Following concerns that the global population of Christians may be on the decrease, RITA OKONOBOH sought the views of clerics on how Christians can address the situation.
WITH the rise in the onslaught against Christians taking place across various countries worldwide, Nigeria included, issues have been raised on if it may be time to abandon the popular practice of Christians , especially as regards family planning and birth control, and biologically repopulate the earth.
This was the opinion of the Presiding Bishop, Sword of the Spirit Ministries, Dr. Francis Wale Oke, who stated in a news report recently that the practice of preventing conception to limit the number of births is a drive that makes the Christian population dwindle continuously across the word.
Bishop Oke, who affirmed that the culture of maintaining small family sizes was widespread in the West and among Christians worldwide, lamented that the culture of family was against the wish of God for mankind, saying that the intent of God was for man to “multiply and replenish the earth.”
Oke explained: “It is not God’s purpose that godly children are diminishing. The family is very critical to God’s agenda. As soon as God created the family in Genesis, the next thing was that the devil attacked the family.
Pushing for the alternative of Christian families having at least four children, Oke stressed further that a man that was responsible and gainfully employed could have four children or more in fulfilment of the command of God that man should replenish the earth.
According to him, keeping one or two children so as to have a high level of economic comfort was an idea that presupposed that man was wiser than his creator and “such a man will soon find out that he is the biggest fool.
“I don’t want what has overtaken them in Europe to overtake us in Africa. The western culture of selfishness and greed should be thrown overboard,” he said.
In the report, he urged Christians to ensure that rather than keeping the number of children low, they should invest time in nurturing the children to becoming responsible adults.
Following Bishop Oke’s declaration that Christians should have more children, TribuneChurch sought the views of church leaders on the stand of various denominations on family planning and steps that can be taken to address the seeming reduction in Christian population worldwide.
God has given us the power to convert —Bishop Omoniyi
Bishop Titus Omoniyi of Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN) said: “The MCN encourages family planning because God wants us to plan our lives. When one considers the Nigerian situation, we encourage members to embrace family planning. What we recommend is that people should have the number of children they can actually take care of. Other faiths may choose to have as many children as possible, however, God has given us the power to be able to convert people into Christianity.”
Rather than encourage church cross-carpeting, Christians should engage in true evangelism —Bishop Ogunmuyiwa
Bishop of the Diocese of the North and Abuja, The African Church, and the Coordinating Chaplain, National Ecumenical Centre, headquarters of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Abuja, Right Reverend (Dr) Peter Ogunmuyiwa, stated: “The African Church encourages family planning as long as it is done within the ambits of what Christianity stipulates and it does not contradict the scripture. The family planning has to agree with what the Bible preaches. There are some concerns in Christendom on how family planning controls how Christians give birth to children. However, I think what the church has abandoned is aggressive evangelism.
“The church started with 12 disciples, and at that time, there was no Christianity, even if there were other religions. The church reached out and converted people to the Christian faith and thus, the Christian population increased. The question of if because we’re not increasing biologically will affect the growth of the church. What we should do is to reach out to unbelievers and preach the good news of Jesus Christ to them. What we have in the church today is not evangelism but church cross-carpeting. That is, preaching to fellow Christians in the bid to make them join another church. We’re not reaching out to those that really need the gospel. We need to evangelise to unbelievers to make them embrace the gospel, and that way, the Christian population will increase. Jesus Christ is interested in discipleship rather than biological reproduction. That is what the church needs to work on today.”
Population increases by evangelism —Venerable Enike
Venerable Samuel Oladele Enike, the Archdeacon of Ikenne Archdeaconry and Vicar of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne, Ogun State said: “there is the need to look at the biblical view on procreation. If we look at Genesis, during creation, when God made man, he said we should increase, replenish the earth and have control over it. In looking at that, we can then say that it will not be totally out of place if man says there should be family planning or birth control. With the socio-economic state of the world now, there is no need to have many children that one may not be able to cater for. In fact, the Bible states that for a man not to be able to take care of his family, that man is worse than an infidel. Taking care of a family involves spiritual, financial, educational implications. A man should be able to have the number of children he can cater for.
“When we talk about Christianity, population increases by evangelism and I believe that the church is growing. When a country has a population explosion, it has negative consequences. So, we need to plan very well. My take is that it is not wrong to have children, but to have children one’s resources can sustain, so that even in future, those children will not come back to curse such parents. When one has children and doesn’t give them the best, such children may become liabilities and may cause the child to hate such parents. It is not about having children for children’s sake.”
The health of the church is essential in growing the society —Pastor Hajoh
In his opinion, Pastor Muyiwa Hajoh of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Ilorin, Kwara State, “Family planning is often used as a synonym for birth control. Family planning, however, does not only involve contraception, family planning also takes into account, planning your child’s birth for specific times (possibly by spacing births for specific years apart from one another) and planning for a child when you have challenges with conception.
“Family planning is important for the health of the mother and her children as well as the family economic situation. Literally, family planning would reduce the growth potential of the church in numbers, but certain factors have to be considered in growing a healthy church.
“The church makes societal impact in line with biblical standards, hence, the health of the church become essential in growing the society. It is worthy of note that the church does not just grow in number, but in healthy church membership, that is, socially, mentally, physically, educationally, etc.” As such, Pastor Hajoh stated that it was expedient to have control in child bearing in order to provide sufficiently for the preffered number of children in a Christian home.
He also noted the benefits of having a healthy woman, which is very important in raising a good home, stating that “it is advised to reduce the number of times a woman goes through the pain of childbirth to avoid complications.”
Founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a ministry that encourages, connects and equips innovative small church pastors, Karl Vaters, and author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us, in a recent blog post published last week focuses on the consequences of pastors achieving big numbers, in terms of worshippers by all means.
According to Vaters, “Pursuing numbers for the sake of numbers is dangerous. It hurts more people than it helps. It may grow a church for a while. But that bubble will burst. And when it does, people would get hurt. And even before it does, people will have already been hurt by the pursuit of false priorities.”