The personal freedom we’re sold denies any inherent connection whatsoever not only between sex and marriage, but between marriage and children. As one liberal commentator put it, for many Americans having kids is a discretionary activity, like collecting classic cars or visiting every parrot sanctuary in the world. Unfortunately, “many Americans” includes Christians. The indissoluble link between sex, marriage, and children may be the single most-ignored, most obvious biblical principle in Christian circles.
Americans are having fewer and fewer babies, and the New York Times wants to know why.
We’ve talked quite a bit on BreakPoint over the past few months about the declining fertility rate in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average American woman will have 1.76 children during her lifetime.
To put that in perspective, that’s lower than the largely secular Western European countries of France, Norway and Sweden. It’s only 10 percent higher than China, with its history of forced abortions and the “one-child,” now “two-child” policy.
The decline in fertility has become so serious that even outlets like the New York Times have started to ask what’s behind this decline. In fact, the Times recently ran an article entitled “Americans are having fewer babies. They told us why.”
The answer was, in a word, “economics.” Four of the top five answers cited financial or economic reasons, led by “Child care is too expensive.” The top two non-economic reasons were “Want more time for the children I have” and “Want more leisure time.”
I don’t doubt at all that the respondents were sincere. Financial and economic considerations of course play an important role in the choices people make as to when to have children and how many children to have.
But the key words are “when” and “how many.” Nothing in the Times’ article challenges the cultural assumptions that even more than the economic considerations are driving down fertility rates in the Western world.
The first assumption to consider is what we mean in the West by “the good life.” In Luke 12, Jesus says, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” In Colossians 3, Paul calls covetousness a form of idolatry.