Baby Making Fixation at Christianity Today Magazine Online – Shaming Women For Not Procreating, or For Delaying Motherhood, or For Limiting the Number of Children
I am not going to provide links as is my custom, because I find this so obnoxious. (The URL to the excerpted piece is below).
Within about a week long time frame, CT (Christianity Today magazine) published two very “pro motherhood” type articles on their site.
I am not an opponent of motherhood. If a woman chooses to have babies, that is A-OK with me.
What I find appalling is how Christians either rain guilt down upon, or else shame, women for
- choosing not to have children at all, or
- for choosing to use birth control to delay when to have kids, or
- using birth control to limit the number of children they have, or
- to assume all childless women are childless by choice
On occasion, some Christian males, such as Al Mohler and Rev. Mark Driscoll, have screamed at young men to run out and get married immediately, but it seems to me that about 98% of the time, Christians and social conservatives are yelling at WOMEN to hurry up, get married, and crank out kids.
I do not think either gender should be pressured to marry at all or soon in life, but I am tired of the sexist double standard.
Women get more shamed and pressured to marry, marry young, and have children, and have children young, more often than men do.
I come across these “marry and make babies young” editorials by Christians and sometimes conservatives, aimed at women far more often than I see them directed at men.
Christians often teach adult singles that if they want a mate, they must achieve perfection, because God will not gift them with a spouse so long as they are flawed.
But then these same Christians, or others, like the lady below, assume if a woman wants a husband, all she has to do is “choose” one. I see. So if I want to get married, I can just “choose” a man, and get married?
But how does that view square with the Christians who tell me the reason I am unmarried is that God is “sanctifying me” and “cleaning me up” before he will send me a spouse?
How is it that I am told on the one hand by some Christians that God is requiring me to fix myself before he’ll send me a spouse, but at the same time, these other Christians are saying I can have a husband if I just “choose” to have one? Which is it?
Here are the editorials I am talking about – these were published under the women’s section of Christianity Today online, and are chock full of sexism, assumptions, and guilt trips:
Have Babies, Just Not Yet – published on Christianity Today, Aug 18 2014, by Courtney Reissig
“How Natural Family Planning Shaped My View of Sex” – published on Christianity Today, Aug 25 2014
Note: I have revised this post to remove most of the direct quotes and have instead summarized most of the author’s points; what follows, and under FAIR USE, are excerpts, and NOT the full articles / editorials.
Even before this revision, I did NOT reproduce the entire editorial, contra the claims of the Christianity Today employee who contacted me over this via Twitter.
Excerpts from (and I have some remarks below these excerpts, farther down the page):
Have Babies, Just Not Yet – published on Christianity Today, Aug 18 2014, by Courtney Reissig
There are a number of reasons for the delay of childbearing on the part of women, who increasingly find themselves pursuing higher degrees, working full-time, and taking on leadership positions.
[snip many comments by author about how women are, she feels, choosing to pursue a career, or obtain a college education, over having children]
[snip further comments where the author cites studies that the average age of a woman having her first child is age 30, and she notes that she thinks that Christians believe that any woman who has a child around age 20 is wasting her choices and opportunities]
[the author then mentions how having children can set a woman’s business career back]
…They [babies/children] aren’t the cherry on top of a life plan, but part of what it means to live out our mandate as image-bearers. God’s command to be fruitful and multiply is part of what it means to image him….
More than that, when we put off the beauty of children—often in quest for our own glory, status, or feelings of having “arrived”—we are doing it to our peril.
… Some spend their 20s and 30s growing their careers and have children later on, but some cannot. The biological clock waits for no woman.
Children are not a death sentence to our ambitions and goals….
— End Article Excepts —-
I do not want to go into a full length rebuttal of this hideous editorial.
If you are a childfree woman, or infertile, or cannot have children because you haven’t met “Mr. Right” yet and have zero interest in having children as a single, or whatever your reason is for being without children, you should already be able to spot the numerous horrible assumptions this editorial contains.
