The Solution to Infertility Problems in the West

Kevin DeYoung has a blog post in which he quotes Jonathan Last reviewing the book Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics. The whole issue is the problem of infertility, and how fertility rates have been declining rapidly in the west. The reason I bring this up is, while I agree that this is a problem, the title of the post, Give a Rip? Have a Kid exemplifies the oversimplifications in solutions to these problems that Christians today seem to come up with.

Some people in the comments section of that post keep pointing back to Genesis 1:28. Unfortunately, the myth that this text teaches that individual couples must have children has been strengthened due to these societal problems. A while back, I wrote an exegesis of Genesis 1:26-28 showing that a person who uses the text in this way is simply over-reading the text. I am *very* thankful that, to this day, that post has received a number of views, and my hope is that God will use it as an antidote to this over-reading of the text.

Still, the notion that, If you give a rip, have a child, is, again reflective of this attitude that seeks to *react* to culture, rather than examining culture through the lens of the scriptures. Put very simply, the Bible never, in vocabulary or concept, binds to the conscience of God’s people the notion that married people must have children as they can. The text of scripture simply doesn’t forbid deliberate childlessness, either in what it teaches or in what it commands. However, it does speak of childbearing as an extremely important and necessary part of the covenant community.

Because of this, childbearing seems to be parallel to the office of elder in the church. It is essential to the covenant community that they have elders, just as it is essential that they have couples who are about the task of having and raising covenant children. However, if we had a shortage of elders in the church, would it be right to say, “Give a rip? Become an elder”? No, such would be absurd. While the having and raising of covenant children is a good and legitimate way to serve God, it is not the only way for married couples to serve God. In fact, I would say that a couple that does not have children who watches other people’s children so that they can have a night off is showing that they do give a rip, because they want to ease the burden on those who are serving God in this way, and help them in any way they can. In this regard, even a single person can “Give a rip” without getting married and having children.

Also, the real problem is not even addressed. The reason why we have a shortage of people serving God in this way has nothing whatsoever to do with some lost “Biblical” command for married couples to have children if they can. Likewise, it has nothing to do with whether people “Give a rip,” because making it easier on couples to have and raise children very clearly means you do “give a rip.” Instead, the problem has to do with the various callings of God, and why it is that people who are called to serve God by having and raising covenant children do not do so.

Because people view the fertility problem in isolation from other problems, they don’t see that not only is there a fertility crisis, but there is also a crisis of people going to the mission field. There is also a crisis of people going into the ministry. Virtually every way of serving God that requires giving up personal peace is shrinking right now. Therefore, I would say that the reason for this is the same personal peace and affluence that Francis Schaeffer talked about. When you have a society that values personal peace and affluence above all things, then it will lead to not heeding God’s calling to areas such as the ministry, the mission field, marriage, or even, yes, having and raising covenant children. Thus, the decline in fertility is just one of the many consequences of adopting a worldview of personal peace and affluence. Once such a worldview is adopted, then those who God *has* called to have and raise covenant children will not do so, because they are too committed to their own personal peace. In the same way, those whom God has called to serve in the ministry will not do so, and those who are called to serve God in the mission field will not do so.

The reality is that personal peace and affluence will effect whether or not you are going to heed the calling of God in whatever area you are called to serve him. The issue is whether those who are called to this particular task are going to heed their calling. To assume that, if someone doesn’t have a child then they don’t give a rip is saying that the only way to care about this problem is to have a child, when there are clearly other ways to help. Worse than that, to say that having children is mandatory for married couples if they are capable of doing so is reading the Bible through the lens of the culture, rather than reading the culture through the lens of the Bible. Worse than that, it is not good cultural apologetics as it ignores, as Francis Schaeffer said, the fact that these kinds of problems are related, and that we need to find a solution that deals with *all* of these problems, since they *are* all related, and come from the modern humanistic worldview.

