A friend of mine sent me a shocking Buzzfeed article. The article was a compilation of 17 reasons why young people today don’t want to have children. At first I was going to provide commentary on each quotation, but upon closer examination every reason was essentially exactly the same. Follow the link to see for yourself. They are different words which all boil down to essentially say the same thing.
The next generation of would-be parents are rejecting their children because they are deeply selfish. These people (who were once children their parents sacrificed for) have rejected the commission to multiply and subdue the earth because parenting takes sacrifice. Being a parent requires a man to spend his money and time differently. Quite simply, today’s young adults want to drink, have sex, and travel, and creating and molding children get in the way of those passions. In summary, this article proves the criticism of my generation and the one after me as desiring to prolong adolescence.
What the article really demonstrates is the corrosive nature of the Secular worldview. Godlessness destroys teleology. In a universe without God, there really is no meaning to our existence. The New Atheists for years tried to champion a subjective teleology. Saying things like, “Just because there isn’t ‘the meaning of life’ doesn’t mean there can’t be ‘a meaning of life.'” The above article is an indication of how that project is going.
Another route which many Darwinists stress is the one of reproduction. According to Darwinian Evolution, reproduction is the ultimate good, the telos of your existence. Yet, Darwin’s disciples have apparently rejected even that. Darwinism is such a corrosive, meaningless myth that those who have been indoctrinated in it don’t even embrace its own gospel message, the gospel of survival and reproduction. Rather, the only meaning to life that the godless among us can consistently embrace is pure, selfish, unadulterated hedonism. An easy life filled with personal pleasure is all that is to be found among the Secularists (and even then, that itself is arbitrary). Something as natural and important as continuing the human species through childbearing has been dismissed because its not enough fun and because it is really hard. Thus, the Secularists boast unabashedly of their lazy, selfish, cowardice.
A Biblical View
And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’Genesis 1:28 [ESV]
For a long time Secularism was still living off Dad. Like the prodigal son, it took a large inheritance from Christianity and blew it in the city. There was a time then when, from all appearances, it was just fine without dad. Secularism pursued rebellion, writing all its checks from the endowment taken from the Christian culture. But now the inheritance has run out and the checks eventually started to bounce. Now, there isn’t enough Christendom left to keep asking for funds. Secularists now must live in the unfortunate world they’ve created. They won’t be able to borrow from Christianity much longer. And the first fruits of the Secular world, ironically, is no fruit at all. They will avoid having children, and they will murder the ones they make by accident. In short, Secularism hates your children.
This ought to be a stark reminder that parenthood itself requires an objectively true worldview to be meaningful, to be worth its inherent difficulties. In the Christian perspective, children are a gift, and raising them is both a privilege and a duty. The creation covenant is to “be fruitful and multiply” as well as to “subdue the earth.” Part of our jobs as human beings, made in the image of God, living to glorify God, is to take dominion over the earth while we continue the species.
This commission was intended to be accomplished through the family. This is why the Genesis narrative immediately begins with a marriage and a commission to start a family. The institution of marriage is a sacred, foundational institution God created for us to fulfill our mandate. This picture of reality then gives great meaning to families, to children. They are far more than just a traditional, arbitrary way of doing things. They are not just the unfortunate side effects of sexual pleasure.
This is why Christians are able to embrace the responsibility of marriage and parenting, finding deep, satisfying meaning in it. This teleology allows us to find a satisfaction in parenting that far outweighs the satisfaction of travelling and sleeping in on the weekends.
The Joy of Parenting
One can find this deep joy I speak of buried in the Buzzfeed article itself if one looks hard enough. One contributor rejects parenthood because people with children are statistically less happy than people without children.
“On the relationships front, I remember seeing a statistic that more marriages with kids end in divorce than marriages without kids — having kids wrecks marriages. Other studies have found that child-free couples are FAR happier than couples with kids.”#10
While I have much to say in opposition to that, I will simply point out that the link Buzzfeed itself provides does not affirm that thesis. Buzzfeed links to a CNBC article which states states,
that parents and nonparents have similar levels of life satisfaction, but parents experienced both more daily joy and more daily stress than nonparents… Although parents might fall short on moment-to-moment happiness, having kids provides meaning, satisfaction and connection in parents’ lives.https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/16/does-having-children-make-you-happier-science-of-parenthood-explained.html
The article says a more realistic look at parenting when compared to being childless as that you experience more of the extremes. Your life is harder, your life does have deeper sorrows and heavier anxieties, but it also has greater joy and greater satisfaction. It’s then misleading to claim one side is happier than the other.
