When did marriage, parenthood become about self-fulfillment?
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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.
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.