The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Do kids matter to marriage?

posted by jmcgee

It turns out, more people are saying “No.”

A blog at the New York Times takes note:

One of the more surprising trends in marriage during the past 20 years is the fact that most couples no longer view children as essential to a happy relationship.

A few years ago, the Pew Research Center released a survey called “What Makes Marriage Work?” Not surprisingly, fidelity ranked at the top of the nine-item list — 93 percent of respondents said faithfulness was essential to a good marriage.

But what about children? As an ingredient to a happy marriage, kids were far from essential, ranking eighth behind good sex, sharing chores, adequate income and a nice house, among other things. Only 41 percent of respondents said children were important to a happy marriage, down from 65 percent in 1990. The only thing less important to a happy marriage than children, the survey found, was whether a couple agreed on politics.

So why do kids rank so low on the list? The fact is, marriages today are increasingly adult-centered, rather than child-centered, an issue identified in a sweeping 2008 report from Rutgers marriage researcher Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. In the report, called “Life Without Children: The Social Retreat From Children and How It’s Changing America,” Dr. Whitehead notes that the percentage of our lives that we devote to parenting is shrinking. Because married couples are delaying children and having fewer kids, they start parenting later and finish parenting sooner than couples of earlier generations. She writes:

For most of the nation’s history, Americans expected to devote much of their adult lives to the nurture and rearing of children. Life with children has been central to norms of adulthood, marriage and the experience of family life. Today however, this historic pattern is changing. Life without children is becoming the more common social experience for a growing percentage of the adult population.

Check out much more at the link.

UPDATE: Comments are now closed.
 



Advertisement
Comments read comments(50)
post a comment
Steve P

posted June 15, 2010 at 9:54 am


I’ve got some mixed feelings about this. Part of my own sociological pondering is what will the life and standards and expectations of the elderly in America look like 20-40 years from now when a couple has few or no children to care for them in their old age? Seems we already see some of this playing out with the smaller families, and the spectrum of care in retirement living. But will there be other political and social ramifications?
For example, will I be paying higher taxes to help care for the care of childless elderly people? (The flip side, of course, is that they paid higher taxes to support things like the education of my children…)
Is this a de-valuation of children in general? Because of course you can take it to an extreme, like Peter Singer’s “thought experiment” for universal sterilization. After all, the best thing for the health of the planet is to have no more future generations to muck it up. (See Mark Shea’s commentary on it here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/george_orwell_once_said/ )
And the mixed feelings come in also for those who deeply long for children and have been unable to have them.



report abuse
 

panthera

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:21 am


Why is this surprising? The Republican administrations of the last years have consistently cut funding for education, medical services and all the other necessities which make it possible for lower and regular income couples to afford children.
This is clearly and obviously one of those aspects of the culture wars which are so frustrating for liberal Christians (such as myself) who feel a society which discriminates against children is sick.
And yet, it is exclusively conservatives who have blocked every attempt to turn things around.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:29 am


Yes, blame the Republicans. Why not even blame Bush, after all, everything is his fault. Maybe even the oil spill.
The reason why people don’t want children is because we are in a self-absorbed, self-focused era. Some countries in europe are down the a zero growth rate as more people are dying than being born. Is it the Republicans fault in Europe too?



report abuse
 

Henslow

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:31 am


panthera, you’re apparently so partisan that you managed to turn a discussion about the role of children in marriage into a GOP bashing rant. That’s a really blinkered way to look at life, and you’ll undoubtedly end up blind to your own side’s weaknesses.



report abuse
 

panthera

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:52 am


Ah, well, those were the answers I feared.
‘My side’ has pushed for universal health care for children.
‘My side’ just passed the largest budget increase for kindergartens in decades.
‘My side’ is trying hard to undo the damage “All Kids Left Behind” did.
‘My side’ just cut the costs for college loans enormously.
‘My side’ supports pre-natal care, food supplements for low-income mothers and has fought hard to keep interns in the inner-cities.
What has ‘your side’ done?
Oh, and on a personal note…when our family foundation voted on increasing funds for adoptions, my Republican, fundamentalist Christians brother voted against it. My husband’s vote (we rotate on the board) was for continuing the funding for adoptions. What have you done, personally? I mean, as a Christian, to help couples raise children?
I volunteer two hours a week in a literacy program. My husband was trained in using horses to help autistic children learn to communicate.
My mom, until she no longer could move her feet, worked in a paediatric ward of the terminal cancer wing of their local hospital, reading to the kids, playing with them, hugging them. She now SKYPES with the kids from her bed.
I have every right to point out that you conservatives, especially the Republicans are directly responsible for much of this ill treatment of young parents and children.
And yes, you are quite right, Bill Clinton did great damage by cutting back on the social welfare programs. Thank you for reminding me.



