We are reminded again of the importance of families to God’s eternal plan. We are reminded again that the Church teaches to the ideal, to the pattern, to the eternal. Those of us (men as well as women) whose lives do not — will not, cannot, in mortality — reflect the divine pattern are reminded again to turn to God for answers in our personal circumstances.
Sometimes it helps to know that the saints, as well as a Heavenly Father, understand what is missing, and that we would mirror the divine pattern if only we could. Here, in an unsigned editorial from the April 1916 Relief Society Magazine, some unknown saint demonstrates that understanding and expresses the promise of the gospel — and a warning to reluctant parents — better than anything else I have heard or read in my lifetime:
The Childless Ones.
There are burdened parents amongst us, and mothers spent and broken with the ceaseless toils and cares of motherhood â€“ but what of the childless wives, and the sonless husbands, in this Church? What of the longing arms of women who suffer to cuddle a babe upon the aching breast, and to kiss the roseleaf-petaled, nestling mouth of the newly-born? What of the lonely, sonless husband who watches other men trudging past his door with laughing sons perched on their shoulders, or who sees fathers hurrying home in the Christmas dark, laden down with childrenâ€™s toys and trees to deck for laughter-loving babes when morning breaks on Christmas day? What of these, when preachers rise and bless the parents or stigmatize the childless, and make of them a hiss and by-word in the congregations? The childless coupleâ€™s eyes are always feasted with anotherâ€™s joys, their blessings are negative in tone and kind. What of these? There are two kinds of childless couples: the willing, guilty ones, and the helpless, hopeless, innocent victims of physical or spiritual handicap.
The innocent sufferers have, in this gospel only, a full and glorious consolation. For some wise purpose, for some deep, unexplained, spiritual trial of faith, this childless cross has been permitted to rest upon some shoulders. There will be no worthy childless married people in eternity. Parenthood and Godhood are inseparable. And when this life, with all its trials and losses, has gone by, even these hungering souls will understand the cause, and rejoice in the over-ruling Providence which permitted this great trial. Many who have had children here will be childless over there, and those who have been innocently deprived will in the eternities have the blessed privilege of bearing and of rearing spirit children. Endless increase is the promise made to us in holy marriage covenants. O happy thought, O holy hope!
Some childless ones there be who choose to lessen loneliness by taking orphan babes to cherish and to rear. All honor unto such. Nobler far are they than those who bear their children complainingly and slow. â€˜Tis a deliberate choice of cares and trials, then, a willing assumption of parentsâ€™ burdens borne for purely spiritual reasons. Such parents should be loved and respected in this community, and be given equal place beside the fathers and the mothers in modern Israel.
Let our tongues be wise and our comments slow. When parenthood is named and its failures are disclosed, discriminate with careful speech between the innocent and the guilty; for there may be as many unwilling, sinful parents who hear thy words as there are unwilling, guilty, childless married people. Let each one judge himself. For here is truth and justice. God blesses those who bear children to his name just as he sends themâ€“ and equally he blesses those who would be parents, if nature had not locked the doors. All honor, then, to righteous men and women, both childless and the fruitful. God multiply blessings unto all.