I’ve been a Mormon all my life, so believe me when I tell you that I’ve heard more than once from my friends that every Mormon they meet seems to have 5 kids.
Of course not all Mormons have 5 kids. In fact, Mormon families have an average of 3.4 kids according to a recent survey (I feel sorry for the kid who is only 4/10 of a person… poor child… haha). However, there are certainly many Mormon families who have large families with 5 kids or more.
So Why Do Many Mormons Have 5 Kids or Large Families?
To us, the family means everything! We believe that our most important calling in life–the purpose of life itself–is to live how Jesus Christ taught us to live, and to teach our children the same.
We also believe God’s commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today. Having children is an important purpose in life.
Mormon families wake up each morning and read the scriptures together for 15 minutes or so, then we all kneel down as a family and pray to God to give us strength, faith, and wisdom to become better people that day. We pray for each other in our personal prayers. On Monday nights we hold a little short church service in our homes with our families that we call family night (my kids think of it more as treat night since we always have a dessert afterward). On Sunday we go and attend church seated together.
Family is everything to a Mormon. In fact, we believe that our family units will stay together even when we’re in heaven. We believe that marriage is an eternal promise to God.
Living with a focus on our families as we do, it’s no surprise that adding children to the family is a natural consequence. It’s what we really care about.
Do Mormons HAVE to Have that Many Kids?
I hope not, because I only have 3 kids 🙂 My neighbor is a Mormon too and they only have 2 kids. My nephew and his wife don’t have any kids. The church does not teach members to all have giant families or to have 5 kids.
However, Mormons are taught the same thing that Adam and Eve were taught in the Bible–that one of our responsibilities as married adults is to multiply and replenish the earth. The First Presidency of the Church said:
“The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” – The Family: A Proclamation to the World
In essence, the church teaches that we are to multiply and replenish the earth, and also to exercise reason and judgment in determining the number of children we would like to have in our families. This is really a very personal matter between the married couple and God, and the church does not preach how many children a Mormon family should have. It merely teaches the general principles and leaves the decisions up to the families.
I personally have never felt pressured in any way to have a large family as a Mormon. This is really just something my wife and I talk and pray about and decide what is best for us, and what God wants us to do in our family. What’s right for one family is not right for all.
Can Mormons Use Birth Control?
Yes, we are taught that sexual intimacy in marriage is for the creation of children and also for the strengthening of the marital bond.
The church’s policy on birth control says, “The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife….Sexual relations within marriage are not only for the purpose of procreation, but also a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual ties between husband and wife.Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.” Source.
Mormons do not participate in any way in abortions because we believe that it is God who places our spirits in our bodies, and the destruction of the innocent unborn children prevents that spirit from living life on the earth.
If you’d like to learn more about how Mormons view the importance of families, I’d really encourage you to read the words of some of our prophets and apostles in The Family: A proclamation to the world. It lays out God’s foundation for families and how to have a happy family.