Responses to Christian objections to the childfree choice

The following comments were posted on the website Real Clear Religion in response to the site’s post “The Very Sad Childfree Life” by Father Robert Barron. I thought I’d copy and paste the comments here, along with my responses, so they’re all in one place for those who have similar objections or misconceptions about the childfree (and, in some cases, parents).

1. “GardnGirl” said:

I hate to put it this way but what’s the use of putting up with a man if you don’t have children to show for it? I mean seriously, most men seem to view marriage as winning the free maid service lottery. Society moves on, life moves on, and we are only here a short time… so what, do people expect to offshore baby-making like everything else? Have we really become so precious as that?

Reply: First, “putting up with a man” says a lot about your experiences with men. I love my man like mad – don’t need a child to make me stay with him. :) Second, if you’re with a man who’s treating you like a maid, why create additional people with this man? Why stay with the man in the first place? Why choose to be unhappy?

I’m baffled. But, moving on.

I think people expect that not every single person on the planet should or will procreate. Many people want and will have children. (Many people don’t want and will have children.) Those who decide they don’t want them aren’t doing any damage, and are in fact helping keep the population at manageable levels. Why not concern ourselves more with those who have children and who neglect, abuse, or ignore them? The more we say to people, “You don’t have to have children, you know” the more thought people might actually give to bringing a new human life to the world, a life they will irreversibly impact for good or for ill.

2. “visceralrebellion” said:

It will be fascinating to see how the DINKs manage in their elderly years. In my extended family the elderly are cared for at home until they pass away. Nursing home is a foul phrase among us. I can’t imagine spending my final days/months/years in a nursing home, alone in the world, with no one who cares whether I’m dead or alive.

If people are going to use poor parents as the standard for parenthood, we should use the selfish me-me-ME childless as the standard for DINKs. Sauce for the goose and all that.

In my experience people who go to great lengths to not have children have one thing is common: they hate humanity and consider it their mission to correct humanity’s ills. If that doesn’t apply to you, reader, then consider yourself the exception.

All the brouhaha over choosing to remain childless has brought a very old phrase to mind. “The lady doth protest too much.”

Reply: Is there anything more selfish than bringing a human into the world just so you’ll have someone to care for you when you’re old? Talk about “me, me, me.” (And there are men who don’t want children, too. Just a reminder.)

I don’t think people use bad parents as the standard for parenthood; if anything, we use them (and rightly so) to argue that pressuring people to have kids can help create unhappy and/or resentful parents who may not give their child(ren) the best care and all the love they possibly can. I don’t understand why anyone would promote a situation in which anyone but someone who truly wants and is confident they can adequately care for children would have them.

3. “SWJ” said:

I didn’t think I ever wanted children. My wife wanted to, but would not have pushed too hard if I had resisted. I eventually came to the realization that I did not want to deny her the experience. Kind of a lame way to end up a parent. But a good thing I did, because my experience with my two sons has confirmed that not having children, for me, would have been a tragedy. I was selfish in the extreme. Now I’m pretty well the opposite. I can’t imagine my life without my sons.

I have nothing but compassion for those who truly want children but are unable. At the same time, my observation of those who have chosen not to have children is that they are not TRULY adult. Just an opinion, and you can fire away at me for saying this, but that’s how I see it. I listen to co-workers talk about their dogs like they are people, and gaze at them playing on video, and buying them silly gifts for imaginary birthday celebrations. It’s really quite pathetic. I watch other childless co-workers spend every dime, selfishly leaving no value for society, even though they themselves benefited from decisions their elders made to save and invest. One of them even had the audacity to complain about paying property taxes to support schools he has no children to attend. When I pointed out to him that Social Security is a pay as you go program, and therefore by not having children he was relying on my children to fund his retirement, he mumbled something inaudible and started talking about the weather. Very selfish.

Sadly, I’ve known more than one couple who, after it was too late to have children, sadly wondering if maybe they should have done so. Certainly it’s not for everyone, but I would bet the percentage of people who choose not to have children and later have regrets is pretty high.

Reply: “At the same time, my observation of those who have chosen not to have children is that they are not TRULY adult.”

This assumes that people who have children offer anything to society but more people who will then grow up to have children. Many parents, instead of watching videos of their dogs, watch and share pictures and videos of their children. Who does that benefit?

They spend all their money on themselves and their children. Who does that benefit aside from themselves and the humans they created? (And isn’t spending money to care for the children they create the very LEAST a parent can, and should be expected to, do?)

Relying on anyone else to fund your retirement is irresponsible, whether that means having children to pay for you or relying on someone else’s children. Save your own money to take care of yourself.

As to regret: people have all kinds of regrets about just about everything, including having children. You needn’t trouble yourself with the regrets of others. The choices we make as individuals are ours to deal with.

4. “BigTex43” said:

What are you doing… don’t make God-less liberals feel bad that they only lived their lives for their own pleasure. Let them live it up and die and leave no posterity. This guy doesn’t even know what he is saying, so liberals just tune him out!!!

Reply: This sounds to me like, “I had to have kids – how come you don’t have to!?” Didn’t you have kids because you wanted to?

5. “EllenK” said:

A long time ago I read a story about a grandfather and his grandson. The grandson asked the grandfather “how long will you live?” And the grandfather replied “I will live as long as you remember me.” Who will remember the childless?

Reply: Are you saying people have children so that their time on earth will be remembered by generations to come? Isn’t that also selfish or egotistical or narcissistic behavior?

6. “M Decci” said:

Let the childless go childless. Who want those people reproducing anyway? Anybody who rejects the idea of experiencing the greatest miracle and moment in life, which is maternity, shouldn’t even call themselves people. I did all my stuff, celebrated my singled hood and enjoyed it. Got my career and succeed in it, married at 27 and had my children. Don’t miss those single days and can’t imagine life without my family. Don’t eleven need to be religious for that.

