October 26, 2005

Population and Family Planning

I've been reading a bit on the issue of population and family planning, related to the recent event of putting humans in the London Zoo, so that humans could be viewed in their "natural habitat". Isn't the natural habitat actually that of the sidewalk outside the cage, however? I mean, how many people are naturally "in the zoo", rather than going "to the zoo"? So, the curator of the zoo is actually just putting his prejudicial point of view, that of humans being just another ape, and being "a plague species", on full display.

And I've noticed that phrase, "a plague species", or something similar used by a lot of spokespersons in the radical environmental and Deep Ecology movements. While lip service is made to the "inherent worth" (see #1 in the Deep Ecology platform here) of human beings, they are not treated as a rational, reasoning individual, but rather as a resource-consuming animal. Indeed, human overpopulation is treated as a threat to the well-being of other species with no justification whatsoever, just an ipso facto assumption by the platform's author.

Here's what I currently think on the subject, which I'll fill in with more posts later: There is no overpopulation crisis. The dire predictions of The Population Bomb never came true and never will as they are based on an erroneous belief, that humans cannot think and act rationally in their own self-interest. While there is a (unrealized and unknown) limit to how many people we can feed, our resourcefulness and productivity have served us so far and will continue to for a long time to come. With declining fertility rates now the norm, it is likely that whatever real crises threatened by population growth have already been answered, possibly being replaced by problems with a population implosion. A much better predictor of how much food people have to eat is to consider what type of government they live under. People who live in free countries are much better off than those who live under tyranny. Efforts by governments to implement family planning programs, where family sizes are regulated by law, are not compatible with respecting the unalienable human rights of life and liberty.

UPDATED Wednesday evening:
Related links to the London Zoo story:
The original news item

The "human zoo" shows eight humans prancing around wearing nothing more than fig leaves to cover their intimate areas. The exhibitionís intent is to show the basic nature of human beings and their impact on the animal kingdom.

"We have set up the exhibit to highlight the spread of man as a plague species and to communication [sic] the importance of manís place in the planetís ecosystem," the zoo said.

My view: The presence of the zoo in London, rather than the presence of humans in the zoo, is a much better testimony of the impact of human beings on the animal kingdom. Putting humans in zoos only shows the impact of human beings on other human beings, unless they feed the humans meat.

Then there's that misanthropic "plague species" reference which makes me cringe every time I hear it. Here's a clue why: I wouldn't want to be alone with a dog in a burning building if this guy was the fireman responsible for saving my life. There are times when it is responsible to put human beings first, and calling humans a "plague species" doesn't lead me to believe this person is aware of them.

And that last statement, "to communication the importance of manís place in the planetís ecosystem" - what's that supposed to mean (even ignoring the bad grammar)? showing the importance of man's place in the ecosystem by removing them from any contact with science and technology? Rubbish! Man's place in the planet's ecosystem is established, for good or for ill by our use of science and technology. What the zoo is actually doing by putting these people in a cage is denying the importance of man's place in the planet's ecosystem.

Other links:
Commentary by Debra Saunders
Commentary from LifeSiteNews.com (quotes G.K. Chesterton!)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

The Rev. Albert Mohler criticizes the "Double Income, No Kids" phenomenon

In Touchstone magazine, R. Al Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Association, discusses the practice of married couples intentionally choosing childlessness, Rebel Without an Issue.

An excerpt which mirrors my own thinking:

Scripture does not give couples the option of choosing childlessness. To the contrary, in the biblical revelation God commands us to receive children with joy as his gifts, and to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are to find many of our deepest joys and satisfactions in the raising of children within the context of the family. Those who reject children want to have the joys of sex and marital companionship without the responsibilities of parenthood. They rely on others to produce and sustain the generations to come.

