About this Blog

After banging my head in frustration over the obsession everyone around me had with procreation, I went online to find a community of people who were more like me. I have met some fascinating people along the way, but I have also found that many in the childfree community are quite hostile toward Christianity and a Christian world view. I understand that, unfortunately, many of my Christian sisters and brothers have given them a lot of ammunition (undoubtedly, I have been guilty of this at times too). Not wanting to be perceived as "trolling" for expressing my Christian perspective on other people's forums and blogs, I use my own blog to share my musings on childfree life while at the same time expressing my faith.

My intention is to show support to childfree people, both Christian and non-Christian, but from my own Christian perspective. Questions and constructive comments are welcome; negativity and intolerance are not.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bingo! (Or, Doesn’t Anyone Have an Original Thought Anymore?)

Before I started participating in online forums, I had not heard the term “bingo” before in reference to someone making an insensitive comment about another person’s choices or beliefs. As I began reading the stories of people all over the world who were being bingoed for their childfree choice, I realized several things. 1) It wasn’t just me being overly sensitive. 2) Apparently I was not doing anything wrong or doing anything that inadvertently triggered people into bingoing me. 3) People across the globe are completely unoriginal, but they seem to think they have just made some comment of such astounding enlightenment that it will most certainly change the childfree person’s mind.

Interestingly, I have received very few bingos from my fellow Christians, and the ones I have received have been no different from the rest of the bingos that come from the rest of the world. The first (and only, now that I think about it) “religious” bingo came from a girlfriend at church who protested, “But God said to be fruitful and multiply.” I was quick to point out that this statement was made only to Adam & Eve and then later to Noah and his family, and at a time when there were no other people on the earth. With the billions we had now, that directive had been fulfilled. This stopped my friend dead in her tracks. (I have since learned that some scholars recognize this as a blessing and not a command.)

In case any of you are unfamiliar with these bingos, some clever people have put together “bingo cards” that you can use to track all of the clich├ęs that people might hand you.
Here’s one.
And another.
(Because it appears on the cards above, I do feel compelled to clarify that in childfree circles, some folks use the term “breeder” as a derogatory term for bad or ignorant parents. In general, they do not use it for thoughtful parents who are working hard to raise good children. I personally avoid the word altogether, except in the comfort of my own home where my husband and I sometimes jokingly use the term in its most literal sense to refer to -- very neutrally -- “one who breeds.”)
The Childfree Life even has t-shirts, mugs, bags, etc., to display your bingo card. Sit back, have a chuckle at the cards, and reflect in amazement with me at how so many people can say the same things over and over with nary an original thought.

What’s your favorite bingo? Or your favorite “religious” bingo? More importantly, what is your best, Christ-honoring response to a bingo?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Clear Path to Follow

I do believe I was actually called to not have children, although the reason was not always clear to me (and sometimes still is not). In fact, God decided to lay out a very clear path for my life in many respects.
  • When I was 10 years old, I discovered what I would like to study in college.
  • When I was 12 years old, I realized what my future career would be.
  • At 17 years old, it was so clear which college I should attend that I filled out only one college application and was awarded a full scholarship to that school.
  • At 20, God put me in the path of a young woman who introduced me to the study abroad program, and I spent the following fall in England as an exchange student. God used this to re-direct the path I had been on by expanding my view of the world and expanding the scope of my career.
  • At 21, God intervened (mostly through that study abroad) in an unhealthy relationship in which I had spent many years. I rededicated my life to God and told him I would be willing to remain single forever if it would suit his purposes. Within a few months, I met my husband-to-be. I held him at arm’s length for quite some time until I could no longer deny that we were supposed to be together.
  • As with my undergraduate college, I applied to only one graduate school when I was 22. It was clear where I should go, and God blessed us abundantly during that time.
  • As I neared the end of grad school at 25, I applied for about 50 jobs in several states, all the while asking God for clarity about where we should go. The answer was clear: one job offer (and I am still at that job 9 years later).
I could continue the list indefinitely, but I think you get the picture. While my life does have plenty of uncertainty, God has always been faithful in providing direction for my major decisions. So when I felt the absence of any desire to bear children, and when I realized around the age of 15 that I did not have to have children, this seemed as clear a part of God’s path for me as any of the other scenarios I described above. There was no rebellion, no questioning God, no drama, no real decision-making, none of the soul-searching that many other childfree people have to go through. It just WAS what it WAS.

