God told us: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. ” Genesis 1:28. The latest birth rate numbers show we aren’t listening.
Instead, the U.S. fertility rate fell to the lowest point since the 1909 record keeping began, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the first three months of 2016, for every 1,000 women, there are now only 59.6 births. During the Baby Boom in 1957, the fertility rate was 122.9 births per 1,000 women.
The future goes to those willing to populate it. Countries below replacement of 2.1 child per woman, are dying. We’ve joined that crowd since 2007, although perhaps “crowd” is a poor word choice. Right now, the rate in the U.S. is sitting at 1.87, as compared to Germany's 1.38.
It’s noteworthy that there are sharp differences between religions. According Pew Research Center, the average Mormon family has 3.4 babies while Jews, Catholics, and most Protestantism denominations have fertility rates ranging from 2 to 2.5. Atheists average 1.6 kids, and agnostics, only 1.3.
As a Catholic, the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church has all the truth. But relativism has gummed up the works. So has contraception. If my husband and I had not gotten on board with all the teachings of the Church, our family would be minus one reversal and less 4 biological kids. (We had 8, adopted 2 more.)
Although the Church accepts working with a woman’s natural fertility to limit children, it can be abused if used with a contraceptive mentality. The default marriage setting is to be open to the gift of life unless there are serious reasons dictating the contrary.
Early in his pontificate, Pope Francis encouraged married couples to be fruitful in our vocation of marriage. He said, “Fidelity, perseverance and fruitfulness are the three characteristics of God’s love for his Church and should be the same three pillars of a Christian marriage.”
The Pope scolded couples that intentionally choose worldly comforts over children as a lack of fruitfulness and something, “Jesus does not like.”
Bad Reasons Not to Have More Children
I know the excuses. But they are bad excuses. Mostly. Some couples have valid reasons for not being open to life, so my list only applies to the people to whom it applies. Check with God to find out if you are on his list to receive more precious bundles with eternal souls.
* Hooked on contraception. Read On Human Life: Humanae Vitae. It explains why Catholic teaching against contraception is in our best interest.
* I don’t want another baby. Be open to what God wants. How many times have you been pleasantly surprised in life?
* The world is a bad place to bring children into. It’s just temporary. Heaven is our final destination
* I gave away the maternity clothes. There are equally generous women out there.
* I’m not ready. Then don’t have sex.
* I’m too old. Menopause is the fertility finish line.
* I’m not patient enough. Practice makes perfect and prayer helps.
* Money. Mother Teresa used to say: “God has all the money in the world.” Read this story about a one-income family of 15, (until age 40, the father never made more than $50,000) debt free, their house is paid off and all their kids go to college—some have masters and one is working on a doctorate. And don’t put an earthly price tag an eternally priceless gift.
* Our house is too small. Get bunk beds. Re-evaluate your need for space.
* Overpopulation. It’s a major myth. Educate yourself. Here’s an hour-long video and good 10-minute explanation that there is no overpopulation problem.
* I don’t like babies. God does. Find out why you don’t like what God likes. That’s a disturbing state of mind.
* When is it going to be my time? No one begrudges you time and space for yourself, but practice moderation.
Sadly, 40 percent of women actually want more children than they have. I say, have those desired babies. Since love begets love, your family's heart can grow bigger and you might end up wanting even more.
Babies are precious, their souls are eternal, and they make you a better, holier person. Could you be closing yourself off to such a gift from God?
For more inspiration, check out Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families. Follow Patti at Twitter and like her Facebook pages at Dear God Books, Big Hearted Families and Catholic News & Inspiration on Facebook. Sign up at the right column to receive articles in your inbox. God bless you!