One woman wrote that motherhood just doesn’t fit her self-image or her schedule. “I compete in triathlons; my husband practices martial arts; we both have fulfilling careers; we travel the world . . . we enjoy family and friends; we have a fun, intimate relationship.” Another woman asked: “What would the return be on the investment? Are there any laws that would require my children to pay for my nursing home when I am old? Are they going to be a sufficient hedge against poverty and loneliness?” ~R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Touchstone
The attitude of these women is very simply a form of spiritual and moral insanity. It is here, when all of the self-centered hobbies and “lifestyle choices” trump what God desires for men that they cease to be the harmless activities they might seem to be and become idolatrous and evil. The very language of cost-benefit analysis related to the rearing of children that the one woman uses, as if the children were commodities from which one extracted satisfaction or fixed deposits on which one draws in retirement, should shock many a complacent conservative into realising the social and moral degradation that follows upon thinking of man as homo oeconomicus.
That in turn might cause a reevaluation of the value of thinking about economics as if man were homo oeconomicus. If anyone wants an example of how a consumerist, state capitalist society twists and perverts human life, just consider that the rise of these childless married couples does not occur except in such a society. This is a social sickness, and this sickness is a major part of why our society is precipitously succumbing to the invasion of aliens, the abandonment of our traditions and the decadence of all forms of cultural expression. A people that worships the self, as these people do, has no sense of its own identity, as the cult of the self tells us that societies are simply made up of interchangeable units, ciphers whose ancestry and customs are irrelevant–what matters to the cult of the self is only what the individual wants, not what the person owes to his kin, his ancestors, his folk. A people that worships the self cannot create anything truly beautiful or meaningful, as beauty requires a measure of self-sacrifice and a yearning for the ultimate Other, and it cannot recognise anything beautiful enough in the creations of its forebearers that makes them worthy of emulation. As some natalists have pointed out before, the failure of a people to reproduce biologically is connected to a deeper failure or unwillingness of that people to reproduce their traditions.
It is not only that childless marriages are unnatural and contrary to the will of God in very obvious ways, which Dr. Mohler sets out very well elsewhere in his article, but that the very idea of marrying while not begetting children is a perverse, self-indulgent one that feeds all of the passions and thwarts the possibility of experiencing and expressing truly kenotic love. Marriage and parenthood are part of God’s design for very clear and definite reasons: they instruct us in how to give fully of oneself to other people in self-emptying love that follows the Word’s kenosis in becoming man for our salvation, they teach us that no person can be complete or perfected except in loving relationships with others, and thus they teach us in very simple ways the profound reality of communion.
Marriage is a mystery of the Church in part because it instructs us in the mystery of what the Church is and how She is bound to Christ in love. In this way, marriage leads us further on the path of salvation and teaches us how to be servants of Christ. The relationship of the Church and Christ is a type and example of perfect communion and unity, and it is that example we are meant to follow in our marriages. As proof of the love that makes such unity possible, children are the gifts given to the parents to seal their unity, and in this they are like the gifts Christ has bestowed upon His Church or they are like the faithful who are nurtured in the bosom of the Church. The birth of children in wedlock is a type of the fulfillment of the Lord’s prayer that we might be one even as He and His Father are One.
Besides the obvious psychological damage divorce inflicts on children, with all the social consequences attendant on that, in an existential way divorce is a repudiation of and spiritual assault on the children’s very existence. Voluntarily childless marriage is spiritually almost as good as divorce in some respects, as the couple’s conscious desire not to have children is a sort of repudiation of one another. It is a rejection at some level of the spiritual and moral unity to which they have been called in their marriage, an admission that their love is a sort of airy sentiment and not something that should be made concrete and enfleshed in another person, and it is an expression of a desire to use the other person simply as a means of satisfaction of the self. It is little wonder that the second woman quoted above would think of having children in terms of investment and return–this must be how she thinks of all relationships, as means of satisfying her desires. That is tragic, and it is also a mark of the demonic.