Monday, November 5, 2012

The moral justification for having children...

Gilbert Meilaender is a true treasure of our Lutheran Church, a teacher of wisdom and truth, and an artful voice addressing the world with the faithful apologetic or defense of the Gospel.  If you do not know him, you need to.  If you have not read him, you are missing out.  I have grown to love and delight in this man and his great cause of faithfulness and his Christ-centered moral and ethical voice in the muddle between evil and virtue.  He has been one of the few bright lights in my otherwise cloudy view of Valparaiso University.  The Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair of Christian Ethics, Meilaender has written also for the distinguished journal of religion and politics, First Things.

Now, Meilaender has written well in The New Atlantis about the blessing of children.  You can read it online here.  It is well worth your efforts. To whet your appetite, I have included two beginning paragraphs from his article.  Note that Meilaender is addressing the commonly held belief that bringing into existence “a new and vulnerable human being ... whose future may be at risk” always requires moral justification.  None of us would deny that the West is having fewer children and is facing some moral confusion on why to bring children into the world and whether children are a blessing or not.  The good author here addresses this confusion head on in an article well worth your reading.

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.”


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. It would make a great discussion starter for a series of high school Sunday school lessons. Take each paragraph and analyze each assumption and compare and contrast it with what the Bible teaches on that point.

Students need to know why some popular ideas are wrong.

Emily Cook said...

Thank you for referring me to this article. Meilaender is a treasure.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see what Overall thinks of the morality of the developed world feeding the developing world, a la Norman Borlaug, just so the best and brightest from the developing world can move to the developed world to live a lifestyle with a bigger carbon footprint. Does she advocate birth control for the developing world complete to advocacy propaganda. I'll bet she does. Anyway, her notions are pretty quaint given that no cohort of American women born since 1945 has had a tfr of replacement level. You have to just love how she argues for the status quo. She is a real conservative!