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Pronatalism: A Christian Perspective

Exploring the secular movement to have more children

Exploring the secular movement to have more children
Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Introduction

In many ways, modern society has rejected the family. Specifically, it has rejected having children.

This is due to multiple reasons: First, Americans are more isolated and alonethan they’ve ever been before. If that weren’t enough, fewer people are getting married today. Though marriage rates are recovering a bit, they have been declining for decades.

Additionally, there seems to be a modern gender war perpetuated by the internet. Radical feminists claim all men are useless, and men in return become bitter and resentful. As a result, neither sex trusts the other anymore. Many men and women now believe that marriage is unnecessary and not worth it.

Consequently, America’s view of children has gone down as well. When children are viewed as mere accessories, they become disposable via practices like abortion and IVF (in vitro fertilization — for more information, click here). Respect for families has decreased as well. Some celebrities, like Jeff Goldblum, emphatically state that they will not give an inheritance to their children.

Modern America has generally gotten more selfish, and this has made our society become anti-natalist (against having babies). Many moderns cite environmental concerns as to why they don’t want children, believing that humans endanger the planet. Others believe that the world is too miserable and broken to bring children into. Though these beliefs are not new, they make up the backbone of the United States’ philosophy on having children.

However, when people do not have children, the birth rate declines. Since the Great Recession of 2008, that’s exactly what has happened. When the birth rate declines, eventually the population will decline as well. This begs the question: who will do something about this?

Pronatalism

The pronatalism movement, a growing secular movement in America, aims to answer this question. Made up of a mix of religious people and tech types like Elon Musk, this movement aims to have as many children as possible. Literally meaning pro-birth, the movement aims to counteract the falling birth rate by encouraging families to have as many children as they can.

While the movement certainly has noble intentions, it has unfortunately attracted a lot of controversy. Many women fear that the movement, if successful on a wide scale, will deprive them of their “bodily autonomy”. They fear that pronatalism will oppress them by forcing them to have babies, regardless of whether or not these women want children.

Others still claim that the movement is racist, seeking to find connections between pronatalism and white supremacist ideology. Critics see pronatalism as a form of eugenics and/or anti-immigration, prioritizing the birth of ethnically white children to offset the growing number of immigrants in the country.

These arguments seem to be rather dishonest, but they should at least be acknowledged. As a secular movement, pronatalism is prone to errors in its intentions and its methodologies. As such, it is important to view this movement from a Biblical Christian worldview. What does the Bible say about having children?

Simply put, children are a blessing.

Families and the Bible

From the Old Testament to the New, the Bible makes it clear that the Lord loves babies and children. One of the first commands He gives men and women is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Later in the book of Proverbs, the Bible says that children are a gift from God:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
 The fruit of the womb is a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
 So are the children of one’s youth.
 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
 They shall not be ashamed,
 But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3–5)

God’s covenants with the patriarchs typically involved blessing particular men and the generations to come after them. For example, when God made a covenant with Abraham, He stated that He would make Abraham into a great nation:

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:2–3)

During Jesus’s ministry, He commends the children around Him for their faith:

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:14–15)

Clearly, the Lord has a high view of children. He gave women the ability to bear children, and He declares that this part of His creation is good. Though children may have been corrupted by the Fall, they are nonetheless part of God’s design of the world.

From this viewpoint, pronatalism seems to be consistent with a Biblical Christian worldview. However, there are still some complications to address. Since pronatalism is secular, it has some weaknesses that are worth examining.

The Criticisms of Pronatalism

First, there is a reasonable fear that pronatalism only sees having children in terms of utilitarian value. For example, Elon Musk, one of the “leaders” of the movement, has eleven children from multiple mothers. While he may support having children, he does not seem to do so from a Biblical worldview.

This is an understandable cause for concern, partly because not all pro-natalists are Christian. Fortunately, it seems that a majority of pro-natalists want to have more children in order to celebrate the right to life. If the linked POLITICO article above is any indication, leaders like Kevin Dolan want to have children because life is precious.

Next, we must address the feminist critique of pronatalism stating it will “control women”. Radical feminism believes that the pronatalism movement will reduce women to “baby-making machines”. They believe that the movement will oppress women by restricting their freedoms.

On this point, it is important to establish a Biblical perspective on a woman’s role in society. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible does not simply see women as “breeders”. God gave women the ability to bear children, but He also gave them personalities and brains. As such, having children does not have to come at the cost of intelligence or freedom. If anything, being a mother and living in accordance with God’s will grants a woman more freedom than she would ever have on her own.

As Pastor Doug Wilson says, a woman’s place is not always the home, but her priority should be the home. A woman can certainly work and have a career as long as she is giving appropriate time to her husband and children. Consider the Proverbs 31 woman: she is industrious, but she also looks after her household and family. Rather than carrying a selfish desire to “have it all”, this woman works hard to better her community.

Furthermore, it is not ethical to force every woman to have children. It is certainly not a sin for a woman to not have children, but she should examine the reason she is making that choice. If she does not want children for selfish or petty reasons, then those motives are sinful.

Finally, there is the classic “white supremacist” or eugenics argument. To the extent that the pronatalism movement is racist, that is certainly wrong. However, if the movement seeks to have more children, that should theoretically help everyone. Regardless of skin color, the Lord delights in seeing more children brought into this world.

Conclusion

Christians should definitely support having children, but they do not necessarily have to be a part of the pronatalism movement. Since this is a secular movement, Christians should practice discernment when engaging with pro-natalists.

That being said, pronatalism has the potential to restore America’s love and respect for children. We simply need to make sure that the movement works according to God’s standards, not the world’s standards. If the modern Republican Party has taught us anything, it is that simply having “Christian values” in the abstract is not enough to make a movement or ideology honor God.

In the meantime, Christians can support the birth of children in the old-fashioned way: by building strong families. Even an act as simple as this can change a culture over time.


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AuthorBrandon Charles | BCWorldview.org 

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