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Do we have a duty to have children?

Many women now choose ‘not to have it all’ – should we be worried?

By on Monday, 14 May 2012

Ed West had an interesting and thought-provoking article in the print edition of the Catholic Herald, which you can read here. In it he tells us that Lucy Worsley, the television presenter and historian, has deliberately chosen not to have children.

Dr Worsley is very good at what she does, and I have enjoyed her programmes immensely. But she said in an interview, which you can read here,  in answer to the question “Can women have it all?”

I haven’t, but I have deliberately chosen not to have it all. I couldn’t do all of the exciting things that I do if I had children and I feel I have made that decision now. I think it is important to validate it as a choice. Helen Mirren is good at this, but there aren’t a lot of other positive, childless-by-choice people out there.

This leads me to reflect that there have been a whole bunch of childless by choice people out there, historically speaking – by which I mean religious celibates.

But it also leads me down a historical path. Many governments have introduced legislation to encourage people to have children, or rather, to encourage the right people to have children. Rome’s first Emperor, Augustus, induced the Senate to pass the Lex Julia, which made adultery illegal, and which penalised those who failed to marry and reproduce. He was moved by the fear that the ancient patrician families of Rome were facing extinction. In fact, the Lex Julia failed in its attempts to reverse the decline of the traditional noble family; by the time of the Antonines, the Senate was full of new men whose roots were in the provinces.

There have been other attempts in more recent times to succeed where the Lex Julia failed. One thinks of the inter-War years in France and various attempts to encourage les familles nombreuses; and of course the way that Mussolini gave out medals to mothers of many children. In Belgium today still, the tenth child of every family automatically has the Royal couple as godparents.

Augustus and Mussolini would have been horrified by Dr Lucy Worsley’s choice to be childless, particularly as she represents one of the brightest and best of her generation. Should we be horrified too? I wonder.

Childlessness can be a valid moral choice, though it is not one that we hear much about except in the context of vowed celibacy. But what strikes me here is that we often hear talk of population increase, and that if present trends continue, some sort of Malthusian disaster will overtake us. But this overlooks one important factor. Present trends rarely, if ever, continue. They frequently go into reverse. At the time of Constantine, in the early fourth century, Rome had a million inhabitants. By the time of Cola di Rienzo, in the mid-fourteenth century, it was a ghastly pestilential village of about 30,000 people. Yet no doubt in the time of Constantine people were constantly worrying about present trends continuing.

Dr Worsley’s decision is perhaps a small sign of the way trends reverse. Her mother was not childless, obviously, but Lucy is, and this represents a one generational turn around. My mother had five children, like her mother before her; but my four siblings between them have racked up a mere ten children; if you factor me in, that means an average of two each.
So what is happening here? We western Europeans have been remarkably successful breeders in the twentieth century; but success can produce an opposite and equal reaction. There is clear evidence that countries which were once very fertile are now the least productive of children. But what this means is of course for statisticians to work out and tell us. And maybe it is for moralists, such as myself, to ponder on.

Do we have a duty to have children? Do we owe it to future generations – we often hear this phrase – to ensure that there is a future generation?

  • Singalong

    But is it right to marry and decide deliberately to have no children?  Isn`t that grounds for a Catholic annulment?

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Only if the couple has made that decision prior to getting married is it grounds for annulment.

    No, it is not right…Unless, of course, they abstain from sexual relations, but if I’m not mistaken, total giving of self is required within marriage, which obviously also invludes procreative activities. So abstaining from sexual relations precisely so as not to have any children – except due to medical reasons – is, from what I understand, not a valid moral choice.

    Taking the Catechism out of it…I don’t see how it would be a right choice.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

     Perpople have a legitimate right to choose to remain childless.

    We have a legitimate right to not take care of them when they grow old – if they were childless by choice.

  • Veuster

    Alas! There are many married couples who do have children but then find that those children are unable or unwilling to take care of them when they grow old.

