Rite of Spring: Russia's Fertility Trends

For a very interesting and insightful analysis of demographic trends in the developed world, see

Rite of Spring: Russia's Fertility Trends

By Anatoly Karlin

available at http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/russias_fertility_future.php

One of the more interesting observations by Mr. Karlin was the following:

A Womanly Demographic History of Russia

An even more meaningful measure is the net female reproduction coefficient (NFRC). It takes into account two things that the TFR doesn’t, at least not explicitly - a) the male-female ratio at birth and b) the female death rate, pre- and during childbearing age. Although the replacement level TFR is usually quoted as being 2.1, as mentioned above it varies in practice. Although that is indeed the case in most modern industrial countries, in underdeveloped and/or traditional societies with high female mortality rates in early years and/or high male to female ratios, the TFR needs to be as high as 2.5, 3.0 or more for generation reproduction. This is because a lot of females die before they can give birth to more girls. Although China has a nominally respectable TFR of 1.7-1.8, it is effectively considerably lower due to societal preference for males and the resulting skewed demographic profile.

The net female reproduction coefficient explicitly takes the two factors above into account - any value greater than 1 ensures long-term population growth, while a value of less than 1 implies impending decline. In the graph below you can see a graph of Russia’s NFRC from 1960 to 2005.

[Graphic omitted]

Today all the world’s major industrial nations are not producing enough girls to maintain their current population levels in the long-term. The US as a whole just about makes an exception, although only thanks to the help of highly fertile Hispanics. In Russia, the NFRC increased since 2005 to 0.67, which puts it above most east-central European countries but still significantly below France, Scandinavia and the Anglosphere.

(Emphasis added.)

So, even were China to raise its TFR to 2.1 (which it apparently has no intention of doing), if it retained its current ratio of boys to girls at 119 to 100, it's NFRC would still be less than 1, roughly 0.96, and it would still be on track for falling natural growth rates (i.e., it would shrink over time absent immigration). Thus, in countries with unnaturally skewed birth rates favoring boys over girls (such as China and India), a TFR of 2.1 is actually below replacement level. For example, in China, to achieve a replacement level NFRC of 1 (let's use 1.05 or exactly 1/2 of the normally cited 2.1), the TFR would have to be about 2.3 if the distribution of boy babies compared to girl babies in that nation remains unchanged and assuming that 2.1 would be the replacement TFR but for the maldistribution of boys and girls in China.


Demographic Winter

At the Illinois Lutherans for Life conference this past Saturday, one of speakers showed the trailer for the Documentary - Demographic Winter. The film deals with population rates and their decline in the West. I picked up a copy, will watch and post a review. The film has been out for about a year now and if you google it you will see that the pro-abort/anti-life side are not fans. The movie's trailer is worth a watch.


At the conference the question was asked if contraception aided the demographic winter as well as the culture of death. The only non-Lutheran presenter, who showed the clip, said yes, and referred to Luther's writings on the subject.


St. Nicholas and Marriage

I'm not sure if it is legend, or if it truly is the more factual story of St. Nicholas (we have one CPH book on him), but supposedly he gave money to needy families so that their daughters could be married. A dowry was needed in those days and young women from families of little means would often end up as prostitutes.

Think about this: Because of no dowry young women would end up as prostitutes. Isn't it great that our society is not so barbaric that one needs money to get married and that the choices are much greater? Think again....

This week I heard Dr. Brad Wilcox on The Drew Mariani Show. Dr. Wilcox is a sociologist that studies marriage and he talked about an interesting phenomena - people in lower and middle class groups want to be married, but delay it and cohabitate and have children outside of marriage because they want "the big wedding". They delay to afford an extravaganza, and all the while live in a way that is not chaste.

I wonder if St. Nicholas would throw sacks of coins into their father's windows to avoid continued living in sin?

I think not,,,, but I think it is important to train our Lutheran children that Christ blesses marriage for His own sake and for the increase of His Church both domestic and where Word and Sacrament are administered.

Money and show are not what make for happy homes. Those contemplating marriage and those who are married should be encouraged to study God's Word and learn well of Christ and His bride and worry less about a foolish dream, that is sometimes no better than the foolishness of society in St. Nicholas' time.



Different Denomination, Same Story

Southern Baptist new baptisms slip again in 2008

Available at http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2009/04/southern_baptist_new_baptisms.html

NASHVILLE -- Southern Baptist churches baptized fewer people in 2008 for the fourth year in a row to reach the lowest level since 1987, and membership in the country's largest Protestant denomination fell slightly as well.

Baptisms dropped just over 1 percent to 342,198 last year, compared with 345,941 in 2007, according to an annual report released by LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention's publishing arm.

Total membership of Southern Baptist churches was 16,228,438 last year, down nearly 38,400 from 2007.

