Anyone who knows me knows I’m in favor of people being honest and not censoring one another. I’m into having substantive, in-depth discussions on, well, just about everything.
I love a good debate on political, social, philosophical, historical, psychological, or relational issues, to name a few. That is, I love it so long as people treat one another with a modicum of respect, exercise self-control and decency with their own words and conduct, and don’t take offense every time someone disagrees with them.
I’m not a person to delete comments on status updates or photos or links I post on Facebook, Twitter, or the blog. You can’t delete the spoken word in real life. Why should you delete it on the internet? Deleting comments and blocking people strikes me as nothing more than a way of shutting down dissent and shutting out voices that challenge us to give a second thought for why we feel, think, believe, say, and do as we do. Shutting down dissent is a tell-tale sign of a weak mind unable to defend its poor arguments and uninformed opinions, and I make a conscious and committed effort to avoid giving into that and similar temptations.
One exception I will make in a heartbeat is any clearly abusive or bullying remark against someone else, any personal attack against someone’s core being or their life itself. Disagree all you want with what someone may think, say, feel, believe, or do, but unless they are doing or proposing some truly vile or heinous thing, save your beef for the substance of the issues instead of that person who disagrees.
My rule against personal attacks goes doubly when it comes to my wife and our children.
A Rude Comment On A Photo Of My Baby Boy
In light of all that, I’d just like to say to the young woman who made the two-word comment “Birth Control” on a Facebook photo of my newborn son, our sixth child, presumably because she’s disagreed in the past with my stated political and social positions:
I deleted your comment and will delete any others like it in the future, from you or anyone else.
I just want you to know Lauren and I and our six children prayed for you before supper the night you left that comment, that God would bless you with greater wisdom and discretion. And maybe, just maybe, if you’re so fortunate, some day God will change your heart about children and bless you like He’s blessed us – with six of them so beautiful and wonderful as ours.
The Bible says that children are a blessing from Yahweh God. Modern American culture is very confused about this issue, and apparently you are too. It seems you’ve been brainwashed into the lie our godless modern society tells young women: that you’ll find ultimate fulfillment by being a self-absorbed and self-serving nit-wit. That explanation is the only way I can make sense of a support for the social and political positions you hold that is so strong you’d be willing to lash out at my children in an effort to dissuade me from or punish me for opposing and disagreeing with you.
What was it that pushed you over the edge, my comment about Obama’s State of the Union address the other evening? How petty and thin-skinned of you to take offense at something like that.
Could it really have been my low opinion of the Progressive agenda that gave you a sense of entitlement to be so rude and insulting about my family? Maybe it was something more specific, one issue in particular. But which one?
Was it my ardent opposition to abortion, gun control, the LGBT agenda, or increasing public hostility toward Christianity that made you think you had a license to shill for the Democrats? I’m honestly not sure, and I’ll likely never know because you refused to respond when I tried to message you directly.
For the cherry on top, you even blocked me! And for what? What possible excuse can you have for blocking me? At first I was angry at that, and even hurt by your brief comment. Surprisingly, though, I’ve already moved on to feeling sorry for you.
As I think about it further, it occurs to me: perhaps you were drunk or high and so you weren’t thinking clearly when you did what you did. Then again, maybe you’ve been abusing the mind-altering substance known as Leftist politics, and you weren’t fully in control of yourself because of the sway the Progressive agenda holds over you.
In any event, whatever the explanation, I’ll continue to pray for you that God would heal your mind and let His grace shine on you. We all need His healing and grace, and I’m absolutely certain right now that you’re no exception.
And to anyone else out there who has as little respect and regard for my family and I as this young woman evidently does, I have a request to make of you:
Private message me if you’ve got a problem with me or would like to make a snide remark about my kids, or else just un-“friend” me. You’re obviously no friend of mine anyways if this is your mindset and attitude, so let’s just cut to the chase if it’s going to be that way. Get it over with.
Birth Control? No. But how about some Mouth Control?
This is how it goes sometimes, unfortunately. At a loss for how to defend the substance of the positions they feel so strongly about, some people choose to pursue a little personal vengeance instead of quiet contemplation and intelligent discourse on the issues.
This is what comes of relating to life and the numerous issues in it guided primarily by emotions and a commitment to maintaining self-esteem at all costs. Your self-serving bias will readily tell you it’s fair-game to publicly shame others rather than owning any shame yourself for the half-baked opinions and beliefs you may hold. We sinners instinctively know, in our heart of hearts, that someone should be feeling shame when wickedness and folly are practiced and embraced. The choice between honest humility and stubborn pride comes down to one question: Will you allow yourself to entertain the notion that you’re the one who’s wrong?