  • theroadmaster

    Fertility in the western world is regarded almost as a life-threatening disease for which experts have battled to find a cure,  over recent centuries.  This innately healthy facet of a woman’s biological makeup, was regarded with great reverence by multiple societies for thousands of years, and tribal societies often celebrated marriages with fertility rites, to enhance the prospects of future pregnancies.  The Providence of the One True God, comes through in the biblical story of the once barren Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, the mother of the Messiah.  The child in her womb, the future John the Baptist, jumped for joy at the news of the impending Incarnation of the Word made Flesh.   Jesus was and still remains the greatest hope that the world needs and on a human level, societies which invest in a demographically-stable environment, where population trends have not fallen below fertility replacement levels, are best placed to cultivate a better future for coming generations.

  • TreenonPoet

    My answer is that it depends.

    A duty is that which one is morally obligated to do (and this has implications regarding lawfulness). The reasons that one might feel morally obligated to attempt to have children, or to refrain, vary according to circumstances. There could be circumstances under which there is no strong obligation either way.

    It can sometimes be difficult to decide which course of action is the most ethical because there are so many factors to weigh. Suppose, for example, that the dominant consideration was environmental impact. The duty might then be to limit family size, and it might be considered a philanthropic sacrifice to have no children (with possible implications for one’s own survival) so that others may benefit. If the dominant consideration was the need for enough people to support the elderly, then the duty would be to aim for the family size which optimally addressed that. And so on.

    Given that the world is using resources faster than they can be replenished, the current requirement is that the world population should be reduced. In the short term, this might mean that the elderly suffer, but the alternative would be that eventually many more would suffer. Governments are aware of this, but unless they communicate a plan to the governed, couples cannot be accused of failing in their duty with respect to that plan.

  • Oconnord

    Great idea. And in turn the child-free won’t have to pay for healthcare for children or pregnancies, or for the education system, or social services for children, or council services like playgrounds and school transport, and of course policing for when the little darlings go on the rampage.

    Overall I think we would be quite happy with our part of the deal. 

  • Parasum

    “Do we have a duty to have children? Do we owe it to future generations –
    we often hear this phrase – to ensure that there is a future
    generation?”

    ## No. Marriage is a vocation. So is the religious life.  Vocations are God’s to give, regardless of any bright ideas of the state – or of the Church. And why should people with no vocation to marriage be made to go through the Hell on earth of being made to marry someone to whom they are not in the least attracted ?  Marriage should not be a form of state-sponsored or Church-sponsored torment.

    There are worse things than the extinction of the human race – we are never more than a generation or two away from it anyway. Every other species faces the possibility, and for many it has become a fact – why should we be different ? What is so important, that without mankind to ruin it & fill it with a million different forms of evil the world would be any the worse for the extinction – or at least diminution in numbers – of mankind ? In the end, everything passes away – why should we be any different. It doesn’t matter whether we are extinguished in a hundred years or a hundred million – it’s going to happen anyway. This country did not exist 2,500 years ago – the world can get by once it is no more.

    And if there is going to be a Second Coming, it needs to get a move on: it won’t be much use to return to a post-human Earth inhabited only by spiders. They’ve survived for 300 million years, and will probably see mankind out. 

    Buzzing off to a distant planet is undesirable, even if it should be possible; since that involves polluting even more of the universe with human sinfulness. Bad idea.

  • Oconnord

    I know that the term “child-free” can seem a little smug, but “childless by choice” is redundant. The only people who would describe themselves as “childless” are those who want children but are incapable. 

    Am I Ferrari-less because I’d choose not to have one? Or am I free to choose not to drive any car?   

  • Patrick_Hadley

    Do you mean by “taking the Catechism out of it” looking at the issue without the benefit of Catholic teaching? If that is the case then I think you will that the vast majority of ethicists would argue that there are certainly cases when it is the moral choice for a couple to decide not to have children. This include cases where the health of the mother is too delicate to give birth safely, and where there is a genetic disease carried by the parents which would mean it was highly likely that the child would not be healthy. And of course some currently argue that, in a world of seven billion people and finite resources, a couple who sacrifice their fertility for the good of the planet are performing a highly moral act.