report abuse
 

Aquamarine

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:52 am


Part of this is backlash to the fetishization of children over the past 50 – 60 years. While much of the time of the average family during first half of the twentieth century was dedicated to the raising of families, the children were most definitely not the center of focus and attention of families. Those families were just as much adult-centric as marriages today. However, the adults were busy working hard to make a living, they didn’t have nearly as much leisure time, and when they did, that time wasn’t sucked into the black hole of electronic toys and materialism-as-competitive-sport and the myriad other ways today’s adults (who, in turn, are the grown-up children of the child-focused families of the fifties on) entertain themselves.
Today’s adult-centric, childless marriages are the result of a combination of being raised to believe they are the center of the universe and then witnessing the marriages in which the children are little tyrants. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, albeit a short-lived one by it’s own nature. Raise kids to be tyrannical little narcissists and they’re hardly going to bring a whole bunch of competition into the world to steal their own thunder.



report abuse
 

MaryM

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:57 am


Not that facts matter to PANTHERA, but for the rest of us that prefer facts over feelings, just regarding education spending during the republican controlled Congress from 2001-2006:
“K-12 education spending… Annual U.S. Department of Education spending on elementary and secondary education has increased from $27.3 billion in 2001 to $38 billion in 2006, up by nearly 40 percent. According to the department, annual spending on the Title I program to assist disadvantaged children grew by 45 percent between 2001 and 2006. In 2007, the department will spend 59 percent more on special education programs than it did in 2001.”
“Annual Department of Education spending on federal Pell Grants grew from $8.7 billion in 2001 to $13 billion in 2006, nearly 50 percent growth. The federal government spends considerably more on higher education today than it did during the Clinton administration. According to the College Board, federal funding for higher education in 2004-2005 totaled $90 billion, a real increase of 103 percent over ten years.”
SOURCE: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Education-Notebook/The-Facts-on-Federal-Education-Spending



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm


Yes, interesting how this post on children has become the blame the Republicans post for people not having children. What is the reason for zero population growth in some European countries?
With all their so-called concern for children, why doesn’t the present administration get their act together and help the people in the Gulf states?



report abuse
 

panthera

posted June 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm


But, Conservative, you are the one who is always screaming about the government interfering in the private sector.
BP is the source of your wows, to BP shall you go.
I am overjoyed to read (although the source is questionable) that any monies were advanced, at all, under Bush.
You have, of course, neglected to mention how much of that funding was already budgeted by Clinton and how much achieved by the Democrats in Congress against stiff opposition.
Nor have you allowed for inflation.
I note you Republicans are still blocking the health insurance and unemployment insurance extensions for several million Americans. That is helpful to children precisely how?



report abuse
 

panthera

posted June 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm


Actually, lots of people are having children – the growth rate of the immigrant (documented and undocumented) Mexican population is quite a bit higher than that of the non-Mexican Americans/immigrants.
Here in Europe, we see no lack of childbearing among the Islamic immigrant communities.
What we are seeing – both in the US and in Europe is an enormous decline in childbirth among those members of the population who are settled and integrated into their respective societies.
SteveP and Aqua Marine offer some possible reasons. Personally, I suspect the degree of sacrifice necessary to raise a child does have a lot to do with it.
Let us not, however, forget the enormous hurdles to adopting a child, especially in the US. Basically, one must have the wisdom and social/economic structures which only a couple in their fifties have achieved. But they are too old. One must also have the youth and flexibility to raise a child, but then one is too young for the responsibility.
If a child is already in puberty, nobody wants them. Children in their late teens age out of the system to suffer homelessness and other terrible afflictions.
Handicapped and mixed-race children are traditionally adopted by ‘special’ couples (in other words, those too old to otherwise be considered or gay/lesbian families). Otherwise, they languish.
There are few genuine resources offered by the Christian community to help a young girl who has become inadvertently pregnant. I don’t want to see her abort the foetus, but what, really, do we offer her except condemnation and spite? How much do we really invest in helping? Apart from our culture wars, that is.



report abuse
 

Susan Kehoe

posted June 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm


Panthera,
Well the Catholic Church does a lot to help those in crisis pregnancies. For example, my husband started a program to help pregnant women called “The Gabriel Project”. The premise for the outreach is to love the woman. No one judges the women no matter what what decision is made. Further, assistance continues after a child is born. It is a parish based program.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm


Susan Kehoe,
That is good.
Wonderful, actually.
I have not said that the Church does nothing, I asked what the non-zero number of conservative Christians who oppose both abortion and government aid to poor families do personally. So far, you are the only one who does anything. All the rest have contented themselves with personal attacks.
[Pan...I appreciate the points you're trying to make. But dial it back, okay? Your tone is becoming increasingly petulant, argumentative and disrespectful. Demonizing "conservative Christians" so stridently and consistently doesn't help your case. There are good and bad conservatives, just as there are good and bad liberals. Try to remember that. Thank you. Dcn. G.]