That comment on the photo of my son was definitely the most egregious case, but this is far from the first time complete strangers have taken liberties commenting on my family’s size.
The cashier at Wal-Mart asks without compunction, with my children standing right there beside me: “Are you done yet?” The chuckling lady we pass in the fresh produce aisle at the grocery store asks without a second-thought: “Are they all yours?” The guy at work asks if I have any kids, then blurts out “You’re crazy!” when I grin and tell him “Yes, six.”
You’d think we had six heads growing out of our neck instead of six children standing beside us.
But I’ll tell you what: If people want to talk about family size and birth control, I’ll be their huckleberry. Let’s talk about family size and birth control.
Family Planning, American Style
Do you know who else had six children besides my wife and I? Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and George H.W. Bush.
Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan all had four kids each.
Benjamin Franklin was one of 17!
Previous generations of Americans routinely had families as big as mine and then some, and it wasn’t just the poor wretches who never amounted to anything. Where would we be if our ancestors hadn’t had the children they did?
The folks making ignorant comments quite probably wouldn’t even be alive to make their remarks if their grandparents and great-grandparents had embraced the short-sighted, self-centered view of family and children that is now common in Western civilization.
Over the past half-century the average American family steadily shrank, and the “ideal” became mere replacement of the mother and father with one boy and one girl. Abortion has been legal since Roe v. Wade in 1973. “The pill” was approved 13 years prior in 1960, and is now used for birth control by almost 12 million women in the U.S. and 100 million women worldwide.
Nowadays after you’ve had your first son or daughter the assumption is you’ll try once more to get the gender of baby you don’t have so you can enjoy a match set. Once you’ve got your Barbie and Ken, the man may very well neuter himself if the woman taking drugs to keep herself from getting pregnant again isn’t enough. If all else fails and the woman does get pregnant again despite her best efforts, abortion is always an option.
How often do would-be American mothers feel pressured by this new ideal to exercise their “right to choose” in favor of killing their child?
America: where if all else fails you can murder your family down to the size you want
No, that’s deranged. American culture is sick and demented and incredibly short-sighted when it comes to children. My wife and I may seem like freaks to you, but that’s not because we’re the crazies. The rest of the country has lost its ever-loving moral mind. If you don’t see that, it’s only because you’re not paying attention.
Set aside for a moment that abortion remains a contentious political debate. Admittedly, there are a lot of passionate Pro-Lifers out there. I’m one of them. Even so, an America that can even grudgingly accept tens of millions of babies being murdered at their parents’ request has at very least dubious credibility on the difference between wisdom and folly or good and evil. An America where infanticide is even a debatable issue has zero moral authority to look down its nose at my wife and I and our six children, lecturing us about the greater good and what is or isn’t responsible.
Why? Because Roe v. Wade. That’s why.
The really sad thing is that people think they’re automatically entitled to their opinion here. As far as criticism goes, it’s open-season on big families whenever we go out in public. But family size for someone that chooses to have 0-2 kids? That’s completely their choice, completely up to them, and totally off-limits for you to even question. The assumption is that having fewer children is invariably smarter than having many, and having lots of children means your discretion is questionable at best.
Well I’m here to tell you, people looking down on my family and others like us, in the words of Harlan Ellison: “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
You are not inherently more sensible and responsible for having 0-2 kids than we are for having 6 or more.
An Inconvenient Truth: We’re not overpopulating the planet.
“But Garrett, you’re not being ecologically responsible, having that many kids!”
A lady I used to work for actually told me that once, back when my wife and I “only” had four children. In our introductory, let’s-get-to-know-one-another conversation, she chided me for my family planning decisions. Somehow managing to keep her face straight, she clearly wanted to wrinkle her nose in disgust. Just as clearly, she wasn’t too impressed when I responded by laughing unrepentantly in that serious face of hers.
Unable to hide my amusement at what she’d just told me, I asked her: “Have you ever been to wide-open Montana? Or how about Nebraska? There is plenty more space for people in this world!”
She was a well-educated woman from New Jersey with a young toddler in daycare. Judging by her comments, no doubt she and her husband were Mr. and Mrs. Ecologically Responsible, embracing an environmentally Progressive agenda and thereby saving future generations of polar bear cubs by limiting their own carbon footprint to just one offspring.