  • Arklows

    I have one child and I am contemplating whether I can afford another. With a paltry tax relief on nursery vouchers the only aid to middle earners, ironically it would be more feasible if I separated because being assessed on one income alone, I would be eligible for tax credits including the child care element. Living in London where getting the child into a semi-civilised school requires intense planning and often money (as being in catchment adds at least £50k onto the price of a house) I am resigned to the fact that I may have to pay school fees one day which is just about affordable for one (if we live in a run down area, forfeit holidays and buy second hand as we do now) but unlikely for two children. Perhaps if the church reserved school places for people who give to tirelessly to the church and are totally committed instead of those fortunate enough to be able to buy in the catchment, I might be able to afford child number 2. Looking at the record from Westminster (Cardinal Vaughan saga) and now Southwark (Coloma Convent saga) this is not likely while the current mob are running the show.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    By taking the Catechism out I mean approaching it from a purely non-Christian morality point-of-view….As in, given that we have this union called marriage which is meant for something, can it then be right to not have children? My answer is “no”.

    Furthermore, the moral law allows people to abstain from having children for medical reasons, as you well know.

  • JByrne24

    Our Archbishop +Vincent Nichols, I believe, did try hard to break the comfortable upper middle-class stranglehold on one or two of these schools. 
    The fat vested interests, however, won the day, some months ago – with the help of Telegraph Newspaper writers like Charles Moore and others at the top of the food-chain.

  • JByrne24

    “There are worse things than the extinction of the human race – we are never more than a generation or two away from it anyway. Every other species faces the possibility, and for many it has become a fact – why should we be different ?”

    I really can’t think of anything worse (than Human extinction).

    Just because we have “generations” of short-lived beings does not mean we are only a couple or so generations from extinction.

    Man is quite unique. We can control evolution and deny the Darwinian imperative of “survival of the fittest”.

  • Michael Intensity

    JByrne is just being spiteful. I teach at the Vaughan and know the story. False Witness JB. Thou shall not!

  • James H

    “Do we have a duty to have children? Do we owe it to future generations –
    we often hear this phrase – to ensure that there is a future
    generation?”

    I’m frankly surprised you’re asking the question. Christianity in Europe is dying for want of children.

  • James H

     There is no population bomb. I can’t refute Malthus any better than here:

    http://www.overpopulationisamyth.com/

  • TreenonPoet

     That video selects the most optimistic UN population projection and yet encourages people not to worry about population levels, which is hardly the attitude likely to result in the optimistic outcome. Even with the optimistic scenario (the low-growth variant), the ecological footprint per person will have to reduce substantially.

  • TreenonPoet

     Do you support all religious indoctrination of children, or just indoctrination into your version of Christianity? If the latter, how are you going to suppress all those other religions – by trying to outbreed them?

  • JoFlemings

    I think all y’all who are married ought to pray and ask God if He would be willing to give you children if you opened up your hearts minds and lives to them. And then see what happens. This is on some levels a no-brainer, children are the natural fruit of married love. They are a gift from God, an inheritance from Him – I am quoting Scripture here. Having children, who usually, morally, come one at a time, is an act of faith. It is normal that one would have them if one is married. And so it is normal that one would expect to have at least two if God allows because that way the child has a gift akin to its own life from its parents in a sibling. The good this is in society and the world at large has nothing on the good it is in the family unit and in the lives of the mother father and children themselves, none of which is less important than the speculative good of society or the planet as a whole. I think the naysayers here are hiding behind the hassle factor in having children- very real in the post about how to pay for everything etc. in London- but you take out of consideration the Word of God and the overall game plan He has for good- AND the way He most often sends a blessing to the world is through a person. Think of the many worthy people who have changed the world for good in the last century- God gave those people first to their parents as the fruit of their love for one another and for Him. This is a hopeful adventure to embark upon- I know! I have 13- (so for those of you not up to the task, some of us out here have got you covered!)

  • TreenonPoet

     Given that the Roman Catholic Church with its successive Popes do not know what their postulated God wants, what makes you think that you know? You refer to scripture, but scripture is self-contradictory and contains falsehoods that cannot be ‘interpreted’ away. (For example, how can a flat Earth be a metaphor for a near-spherical Earth?) Those who claim to hear the voice of God may hear voices, but whose? If your God does not have the power to communicate to everyone cleary and unambiguously, then should you not assume that He intends us to think for ourselves?

    If you fall ill, do you shun medication and let the illness take its ‘natural’ course, even if that is death, or do you take advantage of the latest science to get better? (I sincerely hope that you are not one of those parents who let their children die rather than be treated.) The natural way is not always the best way. The natural way for thriving populations of species is that they proliferate to the point of collapse. Would it not be better to avoid mass starvation, war, or whatever by going against nature and controlling population? The humane way is to limit family sizes.

