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 kids.
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 kids 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 kids 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
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