Mr. and Mrs. Ecologically Responsible expect when not outright demanding that everyone else play by their rules. Even if no one has ever stated them explicitly to you, you’re no doubt familiar with what these rules are. They go like this:
At a certain point, ideally after several years of indoctrination in liberal pseudo-intellectualism and at least a four-year degree to show for it, Mr. and Ms. Ecologically Responsible might deign to take one another as spouse, inviting one another in to compete for their own tightly guarded attention and resources. Mind you, that’s only so long as their “special someone” makes them really happy and doesn’t cause too much discomfort in the process. If that first spouse doesn’t make them as happy as they had expected, or if someone comes along who might make them happier still, switching spouses in a mercenary fashion is not out of the question.
Supposing Mr. and Mrs. Ecologically Responsible stay together, they’ll spend a few years developing their careers and trying to pay down the debts they incurred getting their high-minded bona fides at a big college or university, doting on one another and themselves all the while. At a certain point, they may grow tired of not having children and feel like it’s about time to let nature resume its course. So they’ll stop trying to stop having babies and may actually have one. Several years more will pass, and they may have yet another. But then they’ll probably stop.
Doing anything more than replacing yourself is not in keeping with Ecologically Responsible family values. There’s too much consumption as it is because there are too many consumers. As the environmentalists reckon, we will save the planet both by reducing our individual consumption and by reducing the total number of consumers. Therefore population growth is counter-productive and not to be borne. If I’m over here having six children with my wife while you’ve disciplined yourself over there to have only one or two, I’m undoing all your hard work! How dare I?
There’s just one problem. The worldview this way of living is predicated on is fundamentally wrong! The Earth is not overpopulated now, nor is it in imminent danger of becoming so. Your individual actions aren’t going to cause or prevent “Climate Change,” therefore it’s an exercise in futility for you to keep on counting the squares of toilet paper you use, or seeing everyone around you who doesn’t as a greedy little monster recklessly spoiling the environment.
So you can stop telling yourself you’re saving Mother Earth by limiting your family size to one boy and/or one girl, and you can stop trying to marry Captain Planet and Planned Parenthood.
The Truth is You Probably Don’t Want to Have More Kids Because They’re Inconvenient
The claim that we should stop having children to save the world from overpopulation is, I hate to break it to you, a smoke-screen.
On a larger scale, environmentalism and all this hype about Global Climate Disruption is really just a wealth redistribution scheme designed to whip everyone into hysteria so they’ll change the political status quo. We’ll get into how that is more in future articles, but suffice to say for the moment that it just is.
On a personal level, environmentalism is used as a smokescreen to conceal the fact that, in the vast majority of cases, American adults are just trying to excuse themselves for being self-absorbed.
Who wants to come right out and say that they don’t want more kids eating their food, needing diaper changes and their own bedrooms, or requiring the love, instruction, and discipline of their mother and father? Really honest people may, but only because they see nothing wrong with themselves being the center of their own universe.
No, on neither the macro nor the micro level is the problem a shortage of space and resources available for the people who have been born already or may be in the future. Rather the problem is in the willful decisions we make about how to manage the space and resources we have.
The average family size in America has shrunk over the past 50-100 years primarily because the adults don’t want a lot of little people clogging up their homes, competing with them for the pampering and attention they like to give themselves.
This is also why many young adults are reluctant to get married in the first place. This is why many American marriages end in divorce. This is why an aggressive campaign was waged to abolish the traditional definition of marriage. And why not?
When you don’t care what God says and instead see yourself as the center of your own universe, it doesn’t just affect how you relate to decisions about whether or when to have children and how many; it also affects whether and how you get or stay married.
The reverse should also be true, dear brothers and sisters. If we’ve spoken out in defense of traditional marriage because God says its supposed to be one man and one woman for life, we can’t stop there. Consistency in our faith requires equal ardor in how we approach every other facet of life and family planning. Are you opposed to “gay marriage” because God says it’s wrong? Then you need to embrace with double that resolve what God says about how a man and woman should treat one another before and during marriage, and what He says about having and raising children.
There Are Some Legitimate Reasons To Avoid Having Children
Please don’t misunderstand me here. When it comes to reasons for actively trying to prevent pregnancy, it isn’t always about being godless or self-indulgent. There are some significant exceptions.
- What if the wife has a serious medical condition that causes one miscarriage after another, or one that would put her life in grave danger if she got pregnant?
- What if the wife or husband is terminally ill with cancer or some such, and so the couple decides to try to avoid getting pregnant because the prospect of one spouse or the other being a single parent is just too hard to bear if it can be avoided?
- What if the husband and wife are unemployed or underemployed, and therefore can’t afford to feed, clothe, and house more kids?
Should we malign the motives of people like these when they try to hold off on getting pregnant? No, of course not.
But, again, these are not most people’s situations, therefore they can’t be most people’s reasons for not wanting more children.