  • Greg

     If you are totally committed I assume you and your husband are abstaining and not using artificial means of contraception.

  • Greg

    How would you do that without forced-sterilization or coercion?

    If a couple want to have 13 children would you stop them?

  • TreenonPoet

     I would not rule out coercion if it came to that. It is better to try to avoid coercion by educating people and changing social attitudes so that people understand the need for control, and by making it easier for people to limit procreation. If we do not limit procreation, then nature will do so without compassion. (I made a similar comment on another thread here.)

    Depending on the solutions adopted by governments, it might be possible to allow large families under some circumstances, but where this was not possible, I think forced sterilisation would be better than allowing unsupportable children to suffer.

  • JoFlemings

    OK, I am laughing here at TreenonPoet- not a derisive ugly hateful laugh, but a laughter full of joy and amusement at how grave you are about this ‘children problem’. My children can be a real pain in my neck, but at the same time there is no joy in this life like the chatter of a three year old child raised at the tail end of a very large family because they are so unique in their development in the midst of a crowd of people who love them and who lavish so much love on them from their earliest memory. These children, the babies in large families are the ones with the greatest potential to change the world for good.
    This baby tells me daily,” I love you so so so much! You’re my best mom ever!” ( I can promise you I am so not anyone’s best mom ever most of the time by a lot of people’s standards.)  This child regularly begs for clemency when others are in trouble and fixing to experience the consequences of their poor choices, and comforts everyone who is hurt with kisses and gentle touches- very concerned about alleviating suffering. She is the one who looks at the crucifix on which the bloody Savior hangs and says, ” When I am big I will help his hurts.” Number 13 would not be who she is apart from numbers 1-12. For the record the healing, help, aid and preservation of the planet, will come through human beings who understand the inherent value in one another- and in themselves as gifts from God to the whole universe for all eternity. Not through manipulating science to manipulate men. You cannot know the future, you can only know the One who holds all time in His hands. The LORD and Giver of life- all life.I know Him- and I know His word and I choose to believe in Him, in His goodness, and in His love and in His plan. I am not making up something I think He said, it is all written down for us. Anyone can hear it, know it, understand it, if they want to know Him. And he has autographed creation with natural law, where we find the norm of married life and children as the fruit thereof.There are no unsupportable children, only unwilling, disobedient, and selfish adults. Mother Teresa taught this.  The overpopulation death of the earth scenario is a myth people use to justify their unwillingness to help a neighbor in need, and to be selfish to the detriment of others and creation.  Sociologically speaking what you are sowing in the UK is a culture of death that will look like this- in an effort to maintain our perceived quality of life we allow, promote, and finance abortion on demand for women who are fearful of the consequences to themselves of the depth of inconvenience a child or children might be to them before they even have them. Naturally the population is declining. Very soon there will not be enough workers, thanks to these uses of modern science, to work to pay into the social system to provide for the aging population living longer now, because of those same scientific advances. Unfortunately, the people who have been raised in this climate of utilitarianism and relativism and who do not care to be hassled by babies, also resent being hassled by the unproductive, infirm and sometimes obnoxious elderly with a claim on such a large piece of their taxes pie. So the next innovative use of science will be euthanasia- according the values of the state. In the meantime we will develop weaponry, through our prudent use of science again to enable us to access sources of energy or to eliminate governments preventing our access to those sources, that keeps us from actually having to have soldiers but destroys completely our perceived enemies standing between us and our provision for ourselves- this will happen because people are so firmly convinced they must control these things by force, and because they have lost their understanding of the value of every human soul from conception to natural death. 
    That is the real crux of the problem- it is in the devaluation of the human person, not in the over abundance of them.

  • Arklows

    NFP is actually as effective as artificial contraception!

  • JByrne24

    Well it’s factually false to say that we have “a legitimate right” not to care for old people, if they chose, when young, to be childless.

    It might sound as though you are advocating “an eye for an eye”, but you are really, in many cases, advocating “a death for an eye”.

  • Arklows

    I know less about the Vaughan but the Oratory moved from assessing places on the faith practices of the parents towards a more geographic selection process and found their intake was less diverse/ inclusive so changed back. Critics claim that if for example, you take into consideration the volunteer work that parents do in a parish, single parents and poorer families with less time are penalised. This may have a negligible effect but if however, you simply look at Mass attendance, then it just becomes a postcode and therefore income lottery which is far more exclusive.

  • JByrne24

    As you may know, Archbishop +Vincent Nichols wrote to the Telegraph rejecting Charles Moore’s account and claims (which constituted a well-written summary of the narrow, selfish, middle-class view).
    The Archbishop did his very best to protect and enhance the best interests of the great majority of Catholic children in the area. The deplorable effects of narrow, middle-class self-interest unfortunately won the day – for the time being.

    I suspect you might possibly view the matter through tinted spectacles.

  • JByrne24

    Let us all be very thankful that 13 children is far beyond the norm set by most parents.
    I know that large families were common (but usually far less  than this) in Victorian times when many young children died from poverty and poor medical care, but just think what England would be like today if most couples had produced 13 children over the last 3 or so generations.

  • JByrne24

    Maybe you do not live in the UK. If not, you may be reassured to know that the population here is growing alarmingly. This is so as our economy shrinks or stagnates, our housing problems grow and poverty is rampant.

  • JoFlemings

    These are very real problems and about this suffering I am not laughing at all. But I believe there is a solution that regards people in their inherent dignity as human and also alleviates the suffering of poverty without recourse to sterilization or contraception. Your solution is in loving our neighbor as ourselves, person to person- caring for one another and respecting appropriate freedoms and boundaries. Not in killing the unborn or the aged, nor in chemicalizing the population into sterility via contraception. 

  • TreenonPoet

     We are using 50% more than is being replenished. With an increasing global population (population is NOT declining), how long do you think that can go on for? Even if the global population stabilised or declined slightly, human impact would still exceed biocapacity.

    A determined effort is needed to reduce population to a sustainable level. On this speck within the universe, everyone is our neighbour, and to aim for a sustainable population is to value everyone. With this knowledge, to selfishly have a large family would be to show contempt for civilisation.

  • Justamother

    Bravo, JoFlemings! I salute your spirit, your deep love for the Lord and your commitment to love as He loved. Your delightful baby seems to have the same instincts as St Therese of Lisieux – another ‘baby’ of a large family, another one who would heal the ‘hurts’ of the Crucified Saviour. May God always walk with you and bless you with a Saint in your midst.

  • JByrne24

    This video plays games with figures.
    I remember well my father saying that although “today” he might be, say, seven times older than me (as a child), he would later only be five times older than me – and then three times, and then…….etc.

    Reductions in birth rates in some developed countries are due to the widespread use of contraceptives (this includes “Catholic” countries such as Italy – where the Church’s teaching on contraception is widely ignored).

    Catholic families throughout the world use contraception as a matter of course.

    See Sean Faircloth talking at Notre Dame Catholic University in the US (scroll down a bit for the video lecture):

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/sean-faircloth-talks-about-catholicism-at-notre-dame-2/

  • Vitto

    NFP is only valid as a temporary measure to space children and only “serious reasons”.
    It does of course, have exactly the same objectives as “artificial” contraceptives.

  • Arklows

    I admit, I struggle with church teaching on the subject of contraception. I do, however, adhere to the teachings on the matter as I don’t believe we can discard those teachings of the church that aren’t convenient hence NFP (info on which is provided in courses run by my parish). I believe that not being able to educate children (and indeed, we would worry about clothing them and providing other essentials if we had another at present) constitutes 
    Serious motives, just reasons, proportionately serious reasons. As soon as our financial situation and other circumstances improve, we will of course be open to the gift of another child.

  • Oli_on_water

    could someone please please explain to me how big families, and bigger populations in future years will improve life on earth? And please factor into your answer our effect on the life of the planet itself (such as resources, wildlife habitat such as the amazon, seas that don’t suffer from pollution, such scarcity of land that crop now must be GM, or fertilizer and pesticide-sprayed to hell and back to increase yield per square meter ((see pollution)), greenhouse gasses, islands of rubbish that the authorities simply don’t know what to do with etc etc)? Please?! I can’t believe that people out there still think that having lots of kids helps anyone but themselves in their old age. It can’t possibly be helping our kids’ kids; my heart bleeds for anyone born a few generations from now if we maintain our current rate of ‘progress’. 

