A Few Too Many

I’m a cynical person, so babies don’t always symbolize joyous new life to me.  Instead my reaction is often, “Great.  Another kid added to our already over-populated world.”  Yes, I realize this a terrible first reaction to have, but I think maybe I’m partly justified?  I mean, this world can barely sustain the population it has today, so what are we going to do in a few years when it has doubled?  Maybe mass starvation and disease will bring the population back down, but is that the way we really want to do it?

Scientists argue about what the population threshold will be for planet Earth, but a few billion here or there doesn’t matter much at the rate our population is rising.  A threshold that is met in one hundred years needs as much drastic action taken right now as one that will occur in ten years.

 Having numerous amounts of children is a Catholic stereotype of course but it really no longer has any merit.  Also, the days of having several kids in order to have enough farm labor are more than over.

The irresponsibility of young teenagers having sex and then sometimes getting pregnant is often pointed out by society, but what about the irresponsibility of those who have ten or more children?  Many would be angry I suppose that I called a couple’s decision to have ten kids irresponsible, but I believe the results of such a decision are contributing to a problem far worse than teenage pregnancy in itself or for that matter any disagreements over contraceptives.

But what about if I decide to have a kid you ask?  Well of course things will be different then.  My kid is going to cure cancer by the time he’s eighteen.  I’ve got it all planned out for him.

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About danielrosmann

I am a farmer from southwest Iowa. I raise organic cattle and hogs as well as various organic crops. I type with two fingers and average about 4 words per minute. I start many sentences with I. Also, I'm less funny in person probably.

8 thoughts on “A Few Too Many

  1. Thanks for broaching this “controversial” topic. One of the things that frustrates me most about Catholicism is its seeming inability to look at the “big picture.” My local diocesan newspaper ran an article last year about Catholics responsibility to be stewards of the earth and therefore to do what they could to combat Global Warming. And I wanted to scream, “Don’t you realize Global Warming is hugely related to consumerism, which is hugely related to population?” Or what about the correlation between population and poverty, the former of which the Church actively encourages, the latter of which it (hopefully) actively battles? Not to see the connection between many of the problems that plague our world and the number of people in it is naive and irresponsible. I don’t ever want to come to a place where a religion or a government can dictate how many children a couple or an individual can have. But I think we’re WAY beyond a place where copious reproduction should be actively encouraged. And this is one area where I’d REALLY like to see the Church catch up and take a more responsible stance.

  2. Not sure if I should take this posting seriously or not considering the last paragraph. I sympathize with the author. Sometimes it can seem like our whole existence is at risk and we need to do something about it, but telling others to curb their freedoms is a very, very dangerous thing; Especially a freedom that God promotes as good (within His context of course).

    I would suggest that the author consider the promises of God and sincerely believe them. Was Jesus able to feed the 4000 and the 5000? If Jesus could feed this many people from a few fish and a few loaves of bread, I know God is able to provide for all the people on this earth no matter how many there are. Are all the people fed on the earth? No. Did Jesus Himself feed every hungry person in the world when He lived on the earth? No. Is their enough food produced on this earth to feed everyone. Absolutely. Is it God’s fault or is it man’s fault that not everyone gets fed? It’s man’s. One thing I know from God’s Word is that if all were faithful to Him, He would provide. Even if most were faithful, He would provide.

    The problem of people not having enough is not because there isn’t enough (there is). The problem is that most of the world is not willing to distribute resources to those who need it and that many world leaders aren’t interested in truly helping their own people. In most cases, where you find poverty, you will find a culture of corruption in the government/elite of that country.

    To move to the point of restraining people’s freedom to have children is quite a dangerous step in restricting people’s freedoms. Who will do the deciding? They restrict family size in China and it is projected that China will face an incredible problem in the near future; both because of the imbalance of old people and young people, and because of many more boys than girls. What will probably be suggested in the near future is that old people be euthanized to correct the imbalance. If they can force abortion, they can certainly force euthanasia.

    I would highly suggest this author watch the series Planet Earth. They will realize the vastness of this incredible planet and the many God provided resources that are beyond our comprehension. That doesn’t mean I support the squandering of earth’s resources. Each of us should continue to keep our use of the earth’s precious resources to a minimum.

    I refer the author to the following for their comfort & reassurance:
    “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (“these things” being clothes, food, etc…)

    “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6-7

    “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5

    “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among all nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

    Grace & Peace in Him alone!

  3. I think there definitely has to be a balance in the population discussion. For sure, we are well over 6 billion people, and that is going to strain our resources (which are not infinite). At the same time, those of us in the first world need to check our consumption of resources, for the well-being of the planet and for our global neighbors.

    I do think the church has to catch up with its teaching on this subject, and if it cannot, it needs to remove itself from the policy making on this topic. Through its advocacy and rigidity on this topic, the church helped deny access to life saving medical care, contraceptives, and education to women in developing countries who wish to (voluntarily) limit the size of their families.