For every one man who tells me in bittersweet sincerity that he and his wife wanted to have a big family but couldn’t due to medical conditions, another ten men tell me flat-out there’s no way they’ll ever want more children than the one or two they already have.
My mind is noisy as I quietly listen to the explanations these men give:
They say: “Kids are so expensive!”
I think: ‘…Yeah, they are. But so was your brand new truck, your fancy house on the nice side of town, your boat, and your big-screen TV. Your argument is invalid.’
They say: “My hands are full with the one or two we’ve already got!”
I think: ‘…No doubt that’s true, but it doesn’t mean you couldn’t grow stronger, more patient, and wiser and learn how to raise another couple kids if God gave them to you.’
Ironically, despite market fluctuations and the serious damage Progressives have done to the economy, America is wealthier and more technologically advanced than any other nation has been at any other time in known history. Automobiles, electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, cellphones, the internet, microwaves, refrigeration, fast-food and supermarkets are just a few of the things our great-grandparents either didn’t have at all, or else had in a very rudimentary form.
So how on Earth did our ancestors manage to have and raise children without these? And are we a lot of pampered, fickle weaklings if we can’t imagine raising half so many children as they did even with all the fantastic technological conveniences and disposable monies we have in our day and age?
Worry About Population Contraction, Not Overpopulation
Wide use of “the pill,” abortion as big-business, failed marriages and broken homes, self-indulgent adults focused on self-actualizing rather than having children during the most energetic years of their life – all these factors have led modern, Westernized nations around the world into a sticky situation. Population stagnation and decline is now posing very real problems both economically and socially, and it’s only going to get worse in the coming decades.
Consider the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” Every American is now required to have health insurance or else pay a hefty fine. One of the big problems with the implementation of the AFA is that many younger adults are choosing to pay the fine rather than much higher premiums for insurance they don’t expect to need at this stage in their life. In order for health insurance to work financially, it has to rely on the assumption that more healthy people will pay into the system than sick people will use it. What happens when more of the enrollees are older and fewer are younger? Insofar as the older enrollees are more likely to suffer from health problems like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and general breakdowns due to aging, insurance companies have to pay out a lot more relative to what they take in. At a certain tipping point, the system will collapse or else become increasingly and prohibitively expensive.
What happens as the older people in a society get so old they can’t take care of themselves anymore? If the elderly have no children available or willing to care for them, a nursing home or assisted living arrangement is needed. When the aged have no children, and the pool of younger people from which healthcare workers for nursing homes and assisted living are pulled is shrinking even as the number of elderly needing their services is growing, the elderly receive less care or none at all. As population stops growing and begins to decline, the younger generations have to shoulder an increasing burden, and it’s terrible to think of the elderly slipping between the cracks with too few available to catch them.
And what about retirement funds and Social Security? From where do the checks that sustain retirement come when the workforce generating wealth is contracting even as the number of retirees continues growing?
Look at the declining birth rates in American and European nations over the past several decades. Besides importing refugees from cultures where birth rates are typically higher than in the West, are we doing anything as a culture and a civilization to correct course here? And are we prepared for the demographic changes which are all but guaranteed to result from higher birth rates among immigrants and refugees even as birth rates among native citizens remain stagnant or continue to decline?
Make no mistake, major disruptions and upheavals are already in store based on the decisions we’ve made the past half-century, but that’s no reason to continue on and make them worse.
What The Bible Says About Family Planning
We’ve taken a long, hard look at modern America with regards to birth control, family planning, and child-rearing, especially the negative aspects of the new norms. Consider now the first chapter of the Bible, when God created man.
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
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 heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
There is here none of the environmentalists’ nonsense about mankind being a consumptive plague on Mother Earth. Indeed, God says right out of the gate that mankind is made to have dominion – literally ‘sovereignty and control’ – over the planet.
What is God’s first command to man? “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” In other words, have a big family and spread out all over the globe!
This is reiterated later on in Genesis after God destroys the Earth with a global flood. To Noah and his family after they step off the ark, Yahweh gives the command again:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth… Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
According to the Creator, PETA is quite mistaken when they insist that “meat is murder.” The mission of Planned Parenthood is antithetical to the first command Yahweh God gave to mankind, promoting rather than prohibiting parenthood.
Consider the words of the prophet Malachi:
“Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”
When or whether to have children, how many to have if and when you do, how to raise them once you have them – God’s stated intention is not that these choices be made to suit our own whims and glory-seeking. Rather He instituted the covenant of marriage because He wants marriages to produce godly offspring.
