The West Doesn’t Want Children, It Wants Itself

This from a punishing article by Mark Steyn:

The developed world, like Elisabeth, is barren. Collectively barren, I hasten to add. Individually, it’s made up of millions of fertile women, who voluntarily opt for no children at all or one designer kid at 39. In Italy, the home of the Church, the birthrate’s somewhere around 1.2, 1.3 children per couple — or about half “replacement rate.” Japan, Germany, and Russia are already in net population decline. Fifty percent of Japanese women born in the Seventies are childless. Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of Spanish women childless at the age of 30 almost doubled, from just over 30 percent to just shy of 60 percent. In Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, 20 percent of 40-year-old women are childless. In a recent poll, invited to state the “ideal” number of children, 16.6 percent of Germans answered “None.”

There’s much to say about this frightening trend; one contributor surely has to be selfishness, plain and simple.

We are tempted by the contemporary zeitgeist to spend outlandish amounts of time and energy on, well, ourselves.  Everyone today is the executive producer of their own life, curating their existence one creature comfort, one European trip, one artisanal meal, one trip to a far-away sporting event, one Starbucks visit, one iPad, one concert, one J. Crew outfit, one pair of hipster glasses at a time.

Does anyone else sense this?  We’ve traded the lasting, though personally costly, pleasures of children and family for the temporal, and personally indulgent, pleasures of lifestyle enrichment.  Travel, good food and drink, and entertainment are in; children, sacrifice, and building something lasting are out.

This is true of the West writ large, it’s true of many young Americans, and it’s influencing the church.  We’re reminded that we are called to something greater by God, to build grand and exciting and world-defying institutions like the Christ-driven family and the local church.

Enjoy your mocha and your music collection, but push away from selfishness and self-focus to do something great and, through the Spirit’s power, transcend this silly little world with its silly little pleasures.

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