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Panthera wrote: There are few genuine resources offered by the Christian community to help a young girl who has become inadvertently pregnant.
I don’t know what area you are speaking of but the NY Archdiocese has many programs for women who are expecting a baby–Good Counsel Homes, the Sisters of Life have numerous homes and programs and the group Birthright to mention just a few. There are many others which I financially support.



report abuse
 

panthera

posted June 15, 2010 at 3:10 pm


Conservative,
When in the US, I am in the Heart of Dixie.
The resources available to make a young girl seriously consider maintaining the pregnancy are very slender, indeed.
I still think it is important to note that both Mexican immigrants (undocumented and documented) in the US as well as our substantial Islamic community here in Europe have lots of children.
The question to be answered is why established, indigenous, if you will, peoples find it preferable not to have kids.
Frankly, given the costs and the lack of social consensus to make it possible for poor people and the lower middle class, I am astonished that anyone in those groups has kids, today, at all.
We need to invest enormously more in support for children, both pre-natal and post-natal.
Education must be improved, as well. The ‘All Kids Left Behind’ policy has failed, miserably. I don’t see Obama doing enough to replace it.



report abuse
 

MD Catholic

posted June 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm


panthera,
I, too, will join in the backlash against your factless tirades that end up, essentially, blaming Bush and Republicans for all the ills of our country. My wife is a Special Ed teacher and a Democrat. She will admit that there have been many successes directly attributable to the No Child Left Behind Act. Further, she will point out that the problems with all the Federal funding is that too much of the funds are spent on administering the programs, thus leaving too little for the intended beneficiaries–the children. You can thank the law profession for that.
I will not comment on the other drivel you have spouted out–my fellow Conservative, un-feeling, non-compassonate, uncaring, Bush-loving bloggers have said plenty. However, I doubt you will actually take the time long enough to actually think about what they have said. You seem too pre-occupied in attacking Conservative Christians and blaming us for everything.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 15, 2010 at 5:29 pm


Yes, indeed, MD Catholic, the Deacon’s posting rules really only do seem to apply to liberal Christians.
Your knee-jerk attack does nothing to further the discussion – had you a serious interest in the matter, you would know that many Catholic educators are highly dissatisfied with Every Kid Left Behind.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 15, 2010 at 7:50 pm


Personally, if a couple doesn’t want to have children, I sincerely hope they do not have any. Good birth control is essential. I can understand a couple not wanting children. It requires time and money to raise a child. Some folks don’t care to invest in that, they are happy with each other and require no one else. IMO that isn’t selfish, just realistic. As far as I know, there are no rules saying that a marriage requires children, though some religions feel that it is an important part of being married and have it in their vows. (to accept all children God gives them).
We have, in this country at least, gone beyond needing children to work on farms, which was one reason for having lots children in a marriage.
According to what I have read and heard from various sources, there are indeed many children being born to the new immigrants from south of the border…those legal and not. According to one source, the Hispanic population will be the majority by the end of this century in the USA. So, as to losing population in this country (USA) and according to panthera, Europe is seeing many children born to the Islamic population, so there will be lots of children for the future.



report abuse
 

wineinthewater

posted June 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm


Panthera,
You are ignoring one very important fact, it is not the poor and lower income who are predominantly not having kids, but the middle and upper class. The ones most likely to not have kids or not have many kids are those who are most able to afford them. Therefore, we must conclude that there is something besides income that explains the decline in the “essentiality” of children to marriage.
The fact that it is expensive to have a child may be part of it. But I have been both a poor child and poor parent. And I can tell you that children can be expensive, but so are a lot of other things, and prioritization goes a long, long way. Even if we concede that having a child is cost prohibitive for poor families, this still represents a devaluation of the importance of children.
There is much to blame Republicans for, but I think this is one thing that can’t be laid at their feet.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 1:11 am


