A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found that Americans 38 and younger prioritized religion, patriotism, and having children much less than their parents and grandparents.
None of that is all that surprising given the past two decades’ worth of religious scandals, patriotism intertwined with horrible GOP-backed public policies, and a rough economy that makes it harder for young people to find stable careers and begin families (if that’s what they want).
The head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler, was especially taken aback by the relative lack of desire to have kids. Far from seeing it as just some societal problem, he suggested that people who didn’t want kids weren’t “fully human.”
That statement has led to all kinds of backlash from other Christians, many of whom note that Mohler’s statement isn’t just insensitive; it’s a slap in the face to one particular savior who didn’t have any kids…
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) August 27, 2019
… Americans are basically, by the millions, giving up on the fact that to be human is to be a parent, eventually to take on that responsibility to get married and have children, to take on the responsibility of passing on civilization itself.
I am 49, unmarried and if I do get married in years to come, my future wife will likely be too old to have children. Would we be obliged to adopt in order to be human?
— Robert Payne (@paynenotes1) August 27, 2019
I see how it would deeply offend those who chose singleness, or those who cannot bear children. They should not be made to feel subhuman, irreligious, or marginalized.
— PianoGuy (@dsgmusic88) August 29, 2019
— Nickie (@NBL2006) August 28, 2019
So Jesus wasn’t human? pic.twitter.com/S2ISwTQqDY
— Josiah Hawthorne (@JosiahHawthorne) August 28, 2019
Everyone can’t have children. This is an asinine statement but not unexpected
— Lenorafc (@faithinbones) August 28, 2019
Mohler, who runs a school, seems unaware that many people, particularly millennials, are facing crippling student loan debt and a shortage of stable long-term jobs. Consequently, it’s harder to buy property or invest in the future or set up a life that’s conducive for having children. (Also: Our political climate and the environment don’t exactly inspire people to bring new life into the world.) Who can blame them for being jaded about parenthood?
For the Christians who listen to him, Mohler also left out the scores of biblical characters who were childless: Not just Jesus, either. The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, also advised his community that it’s better to forgo marriage and family to better serve the Lord. (Granted, he wrote that during a time of persecution and what he believed was an impending apocalypse.)
Still, for Mohler to suggest that there’s something wrong with not having children is to completely ignore the harsh realities for many of the people who would be parents in another era. Someone whose job involves educating younger people ought to know better.