Centuri0n,What Brad's talking about here is a radical and subtle paradigm shift in Christian life that, as far as I can tell, the whole world has bought into. And for most of the world, the paradigm is this: life in poverty is worse than death. When we accepted that paradigm, I have no idea – I think it happened in my lifetime.
I am thankful for this post, and I hope that it leads to a fruitful discussion. I agree with you in much of what you have said here, but I want to point something out that I think is indicative of the mindset about children.
Technically speaking, children are material blessings, I suppose. (Honestly, I do not like this language at all.) But I believe that you and I and the rest who read this blog are far more than simple material blessings to our parents. In fact, I believe that if I asked folks to list their 'material blessings', few would think to include their children in that list.
However, this is what I really believe is going on here in the United States and other places. When many people are choosing not to have children, they are basically weighing one material benefit over another. It goes something like this:
We can have:
1. New Car.
2. Bigger House.
3. More leisure time.
4. Less headache.
5. More date nights.
6. Nicer clothing.
Or We can have:
1. Another child.
Since we are using economic metaphors, I will ask this simple question: What are you worth? What value can we place on a human being?
Plainly speaking, Christians ought to be having more children. It costs more time, money, and freedom to do so, but we do not live for ourselves; we live for others. We pour out our sweat, tears, prayers, hopes, and faith on our children. They grow our faith and understanding, and they are beautiful, wonderful, precious gifts. I am trying to convince my wife that we should have five of them, and after that, adopt.
I am not attempting to 'lay down a law' about how many children someone should have. I am attempting to point out that we are purposefully limiting the number of children that we have for purely selfish, economic reasons.
The real, tangible problem with this paradigm is not that the 4-ish billion people whom sociologists identify as non-Christian believe it. Very frankly, they have no reason not to believe it – it's part of the Romans 1 & 2 problem with all of mankind. For those of you not familiar with the diagnosis Romans 1 & 2 makes about mankind, you can read about it here.
The problem with this paradigm, from a practical standpoint, is that the 2-ish billion people whom sociologists identify as Christians believe this in spite of what the Bible teaches. Let's be clear that this group includes the Roman Catholic church – but I am not saying that Rome teaches this stupid, evil, materialistic view of life. I am also not saying that any Protestant or Evangelical church teaches this formally. What I am saying is this: in spite of the active right to life movement in sociologically-Christian circles, the view that children are a burden rather than a blessing is pandemic.
And because I know you readers appreciate smaller bites, this post is continued ...