The world’s fertility rates are absolutely falling off a cliff. That should be a pretty big deal, right?

And yet, for some reason, it’s not. Nobody really seems to care to discuss it – much less advocate for something to be done about it.

Even worse, few prominent voices (aside from the world’s richest man, oddly enough) are expressing any dismay at these statistics, or any desire to reverse them. A quick Google search shows quite the opposite: most are happy with this outcome.

As people who understand that mankind was (twice!) given the mandate to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28, 9:7), and as people who believe God when He says children are a gift from the Lord (or heritage – Psalm 127:3), we shouldn’t be those joining in the cheers of the declining birthrates. We should view that as a problem.

But, the practical application of this issue goes much further than simply the production of children.

Our society-wide distaste for producing children spills over into how we feel about the ones we do have. If we’re not careful, the world will disciple us into developing an unhealthy, unbiblical view of children. They may even teach us to hate our kids.

Consider a few litmus tests.

How we value them

The world views children as a resource drag on both a global and individual scale. Globally, more kids means more consumers of food and resources in a planet that’s supposedly dying any year now. Individually more kids means fewer vacations. Maybe you can’t get that boat anymore. More clothes to buy, more mouths to feed, more diapers to change, another college fund to set up… boy, kids sure ruin everything, huh? Besides, why marry and have kids when you can just be a dog mom?

Though there are sadly many Christians who view kids one of those two ways (or both), most would likely say they don’t feel that way. But just about every Christian family with more than 3 kids has been asked the classic question by some nosy church lady: “Don’t you know what causes that?” Yep. And I know what causes that kind of question, too – a culture that views kids as having incredibly little value.

How we speak of them

Consider memes like these:

Why is that ok?

The command to “do unto others” (Matt. 7:12) applies to kids, too. If you and I wouldn’t want people we love to have a running joke about how annoying it is to have us around, then we shouldn’t do that to kids, either. But for some weird reason, this is considered a perfectly socially acceptable way to talk about kids.

Complaining about kids and the burden they are is a national pastime of sorts in the age of social media. The ability to share burdens with each other via FB groups and such can be a blessing, but it can also quickly devolve into an opportunity to complain and focus on the negatives kids bring.

Sure, they’re difficult sometimes. But our default position toward them should be joy that they are around, and gratitude to God for blessing us with them.

How we interact with them

Nothing in my life has revealed the selfishness of my own heart quite like having kids. The days of living life on my own terms are over. These little humans require constant attention and care. They try your patience over and over. Every day they need things of me that I don’t really have a choice but to give them. Everything else will have to wait.

What I can choose, though, is how I treat them in these interactions. It’s incredibly easy to respond with impatience or even anger – “Why would you do that?!?” “Stop interrupting me!” and so on.

Who’s going to hold you accountable? You can’t talk to your coworkers like that, because you might be reprimanded by management. You can’t talk to your friends like that, because they won’t hang out with you anymore. But what is that 6 year old going to do about it? He’s stuck with you.

That’s why it’s of utmost importance that we show our children how we value them by our interactions. Nobody’s going to make us do it, but God knows, and the kids will reflect it. As it’s often been said, how we treat those who can do nothing for us in return is the true sign of our character. If we treat the kids God placed in our care with less dignity than we treat customers or bosses, something needs to change.

Kids are a good thing. They’re a blessing. It’s time the church got back to proclaiming that truth, and then living it. Delayed marriage, then delayed family starting, then a constantly aggrieved, inconvenienced attitude about the children just isn’t what God had planned for mankind. And when mankind strays from God’s plan, we end up deeply unhappy and create all kinds of problems for ourselves.

It’s up to us to show the world a better way.

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