What I found was extremely troubling. First, I stumbled upon a website called the Responsibility Project. It seems to be one of those old fashioned bulletin board type chat rooms where people post on a variety of topics. Well, someone posted on whether having three children was responsible or not. I was astounded by what followed.
One person began her post ...
"The single most effective thing an individual can do to help the environment is not to have children." Many disagreed, many agreed.
One 14 year old stated ... "I have no problem with abortion, if a kid has no memories or consciousness, it isn’t a human being. If the baby is unwanted then killing it isn’t hurting anyone. "
After that it was a free for all.
I then viewed the original article that spawned all this discussion. It was an article about how having three children is now only achievable by the extremely rich, how many people desired to have more than two children but simply could not afford it. What I found extremely interesting, was how the columnist defined necessities ...
"Consider raising a single "luxury" child. By luxury, mind you, we're not necessarily talking hedge-fund rich, merely able to afford and "raise right." And the pressure to do that, even if you're not uber-wealthy, has become overwhelming. From the moment the heartbeat blinks across the sonogram screen, Big Baby starts in with its pleading and conniving: I'm your child! How can you spare any expense? Don't you care?"
Finally, I looked at another listing for parents of three child and found a study from Psychology Today from 2005, (Which would really make it Psychology Four Years ago, but I digress) showing that additional children don't make parents any happier than their initial child. Yipes.
It was unexpected and unsettling to have Google treat me this way. I started out by looking for people with 3 kids like me. Instead, I found people who found having 1 let alone 3 or more children irresponsible. I found people who found raising children a luxury. And I found people who thought raising children would bring them happiness. In retrospect, I am not quite sure why I was surprised.
We live in what many call a materialistic age or world view. The three responses to large families that I found are all aspects of materialism.
The idea that large families are irresponsible to the environment stems from the basic tenet of materialism: Material is all there is or, as Steven Eyre put it in his excellent 1992 book on world views: Defeating the Dragons of This World, "Matter is all that matters."
Now there is nothing a matter with matter. You could say that I'm not antimatter. It's just that all this talk about matter without a maker makes matters worse. God created the material universe. Taking God out of the equation as we have, makes ideas like the ones I read at The Responsibility Project perfectly understandable.
The second tenet of materialism is what Eyre sums up with the motto "you are what you own." This explains why people put a high price tag on children. I read more than one account of people who wanted to have a larger family but could not afford to raise them in the "modern western lifestyle." We don't need to raise designer children. We need to raise children to know their designer.
Finally, if the material world is all that there is, it seems natural that we would seek fulfillment from our things, the people around us and the people we make. The divorce rates now make perfect sense to me. If happiness is the grail that we are searching for, I am surprised that 1/2 the marriages survive. But if there is something outside the material universe, such as, and I'm just spit balling here, the God who spoke that universe into being, then perhaps it is that God and not our possessions, or the people around us, or the children that God entrusts us with, that our well being comes from.
Next Time: And the winner is ... me.