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February 20, 2009

Daily roundup

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Ben W

"Five-year Ban" - Wow, heavy on the fearmongering, short on the facts. Not that I think we can have unlimited population with no consequences, but 1st-world countries aren't really the overpopulated ones anyway.


Yes, it's pretty bad, isn't it? Disturbing to find something like that in "Psychology Today."


I kept expecting "Five-year Ban" to turn into a satire... alas, my faith in humanity diminishes. Where are the Jonathan Swifts and their Modest Proposals that will reemphasize the value of human life in the moral consciousness? Would we be outraged by a modern Proposal, or have we already failed that test of our social character?


The "Five Year Ban" article is obviously provocative and mostly silly, but there is an interesting question here. In the spirit of what The Point is really about, I ask sincerely: what does "be fruitful and multiply" mean to a newly married middle class Christian couple who are living on a finite planet?


Gina wrote: 'Disturbing to find something like that in "Psychology Today."'

Not for those of us who remember "Pinko Today" as the extreme left-wing rag it was back in the late 1970s.

But what Ben points out is interesting - First World countries make up the bulk of its readership, and the bulk of the productivity in the world. So if First World readers stop having children, but Third Worlders continue, the result will be an upcoming generation of poor countries unable to get goods and services (and lots and lots of free assistance) from the First World. So this proposal actually harms those it is intended to help. Sic semper liberality...


David, that's a good question. For starters, you might like to see the article that "Christianity Today" recently devoted to it:


Personally, I don't think I have all the answers or even most of the answers on this one, especially as a single childless person myself. However, as it's discussed (if we have bloggers and readers who are interested in discussing it), here are a couple of points I would throw into the mix.

-- The planet was also finite back when God gave the command. I believe He knows what He's about, and wouldn't have given it if He didn't plan to provide for His people.

-- Those who fail to believe that and determine to take population matters into their own hands tend to shoot themselves in the foot. See China's growing problem with a lopsided population, or several European countries' rapidly shrinking birthrate, for example.

Jason Taylor

Given mankind's bellicose tendancies, I wonder if overpopulation is an exagerrated problem. The grim thought does occur that it is rather self-correcting.

Steve (SBK)

Interesting article Gina (the Christianity Today one) - and good points.

David, re: "what does "be fruitful and multiply" mean to a newly married middle class Christian couple who are living on a finite planet?"

... this is an interesting topic (one that, I think, this hypothetical couple should wrestle with).
I don't think there will be Christian consensus on this matter.
You can obviously (at least, I can) see merits in some of the arguments from opposing viewpoints.

Should Christians have children? Only a few? Or a quiverfull?
To *choose* to have no children, I see Paul's arguments about idleness (because the Lord is returning) applying. It really seems likely that this position is one of selfishness - even *if* we claim a higher moral goal.
Children are a blessing in countless ways, not least because they make us less selfish (hopefully). Children also teach us, or at least should, faithfulness in certain matters.

Moderation in all things is, even if a pre-Christian maxim, echoed in much Christian literature (e.g. again, the apostle Paul) and I think that applies to being wise in having children.

At the same time, we never can really supersede God's sovereignty in these matters... (for example, just an interesting story: I know a couple, both *fixed*, who had a baby in their 40s). If a married couple is going to 'come together', they should be prepared for the possibility of a new life being conceived and live with their actions, responsibly.

Or they can just take to laughing, like Sarah ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2018:9-15;&version=31; )

Steve (SBK)

Good commentary today by Mark Earley on this topic:

Particularly liked:
"Children give us a chance to see the world through fresh eyes. "


"But children also bring us happiness in a way our culture no longer understands. The ancient concept of happiness, which Aristotle termed eudaimonia, meant “an activity of the soul expressing virtue.” Having children is an opportunity for us to learn selflessness, to serve others, and sometimes to see our sinfulness on display in a way that makes us want to change."

Ben W

Gina - maybe we've fulfilled God's command? From a resource standpoint, the Earth is looking pretty full with current technology.

According to some historians, a lot of the wars of pre-industrial Europe were due to overpopulation.. I'd like to us avoid that again if possible.
On the other hand, birth rates tend to decrease as countries move into the First World, and education and contraception for women become common.

On another note, I was watching a talk at TED.com the other day, and wondering what will happen as our medicine gets better and people live longer. If we ever develop the technology to delay aging, overpopulation is going to become a problem again. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/aubrey_de_grey_says_we_can_avoid_aging.html


First of all, you are living in an extremely large universe, not merely a finite (but unimaginably large, were you to start -walking-) planet.

You should consider letting God be in charge of your family, and being open to life. Would that God would grant -me- that, don't you go and waste it! Children are one of the few things we get to 'take with us' throughout eternity, if they believe.


I appreciate both of your points. I am quite skeptical of those who say we are running out of space. We may be a little short on patience, but not space.

Although I cannot claim to have given God full charge of my family planning, I can testify to the fact that he is in charge anyway. God used a wonderful woman to show me that having children was the "natural" thing to do. At that time, she was not really coming from an overtly godly place, but, nevertheless she led me to accept the idea. And embracing the idea of children was an important step from a purely selfish existence to one that was open to "other". When my first (twins) were born, I soon discovered in myself the capacity for unconditional love; from there I found myself willing to consider the possibility of a loving God. Life opened me to God, and God opened me to life! There is a unity to that that I quite enjoy!

The earlier comments about seeing through the eyes of one's children strike a chord in me also. I could go on at great length about this! God saved me from myself, or I would have missed so much. But, in case you do not get to have children, I trust that God will lead you to many other riches that Life has to offer.

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