Evangelical Update

A resource for lefties who want to understand conservative Christians.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Overpopulation

Many conservative Christians take literally the command to go forth and multiply. Like many Catholics, many CC's also do not believe in birth control. Of The Cast, Carmon (10 children), Samantha (3 children), Shannon (2 children), Kristen (still waiting for a first child) and Amy (4 children and one more on the way) are on record saying something akin to "letting God decide" how many children they will produce.

This topic brings up two issues: 1) overpopulation and 2) the historical context of scripture.

1) Overpopulation: All environmental problems ultimately boil down to overpopulation. For instance, "The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold." (source) There are simply too many consumers for the Earth to sustain itself. While much of the "first world" is currently in a depopulation stage, the "third world" accounts for 97% of all population growth (UN Report, 1998). This statistic is offset, however, by the more developed world's consumption of the world's goods: "The richest 20 percent of humanity consumes 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent (from overpopulation.org)."

In the good old days in our Western culture there were good reasons to produce many children: a) a need for workers in an agrarian society b) some children would likely die before reaching adulthood. Today neither of these reasons apply.

2) The historical significance of scripture: Was the command to go forth and multiply consistent only with a historical period of a much lower population? Does this command make sense in today's world? Most CC's will admit that some scripture is significant only in its historical context.

I wonder if this topic creates a rift within the conservative Christian world? Obviously not all CC's forego birth control. But the ones that do share a feature with conservative Catholics, Mormons, and much of the undeveloped world (who often have no access to birth control).
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Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

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