Question: "Does the Bible say anything that would apply to paying child support?"

Answer: The Bible is clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and that, if possible, a husband and wife should seek reconciliation and forgiveness before making the decision to end their marriage (Luke 11:4; Ephesians 4:32). However, God acknowledges that divorce will occur because we are sinful human beings (Matthew 19:8). The Bible does not mention the practice of paying child support, but it does address the importance of caring for one’s family, especially children.

The book of Psalms speaks of how children are to be treasured: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3, ESV). “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). Proverbs 13:22 says good parents make sure their family is cared for after they die: “A good man leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.” Jesus was adamant in teaching that children should have a high priority in our lives (Matthew 19:13–15).

In regards to monetary provision in the form of child support, we can glean some principles from 1 Timothy 5, which addresses how the church should care for widows and the elderly. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). While “paying child support” in the modern sense is not a direct command of the Bible, providing for one’s family is clearly a godly imperative and God-honoring practice.

Christians are also called to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1–7). If a court judge enforces a divorce agreement in which one parent must pay child support, including spousal support (alimony), to the other parent, then that parent must do so in compliance with the law. Regardless of emotions, real or perceived debts, or other personal circumstances, the parent ordered to pay child support must agree to do so for the benefit of their children. Colossians 3:18–25 details how a Christian household ought to function, ending with this: “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism” (verse 25). If one or both parents feel they have been hurt, they must allow God to handle the dispensing of justice. A parent’s first priority should be the care of his or her children, not achieving revenge or otherwise satisfying oneself.

Divorce is never a part of God’s original plan, but involved parties can still honor Him by caring for their children post-divorce through child support payments, quality time, and respecting the other parent. With God, Christian parents can persevere through these trials (James 1:12). Divorced parents would do well to pray regularly for their children, for their children’s relationship with the other parent, and for their own personal healing (Philippians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 3 John 1:4).