At some point when I was a teenager, I had a glimpse of why God might want me to be childless: adoption. As I watched and listened to stories of orphans, I could hear the still, small voice of God saying to me, “This is what I would have from you.” So I agreed with God, “OK, someday.” However, this is where the path has become uncertain… will someday ever come? I am still open to adoption, particularly of an older child, but the call has become all but silent. In the meantime, I sponsor a couple of children through World Vision, and I support Show Hope. I ask myself if perhaps this is what God wants for me, at least for now. There is one thing about which I am certain: when or if the time for adoption comes, it will be abundantly clear.

[As kind of a post script to this blog… I wrote a more detailed and secular version of my thoughts on adoption for publication on The Childfree Life, called “Childfree, but Passionate for Adoption.” Check it out, and expect to see a few more posts about adoption on my blog in the future.]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The State of Our World

I had a discussion recently with a colleague of mine, a childfree Christian now in her 50s. When I mentioned that the state of the world and its suffering was one of many reasons that I don’t want to have children, she shared that this was one of the reasons she and her husband also made that decision. She believes that we may be living in the “End Times.” I don’t know whether we are or not, but Jesus did express that times would come when it will be much better for those of us without children, “And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!” (Mark 13:17) And, “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’” (Luke 23:29)

Our current world is a dangerous place, full of suffering, inhumane action toward each other, natural disasters, corrupt leaders, many of the things described in Mark 13 (nation rising up against nation, earthquakes, famine, children putting parents to death). Here’s a sampling of today’s headlines:
“N. Korea Warns U.S. of 'Thousand-Fold' Military Action”
“California Teen Fugitives Arrested in Mother's Murder”
“Apparent Minnesota Tornado Leaves Path of Destruction”
“Parents of Murdered Pizza Deliveryman Sue Domino's”
“Teen Sentenced for Dragging Boy in Noose”
“Al Qaeda Blamed for Somali Security Minister Attack”
“Ex-Major League Ballplayer Sentenced 45 Years for Raping Girl”
“Hunger continues to threaten families in Kenya”

When I look at the world we live in, I cannot keep myself from thinking, “Blessed are the wombs that never bore!”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rebellion Against God

I came across an article from 2003, “It All Right for a Married Couple to Choose to Remain Childless?”, which concludes that a prayerfully considered choice to be childless is not necessarily wrong for a Christian couple. There are a few facets of the article upon which I would like to comment.

I was particularly struck by the statement, “Just as couples who choose childlessness must carefully consider their motives and callings, so must couples who desire to become parents.” Amen to that! I am so tired of the childfree constantly having to justify our reasons to the world, while those with children are never called out on their reasons for having children, however selfish they may be. Contrary to what our society seems to say, and how our culture seems to promote parents to the status of sainthood, people do not always have children for the “right” reasons. It cannot possibly be “worse” to be childfree than to have children for idolatrous or self-serving reasons. Children are not toys, accessories, status symbols, hobbies, or experiments. They are people with minds, feelings, and their own purpose. Having children should not be taken lightly.

I was discouraged by the subtle implication that most(?) childfree people tend to be selfish and irresponsible:
“Are they being self-indulgent or making an idol of career or money?”
“My concern, however, is with those who choose not to have kids because they think the task of bearing and raising children robs them of their ‘freedom’ to do and have what they want.”
Back to the previous paragraph, most people have children because it’s what they want to do/have. Why is it somehow more wrong for a childfree person to do/have what she or he wants?

I think another reason that stereotype bothers me is that I have conversed with many, many childfree people (some of them Christians), and the stereotype actually seems to be the minority. Most childfree people who articulate the reasons for their choice have a very logical, selfless, and thoughtful rationale for their decision. Christian or not, the childfree tend to take the decision quite seriously and do not see it as a frivolous issue.

For myself, I just plain have never wanted to have children. This feeling is no more selfish and no more rebellious than my not wanting to move to Alabama or not wanting to go camping or not wanting to be a psychology major in college. As I have been pressed by society to justify my position, I have carefully considered additional reasons to have and to not have children. And I have considered moral reasons to not have children. Sometime I will tell you about the day I believe God actually called me to not have children.

“Childless-by-choice couples always should ask whether they have a special responsibility to serve God's people in ways couples with kids can't.” From what I can see, most people with kids aren’t doing much to serve God’s people because they are so wrapped up in their own kids’ lives. Their own family takes priority above all else. Between the little league games, band camp, ballet lessons, karate practice, both parents working so that they can afford a 3,500 square foot house and two giant vehicles to tote their offspring around town, there’s not much time left to serve God. I would guess that anyone who doesn’t have kids is more capable of serving God than someone with kids. Whether they have a “special responsibility” or not, the childfree couple certainly has the ability “to serve God’s people in ways couples with kids can’t” (or won't).