The continued decline in the number of followers reflects a trend in other mainline Protestant churches. . . .

"The numbers simply tell us that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did," said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay.

. . .

In the past 50 years, the number of annual baptisms per church member -- a key indicator of church growth -- has dropped sharply. Southern Baptists baptized one person for every 19 church members in 1950, a ratio that dropped to 1 baptism for every 47 church members in 2008, according to the report.

The denomination's baptisms peaked in 1972 at 445,725, based on statistics Lifeway has collected from Southern Baptist churches since 1922.

Why the decline in baptisms and membership? Maybe this article will help us to understand what has happened:

New Southern Baptist leader faces graying flock
The Rev. Johnny Hunt's Woodstock church goes against trend of shrinking numbers

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/12/08

Available at http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/06/11/johnny_hunt_baptists.html

The Rev. Johnny Hunt of Woodstock looks over the declining numbers and white hair of those attending the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting and sees a microcosm of his denomination.

"In 1985, with 45,000 messengers [church delegates attending the convention], 36 percent were under 40," Hunt said Wednesday from Indianapolis, the day after Southern Baptists elected him president of the national organization.

"Last year, with 10,000 messengers, only 16 percent were under 40," he said.

I am not picking on the Southern Baptist. What is true for them is true for most Christian denominations. The truth is that there are fewer baptisms because there are fewer children. The older church members were baptized long ago.

If shrinking denominations want to learn the secret of growth, perhaps they should look to the Amish. See Church Growth Amish Style, available at http://www.geneveith.com/church-growth-amish-style/_992/, where we read, in part:

Why the church growth? With their rejection of automobiles, electricity, computers, and other conveniences of modern life, they aren’t winning many converts. But they have, on the average, five children per family. And though the children have a choice of whether or not to stay with the church when they grow up–getting to spend their late teen or early adult years sampling the outside world–a larger number of them, 85%, are staying with the church.


Too Many Houses, Too Few Homes

For an excellent analysis of how our abandonment of the Scriptural model of the family consisting of a father, a mother, and children has contributed to our current economic woes, see "Demographics & Depression," by David P. Goldman, in the May, 2009 issue of First Things, available online at http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6564.

A brief excerpt will give you a little insight into the author's analysis:

Now, consider this fact: America’s population has risen from 200 million to 300 million since 1970, while the total number of two-parent families with children is the same today as it was when Richard Nixon took office, at 25 million. In 1973, the United States had 36 million housing units with three or more bedrooms, not many more than the number of two-parent families with children—which means that the supply of family homes was roughly in line with the number of families. By 2005, the number of housing units with three or more bedrooms had doubled to 72 million, though America had the same number of two-parent families with children.

The number of two-parent families with children, the kind of household that requires and can afford a large home, has remained essentially stagnant since 1963, according to the Census Bureau. Between 1963 and 2005, to be sure, the total number of what the Census Bureau categorizes as families grew from 47 million to 77 million. But most of the increase is due to families without children, including what are sometimes rather strangely called “one-person families.”

In place of traditional two-parent families with children, America has seen enormous growth in one-parent families and childless families. The number of one-parent families with children has tripled. Dependent children formed half the U.S. population in 1960, and they add up to only 30 percent today. The dependent elderly doubled as a proportion of the population, from 15 percent in 1960 to 30 percent today.


"'Anti-Abortion' is Only the Beginning" Part 2

Last month, I posted my request to LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick that he clarify his statement that "LCMS congregations and leaders ought to encourage prevention of unintended pregnancies".

I asked by email:

"What, exactly, do you mean by "unintended pregnancies"? Also, please
explain how congregations and leaders should encourage their prevention."

I received the following reply on Maundy Thursday, April 9:

Dear Dr. Heidenreich,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

President Kieschnick received your email and has asked me to respond to
you on his behalf.

The one certain method for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies is
abstinence. Congregations and leaders should encourage and teach
abstinence, within the context of the Sixth Commandment with its
explanation in Luther's Small Catechism and other Biblical teaching in
that accord.

Rev. Larry Krueger
Assistant to the President

I have replied as follows:

Rev. Krueger,

Thank you for your reply. However, with all due respect, you did not even attempt to answer my primary question: What, exactly, does President Kieschnick mean by 'unintended pregnancies'? On this question, your email leaves me more confused than I was before.

You have substituted the term "unwanted pregnancies." Is this what President Kieschnick meant to say rather than "unintended pregnancies"? Whether a couple "intended" to conceive a child or not, subsequently considering any "pregnancy" (i.e. baby) as "unwanted" is a blatantly sinful attitude, whether the couple is married or not.

In talking about "unintended pregnancies" was President Kieschnick referring only to out-of-wedlock conception? If so, then why did he speak only in terms of preventing pregnancy rather than unambiguously condemning the sin of fornication?

