Monday, November 5, 2012
The moral justification for having children...
In both the Morning and Evening Prayer services in The Book of Common Prayer there is a prayer, used for centuries, called simply “A General Thanksgiving.” “We bless thee,” it says in part, “for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life.... And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful....”
This conviction that it is a blessing to be alive and that life is a good for which we should be thankful was not, however, made without an accompanying sense of life’s dangers and difficulties — not least among them the dangers women faced in order to transmit the blessing of life. The same Book of Common Prayer contained a rite of thanksgiving for women who had given birth (a rite known as “the Churching of Women”), in which the new mother, together with the congregation, offered to God “humble thanks for that thou hast been graciously pleased to preserve, through the great pain and peril of child-birth, this woman, thy servant, who desireth now to offer her praises and thanksgivings unto thee.”