A few days ago, a colleague shared comments he and his wife get when people find out they have seven kids: “Are they all yours?” “Were they all planned?” “What are you, Mormon?” And, most awkward of all: “You know what causes that, right?”
This kind of reaction to large families, which I’ve gotten with only four kids, reveals the assumptions about children that largely go unquestioned in our culture, even in the Church.
It is widely assumed, for example, that children are a choice. This was not always so. The introduction of reliable contraception, especially the pill, made it possible to divorce the inherent connection between sex, marriage, and procreation.
The cultural journey through the sexual revolution went something like this: First, we wanted sex outside of marriage. That required having sex without the threat of babies. Then we wanted babies outside of marriage, and today, even babies without sex. Somewhere along the way, the idea of marriage without children, intentionally I mean, became common too. Even among Christian couples, the idea of not only delaying children but choosing to not have them at all is, in many circles, non-controversial.
In previous generations, an intentionally childless marriage would have been unthinkable. Infertility, as so many couples are painfully aware, is tragic. Intentional infertility is considered a choice today.
Another assumption that controls our cultural thinking is that we have children in order to fulfill adult longings. This shift goes hand in hand with seeing marriage as fundamentally an institution of adult happiness, rather than as an institution to protect and enable the next generation.
When kids are thought of in terms of personal fulfillments, how we go about “obtaining” them becomes less important. Or not at all. And so, the sexual revolution is punctuated by ethically problematic reproductive technologies and intentionally single-parent households, not to mention same-sex households who want children even after entering an intrinsically sterile sexual union.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris