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When did marriage, parenthood become about self-fulfillment?


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

AMERICAN BIRTHRATE AT ALL-TIME LOW

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, headline out of The Wall Street Journal, “American women are having children at the lowest rate on record with the number of babies born in the United States last year dropping to a 30-year low.”

Some 3.85 million babies were born last year and that’s down 2 percent from 2016 and the lowest number since 1987. The general fertility rate for women from ages 15 to 44 was 60.2 births per 1,000 women, the lowest rate since government began tracking it more than a century ago.

WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THE VALUE OF PARENTHOOD?

DR. REEDER In a Christian world view, the having of children was seen as a calling from the Lord and that, actually, procreation was not only a blessing, but it was, in a sense, a vocation, a desire, a calling.

Now, that comes, of course, from the fact that when God made us — male and female, Adam and Eve, the first parents — He then gave us three commands:

— Be fruitful and multiply.

— Subdue the earth.

— Rule over the creation.

Note that, subdue the earth, that’s the sanctity of work; rule over the creation, that’s the sanctity of stewardship of God’s creation; and then be fruitful and multiply, that’s the sanctity of sexuality within marriage, not only for the recreational blessings in each other’s life, but also for the purpose of procreation that we are to be fruitful and — not add — but multiply.

Well, now we are following the pattern of Europe in America and now we’re not even replacing ourselves. In fact, if America was not even a desirable place to be for immigration, then we would not even be growing at all as a society. Our growth is significantly reliant upon immigration — we’re not even replacing ourselves.

SHAME-CULTURE

This all began with the notion of Planned Parenthood — two parents and have two children to replace yourself — and so now we’re about to 1.78 children per marriage, not even a replacement rate. When you begin to do that, you lose the sense of the blessing of children, the blessing of the multiplication of the legacy of families, the joy of having children as well as the challenge that comes.

And why is that happening? Well, if you have more than two children, you’re being marginalized and shamed. Now, one of the great challenges is the notion that you have children for self-fulfillment — not to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with those who are raised in the home with a proper nurturing atmosphere from a father and a mother, but now you can have children for your own fulfillment.

CHILDREN AND MARRIAGE HAVE BECOME AFTERTHOUGHT

I remember after a wedding one time, a mother came up to me and she said, “I just think my daughter have children.” I said, “Well, that’s wonderful.” She said, “Well, she’s not married,” and I said, “Well, then she needs to be married.” And she said, “Why should they? If my daughter wants children to be fulfilled, why should she have to be married?”

And I said, “Well, to begin with, you don’t have children to be fulfilled. It is fulfilling to have children, but you don’t have children to be fulfilled. You have children to be fruitful and multiply. And, when you have children, you’re supposed to be responsible and part of the responsibility is to provide a covenant home that is a covenant of marriage whereby the child knows there’s two people committed to each other which means, ‘When I wake up in the morning, I’m going to have a daddy and mama.’ The father providing what only a father can provide and the mother providing what only a mother can provide.”

And so now it was, “Let’s get married and let’s discuss whether we want to have children for self-fulfillment.” Now, it’s, “Let’s connect.” We used to call it “shacking up.” “Let’s cohabitate.” And then it’s, “You know what? Why don’t we have a child?” And then, after they have a child, just like you’ve got to have a dog for a while and then, “We’ll have a child for a while. And then, now that we have a child, do we want to be married or not?”

The statistics are astounding. Those who are having sex outside of marriage and the child is sitting here like a pawn. That child was brought into this world simply as an item to be displayed and enjoyed in life. It’s all about my comfort, my nurture and my self-fulfillment.

You remember the song, Tom, sung on the playground — a taunting song — “There’s Sally and Jack, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jack with a baby carriage,” but at least in the taunting they got the order right.

If we have the right view of marriage and the right view of procreation and that children are not a burden but a blessing from the Lord and the Lord’s given us a covenant promise, “I’ll be a God to you and to your children after you,” if that is true, there’s a great opportunity for us, as the world starves itself by its lack of procreation, we can be fruitful and multiply and, by the way, covenantal evangelism and bringing forth children who know Christ can be a great impact in a society, in a community and in a neighborhood.

PARENTHOOD LOW, SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES HIGH

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me bring up a sidebar issue. As you know, California often leads the rest of the nation in statistics and California officials recently said cases of sexually transmitted diseases reached a state record high last year, more than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in 2017, a 45 percent increase in the last five years.

DR. REEDER: Amazingly, we’ve got these unbelievable advances in medicine that stem the tide, but it won’t get rid of it. Here’s the fact: sex belongs within marriage. If we could take an entire generation and, if in the providence of God, instead of acting like animals in heat, but we were to put sex within marriage defined by one man and one woman for one life, if we could do that for one generation, after that generation is through, give us 25, 30, 40 years. After that generation faithfully puts sex within marriage, then all sexually transmitted diseases would be gone.

However, vaccines are not going to get rid of them. I’m not saying to not get the vaccines — we need to always try to alleviate suffering — but I will tell you that prophylactics, vaccines, and all of the behavior modification theories will not get rid of the fact that, when you break God’s law and you decide to have sex outside of a Biblically defined marriage, then sexually transmitted diseases will rise.

Here we are looking at a state that flaunts its rebellion against God’s law and the result is skyrocketing sexually transmitted diseases. That doesn’t even give us a glimpse of what is happening emotionally in people’s lives.

SEXUAL SIN HAS LIFETIME CONSEQUENCES

Everybody thinks, when they look at the movies and they look at the pornography and all of that, by the way, after everybody’s jumped around in bed to bed with each other, show’s over and let’s just go on with life.” No, let me tell you what happens in real life: broken homes, broken bodies, and broken lives.

GOD’S LAW BRINGS TRUE FREEDOM FROM TEMPTATION AND SIN

However, let me tell you what can happen that is true life and that life comes in Jesus Christ, Who can forgive us of the shame and guilt of our sin and, even more than that, can transform us so that we can delight in His law and we love to do that which pleases Him,

And we love not only the Lord, to obey him with all of our heart, soul and mind because He has saved us from sin at the cross, but we also love our neighbor enough so that no longer will we covet our neighbor’s wife, no longer will we covet those relationships that lead to sexual activity outside of marriage and produce children who do not have the benefit of a father and mother and will likely seek out some kind of a gang as a substitute before long.

That’s what happens in real life so I would like to encourage everyone to come to the true life of the Savior, Who loves you and will set you free from sin’s guilt and power. And, in that glorious freedom comes the great transforming grace that we can begin to walk in life and, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you can do to the glory of God, not the idolatry of sin.

COMING UP MONDAY:

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Monday’s Today in Perspective, we’re going to have a good follow-up program to what we talked about today. Christianity Today recently combed through some research by Pew Research, who found that evangelical mothers score high for balance and satisfaction in parenting but, at the same time, these evangelical women struggle with “mom guilt.”

DR. REEDER: Yeah, mom guilt: “Am I spending enough time with my child? Can I work outside the home?” Let’s take a look at that from a Biblical world and life view.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

50 mins ago

A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club breaks ground on $7.2 million clubhouse at Birmingham CrossPlex

A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club is building a $7.2 million Walter Howlett Jr. Clubhouse at Birmingham CrossPlex, but if history is any indication, it’s also building future leaders.
Leaders like Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, who is a self-proclaimed “club kid” having grown up in Boys & Girls Clubs.

“I can personally speak to the power of the Boys & Girls Club,” Woodfin said. “I spent some formative years here as a club kid.”

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Woodfin said it was on the sports practice fields in downtown Birmingham where he learned the value of teamwork.

“The greatest lesson I learned from the club … is the importance of teamwork in this city,” he said. “I learned that no matter how great the individual players were as part of the club or on the team, it’s the unity that ensures victory.”

Former U.S. Secretary of State and Birmingham native Condoleezza Rice has made mentoring and youth programs like Boys & Girls Club a pet project nationally. She praised the possibilities the new clubhouse in Birmingham holds.

“This great, new clubhouse for the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club is just going to be full of possibilities,” she said. “It’s not just programs that they deliver on. They deliver on caring and compassion for our young people.”

Rice co-chaired the campaign to build a new clubhouse for the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club along with Altec CEO Lee Styslinger III and Regions Financial Corp.Chairman Grayson Hall.

She said those who contributed to the new clubhouse initiative have demonstrated they make children a priority.

“This is about the possibilities when a community comes together,” Rice said. “It’s absolutely the case that when the corporate community and private citizens like the McWanes and people from across the city come together and say, ‘We’re going to do something special for our kids,’ something magnificent happens.”

Frank Adams, CEO of A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club, said the new facility will include a new gym, a music room, a game room, a new café able to serve hot meals and STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math) labs. The two-story facility will have a floor dedicated to teens and will be able to serve twice as many children as the Kirkwood R. Balton facility it is replacing.

Adams said the clubhouse will be a great addition to the CrossPlex campus.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to help revitalize this area while serving our kids at a higher level,” he said.

Walter Howlett Jr. was a prominent member of the business community in Birmingham and served as the chairman of the board at A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club for more than 20 years. Adams said it’s a worthy tribute to name the new facility after him.

The CrossPlex campus and the new facility are in Birmingham City Councilman Steven Hoyt’s district. He said the new clubhouse will be a welcomed addition.

“Today is very much about an orchestrated optimism and the future of our young people,” he said. “This new club is a symbol of hope.”

Rice said that hope has been realized again and again through Boys & Girls Clubs.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs talk about building great futures,” she said. “Well, you can only get a great future if you have a great start and that is what this is really all about.

