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Too Many Children? Oh God, Here We Go Again

Too Many Children? Oh God, Here We Go Again

“Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22; 9:7)

I am not a religious man, but I don’t have much of an interest in passing judgment on those who are. I figure, with the world being what it is (equal parts wondrous and horrendous–eh, maybe not always so equal) that one needs to find inspiration and guidance where it is available. But to me, in my limited secular view, religion seems like a very personal choice that should be ever-evolving and subject to speculation and maturation overtime, not something that you are born into as minion or disciple.

As a continuation of an earlier post (“Too Many Children”), I am delving into the idea of what constitutes too many children and what motivates parents to indiscriminately multiply like rabbits.

As a parent myself, I could honestly say that God (or G-d if you are Jewish) didn’t really make an impact on my choice to procreate or say–just act like I am trying to procreate. But for many of the pious and devout, religion is the sole determinant to having children.

Take for instance the Quiverfull movement. This is a evangelical religious movement existing largely in the United States (with populations in Canada, Australia, and the UK as well) that follows a sort of biblical mandate, and thoroughly believes that God, and only God, should and will determine what the right number of children should be for any given family, because ultimately it is God’s design. Therefore, for those of the Quiverfull faith, the idea of birth control, sterilization, or even abstinence among married couples is an anathema. The result is (as anyone could guess) abundant Quiverfull families packing into Sunday church meetings and staunchly following the psalm that inspires their name:

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Normally this sort of thing wouldn’t bother me, let alone get my attention, but there is an element here that is a bit less wholesome and slightly more disconcerting with the modus operandi of the Quiverfull faith. Beyond setting out to be fruitful and multiply, the Quiverfull objective is to multiply the faithful and rework the balance of Christians against the non-believers and non-Christian faiths of the world. With increasing numbers, it is the belief of the Quiverfull faithful that they will be able to repopulate the world of the “morally-lapsed” and take over cities like San Francisco and trouble spots like the U.S. government. This breeding of a Christian army is seen as a direct effort to protect the likes of evangelical Christians against the rise of moral relativism, Islam, secularism, and the like.

Now, I don’t doubt that Quiverfull parents love all of their children (even if they can’t keep all their names straight) but I do wonder why? Why, in an effort to propagate ideas, however important they may seem to you, do you have to assign them to a unique individual (or individuals) to carry them out? Isn’t this something we could and should do on our own, without burdening our children or our population index? And is one group or individual’s fear of religious or cultural obsolescence enough of a reason to add a few names to the census roster? Does this even work?

Feel free to enlighten me.

Read more: Babies, Children, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Pregnancy, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

199 comments

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10:54AM PST on Dec 17, 2010

Please read my petitions advocating municipal environmental contraception funding, which is increasingly politically realistic due to The Big Sort in more and more towns, and helps women's right's, quality of life, and school taxes as well as being at least 5 times more cost-effective than any other environmental effort. http://www.change.org/petitions/view/transfer_all_environmental_funds_to_contraception

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/transfer-all-environmental-funds-to-contraception-especially-municipal/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/childfreetown/

http://www.thebigsort.com/maps.php

12:26PM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

Climate change will not be abated without adequate measures to reduce the root problem causing it: excess consumption as a direct result of human overpopulation. No one should legally be permitted to have more than two children at the very most...unless the additional children are by adoption.

11:47AM PST on Jan 29, 2010

Diversity of species works best. Even better when the variety of different species increases. Also I chose not to be a parent for fear of not being able to cope with raising a child, this choice was my own and no one else's.

11:33AM PST on Jan 29, 2010

Hmmm. Sorry, got a bit confused.com for a minute. I thought the subject was about having too many children, not about religion. Also what surprised me is the fact that it comes from someone who claims not to be religious. It doesn't matter what (if any) religion you belong to but it does matter that we all take responsibility for our own actions. A friend of mine has 32 'yes 32' children of her own, her family pull together as one and thus they are 'contributing' in a positive way. I'm heart broken when I hear about babies being abandoned in the street or various buildings, or even parcs. To have too many children occurs if you can not care for those that you already have.

7:27AM PST on Jan 13, 2010

Sorry, Heather, but you completely miss the point. The point is not . . .NOT . . . that people with large families may be consumers, the point is that there are only so many spaces for human beings on the planet. The planet is over-run with one species.

In the Bible, God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the animals. That did not mean to obliterate them.

Dominion means rule but it also means control or the exercise of control. People with large families exercise no control where control should begin: at home.

11:26AM PST on Jan 12, 2010

Many Large families live vary simple lives..they often choose to buy used when they can....Yet they are frowned on, and shamed...
Why are you picking on people for having Big families when you should look at families who have few kids and use SO much...They trade in for a new car every 2-3 years, they buy HUGE amounts of new clothing, They eat out 3-4 times a week if not more...Both mom and Dad have SUVs..I can keep going.

I would have taken the posters side a few months ago....but the fact that people may have more kids may not mean they are super consumers....

9:08AM PST on Dec 29, 2009

Andreas and Wade -- Very good observations.

8:29AM PST on Dec 29, 2009

A really touchy subject i see. No matter what your opinion is the fact remains, that the earths ecosystem cannot sustain any species at too high population levels.

9:19PM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

"As for how many children Christians have, that is up to God, for if you live for Christ and give your life to him then he is in control of everything."

Rebecca, I've studied Christian and Jewish scripture, but not in a deperate grab for salvation. No accusations intended, anti-Christians can be mean spirited, and the religious can simply refuse to discuss on any but their own terms. Your view is, unfortuanately, typically millenarian, meaning that there is almost always a reference, often veiled, to the "end times." Yes? No? This is often apperent in the way that Christians life their lives - as though the world is disposable.

I've actually heard Christians cheer God (I'm apostate, by the way) for turning the outcome of a soccer game in their favor. Too bad he happened to overlook all of the Chinese machetes being shipped to Africa.

If this doesn't happen to be your bent, I apologize, and will move to those who assert that their children represent "hope for the world." Are you really so cynical about yourselves and the people who are already here? Personally, I think that you're playing in a crap shoot, indulging yourselves for the time being, and ultimately "pulling up the ladders" on those who are coming behind you.

Millions or billinos of cubic yards of dirty disposable diapers and parents who fail to monitor thier children aside, how often do we question if wanting a thing is enough reason to have it, particularly given the cost?

12:42AM PDT on Aug 5, 2009

I encourage anyone who is concerned about population issues to join the Care2 group "Population Growth" at http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/populationcontrol .

This group is for people concerned about the threat of overpopulation and how it affects our environment and each other.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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