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.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

“…but it’s all worth it.”

Many of us childfree folks have heard this bingo before, generally from a condescending parent who disrespects our multitude of reasons for not wanting to have children. However, perhaps more frequently I hear it (or some version of it) as a postscript to a parent’s tirade about all of the horrible things her children have put her through; so often, in fact, that it has become a cliché. I often wonder, do people say it out of guilt? To convince themselves that it IS worth it? Or is it actually worth it?

Undoubtedly, for some people it is worth it. I too have done difficult things in my life that were ultimately “worth it” (graduate school comes to mind). I know people who never - or at least seldom - complain about their children or about parenthood, and I can completely believe that parenthood is worth it for them. And yet I also have had people admit to me that if they had it to do over again, they would not have children. Apparently all of the trouble isn’t worth it to everyone.

Years ago, advice columnist Ann Landers, in response to a query about having children, asked her readers, “If you had it to do over again, would you have children?” She received over 10,000 responses, 70% of which answered NO. While this in no way implies that 70% of all people wish they had not had children, it does tell us that around 7,000 of Ann's readers had experiences that were unpleasant enough to compel them to write to Ann. That’s a lot of readers!

This sort of reminds me of the events surrounding the story of Noah in Genesis 6, when God expresses sorrow for having created humankind. If God himself can regret having children, it doesn’t surprise me that human beings could feel the same way about their offspring.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this...

…to care for orphans in their distress. (James 1:27, NRSV) Today’s post is a follow-up to my comments about adoption in a previous post. I shared a very personal conviction about adoption that day, but my feelings go far beyond just my own experience. As James says, all Christians are called to care for orphans.

My guess is that at the time James penned those words, caring for orphans in a practical way might have entailed giving alms, maybe even adoption in some cases, but most families probably could not afford to take on another child. As I look at the abundance that many in the world have (and I am especially thinking about Americans since I’m from the U.S.), I think that the practical application of caring for the orphans should go beyond giving a little money to charity and should focus on adoption of the 130 - 140 million orphans in the world (source of that statistic: United Nations). Every time another friend, family member, or acquaintance announces she is pregnant, I can’t help but feel a deep sadness for an orphan who would have done well in that home. I try not to be judgmental because I hate it when people judge me for being childfree, but I begin to wonder if it is morally wrong for a Christian to procreate if it results in that Christian shirking her/his God-given duty to care for the orphans.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Childfree Christian Friends

I have had the luxury of working with many childfree people in my field, so I tend to feel more "normal" and comfortable in my daily surroundings than do many of the childfree people I meet online. In fact, three of the four people with whom I work in my immediate department are childfree! (However, to be honest, one of them could be childless instead of childfree, but I have never pried into her personal life to find out why she never had children. She does carry herself as someone who has a very rich and full life without children, and she doesn't seem all that interested in other people's children.) In addition, two of those childfree folks are also Christians. When I visited yet another childfree Christian friend this past weekend, I was struck by how fortunate I am to have these people in my life.

All four of the people I mentioned above are in their fifties, long past the stage where they could be in danger of developing "baby rabies." They have all done amazing things, have wonderful careers, continue to develop their careers and their interests, and have fulfilling lives. None of them show the slightest sign of regret for not having children. The woman I visited this past weekend has recently started a doctoral program, is editing a college textbook, and is gearing up to write a textbook of her own. It was so much fun to talk with her about her exciting life, to discuss a little bit of politics, to share our faith, and to not have the typical topics of kids and child-rearing enter the conversation (something I cannot escape hearing about from 99% of my friends and family members).

These folks have also mentored me tremendously in my career, and I believe they could not have done this quite as effectively if they had children -- mainly because of the time, energy, and career experience involved. My childed colleagues have never been as helpful, probably because they were so wrapped up in their own lives that they couldn't take the time to share with a new, young colleague. And I don't say that as a judgment; it's simply a statement of fact.

I am eternally grateful for these childfree Christian friends and role models that I have. I hope that I can follow their example to continually grow in my career, exercise my talents, and become a mentor and role model to others.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Purpose of Marriage

One of the bingo card links I recently posted has a box that says, “The only reason to get married is to have children!” In the modern day, Western, happily-ever-after fairy tale culture in which I was raised, I suppose I was indoctrinated to believe that the only reason to get married is love, and that message came at me from both the secular and religious worlds. But OK, let’s talk about whether or not marriage is just about having children.

I think my deepest held beliefs about marriage sprang from the story of the creation of Eve in Genesis 2: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper* as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them… but for the man, there was not found a helper as his partner.” (v. 18-21, NRSV) So God created Eve, brought her to Adam (easiest wedding in history!), and we have the conclusion (v.24), “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

As I write this, something one of my high school Bible teachers, Mr. L, used to say rings in my ears. In Genesis 1, we read over and over again that “God saw that it was good” after each stage of creation, but after creating only one human, God said, “It is not good…” I recall at least one occasion where Mr. L., in response to this passage, said to the young men in the class, “Guys, women are not your problem, they are the solution to your problem!”

I am not here to debate whether Genesis is intended to give us a history lesson of a literal, seven-day period of creation or if it is an allegorical tale to help humans understand our purpose on this planet. Even so, if you will pardon my digression for a moment… I was always taught that Moses wrote the book of Genesis, but some scholars believe the book actually has several authors; and if you look at the two creation stories presented in chapters one and two, there does seem to be a different tone to each one. Indeed, the description in chapter two (beginning about v.4) seems to imply a slower and more gradual creation of the planet. In any case, I think there is still something to be learned here.

I do acknowledge that the creation story in Genesis 1 gives the blessing, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Having two sexes enables reproduction as we know it; Adam couldn’t have filled the earth on his own. But this blessing is noticeably absent in the story in Genesis 2. Instead, we are shown that the first marriage was primarily about companionship. It may also be worth pointing out that God intended marriage to be forever and not just for the duration of the upbringing of children (“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate,” Mark 10:9), so while marriage might serve a useful purpose in providing a stable environment for having children, children are clearly not the only reason to be married. Interestingly, a growing body of research has been showing that marriage is good for people’s well-being, while having children is not. (Perhaps another topic for another post.)

This is why I married, and I genuinely believe that one of my purposes on this planet is to minister to my husband. I know that his life is better because of me, and mine because of him. Further, I believe that our having children would divert us from that purpose, and that would be wrong.

* The use of the word “helper” for Eve really ruffles some people’s feathers as they think it implies she was to be Adam’s servant. However, as Paul Smith explains in his book Is It Okay to Call God “Mother”?, the Hebrew word for helper, ezer, refers to one who comes to someone’s aid in a desperate time of need. This very same word is often used for God, such as in Psalm 70:5, where God is “my help and my deliverer.” It stands to reason, then, that Eve was not intended to be a helper as a subordinate, but rather she was coming to Adam’s rescue. (I’d like to make a quick plug for Smith’s book, since it revolutionized the way I view God. It brought me to a point of anger where I thought I would have to leave the church for its idolatry and discrimination, but it also helped me feel the tug of Christ, saying, “Let go of people’s ignorance, but don’t let go of Me.”)

Do you see the partnership aspect of marriage as being just as important as (maybe more than?) the procreative aspect?