Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
There are plenty of controversial teachings in Christianity, but the Golden Rule generally isn’t one of them. Whether Christian or not, the vast majority of people would accept it as a good rule of thumb when deciding how to live among others. It’s ironic, then, that we in the West are deliberately failing to pursue the Golden Rule’s most fundamental expression: having children.
Unless you’re called to celibacy, refusing to have a family is the Platonic ideal of selfishness. And I say that as one of those very same selfish people–I deliberately avoided having children for most of my adult life. I know it didn’t feel selfish at the time, and I’m intimately familiar with how compelling the rationalizations and excuses can be because I used them myself. Nevertheless, here’s the reality about that refusal from someone now standing on the other side of parenthood:
Consider, for a moment, all the unattractive aspects of raising kids–all the reasons you think kids are icky and which inspire you to come up with your more pious rationalizations for not wanting a family in the first place. They’re loud, noisy, and needy. They’re always dribbling from one end or the other. They’ll interrupt your life goals. You won’t have nearly as much time for your career, your causes, your hobbies, and your amusements. You’ll have less disposable income, go on fewer ideal vacations, and generally be much less free to do as thou wilt. Take all those reasons, and add whatever you want to the list (apart from circumstances like severe family trauma resulting in psychological damage, the specifics don’t really matter in the end.)
Now consider that your parents went through pretty much that entire list for you–for the life that you so cherish that you don’t want to give up any of it to share with a family of your own. Now consider that their parents made those same sacrifices, as did their parents before them, all the way back to that day when God first said “Let us make man in our own image” and instructed his new creatures to be fruitful and multiply. Think of all the selfless love that embraced every challenge on your list so that you could be here, reading this blog post.
What, then, does it mean to do unto others as you would have done unto you–as was done unto you? The answer is quite clear–along with what that answer says about those of us who have refused to do so. We may talk a good game about generosity, but if we refuse to be generous even to our own flesh and blood, then we haven’t even cleared level one.
To be sure, this judgment is not made against those like the Apostle Paul whom God calls to celibacy. To them, God has provided other ways to sacrificially love. However, this gift has always been the exception rather than the rule. And it couldn’t possibly be clearer that the gift of celibacy is not the cause of the falling birth & marriage rates in the West. After all, the growing masses of people who refuse family are not being celibate. They’re fornicating. They’re jerking off to porn every night. They’re constantly falling to temptation–the precise situation for which Paul actually commands marriage rather than celibacy.
In the face of the way we were loved by those who came before us, our long list of reasons comes to naught. Whether we admit it or not, the choice we face is this: Do we take the millennia of love that were poured out on us and consume every last drop until it’s gone? Or do we pay it forward by continuing to pass that love along to future generations?
Only one of those choices conforms to the Golden Rule. Choose wisely.