  • Oli

    where is there a solution in all of that rhetoric? Whether we love each other or not doesn’t create a solution to overpopulation. Is it because you passionately believe in heaven after earth, that you don’t see the need to take remedial steps for the sake of continued life here on earth for our descendants and theirs? If i were god, i wouldn’t wish for people to enter paradise if they proved that they show no respect for the welfare of their current surroundings. Maybe try looking at this life as a test a bit more, or try valuing our planet a bit more. We don’t need billions more people to love, lets love those that are here and leave space for more to come and do the same.

  • JoFlemings

    >where is there a solution in all of that rhetoric?Whether we love each other or not doesn’t create a solution to overpopulation. Is it because you passionately believe in heaven after earth, that you don’t see the need to take remedial steps for the sake of continued life here on earth for our descendants and theirs? If i were god, i wouldn’t wish for people to enter paradise if they proved that they show no respect for the welfare of their current surroundings.We don’t need billions more people to love, lets love those that are here and leave space for more to come and do the same.<
    What we need, is TRUTH, and redemption, and the renewing of our minds according to the Word of God in Christ as taught to us by Jesus preserved faithfully in the infallible teachings of our Holy Mother Church. 
    I don't presume to have a corner on a proper understanding of stewardship of the planet, but I am very confident that I know God's will for my own life and that by and large I am following it. That right there is all my fellow man has a right to ask of me. And for the record that is actually what is best for the planet in the short and long run.

  • JoFlemings

    ALLOW? ALLOW? Excuse me, but who do you think you are that you have a right to dictate such things? ‘Allow’ and ‘unsupportable’- do you have any idea what you sound like? And couching it in terms of alleviating human suffering? The only suffering people who use this kind of language want to alleviate is their own inconvenience. How about first of all exercising manly and feminine virtue in sexual behavior? How about making heroic choices to provide, protect, and defend the weak the needy and the helpless? How about a government mandate for that? 

  • Oli
  • Oli

    sorry, i’ll try again 

    http://www.un.org/special-rep/ohrlls/News_flash2005/08%20July%20rising%20population.htm
    i’d just like to see what a religious response to this unbiased account of the facts will be please?

  • TreenonPoet

     ”Excuse me, but who do you think you are that you have a right to dictate such things?

    Where was I dictating? I was asked what I would do in hypothetical positions of power – I was not claiming to have that power. Please read the comment to which I was responding.

    I do not think that it would be necessary to have dictatorial power to implement measures along the lines I was suggesting. My comment assumed a mixture of government systems and priorities (similar to the present situation). A very democratic country relies on the collective intellect of the electorate and is able to formulate good policies if a sufficient percentage of the voters are well educated, but that is not to say that no dictators are capable of making good decisions. But however good the government may be, it will be confronted with tough problems whose solutions will inevitably disadvantage some people. That does not relieve them of their duty to tackle those problems. To pretend that God will make everything OK would be highly irresponsible wishful thinking, laziness, or ignorance.

    ‘Allow’ and ‘unsupportable’- do you have any idea what you sound like?

    I am well aware that on a Catholic site, I might ‘sound’ like the devil to many readers. I don’t give a damn about that. I just hope that those who disagree with me have a rational response or think about why they do not have a rational response.

    And couching it in terms of alleviating human suffering?

    That is my ultimate goal – to help avoid the human suffering that results from a lack of resources. Potentially extreme suffering, and on a terrible scale. That is what drives me to comment. The more forcefully I can put this, the more chance I have of waking somebody from their dream world.

    The only suffering people who use this kind of language want to alleviate is their own inconvenience.

    Since you refer to me, and I know what my motive is, I know that you are a liar. There is no way that you could deduce such a desire from my comments, so you are well aware that you are inventing that accusation. Making unfounded false accusations is hardly following the philosophy that you preach in some other comments, so you are also a hypocrite.

    How about first of all exercising manly and feminine virtue in sexual behavior?

    Yes. Use the virtue of compassion for strangers to consider why one might try to mitigate the consequences of sexual desire.

    How about making heroic choices to provide, protect, and defend the weak the needy and the helpless?

    Yes – by, for example, not nabbing so many resources for your own family.

    How about a government mandate for that?

