Father Robert Barron has written a very nice response to the Time cover story about couples choosing a life without children. He focuses on the new sovereignty of the individual's will in creating a life that the individual considers "preferable." He writes:
And this represents a sea change in cultural orientation. Up until
very recent times, the decision whether or not to have children would
never have been simply "up to the individual." Rather, the individual
choice would have been situated in the context of a whole series of
values that properly condition and shape the will: family, neighborhood,
society, culture, the human race, nature, and ultimately, God. We can
see this so clearly in the initiation rituals of primal peoples and in
the formation of young people in practically every culture on the planet
until the modern period. Having children was about carrying on the
family name and tradition; it was about contributing to the strength and
integrity of one's society; it was about perpetuating the great
adventure of the human race; it was a participation in the dynamisms of
nature itself. And finally, it was about cooperating with God's desire
that life flourish: "And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the
earth and multiply in it" (Gen. 9:7).
None of this is meant to be crushing to the will, but liberating.
When these great values present themselves to our freedom, we are drawn
out beyond ourselves and integrated into great realities that expand us
and make us more alive.
It is finally with relief and a burst of joy that we realize that our
lives are not about us. Traditionally, having children was one of the
primary means by which this shift in consciousness took place. That
increasingly this liberation is forestalled and that people are finding
themselves locked in the cold space of what they sovereignly choose, I
find rather sad.
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