Every few weeks, when I manage to make it to church, the congregation is asked to pray for (among other things) the many missions of the church around the world. The idea of hauling off half way around the world to sacrifice and create new Christians is really romantic. And no doubt it is good and necessary. It fits well with the image that is created in my mind by one of my favorite parts of the mass — in which the priest makes reference to “the entire people your son has gained for you.”
At the mention of that, I think about all those people: the British, the Italians, the Germans, the Goths, the Romans, the Russians, the Nigerians, the Indians, the Chinese, the Arabs and the many others that have been won to God throughout the history of church. It’s a nice feeling to think of us all, in all those separated times and places, looking toward heaven together. I think this is what the “Kingdom of God” refers to really — the unity of man that is only possible through God. Man is factional, but men can be united to one another by sharing a union with the same God. God is the friend we all have in common.
But the simple fact is that those that want to create new Christians don’t really need to travel anymore. For one thing, there is a glut of assorted heathens right here. An aspiring martyr could do no better than to visit Cambridge, Massachusetts if he desires a challenge and a hostile reception to overcome.
And at an even more basic level, those wanting to create a new member of the church could do the once obvious, and just create a new little member of the church from scratch. That’s right. The child you bring into the world and raise knowing Christ counts for just as much as the guy you hope to convert with a donation or a summer mission. Actually, the child counts for more. For one thing he’s cuter. For another, the greatest crisis today facing Christianity and its major franchise, Western Civilization, is a demographic collapse caused by a lack of children. We are dying for lack of children. Converts cannot cure that primal defect.
The church, a force that survived the Huns, the Dark Ages, the Black Death, the rise of Islam, two World Wars, nuclear arms, and history’s greatest stupidity, Marxism, is about to disappear simply because people can’t be bothered to share their lives with more children. Yet I hear little preaching from the pulpit about this most basic of all needs.
There is just a small part of the secular press that has caught on to the severity of our current demographic crisis. If you want to see the problem approached from opposite political perspectives, The Death of the West and The Empty Cradle make a balanced, if depressing, set.
The failure of the churches to address the crisis of voluntary sterility is all the more sad because governments have so abjectly failed to react to the great existential crisis of our times. The once-great states of the West are too dogmatic and petty to take proper actions, such as (for a start) merely admitting that feminism is actually “neuterism,” an anti-feminine ideology that strips both sexes of their distinctiveness and cripples the division of labor that makes families work.
Men and women may be morally equal, but they are not functionally equivalent. They need to nurture their separate identities, and must be treated differently in law and culture to ensure that little things like law and culture have future generations to be passed down to. It is not just major issues of ideology preventing action either, sheer incompetence and lack of vision comes into play as well. The U.S. Congress cannot even eliminate the marriage penalty and seems to think that it costs about $3400 per year to raise a child — and this crack force is supposed to reverse the deepest demographic decline since the Black Death? Government is a lost cause on this issue.
The churches are perhaps the only forces that can reverse our demographic decline and re-center a large part of society onto the idea of family and sacrifice, rather than career and wealth. The churches of America and Europe must begin to preach the gospel of family and to teach again that part of the mission to which the faithful are called is parenthood. And no, I’m not talking about encouraging a program of breeding by fanatics.
The whole difference between a Christian civilization in decline and one in growth is simply having three kids per family become the standard for your average imperfect Christians (like the kind that go to church every few weeks), rather than the two per family that has been sold to society by the mental duds that sought to defuse the “Population Bomb.” One need not have so many children that the TLC channel starts making documentaries about your laundry needs and grocery shopping. The path to a better world, filled with sufficient people of shared philosophy to maintain, defend and expand our civilization is simple:
- Have kids before one’s ovaries require pharmacological starter fluid, and
- Have three or four instead of one or two.
Churches can encourage this small, but potent change in our mores, by not only teaching that a kid is a better use of funds than a bass boat or a BMW (and more fun some days), but by focusing on the centrality of family in their ministry. The leaders of the church need to live the example of the ministry of parenthood as well. What sort of shepherd has no time for his own lambs?
For the Protestant and Orthodox Churches this should be somewhat easier than for the Roman Catholic Church. But, if Benedict is reading, I would like to point out that if the church is to lead its people out of the demographic bottleneck that threatens to collapse Europe and atrophy America, it must lead through the example of the clergy. Today, the best example any western Christian leader can offer is to marry and welcome children into his life. Celibacy is a huge sacrifice to be respected. But so is parenthood. Priests should be fathers as well as Fathers. The middle ages are over. We face different threats from different selfish sins in this age.
Regardless of what steps any one church takes or fails to take, every institution is capable of being led from below. So, for those who wish to make the world a better place through love and faith and charity and sacrifice, I say “Onward, Christian Mothers…”
Your mission is the most important of all. After all, God is love. Choosing to love children strengthens the Kingdom of God. We each can influence most our own lives and the lives we share — this is the mission of family, to which we are all called.