Monday, May 19, 2014

The Deadly Consequences of Religious Procreation

The Duggar Family stars of the TV series "19 Kids and Counting"
It has taken me a long period of time to get to this point of writing on this topic.  I do not like to offend religious beliefs.  I tend toward being overly tolerant of a wide variety of behaviors that are personally repugnant to me.  However, given the state of affairs in the world, I can no longer hold my tongue.  I feel compelled to speak out.  Right off the bat, it is uncomfortable to attack the religious beliefs and morality of people whose only "wrongdoing" has been to make babies.  I respect all religions which respect life.  I respect all children whose only "crime" was to have been born.  So, my job here is difficult from the start.

I cannot watch the hit documentary television series "19 Kids and Counting" about the ever-expanding Duggar family from Arkansas without wanting to vomit or throw the TV out the window.  I don't normally get that angry at anything.  The parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, are both "devout Independent Baptists" in their late 40's.  Their family seems sweet, well-balanced, and uber-wholesome.  They follow all kinds of traditional Baptist lifestyles based on a strict interpretation of the Bible: hard work, modest attire, chaperoned courtship and seeking permission from parents to become engaged.  In this day and age, this kind of old-fashioned behavior would normally inspire our respect and admiration in the face our daily exposure to violence, nasty sex, morality degeneration, drugs, depression and failure to take responsibility for our actions.  This lies at the heart of my reluctance to bash the Duggar family.  But someone needs to say it.

The Duggars may have achieved a kind of religious bliss and a lovely family, but this accomplishment is overshadowed by their unbelievable lack of responsibility owed to our planet - to me and to you.  They have set a good example for family behavior but a terrible example for family size.  What were they thinking?  Michelle was recently been quoted as saying: "We would love more [children]!"  Are you kidding me?  Isn't 19 enough to satisfy your appetite for a large family?  Isn't it a God-given clue that your 20th child didn't survive?  Don't you care about the rest of us here are planet earth?

It is my very strong opinion that NO ONE should be dumb enough to think that God mandated unlimited procreation.  We no longer have the luxury of this religious belief system.   Check out the Bible.  Considering the significant Catholic and Christian fundamentalist emphasis on making babies, I was sure I would find lots of Biblical authority for this proposition, but I only found one.  Genesis 1:28 - "God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"  Remember: God was talking to Adam and Eve!  There were no other human beings alive on earth!  We weren't struggling with global overpopulation and dwindling natural resources!

Let me be very clear:  Aside from five references in the first book of Genesis to "be fruitful and multiply" God does not order us to make babies.  God merely advises us to have sex only for the purpose of making babies and not for mere idle pleasure.  Okay, so why don't the Duggars simply abstain from having sex?  Alternatively, why don't they use birth control?  They did that for four years following their marriage! 

The human population on this planet has more than doubled since my birth: 3 billion to 7.5 billion.  It shows no signs of stopping.  No leaders have stepped up to the plate.  The Chinese are about ready to reverse their one-child-per-family policy.  Really?  Should we just shut our eyes and block our ears and hope this problem goes away by itself?  Politics, religion and personal preferences can no longer be used as an excuse to make more babies. 

Over the millennia, certain populations have consciously tried to repopulate their own race or culture when their populations were threatened.  The Jews did this after World War II.  The French did this after their drop in population threatened economic disaster.  It is said that radical Muslim Jehadists intend to "conquer" Western civilization by breeding more babies.   Population has been treated as a political and economic issue, just as much as a religious issue.  Plenty of people love the idea of a big family.  Sorry, but those days have sadly left us.  We no longer have the luxury of a fantasy of a big family.  The time has come to treat baby-making as a global human issue.