A CALL TO ARMS
When it comes to the culture wars, my husband Tripp and I feel well positioned. Surveying the terrain, mapping our strategy, and especially measuring our capability, we feel braced for battle-- maybe more than most.
After all, we have twelve children.
I’ll be the first to admit our view of our children as a natural resource is radical in this day and age. One need only plod through a few cover stories on the costs of raising children today ($799,913 each according to U.S. News & World Report). Or check out at the grocery store behind a grandmultipara (obstetrical lingo for mother of many) to hear the ooohs and aaahs at what it takes to feed a multitude.
No doubt about it, in this country, children are considered a financial liability. Still, I wonder if money is the main issue for most who choose to limit their families. For every “How can you afford it?” I hear a dozen comments on the emotional burden and parents’ presumed inadequacies: “I don’t know how you do it; two are enough to drive me crazy.” “We’ve got all we can handle (shudder).”
Contrast with this the Third World’s resistance to the Population Control Brigade led by U.S. feminists who aim to “help” their darker-skinned sisters by getting them sterilized or birth controlled. It’s been slow going. What the noisy sisterhood doesn’t grasp is that in other countries people don’t see the “standard of living” the same way we do. Despite hardship, Third World women still count their children as their treasure.
So, how did our oh-so-sophisticated culture come to hold children in such low regard?
It took a quarter of a century. Since Roe v. Wade, through the popularization of promiscuous sex, birth control and abortion, Americans have absorbed as a fundamental truth what once began as a radical feminist philosophy. That is the child as invader--of a woman’s body, life, and freedom.
While most Second Wave feminists justified abortion by positing the non-viability of the “fetus,” their bolder sisters railed that even if an unborn baby was viable; a mother objecting to this invasion of her body had a right to kill the intruder–just as she might kill an assailant who had broken into her home.
Abortion as self-defense was a more useful model for feminists because it removed viability as an issue, thus opening the floodgates for late-term abortions.
In the same way so many once-countercultural ideas slithered their way into mainstream culture, this once-radical departure has become the most-traveled road. Consider one now-common addition to our language: unprotected sex means engaging in the act of reproduction without a barrier to reproduction. The implied warning: If you practice unprotected sex, you might end up with a disease--or worse, a child.
The child as invader. Defending oneself against children. Not so radical ideas anymore.
“I just can’t imagine another one.” “I’ve finally got all the children in school, I couldn’t handle another baby!” “I wanted to have more, but my husband put his foot down.” I’ve heard remarks like these for years–on the steps of my local church!
And so I wonder, what would the church look like today if we were influenced less by the culture which sees children as invaders–who will rob us of our freedom, status, beauty, wealth, and sanity–and influenced more by Scripture, which steadfastly affirms children as God’s reward?
Psalm 127 goes on to say:
“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”
Hold that thought. Then consider that while our current national birth rate is 1.8, in many Muslim countries the average mother has five or six children.
No army ever won a battle with empty quivers.
Perhaps the Body of Christ should recognize that having many children–if parents work to keep their arrows sharp and their aim true–may be the most revolutionary course Christians in a post-Christian world may take.
What if every Christian family had just one more than they thought they could handle? Or decided, as a growing number of Christians have, to trust God completely with their family planning, just as we trust Him in everything else?
As it stands now, believing adults still spend a lot a time, energy, and money defending themselves against children. Oh, what victory might be ours were we to see children not as something to defend ourselves from, but truly our best God-given defense!
BARBARA CURTIS, © 1999
Waterford, Virginia, USA