Stanley Hauerwas on having children

Stanley Hauerwas on having children October 16, 2008

“The vacuity of our society is revealed by our inability to come up with a sufficient rationale for having children. About the best we can muster is: ‘Children help us to be less lonely.’ (Get a dog; children make parents more lonely, not less.) And, ‘Children help give meaning to life.’ (Such children are seen as another possession like a BMW.)

“Christians have children, in great part, in order to be able to tell our children the story. Fortunately for us, children love stories. It is our baptismal responsibility to tell this story to our young, to live it before them, to take time to be parents in a world that (although intent on blowing itself to bits) is God’s creation (a fact we could not know without this story). We have children as a witness that the future is not left up to us and that life, even in a threatening world, is worth living — and not because ‘Children are the hope of the future,” but because God is the hope of the future.

“If we lack good reasons for having children, we also lack good reasons for deciding not to have them. Christians are free not to have children not because of most contemporary rationales (‘I don’t want to be tied down.’ ‘I would not bring children into this messed up world.’), but because we believe in the power of God to create a people through witness and conversion rather than through natural generation. The church must be created new, in each generation, not through procreation but through baptism.

“It is our privilege to invite our children, and other’s children, to be part of this great adventure called church. Christians ought to ponder what an amazing act of faith it was for Jews in the face of constant and death-dealing Christians and pagan persecution to go on having babies. People of God do not let the world determine how they respond to tomorrow.”

Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Nashville: Abingdon, 1989), pp. 59-60.

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