Updated: Oct 15, 2021
I’m not a “kid person”.
To be very honest with you, I never have been. Like most people, I was always enamoured by their cheeks and smiles, but I had no desire to have a big family as I got older. As most women my age my eyes were set on “bigger” things.
These "things" included reaching the pinnacle of success in a lucrative career and living a comfortable lifestyle. A child or maybe at most two, sounded good as long as they didn't take away from what I deemed as more important in my life; freedom and ease.
Unfortunately, I saw this as totally normal.
And I’m not the only one.
From light hearted back to school ads of parents relishing their now child-free days, or comment wars on Instagram when a couple announces their 5th, 6th, or even 10th child.
To the public stage where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Henry and Meghan, received an award from an environmental charity concerned about overpopulation, because of their public decision to not have more than two children to lessen their impact on the environment.
Then in 2018, CBC published an opinion piece titled “It shouldn't be taboo to criticize parents for having too many kids”, after celebrities Chip and Joanna Gaines announced their 5th pregnancy and were hit with criticism on social media.
On top of that, as a Gen Z, one of the fastest growing trends I see amongst my age group is the absolutely poisonous belief that having more children (also known as overpopulation) is the core reason for climate change and our world dying. Unfortunately, I too thought that this was a completely valid opinion until I actually got off of Instagram and decided to do some research.
It was shocking that almost every article I read, even those from “pro-less children” sources, continually cited that the main issue isn’t the amount of children people have. Our problem is that here in the West the wealthier we get, the more we live such an unsustainable lifestyle that we make up 78% of material consumption globally, while those in low income countries whose global population is close to doubling, account for less than 3% of material consumption! Let’s not forget the fact that wealthy nations like Canada, literally rely on immigration from developing countries to help our economy since we cannot sustain it alone at our current fertility rate.
And when we look at stats we unfortunately see the building climax of the anti-children culture we’ve created as a Western society.
According to an article published by the BBC, last year in July, the birth rate in the 1950’s was an average of 4.7 children. But now researchers project that in 79 years it will drop even lower to 1.7, which is below the replacement level needed for well-functioning modern human societies.
So, let’s make things crystal clear.
The issue is not babies. The issue is that we have adopted greed as a normative lifestyle, and feel so entitled to a rich, hyper-consumeristic standard of living, that we would rather not have multiple children, than change the way we live and teach those children how to do the same.
And this does not mean that I’m saying the best option is for everyone to have as many children as absolutely possible. Rather, my main concern is the ideology that is driving our disdain of children. Especially when there is a very real problem of being able to sustain an ageing population as fertility rates decrease; something I haven’t seen overpopulation philosophers address much.
With these points in mind, I want to pause and make it clear that this article is not intended for those whose lives are not under the submission and lordship of Jesus Christ.
While I think much of what I have to say heavily impacts those who aren’t followers of Yeshua, it can only take root in the hearts of those who have decided that their lives are not their own, but God’s.
Now back to babies.
I shared all of those cultural and factual notes, to hopefully show you the zeitgeist that is eroding our society.
And the most heartbreaking and terrible reality of this growing worldview and hatred of children, is that it is ever so pervasive in the Church.
We’ve accepted our culture’s idea of “the good life”, and the trade off has been adopting the culture’s hateful view on children for the never ending pursuit of self-fulfillment.
And, unfortunately, when the religion of self-fulfillment takes hold of our hearts, we do not hesitate to sacrifice anything and everything that can become a stumbling block to "the self" - our new god.
This new religion has been pushed the hardest on women through aspects of the feminist movement which was a strong response to the oppression and lack of equality many women faced in the past. As a result, women are now constantly force fed through the media, the narrative that no greater achievement can come from anything other than breaking the glass ceiling and pursuing their careers with no apologies or hesitations. At its heart, this is an outright rejection of Christ’s call to live our whole lives in pursuit of becoming more like Him. When women reject the latter call, they will either idolize motherhood which was never designed to provide true fulfilment, or they will idolize career success, which also fails to provide fulfilment while eating away at a woman’s likelihood to have children.