One of which is that all women who delay having children are doing so deliberately. They must be career-worshipping harpies, or selfish air heads who are pursuing selfish pursuits for their “own glory”, rather than cranking out kids by the time they are 25 years of age.
By the way, why is cranking out babies by the time a woman is 21 or 25 years of age considered automatically altruistic or godly, and more so than having them later in life, or not at all? I don’t think it is either one.
Seriously, is a woman who has her first kid at, say, age 34, less motherly, godly, loving, self-less than the one who pops one out at 25? What possible difference does five, ten, or 15 years make?
If one of the only reasons you decide to have a baby by the age of 25, or at all, is over being shamed or guilt tripped by editorials like this one, by this woman on Christianity Today, that is, in my view, a bad and dangerous reason for a woman (or man) to have a baby.
You should not feel pressured to have a baby, and not by a certain age, because these talking heads and commentators are guilting you for it, telling you it’s your duty, or scaring you with the “biological time clock” rhetoric.
I cannot understand what goes through the minds of Christians who try to shame or fear people into having children, or by a certain age.
Shouldn’t the motivation for having a child be because the parents want to lavish love on someone? Should it really be because some author online thinks having a kid at the age of 30, rather than 25, is selfish or unchristian?
There are many of us who had hoped to marry, and have children with a spouse, but we never got a spouse. I cannot wave a magic wand and make a spouse appear from thin air. No spouse means no children for me.
For the married ladies who decide to delay childbirth, or who use birth control pills (rather than NFP, “natural family planning,” or whatever it is called), they should find some of these attitudes in these Christianity Today editorials equally annoying, sexist, or bossy as well.
It’s not that I am a fan of cultural moral decay and liberal views, but at the same time, I think some segments of the right, or some types of Christians, go overboard in dictating to people how they should live their lives, by insisting that everyone should marry by 21 and have ten children apiece, and never use birth control.
Culture has moved on. We are simply not living in 1843 anymore, nor are we living in 1953.
As the Bible does not lay out specifics on exactly how many children a couple should have, or the age when someone “should” marry or have children, I don’t think Christians have a right to browbeat people over this sort of thing.
I do appreciate to a point how upset other social conservatives are by cultural decay, but one needs to deal with the reality of now, and stop wishing and hoping everyone could revert to a 1950s lifestyle.
Women today could not convert to a ’50s lifestyle (ie, being a married mother who stays at home) even if they wanted to, because there are no men to marry.
Even conservative, Christian women who desired marriage and maybe to have a child or two, find themselves still single in their mid 30s and older.
Shaming us single, childless women for being single and childless isn’t helping us.
Telling us, when we are single and childless at age 35 or 40 or older, to marry and have a kid by age 25, isn’t helping us or getting us married (or to have children).
The way the economy is these days, that women often need to work to support themselves, as they have no husband to support them; with the fact that most people do enter college and start up a career before getting married, rather than marrying during college or right out of high school, is simply how Americans have been living life the last four or five decades.
I cannot fathom why some Christians expect people today to conform to a manner of living that is no longer in existence and to insist that everyone, or Christians only, keep pretending as though the year is 1952.
The author wrote:
- Penelope Trunk provided a detailed rundown on how to choose a husband if you want kids someday.
Such attitudes assume we ladies had an endless stream of men to choose from, which is incorrect. I did not.
When I was in my early twenties and in college, I did get flirted with by a lot by young men my age on campus, but did not get my first boyfriend until my late twenties, we got engaged later, then I dumped him later.
I did not have hundreds of single men calling me up for dates after leaving college, which no, does not mean women are ready to marry and have babies while college-aged.
I went to church singles functions looking for a man as I got into my late 20s and older, and there were either no men at all, or the ones in the classes were obese odd- balls whom I had no interest in marrying or dating.
These authors frequently assume women have tons and tons of male suitors chasing them down, but I always had a very hard time meeting single men my age.
I have read other women recount similar experiences, and I had female co-workers my age who have confided in me they can’t meet single men around our/their age, either.
