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Posts Tagged ‘The Childfree Life’

Father_Daughter

A recent Time magazine article titled “Having It All Without Having Children,” by Lauren Sandler, reflects on American couples’ low fertility rates positively, presenting the child-free married life as something that should be affirmed and welcomed.

Just to be clear, we are not talking about cases where couples are unable to conceive.  What Sandler seems to be talking about is a lifestyle choice.

The idea goes something like this: “Hey, some couples like to have kids, and that’s fine.  But some couples don’t want anything to do with kids; they’d rather take vacations, spend time alone, spend their money on themselves, etc.  And that’s great too!”

Children_of_men_ver4Some might say I’m over-thinking this, but I am reminded of one of my favorite movies, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men.”  In this dystopian yarn, viewers are confronted with a world in which the worldwide fertility rate is not low…it’s gone.  It has been 18 years since a child has been born, and no one alive is able to conceive.

It has been several years since I saw this movie, but I vaguely remember a quite depressing scene in which one of the characters mentions how empty, how different the world seems without the sound of children’s voices in it.

This is not mere sentimentality.  While children have been viewed differently from culture to culture, from era to era in human history, one thing seems fairly constant: Having children is associated with life, continuity, and hope.

AbrahamIsaacAnd since all aspects of our life in this world point beyond themselves, we can ask ourselves if and how we can get to know God better through our children.  Growing up, we can get to know the fatherhood of God through our parents, to whom we owe the gift of life and from whom we receive nurturing, encouragement, instruction, admonition, etc.  But can parents — and, really, the rest of us — also come to know God through the children they bring into the world, who rely on their elders who have more experience of life, whom parents mold into the people they will become?

I would say yes.  First of all, Christ assumed this state of life in His Incarnation.  Having assumed a human nature, body and soul, he was imbued with a rational human knowledge that had to submit to learning in order to grow (while also receiving from the Divine Person of the Son all truths He was sent to reveal).

But also, Jesus is the Word eternally begotten by the Father.  Note, I did not say “the Word who was once begotten by the Father.”  He is the Begotten One from all eternity, which stands outside of time and space.  He is the Son of God — “ever ancient and ever new,” as St. Augustine of Hippo put it.

In holy splendor before the daystar like dew I begot you (Psalm 110:3)

As an eternal reality, this cannot be fully comprehended by the finite minds of human beings.  Yet creation is a work of the Holy Trinity, and therefore bears marks of the Trinitarian life.  Therefore, the Word of God is reflected in life, vitality, and renewal…especially among humankind, made in God’s image and likeness.

Each individual person uniquely reflects the image of God.  Furthermore, all people are called to become members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12: 12-13, 27).  So I think we can say that with new generations coming into existence, we continually experience the inexhaustible newness of Christ.

To have a child, therefore, is a greater blessing, and a greater gift to the world, than any other “perk” marriage might have to offer.

We can criticize Sandler all we want, but I almost wonder if an article like hers could have been published if we had not had a far too utilitarian a view of childbearing for a long time to begin with — that is, we have spoken of it too much in terms of “personal fulfillment.”  Perhaps it is time we attempt to rediscover the true miracle, the true wonder, of human life, and how privileged human beings are to be able to participate in its generation.

Photos from Wikipedia

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