A very clever blogger, name of Scalzi, recently posted a link to this Christian website which discussed, among many hilarious other things, the inherent godliness of having lots of children. I thought this was funny because another clever blogger, name of Gwenda, recently posted a link to this article about the inherent selfishness and stupidity of having lots of children.
It got me thinking. Is there a trend here? Are we Americans finding yet another reason to hate each other? Have we stumbled across the next great American divide?
Letâ€™s have a look at both sides. In the pro-breeder camp we have the Christian argument, which sums up neatly as â€œGod said go forth and multiply and we are defying His will if we practice â€˜deliberate childlessness.â€™ In the anti-breeder camp, we have the decidedly secular argument that there are already too many people consuming resources on this finite planet so we ought to put the brakes on.
Now, I know full well that the vast majority of people have no desire to impose either lifestyle choice on anyone. People with babies are not necessarily Christian fanatics and people without are not necessarily anti-baby. Letâ€™s just get that out of the way up front. HOWEVER, we should not feel secure behind this wall of perceived moderation. Radicals are always more motivated than moderates and the US government has grown increasingly receptive to radical intrusions into the private lives of its citizens, especially if those intrusions are framed in a Christian context. Pro-choicers like me are already preparing for the battle to come over one aspect of reproductive freedom. Perhaps we should arm ourselves for the next one.
So in response to the Christian call for profligate (enforced?) spawning, we should be prepared to counter with the following arguments:
1.Babies cost money. Not just to the parents, but to society as a whole. In America, we have public education, for example, which means every child you have costs me money. It is, in fact, very much in the interests of breeders to promote non-breeding. That way your kids can have a larger share of the tax revenue. Plus those godless, childless fairies and feminists will eventually die out leaving the world full of lovely Christians like yourselves.
2. Babies consume natural resources. So do adults. And the planet is already struggling with the sucking power of all of those human mouths on it. If you care about the survival of the human race, you shouldnâ€™t be promoting a massive increase in fertility, unless, of course, you believe God created us humans with a very definite expiration date.
Now when it comes to crossing over from lifestyle critique to legislation, itâ€™s usually the right wing that gets all law-happy. The left is usually content to toss out snarky critiques while fervently promoting the concept of individual freedom. But who knows, maybe the left will grow tired of this whole civil liberties thing and start throwing down. Should that unlikely day dawn, here are some handy counter-arguments to toss back at the anti-breeders.
1. Infertility = death. Obviously, if we all stop breeding, we can kiss humanity good-bye. Since anti-breeders are commonly motivated by environmental concerns, this may not win them over as the quick demise of its most resource-greedy species would actually be the best news imaginable for planet earth. Nevertheless, an out-with-a-whimper apocalypse is still scary.
2. Parenthood promotes altruism. Children are needy, ungrateful, impatient, rather clueless creatures. But no matter how unreasonable, untimely, or inconvenient their needs, a parentâ€™s job is to suppress his or her desires for the sake of the child. Sure, you can behave this selflessly outside the parent-child contract. You can suppress your interests to indulge your spouse, your boss, your friend, anyone, really. But letâ€™s face it, most of us donâ€™t. And we tend to view people who do as doormats. Itâ€™s only children who commonly inspire the kind of day to day sacrifices that define truly unconditional love. And that kind of love is good for the soul and good for society.
So, should the day arrive when Roe is history, abortion is outlawed, and we are finally turning our attention to the matter of enforced fertility, I hope weâ€™ll all be able to look back on these early innocent days when we scratched our heads and said, â€œGosh, why do we have to argue about these things? Why canâ€™t we just respect each othersâ€™ differences?â€