wineinthewater,
Thank you so very much for not shouting at me.
I don’t have any but anecdotal evidence, so we might both be wrong here, but yes, it does seem as though those least financially equipped to have children are the ones bearing the most.
Conversely, those best ‘situated’, at least materially, are choosing to either postpone raising children or are not having them, at all.
On a personal note, although I have the material resources, I have never felt the need to have or raise children of my own. Should, may God forbid, dear friends of ours both die, we have already agreed to adopt their child. And this commitment, possible in our country though not yours, we would carry out with love and to the best of our ability. Otherwise, I limit my association to children to congratulating the occasional graduate student who becomes pregnant during her studies and permitting them to bring their babies and young children to evening seminars. This is something guaranteed to them by my country’s laws, but severely frowned upon by most of my colleagues.
And so, having noted agreement, I shall leave it at that. It is far too easy to drift away from the Deacon’s topic and indulge ourselves in the delight of hatred which the culture wars offer us. Thank you for not going down that road.
Pagansister, as always, I bow to your superior wit. My gut feeling is that the era of women having children, one after another, is done and gone. Now that they have the opportunity to chose, they do so. As a man, I don’t see that I have anything to say to them in the matter – were my husband suddenly to declare he wants children, I should do my best to make him happy. But adopting or even acceding to his biological reproduction would represent nothing comparable to the sacrifice which a woman brings, irrevocably to choosing to have a child.
Goodness, I still turn to my parents for advice and emotional comfort. Of course, that might just be my own personal lack of intelligence. Still, we are talking about a commitment of far more than one-half century to ones’ child.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 16, 2010 at 7:36 am


Pagan wrote: “I can understand a couple not wanting children. It requires time and money to raise a child. Some folks don’t care to invest in that, they are happy with each other and require no one else.”
I have to say that is perhaps the most distasteful line I have ever seen on this blog. It speaks volumes about the self-absorbed, self-centered world we live in today. It is all about me, no one else. It is only too bad that the parents of these “happy with other” folks didn’t feel the same way.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 10:03 am


Conservative said:
I have to say that is perhaps the most distasteful line I have ever seen on this blog. It speaks volumes about the self-absorbed, self-centered world we live in today. It is all about me, no one else. It is only too bad that the parents of these “happy with other” folks didn’t feel the same way.
end quote
Conservative, I do believe that is one of the truest expressions of your real belief you have ever written:
“It is only too bad that the parents of these “happy with other” folks didn’t feel the same way.”
This is precisely the face of Christianity which confronts far too many non-Christians and those of us Christians, like me, who don’t agree 100% with your viewpoint, Conservative.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 16, 2010 at 11:11 am


Panthera if you really believe what Pagan said you should take offense in what I said.
If married people are so self-absorbed and narcissistic that they don’t want to share that love with children or anyone else, they deserve each other.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm


Conservative,
I think you are missing an adverb in there, somewhere.
Or have we both finally reached agreement?



report abuse
 

Rick

posted June 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm


Is this really a surprising trend? I think Pope Paul VI predicted this type of social situation in Humanae Vita. Traditionally, the primary purposes of marriage was to have children and to transmit culture. The focus of relationships is now primarily personal happiness rather than family cohesion, parenthood, and cultural transmission. Convenient birth control, accesss to abortion, easy divorce, increased living together and gay marriage are all a part of the redefinition of marriage.



report abuse
 

Rick

posted June 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm


I don’t think couples opting to have fewer or no children really a surprising trend. The institution of marriage has been redefined considerably since the early 60s. Easy divorce, convenient birth control, increased access to abortion, increased incidence of living together, and gay marriage all partake of the idea that the purpose of marriage is personal fulfillment and happiness rather than the more tradtional view of bearing children and continuing the culture.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Except, Rick, in those countries and all the US states which grant gay marriage – divorce rates are lower than in those US states which do not grant gay marriage.
Please, let’s focus here on the point: Why are heterosexual marriages increasingly childless among middle-class and upper-class (especially white people).
Blaming my marriage for a straight couple choosing not to have kids is really not going to help matters.
Frankly, I would ask whether we might not have been spoiled by the post-WWII era. White, middle-class women had children in great number – and both the women and the children had unusually high survival rates.
Of course, in that era, a one-income family could live comfortably. Health insurance was available, but even where not, medical costs were relatively low.
Education spending in the US was very high, especially after 1958 and teaching the hard sciences was desired.
It was a good time to be optimistic and to bring children into the world.
Today, I am not so sure that it is really all that easy for a young couple to have children as it was then, not, at least, if they have concrete visions of raising the children in some degree of security.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm


“you should take offense in what I said” should have been “should not take” Thank you.
There are numerous factors why married couples are not having children. The marriage rate is way down, couples are marrying later in life, women are more career oriented than in the past, children are often an intrusion in people’s modern lifestyle etc etc etc.
Bottom line is that the concept of family is so different than it once was that sometimes children just don’t fit into the picture.



