God’s Babies: Natalism and Bible Interpretation in Modern America
I want to reiterate I have traditional morals and am not “anti family,” nor am I anti-marriage.
I don’t have a problem with marriage, people having children, and so on. Where I draw the line is at the extreme focus so many American Christians place upon these things.
Some Christians take life choices and situations the Bible is fine with, such as marriage and procreation, and blow them way out of proportion to the point they shame or criticize Christians who never marry, who don’t have children, or who have less than what is considered the optimal number of children. Or, they pressure and guilt trip Christians into marrying, marrying by a certain age, or pressure them into having children.
The author who wrote this has left a comment or two on this blog before. It appears as though he needs donations to get his book – which is about a critique of the extreme, fringe Christian push for natalism – published, or distributed, or what not (details are in the Kick Starter link farther below).
I have skimmed both pages over. I hope the book not only mentions the pressure young people get from certain churches and denominations to marry young and pop out many children, but that this extreme emphasis also –
1. erodes the Gospel (God intends to increase converts via Christians sharing of the Gospel; not by Christian parents having children); and
2. marginalizes and excludes anyone who cannot marry, who does not marry, and/or who does not have children (e.g., married women who are infertile, or single women who want to marry but who cannot find “Mr. Right,” etc).
Here are the links:
2. (Link): Critiques natalist idea that a wife should bear many babies by John McKeown – Kick Starter Page, donations requested
From Link 1, an excerpt:
- It [the book] explores the ancient cultural context of the Bible verses quoted by natalists. Challenging the assumption that religion normally promotes fecundity, the book finds surprising exceptions among early Christians (with a special focus on Saint Augustine) since they advocated spiritual fecundity in preference to biological fecundity.
- Finally the book uses a hermeneutic lens derived from Genesis 1, and prioritising the modern problem of biodiversity, to provide ecological interpretations of the Bible’s “fruitful” verses.
From Link 2, Kick Starter page, excerpts (the intro on the page):
- God’s Babies challenges Fundamentalist interpreters of “be fruitful and multiply” and finds a different message among early Christians.
- Natalism is an ideology aiming to persuade young people that God expects them to get married quickly and try to bear numerous babies. Bible verses such as “be fruitful and multiply” are deployed by natalist advocates.
- Some preachers look for long-term gain in denominational membership and an electoral boost for Fundamentalist policies. However all this depends on their persuading young people, whose initial personal preference may be for a smaller family.
- My book presents different interpretations from early Christianity of what it really means to be “fruitful”. This may enable some people resist natalist ideology, or break free from it.
Some of the quotes the author provides from natalism groups (from Link 2):
- Other less moderate voices include the editor of a leading U.S. homeschool magazine, who laments that “many parents have stopped at two or three children” and tells readers that “God is not satisfied with average fruitfulness” (Campbell 48).
I think not. The Bible nowhere states that God commands any believer to have a certain number of children, and if they fall below that number, God is unhappy or unsatisfied. Spare me.
I thought Protestant Christians were supposed to believe in sola scriptura? From the way Marriage and Children Christian Idolizers operate, I guess not, as they are forever making up things about family, parenting, and marriage that God never said in the Bible!
Another creepy, natalist quote from the page:
- A minority among natalists also forbid family planning: “God opens and closes the womb!” and we should not “take over the responsibility” (hess 23, 141). “Spacing is the attempt to usurp God’s sovereignty by self-crafting one’s family” (Pride 77). Other natalists permit family planning, as long as couples seek to plan a large family.
Isn’t much of that like saying God forbids dental care, that if God doesn’t want you to get cavities, he won’t allow it, so you should forever swear off tooth brushing, dental floss, and dental visits? I think if you take that view, your teeth will rot and fall out.
(Link): “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site
Yeah, “Early Marriage” won’t prevent this situation:
(Link): Why Christians Need to Uphold Lifelong Celibacy as an Option for All Instead of Merely Pressuring All to Marry – vis a vis Sexless Marriages, Counselors Who Tell Marrieds that Having Affairs Can Help their Marriages
(Link): Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems