Why Have Children?

In Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon describe Christianity as a journey, an ongoing story to which we are called to join. The story is bigger than us: it was there before we were born; it will be there after we die. Modern culture struggles to find a purpose for having children. Conversely, children fit into the Christian story.

Today’s upwardly mobile “yuppies” are often criticized for being too greedy and materialistic to have children, since many a yuppie couple is content to remain a “DINK” (Dual Income, No Kids). We suggest that their materialism and lack of childbearing are both the symptoms of a deep malaise. These unfortunate young adults know, even if subconsciously, that their lives are empty and pointless, devoid of direction or purpose. At least they are moral enough not to bring children into this emptiness.

Indeed, one of the most revealing conversations we might have today would be to discuss why we have children in the first place. The vacuity of our society is revealed by our inability to come up with a sufficient rationale for having children. About the best we can muster is: “Children help us to be less lonely.” (Get a dog; children make parents more lonely, not less.) And, “Children help give meaning to life.” (Such children are seen as another possession like a BMW.)

Christians have children, in great part, in order to be able to tell our children the story. Fortunately for us, children love stories. It is our baptismal responsibility to tell this story to our young, to live it before them, to take time to be parents in a world that (though intent on blowing itself to bits) is God’s creation (a fact we would not know without this story). We have children as a witness that the future is not left up to us and that life, even in a threatening world, is worth living—and not because “Children are the hope of the future,” but because God is the hope of the future.

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Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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