I was trapped on the treadmill, eyes fixed on the TV set elevated above me and dumbfounded by the show I found myself watching. It was one of those talk shows—you know, the kind where the hosts and guests spend an hour or so discussing all sorts of “important” topics: celebrity gossip, beauty tips, relationship problems…definitely not my entertainment preference, but perhaps there was a greater reason that I was stuck viewing this show today.
The title of this particular episode really does say it all: “I Don’t Need a Hubby or a Baby.”
I spent the next hour hearing arguments from a number of women as to why they don’t need—or want—a husband and/or children. The irony was that I found their reasons for not wanting marriage and children to be some of the very reasons why I, and other pro-family reasonable people, would indeed want and hope for such a blessing.
“I’m independent. I’m strong. I’m happy. I’m confident.”
One of the women on the guest discussion panel explained that she doesn’t need a man because, as she put it, “I’m independent. I’m strong. I’m happy. I’m confident!” Last time I checked, most of the married women I know are independent, strong, happy, and confident. In fact, they are often more independent, strong, happy, and confident than many willfully unmarried women. Study after study shows that married people live longer and are, in general, happier than the unmarried.
Furthermore, your spouse is meant to build your confidence and strengthen you beyond the strength of character you could aspire to on your own. Additionally, simply because you are going through life with a teammate is not good reason to assume that your independence died on your wedding day. But it is important to recognize that those who use the term “independence” in this context are not using it in the strictest sense of the word. I would argue that the kind of independence to which they refer could better be defined as: “the freedom to be selfish.”
Why do I think this? Another woman, when talking about why she didn’t want children and how they would inhibit her independence, explained, “When I grew up, there were a number of us kids, so we were limited in what we could have.” This was quite challenging, she added, because she “loved to shop!” Why would she want to sacrifice a few extra pairs of shoes, new blue jeans, or a shiny necklace for additional boxes of Cheerios to feed the kiddos?
“You can get out of a bad marriage. You can’t get out of bad kids.”
This comment deeply saddened me, though it didn’t surprise me, as this mindset is scarily prevalent in our culture today.
Understanding this mentality means noticing that our gravely high divorce rates are rather explicable. An unsatisfactory marriage, like any “inconvenient” situation, can just be “gotten out of,” right?
Kids, on the other hand, you’re just stuck with.
Forget the fact that countless parents will tell you that having children was probably the best thing that has ever happened to them. Kids teach parents many virtues in a far more powerful way than they could learn on their own: self-sacrifice, patience, unconditional love, prudence…and the list goes on. But our culture hardly uses the word virtue any more, let alone actively attempt to practice them…agree?
One woman on the panel—praise God—happened to be a wife and mother who was able to testify that her child was an incredible blessing in her life. She was far outnumbered and thus wasn’t able to delve too in depth into her positive feelings about motherhood, but I hope that the shred of reality which she breathed into the program was to resound in the ears and thoughts of a few members of the audience after they left the studio or turned the channel that day.
“I knew from the age of ten that I didn’t want kids.”
Clearly I wasn’t a fully mature 10-year-old a little over a decade ago, because I could not have made such a definitive decision about my future and family at the ripe ol’ age of T-E-N. But this woman could, and did.
She elaborated by discussing her reservations when seriously dating the man who is now her spouse. She said something like, “I must have asked him about 20 times just to make sure he didn’t want them either!”
Forming a decisive opinion against bearing children is dangerous. It leaves no room for an open heart, which can come to an eventual understanding of the immense happiness and fulfillment that children bring. It also puts a stifling cap on the full and thriving love that was intended for marriage. Remember, married couples are meant to procreate!
These are just a few of the many devastating implications of this anti-life worldview. Later, the woman said that she is “more of a four-legs-and-a-tail kind of person.” Oh, dogs over human children…
Don’t think she’s the only one out there who feels this way.
The counter-cultural and invigorating family life
The show had plenty more quotable moments, which aren’t worth repeating here.
But I hope that this postmodern worldview helps you appreciate more deeply the many wonderful blessings that marriage and family life brings. Someday I want to have the opportunity live independently, strongly, happily, and confidently within marriage. I want a lasting marriage and children that are here to stay, even on the days they drive me crazy. I want the experience of self-sacrificial love, the test of patience. I want the opportunity to fully give myself in love to my spouse, and then to have that love manifest itself in children. I want all the blessings and hardships of marriage and family life.
What are you doing to communicate the joys of family life to those around you? How are you being a counter-cultural voice for the inexplicable fulfillment that you can find in living out a vocation as a husband, wife, father, or mother? Could people look at the way you speak about and act around your family and say conclusively that family life looks “worth it”? Or perhaps, better yet, a way of life and calling so beautiful, so fulfilling, so invigorating that they can’t-live-without it?
It only takes one example—one saintly person—to make a difference in the lives of many…or maybe even the life of just one. Will you be that pro-marriage, pro-family voice in the real world, drowning out the voices in our secular, postmodern, media-saturated world? How much do you believe in the treasure of the family?
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