    That is not something that a government can mandate, but compassion, heroism, etc. can be encouraged. What a shame that the Catholic Church is setting such a bad example in its lack of compassion for the victims of child abuse, and its cowardice in trying to put Sanal Edamuruku in jail rather than admit to the fraud he uncovered (to name two of many examples that demonstrate the hypocrisy of th Church).

  • JoFlemings

    “A very democratic country relies on the collective intellect of the electorate and is able to formulate good policies if a sufficient percentage of the voters are well educated,…”

    You need to define your terms: ‘very democratic’, ‘good policies’ and ‘well educated’- I personally find the insinuated understanding here to be double-tongued. The greatest ultimate good on planet earth is in her people, who are also eternal beings- a potential good that transcends time and space. To place a proper value on what is a superlative good is an appropriate expression of well-educated, and well-formed.

    “That is my ultimate goal – to help avoid the human suffering that results from a lack of resources. Potentially extreme suffering, and on a terrible scale. That is what drives me to comment. The more forcefully I can put this, the more chance I have of waking somebody from their dream world.”

    PROVE IT. Your platitudes are all speculation and hysteria focussed on the perceived inconvenience of the unborn child. You cannot prove these fears or concerns, you cannot prove there is not a human solution other than population control. Yet you dare, and I do mean dare- to presume that it is perfectly allowable and supportable to infringe upon the rights of the individual to his or her own body and its reproductive expression as if it were a fundamental governmental principle. There is an historical precedent for this, I will grant you that- we find this same assumption by ‘governments’, usually with some ‘form’ of overall social consensus (read: mind-control, propaganda manipulation, or outright oppression) in every barbaric society that offers human sacrifices.

    “Since you refer to me, and I know what my motive is, I know that you are a liar. There is no way that you could deduce such a desire from my comments, so you are well aware that you are inventing that accusation. Making unfounded false accusations is hardly following the philosophy that you preach in some other comments, so you are also a hypocrite.”

    I do not misread the underlying utilitarian premises in what you have stated. You assume that your understanding and definition of suffering justify reproductive coercion, forced sterilization, abortion and euthanasia. You are not alone- however you have no right to such an assumption. And I am not a hypocrite. If you knew the teachings of my faith you might be qualified to hold me accountable, but that does not appear to be the case.

    “Yes. Use the virtue of compassion for strangers to consider why one might try to mitigate the consequences of sexual desire.”

    Mastering every sensual impulse is a very clear teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity, in general. In the context of the Roman Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament, the sign and seal of which is the marital act. It is both a witness to the reality it signifies and a means of grace. If you are accusing me of rampant sensuality because I have 13 children, then perhaps I need to remind of you of the fundamentals of human biology- and educate you on my personal situation. I have been married for 28 years to the same man. I have 13 children- that means there is physical evidence that I have had sex with my husband 13 times. That also means I live what I say I believe. I do not try to force others to live what I believe, however, I require the freedom to live my faith, as is my right as a human being.

    Y’es – by, for example, not nabbing so many resources for your own family.”

    AH! Stealing resources, am I? You don’t know what I, my husband, or my adult children are contributing to society do you? You have no way of knowing whether or not, in the short or long run, I am ‘taking’ more than my ‘fair share’- that is not an assessment any human being is qualified to make. And this is your fundamental error. 

    Let’s ask for example whether or not you are worth the air you breathe? Are you? Can you prove it? What if a panel of your peers assembled and held a vote- would you still be on the island? Why and how do you know? 

    Why in the world would anyone be ok with such a ridiculous scenario as a panel of your peers deciding if you are worth allowing to be in the first place? If you can concede that point then you can perhaps see that the proposed solution to rampant greed and overconsumption in the west by curtailing the population, usually in less technologically developed or poorer countries and people groups, is disordered.

    “That is not something that a government can mandate, but compassion, heroism, etc. can be encouraged. What a shame that the Catholic Church is setting such a bad example in its lack of compassion for the victims of child abuse, and its cowardice in trying to put Sanal Edamuruku in jail rather than admit to the fraud he uncovered (to name two of many examples that demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Church).”

    If you are without sin, you are welcome to cast these stones. When you are God you can judge the rest of us, especially His Church. Until that time, a prudent reserve is probably more becoming.