I don’t think the women who push early mom-hood on these Christian sites factor any of this into consideration. It kind of gets into this:
(Link): Typical Incorrect Conservative Christian Assumption: If you want marriage bad enough, Mr. Right will magically appear
I really want to know, where are all these single, eligible men I have available to choose from, that Christians keep saying I have to choose from, because I sure don’t come across any on the dating sites or local churches. (The kooks and sex obsessed wackos on the dating sites don’t count.)
The author writes,
- The biological clock waits for no woman.
Some women don’t have a choice. I cannot pro-create with a man who doesn’t exist.
Then there’s this:
(Link): Infertility/ Kids/ The Male Biological Clock
There are other parts of her editorial I found demeaning or presumptuous, but I don’t feel like pointing them all out. I’m really tired of Christians pushing motherhood as an obligation that women must fulfill, and, they feel they have a right to dictate when and how a woman has children, and how many.
(Link): Stop putting pressure on women to have kids before they’re 30 by A Chandler
(Link): A Woman’s Fertility is Her Own Business, not Everyone Else’s by L. Bates
(Link): Church to Members: We Honor Only Mothers With Biological, Not Adopted, Children (via Ask Amy)
(Link): Otherhood – An overlooked demographic – the Childless and Childfree Women and Singles Especially Women Who Had Hoped to Marry and Have Kids But Never Met Mr. Right (links)
(Link): Do You Rate Your Family Too High?
(Link): The best age to marry is when you meet the right person – editorial responding to study that says if you marry past 30 your marriage is doomed
(Link): Lies The Church Tells Single (and childless) Women (by Sue Bohlin)
(Link): The Not Mom Blog: Childless by Chance Topic and Other Posts
(Link): Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling? by Marcia Wolf – and other links that address the Christian fallacy that a woman’s most godly or only proper role is as wife and mother
(Link): Childless and happy: The new tribe of women?
(Link): Why all the articles about being Child Free? On Being Childfree or Childless – as a Conservative / Right Wing / Christian
(Link): ‘It’s a break from the kids’: Why parents cheat more than childless couples
(Link): More Criticisms of the Pope’s Anti Childless Anti Childfree Comments
(Link): Check your ‘cat-lady’ preconceptions about childless women
(Link): Mother Entitlement – Selfish, Self-Centered Mothers Complain that They Are Not Getting ENOUGH Mother Worship from Culture, Church, or Family on Mother’s Day and Some Moms Complain About Churches Showing Compassion to Childless Women
(Link): The Isolating Power of Family-Centered Language (How churches exclude singles and the childless) by E A Dause
(Link): Is The Church Failing Childless Women? by Diane Paddison
2 thoughts on “Baby Making Fixation at Christianity Today Magazine Online – Shaming Women For Not Procreating, or For Delaying Motherhood, or For Limiting the Number of Children”
Thank you for this! I relate a lot on the topic of never finding the right guy. I’m currently 34 and single. People tell me I’m “too picky” which is total crap. I had a number of abusive relationships in my 20s. I can’t imagine how damaging it would have been had I had kids with any of those men. After all that abuse, I raised my standards, and I’ve since not been able to find anyone. There are very few available men and those that are single often are for a reason. I’ve yet to find a guy who could keep a job, let alone be a father to children! I’ve embraced the childfree lifestyle and found the positives of not being a mom, but there are times when I feel sad that the only men I’ve ever been with were either abusive or unable to provide. Then again, when I look at the majority of parents I know, many are struggling with similar issues, and the kids struggle too. So maybe we are more christian than anyone being unwilling to bring kids into such unhealthy situations.
I’m very sorry.
I’m older – in my 40s – but never met the right guy, either.
Churches do a terrible job at helping singles while they are single, and they often refuse to help the singles who want help getting paired up to pair up.
Then you have friends and family who give all sorts of advice, a lot of it either unintentionally insulting, offensive, or useless.
I have a million more blog posts on this blog about stuff like that.
I’ve recently read about a well-known pastor who was married, had at least two affairs on his wife, they divorced, then he recently married again – to one of the women (mistresses) he was having an affair with.
My mind boggles that people with the morals of dirt bags get spouses so easily, but decent folks can’t so much as get a date on a Friday night with a decent person.
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