A Response to the Hemingway Editorial ‘Fecundophobia’ – conservatives and Christians continue to idolize children, marriage – which is unbiblical
Ms. Hemingway must be out to lunch.
Other than the secular, hyper-militant Child Free persons (and yes, they do exist, I’ve encountered them on forums or blogs for Child Free, and they are usually self professing pagans or atheists, and they are almost always very liberal and hostile towards Christians, pro lifers, and Republicans), I don’t know of many people who are pushing for, or embracing, “low fertility rates.”
Nor do I know many people among the childless or CF (childfree) who are “afraid” or pregnant women or children.
Here is a link (well, it’s a tiny bit farther below) to the editorial by the woman, Hemingway, who has a misunderstanding about the childless and childfree. Not all childless or childfree are alike in personality, political or religious views, or in their reasons as to why they remain without children.
I’ll only be writing from my particular vantage as a childless woman, I will not be attempting to defend or explain the differing views of or for every single childless or childfree person.
I have additional commentary below these excerpts; there are points where I agree with this author, and points where I do not:
(Link): Fecundophobia: The Growing Fear Of Children And Fertile Women, By Mollie Hemingway
The author, Hemingway, begins by quoting an article by a sportswriter about a football player who is about to have child number seven, and she seems to feel that the author is implying that it is “weird” for the footballer to have so many children.
Here is the section Hemingway quoted:
- And he’s [the football player] also about to have his seventh kid. There are going to be eight people with Rivers DNA running around this world.
If you visit the page in question, however, (Link): the page in question, you can see that the page’s writer is primarily riffing on this point:
- This is the only GIF necessary from this game [showing the footballer’s odd habit of making weird facial distortions and pumping his fists in the air on the sidelines during a game].
Nick Novak hit a 50-yard field goal just inside the two-minute warning to give the Chargers a two-possession lead. This was Philip Rivers’s reaction. He’s like a sad movie character who pumps himself up in front of a mirror.
The primary point of the page is not fertility at all, but rather, the player’s strange body language and facial expressions he makes during games.
The part about him having six or seven kids is a minor thought that appears at the bottom of that page. It is not the focal point.
Hemingway then goes on to criticize several papers for not criticizing the choices of other football players who asked their girlfriends to get abortions.
Note that Hemingway quotes this by Philips, when asked how he handles being father to six children:
- It’s a two-year rotation: Once the diapers come off of one, we usually have a newborn. And we have another one on the way, due in October. I help when I can, but my wife, Tiffany, is the key.
This is actually one of several reasons I am somewhat opposed to the acceptance of, or pushing of, hyper fertility – the burden is always put primarily on the woman to look after the rug rats, while hubby gets the easier task of shuffling off to the 9 to 5 job daily.
Mom never gets a break; she stays with the children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
But women like Hemingway think this lop-sided and unfair burden of child care foisted on the woman only is a good thing, I would suppose.
Read about Andrea Yates and how she murdered several of her children after being expected to be a full time mommy with little to no help from anyone, not even her spouse ((Link): Yates information).
Hemingway responds to the perfectly natural, “how the hey do you manage with six children?!” question by asking incredulously,
- — but what kind of question is that? Seriously. Who asks a question like that?
Why, it’s the kind of perfectly normal, natural reaction of someone, of any sane, rational, and logical person, who thinks having more than two or three children is strange, expensive, and very time consuming – that is the sort of person who.
Even people who are currently parents to two or three children might wonder in awe at, or in bewilderment at, why anyone would want to have more than three children, or how they handle more than three, without going broke or being physically exhausted all the time.
It is not only the liberals, childless, or childfree who get puzzled by this sort of thing.
- It may be impolitic to suggest that men and women are in any way different, science be damned, but many women have a particular specialty in cultivating relationships and family. To denigrate women who acknowledge and accept this as a good thing rather than fight against it is not exactly life-affirming.
Christian gender egalitarians note that there are some differences between men and women ((Link): visit CBE – Christians for Biblical Equality), but it does not follow that while women may be better at relationship, or more drawn to building them, that they therefore should all have at least one child, or up to ten of them.
Women can just as easily use their interest in, and talent at, relationships for volunteering to help lonely seniors at senior citizen retirement homes, or volunteering to feed homeless people at soup kitchens, or, helping take care of homeless puppies and cats at the ASPCA.
Hemingway’s argument shortly before that, which gets into how we are all interdependent, actually shoots down her other points which argue in favor of each person having ten children: you can go through life childless but depend on brothers, sisters, uncles, neighbors, friends, and if you are a church goer, fellow church members.
One does not have to have children in order to have someone to depend on, or to be “interdependent.”
Just because a larger percentage of people in contemporary society are choosing not to have children (and remember, some who want to are unable to – from lack of partner to infertility), does not mean all people will make this same choice.