“The best in us believes that every life is worthy, and every life is worthy of greatness,” she added.

Who knows, maybe the next mayor or the next secretary of state will come from there.

“I believe in the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club because I know it’s power,” Woodfin said. “It’s a training ground to guide our young people in the right direction. It’s where they will make lasting friendships, make community connections and acquire life lessons that will serve them well when they become the next leaders of our city.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Exceptional Foundation carolers bring holiday spirit to Alabama businesses

What the Exceptional Foundation carolers may lack in perfect pitch and rhythm they more than make up for with enthusiasm and sheer joy.

The result is exactly what is intended: delivering the Christmas spirit to businesses around Birmingham.

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That delivery is clear by the smiles produced among the audiences.

This is the fifth year the Exceptional Foundation carolers have visited corporations to thank them for their support. CEO Tricia Kirk said the number of performances has grown from less than a handful of businesses in the first season to five or six a day this year.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Alabama Power works to save threatened snails on Coosa River

While many property owners used this fall’s Coosa River drawdown to make repairs to boathouses, piers and other structures along the water’s edge, Alabama Power biologists were on another mission.

APC Environmental Affairs employees worked with members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) to protect rare snails on Lay and Mitchell lakes.

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The first step involved surveying threatened species — literally by counting the number of snails in a given area.

Two species of freshwater aquatic snails listed under the Endangered Species Act, the rough hornsnail and Tulotoma snail, call the Coosa River home. Both are native to Alabama and are found nowhere else in the world.

“We do a manual count, which gives you an estimate of the number of that species within a certain area,” said Jason Carlee, APC Environmental Affairs supervisor. “You can then multiply that number by the area of the lake bottom affected by the drawdown to estimate how much of the population is affected.”

The work wasn’t limited to surveying. The biologists were also charged with saving snails affected by the drawdown. Snails that might have had trouble navigating to the lower lake levels were picked up along the riverbank and returned to the water.

“The primary objectives at Lay Lake and Lake Mitchell were surveying known populations of Tulotoma and rough hornsnail, searching for new populations of the species and relocating species to suitable habitat in deeper water,” said Chad Fitch, a biologist with Alabama Power.

The snails live anywhere from one to 30 feet below the shoreline but prefer to live just below the water’s edge, according to Carlee.

“The lowering of the water forces the snails to follow the water and, as they move, they can get trapped by vegetation or stuck behind a log or rock,” Carlee said. “Our priority is to identify new populations and to salvage as many snails as we can.”

The teams focused on areas with known populations and salvaged snails when the water was at its lowest level to make the most significant positive impact. A previous survey and salvage effort was conducted during the 2013 drawdown, and additional snail surveys were done in 2009 and 2012.

“Part of our week was spent searching for new populations of rough hornsnails, and we found them,” said Fitch. “Before this week, the species was only known to occur in four different locations on Mitchell Reservoir, but we found them in three other creeks this week as well as along the shorelines in the main channel.”

Several other steps have been taken to protect the snails. For example, the timing and frequency of the fall drawdowns have been adjusted to benefit the species.

“Historically for Lay and Mitchell, there were drawdowns every year. Then they went to every other year. Since the discovery of rough hornsnails at Lake Mitchell and at Yellowleaf Creek on Lay Reservoir, drawdowns are conducted every five years to decrease impacts to the snails,” Fitch said.

Tracks left by the snails leading from the riverbank to the water indicate that the species can adjust to water level fluctuations. Lake levels are now lowered very slowly over a three-day period, to give snails more time to follow the dropping water.

Alabama Power works with USFWS and ADCNR to find ways to protect and improve habitat conditions for snails and other aquatic species as part of its license to operate dams issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. All the hard work is paying off. The Tulotoma snail was downlisted from endangered to threatened in 2011 as populations below Coosa River dams increased. It was the first time a freshwater species of mollusks, which includes clams, mussels and slugs, was downlisted. New populations of rough hornsnail provide hope for its recovery.

Results from this year’s snail survey will help regulators determine the impact of water level fluctuations on species like these snails and help provide guidance concerning future drawdowns.

This story originally appeared in Shorelines magazine.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Alexander Shunnarah gives back to the community with the first annual ‘Shunnarah Seasons of Giving’ initiative

Most people know Alexander Shunnarah for his infamous “Call me Alabama” slogan and the massive trail of billboards commonly spotted by travelers along I-65. However, what many aren’t aware of is Shunnarrah’s heart for giving back to the city he calls home.

To show his love and appreciation for Birmingham, the Alabama lawyer just launched the first ever “Shunnarah’s Seasons of Giving” initiative and is surprising locals in the community with various acts of service throughout the month of December.

Shunnurah described this initiative as a, “…small part in giving back to the community and paying it forward.”

