Tuesday, November 23, 2004

More on Deliberate Childlessness

R. Albert Mohrer, Jr. is a Godly man of great earthly importance:

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., is one of the leading conservative evangelical figures of our day. His role as a strategic leader among Southern Baptists and in the wider evangelical world has been recognized by such influential periodicals as TIME magazine, Christianity Today and other leading publications. He is a noted author and speaker. In addition to being president of the Southern Baptist Convention's flagship seminary, Mohler has distinguished himself as a denominational statesman by his leading role in the massive restructuring of America's largest Protestant denomination. Dr. Mohler is a frequent guest on nationally televised news programs, including CNN's "Larry King Live", and is quoted frequently in The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other major newspapers. His commentaries appear regularly in Religion News Service and WORLD magazine.

One of the good ole boys, in other words. This radical cleric has recently written an article entitled "Deliberate Childlessness: Moral Rebellion With a New Face". He describes several childless couples, each apparently childless because they prefer to spend money on consumption or are too selfish and lazy to have children. For a taste of this, consider the following example of what drives couples to childlessness:

The Schums just don't want kids to get in the way of their lifestyle. They enjoy cruising to the Georgia mountains on their matching Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They love their gourmet kitchen, outfitted with the very latest stainless steel appliances and trendy countertops. Deb Schum explains, "if we had kids, we would need a table where the kids could do homework." Clearly, children aren't a part of their interior design plan.

Surprisingly, Mr. Mohrer's article doesn't have a single example of deliberately childless people who are childless for unselfish reasons, such as the knowledge that they would make terrible parents because of illness or a dysfunctional family setup or just the understanding that they are not made of the stuff that makes for good parenting. Neither do any of his examples choose to be childless for political reasons: the fear of environmental degradation with an increasing global population size, for example. Nope. Mr. Mohrer's childless people are Bad People.

Most of his article is aimed at Christians, and it includes arguments that the Bible wants everybody to have children:

Christians must recognize that this rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift. The Psalmist declared: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." [Psalm 127: 3-5]

Whatever. Having a "quiver full of children" may have been an excellent thing for a nomadic shepherd two thousand years ago, especially because children were extra hands for jobs and also old-age insurance, but I wonder if his wife (whose opinions are not mentioned in the Bible) was equally happy to fill that quiver.

Anyway, Mr. Mohrer argues that not having children on purpose is a revolt against God's will. If Christians want to accept his argument I'm quite happy to let them do so. But things get a little trickier later in the article when Mr. Mohrer elaborates on his thesis:

The church must help this society regain its sanity on the gift of children. Willful barrenness and chosen childlessness must be named as moral rebellion. To demand that marriage means sex--but not children--is to defraud the creator of His joy and pleasure in seeing the saints raising His children. That is just the way it is. No kidding.

It's not quite clear what "society" means in this context, but I assume that it is the American society, consisting not only of fundamentalist Southern Baptists but of people of many other religions or none. Mr. Mohrer wants all these people to turn into "saints" by taking on the task of bringing up children. His last sentence but one is especially telling: "That is just the way it is."

This is why it's not possible to debate a wingnut. Their minds are fixed and closed before anything has been said.
Thanks to Manfred Traven in my comments for the original link.