As a matter of fact, the number of babies among unmarried women have been skyrocketing, which is angering, or worrying, a lot of Christians:
- (Link): The Rise of the Single Mother and of Women Out-Earning Men.
(Link): Single Father households on the rise
Nor does a decrease in people interested in pro-creating necessarily mean all of society will grind to a halt. There will always be someone, somewhere, who will keep getting pregnant and giving birth. (It’s just not going to be me specifically. And that is okay.)
Then there’s this information, which would appear to refute some of Ms. Hemingway’s views:
- (Link): Fertility crisis myth? Rates unchanged, even though more waiting to have kids
(Link): America’s Baby Bust Must Be Over
What Jesus Christ and Paul Taught About Family/ Having Children / Being Married
As a matter of fact, that is the pattern that Jesus Christ sought to establish, that people be freed from the ancient over-dependence on family, because Jesus recognized that such a society ignored those without one, such as orphans, spinsters, and widows:
- While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
[source: Matthew 12]
And further, from Matthew 10, Jesus speaking:
- “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
No where in the Bible does Jesus teach that one must have children in order to have someone to “depend upon.”
Having children, in the New Testament, is not listed as a rule or commandment.
Your spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ (that is, other Christians) are to be your primary family; you are not to seek family out in husband, children, mother, or brother.
The Bible does not condemn marriage or having children, but it remains that singlehood, as stated by Paul the Apostle under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is stated as being preferable for believers – not marriage and procreating.
- Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. [source]
25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.
27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife.
28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.
But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.
33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided.
An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.
35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
[source: 1 Corinthians 7]
Culture Still Puts Pressure on Women to Have Children, Contrary to What Hemingway Says
- And keeping the womb empty at all costs during all, or nearly all, of one’s fertile years is the sine qua non of modern American womanhood. Woe to the woman who “chooses” otherwise.
I am a right winger, I am a social conservative, and yes, I realize that a lot of the media -which is tilted left- rabidly supports abortion.
I do not support abortion myself.
I am not opposed to women having babies, if that is their informed choice.
However. It remains a fact in American society that outside of left wing media, there is still a tremendous pressure, and expectation, placed upon people, especially women, to crank out babies.
The cultural landscape is the direct opposite of what Hemingway states in her editorial.
Outside of fringe, far left, kook, militant Child Free type groups or individuals, or rabidly militant, secular feminists, there is still a huge expectation from larger culture that women should have babies, and if they do not have children, for whatever reason, they are hounded for it, put down, and insulted, or scolded, or treated as though they are freaks.
Women are attacked for remaining childless not only by commentators such as Hemingway in newspapers and blogs, but also by their baby-obsessed mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers, and female co-workers.
It is a very real perception and stereotype by the child-loving population, which is in the majority, that you are thought weird, baby-hating, evil, incredibly selfish, etc, if you cannot have children, or, if you deliberately choose not to have children.
I have never liked children myself, so I never cared if I had a baby or not.
But please note: I do not “hate” children, I do not fear them, I do not condone child abuse or abortion. I am simply not comfortable around babies and children: they are typically loud, messy, distracting. I prefer not being around them.
At one point in her editorial, Hemingway talks about walking around a city, an area very liberal in flavor. She mentions seeing signs hanging up around that part of town reading, “Thank you for not breeding.”
I suggest to her, I posit, that conservative and Christian culture does the same exact thing as that liberal section of the city she visited, only they are mirror opposites: rather than hanging up signs that say “thank you for not breeding!,” conservatives and Christians hang up signs screaming at women TO marry and TO “breed.”
Christian and conservative ‘signs’ also read at times: “Women shame on you if you do NOT have children, or if you are not interested in having any. For shame! Shame on you, there is something horribly wrong with you.”
Not that Christians and conservatives usually hang up literal signs saying as such, mind you, but the pressure is there in the rhetoric one sees in conservative editorials such as Hemingway’s, or one hears it from the pulpit on Sunday mornings.
How Christians and Political Conservatives Trash Childless / Childfree Christians and Conservatives – as if we don’t get beat up by secular culture and left wingers enough as it is
Women such as myself, who are right wing, conservative, and/or Christian, are hit even harder in this dust up over fertility rate arguments, and by other conservatives and Christians, no less.
I believed for years that sex was for marriage only, and babies come only after sex. That is the model the Bible paints: sex is for marriage only, so babies arrive only after marriage.
In other words, you marry first, then have sex, than have a baby – all in that order.
Well, I cannot have a baby until I get married. I very much wanted marriage (still do). I obviously cannot make a baby without a husband – if I want to remain true to biblical teachings on sexual ethics.
Yet, even when talking to conservatives on blogs and sites about fertility rates, they never take into consideration during their tirades against the childless (and they always assume that all the childless women are man hating feminists who hate babies) that they are knocking their conservative sisters in the process.
Many conservatives assume each and every woman should be having a baby -well, what about that woman’s values?
What if the woman in question is a 30 or 40 year old Christian virgin who believes that sex outside of marriage is a sin? Babies are the result of sex.
You fertility harpies are asking something of Christian women they are simply incapable of doing, then beating them up for not having done it.
The cognitive dissonance held by conservative, Christian fertility cultists, and their total lack of empathy and compassion, is both scary and amazing to behold.
Fertility Alarmists and Fear Mongering / God is in Control, not Womens’ Wombs
Hemingway ends her piece by quoting author of “What To Expect When No One’s Expecting,” Jonathan Last, who I have discussed in passing here: (Link): Conservatives and Christians Fretting About U.S. Population Decline – We Must “Out-breed” Opponents Christian Host Says.
I am not a fan of fear mongering, and that is what Jonathan Last and his ilk to.
Telling me I should crank out ten babies, even though for years I felt pre-marital sex was a sin (and nor do I want to attempt to financially support ten children by myself, I do not have the funds to do so), so I can what, keep the U.S.A. from being over-run by Muslims, or to have more future tax payers? Nope.
The Bible says that God will decide when and how history, the world, and civilization will end; it will not hinge entirely upon if women and men choose to forgo child bearing.
The Bible does not mention fertility being an issue in the end of the world – the end of the world is said to revolve around the Anti-Christ setting up a one-world religion, where Christians get decapitated for being Christian.
Bible does NOT command believers to marry or have children
The Bible simply does not command believers to have kids or to even to get married. The New Testament lays out marriage (and thus having children) as being personal decisions.
If you want marriage, the New Testament says, God is fine with you deciding to get married (and have children, by extension).
However, if you want to stay single (or find yourself single even though you want to be married), the New Testament says, God is fine with you deciding to stay single, or with you simply being single (and with the resultant childlessness, by extension).
Kook Fringe Christian Fertility Cults who Do Not Believe Women Should Receive College Education, etc
By the way, there are some very far out, wacko, fringe, kook “Christian” groups (please, start researching “Reconstructionsts,” “Dominionists,” “Quiverfull,” and some of the Christian home school movements) who endorse fertility to the point they teach their members it is wrong to
- send daughters off to get college education;
the daughters should be beholden to their fathers (it’s almost incestuous);
if an adult daughter does not marry, she should live with her father forever;
that fathers should choose the spouses for the daughters;
that the daughter’s only role in life is to be a wife and a mother.
What about women who never marry? What of women who have no interest in having children or in marrying? What of women who do marry but who are infertile?
Those promoting these teachings never really, fully, think out the fates or welfare of women who don’t marry and/or don’t have children. Some women simply do not fit the boxes prescribed by them by Christian culture.
People who do not fit very narrow gender roles some Christians teach, or the other, very narrow paradigms of how people are to live, often get overlooked or excluded in Christian circles who teach this garbage, and that is not what Jesus Christ intended.
One Major Reason Why Christian Women Are Remaining Single and Not Having Children – a reason that is continually ignored by most Christians
While the Bible certainly supports women choosing to remain childless and single, too many people claiming to follow Christ do not.
Demographic information have long pointed out for several years now that for every unmarried Christian man, there are 3 to 4 unmarried Christian women.
Meaning, if a Christian woman is trying to stay true to what she perceives as biblical teachings on sex and marriage, she will
- 1. stay a virgin until marriage and
2. only marry a Christian male
There is a Christian unmarried male shortage going on, it’s been that way for years, and it’s forcing adult Christian single women to stay single well into their 30s, 40s, and older or to marry Non Christians.
As an un-married Christian woman who sought a single Christian man to marry, I have gone to churches in person.
Many churches totally lack singles classes, singles functions, and in many churches, even the ones that do have adult single classes, the single adult females vastly out-number the single adult Christian males.
I’ve been to one church that had absolutely no single men my age at all, while another had one lone single man my age.
I’ve yet to see a rabid pro-fertility type, or the, “Oh noes, fertility rates, they be plummeting!” types, such as Ms. Hemingway, address the Christian man shortage.
Nor have I seen the fertility alarmists discuss or attempt to rectify the unwanted, protracted singleness taking place among Christian adult women who very much desire marriage (but there are no men for us to marry).
I cannot marry, and hence, make babies with, a man who does not exist, hello.
Christian and Conservative Ageism in the Marriage / Fertility Discussions
About the only time the fertility alarmists touch this issue is to completely ignore those of us over age 30 and 40 (you ageist jerks), and to focus only on the 20 year old kids, and tell them to marry before they turn 25.
The ageism that goes on in Christian culture is sickening. Nobody gives a damn about the 35 year old, or the 40 year old, never married Christian woman who wants marriage.
