We love God, follow the reason implicit in sexual nature, and consider having children the greatest privilege bestowed on us, the greatest of gifts. Each child is a huge promise, a new world aborning, and I cannot imagine a financial anxiety so serious that it would make anyone think otherwise.
In one of the customs at Wyoming Catholic College, the women of our small community gather for a rosary near the date of one of their company. According to my wife’s report, five women were near term at the most recent of these occasions a few weeks ago—from young wives a few years out of college to mothers of already large families. There has been a new birth announcement almost every week since, a fact that I want to celebrate with all possible joy. What could be a better testament to the vitality of a community than this outpouring of new life?
What a curious thing it was, then, to open a story this morning in my cursory scanning of headlines called “Baby bust.” The New York Times, which is engaged in turning itself inside out over its wokeness, meanwhile ran an analysis of the declining birth rate. It is now officially alarming because people are not having enough children to replace them, much less grow the population. The Times writer Amanda Taub dismissively mentions the “popular narrative of patriarchies,” which is “that falling birthrates are the result of careers tempting women away from mothering.” Is that a patriarchal narrative, really? Or simply a fact? Some, like my own wife, are able to work and also have babies, but Taub shows her hand in the solution she imagines: “forcing women back into the home in some sort of Handmaid’s Tale-esque rollback of women’s rights.” She wants to preserve everything on the rights agenda but also to fret over the economic consequences of not having more babies.
To be fair, Taub points out real difficulties with contemporary parenting, some of which I recognize from my own daughters. She describes “long hours of physically and emotionally taxing work… especially during the pandemic. Whereas children might once have spent a lot of time unsupervised, now parents are expected to supervise them constantly, be deeply involved in their educations, and guide their social lives.” Parents who already homeschool might not have felt the restrictions of Covid so intensely, of course, but those whose children enjoy going to school have had a hard time of it.
But is this why birth rates are falling, seriously? Taub quotes “experts on parenting,” none of whom, I would wager, have eight or nine children like many of our faculty and staff. Commentators like Taub carefully avoid acknowledging any connection to larger social agendas. Promoting contraception obviously detaches sex from its natural ends and treats pregnancy as a preventable disease. So what does that teach? Sanctimoniously speaking of “constitutional” abortion rights encourages women faced with the choice to consider the living child in the womb as a non-person, a kind of tumor to be cut out and discarded. Does this ardent advocacy exert no influence? Upholding the sanctity of the woman’s choice in killing her baby makes her abortion a declaration of independence, and at the same time, it makes having a child appear as lifelong bondage. Is this unrelated to the falling birth rate? In this culture that alienates and pathologizes pregnancy itself, new life in the woman’s womb is portrayed as inherently problematic, probably a patriarchal imposition, an outmoded result of sex, whose liberated pleasures are encouraged in all their forms as a mode of self-expression.
Yet this pervasive teaching has no effect on the fertility rate? The other “rights” agendas, including gay marriage and transgenderism, ideologically distance sexuality from natural fertility. By ideologically, I mean they do so in ways that hurl something at reason to quiet its natural objections, much as Aeneas hurls drugged cakes at three-headed Cerberus on his way to the underworld. These ideologies justify a deeply self-aggrandizing opposition to the givenness of nature and teach their adherents that any objection to their position is hate speech. They foster attitudes of high righteousness as they refashion spiritual and physical sterility into the new Good. The Equality Act, if it passes the Senate, will seal these ideologies into the law of the land.
So, it seems that our community at Wyoming Catholic College is an anomaly. Our students, for example, are a voice for the voiceless. Sophomore Jill Cook, President of Cowboys for Life, recently addressed the Republican Party of Wyoming, including state officials and representatives, and received a standing ovation. We are thriving and growing because—not to be simplistic—we love God, follow the reason implicit in sexual nature, and consider having children the greatest privilege bestowed on us, the greatest of gifts. That’s where so many babies come from. It seems pretty normal. Each child is a huge promise, a new world aborning, and I cannot imagine a financial anxiety so serious that it would make anyone here think otherwise. We take care of each other.
I doubt very much that people in our community worry about the economic indicators from the Brookings Institute. Our faculty and staff typically have umpteen children, if God grants them—and who’s counting? I would not say that there is a lesson unfolding here in Lander, because no one is trying to make an ideological point. But there is unquestionably a phenomenon to consider.
Republished with gracious permission from Wyoming Catholic College‘s weekly newsletter.
The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.
The featured image is courtesy of Pixabay.