If, on the other hand, President Kieschnick was not only referring to out-of-wedlock conception, your answer to me would appear to suggest that he believes married couples should abstain for the purpose of preventing "unintended pregnancies." If this is the case, is he suggesting the use of Natural Family Planning, or is he suggesting complete abstinence?

Above all, I question this whole notion of "unintended" pregnancies. Such language fails to confess the fact that the creation of human life is an act of God. There is, therefore, no such thing as an "unintended" pregnancy. God is the one who "intends" to create life, and it is He alone who opens and closes the womb. No life can be created if God does not intend a life to come into being. We are simply His instruments.

In Genesis 30:2, we read: "Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said: 'Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?'"

Luther comments on this passage as follows:

“Although it is very easy to marry a wife, it is very difficult to support her along with the children and the household. Accordingly, no one notices this faith of Jacob. Indeed, many hate fertility in a wife for the sole reason that the offspring must be supported and brought up. For this is what they commonly say: ‘Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.’ But this blame is unjustly fastened on marriage and fruitfulness. Indeed, you are indicting your unbelief by distrusting God’s goodness, and you are bringing greater misery upon yourself by disparaging God’s blessing. For if you had trust in God’s grace and promises, you would undoubtedly be supported. But because you do not hope in the Lord, you will never prosper.” [Luther's Works, vol. 5, page 332]

So, again, I ask what President Kieschnick meant by the term "unintended pregnancies."

Blessings to you in our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Erich Heidenreich, DDS
Zion-Marshall, MI


Oh, Please! Get the Facts, Sir David

"I've never seen a problem that wouldn't be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more." Sir David Attenborough in a statement issued by the Optimum Population Trust.

According to a story by the BBC, Sir David "has become a patron of" the Optimum Population Trust, "a group seeking to cut the growth in human population." According to the article, available in full at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7996230.stm, "[t]he Trust, which was founded in 1991, campaigns for the UK population to decrease voluntarily by not less than 0.25% a year. It has launched a 'Stop at Two' online pledge to encourage couples to limit their family's size."

Perhaps someone should tell Sir David that the CIA estimates the total fertility rate of the UK for 2009 to be 1.66, well below the "ideal" 2 which the "Trust" advocates. So, in fact, the UK would have to INCREASE its fertility to match that goal. See https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html.


A Lutheran Family Road Trip - From Darwin to the Pill

Here's a little something I wrote for my column (I Desire Mercy, Not Sarcasm...) over on the Brothers of John the Steadfast site: A Lutheran Family Road Trip.

The response was great, but the best response came from a commenter named Jonesy

"One connection Mr. Townsend didn’t draw directly between Darwinism and the Pill is eugenics. Darwinism begets “survival of the fittest”, which in turn begets Social Darwinism, which, when it has matured, begets eugenics. Then, along comes a sweet old lady named Margaret Sanger who happens to be a fierce defender of both Darwinism and eugenics. Ms. Sanger, being in possession of a small fortune, decides the best way to promote her cause is to throw her money and time into financing the development of (gasp) the Pill. Oh, she also pays a good piece of the legal bill to get contraceptives legalized in the U.S. just to make sure everyone, but mostly “dysgenic groups”, can go ahead and stop reproducing all those “unfit” babies. Yet we think we can go ahead and use this glorious invention without participating in its racist, Darwinist, eugenic past?
I’m sure it’s all just coincidence."

This is the point that I didn't make, but Jonesy took the ball and hit it out of the park.....


Marriage Minus Procreation Equals "Homosexual Marriage," Now in Iowa!

Homosexual couples in Iowa may enter into civil marriage, effective April 24, 2009, according to an Iowa Supreme Court ruling issued today (Varnum v. Brien).

What does this have to do with this "Lutherans and Procreation" blog? Nothing and everything. Homosexual "marriage" has nothing to do with procreation, and that's why it has everything to do with this blog -- a blog which has been tracing out the history of the separation of procreation from marriage and sexuality.

It is telling that Iowa's high court justified its approval of same-sex marriage on the claim that same-sex couples are "similarly situated" as compared with heterosexual couples, and that it identified the two kinds of couples as similarly situated precisely by overlooking the most obvious difference: heterosexuals naturally have the potential to procreate; homosexuals do not.