Finally, such a solution likewise is humanistic in that it puts trust in man rather than in God for the solution to this problem. Thus, it plays right into the hands of the humanists. In the comments section of Kevin DeYoung’s post, a man linked to a documentary about the subject of population decline. If you listen to that interview, the whole issue of delay of marriage comes up again, and the male bashing is front and center. It is very clear that these two things are related in that these folks are thinking that if you shame men into marrying early, and you then guilt them into having children, you will be able to solve this problem. Not only does that put a lot of faith in your ability to manipulate, but it also puts a lot of faith in men themselves. What these folks seem to be doing is pointing to men doing something as the solution to the problem, rather than Christ and the transformation of the heart that is wrought by his gospel.

Worse than that, even if they succeed in their manipulation, it will still bring about problems. What happens to churches who have pastors that are not called by God to the ministry? Do those churches not collapse? And what will happen if men who are not called to serve God by having and raising covenant children seek to have and raise covenant children? Will not the whole family collapse, and could this not lead to the children resenting their old faith and running off to the left? Worse than that even, what happens to those who are called to have children, and yet, they have children as a result of manipulation? There is no surer way to destroy the life of a child then to seek your own personal peace and affluence above that child. If that person’s idols of personal peace and affluence are not taken away by the power of the gospel, then they will destroy the lives of their children. Do you not think that these children will be willing to listen to the false gospel of the humanists, in such an instance? You see, such a humanistic solution to this problem, ironically, plays right into the hands of the humanists.

I think that the male bashing really comes from the fact that these folks place so much faith in men to do what they want them to do that, when men do not do these things, and the problems persist, it must be all the man’s fault. The fundamental problem with this approach is that all of this forces men to be something they were never created to be: the savior of a society. The only thing that will save a society is faith in Christ, because without faith Christ, there is no life. When you start trusting in men, marriage, and childbearing, and your own ability to manipulate, the whole thing will come collapsing down because these things were never meant to redeem. However, once the gospel removes the humanistic idols of personal peace and affluence from the heart of an individual, they will begin to look for ways to serve *God* above all, and if God calls them to the service of having and raising covenant children, they will heed it.

The problem is that there is a relationship to how man acts outwardly and what is in his heart inwardly. A man acts upon what he truly believes. If he truly believes that money can disappear into thin air, will he not treat his finances differently? In the same way, if man believes that God and his will are more important than anything, do you not think that will affect how he will behave? However, it all begins with the heart, and what he truly believes. As a side note, because of this relationship of the internal and the external, what I am saying is not Platonism, as some have slandered me, since there is a clear relationship between the internal and the external, something Plato could not solve. As a man thinks, so he is. That is the clear teaching of scripture.

Hence, there are really two problems here. The first is that all married couples are not called to have children if they can. Hence, when you put someone who has not been called to that vocation into that role, they will fail miserably. Worse than that, if a person has been called to have and raise covenant children, and is not heeding that call because of personal peace, manipulating him into having children without changing his heart is likewise a good way to destroy the lives of his children. However, they all go back to a more fundamental idolatry: the idolatry of man. Man is not called to do everything, and man has sin in his heart. More specifically, man is finite and man is sinful, two very good reasons why this method of solving these problems will always fail. Also, reading these teachings back into scripture is even worse, as it shows disrespect for the word of God in trying to force it to confirm your idolatry.

Finally, men do not take kindly to being manipulated. Most men I know resent this kind of teaching. Worse than that, I have had some men who say that they find it hard to get married now because they feel like doing so would be to give in to the manipulation. Hence, rather than accomplishing what they want, teachings like this may actually end up having the opposite affect, namely, driving men away from marriage and children. Thus the alleged solution causes more problems than were there initially.

The only solution to the problem of not enough people serving God by having and raising covenant children is to seek to root out the humanism that is at the root of our society and of our thinking. If that doesn’t come down, then expect this problem, and problems like it to continue. It is not just the problem of a lack of people serving God in marriage or a lack of people serving God by having covenant children that will continue. We will continue to have a shortage of ministers, a shortage of missionaries, and a shortage of any means of serving God that would violate our personal peace and affluence. The only way people who are called to any of these services will ever heed that calling, and be successful in that calling is if they have these idols removed first. Given the fact that these idols still remain strong, I don’t believe that any of these efforts to get men to marry and have children will ever be successful, and, in fact, will end up simply bringing about the destruction of our society far sooner. The idols of marriage, children, and men are very strong in the Christian church today, and, unless those idols are uprooted, we will end up in the exact same place as the secular culture.

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