As the Psalmist writes:
“Behold, children are a heritage from Yahweh,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
We must not take from secular pop culture our cues for how to feel about having children. Instead look to the Bible to guide you to the truth and a right attitude about family planning.
When God tells us children are a blessing and reward, how can we conclude instead that having them is a curse and an inconvenience? Perhaps because we’ve forgotten another passage of Scripture.
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
No, Doctor Spock and his philosophical heirs have it wrong. Rather than spankings and discipline being a destructive disregard for your child’s mental and emotional development, the Bible tells us that a father who is apathetic about training his children is showing that he hates them, and that discipline is a sign of a father’s true love for his son. And that makes sense.
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
If you want to raise the godly offspring God is seeking from marriage, if you want what’s best for your children, you will instruct and guard them against destructive wickedness and folly.
No wonder American culture has come to see children as a curse! Obsession with not damaging fragile self-esteem by rebuke and discipline means spanking your child is taboo. Therefore, parents who are taking their cues from pop culture don’t train and discipline their children!
Yet without the patient guidance and firm hand of their mothers and fathers, children grow up to be spoiled brats, little terrors and menaces tragically unprepared for adult life without the restraint, respect, self-control, and moderation necessary to navigate it successfully.
But Don’t Apologize for Having One or Two Kids
The Bible says that children are a blessing from God, and my wife and I really believe that. But that doesn’t mean we frown on other men and women for having one or two children, or even for being childless.
On a personal note we have family and friends who tried to have children for years, but suffered multiple miscarriages and had their hearts broken time after time. They currently have only one child each. There’s no selfish ulterior motives for those small families and others like them. There were medical circumstances outside of their control which interfered. They should be comforted rather than scolded.
From a Biblical point-of-view, Abram and Sarai in the Old Testament didn’t have any children until they were what we would consider elderly. Even then they only had one son. Was their a medical condition that prevented them from getting pregnant? Did God simply close Sarai’s womb because He had a plan to work all things out for the good through their having a child later in life? God only knows all those details, but no one looks down on the faith and sincerity of Abraham and Sarah except God Himself.
Considering these things, how could I justify looking down on another married couple for having only one child, or for being childless?
Birth Control Versus My Big Family
The gal who commented “Birth Control” on that photo of my newborn son has never spent any time around my family, doesn’t know how well or poorly my children behave or are taken care of, and has never seen my wife or I in action as parents to our six kids. She was a high school acquaintance and was just trying to throw mud to punish me for my stated positions on social and political issues.
Nevertheless, I’ll freely admit: Lauren and I definitely have our own shortcomings and flaws. We aren’t perfect parents, and our children aren’t perfect either. That was true back when we had only one or two kids, and it’s still true today with six.
We pray daily for God’s wisdom and grace on us and we try our best to be good stewards of what He’s given us. We ask Him to teach us how to treat one another and our children in a way that honors Him.
A Heart Issue
The fact that this really all comes down to a heart issue is what has driven me to address the subject of birth control and family planning.
My aim since before my wife and I even learned we were pregnant with Josiah, our first-born son, has been to focus on seeing children as blessings like God’s Word tells us they are. As blessings, we should focus our attention on thanking God for children, and trying to be the best stewards we can of the privilege it is to parent them.
Lauren’s and my initial commitment to maintaining what we believe is the Biblical mindset on children led us to an open-mindedness about how large our family would get, and that’s how we came to have the six children we do now. We may have even more children in the future, but only God knows for certain. All I’ll say is that we haven’t closed the door on that possibility, in case He isn’t done with us yet.
Nothing permanent in our situation causes us to feel we must commit to stopping the growth of our family. If God sees fit to bless us with more children, we’ll do our best to raise and train them too. Yet in so much as it’s within our power, we’re hoping to wait 3-5 years before having any more.
And why is that? Because I want to be sure my wife’s health isn’t negatively impacted by another pregnancy too soon. I don’t want to put her life in jeopardy because I love her, and protecting and honoring her as my wife is another way I honor the Lord who made me.
Another reason is that we want to make sure we’re being good stewards of the children God has already blessed us with and have developed a good system for caring for, raising, training, and loving them before we add any more children into the mix.
If I can hope anything would come of my blog post here, it would be that all my readers would humbly ask themselves by the end what their motives are for having or not having children. However many children you have or want to have, whether you’re married or not or would like to be some day – are you the center of your own universe? Is man the measure of all things in your book?
Please don’t take your cues on family planning from the culture around you. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it, and right is right even if no one is willing to admit it. Whatever your stage in life, I pray that God’s Word would guide you, and that the words of the Psalmist could be sincerely spoken by you:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.”