Reply: It’s funny that people say things like “who wants those people reproducing anyway,” assuming people who don’t want kids are terrible, awful people – and yet, look at all of the people who do want kids, and who many of you would encourage to have kids JUST TO HAVE KIDS, and who then completely mistreat those children. What is it you really care about – people popping out babies, or the lives and welfare of the babies who will be produced? Do you know five kids die every day of abuse or neglect at the hands of their caretakers? Does that matter at all, or does it only matter that someone somewhere is having babies? There’s something wrong with the priorities, here.

RELATED POST: Response to Kathleen Parker’s condescending editorial about the childfree

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13 thoughts on “Responses to Christian objections to the childfree choice

  1. Samantha G.

    You are so eloquent. I wouldn’t have been able to keep my cool in regards to those sort of comments. Some people are just so ignorant.

  2. OK, let’s talk about “selfish” choices.

    If you choose to eat a sandwich, isn’t that a selfish act? After all, you could give that sandwich to a needy person instead (which would be a truly altruistic act).

    Having a child (or several children) to take care of you in your dotage is a selfish act. You’ve given those kids jobs even before they’re born.

    What could possibly be more selfish than making a mini-you? “He has my eyes!” “She has my lips!” “Let’s name him Me Junior!”

    Many parents have kids so that those kids can accomplish what the parents failed to accomplish (sports, music, education, etc.).

    And isn’t making more people in an overpopulated world a selfish act? “I don’t care that there are too many people already! I want a baby, and to hell with the rest of the world!”

    Finally, if having kids is a gift (from some imagined deity), how is refusing the “gift” a selfish act? Shouldn’t all those running to claim the “gift” be labeled selfish?

    Jerry Steinberg
    Founding Non-Father Emeritus of NO KIDDING! (Est. 1984)
    The international social club for childfree and childless couples and singles
    http://www.nokidding.net; jerry@nokidding.net

  3. Steven D. Timm

    I found this article interesting!! As a Bible believing, practicing Christian, I totally disagree with the classic “Christian” arguments for getting married and having kids. (Bet you guys did not know I was going that direction, did ya’!!) These Christians have, apparently, not been reading thier scripture. There are several instances where God has specifically spoke about the single life. God told the prophet Jeremiah not to get married or have kids (Jer. 16 vs. 1) When the Apostles were discussing marriage with Jesus. Jesus menitoned it was a personal choice on whether to get married (Matt. Ch. 19 vs. 1-12), and The Apostle Paul recommended people not marry because of the troubles that would bring ( 1 Cor. Ch. 7) The Apostle Paul definitely extolled the single life!! What people don’t seem to understand, is that marriage and kids is actually a call and an office that God calls you to. If you don’t feel that call or if you don’t feel led in that direction by God, then it is not for you!! If people would listen to God’s call for thier life and not do something because thier Church, peer group or even thier culture is pressuring or expecting them to go in a certain direction, we would have a lot less unwanted kids, henpecked husbands and unfulfilled wives. More or less, we would have less unfulfilled and more fulfilled people that would be living in their true gift mix!!

    Anyways, just my 2 cents worth!! (Ok, maybe 4 1/2 cents worth!!)

    Take Care guys and catch you on the web!!

    Steve Timm

    1. Anonymous

      Love your points here and thankfully, two can still be better than one when wanting to share God’s light and they can do so without children and have more time for reaching to others without such a responsibility. Thank the Lord for modern day forms of birth control! (I say this because many will bring up the fact that you shouldn’t get married if you don’t want children)

    2. Anonymous

      Love your points here and thankfully, two can still be better than one when wanting to share God’s light and they can do so without children and have more time for reaching to others without such a responsibility. Thank the Lord for modern day forms of birth control! (I say this because many will bring up the fact that you shouldn’t get married if you don’t want children)

  4. Steven D. Timm

    Hi, John!!

    Thank you for your comment!! I have always felt like that about marriage and kids. I am personally not married, nor do I have any children. I have never felt that call nor have I ever felt God leading me down that path. As I look back, that has actually saved me a lot of heartbreak and trouble throughout the years!! I feel so many people are definitely on autopilot when it comes to the whole marriage and kids thing. They don’t even think about what they are doing until it is too late!! I feel that is where a lot of mid-life crisis come from!!

    Thanks again for the link!! I am going to check it out……..

    Take Care and catch you on the Web!!

    Steve Timm

  5. Amanda R.

    I’m a Christian too and I don’t feel called to be a mother. But I do feel called to be a wife. And I am. And I love it. And him. And Him!

  6. Ms. happily childfree

    “Who will remember the childless?”

    Yeah, of course. Childless people don’t know ANYBODY. They don’t have nieces and nephews, they don’t have friends with kids, they don’t meet younger people throughout life they can teach something, be their mentors or just be friends with them.

  7. Grackle

    “In my experience people who go to great lengths to not have children have one thing is common: they hate humanity and consider it their mission to correct humanity’s ills.”

    Or maybe they care enough about humanity not to burden existing people with yet another mouth to feed on a severely overpopulated planet? As for making it a mission to correct the ills of humanity, uh, what exactly is wrong with that? I thought good Christians (and people in general) are supposed to care about charity and making the world a better place.

    I agree with Samantha–you are way nicer than I could have been! What a bunch of dopes!

  8. I think Christians need to avoid joining marriage and parenthood at the hip. Don’t get me wrong. Children are always welcome additions to marriage, but children do not make marriage. Forgive me if I am sounding preachy, but I believe the family actually starts at the wedding ceremony, not in the hospital. The decision whether to have or not have children should be just between the couple and God.

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