21 December 2010

Let's All Hate the Duggers (a.k.a. I lied about this blog only being for book reviews)

A while back a good friend of mine sent this link to me. http://blog.beliefnet.com/stuffchristianculturelikes/2010/01/duggar-family.html (please note: If you think you are said good friend, understand that you are still my good friend, but I need to use you to make a point) Now, I don't know why he did this. My guess is he found it humorous or he thinks I'm cute when I'm angry. But that day I began to think (after I got over my initial rage against this woman who apparently thinks she has a right to judge other believers and how God-dishonoring that is) about the small-family culture I am living in.

Growing up I was the second oldest of eight (one is with the Lord), and I actually never considered us to be a large family. I thought we were about adequate and felt sorry for some of the other children who didn't have as many "friends," as I did. I probably didn't actually think seriously about the "outrageous size" of my family until I went to college. I can't say I didn't run into attitudes I didn't like about children, but I also remained unapologetic and usually my friends would give up trying to convert me to the realization that my father and mother were actually crazy.

As I get to know more people I have had two conversations that have seriously concerned me. One was with the friend who sent the link above. His basic argument was that people who want a lot of children are basically interpreting the bible wrong, especially the command to "Be fruitful and multiply." Apparently he believes the command was given to the human race as a whole and not to each individual couple. I actually don't know how this works out practically. I mean, if every individual couple isn't being fruitful, how is the entire human race going to achieve that goal? Anyway the other conversation was with another male friend who was outlining quite candidly his future. He and his girlfriend were going to marry as soon as she finished her degree at Covenant. Then they would work and travel for a while, and at about 36 for him, and 35 for her they would have their first child. He didn't want to have a child too early, as it was liable to cramp his lifestyle.

There was just something deep in my heart on both occasions that said, "This is wrong." Something that I couldn't put into words. Well, little did I know that there was someone already putting it into words. Last week I received an article from a friend more sympathetic to my own thoughts. It was called "Meaningful Intercourse: The Rise and Fall of Sexual Constitution of Western Civilization" by Allan Carlson published in the journal Touchstone in January/February of 2009.

Allan Carlson's basic argument is that the small-family culture we see not only among unbelievers but in the church as well, is basically the result of a new rise in Gnostic thinking. He traces the line of thought from the libertine Gnostics to the "anything goes" sexual lives of the unbelieving (and unfortunately sometimes the believing), and the more conservative Gnostic beliefs to the anti-baby attitudes that influence things like abortion, the prevalence of birth control, and the push for the legalization of homosexual marriage.

I don't want to give too much away because I think it should be read by anyone and everyone. It was one of the most powerfully and professionally argued papers I have read. I actually ended up forwarding it to my friend who hates the Duggars, and even he couldn't find much fault with the way the topic was handled.

Anyway, it ended with this call to arms that nearly caused me to stand and applaud, despite the fact that I was at work on a lunch break, "In a flourishing civilization, both the elites and a great majority of the common people accept and internalize-without question-an array of assumptions, codes of conduct, and moral guides; any skeptical minority must acquiesce, or face sanctions. However, renewing a civilization, or building a new one as the church Fathers did, is far more difficult, for it requires choice-a voluntary surrender of individual freedom and immediate pleasure in favor of certain ideals-and it also requires acts of courage that run against the currents of the age....Are twenty-first century Christians ready for these tasks?"

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