conclusion? Would you say that I am on the right track in my thinking?
Thank you in advance for your response!
Eating is something we all do; yet, I could turn this simple act into a selfish event by eating in front of others who have nothing and taunting them with it. The point is that selfishness is independent of what is being done. In the same way, marriage is encouraged by God. We were not designed to be single, though some choose that path. "Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." ... For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:18, 24). Thus, it is not a selfish act to choose to marry as God directed.
People have married for selfish reasons, but I doubt they have successful marriages. Love should be the basis of a marriage, and love "does not seek its own" (I Corinthians 13:5).
What I think you are confusing are Paul's statements in I Corinthians 7. You must keep in mind that Paul's suggestions about delaying marriage were made knowing that severe persecution was coming. "I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is" (I Corinthians 7:26). This doesn't always apply. Even during persecution, there is nothing wrong with getting married. "But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned" (I Corinthians 7:28). In fact, Paul states that a couple should marry instead of tempting themselves with fornication. "But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:9).
The reason it might be better not to marry during times of persecution is the temptation to compromise. "Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away" (I Corinthians 7:28-31). Consider this, if I'm threatened because of my faith, I can ignore that threat; but if my family is threatened, now my decisions are no longer my own, but also impact those I love. That is why Paul said that in the days of persecution, a Christian must ignore his relationships, his emotions, and his possessions. Paul would like to spare the brethren extra concerns and extra sorrows during the persecution. "But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord" (I Corinthians 7:32-35).
However, to read these statements as general statements that apply in situations would not be proper. In normal times it isn't difficult to be both pleasing the Lord and pleasing a spouse, so long as the Lord comes first in all things. It is only when life becomes hard and choices limited that these issues arise. But notice that you asked if marriage is selfish, but the reason for the concern is because those who marry are acting unselfishly.
Having children is also a non-selfish act, though I'm sure that some could twist it into something selfish. You are giving of yourself to teach and raise another being given into your care by God. "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalms 127:3).
But there is a flaw in your reasoning: non-existence is not a choice. A person can only make choices because he exists. You are not punishing someone by bringing them into this world. First, because it is God who brings them into the world and not you. You would just be a steward of God's gift, to teach the child how to be a servant of God. Besides, would this world be better off with children raised by Christians or non-Christians? What will the future generations be like if the righteous stopped raising children? You would not be preventing sin by not raising children.
To be made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) refers to the fact that human beings have a spirit fashioned in the image of God, who is spirit. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). God is neither male nor female. He chooses to use male pronouns to refer to Himself. See: Is the Bible sexist?
What would be better to realize is that when men and women marry, they become something greater than either would be on their own.