    I firmly believe that individual women’s ability to decide how many children she will bear must be respected, and that each child born is a unique expression of the image of God – but I also believe that the line of reasoning that requires women to bear as many children as is biologically possible is unreasonable and outdated.

  4. jjhatch – Church teaching allows for NFP, so I don’t think your description of church teaching “requiring women to bear as many children as is biologically possible” is accurate. I also don’t understand your issue with the church denying medical care and education to women, as the Catholic Church has educated and given medical care to more people then any other institution. Obviously contraception is in a separate category as it’s contrary to church teaching, the Catholic Church cannot be expected to provide that which it teaches to be sinful.

  5. Perhaps I should have been more explicit. When I speak of the church’s advocacy on this issue, I am speaking in part of the Vatican having a seat at the United Nations (even though it is non-voting), which no other religion has. Because of this position, the Roman Catholic church is in a unique position to advocate against many UN initiatives, such as UNFPA, UNIFEM, and even UNICEF. These arms of the UN provide life saving medical care and education throughout the developing world. The Vatican inserted itself in international conferences on women (Beijing, etc) for the sole purpose of trying to remove guarantees for women’s access to reproductive health as a human right – which ends up including services such as maternity care.

    Secondly, when parts of the institutional church lobby for things like the Global Gag Rule and denying the US’ rightful contribution to UNFPA, it has a direct impact on the delivery of vital health care services and information to women who need it most.

    As for NFP – the church teaching on that topic (which I disagree with) is that pregnancy should only be avoided if there is a “grave concern.” I guess different interpretations of “grave concern” can lead to a wide range of family sizes. But still, the church’s teaching leads one to the conclusion that it’s not anyone’s place but God’s to call their family done …

    Last point (I promise!): While the church does teach against contraception, I do believe this is a teaching that needs to be revisited as well.

  6. As far as the Global Gag Rule goes, what vital heath services does that prevent? To my knowledge it only prohibits private organizations which receive US taxpayer money from perfoming or promoting abortions abroad. I have no doubt the Catholic Church opposes this, though I expect US policy to be reversed later this month(I’ll guess 1-22-09) none-the-less. If you think other countries hate us now, wait until we start exporting abortion.

    Likewise UNFPA, UNIFEM, and UNICEF all have dismal records on ABC, and abortion which the church will never support. However all over the world the Catholic Church has sent missionaries, educated people, and built hospitals. To say the Catholic Church opposes certain UN initiatives which are bundled with anti-Catholic teachings, so therefore they are opposed to health care and education in the developing world is not correct.

    The Church teaches that contraception is inherently evil, that God knows what is best, and to use contraception is a rejection of divine providence. I don’t think any of knows better then God.

  7. The teaching of the Catholic Church as far as I have learned and research does not demand large families, and never has. I will however grant that at some point in the past for some reason, somehow the Church seemed to be saying that respoisible Catholcs have large families.

    The teaching of the Church is this: If you want to “plan” your family for economic reasons, etc, the following method is an acceptable method: Natural Family Planning. Basically in this method, if it is utilized correctly, and with discipline, pregnancy is impossilbe since the couple would not be having relations during the fertile period of the wife. The trick I suppose is figuring out the fertile rythems of one’s wife.

    What is not an acceptable form of family planning is Abortion, or Artificial Birth Control. The question is NOT whether one can plan their families if need be, but rather what the acceptable moral means of doing so are. There are ways which are in accord for God’s Holy Plan for our species to plan one’s family, and there are ways which are not in accord with God’s plan. Faitfhul Catholics must always seek to do things which are in accord with God’s plan, and never seek to undermine that plan. It is only through sacrifice which life can be given and recieved.

  8. Lacey left a great first comment to this blog that I think people should reread. Despite the differences that people have mentioned and the disagreements over the Church’s stand on these issues, the big picture (overpopulation and its effects) looms and should be considered more closely. For those that are arguing for a continuation of the Church’s ban on birth control, well ok, but that still means the Church should be doing everything it can within the confines of its rules to curb the problem of overpopulation and its effects. Right now I don’t believe that’s the case.

    In response to the second comment: Earth’s resources are not infinite. You’re correct about a lack of proper distribution adding to the problem, but like any organism within its environment there is definitely only a certain population that this world can sustain. With the population rising as fast as it is, that threshold may be reached sooner rather than later.

    Also, it’s easy to use an interpretation of a Catholic teaching as an excuse for something, such as having many children. But let’s be practical. Having an excessive amount of children is irresponsible at this point in time. Yes the children are blessings and can’t be blamed, but the parent’s decision can definitely be blamed as thoughtless and selfish. Calling it God’s plan seems to be the easy way out too. God gave us the power to make our own decisions, so how long do we hide behind saying “this is God’s plan” before we take action on a situation?

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