Christopher Ash argues in Married for God: Making Your Marriage the Best it Can be (57-8) that it is a “false choice” to ask whether we serve God or have children: “We serve God by having children.” For most moms, “what they do as parents will prove more significant in eternity than the most glittering career in the eyes of the world.”

The premise is that children are a blessing, a claim about which Ash is anything but Pollyannish: “A child may be an inconvenient blessing. A child will usually be an expensive blessing. A child may and often will be a blessing that takes us well outside our comfort zones and into the arms of grace. A child usually is a blessing that will be accompanied by sleepless nights and many tears.” Yet a blessing nonetheless.

And one of the strange blessings of having children is the grace of being forced to welcome little strangers into the home: “Husband and wife have chosen one another. But, however much they may have wanted a baby, they did not choose this baby with these particular characteristics! This baby comes into the family circle as a stranger, to be welcomed whatever his or her character and future. And therefore in parenting we learn to welcome the stranger, the one chosen by God for us to love . . . . the only home it is safe to be born into is a hospitable home which welcomes outsiders into its circle.”

Parenthood is mercy ministry, and since children come as strangers, they “challenge our self-centeredness and do us good” as well.

More on: Theology