report abuse
 

Lynn

posted June 16, 2010 at 2:13 pm


Conservative,
I think maybe you’re slapping paint about with a 4 foot brush here. . . . Not wanting to have children is not necessarily self-absorbed and narcissistic. Some folks perhaps recognize that they might not make good parents. Perhaps there are health issues that bear on the question. Or work concerns that make parenthood not a good idea. Some folks simply don’t _like_ kids, which is a bit of a problem if you have full responsibility for them.
It can be a mature and _unselfish_ thing to decline to take on responsibility in these kinds of cases.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm


I agree with you, Conservative, as regards many people. Children are messy, smelly, loud, expensive and heart-wrenching.
They are also our future.
Now, speaking as a teacher, I do my poor best to encourage my students to make the best of their lives. Twice in the last decades, a young female student has asked me for advice – should she carry an unexpected pregnancy to term.
I have listened to them and then said: In dubio pro reo applies to court cases. I don’t see how it shouldn’t have congruence here. You wouldn’t ask my opinion if you were not willing to consider both sides. I think, when in doubt, do nothing. If you can’t keep the child, adoption is easily arranged.
Both kept their babies, though neither married the fathers. Probably wise, from what I knew of the young men, frankly.
What we need to do is to investigate what needs must be done to make motherhood and fatherhood desirable.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm


Well if two Catholics intend to marry in the Church they should be well aware of and are asked prior to marriage if they know that “one of the main purposes of marriage is to have children and raise a family”. In fact, saying you are open to children while knowing you don’t want children would be later grounds for an anullment.
If someone outright refused to being open to having children they could not get married in a Catholic ceremony.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm


panthera wrote: I agree with you, Conservative
I passed out when I read this. Anyone have smelling salts?



report abuse
 

maybelle

posted June 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm


My husband and I are in our 40’s with no children. I knew, as far back as high school, that I did not want children. I would have been an overprotective, nervous, emotional mother. When we were first married, my husband wanted children, but his view of parenthood was continual fun and games, literally, with little or no guidance and discipline. We were NOT fit to be parents.
In our church, if you’re married without children, you’re NOBODY. “Real Christians have kids” is the (barely) unofficial motto.



report abuse
 

Rick

posted June 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm


Panthera, sorry if I came across as blaming gay marriage for straight couples not having children. My point was that over the last several decades there has been a redefinition of marriage from being an institution primarily concerned with procreation and the continuing of culture. Easy access to divorce, contraception, abortion, and gay marriage are only examples of how marriage has been redefined as an insitution that should meet the needs of the adults in the marriage.



report abuse
 

EMS

posted June 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm


One long recognized reason people have children is to have someone take care of them when they can’t care for themselves any more. I’d love to know who’s going to care for all those “we don’t need kids” people when they get old. I’m currently changing my dad’s diapers, feeding him, taking him places, giving him his few meds, etc. In short, caring for him because he can’t care for himself until he dies. If you think a nursing home or retirement community will care for you the same way your child will, you’re living a fantasy. Even in the best nursing homes, unless there’s a family member taking an active and daily interest in your care, you’ll be shunted aside, stuck in a corner, ignored in dirty diapers because there are too many others in the place for the employees, many of whom get minimum wage, to really care about YOU. If you’ve never been in a nursing home, I suggest you visit one soon; it’s an eye opener.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm


Conservative, from what you wrote you feel that folks are always self aborbed etc. if they don’t want children. There are many women (yes women) who have no mothering instincts…having children someday is the farthest thing from their minds. I have a niece and her husband who have always known they didn’t want children…and 15 years so far, no kids. On purpose. Women aren’t necessarily born to want to reproduce. It isn’t a gender requirement…reproduction. There are, of course, other reasons too, for not wanting children and I’m sure some are for “selfish” reasons. As to the parents of those children who don’t want to “give them grandchildren”….those grandparents aren’t the ones who would be raising them (in most cases). That is the way it is. IMO anyone who doesn’t want children shouldn’t have them. The child would suffer in the long run.
Conservative, you mentioned that if a couple marry in the Catholic church that they are told that one purpose of marriage is to have children. My adopted son married a Catholic, in the Catholic church. They have had 2 children, 14 months apart. She left the church because she couldn’t accept the lack of approval for artificial birth control, and he had surgery so there will be no more. They are raising the children in a non-denominational Christian church…and are very happy. Her mother is still a Catholic, and when my daughter in law told her mother why she left, and she knew they had said they would “accept all children God” gave them” and weren’t going to do so, her mother said IHO, God would understand and wasn’t a bit upset. Her mother just wanted them to be happy, and had no problem with them raising the children in another church. They can’t afford more children…love the 2 they have, and are doing fine. My question sometimes for the RCC, is why would they consider it a requirement to have as many children as “God” gives them? Feeding and clothing them is rather important, and some folks can’t do that for dozens of children. My son couldn’t afford an “extra” child should she get pregnant accidently (which she won’t due to his surgery.) Would the RCC think she is condemned for their decision? I certainly hope not.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm


Rick,
No hu-hu. I get enough blanket hate on being a Christian who is married on any given day here to just assume the worst. It is not bad for me to occasionally be proved wrong.
Actually, what we regard as the eternal tradition of marriage, especially what American Catholics consider to be the eternal tradition is quite modern.
I have records of members of my family marrying back in the middle-ages. Recording their marriages was important because of their social stand.
At the same time, the most the average devout but poor or, forgive me, ‘commoner’, could expect was a priest’s blessing NOT the sacrament of marriage.
It simply was not considered important and, indeed, for someone not of the landed or noble class to insist on a church marriage was seen as giving themselves airs. Or worse.
My forefathers weren’t very tolerant of people being uppity.
Regarding the ‘traditional’ man=work, woman=Kirche, Kinder, Küche, this, too is a very recent phenomena, arising from the early industrial revolution. Were those conservative Christians who are convinced ‘traditional’ marriage was always based on the strict role models of the 1950’s to go back to Europe even three hundred years ago, they would be shocked, shocked I tell you at what ‘traditional’ role models actually were.
Marriage is an institution which serves multiple purposes. It should provide support for women and children. It should provide support for women past child bearing years.
It also is meant to pass along property. My brother declared long ago that he would take what ever legal steps necessary to strip my husband of my estate, should I die before him. No problem, we simply had citizenship and legal title transferred to tolerant Europe where he doesn’t stand a chance. Our marriage protects my husband.
Marriage also is a way of saying, very clearly – and words spoken in public matter – that I place Sèan above all other priorities in my life. He is my love, my husband. His interests are mine. I cleave to him, alone. Monogamy and faithfulness, love and being true are all key aspects of being married.
Yes, marriage today has a romantic basis. Is this a bad thing? I’ve been married since it became legal and we have been together for 27 years. I realise that same-sex marriage is in some ways easier than opposite sex – I know exactly what ‘the look’ means, whereas my straight male friends have not got a clue why bringing home flowers the day after the forgot their wife’s mother’s birthday resulted in their fishing rods ‘accidentally’ being lent to the kids to go rock fishing at the local quarry.
The question of contraception was very hotly debated by the Church some fifty years ago. It will, at some point, be again. Like it or not, even Irish couples now practice birth control. Nothing the Church does is going to put that genie back in the bottle. What needs doing is to have a discussion with all Christians about how to support young people, that they might desire children.
That is a dialogue we all need to have.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm


EMS,
May God bless you. We now split our time between Europe and the ‘States because of our parents’ situation. Not as dire as yours, but we will not permit them to spend their last years being cared for by the best money can buy…but not their children.
It’s a rough road and I will pray for you.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm


EMS:
What you are doing with your father isn’t easy, and I admire you for doing so. I have visited nursing homes, so I know what your are saying. However, there really is no guarantee that children or a child will take care of their parents. So honestly, to have a child or children in the expectation that they will take care of you in your old age….not a reason, though in some cultures it still is one of the reason for children.
Panthera:
My superior wit? Thank you…
What do you teach, if I may ask? Grad students?



report abuse
 

Rick

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm


“My question sometimes for the RCC, is why would they consider it a requirement to have as many children as “God” gives them? Feeding and clothing them is rather important, and some folks can’t do that for dozens of children.”
The Church agrees that planning is important–but they recommend the use of natural family planning not artificial family planning. I think “accept all children God gives” refers to not having an abortion as a way to deal with unplanned pregnancies. Planning and spacing with natural family planning is not an issue.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm


pagansister, I teach fair to middlin’, at best.
Thanks for asking.
Graduate students and undergrads, several disciplines within the natural sciences. Like many foreign language teachers, I am certified to teach English. I fear my students end up writing the language with the same spelling errors as do I.
Last semester, I taught the equivalent of Logic 101. That was fun, especially as I was constantly being reminded here of my inability to reflect or even cogitate, much less form a rational argument.
My parents’ needs resulted in my officially resigning from my chair a few years ago. I now teach part-time, mainly graduate seminars, as the situation increasingly arises that I must fly to the ‘States at a moment’s notice.
One of the greatest injustices done to gays by many Christians is the assumption that we seek to destroy the family. This, from people who actively work to destroy our families.
Back to the topic at hand: I fail to understand the logic in permitting natural (‘Vatican Roulette) birth control while forbidding other forms. Either one holds oneself open to conception all the time or one does not. Can someone explain the difference to me?