You have to get us adult women married off before we can make a baby, if we are to live by the sexual ethics taught in the Bible. These points continue to sail right over your heads, though.
And many pro fertility, pro traditional marriage Christians keep wrongly assuming all childless, unmarried women are CHOOSING to forgo marriage. Not true. We want to get married, but there are no men for us to marry.
The Bible Says there will be Multitudes in the Future
In light of the fact that the futuristic book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Bible (and possibly Daniel and Ezekiel of the Old Testament) describes armies of what appears to be MILLIONS of people descending on Israel for war, and alludes to birds feasting on dead bodies of MILLIONS (a river of blood up to the saddle on a horse does not indicate a small number, see (Link): Rev 14:20), I don’t think we will ever arrive at a time when the world lacks people. (See (Link:) Revelation Chapter 19: 17 – 21)
The book of Revelation also mentions the “multitudes” (see Revelation 19: 1, and 19: 6) who appear before the throne of God, that there are many from each tribe and tongue who will be in the presence of God.
From the Old Testament, foretelling the future: Daniel 12:2,
- Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
From the way these fertility alaramists go on, they make it sound as though Heaven will be very empty, with only God the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit and the sound of chirping crickets. Wrong.
The Bible says there will be “multitudes” in throne room of God. So stop with the drumbeat of doom and gloom, fertility alarmists!
In the meantime, while I remain single and childless, respect me as I am. Stop beating me up, or shaming me, or guilt tripping me, for not marrying and for not having children.
I had wanted to get married, but the Prince Charming Christians told me would be mine if I just prayed for one never did enter my life.
Stop placing the entire decay and fall of American culture and civilization on my shoulders.
And, by the way, Jesus Christ never once taught that culture could be saved by Christians, or by anyone, having children.
Jesus Christ and Paul, who wrote many of the letters that comprise the New Testament, never once got sidelined into fertility rate discussions.
Not once did either man say that the cure for what ails society is more baby making, or the upholding of the “nuclear family.”
Nor did either one tell Christians to endlessly engage against liberals in a culture war about abortion, homosexual marriage, or anything of the sort.
Christians were instructed to help one another – to help fellow Christians (Gal 6:10), and to judge only other Christians, not to waste time judging those outside the body of believers, which would include their personal life style choices, i.e., whether or not they have babies or get married ((Link): 1 Corinthians 5).
Women are saved by believing in Christ as Savior, not by childbearing nor by being wives.
Jesus taught some people in culture would be lost, but that for any to be saved at all, they are to be saved by hearing the Good News.
Jesus Christ never once taught that culture, or individuals, could, or would, be saved, or even transformed or improved, by traditional marriage, procreation (baby making), or the nuclear family, or by “traditional values.”
Another funny thing I don’t think authors like Ms. Hemingway has considered (and I am assuming from the tone of her piece she is a Christian), is that when or if you, as a Christian, do admit to another Christian to wanting to get married or having children, they will usually SHAME you for it and try to talk you out of either one or both!
If you tell another Christian you want to get married, or have babies, they will usually respond by saying something like,
- “Oh no, that is wrong! You are making an idol out of marriage or of having children. You should be content in Jesus alone, and only think about serving God, and thin k about eternity, not about earthly goals or happiness.”
If you ask a married Christian to pray to God to ask God to send you a spouse, they will say, “Oh no, I cannot do that. You must learn to be content in your singleness. Wanting marriage/ children is selfish.”
They truly get you coming and going in conservative, Baptist, or evangelical Christianity…
They shame you, or criticize you, for not being married or for not having a baby, but when you try to obtain either one for yourself, they shame you for that too, and tell you that you are being selfish for seeking after marriage of children.
As to these fertility-obsessed: if you choose to have many children, fine for you. I support your choice.
Yes, I find it a little strange why anyone would want to have over two or three children, but hey, if that’s what you want, go for it.
However, don’t shove your personal preferences for marriage or large families (i.e., having many children) on to other Christians as though they are mandates from God Himself, and then beat us over the head and condemn us for not marrying or for not having children.
And that is exactly what they are, personal preferences.
Nowhere does Scripture in the New Testament say, ‘Thus saith the Lord: every woman must marry and have ten children apiece, or be guilty of sin.’
And, for the millionth time on this blog, as I’ve said before, one thing of several that has turned me off to Christianity, and church attendance, after having been a devout conservative Christian since I was a child, is this non-stop worship and obsession with marriage and children by other Christians.
Related posts, this blog:
(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage [or maybe children] But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single [or for being childless while you are childless]
(Link): America’s Baby Bust Must Be Over
(Link): The Child Free City
(Link): Un-Happy Father’s Day!
(Link): Woman Pleads Guilty to Torturing Mentally Handicapped Son (she burned his penis and other body parts, committed other torture) – Motherhood Does Not Make Women More Godly Loving or Responsible