So while the author does conclude that deliberate childlessness can be morally acceptable, there is still a tenor of “just make sure you aren’t rebelling against God with this decision.” When people start throwing that admonition at people having children, I might take it a little more seriously.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nothing More Than Idolatry

For a lot of us Christians, there are many things in our lives that start to take priority over our relationship with Christ… money, career, material possessions, status, a significant other. On my bulletin board in my office, I have tacked a few lines from a dc Talk song:
The subtleties of darkness never cease to amaze
As a physical world creates a spiritual haze.
Blinded by distractions
Lost in matterless affairs
Reaching through the darkness
Trusting you will meet me there.
This serves as my reminder not to let the cares of my job (“matterless affairs”) cause me to lose my focus on Christ.

My observation of parents, Christian and non-Christian alike, is that their children are the primary focus of their life. I’m not saying that taking care of one’s children should not be a priority. Clearly, parents are instructed to lovingly raise their children with guidance and discipline (Eph. 6:4). However, I am bombarded with people claiming that they love their children more than anything else or that they focus on their children above all else, including above their spouse. I am bombarded by people acting as such, with the constant chatter about their children, the use of their child’s photo as their facebook profile picture, an unremitting barrage of photos and videos of the latest antics of their child… and a tremendous concern that all of the rest of us need to procreate.

For some reason, I would expect the Christian community to be different from the secular world, less nosy, less busy-body, less child-focused and more Christ-focused. We do still believe in the Great Commission, right? To go out into the world and preach to the people who already exist (not just to create new people who we can hopefully indoctrinate in order to build the numbers within the church)? I wondered if I must be the only one who was bothered by this, and then I ran across this scathing diatribe against the church’s treatment of children, family, and the childfree. (Be aware that the link is not friendly to children, so please don’t read the commentary if you are easily offended. While I don’t take quite as extreme a stance as the author, I think there are many good points in the writing. And for heaven’s sake, if you read the article and are offended, please don’t embarrass us all by sending hate mail to the author.)

The main idea I want to leave you with is that too many Christians are spending more time glorifying their children than they are spending worshipping Christ. All of this obsession with offspring seems nothing more than idolatry to me.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Is “Childfree Christian” an oxymoron?

My short answer to that question is “no.” Before I get into the details, I’d like to share a little about my background… a sort of “resume,” if you will. I’d rather not have someone accuse me of being an ignorant fly-by-night who hasn’t read her Bible.

I probably went to church for the first time within a week or so of being born into a Christian family, and I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was four years old. Dad read Bible stories to my siblings and me every night before bed, and we were all regular church-goers – Sunday school, morning and evening worship services on Sundays, prayer meetings or youth group meetings on Wednesdays. To top it off, my parents enrolled me in Christian schools where I spent thirteen years getting a solid academic and spiritual education. I memorized countless Bible verses, completed rigorous studies of both the Old and New Testaments, and attended doctrine classes.

And yet somehow, through all of that, though I observed that it was “normal” for most people to have children, I never had the impression it was morally wrong to not have them. Nothing in all of my Bible studies, all of my school lessons, all of the sermons I heard, ever struck me as an imperative to procreate. The blessing, “Be fruitful and multiply,” in Genesis had no effect on me as I considered the billions of people on the planet and determined that humankind had already answered that call. Instead, I concluded that the Bible does not forbid being childfree, nor does it necessarily promote it.

There are so many things I would like to tackle in this blog about this subject, but I think it would be best to discuss them in several separate posts. I’ll leave you with what I believe to be the most powerful support of being childfree from I Corinthians 7. Here, the Apostle Paul focuses on sexuality, marriage relationships, and God's call to serve. Paul, as a single man, encourages other Christians to remain single (verses 7, 8, 26, 38, 40) in order to “free [them] from anxieties” (v.32) and to enable their “undivided devotion to the Lord” (v.35). He does acknowledge that this is not a command from God but is Paul’s own opinion (v.25), and he encourages the believers to take the path to which they were called, whether that be marriage or the single life (v.17). Because Paul equates singleness with abstinence from sex, this would naturally lead to being childfree. Indirectly, Paul’s message thus encourages Christians to remain childfree so that they can devote their attention to serving God.

I realize that Paul doesn’t go so far as to encourage married Christians to remain childfree, but this is not surprising since birth control options were limited in Paul's day. He does, however, condone a couple’s decision to abstain from sex for a period of time for spiritual reasons (v.5). There is nothing to say that pregnancy prevention couldn’t be one of those reasons.

And of course, let’s not forget that Jesus, the center of our faith and the one who we are to emulate, was also childfree.