Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Deliberate Childlessness: Moral Rebellion With a New Face

To see the entire article, click here.

I've long wondered about the interplay between marriage, sex, birth control and child-bearing in light of a trinitarian view of the world. At one extreme is the Catholic perspective and at the other, the antinominian. Evangelicals have usually fallen squarely between the two extremes taking a liberal view on birth control within marriage and a conservative view on extramarital sex with child-bearing being regarded as simply a mathematical product of the previous two, er, positions.

But with the rise (?) of pornography as a mainstream and largely (privately) acceptable phenomenon, the decreasing number of marriages, the increasing incidence of cohabitation and the increasing number of childless-by-choice families, I wonder if we are seeing the harvest of our prior choices?

If child-bearing is a trinitarian feature, has our (evangelicals') theory of birth control undermined and rendered moot a portion of sound theological superstructure?


Chris Benjamin said...


I read Mohler's article with a healthy amount of skepticism. I am not sure it follows that we should demand that marriage means rearing children. The biblical revelation does indicate that "be fruitful and multiply" is the will of God. Yet, the biblical witness also proclaims that God has welcomed the eunuchs into the kingdom (all types of "eunuchs"). I know of a couple who are married but cannot have children. I know of a couple who are married and will not have children because to do so would probably mean the birth of a child that would endure intense suffering. We all know couples like this.

At the same time, there is a rank selfishness that permeates our culture. For some that selfishness is manifested as a decision not to have children because it doesn't fit one's lifestyle. Yet, for others it means having children to fulfill one's life. There are many manifestations of this selfishness.

I agree with you that we are harvesting the yield of our prior choices. I think we have too often worshipped at the temple of Vesta (the Roman God of Home and Hearth) and claimed it was the temple of God. I would much rather see us develop a Trinitarian view of family and community than one informed by American evangelical notions of family values.

Thanks for bringing this topic to our attention. I am glad you are writing some more.

CJR said...

I certainly would be opposed to using "demanding" childbearing as a result of marriage in any sense.

My thinking was not in the line of creating an expectation of child-bearing as a necessary outcome of marriage, but that the rise of volitionally childless marriages be viewed or considered as a sign or epiphenomenon of the increasingly hedonistic, selfish bent of modern society.

The idea of passing on heirs and of lineage and legacy are fading from our society. We are in some ways becoming the rankest form of dualists - we view our lives as purely transitory and, to a degree, relative and subjective and, therefore, meaningless. Thus, these trancendent ideals of honor and lineage become meaningless. And so do children.

All that matters is the "now" - the present - because we will all be gone and all that transpires here beyond our gratification is fleeting and pointless anyway.

I think this "what's the point" attitude certainly cannot be generalized, but may be observed in at least much of those who choose to remain childless. And, yes, perhaps in those of us who are married but choose to control our procreation artificially.

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