Personal Online Journal

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Inspired Family Planning

Today I found an "I Have a Question" article from the Aug 1979 Ensign. The question was "Is it our understanding that we are to propagate children as long and as frequently as the human body will permit? Is there not any kind of 'gospel family-planning,' for lack of a better way to say it?"

There is a part in it that is in line with a discussion we had in our ward in a fireside we had before our 2007 Ward Conference. The stake presidency was there and was taking questions about church policy. They were answering them from the General Handbook of Instruction. It is funny how many times the answer was, pray about it together.

I recall a President of the Church, now deceased, who visited his daughter in the hospital following a miscarriage.
She was the mother of eight children and was in her early forties. She asked, "Father, may I quit now?" His response was, "Don't ask me. That decision is between you, your husband, and your Father in Heaven. If you two can face him with a good conscience and can say you have done the best you could, that you have really tried, then you may quit. But, that is between you and him. I have enough problems of my own to talk over with him when we meet!" So it is clear to me that the decisions regarding our children, when to have them, their number, and all related matters and questions can only be made after real discussion between the marriage partners and after prayer.
(Homer Ellsworth "I Have a Question," Ensign, Aug 1979, 23–25)

Keep in mind that the "I Have a Question" articles always has had a disclaimer at the top like "Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy." That being said, these sources have been a welcome confirmation to me as to the principles behind inspired family planning.

The short answer I give to people when they ask "Are you going to have more?" is "We'll see". It is something to be considered carefully, "after real discussion between the marriage partners and after prayer".

My wife has been much more inspired as we have considered "Do we have more?" I always wanted a lot of children. Yet when the time came, almost always there was some consideration keeping me from wanting to. Can I provide for them physically, emotionally, etc.? I remember one such time when my wife felt like it was time to stop preventing. I said that I would go pray about it. I went in the other room to kneel. I was not there 1 or 2 minutes when I felt foolish. I knew the answer was that there were more to come for our family. My selfish reservations did not stack up.

The Lord does not want us to run faster than we have strength. Yet in more than one passage, this counsel is followed by "be diligent" (Mosiah 4:27, D&C 10:4). The Lord lives in a state of unending happiness. As we trust in Him and seek His counsel, as we seek answers to difficult questions, seeking answers with the determination to follow, we will be led to the kind of happiness He enjoys.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Richard, I LOVE you!
I just couldn't have chosen a better son-in-law than the Lord gave me! Thanks for being you.
Thanks for leading me into areas like this whole blogging thing....I'm not there yet, but I really enjoyed spending a few minutes reading on your site this afternoon. It was my first real visit here. My heart longs to write, but I am stuck in that area as well as many others....but in the meantime, I'm sure enjoying the musings of your heart! xo mom

Nan Ely said...

I love being surrounded by those that love children. At times I think that one would have been better, then I would be able to do what "I" want to do. Then I look at you and Stephanie and what you guys have sacrificed. I love how different each of your children are. I love the fact that you step up to the plate as a father and are involved in each one's life. Thanks for being an example.