“You’re so irresponsible!”
The nurse berated my wife.
“How could you get pregnant again after already having two children?”
It was supposed to be a routine pregnancy checkup. But it turned into an attack on my wife. She had to endure the aggressive complaints of her nurse. It wasn’t cool with her that a young woman, in her late 20s, was having a third pregnancy.
So, you planning any more children?
That’s a question I hear often. And I often struggle to find the words to answer it. For me, it’s a non-starter. How do the words “planning” and “children” find their way into the same sentence? And why is that sentence always phrased as a question?
Sure, I can see how it makes sense to people. But to me it seems that that question only makes sense when you’ve already accepted a package of social norms that that question fits nicely with. Social norms that put children lower on the list of priorities than they should be. How about this: can I ask you to please 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?
I think that’s worth saying again – can you imagine a world in which a family wouldn’t think twice about bringing life into the world?
Does that sound like a fantasy to you? Well, as long as it does, society isn’t going to change much.
Parenthood is “irresponsible”
Is it irresponsible to bring children into the world? My wife’s nurse certainly thought so. There’s so much social thinking that discourage parents from having children. It’s as if it’s only OK to have children if 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 (Israel) is 2.64 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? I don’t think so. 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. That 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. It all sounds so barbaric and archaic. People today are much more enlightened, aren’t they? People don’t do stuff like that today, do they?
Here’s what today looks like – today there is a culture that values bringing human life only under certain conditions. Otherwise, it’s irresponsible. It’s socially unacceptable. Which means it’s just plain unacceptable. So unacceptable that parents are encouraged to terminate pregnancies if these conditions aren’t met. Is this not barbaric as well?
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?
And even if that condition isn’t met, that doesn’t mean that you can’t rejoice and be happy over the creation of new life. Nothing’s stopping you from treating that child as if he or she were just born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
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 into the world.
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 today’s 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. And 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 reject those social norms that don’t give proper value to human life.
Yeah, those are all commitments. Maybe it would be irresponsible of you to jump into a commitment like that. But I don’t know any other way to start the journey that teaches responsibility in a way you just can’t learn otherwise. In other words – I don’t know any other way to just plain grow up.