The same link concludes with this summation:
Although parents might fall short on moment-to-moment happiness, having kids provides meaning, satisfaction and connection in parents’ lives… Indeed, there are myriad nuanced reasons why people have children that are well beyond their own happiness.https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/16/does-having-children-make-you-happier-science-of-parenthood-explained.html
The primary source the CNBC article utilizes is a research study from PNAS. Here is the abstract:
We document and interpret differences in life evaluation and in hedonic experience between those who live with children and those who do not; most previous literature has concluded that those with children have worse lives. For a sample of 1.8 million Americans of all ages, and without controls for other circumstances, we find little difference in subjective wellbeing between people with and without children. Among those most likely to be parents, life evaluation and all hedonic experiences except stress are markedly better among those living with a child. However, within this group, people who live with children are more likely to be married, richer, better educated, more religious, and healthier, all of which have well-documented positive associations with evaluative and hedonic wellbeing. With statistical controls for these background factors, the presence of a child has a small negative association with life evaluation, although it is associated with more of both positive and negative hedonics. These patterns are replicated in the English-speaking countries of the world, but not in other regions. We argue that the causal effect of children on parental wellbeing, which is the target for most of the literature, is not well defined. Instead, we interpret our rich-country results within a theory of children and wellbeing in which adults sort into parenthood according to their preferences. In poor, high-fertility countries, we find evidence that at least some people have children even when it diminishes their personal wellbeing (Emphasis mine).https://www.pnas.org/content/111/4/1328.abstract#sec-2
This research indicates that past research which concluded parents are less happy than people without children is flawed. It then goes on to find, after a more nuanced approach, that in the end, it’s more like a wash.
What research like this indicates is the truthfulness of what Christians have been saying for 2,000 years: contentment is largely not a matter of circumstances, but of the will. The fact remains that it’s hard to be content. Whether married or single, with or without children, sinful man finds a thousand things to keep him unhappy, and then looks to a thousand more things to make him happy.
Certainly being married changes our struggles from when we were single. Likewise, having children changes our problems. Life is certainly different. But at the end of the day, there will always be something to complain about, something about our lives that we wish was different. Thus, what this research shows is that neither singleness nor marriage, neither having children nor not having children, will ultimately satisfy. That is a job for the Gospel. True satisfaction comes through the power of the Spirit persevering our bond with Christ, through Whom we are reconciled to our heavenly Father. In that state, one is able to find joy in all of life’s circumstances (Philippians 4:12-13).
Given all this, maybe whoever it was that wrote the quotation below should do less judging and more asking.
“I have never seen a person with children and thought to myself, ‘I want that life.'”#1
If that person would merely ask all these parents if they would give their children up, if they regret having them, the overwhelming majority would tell him/her that they wouldn’t trade in their children for the world.
The Silver Lining
This reality is depressing, but there is a silver lining: Secularism is destroying itself from the inside out. Secularism will eventually die, not because it has been conquered, but because it refuses to reproduce and replace itself. Let the Secularists bask in their revelry partying straight into oblivion. The Christian church will live on, holding our children’s hands, walking them into the future. We will continue to be fruitful and multiply while they continue to be promiscuous and die.
This does not mean, however, that Christians don’t need to do the hard work. There are two reasons not to put our guard down: First, Secularism is not our only foe. There are plenty of false religions in the world that love children and are having many kids. We cannot expect to reproduce ourselves into a golden age. Second, and more important, Secularists have not yet needed to make children of their own since they’ve been so successful at evangelizing ours. The Christian church must do a better job at retaining our own progeny. As of now, they are being successfully evangelized into the death cult that hates them.
A Unique Contribution
There was only one contribution that stuck out as a unique answer in the Buzzfeed article. There was only one that stood out as something different then merely being too selfish and lazy to get married and start a family. And it is to that one I now turn my attention.
“[G]iven the state of the Earth with regards to climate change, I feel it’s kinda shitty to keep making more humans. We probably can’t turn this ship around.”#11
The climate cult has so successfully indoctrinated its disciples that they live in terror, believing it is an injustice to earth’s resources and current occupants to have more children.
While I could say more on the issue of climate change, there are two things I will limit my responses to here. First, there is other important data this person is woefully not taking into account. The fact of the matter is that in many countries around the world there are not enough children being born to continue the nation’s existence. The United States is in that boat already. Even evil, wicked, Communist China, which actually sets limits on how many children families can have has recently upped their total to three, not long after raising it to two. The fact is that while the Buzzfeed contributor has been brainwashed into thinking we have too many people on earth, in most places, we actually don’t have enough. Now the sad irony has become that while he is so afraid of running out of resources and sending the human species into oblivion, he has opted for a strategy which, if employed by enough people, will send the human species into oblivion.
Nonetheless, there are legitimate climate concerns. There are many problems that need to be solved as it pertains to the world’s resources. And the best way to solve those problems is actually to make more people. Putting more heads together is better than fewer. Maybe the person who will invent what we need for cleaner more sustainable resources has been aborted? Maybe that person was less important to create due to the fun we are all having at the night clubs?
Think of all the people who have changed the world. Consider the men and women who have been used by God to propel society into a more prosperous time. Now consider this: each and every one of those people had parents.
One Last Consideration
While this is a heavy topic which is beyond the scope of this blog, I think something brief needs to be said about contraceptives. In my experience, contraceptives are largely accepted by the evangelical world. Any attempt to deny their legitimate usage and call Christians to avoid them is seen as legalism, an old Roman Catholic relic. This was once my position, but every Christian who holds it should reevaluate. A closer, historical look might indicate the incredible contribution contraceptives have played in the destruction of our society. Perhaps it was, at least in ordinary circumstances, a terribly wicked thing to divorce sex from reproduction. Carl Trueman makes an very brief but compelling and interesting point on this in his incredibly important book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. I cannot recommend that work to my readers enough.