Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Is It With Those Big Families Anyway?

I am the oldest of 9 children. Throughout my life, when someone learned of my family size, they immediately asked “Mormon or Catholic?!” Then there were often questions about “Don’t Mormons believe in birth control?” and “How many moms did you have?” Polygamy is a thing of the past for the LDS church (breakoff denominations still practice it, but it is neither promoted nor tolerated by current leadership). And, just in case you wondered, we are not told to have a certain number of kids, nor is birth control forbidden.
The truth is, most LDS families that I know have 3-5 children—higher than the national average, sure, but not THAT high.

In the hopes of clarifying some of these misconceptions, here is what we DO believe:
• We believe that the spirits or souls of all people (past, present, and future) are literal children of God. We believe that there is a finite number of spirits, and that all must have a chance to live in a mortal body before Christ can return—therefore, many LDS want to provide bodies for as many spirits as they are able.
• We believe that all people who have ever lived or will ever live will have the opportunity to learn the gospel. (We believe that after death there is a waiting time prior to final judgment, and that during that time there will be missionary work until all have heard, and been able to choose to accept or reject the teachings.) With that in mind, there is some advantage to bringing children up in the church, because that’s one more person who knows the gospel now and won’t need to be taught later.
• We believe that the command given to Adam and Eve to “multiply and replenish the Earth” is still in force. Therefore, we encourage couples to welcome children, and not to delay them for selfish reasons (such as ‘financial stability’ or finishing school). We believe that when we welcome these children to our families, God will help us provide for them. (As one of 9 children in a family with the single-income of a school teacher, I can attest that this is true.)
• We are counseled that it can be appropriate to delay or avoid pregnancy if there are health risks (mental or physical) for the parents, and that this should be considered prayerfully.
• We are asked to look to the Lord, and not to the world when making decisions about the number or timing of our children.
• We believe that children deserve to be raised in a family with both a mother and a father, therefore we encourage unwed mothers to either marry or allow the child to be adopted. We strongly support and promote adoption.
• For more information about the LDS stance on families, read The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Hopefully that helps to clarify why it is that many of us choose to have large families. Sure, we are encouraged to do so, but nobody is laying down a law against family planning. It is always a personal choice, it's just that many of us choose large families because of the things we believe!

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.
~Psalm 127:4-5 KJV


Anonymous said...

I think that LDS people often have many things in common. One of those is a focus on the family, and tend to find enjoyment from spending time together. This naturally leads to wanting more family members... And I think most people that have kids would agree that the best part of life is good times with family, so again why not have lots of kids to love!! Of course the REAl truth is that LDS married couples love each other more and the kids just seem to happen...

Anonymous said...

My husband & I are not LDS, but we both truly believe what you said. We want a big family. I was an only child, my parents divorced & it was sad not having any siblings around. My husband is the youngest of 9 and he loved growing up with all his brothers & sisters. It's funny because now-a-days folks chose not to have lots of kids for selfish reasons, but back in the day folks had lots of kids. My great grand parents had 11 children & my other set of great grand parents had 12 kids. We want as much as the Lord gives us & we are very greatful for our one now.

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