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, November 24, 2009

Open Your Hand Wide

This time of year always puts me in a more charitable mood, as I know it does many people, and Deuteronomy 15 has been on my heart lately.
(7) If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. (8) You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. (10) Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord will bless you in all your work and in all you undertake. (11) Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”
The King James translation adds, “Open thine hand wide” unto the poor in the land. Opening my hand is something that I was raised with, so it comes somewhat naturally to me, but “open your hand wide” has been ringing in my ears lately. As the soup kitchens in my area fret that they are serving nearly double the number of meals that they served last year, as the layoffs continue at the local companies, as the cost of living increases, I look at how I have been blessed and I know that God would have me share that with others. Still, in the back of my mind I will think, “But I should stash away some more in savings in case I lose my job,” or, “I should set aside more money for my retirement,” or whatever other excuse I would like to make. But I feel the tug again… “open your hand wide.”

Oddly enough for a childfree person, I have given a great deal of attention to organizations that support children. Despite the fact that I don’t particularly like most children, I don’t want to see them harmed by the adults in their lives. I don’t want them to be hungry; I don’t want them to be cold; I don’t want them to go without Christmas gifts. In most cases, these children are victims of situations that are so far out of their control, and I want to help. I have had the recent pleasure to buy gifts for “tween” girls through the Salvation Army’s angel tree program, and I have sent extra money for Christmas gifts for the girls I sponsor through World Vision. My husband’s favorite cause is the summer camp where he used to work.

We are also mindful of the local food pantries, shelters (for people and for animals), and other service organizations. Still, I am always asking myself, is it enough? And is it going to the right places? And will it be used for the right thing?

I am blogging about this to share my struggle but also to call others to action with me. It is sometimes frustrating to be generous when there are some lazy and unscrupulous people out there who abuse the systems that the government or private charities have put in place. However, we cannot be excused from doing what is right just because there are others who are doing what is wrong.

Some of you reading this may feel that what little you have to give would not mean much, but I would remind you of the widow’s mite story in Mark 12:42-43. Jesus said of her, “This poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.” And your gift in concert with the gifts of others will grow into something more meaningful than you expect (think of the money the Salvation Army raises as people donate their pocket change to the Red Kettle campaigns!). Others of you may need to be on the receiving end at this time, and there is nothing wrong with that. Be a good steward of what you are given, and some day you will be able to give back to someone else in need.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. -Matthew 5:11-12

To repeat what I say in the introduction of my blog, many of us Christians give the world ammunition to hate us. From misguided misinterpretations of the Bible (I didn’t realize until I was a senior in high school that there is NO verse in the Bible prohibiting the consumption of alcohol), to judgment and unforgiveness toward someone who sins, to angry and violent diatribes against anyone who believes differently, I have seen it all and hung my head in shame… especially in the instances where I am guilty myself. Fortunately for all of us, God’s gracious heart is big enough to accept all of us, no matter what faults we have.

And there is a certain trickiness to following God, especially when it comes to interpreting the Bible and determining how to act upon our interpretation. We try to take pieces of the Bible in their proper context and struggle with whether or not some parts of the Bible apply to modern life. On top of that, I do think that it is an important (but sticky!) business to distinguish which biblical messages are a description of the way things were versus a prescription for how things should be. (I must credit the pastor-author Paul Smith for that phrase.)

While there are many things about modern life that the writers of the Bible could not comprehend, many of us Christians believe that we should focus on relevant, consistent themes throughout the Bible ("love your neighbor", "care for the orphans", etc.) and use those themes to guide our approach to modern issues. And of course, the modern issue that seems to cause the greatest rift among the church and the childfree is reproduction and birth control.

As a Protestant, I don’t answer to the Roman Catholic church, so I completely divorce myself from any of the official Catholic teachings about reproduction and birth control. (This is not to show contempt to my Catholic sisters and brothers; it is a respectful disagreement. I acknowledge that those in service - priests, nuns, etc. - do not have children, and many Catholics do practice one form or another of family planning, but that is probably a discussion for another post.) Although there are some Protestants who range from hesitant to resistant to birth control, I would claim that as a whole - based on my own personal experiences in many churches in several parts of the world - the Protestant church does not generally have a problem with people using birth control. And when I talk about “the church,” I mean the people - not an organized body of leadership that lords over the masses or some man who gets some inflammatory work published.

I have found no prohibition of birth control in the Bible. In fact, the apostle Paul supports husbands and wives making a joint decision to refrain from sex for a specified time (I Cor. 7:5), which allows for birth control by means of abstinence. In my mind, it seems that if the Bible condones the only form of family planning that would have been available at that time, I cannot conclude that God would prohibit other forms of family planning that would be available in the future. (I would also point out that there is no verse in the Bible that specifically addresses abortion either, but I need to leave that topic alone for now.)

…behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. -Luke 10:3

The painful spot I am in is that even though my own Christian cohorts have no objection to birth control, and even though most of my own Christian cohorts have no issue with my childfree status, being around church-folk does not give me any relief from the idolatry of pronatalism. Some look down on me for disliking children. At best, many think I’m strange; at worst, some do think I’m evil.

But when I go to the childfree community, I’m not fully accepted there either. Even when comments are not directed at me personally, it is hard to bear the rants against “fundies,” “born agains,” “anti-choicers,” and “religious nuts”; the mockery of people who “found Jesus”; or the equal-opportunity critics who disparage anyone “stupid” or “primitive” or “ignorant” or “unenlightened” enough to believe in a spiritual realm. Churched or childfree, there is every bit as much judgment and intolerance against those who have the audacity to believe differently. (And this is not to say that all or even most people in the childfree community hate religion. I have just run into it more often there than elsewhere lately.)

So here I stand, one foot in each of two cultures, neither culture willing to accept the things that I find most critical in my life. And what I hold to be greatest is derided not only by people I respect and with whom I hoped to identify, but by the secular culture in general. Still, I cannot help but feel that Jesus is nearby, looking on with compassion and saying, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness of is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
-I Corinthians 1:18-29