So, you planning any more children?
That’s a question I hear often. And I often struggle to find the words to answer it. I get stuck on the fact that the words “planning” and “children” find their way into the same sentence, and that that sentence is a question.
Sure, it makes sense to us. But that’s because we’ve accepted a package of social norms that that question fits nicely with. But, can you put those social norms aside for a moment, and imagine a world in which having children is not a question? Where human life is so valued that a family wouldn’t think twice about bringing life into the world?
Sounds like a fantasy, right? Well, as long as we see it that way, society isn’t going to change much. At least not in the transformational way we need it to.
Parenthood is “irresponsible”
One time my wife had the unpleasant experience of being berated by a nurse for being pregnant. Yes, you heard me. During my wife’s pregnancy checkup, the nurse became aware that this was my wife’s third pregnancy in about three years. She just let loose on my wife for being irresponsible in having so many children so close together. And by the way, that particular pregnancy was twins…
Is it irresponsible to bring children into the world? That nurse certainly thought so. So much of our social thinking and systems discourage parents from having children unless certain factors are set in place. Things like income, job security, community, etc. And if the child in the womb has a defect or risk of impairment? Again, you are warned for having that child, and encouraged to terminate the pregnancy.
Well, we haven’t seen that nurse for a while. I don’t know what she would say if she saw us today, as we are now at eight children – eight. The average birth rate for our country is under 2.5 children per family. So we have over three times the amount of children that our country’s society is set up for.
Parenthood is blind faith
Is this irresponsible? No. It’s an act of blind faith in human life. Remember that someone paid the price for everyone – those born and those yet to be born. It was an act of blind faith in human life – there was no guarantee that anyone would accept or honor His sacrifice.
And no, I’m not talking about putting your faith in humanity – humanity will always let you down. Humanity is frail, broken, and evil. But human life is not. Human life is… life. Life only comes from one source. Life is worth being valued, as the Author of life is worth being valued.
Irresponsible or not, having children is exactly the thing that taught me responsibility. Yes, it would have been great to know what I know now when I was a new father. But I just don’t see how that could happen without first putting blind faith in becoming a father. You just can’t get to the destination without the journey.
Parenthood has conditions
Our family lives on a hill atop the valley of Ben Hinnom in Jerusalem, Israel. Today that valley has a pretty green park, a cinematheque with a nice restaurant, and a municipal music center. It’s also flanked by some nice cliffs that are a draw for weekend rock climbers.
But in biblical times, it was called Tophet: the place where people sacrificed their babies to the gods Molech and Baal. Yes, that same place. And all that just sounds like barbaric archaic practices – because hey, we’re enlightened today. We don’t do that stuff.
But today we’ve created a culture that values bringing human life only under certain conditions. Otherwise, it’s irresponsible. It’s socially unacceptable. It’s unacceptable. So unacceptable that parents are encouraged to terminate pregnancies if these conditions aren’t met.
But there is only one true condition required for responsibly bringing life into the world. It is the binding and exclusive commitment of a mother and a father. After that condition is met, why then should it be a question?
Parenthood is the best thing you can do in life
So why did we bring eight children into the world? Because the value of bringing a human life into the world to me was greater than any cost I could list. And I’ve listed those costs. Those costs were great. I feel them every day. But they just don’t add up to more than the value of bringing a human life.
Children are a responsibility. Pets are a responsibility. Plants are a responsibility. Every form of life requires commitment in order to survive and grow. And our culture spurns commitment. Because commitment limits your options. But what are those options worth without a proper concept of value, starting with the value of human life?
The best thing you can do is be a father or mother. If you’re not in a family setting, it doesn’t mean you can’t act as a father or mother for those in need. You can still reach out and care for children in need of a father or mother. You can give your time and resources to support other parents. You can choose for yourself to cast off social norms that don’t attribute the proper value to human life.
Yeah, those are all commitments. Maybe it would be irresponsible of you to jump into a commitment like that. To quote a dear friend and fellow father, sometimes we need to “throw the hat over the fence,” and let the rest of our body join it. This puts us on the journey that will teach us responsibility in a way we couldn’t learn otherwise.
How are you honoring human life with your commitments? Let me know in the comments below!