There was a time when sociologists expressed concern about the overpopulation of the planet. But the tide has turned. Instead of a population boom, there is a fear of a population bust. Almost every country in the developed world now has a fertility rate below the 2.1 children per woman needed to sustain the population. Japan lost almost 450,000 people last year. In Italy, where the birthrate is 1.3 children per woman, the health minister declared, “We are a dying country.”
As Christians, we are not overly concerned about overpopulation or underpopulation. God is sovereign over his creation and that means we don’t have to live in fear. But the trend is concerning because of the shifting worldview that it represents. Wolfgang Lutz, founder of Vienna’s Wittgenstein Centre of Demography and Global Human Capital, summarized the clear shift in thinking regarding procreation, “The brain is the most important reproductive organ. Once a woman receives enough information and autonomy to make an informed and self-directed choice…she immediately has fewer [children].”*
If I am reading this right, Lutz is suggesting that a woman would only have lots of children because she is an ignorant and helpless victim. Once her eyes are opened and she is able to choose for herself, she will obviously choose to have fewer children. What a twisted worldview! No one can argue that raising children is intensely draining and difficult. But who could argue that it is the one of the most important, rewarding and influential roles a woman could ever embrace. I have yet to meet the mother who wishes she had fewer children.
Now this is not to say that every woman will get married. And not every married couple is able to have children. But we must push back against this cultural denigration of motherhood—as if it is some second-rate fallback for those who don’t have other career options. Motherhood is indeed a high and holy calling.
* Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, “Forget overpopulation. The world could soon face a popu- lation bust” Los Angeles Times (February 24, 2019)
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