It is normal, beautiful, fitting, natural, and normative, according to Scripture, both explicitly and — I would say — implicitly in many places, for a married couple to have children. This was God’s plan from the moment of creation; it was part of what was “very good.” “God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”
This is the whole drift of God’s word: children are a gift; children are a blessing. When they are withheld, it is a heartache — sometimes even a judgment.
What a sadness when many modern women, shortsightedly I think, choose to forgo that blessing, while millions would literally give their right arm to have it. That’s observation number one: it’s just the way Scripture leans.
Of course, we don’t know whether we will have a disabled child or not, who changes our lives forever. Of course, we don’t know whether a child will break our heart with unbelief. Of course, we don’t know if our child will live six hours and then die. And of course, we do know that our children will demand enormous, focused attention. We do know that to raise a child in the Lord demands spiritual desperation and prayer and focus and attention. We do know that there will be financial demands from our lifelong commitment to this child. We do know that there will be thousands of hours that you must deny yourself an immediate felt need in order to do good to this child.
But from the standpoint of God’s word, none of those possible heartaches and none of these guaranteed stresses are reasons not to have children, because the Bible does not share the modern viewpoint that the aim of life is the avoidance of hardship. On the contrary, the assumption of the Bible is that through many tribulations we enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22), and that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness (James 1:3), and that there’s joy to be found through giving ourselves away. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
In other words, almost all the arguments for not having children are built on a worldview radically different from the Bible’s worldview.
There’s another problem with presuming to think that we can do more good by not having children — like, for climate change. The problem is: we simply do not know whether our child will be a debit or a credit to the human race — a curse or a blessing, a taker or a giver. We don’t know. He may be a freeloader with a big carbon footprint, or he may be the genius who invents the very means of saving millions of lives. Who do we think we are? My goodness, who do we think we are to predict that our children will be a loss rather than a gain for the world, and for the glory of Christ, whom we can believe and pray to?
We don’t know, and it’s not our business to know. Our business is to give them life and raise them up and do what we can to build into them every dream and every possibility and power and blessing for the world — and for the glorifying of God.
And my final observation is that not one couple in a thousand decides to have children by sitting down and calculating the effect of their child on global warming, or the replacement rate for the population so that thirty years from now the workforce will be big enough to sustain the aged, or whether we will certainly have enough resources to establish the child in a fruitful location. It just doesn’t happen that way — not for 99 percent of couples. And I’m suggesting it shouldn’t happen that way; we’re not smart enough for it to happen that way, and the Bible doesn’t encourage us to have children with that mindset.
God commands women to be keepers at home. We are to work hard in our homes. Work is good for us and what God intended for us. He tells us that “whatever [we] do, do it heartily as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). This includes working hard in the home. It’s not doing our “chores” quickly so we can get back to scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or watching TV or shopping just to go shopping and spending more money. No, it’s doing our work in the home as best to the best of our ability. [Funny how Alexander doesn’t mention writing blog posts and replying to comments . . .]
I knew a woman years ago who was married and had no children. She did everything she could to make sure she had as little housework as possible. She bought her husband polyester shirts so she wouldn’t have to iron them. [These shirts are awesome, by the way. I own a number of them.] I remember thinking how odd this was since she had no children and she didn’t have a job. Why did she try so hard to make so little work at home?
Many women do this, however. They cook food from packages or get fast food, dry clean their clothes, use housekeepers often even though they don’t need them, and other things like these so they don’t have to work much at home. I understand why career women would do these things since they are home so little but why would full-time keepers at home do this unless they were ill or injured and couldn’t do these things? We already have so many things to make our work easier at home from dishwashers, to washing machines, dryers, ovens, running water, refrigerators, stores to buy our food, and so many other conveniences. I think this is why women get easily bored at home. [Thar she blows, a Luddite Patriarchal Complementarian Christian Fundamentalist.]
No, we aren’t to be “busy” by getting our hair and nails done frequently, going to appointments, shopping to shop, and running here and there. We are to be busy at home but how can we do this when there’s not much to do because of all of the modern conveniences? If a mother has many children, then she will automatically be busy taking care of them but what about those who don’t have many children and are easily bored at home? [Does Alexander have electricity? Why is she on the Internet? Does she own a computer? I smell a hypocrite.]
