"We gather in faith..."

Teaching and commentary from our pastor, Bishop Francis J. Christian

Reflections

In Japan, the Yumel doll, which looks like a baby boy and has a vocabulary of 1,200 phrases sells for $80. If the owner gently pats its chest the doll will say, "I feel so good, goodnight." The doll is not for children. It is designed for the lonely and the elderly companions who can "sleep" next to them in a country where there are fewer and fewer babies born. In Japan the birthrate is 1.3 children per woman. This is a less than replacement rate of birth. If it were to continue Japan would be committing national suicide in not too many generations. Simply to maintain a population, a birthrate of 2.1 children per woman is needed. Without that rate population will rapidly decline. But Japan is not the only country with this situation. No country in Western Europe has a replacement level birthrate. In Germany, for example, it's 1.3 in Italy 1.2 and in France 1.7. According to the United States census, the average family in this country consists of 3.14 people. That means, on average, two parents and 1.14 children. If the population is growing here and in some of the countries in Europe, it is because of immigration, not because people are having more children. In fact, it is often the immigrants who are having the majority of the children and making the statistics what they are.

What is happening when an entire continent (Europe) which is wealthier and healthier than ever before in history declines to create the human future in the most elemental sense, by creating the next generation? And we in this country are close to the same reality. Does it have to do with selfishness, because children cost too much both in money and in time and the care they require? Are we moderns more concerned about careers and possessions than about replenishing the earth and continuing the species? Do we, perhaps unwittingly, have a contemporary death wish? Perhaps in our mad dash for comfort and wealth we are filled with an inner emptiness that makes people wonder if life itself is really worth it. If we are never truly happy or satisfied, why would we want to bring another generation into existence simply to share our dissatisfactions? Do people think this way, consciously or unconsciously? I don't know, but whatever the reasons, the statistics are disturbing. Maybe the real problem is that so many people have lost reference to God and His purposes. The recorded commandment God gave to humanity in the Garden of Eden was "Be fruitful and multiply". While each married couple needs to honestly determine the number of children they can care for in an adequate fashion, it seems that many couples are, for whatever reasons, choosing a low number.