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm


Rick:
With the best of intentions, NFP isn’t pregnancy proof. There have been many children born because the “timing” was wrong. Also if a woman has irregular periods…more problems. If indeed the church has no problem with spacing and planning, then why not allow the artificial prevention methods? Same result…no pregnancy. If a couple is married for a very long time, NFP has to be used for many, many years…there have been a lot of menopause babies. I know that there are many RC who use artifical birth control, and have no problem with being faithful Catholics. They just know that they can safely plan their children and stop when they are ready.
Panthera: 27 years? That’s great!



report abuse
 

rick

posted June 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm


Pagansister, you’re right it isn’t pregnancy proof–no method is. You asked why the Church doesn’t allow for planning. My point is, the Church does allow for planning and does not expect couples to just leave pregnacy in God’s hands.



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm


Pagan wrote “I know that there are many RC who use artifical birth control, and have no problem with being faithful Catholics.”
I don’t quite follow that statement as it is a contradiction in terms. They are not faithful Catholics if they are using artificial birth control. The key word is “artificial”–that is the difference between that and NFP or God forbid–abstinence. Why any woman would be on the pill these days is beyond me anyway. Every commercial for them lists the side effects which are quite scary. A recent story of an actress suing Bayer because she had a stroke was all over the news.
I don’t claim to know what “God would understand” as your son’s mother-in-law seems to, but I do know that if God gives the privilege to a husband and wife to bring a life into the world they should at least be open to it. “Be fruitful and multiply” I think the Bible says.



report abuse
 

Rick

posted June 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm


The Church teaches that use of birth control, racisim, hatred for gays and lots of other behavior is sinful. Lots of “faithful Catholic” engage in those behaviors. That doesn’t make those behaviors any less sinful. It makes those Catholics sinful and in need of forgiveness. Faithful Catholics sin too–most of them several times a day.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 16, 2010 at 7:57 pm


Conservative: Contradiction…the purpose of NFP (AKA Birth control)is to NOT to have a baby and the purpose of “artificial” birth control is to NOT to have a baby….what difference does it make how that prevention is accomplished? It doesn’t. As to the pill,…there are other methods. I’m of the first pill generation and I had no problems. Obviously there are those women for whom the pill isn’t a good idea, but that is true of any RX one takes. Contradiction when I state that those who use unapproved birth control and they still attend Mass? They obviously don’t think they are “sinning”. Being fruitful and multiplying is over-rated. Not always good advice for married folks or unmarried folks for that matter. :o)
BTW, abstaining in a marriage? Thought that was supposed to be for unmarried folks.
We’re obviously not going to agree, your beliefs won’t let you. I won’t change my ideas when it comes to a woman’s right to procreate, or not. IMO, NFP doesn’t cut it for reliability for as much as 35 maybe more years of marriage.(depending on when a couple marrys).



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 16, 2010 at 9:36 pm


Panthera: Thanks for the info. I think I’d like to be in one of your classes. One more question, if I may. You have mentioned that your parents are in the “deep South” of the USA. I have spent most of my life there…Alabama mostly, but NC, as well as Florida (which really isn’t a deep south state). Which deep south state are your parents in? Mine lived in AL. from 1956 to 2005 (when my Dad died).Mom died in 2002. Right now, I’m in RI…so not deep south. One of my 2 sisters still lives in AL, so I’m there often. I know you live overseas, with your husband.
We totally agree as to what the difference is supposed to be in Russian Roulette AKA , NFP and “artificial” birth control? All I can see is that there is more chances for conception with the “natural” method (thus making more children) than there is with artificial methods.
Still haven’t figured out how same gender couples have any effect on the male/female couples and their lives. It’s such nonsense.



