The August 2006 issue of 'Christianity Today' just hit the newsstands. In it there is an article by Leslie Leyland Fields entitled 'The Case for Kids: A defense of the large family by a six-time breeder.'' (Unfortunately, as of this moment this article is not yet available on the web.)
Towards the end of her article she takes up the child-bearing and child-rearing issue that I fear rules in the hearts of many a Christian married-couple, keeping them from having children more than once, yet, or at all. And what is the issue? The cost of children. Economics. The author of the article writes, "It no longer makes economic sense to have a child at all. Books, articles, and internet calculators coolly estimate the financial liability of raising a child to adulthood and arrive at staggering figures, ranging from $700,000 to $1.5 million per child. By these calculations, Americans should stop having children altogether." (And might I add that by these calculations the childless seminarian and his wife need not pretend that the seminary studies are what pose the insurmountable economic hurdle to the Lord's blessing of children within their marriage. More honestly, in the face of the dollars sited above, it would seem that the chosen career path would pose a more real and perennial economic threat. But, I digress.)
The author continues:
Even after considering the cost of education, a typical child in the
consumes 28 percent less than the typical working-age adult, while elders consume 27 percent more, mostly in health-related expenses. How do we order and feed such a top-heavy, resource-consuming society of elders – a demographic of which most who read this article are a part? Who will produce the goods needed to keep the nation’s engines and industries running? When our self-reliance wears out, when our self-authenticated minds and our spirituality unfettered and independent souls grow dim with age, who will feed and sustain us? Who will wheel us into surgery, deliver our packages, grow our food, research and formulate the medications that enable us to live longer and better? In an overburdened medical system, who will decide whether or not our lives still have value when our medical costs outweigh our economic worth? (Italics added) In all of this, we will depend on the actions and judgments of other peoples’ children. U.S.
We, as a Christian community, have already heard the first gasps, even our own, as we learn of the not-uncommon-university-lectured-ethos and the real-life-instances that ‘pull-the-plug’ on ‘one of the least of these’ because ‘medical costs outweigh… economic worth’. Yet seldom is the self-reflection (Leslie Leyland Fields excluded) that would lead the same gasping Christian community to take a step back and see such an ethos and such instances as the paradoxical progeny of their own children who were never born. And why weren’t they born? Because the cost of such children was deemed too great an economic hurdle – this from a generation of would be parents entitled to cable tv, cell-phones, dsl, foreign travel, a health club membership, and automobiles hardly the jalopies their grandparents started out with – a generation of which I am chief of sinners.
I am looking forward to your comments, thoughts, and discussion.