More than their portion, wow. And there’s no way 815 is using ‘more than their portion’ sitting in elegance in Manhattan spreading heresy around the globe like so much thick sweet junk food peanut butter.
KJS: About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.
Times: Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?
KJS: No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.
But I digress.
The real crux of the matter, as any reasonable person can see, is her amazing assertion “No. Its probably the opposite.” That is, the opposite of having babies. And the opposite of having babies is not having them either by 1. not conceiving them in the first place or 2. killing the ones that have already been conceived.
Now, I know that KJS hasn’t probably read the whole Bible, and if she has, she doesn’t believe that it, but some of us have and do and thus it is incumbent upon us to deal with this assertion, however clunky it may be. And I intend to do so by looking carefully at this verse: But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. 1Timothy 2:11
First of all, the law against contradictions is important (see post on WO below). Scripture does not contradict itself because God inspired and authored it and he does not contradict himself. So, we know, from the whole witness of scripture that we are saved through the work of Christ alone—men and women (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:13-17). In order to be saved it is necessary to put your full faith and trust in Christ who, through his own death and resurrection, accomplished the salvation of all those who believe. Because we know upon what basis all people, men and women, are saved from sin for eternity, we must be talking about something else.
There’s been much speculation about what that something might be, but I’ve some thoughts and observations of my own.
First of all, when Matt and I made the unconscionable decision to have as many children as possible as soon as possible (that is, upon being married), we observed an ill concealed horror behind the eyes of those we had to tell we were expecting our first (but they just got married, why aren’t they waiting, you could hear echoing silently in the air). But everyone got over it when our baby turned out to be the cutest baby EVER (I’ll try to contain myself). We continued happily along until the day we announced the expectation of our third, close on the heels of our second. Horror once again filled the silent air (they already have one of each! What do they want more for?) that should have been filled with congratulations.
Why the horror, I have wondered to myself. I like babies. Why shouldn’t have as many as I want? What on earth would I wait for, to become older and more tired?
And then I met a couple of young women—both married for about 10 years, both still without children. What, for me, is most curious, is that these are not ‘career’ women. They’re not picking a really good job over having kids, (one of them hates her job), and there aren’t any medical problems, they’re just not having kids. They’re just not ‘ready’.
Thing is, its not just these two women that I have met personally. The fact remains, more and many women in America, in the West, are choosing not to have children.
Now, I know, these same serene childless women look at me judgmentally as I shove my way hysterically through the grocery store. My extravagance in children is culturally insensitive and there’s no reason for it, in secular terms. I mean, what are children really for? They’re expensive. They might turn out badly. They make it impossible for me to ‘fulfill’ myself in any way. The moment I manage to sit down, even for a second, I’m back on my feet to arrest the desperate cries for milk and peanut butter ‘n’ sandwich. At the very moment of writing this I have a splitting headache from having held two simultaneously screaming children for a full 15 minutes, unable to convince either of them to stop crying.
And yet, more than ever in my life, I feel beautiful. At the very least, in bearing children, I have been saved from chronic spiritual ugliness.
Women, by virtue of their biological makeup, are given the gift of life in a way that men are not. They are able to hold within their own flesh, their own bodies, the soul and life of another person. However lightly they may take that other life, however pitifully they may understand what is happening to them, nevertheless, this very particular gift has been given to them. And when they choose not to accept it, when they make a conscious choice Not to have children When they are able, that choice carries spiritual consequences.
I’m not talking about women who are unable to physically bear children (and I know there are many) or choose a vocation of celibacy. Nor even those women who have made bad choices and are seeking the grace and mercy of Jesus to heal and forgive them. God is great and good and merciful and (to quote KJS) doesn’t exist inside a box. He not only saves and redeems, he sanctifies and makes beautiful all those who call upon his name.
But there are many many married women who are able to have children and, for whatever reason, decide not to. And it is this decision that carries the consequence of spiritual ugliness. The baseline of carrying a child to term and being delivered of it requires, at a minimum, moving over and making room for another human being. And that moving over is a choice. You either choose to deliver the baby or not. And the choice to deliver births in the woman herself not only selflessness, but great goodness that comes from God alone. The other choice—to not conceive, to not deliver—births selfishness. And when a culture, or in this case a ‘church’, corporately makes a choice against life, against the gifts God gives, that same church become small and selfish.