Duane over at the Black Informant raises a complex question: In light of the dismal state of the economy, should people to stop having so many so kids? I say yes. But Pastor Voddie Baucham shares a very interesting opposing viewpoint:

I do not believe that an economic downturn is a sufficient reason to prevent pregnancy. I base my argument on four key factors. First, children are a blessing. The Bible is clear on this issue

Second, we are commanded to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen 1:28; 8:17; 9:1, 7; 35:11; Jer 23:3) One of the principle purposes of marriage is procreation. Of course, this goes beyond merely having children to actually bringing them up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) in an effort to spread the image of God (and the gospel) throughout the earth. As such, it is unthinkable for Christians to attempt to enjoy the benefits of marriage and avoid the responsibility of having and raising children to the glory of God.

Third, any decision to avoid pregnancy has to be based on biblical reasons, and a struggling economy is not one of them. While I do not believe that there are many instances where preventing pregnancy would be “biblical”, I do believe that there are some instances where one could make a strong biblical argument for doing so.

Read the rest of the article here.

Even though Pastor Baucham’s history of conservatism when it comes to interpreting God’s Word and its modern-day applications is a far stretch from my views on living God’s word, I think we agree in principle on this one. But I’ve always believed that subscribing to religious-based ideologies should not be done without also displaying some level of pragmatism. As I’ve mentioned before, the tone of the rhetoric found in recent townhall meetings provides me clear indication that people are simply NOT willing to show compassion toward their neighbors. In one clip for instance, I heard an attendee say to a woman and her child “It’s not my job to pay for your health care.” In the face of that reality and with the resentment growing for parents (unwed, mostly) who take advantage of certain economically-based social programs, it is my contention that people are better off not having children until they can adequately afford them.

Pastor Baucham creates his argument using both the mandate given by God to be fruitful and multiply and the blessings thereof as context. So in that respect, we agree. But in another vein, I don’t consider multiplication and fruitfulness as being one in the same. When many parents have a slew of kids that would make Bebe envious (often a product of bad parenting), they may be in a position where they are satisifying one aspect of God’s mandate – multiplying – without necessarily accomplishing the fruitful cultivation of said children. Even in environments where people may have accomplished both – bearing children and exhibiting solid parenting, the economic hardships that may still ensue don’t automatically disappear. Diapers aren’t discounted just because a person is a good parent. Formula and baby clothes don’t magically appear just because a person prays for them.

There are indeed blessings that come with parenthood, I’m sure. But they are usually not blessings of the economic variety (until tax time, that is). The blessings of which Baucham is speaking are of an intrinsic nature, not of palpability. The feeling a parent gets when their child learns to walk, their first words, the time when junior scores the game winning goal, or when the child is marching across the stage to earn a diploma are all examples of the “blessings” associated with parenthood. The actual hardships to be persevered are not included in the discussion.

I’m certainly not arguing that economics is the only thing that determines good parenting. I’m from a two-parent, mostly single-income, working class family with four brothers and sisters…and we all managed to turn out pretty good in our own ways. But I’d be a fool (or so would anybody else, for that matter) to think that economics should have no bearing at all on the decision to have children. A sundry of things – like having both parents in the household, instilling a deeply rooted sytem of values, and placing an emphasis on education also greatly contributes to the child-rearing process. But economics is – and always will be – a portion of that equation. Given that economic support for many families is largely based on social programs – programs often met with disdain from ‘fed up’ people – parents and would-be parents should take all that into consideration before the stork pays them a visit.