August 5, 2013
“The Childfree Life.”
The headline for this week’s cover story in Time magazine grabs your attention. You’ll seldom see the words “child” and “free” welded together; the government estimates the cost of the trip from birth to 18 – for families making more than $100k/year – to be $390,000.
The article explores the growing cultural phenomenon of Americans whose dreams of the perfect life have no room for peanut butter and jelly crusted on the kitchen table. The terminology is intentional: to define the unigenerational abode as childless implies a deficiency; to relabel as childfree exalts the status to be an intentional choice for, what the practitioners claim to be, a superior experience.
As recently as the 1970s, only 1-in-10 women ended their childbearing years with no children; today, that number has grown to 1-in-5 – a statistical doubling.
The economic implications seem positive for the individual – who can argue with the elimination of dependents around the table leaving more for the big people? – but a ticking bomb for the aggregate. Jonathan V. Last writes in his book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting that the long-term effects include the destruction of our national economic future by reducing the number of consumers and taxpayers.
Who’s in front of this new movement? Sort out the demographics, and you find well-educated white women to be the most likely adherents to this new club’s membership criteria. The homeroom teacher for America’s women studying success – Oprah Winfrey – makes her position clear: “I have none – not one regret about having children – because I believe that it is the way it’s supposed to be.” (in a 2010 interview with Barbara Walters).
They make a strong case: if you want the perfect life – with your own life and plans as the magnetic center of your personal universe – adding kids to the mix is a losing proposition.
Lauren Sandler – the reporter who researched and wrote the article – did not interview God to get his opinion for the story. Does he have a position in the matter that is worth considering?
Using the Bible as credible history regarding God’s interaction with the human race, his input on procreation is no mystery.
His first communication with Adam and Eve – according to Genesis 1 – was for them to get busy with having a family. “Be fruitful, and fill the earth” leaves little confusion in the matter.
When Noah and his family – his wife, his three sons, their wives – disembarked the ark, the directive was issued: “Be fruitful and multiply” was the essence of their new assignment.
Then, God pulled Abram aside – an elderly man with a similarly used-up wife – and made a covenant with him that is still in effect today. A significant portion of God’s plan for Abram’s future was dedicated to the proliferation of his progeny – more numerous than the grains of sand on the beaches. Abram – later, his name-change to Abraham was telling: “father of a multitude” – made it his mission to make God’s covenant his reality.
How interesting: a growing population is an environmentalist’s nightmare, a problem to be addressed and reversed. From God’s perspective, an expanding human race is the natural and desired result of people doing what he intended for them to do.
Jesus’ last directive before returning to heaven echoed the instructions issued in the past, but in a purely spiritual context: the apostles were commissioned to be fruitful and multiply disciples, everywhere, among every people group. God’s spiritual family was to expand through the intentional propagation of obedient believers.
The selfish option: childfree / disciplefree. The selfless option: childrich / disciplerich. God loves kids, and he’s looking to adopt as many as possible into his eternal family.
Are you part of the task force that is reproducing / recruiting people to become children of God?