Raising children and keeping house is a lot of work, and a lot of ladies are getting burned out because they are doing too much [yeah, because they have nine children]. They are struggling with the demands of running a household [because their husbands don’t do their part?] when they could be delegating a lot of it, and I don’t mean they should be delegating it to their husbands. If my wife asks me to do something like take out the trash [how dare she!], I tell [ask?] her to have one of the kids do it. I didn’t sire [what a stud] nine children, so I could take out the trash or pick up after the family dog. I did my time shoveling dung and mowing the lawn. It’s not that I’m lazy. I just want to do other more important work [that’s not women’s work]. Not only that, but children need to get used to working.
One of the questions I am often asked is, Why did you become an Evangelical or Why did you become an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist?
This is the wrong question. The real question is, how could I NOT have become an Evangelical or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist?
Every child born into this world is an atheist. Not one of them knows one thing about god or religion, nor about sin, salvation, or morality. As far as god and religion are concerned, every newborn is a blank slate.
Belief in god must be taught and learned. This teaching is done by parents, extended family, and the culture/society the child grows up in. Children taken to a church, temple, or synagogue, are taught to KNOW god, to know their parents’ religion.
Most children embrace the religion of their parents. Parents who worship the Christian god generally raise children who are Christian. This is especially the case when it comes to Evangelical children. From the toddler years forward, Evangelical children are taught that they are sinners in need of salvation. They are taught that unless they ask Jesus into their hearts, they will end up in hell when they die. Every Sunday at church, at home during the week, and at school, if they attend a Christian school, Evangelical children face an onslaught of manipulative evangelistic methods geared to help them accept Jesus as their Savior.
The focus of discussion on Breeden’s blog is my contention that children are born into the world atheists. Scientific studies challenge this notion, so I want to clarify what exactly I mean when I say “Every child born into this world is an atheist.”
While there are tentative studies that suggest that humans have some sort of innate disposition towards religion/spirituality, this is hardly settled science. In a recent comment on Breeden’s post, Michael Mock had this to say:
Claiming that human beings are born atheists or religious is at best misleading and at worst wholly incorrect; the actual state of affairs is more complicated than that.\
Research has shown that children have this natural tendency to interpret features as if they have a purpose, but if you look at the incredible variety of human religious beliefs, it’s extremely hard to argue that “this naturally leads to a belief in a Creator God” when the vast majority of what it leads to is more along the lines of animism, pantheism, or polytheism. (Seriously, check out a book on traditional creation myths some time. They are, quite literally, all over the place.)
If the tendency towards religious belief is a natural human trait (as we appear to agree that it is), then we should expect it to manifest more strongly in some individuals and less strongly in others – as, for example, some people are extremely artistic while others essentially have no use for art at all. Given “tendency towards religious belief” as a general human trait, the existence of a minority of atheists isn’t “abnormal” on the contrary, it’s expected.
Simply put, if humans have some sort of innate (biological) disposition towards religion/spirituality, it is the result of evolution, not the Christian God. Somewhere in our evolutionary past, it became advantageous for our species to have some sort of religious belief. As Michael makes clear, this belief was and is expressed in countless ways. Monotheism was a late-comer to the religion party, as the Bible clearly shows with its mentions of polytheistic cultures. In fact, a fair, unbiased reading of Genesis 1-3 reveals polytheistic, not monotheistic beliefs. (Please see The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.)
If this innate disposition leads people to embrace some sort of religious belief, it is certain that geography, along with sociological, cultural, and tribal influences determine what that belief will be. (Please see Why Most Americans Are Christian.) And that was the point of what I wrote in the post mentioned above — a subject I have returned to several times in recent years. Breeden, ever the young-earth creationist, seizes on minute scientific studies and findings and uses them as a jumping off point for his beliefs concerning the Christian God. What I find amusing is that Breeden — a man who rejects evolutionary biology — uses a trait possibly given to humans through our species evolution as “proof” of his Fundamentalist beliefs. Lost on Breeden is the fact that the vast majority of humans who have ever walked on the face of the earth have embraced Gods other than Breeden’s Evangelical God. Even today, Christianity in all its forms — many of which Breeden considers false religions — is a minority religion. Worse yet, WHICH Christianity is true Christianity? Evangelicals, believing that their God is the one true God, can’t even agree on crucial doctrines such as sin, salvation, the nature of God, baptism, and communion.
Leaving behind the scientific debate about whether humans have an innate disposition towards religion/spirituality, I want to conclude this post with a discussion of why people choose a particular religious belief (or none at all). The science is clear on this point: which religious beliefs people choose is largely determined by geography, along with sociological, cultural, and tribal (family) influences. All anyone has to do is look at a map of religion concentration to see that Christian cultures and families beget Christian children, Muslim cultures and families beget Muslim children, and Hindu cultures and families beget Hindu children. And as we are now seeing in secular, non-religious countries, secular cultures and families beget secular children. Here in the America, Evangelicals are alarmed over the rapid increase of NONES — people who are atheists, agnostics, humanists, or are indifferent towards organized religion. This turning away from religion is similar to that which has been going on in Europe for decades. Will this turning away from Christianity’s Gods ultimately result in most children not having religious beliefs? Time will tell. I know with my own children, I see a rising indifference towards religion. This indifference, of course, is being passed on to my grandchildren — to which Nana and Grandpa say AMEN! While several of my children still attend church, they have embraced expressions of faith that Evangelicals considered heretical.
In November of 2008, I attended church for the last time, finally admitting that I was no longer a Christian. Over the past eight years, I have, through my writing, attempted to give an open, honest accounting of my life. Part of this accounting is determining exactly how I became an Evangelical Christian and pastor and why I spent much of my adult life preaching a religion I now believe is false.
I was born almost sixty years ago to Christian parents who lived in a Christian country and a Christian community. My first few years of life were spent in Lutheran and Episcopal churches, but at the age of five my parents moved to California and while there met the Evangelical Jesus (and the God of the John Birch Society). From that moment forward, my parents and the churches we attended indoctrinated me in the one true faith — Evangelical Christianity. Is it any surprise, then, that I had several born-again experiences, attended an Evangelical Bible college, married an Evangelical girl, and spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches? Of course not. How could I have possibly turned out any differently from the way I did? I conservatively spent more than 12,000 hours attending church services, along with spending tens of thousands of hours reading and studying the Bible and reading religious books. I no more could have been an atheist than the Pope could be one. Everything in my upbringing and experiences told me that Evangelical Christianity was true and that all other religions were false.
For these reasons, it is rare for someone such as myself to embrace atheism. Most pastors-turned-atheists leave the faith at a much younger age than I did, leading some people to question my motives for doing so. Some atheists have even questioned my mental stability, saying that I should have figured out the truth about Christianity years before I did. What a stupid man you were, Bruce, to give fifty years of your life to a lie, some atheists say. Perhaps, but I was disposed towards being a true-blue, all-in kind of believer. This is why I find dismissals of my past by Evangelicals (and some atheists) so offensive. As countless people will testify, If anyone was a true Christian, it was Bruce Gerencser. That people find my current godlessness troubling and disconcerting is understandable.
How is it possible that the man they once called Pastor Bruce is now an atheist? One former parishioner and dear friend finds my story so troubling that he wrote to tell me that he couldn’t be friends with me anymore. My atheism was causing such psychological discomfort that he was losing sleep. He simply could not wrap his mind around how a Christian man so dear to him could now be working for Team Satan®. Several former church members have friended me on Facebook, only to unfriend me weeks later because they can’t stomach my atheism. One woman wrote to tell me that she really wanted to remain friends, but she couldn’t because she found my current life discouraging and depressing.
I receive frequent emails from Evangelicals who are having doubts about Christianity. I encourage these doubters to think about WHY they are Christians. Often, after decades of indoctrination, doubters think that the reasons they are Christians is theological in nature. They, after all, remember the date, time, and place Jesus saved them. What I try to do is get them to look at the geographical, familial, societal, and sociological reasons for their beliefs. If these doubters can see that it was outward influences and not Jesus that determined what religion they embraced, they are well on their way to understanding that all religion, including Christianity, is of human origin. Even if it is proven someday that humans have some sort of God gene, this will in no way discredit the human nature of all religions. The only way to dismiss the humanness of religion is to embrace the teachings of this or that religious text (texts that were written, drum roll please, by humans). This is why it is vitally important to disabuse Evangelicals of the notion that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text written by God. Once they see that the Bible is NOT what their pastors, teachers, and religious culture say it is, they are then free to examine their beliefs in the larger context of why people embrace particular religions. And more often than, such inquiry will lead to their abandonment of Evangelical Christianity.