Here's how the reasoning went:

First, the constitutional guarantee to equal protection of the laws was interpreted thus: "To truly ensure equality before the law, the equal protection guarantee requires that laws treat all those who are similarly situated with respect to the purposes of the law alike." (p. 27, emphasis original)

Second, the purposes of Iowa marriage law were defined to include the following characteristics (and notice that procreation is not listed):
Plaintiffs [the homosexual couples suing for the right to marry] are in committed and loving relationships, many raising families, just like heterosexual couples. Moreover, official recognition of their status provides an institutional basis for defining their fundamental relational rights and responsibilities, just as it does for heterosexual couples. Society benefits, for example, from providing same-sex couples a stable framework within which to raise their children and the power to make health care and end-of-life decisions for loved ones, just as it does when that framework is provided for opposite-sex couples.
In short, for purposes of Iowa’s marriage laws, which are designed to bring a sense of order to the legal relationships of committed couples and their families in myriad ways, plaintiffs are similarly situated in every important respect, but for their sexual orientation. (p. 28)
Third, given that definition of "marriage" and that interpretation of the "equal protection" clause of the Constitution, together with the longstanding history of permitting homosexuals to adopt and thereby raise children, the conclusion is inevitable: homosexual couples may enter into civil marriage just as well as heterosexual couples. Simple as that.

A later footnote emphasizes the irrelevance of procreation to marriage, as construed by the court:
The County references plaintiffs’ inability to procreate “naturally,” presumably pointing out each couple’s inability to procreate without assistance. Plaintiffs’ inability to contribute children to society by procreation through sexual intercourse with each other does not dictate the outcome of our consideration under this factor. The inquiry into gay and lesbian people’s ability to contribute to society is a general one, designed to signal whether such classifications routinely risk elevating stereotype over ability. A person’s ability to procreate is merely one of many ways in which the person can contribute to society. While the narrower consideration of plaintiffs’ procreative abilities may be relevant to whether section 595.2 ultimately passes judicial scrutiny, consideration of those abilities is less helpful in determining which level of scrutiny to apply. That is, the inability of gay and lesbian partners to contribute by procreation through sexual intercourse with each other does not indicate whether legislative classifications based on sexual preference—which can conceivably occur in any legislative subject matter area—will generally be based on “stereotyped characteristics not truly indicative of their abilities.” Murgia, 427 U.S. at 313, 96 S. Ct. at 2566, 49 L. Ed. 2d at 525. (p. 49, n. 18)
So, marriage is not about procreation per se, but rather about "contributing to society" in various ways, and procreation need not be one of those ways. It's one thing, of course, to say a marriage between a particular man and a particular woman remains valid despite their inability to conceive (due to infertility that hinders their otherwise natural procreative potential); but here we find the claim that a marriage between two persons of the same sex is valid despite their inability, even theoretically, to ever have the prospect of conceiving naturally.

The County tried to justify its enforcement of Iowa's "marriage is between one man and one woman" law by noting the following two points. First, that the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation (for without procreation, society cannot continue). Second, that homosexuals cannot procreate. The Court, however, rejected this reasoning, insisting that
Gay and lesbian persons are capable of procreation. Thus, the sole conceivable avenue by which exclusion of gay and lesbian people from civil marriage could promote more procreation is if the unavailability of civil marriage for same-sex partners caused homosexual individuals to “become” heterosexual in order to procreate within the present traditional institution of civil marriage. The briefs, the record, our research, and common sense do not suggest such an outcome. (p. 59)
Ironically, then, the admission that homosexual persons (as distinct from homosexual couples) can procreate (by entering heterosexual relations) is twisted to somehow defend their "right" to homosexual "marriage," since there's no evidence that denying them the opportunity for homosexual marriage would increase the likelihood that they would in fact seek procreative relations with persons of the opposite sex.

In summary, heterosexual marriages do not necessarily foster procreation, nor do homosexual marriages necessarily deter procreation; procreation has nothing to do with marriage, and hence heterosexual couples (despite being potentially procreative) and homosexual couples (despite being decidedly non-procreative) are entitled an equal right to enter into civil marriage. They are, as the Court has phrased it, "similarly situated."

How did we get here? The severence of procreative potential from marital intercourse, implicit in the acceptance of contraceptive relations among heterosexual couples, seems to have provided a premise upon which homosexual couples later could build a winnable case for marriage to be redefined in their favor. In the legal realm, heterosexual couples provided this premise in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Roe v. Wade (1973); in the theological realm, it starts at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, and we are still trying to figure out where it ends.

What we need now are not better attorneys (for, with even Iowa succumbing to same-sex marriage, the culture war must now be declared over). What we need are prayers for repentance. Providentially, Iowa's legalization of same-sex marriage has come during Lent. O Christ, have mercy and forgive!

Bioethike 3

I can't keep up with posting links here to Rev. Robert C. Baker's fascinating blog posts, so I have added a widget so that his latest post on Bioethike is now the first thing you will see on this blog below the masthead.

I intend to be quiet now, sitting and listening at the feet of God's ordained servants as they expound on the topic of this blog. I therefore hope the ordained authors of Lutherans and Procreation will continue to post here as well.


Rehwinkel and Longman

Rev. Baker is making my blogging job so much easier. Now I just post links to his blog for things I would have posted here. ;-) Here's the latest at Bioethike: What a difference 50 years makes.