’Human life is of infinite value, created in God’s image. Children are a gift to invest in, not a financial burden,’ says Hannah Wickens, who suggests we think again about how we view procreation.

Whilst Sub-Saharan African countries have soaring birth rates, figures from the UK and US are plummeting. A significant boost in the baby-making quarter (a suggested 2+ children per woman) is needed for a ‘developed’ country to increase or maintain population, according to BBC World News.


Source: Photo by Dylan Sauerwein on Unsplash

This news may trigger anxiety or even apathy, but as a Christian this is an ethical consideration to ponder. Society desperately needs an injection of gospel-filled babies.

There are many acknowledgements that could precede the ensuing dialogue, the nature of which may give rise to indignation or pain, living as we do within a fractured society where ideals can incite grief. A reality for many readers may be that a desire for children was never realised.

My own fairy-tale was remodelled when a lifelong desire to have children was capsized with a miscarriage

Suffice to say, my own fairy-tale was remodelled when a lifelong desire to have children was capsized with a miscarriage after marrying at 35; I’m now blessed with three daughters, but the reality has been far from my childhood dreams.

Proverbs 29:18 says that without vision people perish and my vision to have a healthy family seemed thwarted, but I kept it written before me (as instructed in Habakkuk) and it came to life. There’s no better place to seek vision than the living word of God, which ignites hope in our hearts.

Pope Paul IV wrote Humanae Vitae in 1968 making bold predictions about an unravelling of marriage if contraception was introduced. Influenced by his words, Pope John Paul II (head of the Vatican 1978 – 2005) wrote Love and Responsibility in which he talks about the immeasurable value in protecting both intimacy within marriage, and procreation with responsible parenting. 

This traditional Catholic stance, that denies contraception, may seem outdated and irrelevant, especially as it was written by celibate men. Yet it’s derived from Holy revelation, which these men spent countless prayerful hours receiving. The predictions of Pope Paul are undeniably evident in our Western world where a great decline in birth-rates is evident.

The predictions of Pope Paul are undeniably evident in our Western world where a great decline in birth-rates is evident.

The BBC reports on shifting demographics and an appeal to politicians to remedy descending birth-rates with incentivisation such as subsidised childcare. This approach accentuates a prophesised fallout of contraception – self-interest, to guarantee sexual pleasure without the ‘concern’ of conception. This hedonist position feeds the illusion that we’re at the centre of the universe, that one or two children is comfortable but beyond that burdensome. Thoughts that a career must be sacrificed to have a child places value on job worth. However, in Matthew 16:26 we read, ‘what benefit if we gain the whole world and forfeit the soul?’. If we go against God’s created order, we damage our souls.

Human life is of infinite value. We are created in God’s image and children are a gift to invest in, not a financial burden. Without contraception women still maintain an empowered position, not in controlling through suppression or denial, both of which can be detrimental psychologically and physically, but by working with the natural rhythm of the body to influence timings of intimacy with a partner.

Sexual intercourse is intended to reaffirm marriage vows, celebrating the fact that God invites us to partake in the depths of love with such an intimate act and God’s instruction to Adam and Eve was to go forth and multiply. We have his blessing when we have sex within marriage, for pleasure and for fruitfulness. Conversely contraception fuels fear in that it robs from all that was intended to bring life. Sex outside marriage steals from that covenant.

Christopher West in Theology of the Body takes the original scripts written within the Catholic church and makes them accessible with relevant contemporary descriptions. The core principles are timeless, derived from the Word. As Christians we can fall prey to the trap of diluting such principles to become culturally relevant, resulting in a compromised gospel message lacking in power.

West cites a few reasons to abstain such as mental health, physical or financial issues, and the biblical reference that abstinence must be with mutual consent in a marriage. But ultimately, we can happily partake, with the intention of creating life. And when life comes forth, to focus on positive and ‘responsible’ parenting.

I firmly believe that our society desperately needs repairing and one way will be through Christian families and faith-filled communities who add salt by putting God first and thereby restoring balance in God’s divine order.