Theology Thursday: The Privilege of Parenting

Dad escorts his sons to school
Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.1       
C. Everett Koop 

I’ve noticed that some social media influencers have recently encouraged their followers to pursue a life without children. These folks see children as a burden rather than a blessing. This trend falls in line with a 2021 survey from Pew Research that indicates a growing percentage of adults in the United States are rejecting parenthood. A small percentage say that they don’t want children because of concerns over cultural instability or fears that more humans means more harm to the environment. But a more significant percentage of people see parenthood as a career killer, an inconvenience to their social life, a limit on their dreams of travel or a barrier to living their best life.2

As a father of three sons, I understand the hardships of parenting. Raising children is not easy. So, while these challenges are real, from a Christian perspective, the sacrifices we make to become moms and dads are far outweighed by the joys. This trending bias against parenthood reflects a sad worldview that sees only the pain and misses the privilege of parenting.

In This Article:

Parenthood Is Part of Our Mission

A healthy view of parenthood begins with God’s good creation. There are many different ways to fulfill God’s mission for your life, but in Genesis 1 and 2, we discover that God made humans to “be fruitful and multiply.” As image bearers of our Creator, men and women were designed to come together, procreate and make more image bearers. But just because we were designed to be moms and dads does not mean raising children is painless. There is, without a doubt, a cost to the privilege of parenthood.

Parenthood Is a Sacrifice

In John 15:13, Jesus commands his disciples to love one another even when it hurts. He says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Friendship with God demands putting the life of others — as a dad that means my children’s lives — above my own. In stark contrast to the words of Jesus, the world has trained us to reject relationships that put demands on our time and energy. We are conditioned by our culture to pursue relationships that serve our emotional and physical needs instead of relationships where we serve the needs of others.

In 1 John 3:16-18, we are again reminded that Jesus is our role model and love requires sacrifice. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Parenting will undoubtedly shrink your bank account, cramp your social life and force you to set aside many of your desires. But sacrificing these pleasures in pursuing parenthood brings a far greater satisfaction.

Fatherhood Is the Reward

For men, fatherhood is your reward for a life well lived. While men are still making babies, far too many have refused to make the real sacrifice of fatherhood. Many treat fatherhood like a business transaction, “a good dad just pays the bills.” Too many men have bought into the lie, “If you don’t give your child the stuff their friends have or what the toy-makers say they should have they will grow up to resent you.” But notice these concerns center around the need of the father to achieve material success.

Today is a day of choice for every dad. Do you work hard but never take time to play with your son? Do you pay the bills but forget to speak a word of affirmation to your daughter? You may not live in a big house or have the money for college, but the real reward in life is the choice to be a father. Fatherhood is not an easy thing. Fatherhood is a sacrifice, but it is also the greatest reward.

Motherhood Is the Reward

For women, motherhood is your reward for a life well lived. Women are increasingly abandoning motherhood because they believe pregnancy will “ruin” their bodies. Women are told that the choice to care for their child is a choice to surrender “real” success. Some women fear the pressure of living up to the feminist ideal of “the perfect mother,” “the perfect wife,” and maintaining the “perfect career.” No woman can “do it all,” so the real question is, What will you sacrifice? Motherhood is not an easy thing. Motherhood is a sacrifice, but it is also the greatest reward.

Parenting Is the Pursuit of Love

There is no greater love than a mother and a father laying down their lives for the blessing of their children. There is no greater love than when parents sacrifice their personal desires to bring a child into this world who can love God and someday lay down their own life for the sake of loving their children.

There is no greater love than when a man and a woman sacrifice their standard of living to raise a mentally strong, emotionally stable and spiritually fulfilled human being.

There is no greater love when a woman sacrifices the status of career, which the world insists she must have to have any value, to provide for her children the spiritual riches that only a mother can provide.

There is no greater love than when a father stops competing with other men for status, lives within his financial means and makes time to provide for his children the spiritual riches only a father can bring.

Parenting is a privilege. There is no greater love than when a man and a woman lay down their life for the sake of their children.

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1 Goodreads, Inc. (2023). C. Everett Koop Quotes. Retrieved Oct. 2, 2023. 

2 Minkin, R. & Horowitz, J. M. (2023). Parenting in America Today. Pew Research Center. Retrieved Oct. 2, 2023.

Approved by faculty for the College of Theology on Oct. 5, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.