As long as the Bible, and not science, history, skepticism, and rational inquiry, rule their minds, Evangelicals will continue to think that they are Christians because God chose to save them. Until their minds are unshackled from the Bible, the only thing that can be said of Evangelicals is that they are fortunate to have been born in the right country to the right parents and immersed in the right culture so God could save them from their sins and make them members of Evangelical churches. Quite lucky, don’t you think? I wonder why the Evangelical God didn’t do that for most of the people who have graced the pages of human history? That’s a question for another day.
The most common word for “children” in our society today is the word “kids.” Is this a word that God has chosen to call our children? We do not see it anywhere in the Bible in relation to children. In fact, if you check the 1928 Webster’s Dictionary you will not find this word for children. “Kids” is a modern word, which has been added in later years.
I have to confess that for a long time, I also used this word. I did not like the word and never felt that it was right, but I succumbed to the trend around me. How easily we do things just because everyone else is doing them, without thinking whether it is actually the best thing to do!
However, there came a time when I was challenged. I read an article about a sheep farmer in New Zealand. This farmer had diversified into raising goats, as well as sheep, and he noticed an interesting comparison. The ewes remained close to their lambs, watching them while they fed. He noticed, however, how the goats herded their young together in one spot on a knoll of a hill and left them while they went off to forage for the day. They did not provide the same individual attention which the sheep gave to their offspring.
My mind ticked over as I read this, but before I accepted it, I thought I should check out if it was really true. I asked my father who is an authority on sheep. He was the World Champion Sheep Shearer in his younger days and has shorn over a million sheep in his lifetime.
“Yes,” he said, “Sheep will never go further than earshot from the little lambs.”
I was very challenged. Has “kids” become the accepted word for children today, because we have become a generation of “goat mothers”? Instead of staying close to their lambs, thousands of mothers drop them off at nurseries and daycare, leaving their little “lambs” to fulfill their own careers. This is “goat mothering.” No wonder we call our children “kids”!..
…After realizing all this I decided that I did not want to be part of the goat company. I did not want to impose the goat character upon my children. Our children should be different from the children of the world. I therefore made an effort to stop using the word “‘kids.” And now I hate to hear other people using it.
Let’s start a revolution and eliminate the word “kids” from our society!
I’ve got a better idea. Let’s start a revolution and eliminate crazy fundamentalists ideas from our society! I just checked an old Webster Dictionary and it didn’t have words like computer, internet, website, or blog. Using Campbell’s dictionary logic, shouldn’t Christians refrain from using a computer, accessing the internet, building a website, or having a blog? Oh Bruce, that is stupid. Yep, it is, just like Campbell’s assertion that calling children kids is akin to saying they are goats.
In Part Two of her anti-kids-word article, Campbell lists a number of “Biblical” names parents could call their children:
It was in the 1960s and 1970s that a slang term began to be introduced in certain circles that were trying to be up-to-date and modern. I am talking about the introduction of the word ‘kids’ used to refer to children…
…The word is all-pervading – “Buy Big Kids or Little Kids shoes or boots.” The implication, of course, is that we are all kids – frolicking little goats that never grow up. Then there is the “Big Songs for Little Kids” – gospel music for little goats?
Even nice restaurants, museums and exhibitions have taken to using the term: “Kids’ meals available,” “Kids under 12 enter free.” Book titles justify the word for parents and offspring: we have Real Kids’ Readers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Everything Kids’ Cookbook, and so on.
I realize that there will be critics who think I am overstating the ills of saying kids and not children. “There she goes again, making a mountain out of a molehill, nitpicking about what to call your kids as the world falls apart around us.”
Children, not kids, please… No, I am not just being finicky and pernickety. There are certain principles at stake in the matter.
Today we hear much about the importance of the dignity of man. At the same time, we adopt language, customs and dress that persistently reduce the dignity of men and women.
Need I recall the daily clothing of men and women – the unisex sweat suit, the tiresome blue jean and t-shirt, the perpetual tennis shoes – that diminish the dignity of men and erase differences in professions and social levels? Not to mention the immoral women’s fashions that give even teenage girls the appearance of women of the street, not children of God.
