Marriage, Parenthood, Judgment by Christians and Non Christians – You Can’t Win No Matter What Choice You Make
I have noticed in the past several years, since visiting Christian forums about marriage, parenting, and singles, and even in reading secular articles about these topics, that while there is pressure applied to people to marry and have children, that having kids or getting married is still not enough for some people.
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I have been to blogs or forums where single adults – sometimes, some of whom are celibate and hence have no children – try to explain the stigma they face by churches (or wider culture) over being single or childless or child free.Invariably, a married person or two will jump in to such comments to say, “If you think that is bad, it does not let up after you marry.
If you marry and have no children, you will be criticized for that too.” Some married people say the criticisms and unsolicited advice doesn’t stop there.
Even though they have ONE child, they have been pressured by society, parenting articles, or by family and friends, to have another child. I blogged on a similar topic several months back:
- (Link): Baby Making Fixation at Christianity Today Magazine Online – Shaming Women For Not Procreating, or For Delaying Motherhood, or For Limiting the Number of Children
It’s not enough you marry and have a child. Oh no, you have to have the EXACT right number of children, according to some people. Your Reformed Christian guys, Southern Baptists, and conservative evangelicals are not satisfied with people marrying, oh no. It’s not good enough you marry at all, but that you have to get married by a CERTAIN AGE. Some of these groups think Christians should marry by the time they are 21, others 25.
Christians who believe this way have been publishing a flurry of articles in the last few years advocating something called “early marriage” or “young marriage,” which essentially comes down to shaming adult singles for being single past the age of 25 or 30.
Singleness is akin to The Cooties with this crowd, and Marriage is the cure and the solution, and Marriage makes all right with thew world ((Link): Sure It Does, Keep Fooling Yourselves).
Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected to bring the hope of Marriage to people… not the forgiveness of sins or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but Marriage, you see. It’s not just that Christians have turned marriage into a requirement for all Christians, no.
The concept is that Christians all assume there is only one right, correct, or “biblical” age at which a person should marry.
No where does the Bible say God commands anyone to marry and have children (and see this link); the “be fruitful” verse of Genesis was up-ended by the teachings of Jesus Christ and Paul in the New Testament which clarify that God is equally respectful of adults who remain single or childless.
Not only do secular persons and a lot of conservative Christians pressure people to marry and have children (though I will concede that some segments of secular culture are a lot less judgmental about adults who remain single and childless), not only do they also criticize and nit-pick the age at which you marry or have children, and the number of children you have after marriage, but I have seen some of the most anal retentive (usually from Christian sources) on the “how” of limiting the number of children.
I remember reading one particularly anal retentive, nit picky post at Christianity Today magazine months ago whose author was loudly trumpeting the appropriateness and superiority of NFP (Natural Family Planning) and other, similar methods.
Christians who uphold these practices believe use of birth control pills and other types of birth control is sinful, wrong, or unhealthy.
My point of this post is not to dive into the minutia of these arguments. I am pro-life, so I don’t support abortion.
However, concerning birth control pills, IUDs, implants, condoms, and so on, I do not have a problem with married couples using those devices or medications to limit, or space out, the number of children they want to have.
I think Quiverfull families, at least their beliefs, are nuts and unbiblical. They do not believe that a woman should use birth control but should have as many children as possible – they believe God will dictate the number of children a family should have, if I recall their views correctly.
My intent is not to devote a lot of space to those guys, or explain their views, or argue against them.
There are plenty of blogs and articles about them elsewhere.
If you want to read more about these Quivering people and what they believe, here is one post, from “No Longer Quivering” about them, and what they believe:
- (Link): What Is Quiverfull?
I think men should be held equally responsible for birth control, but the burden is always put on the woman in this area.
Almost all Christian articles (and secular ones) direct all their propaganda at women.
Anyway – you have some Christians who tell women that certain types of birth control are wrong, or all forms of it are wrong.
Next, we have infertility treatments, including IVF and whatever else. Now, while the Catholic Church is just as bad about shaming adult, single celibates as Protestants are, and they hype, hype, hype and pressure people to marry and pop out children, they none-the-less shame and criticize infertile couples who use infertility treatments.
I find this pretty hypocritical.
I sometimes follow pro-life, Catholic-based news agencies on Twitter and elsewhere. These same sites will gleefully, on occasion, post singleness- and celibacy- bashing articles, like when their Pope derides singles and the child free as being “selfish,” yet, a moment later, they will also bash married couples who try to get pregnant via IVF or whatever other method!
How can you, on one hand, shame people for being single or childless, but if they try to have children via medical procedures, shame them for that as well?
I understand some Catholics are opposed to infertility treatments that may result in the destruction of an embryo. I get that. To a degree I am sympathetic, but. It remains a double standard that Catholics are faulting infertile couples for trying to have children via medical assistance, but then also shaming these couples for being childless at the same time.
