Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Parenthood as an Option

I've been thinking a lot about something the Dancer said to me the other day. We've been talking about the role of marriage and having children in our current society. So many secular couples decide that they absolutely don't want children, or that they'll have them "when they're ready," whatever that means. Even if "when they're ready" gets pushed into their thirties, or even later. At which point they freak about being infertile, but that could be a whole separate post.

Anyway, I think that the Christian couple should definitely have children, if God blesses them with offspring. There are many couples who deal with the pain of infertility; there is a blog out there run by Lutherans for families who deal with this. But there are Christian couples out there who aren't having children at all, and I'm not certain that is the Christian way to do things. Of course, when I really thought about it, "being Christian equals having children," isn't something specifically mandated in the Bible, is it? God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth. Is that just meant for filling the earth? But also, God also talks about how children are a blessing, a heritage, from the Lord. And He talks in the Bible about putting the lonely in families. Despite St. Paul's praise for the single life, it seems like most often the family is God's ideal for how people should live. A man and a woman, joined in holy matrimony, bringing up children in the way they should go.

What the Dancer said, though, was when we were talking about a friend of hers. This friend is one of four kids. Mom has abandoned the family, and Dad is not always a great father. Not bad enough for social services, definitely, but sometimes rather absent with affection and effort. I said perhaps the parents should not have had children at all. The Dancer quickly pointed out that I've previously said people should have children. I did say that. So, what then? I told her, then, that they should have grown up and accepted parental responsibilities. But that doesn't seem like something that is done very often today either. See Wendy Davis as an example. She is running for elected office mainly on her status as a "single mother," when for a lot of time she wasn't even the primary parent because it wasn't "a good time" for to be a mother! Wasn't a good time? The good time to be a mother, is when you have kids.

I keep going back to what the Dancer said to me. All I've ever wanted to do was be a wife and mother, as primary vocation. Should you have a calling to be a parent, or should you do it because it's what God wants? Certainly not everyone is called to marriage.

Being a parent isn't easy, but then neither is being a grown-up. People not only want to put off child-rearing; they want to put off marriage, as I've written about previously. Instead, it's all about you, all the time. Wendy Davis left her kids behind literally for her career and her ambitions. You shouldn't even get married until you have a great career, and you've traveled the world, and done a bunch of other stuff that somehow is necessary to do. And then you shouldn't have kids until you're ready. And then what? Are we going to end up like Japan? A very large percentage of young men and women show no interest in getting married, or even dating. They're too wrapped up in their careers. In other words, themselves.

I'm definitely not perfect at this, but part of being a family is living for something beside the self. Definitely within a marriage, even more so with kids. Spouses, after all, are generally able to care for themselves. Babies need everything done for them, and even as they grow, they still need things like laundry and cooking done for them for many years; money has to be spent for their clothes, toys, school needs. Driving them places seems never-ending. But I'm afraid, as fallen humans, that society won't stop in the pursuit of selfishness until it ends up like the Japanese. A healthy society is one that values marriage and family. Maybe that's because God designed it that way?

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