Monday, December 17, 2018
What future. . .
Some love to giggle when it is pointed out that the graying of the Church is due less to the fact that we lose our children than it is to the fact that we have less children to lose than in the past. It cause a laugh because they presume that we don't need children for a future -- just expanded outreach toward those around us who do not yet believe. I am certainly not one to suggest that we should make it a choice or ignore the call to speak the Gospel to the ends of the earth in our own generation but it is ridiculous to speak of a future for the Church without presuming that future is children.
How do we talk about marriage, family, and sexuality (and all the challenges of gender which has little to do with anatomy or reality) without first of all admitting the greatest threat to our future -- the presumption of contraception and the legitimacy of a the choice to be childless? Most church leaders fail to even bring up the subject of contraception and its impact upon the Church as well as home and society – for the obvious reason that even the mention of contraception automatically puts you at odds with one of the deepest held beliefs in the modern world: the right to childless sex. Those few who are willing to raise it, without even yet condemning all forms, will most certainly suffer the criticism and consequences of being labels misogynist or medievalists. But dare we must. For contraception is no longer simply responsible stewardship of the privilege of life but the choice to ignore the fact that sex is not a right but the privilege of the particular relationship called marriage and implicit in that sexual life as husband and wife is openness to a child. Sadly, many churches no longer believe this is true and refuse to connect the dots.
The problem is not simply the fact that outside the Church people are choosing more and more to be childless even when married but that in the pews the same choices are being made for the same reasons and nothing is said of it. Abortion is a curse and a scandal across our land and it is an apostasy among churches who believe choice after conception is more important than choice before. But as terrible as the scourge of abortion is, the fact is that we have in a rather short time period legitimized within the pews the idea that sex is for pleasure. We ply our children with talk of responsible sexuality which presumes that it is disease free (statistics tell us that this is not the reality) and it bears no real connection to procreation (which we know is a lie). Marriage delayed and children postponed, we increasingly turn to reproductive technology when we decide that a child might enrich our lives (what a terrible reason to have a child!). It would be bad enough if this was only the perspective of the secular world but it is increasingly the presumption of those within the Church. In fact, there are some communions in which the numbers of children being born into the families of that denomination are so few that infant baptism is a rarity, almost as rare as orthodoxy!
Now is the time to say clearly that contraception is not the answer to our desires for pleasure without cost and that responsible family planning means being open to having children as the Lord gives and not in spite of all our efforts to prevent it.