Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 21, 1955

What Must I Do With Them?

John D. Barnes, Atlanta, Georgia

After God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, man became a living soul. God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." (Gen. 2:18.) So God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and from one of the ribs which He had taken from man He made woman and brought her unto the man and said unto them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it ......(Gen. 1:28.) This was just as unchangeable and as eternal as God himself.

The first man and first woman sprang into existence, fully grown, a work of creation, and as all of God's creations are perfect, the first pair were perfect. They required not the tender care of a father and mother to rear them from the helplessness and weakness of infancy, but they became the home. For it was the divine pleasure that they should be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth; and they became the parents of the first children and established, under divine guidance, the first family and family relationship.

With this first family "home" had its beginning. And as the records of time were made with the pen of inspiration, we are informed that marriages were entered into and homes multiplied. And to stress its significance and impress its sanctity and its place in the human family, it is mentioned in the Bible not less than forty eight times. Children, including the children of Israel, is mentioned some 1,570 times, and the word child, 248.

To some, children are desired and longed for. Hannah desired a child. She was grieved in her heart and wept bitterly for the need and for the void of the home. She had a house, but she felt greatly, the need of a home, a home where she could do all that she could as queen of a home that was complete and worthy. She prayed to the God of heaven for a son and her prayer was granted. To her a son was born. This boy became Samuel the prophet who had a great role in the history of Israel. How peaceful and happy must have been the last days of Hannah, as she saw her son a great servant of God, a great leader, and the greatest prophet since Moses.

We have another fine example of a woman who desired children in the life of Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob. She was barren and the Lord had closed her womb. She felt the need of children to make her marriage perfect, and she said unto Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die." (Gen. 30:1.) So vehemently did she pray for a son that God answered her prayer, and granted unto her a son. In Genesis 30:22 we read, "And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb." After her son was born, she said, "God hath taken away my reproach."

Leah, her sister, also counted it a joy to be able to bear children. After she had borne her sixth son to Jacob, she said, "God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." (Gen. 30:20.) She, along with Rachel, realized what a wonderful blessing it was to have children. They appreciated the fact that the woman's exclusive work in life is to bear children. No higher, more sacred, and holy work has ever been committed to human beings. This is woman's chiefest work in life. She should not engage in any work incompatible with this.

There was a place for children in the Old Testament. But it seems to me that things have changed, and in these modern arrangements, children are left out entirely. Recently, we moved to the city of Atlanta, Georgia, to work with the Grant Park Church of Christ, and as the brethren have no dwelling for the preacher, we began searching the city for a place to live. There were many apartments, and houses to let, but only to adults. Having five children, you can imagine the time we had trying to rent a place to live. My wife loves children, and rejoices in the fact that she is able to bear children, but since it is so hard to find a place to live with our children — what must I do with them?

Sometime ago, while living in Illinois, an elder ( ?) of the church of our Lord, in a southern city called me long distance and asked if I would be interested in moving to Rhode Island to preach the gospel there. Of course, I am interested in preaching the gospel anywhere, so I answered in the affirmative. He asked how many children I had, and when I said four, he said, "My, what a large family." I have not heard from the elder since.

Recently, a letter was written to a certain southern congregation, and a trip was made there relative to working and preaching there. The brethren there do regard the children, and make considerations for them, because they are willing to support (?) a man with three or four children just as much as they will a man with none. Paul said that a man is to provide for his own, and especially they of his own house, but I love to preach, so what must I do with them?

While living in southern Illinois, this statement was heard, "Only the ignorant and unsanitary have children." And "Someone should tell him where they come from." Such statements, coming from the lips of the heathen and unlearned, would not be too shocking, but from the lips of church members, is indeed, hard to understand.

Still others say that a preacher is not to stay in one place any length of time, for in so doing, he becomes a pastor. But to the proponents of this theory, I would like to ask these questions:

1. In his charge to Titus to instruct the older to teach the younger to be keepers of home, does he include the preacher's wives?

2. Is it permissible for preachers to have a wife?

3. When Paul said it was right for him and Barnabas to lead about a sister, wife, as well as the others, what did he mean?

4. When he says, they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel, did he mean it?

In answer to the question that heads this piece, I say, fear not brethren, to call me to preach in your community. My children will be no object. If the price is high enough, I will knock the brats in the head, and come on.