report abuse
 

romancrusader

posted June 17, 2010 at 12:25 am


Paganister,
Your ignorance is showing. NFP is, quite simply, about tracking the woman’s fertility using different signs (the Billings method is another one), then you can use that information either to achieve or prayerfully avoid a possible pregnancy by timing when you have sexual intercourse. Farthermore, it is not only used to prevent conception. Many people seeking to conceive use the methods of NFP to predict ovulation. Many people seeking to live a natural life style also use it.
NFP is uplifting because it is the only method of family planning that gives us the potential to work with rather than against our own bodies and God’s design.
There is no magic number of children one must have. Couples have to pray and use common sense to determine that. I can have ten children and still sin by using contraception. Conversely, someone who has had a vasectomy is still capable of great holiness.
There’s a difference between NFP and contraception Paganister and Panthera:
Consider this, NFP and contraception are both methods of birth control. Birth control is just the spacing & planning of children.
The Church does not teach birth control is immoral. The Church teaches that contraception is an immoral means of birth control. Big difference.
Why?
Each marriage act (act of sexual intercourse) must be unaltered before, during, or after the act. No action may taken to alter the act because each act must be objectively unitive and procreative in order to be authentic and properly ordered as God designed.
Subjectively that particular act may or may not be procreative. For example, if someone is naturally infertile due to time of the month, post-menopause, already pregnant, etc, then an unaltered act of intercourse is objectively procreative but subjectively does not result in conception.
How does NFP meet this criteria? In NFP each marital act is objectively unitive and procreative. If you have reason to avoid pregnancy you *do not engage in the act*. That respects the objective elements that must be present in every act.
How does contraception fail to meet this criteria? When contracepting a couple engages in the marital act while simultaneously altering the act to nullify it’s procreative element– either before, during, or after the act. Before– sterilization, Pill, sponge, diaphram, condom, IUD. During– withdrawal, masterbatory acts that don’t culminate in intercourse. After- morning after pill, abortion. All of these things alter the act either in anticipation of, during, or after.
NFP says: Don’t want to become pregnant at that time? Abstain and respect the act as God created it because we and the act serve God. Engage in the act when the woman is naturally infertile and never alter the act.
Contraception says: Don’t want to become pregnant? Have sex and mutilate the act because the act serves *us*.
NFP is not an alterative to contraception, it’s an alternative to complete abstinence.
For more, go to http://www.omsoul.com and pick up some of their resources, especially the Contraception Why Not CD by Janet Smith.



report abuse
 

romancrusader

posted June 17, 2010 at 12:28 am


NFP and contraception are both methods of birth control. Birth control is just the spacing & planning of children.
The Church does not teach birth control is immoral. The Church teaches that contraception is an immoral means of birth control. Big difference.
Why?
Each marriage act (act of sexual intercourse) must be unaltered before, during, or after the act. No action may taken to alter the act because each act must be objectively unitive and procreative in order to be authentic and properly ordered as God designed.
Subjectively that particular act may or may not be procreative. For example, if someone is naturally infertile due to time of the month, post-menopause, already pregnant, etc, then an unaltered act of intercourse is objectively procreative but subjectively does not result in conception.
How does NFP meet this criteria? In NFP each marital act is objectively unitive and procreative. If you have reason to avoid pregnancy you *do not engage in the act*. That respects the objective elements that must be present in every act.
How does contraception fail to meet this criteria? When contracepting a couple engages in the marital act while simultaneously altering the act to nullify it’s procreative element– either before, during, or after the act. Before– sterilization, Pill, sponge, diaphram, condom, IUD. During– withdrawal, masterbatory acts that don’t culminate in intercourse. After- morning after pill, abortion. All of these things alter the act either in anticipation of, during, or after.
NFP says: Don’t want to become pregnant at that time? Abstain and respect the act as God created it because we and the act serve God. Engage in the act when the woman is naturally infertile and never alter the act.
Contraception says: Don’t want to become pregnant? Have sex and mutilate the act because the act serves *us*.
NFP is not an alterative to contraception, it’s an alternative to complete abstinence.
For more, go to http://www.omsoul.com and pick up some of their resources, especially the Contraception Why Not CD by Janet Smith.



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted June 17, 2010 at 1:35 am


Pagansister,
They’re outside of Atlanta by a good spell. As a child, I loved to visit the South. Today, I have come to see it as the source of most evil in America.
We should have split in 1852 and let economics bring the ra cists to their knees.
I’d rather learn from you – you’re much brighter than me, but thanks.
Romancrusader said:
Subjectively that particular act may or may not be procreative. For example, if someone is naturally infertile due to time of the month, post-menopause, already pregnant, etc, then an unaltered act of intercourse is objectively procreative but subjectively does not result in conception.
endquote
OK, I have read some interesting twists in logic, but this one doesn’t make sense. If one has sex, knowing that conception is not possible, then the act is prima facie not procreative. Would you care to explain the reasoning behind this?



report abuse
 

Conservative

posted June 17, 2010 at 7:30 am


Deacon Greg,
How long will we have to put up with the contentiousness of some of the posters here? It seems they are here simply to goad others, not to learn. They are not interested in Catholicism any more than I am in paganism.
If Catholics say white, they say black. Every time someone tries to explain the Church’s teaching, they counter back. What is the purpose of this?
I thought this blog was to have reasonable discussions about the faith. More time is spent here fighting back against the criticisms, mockery etc. of God, the church and its teachings.
Frankly I don’t see any purpose continuing to even look at it anymore.



report abuse
 



Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.