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To begin the month-long program, Shunnarrah stopped by Etheridge Brother and Sister Barber and Beauty Shop in downtown Birmingham last week where he gave locals an opportunity to receive a complimentary haircut.

“It’s been a great initial kickoff in the seasons of giving,” Shunarrah said.

In addition to these pop-up visits, Shunnarah’s law firm is partnering with The Shoe Clinic LLC for the clinic’s third annual ‘Saving One Sole at a Time” Sneaker, Sock and Coat Drive. The drive will take place at The Shoe Clinic LLC on Saturday, December 15th from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Donations are accepted now through December 15th. Both organizations hope to collect 500 sneakers and coats, and 1000 pairs of socks by December 15th.

To donate to the sneaker, sock and coat drive, visit one of the two drop-off locations listed here:

The Shoe Clinic
1801 11th Ave S. Birmingham, AL,

Alexander Shunnarah Law Firm
2900 1st Ave. S. Birmingham, AL.

To see where Alexander Shunurrah visits for the next “Shunnarah’s Seasons of Giving” pop-up, visit his Instagram page at @alexander_shunnarah.

7 hours ago

Artur Davis: What the next Montgomery mayor needs

The coming mayoral race in Montgomery matters whether you live in city limits, or whether it is simply important to you or your business that Alabama’s capital thrives. The conversation on the ground is that the outcome could be the next historic milestone for the city that launched civil rights.

Former U.S. Magistrate Judge Vanzetta McPherson caused a stir with a recent Montgomery Advertiser column that argues “it is time for the occupant of the mayor’s office to reflect the predominant (African-American) citizenry.” She further suggests that there is a burden on black voters and leader to “filter black candidates early,” so that the ranks be purged of those who by some test fail, in her words, to “serve the best interests of the African-American community.”

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I know the judge’s sentiments are well-intentioned but as one of the seven or eight folks who will be running for Mayor, as the only contender who has officially registered a campaign committee, I view this election through a different lens. Montgomery has challenges at every turn. The test is not the mayor’s color or gender but whether the city’s next leader is visionary and substantial enough to unlock those opportunities disguised as challenges.

Mayor is not an entry-level job, as the judge correctly observed. The mayor-to-be will have to learn and master the details of making urban policy work for ordinary people. The job demands persistence and a clear eye about the questions that threaten Montgomery’s future.

Can our schools be rescued? For a while now, the leadership of our school system has resembled its population demographically: that by itself has meant nothing to the children in our eleven failing schools, or the 37 percent of children who graduate high school without core reading and math skills. The next mayor must join forces with the new school board to extricate the schools from the state takeover, a mismanaged event that creates the kind of uncertain chain of command that makes it impossible to attract a national caliber superintendent. The next mayor will have to sell the neighborhoods whose children are in magnets or private schools on the imperative of financing traditional schools adequately. He or she will also need to overcome forces who resist innovative reforms or stricter accountability.

Can we make a real dent in Montgomery’s poverty problem? West and North Montgomery are statistically identical to the chronically poor Black Belt. The southern boulevard is one long patch of neglect and collapsed businesses. Too many of our working people are still poor and trapped in dead-end jobs. For decades, the struggling parts of our city have had representation that “looks like them.” That fact has not yet stopped the decline.

Can we roll back crime and the root causes of crime? An overwhelming majority of criminal defendants are drop-outs. Our city has yet to fashion a comprehensive plan to identify and engage students who have encounters with the law or are chronic disciplinary problems. At the same time, if a city as complex as New York can reduce its rates of gun violence and murder, the next mayor of Montgomery should be expected to devise an anti-crime plan more robust than empathy and short-term anger management courses.

I could go on. We have reached new heights in corporate investment in the city but more of that newly infused wealth must be targeted toward creating jobs that pay high wages. Promoting minority investment is an urgent, consistently unmet need that takes more than conferences at the Renaissance to solve. Our municipal government structure has not been reorganized since the time when smartphones had not been invented and the internet in this city was limited to government offices.

The record of the mayor who is leaving, Todd Strange, will loom over this election. I ran against him but will grant him this: in an era when national politics has degenerated into all or nothing partisanship and what the experts call tribalism, Mayor Strange has kept the volume temperate and moderate in Montgomery. The next mayor should emulate that decency. He or she must match it with a boldness and a capacity to challenge old assumptions and challenge 21st Century problems.

I do agree that this city is on the edge of making history. But the test for candidates is not how well we represent one community or satisfy that community’s insiders and gatekeepers. It is whether any of us has what it takes to make Montgomery a trendsetter in repairing failing schools and blighted neighborhoods and in forging a more prosperous, more equitable future.

If you live in Montgomery, vote for the guy or lady you think just might know how to get us there.

Artur Davis is a former four-term congressman from Montgomery running for mayor.