In our current times, we are on the side of the pendulum where Christian women who are called to marriage, have bought into the culture’s idolization of success at all costs, and have rejected the natural, God-given opportunity of sacrificing their bodies, time, money, and career advancement opportunities for the worthy call of motherhood.
Not too long ago, I was reading an article by wife, mother and author, Rachel Jankovic on the topic of abortion. In it she eloquently summarized the heart of our culture surrounding children.
In a section titled Feeding the Volcano of Self, she said, “Abortion in our country is not a stand-alone moment, brought about by women who somehow haven’t heard of adoption. Abortion is that dark crisis choice served up to millions of women every year, courtesy of our cultural religion of self-fulfillment. It is the bloody path taken by many women who feel that they really “had no choice” (at least if they were going to finish law school, if they were going to have a career, if they were going to be slim in their bikinis in time for spring break). Everyone acts like abortion is a sad thing, but a necessity. But the truth is that abortion is the sacrifice that our religion of selfishness requires.
In an ancient pagan religion, the volcano would periodically require that its worshipers throw in a virgin... The god had to be fed. Abortion fills that place for us. Our god is a stupid volcano of selfish desire, sexual “liberty,” freedom from God’s law, and a refusal to accept responsibility or live our lives for another. This god requires a sacrifice, and so we offer it the unborn and their tragic mothers.”
While most of us Christians would agree and object to the horrors of abortion, we actually fuel the very fire that keeps it alive. As Jankovic put it, we fuel the fire by serving the ever demanding god of self-fulfillment.
Now, most Christians readily believe the lie that tells us that children are not a blessing but a buzzkill, not a heritage from the Lord, but a hefty debt to be carried, not arrows in the hand of a father rooted in Christ, but rather an impediment to a young man’s desire to build an empire of self-indulgence.
Unfortunately, this religion of self-fulfillment is one that has been growing for decades.
It wasn’t until carrying out my research for this post that I realized the Church’s historical stance on birth control. While the Bible doesn’t outrightly condemn birth control (birth control before modern science was also unreliable in comparison to what we have access to now), the consensus throughout church history, based on biblical and moral principles, has been that sex should not be divorced from its most natural and God-ordained conclusion; childbearing.
Much to my surprise, a majority, if not all of the church fathers who’ve shaped our understanding of Christianity, spoke vehemently about birth control. Not only that, every Christian denomination up until the historic 1930 Lambeth Conference, publicly opposed the use of birth control.
Something I find interesting, is that even after the decision made by the Anglican church in 1930 to permit contraception in very limited cases, they still adamantly taught that limiting children for the purposes of selfishness, luxury or mere convenience was to be condemned.
Although many of us as Christians are so far removed from that mindset, I think they were holding on to a piece of truth that we’ve so willingly thrown away with the rise of modernity.
When we as Christians stop viewing our lives, bodies, money, time, sexuality, and even fertility as something that is to be laid down at the altar in service to our Lord who laid down his life for us, then we adopt the world’s pattern of sacrificing whatever it takes simply for the pursuit of self-fulfillment. We start believing that it is not only normal, but advisable for a young married couple to venerate free time, more money, and child-free experiences to that of them laying down their lives to take up joyful call, responsibility and challenge of having and raising up children to and for the glory of God.
When we as Christians adulterate the Word of God for the lies of the Prosperity Gospel that tells us God wants us to live lives of luxury, comfort and convenience, then what can we expect will be the first to be sacrificed other than the fully-dependent and helpless position of a baby?
It should be absolutely no surprise to any of us why the culture, and now the Church, have a growing hatred for babies. And the only way for us to change our hearts on this matter is to renew our minds and fully submit and delight ourselves in the unfading truths of scripture.