Thursday, September 04, 2008

Touchstone Magazine and "Kids"' Kids

In the September issue of Touchstone magazine, I found an echo of something I've long experienced (at least, for the last three and a half years.) Beginning with reference to a French anti-procreative book No Kid: Forty Reasons Not to Have Children, SM Hutchins responds to the accusation that kids are parasitic to joy due to their “damaging, demanding, disorderly and ungrateful” journey into “killjoy” adulthood:

“My own experience of parents and children leads me to react sharply to such manifestos with the observation that parents whose children are like this have usually brought it upon themselves. Assuming the superior knowledge of their own more evolved (Baby Boomer) generation, they are easily seduced by the Spirit of the Age, who has discouraged traditional parental wisdom and undermined its authority at every turn. Their offspring may be expected to become ... burdensome and unenjoyable company....”

I am with astonishing regularity informed that I don't know anything about children or raising them. To be certain, I am told this almost as often as I am told what an amazingly polite, conversational, caring, intelligent and well-adjusted three year old I have – and usually in the same conversation. The assumption, on nearly every level, is that good children are a fluke. “Wait till the next one,” I am told. The smiling, giddy one-year-old who belts out beautifully horrid imitations of hymnody during (and after) the sermon hymn apparently has not settled the point either.

“Wait till they get older,” they say. Apparently, I have no choice. And to be sure, the prospect of teenagers that look, act and think like the typical American genus terrifies me. But that is precisely why I (and my blessed wife) have taken vigilant, intentional and rather patriarchal steps to head off the Armageddon asteroid long before it walks out my front door with the car keys. I certainly will not claim that our approach to parenting – no TV, read the Bible daily, sing hymns not “kid” songs, toy limits, stay-at-home-mother/homemaker, no babysitters besides Grandma, no candy, the occasional hand-slap, lots of hugs and kisses, etc – is the only way. But I downright demand that raising good children must be possible. And I issue this battle-cry for the rather fundamentalistic reason that it is plain and simply Biblical.

St. Paul makes rather bold claims in his letters to the young Pastor Timothy. Chapter three of the first letter is flush with the mandatory requirements to be expected of those who seek to inhabit the office of Bishop or Pastor: “A bishop must be above reproach .... He must manage his own household well, with all dignity, keeping his children submissive.” Elsewhere, to Titus, he allows a man to enter the priesthood only if “his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.”

What has ever struck me about these stark commandments of the New Testament Church order goes beyond the simple implication that there are far too many “pastors” who have slipped into the cracks without truly due process. It is that Paul commanded such civil requirements of Timothy and Titus precisely because they were possible. Children are a legacy from the Lord. If they have abandoned the faith or become lukewarm-Christian killjoys, then trust the axion: “Your children are always your fault.” From their original sin to whether or not they hear resurrection promise as if it were True, their sin is your sin. They are your fruit.

So the next time you see some punk millenial with a three year old who's better adjusted than your teenager, do him a favor: congratulate him (and his wife) for the (ironically) audacious decision to take a different tact than you did, for hoping in Hope rather than against it, and for proving that multiplication can be fruitful after all. You might even consider asking him for his advice, rather than insisting on giving him a taste of your own.

3 comments:

Palmer said...

I heard someone attribute a quote to Luther, something along the lines of 'God must really find children valuable because he gives them as gift to people who sometimes don't even want them.' I wish I knew the exact quote and source.

As an aside, I recently heard you on Issues commenting on divorce. You mentioned that the divorce rate in our society might have something to do with the invention and social acceptance of the Pill. This has long been a pet theory of mine. My wife and I are reading a book written in the thirties by Walter Maier (For Better, Not For Worse) and even though it was written before the advent of the pill Maier makes it clear that the Church does not accept artificial contraception and goes on to warn about the dire effects of contracepting on both the marriage and Church. What has changed that American Christianity no longer sees this?

God bless you and your family.

RevFisk said...

The real man to credit with the quote was Pastoer Heith Curtis. I agree with him, but he's the one who's done more research on it. You might try reaching him if you'd like more info. Shoot me an email at revfisk@gmail.com, and I'll get you his email. Another site worth checking out is "Lutherans and Procreation" (previously "Lutherans and Contraception") at http://lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/ . Their most recent post is from "On the Decline of the West", a book by Oswald Spengler:

"When the ordinary thought of a highly cultivated people begins to regard 'having children' as a question of pro's and con's, the great turning point has come."

Check it out.

You ask, "What changed that American Christianity no longer sees this?"

Without writing a book, I answer: A LOT of things. But it can all be chalked up to one thing: greed. An idolatry of lifestyle, power and prestige.

Think of it this way too: human's have been killing their babies since time immemorial. We are evil. We hate others and love ourselves. Our offspring are evil too - why shouldn't we hate them? We Americans have simply made an art of justifying it to ourselves as really about ABOUT others, and how good we are - "stewarding the earth" and what not. We're GREAT liars.

Even now, I look at the picture of my two girls and think - "Which one would I give up? How could I possibly not want more?" But to see this, to believe this, one must first see and believe in the cross. The image of man must be redeemed for us to see value in preserving it among those we bear.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Well said!

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