Our customs have likewise been transformed: Gone are the formal greetings, the polite address of Mr. Jones or Miss Greene, gentlemen opening doors for ladies, and so on. The list is interminable and gloomy for those – like my good Readers – who oppose the hippy Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and do all they can to oppose and fight it in the ambiences of their own homes.
But the Cultural Revolution does not just influence customs and clothing. The same leveling, vulgarizing trend has found its way into daily language, habituating a generation to accept common and egalitarian forms of speech. Men and women are addressed ambiguously as guys. Persons are said to crack up instead of laugh. They are no longer described as blushing, but turning red. Instead of distinguishing an event with an appropriate adjective, everything is cool – to the point that the word has no meaning. And children are, of course, just kids.
Young goats… Unfortunately, the term applies in many cases. Many children prance around, careen and react spontaneously to every stimulus or feeling like mountain goats, instead of well-disciplined boys and girls. Perhaps there is a lesson in the tendencies to be learned here: If you anticipate your children acting like young goats, call them kids. If you want your offspring to behave with decorum and Catholic manners, please call them children…
The damnable 1960s and 1970s, they are to blame for everything. We baby boomers sure have fucked up the world. Children are now routinely called kids. Surely this is a sure sign of the coming goat apocalypse, a time when children who were called kids turn into zombie-like goats and cause untold havoc and destruction. I beg parents to stop calling their children kids before it is too late!!
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states, Evangelicals are trying to figure out how to explain marriage to their children. They dare not say that marriage is based on love, commitment, and sacrifice because that would be admitting that same-sex couples are legitimately married. Greg Gibson, the executive editor and communications director for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and family ministries pastor at Foothills Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, recently wrote an article titled Parenting in a Gay Marriage World: What Should Christian Parents Do? Gibson gives ten suggestions for talking to little Christian Johnny or Suzie about marriage, especially same-sex marriage:
Talk honestly and openly about sin, homosexuality, and gay marriage with your children.
Model to your children a marriage that is a picture of the gospel.
Teach your children the biblical foundations for marriage.
Teach your children the biblical foundations for sex.
Protect your children from the influences of pornography.
Pray fervently for and with your children.
Partner with a gospel-centered local church that will come alongside you and teach the truths of Scripture.
Teach your children biblical gender roles.
Train your children towards courageous biblical manhood and womanhood.
Don’t panic. Trust in God. He is still in control. His plan will still win.
In others words, cram the fundamentalist Christian interpretation of the Bible down their throats, pray for them, take them to church, train them to be good little complementarians, and don’t let them anywhere near a computer where they can access porn sites. And if teenage Johnny or Suzie turn out gay anyway? Well, “Don’t panic, trust in God, he is still in control and his plan will still win.” Except it won’t. God is no match for genetics and sexual desire. Just ask Ted Haggard.
Foothills Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
My youngest daughter is looking for a house to rent and she had me look at a home here in Ney that is $21,900 cash or $1,200 down and $434 a month. Less than ten years ago, the house sold for $77,910. The people who last owned it proceeded to trash the place and defaulted on their loan after they divorced. Last month, a distressed property company in New York bought the house for $13,050. The house has sat empty for four years.
The Ohio housing market is still in the toilet, so I thought maybe this house would be a good opportunity for my daughter and her boyfriend. Well, this house gives new meaning to the word fixer-upper. The inside of the house looks like monkeys on crack went through the house defecating and urinating as they beat holes in the walls with a hammer. Seeing such things makes me wonder if some of my fellow Homo sapiens have evolved. In fact, I suspect cave men treated their caves better than the people who last lived in this house.
That said, the foundation is pretty good, and the house has a new roof, gutters, and recent siding. For the right price, the house could be restored to its former glory. Evidently, the older gentleman who lived there years ago kept the house up. Replace all the carpet, fix the walls, paint everything, and the house would at least be livable.
While looking at the house, I noticed the following written on the living room wall:
According to one neighbor, the family had four children who pretty much did what they wanted. I doubt this message caused the children to pick up their stuff. Why should they? Their parents had them living in dump and showed no care for their own property. You can’t expect kids to care if you don’t. I’ve lived in a lot of old, junky houses over the years. My parents were poor and our housing reflected it. But, every house we lived in was kept clean. Mom taught us that there is no shame in being poor and just because you don’t have anything doesn’t mean you have to live like a pig. Polly and I passed on this ethic to our children and that is why they have a hard time fathoming how someone could destroy their home and turn their yard into a landfill.