It’s rather like Protestant Christians who scream at singles constantly that the state of singleness is shameful, marriage is more godly and better than singleness, but, if you, a single, take steps to make marriage happen (such as using a dating site, or ask marrieds to fix you up on dates), they turn around and shame you for wanting marriage and for trying to make marriage happen.
They want you to get married but do nothing to make it happen.
Well, if a single doesn’t do anything to make marriage happen, it’s not going to happen.
I am sorry to tell you, but based on my personal experience, and from reading the experiences of 99% of singles online and in books, God is NOT intervening supernaturally and sending marriage-minded adult singles spouses.
If God is not going to aid and assist a single in getting a mate, it then behooves that single to get off her rear end and join a dating site or use some other means.
Some Protestants have also spoken out against IVF treatments and surrogacy and similar things. (For more on that, please see the “Renting A Womb” link under “Related Posts” at the bottom of this page.)
It is really insensitive, rude, and hypocritical to marginalize people for lacking “X” (whether “X” be children, marriage, nice house, money, whatever), but when people take steps to aquire X for themselves, still shame and criticize them for it.
Catholics, like many Baptists and Protestants, have made marriage and natalism into an idol, even though God says in the Bible he is fine with singleness and people remaining childless.
However, sometimes the pro-life Catholic sites publish editorials that shame people who are single and/or who are celibate, because these indvidiuals are not pro-creating.
I’ve written of that before here:
- (Link): Pro-Life, Christian Sites that Flirt With Denigrating Singleness and Childlessness In Their Quest to Argue Against Abortion / Re Eric Metaxas etc
(edit) And, as of May 1, 2015, this (I believe Catholic) news site published this tweet – the are apparently against people seeking to be sterilized:
If this below appears as gibberish, try (Link): this link to the Tweet
— LifeNews.com (@LifeNewsHQ) May 2, 2015
I don’t see anything against the Christian faith, as outlined in the Bible, which prohibits voluntary sterilization. I would think it better for someone like this to be sterilized, than to get pregnant and abort the baby. It’s really nobody’s business if a woman or man chooses to be sterilized. It’s their lives, their business.
It’s not enough for these critics for a person to marry and have a kid.
No, you have to get married by a certain age, have a certain number of kids by a certain age, and you can only conceive or space out those kids via the critic’s approved manner, whether that is NFP, birth control pills, or whatever.
What I have seen in my several years of visiting, reading, or listening to secular and Christian forums, sites, blogs, magazines, or watching TV news shows about these issues, is the following – and it’s infuriating and annoying and littered with No-Win scenarios:
- If you never marry, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
- If you never have children, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
- If you marry, but marry past the age of 30, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
- If you marry but do not have children because you choose not to have any, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
- If you marry but are unable to have any children due to infertility, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
- If you marry, but use what critics deem an immoral or “wrong” kind of birth control, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
- If you marry but choose to have only one child, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
- If you marry and use IVF or some other medical means to conceive, you will be marginalized, ignored, shamed, or insulted.
Outside of fulfilling the 1950s American cultural ideal of marrying by age 21 or 22 and having what seems to be the ideal sweet spot number of children, which most Americans seem to feel is two to three kids in total, and you have to have them all by the time you are in your mid to late 20s, and all these kids have to be “natural” (no IVF or birth control), you will be scrutinized, criticized, treated like a failure, or deemed a loser.
There is just a very narrow set of parameters. I have no freaking idea why so many Americans are so freaking judgmental and nit picky about when, how, or if people marry or have children.
This is not even getting into all the “Mommy Wars” nonsense, where working mothers and stay at home mothers fight with each other over parenting techniques.
I do not quite understand why people get so hung up on these things. It does’t bother me when, how, or if someone marries at all, or they don’t get married until they are 56 for the first time, or if they decide to never have kids, or if they have three kids, or if they don’t want to have their first kid until they are 43.
One thing I have learned in all this is that I might as well live my life as I want to. I try to ignore what Christians say about all this, as well as secular culture, because no matter WHAT you do, and no matter WHAT AGE you do it at (aside from, possibly, the very narrow American ideal I mentioned above), you will be criticized for it.
If you basically tell me nothing I do is right, and you will disapprove of how I do it, or if “group A” says they agree with me if I do X, but then “group B” will tell me they will disagree with me if I do X, well, they can all kiss my behind. I might as well do what I see fit.
I cannot please everyone all the time. Christians – and Non Christians – really need to stop insisting there is only one “right way” to live life, concerning if, when, or how to marry or have children, and stop criticizing and condemning people who cannot or do not wish to fit whatever criteria they deem the “one right way.”
(Link): Hypocrisy: Conservative Christians / Catholics Pressure Women To Feel Their Only Worth is in Becoming Mothers, But If Women Try to Use Medical Technology to Get Pregnant, the Women Are Condemned by The Same Groups
(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
(Link): Pro-Life, Yet Anti-Celibacy, Anti-Childless Christian Site Tweets Story about Mother Who Slit New Born Infant Son’s Throat to Save Her Sex Life (Christians equating single or childless / childfree women to women who murder their babies)