Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Be Barren and Divide

And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." Genesis 1:28

The Gilbreth Family of Cheaper by the Dozen fame
God's first words to us. His first commandment is simple. He's given us the world and all that He asks is that we populate and subdue it. The commandment is also a blessing. We see throughout the Bible that fecundity brings honor while barrenness brings shame. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Hannah, Elizabeth; many important biblical women struggled with infertility, but in time they were blessed by God with children. Elsewhere in human history we see a similar theme. Most, if not all, pagan cultures had a goddess of fertility. She would often preside over the fruitfulness of the land as well as the people. It was understood that these two aspects were linked. If the land withheld life, the people would suffer, and if the people withheld new life, the land would become wild and barren.

These basic principles were almost universally understood for tens of thousands of years and God's first commandment was widely honored. What happened? How have we managed to entirely reverse our understanding of the world and so brazenly disregard God's first words to us in less than 100 years?

We have done a very good job of multiplying in the past. We have done so to the tune of 7 billion. That is impressive, we should be proud of ourselves. So how come we are ashamed of it? Why are we running around like Chicken Little proclaiming the coming destruction due to this number? Why have we killed millions of our children, legally? Why do we infuse our bodies with harmful chemicals or mutilate ourselves to attempt to prevent procreation? Why do we use governmental force to restrict our fertility rates? Even we are legally free to have as many children as we would like, we use societal pressure to restrict ourselves to "one of each".

I don't have good answers to these questions other than the fact the culture of death has a stranglehold on our world. And that's precisely the point, the culture of death is choking us out of existence.

God's commandment wasn't to keep us poor and starving, it was our road to prosperity. Life brings innovation. It's not a coincidence that the "Baby Boomers" are associated with economic prosperity. By reducing our numbers, we are stifling our technological and societal growth. Generation X and the Millenneals have produced some great advances for America, but what have we missed out on by preventing the birth (through abortion and contraception) of millions more in these generations?

To be cliché, yet also quite literal, we reap what we sow. In the developed world, our population is declining... quickly. Our fertility rates are getting dangerously close to the base replacement rate and in some areas like Japan, they have already dropped far below it. Even China is realizing that people are their greatest asset and their one child policy has had detrimental effects on the nation, such as the absence of young women. In America, we face a looming Social Security crisis as a major segment of society retires and we do not have enough working people left to support them. In Europe, heavy immigration is the only thing keeping their economies a float (and just barely at that). The Western world is dying out from our own hand, yet we push our anti-fertility policies on the less developed world. How do you think we got to where we are today? People. We are not doing 3rd world nations any favors by convincing (and pressuring) them to adopt the same anti-person mindset that we have.

We need to turn the tables back right-side up. It starts with individuals and it starts with our language. We must stop looking at a mother and her gaggle of kids in the grocery store with contempt or pity. We must no longer ask pregnant women if they are "finished after this one" or if they "have enough already." We should look at courageous, open to life families like the Duggars with honor instead of censure. And most importantly, we should look at our own families and ask ourselves, are we using our fertility to honor God's first commandment? Or are we merely following the way of the world?

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