To which I add: My growth as a Christian has been greatly influenced by our adoption of Rebecca (having been unable to have children via childbirth, we have adopted instead). Being forced to live for another person, who I love not just because I want to but because her life literally depends on it. It's a whole different perspective. My selfishness is exposed and being peeled away, slowly but surely. My life is not my own, nor are our lives as husband and wife our own. As a couple who are now one flesh, we together have encountered the privilege and responsibility of "passing it on". And regarding how we influence this world, for most of us, our works end with our time. What we gather in life is scattered to the wind when we pass away. The only lasting influence we will have on this earth will be through our descendants. In effect, what people who choose childlessness are saying is, "What I do, what I believe in are not important. When I pass away, there is nothing for which I want to be remembered here." The Psalmist says:

Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish,
And leave their wealth to others.
Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever,
Their dwelling places to all generations;
They call their lands after their own names.
Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain;
He is like the beasts that perish.

Do not be afraid when one becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.
Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They shall never see light.
A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
Is like the beasts that perish.
Psalm 49: 10-12,16-20 NKJV

If one wants to leave a godly legacy on this earth, there is no better way to do so than to have children, teach them to love God, and teach them to teach their children to love God as well. Psalm 78 is a serious (and long) reminder to us that we should not neglect to do the latter as well.

Related links:
Contraception: A Symposium, featuring J. Budziszewski and R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

And, in a previous issue of Touchstone, a link to the article on which Amy and I have decided to base our sex-and-marriage teaching, Designed for Sex by J. Budziszewski.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:24 PM | Comments (3)

September 14, 2004

Wedding Anniversary

Ten years ago, on September 17, 1994, Amy and I were married. I'm going to take the rest of this week off the blog so I can focus on some work issues (dealing with this thing, which I have to help prepare for automated software distribution) and take Friday off to take Amy to dinner and a Broadway show in New York City.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2004

China, abortion, and choice

People holding a pro-choice viewpoint often talk with praise of China's one-child per family policy. I've always thought that policy was hideous - what business does a government have telling people how big a family they must have? A long time ago, I heard a talk (at a Unitarian church no less, but a very small, libertarian one, the kind they don't have anymore) about family planning, and the speaker said population growth wouldn't be a major problem because population growth would stabilize before Paul Ehrlich's predictions (in The Population Bomb) would come true. This has indeed occured; none of Ehrlich's predictions of catastrophe caused by overpopulation ever came true, and population growth has slowed. In other words, people would solve the problem themselves, without any tyrannical government interference. I thought the speaker had a good point. Trust the people.

Here are two comments I've read on the Internet recently about China and their one-child policy:

China's Missing Women, by Wendy McElroy, for ifeminists.com. McElroy discusses the unintended consequences of China's policy, and how such consequences always arise whenever government tries to control how people behave.

The Forgotten Women, by Steven Ertelt, in National Review. Ertelt criticizes the pro-choice movement for supporting a program which denies choice to its women.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

On Marriage

From Christianity Today, an essay on the weakening state of marriage: A Crumbling Institution, by David P. Gushee.

And a news item on how the Michigan Board of State Canvassers has removed a voter-referendum on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage from the ballot. Their reasoning? The proposed constitutional amendment might be unconstitutional! Imagine reading this later this year: November 10, 2004: Michigan Supreme Court declares constitutional amendment on marriage to be unconstitutional....

But seriously now, this is good evidence to me that our fight is not "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness" (Eph 6:12 NKJV). I can't imagine a decision like this coming down from people who respect the rule of law. This board has an agenda and they're not going to let something such as trivial as "the democratic process" overrule it.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:27 PM | Comments (3)

August 07, 2004

Fathers & Families

In yesterday's online Christianity Today, an interview with W. Bradford Wilcox, who challenges stereotypes of evangelical fathers as authoritarian and abusive.

Journalists such as Steve and Cokie Roberts and Christian feminists such as James and Phyllis Alsdurf have argued that patriarchal religion leads to domestic violence. My findings directly contradict their claims.

Domestic violence is an important problem in our society, but we should not confuse the matter by blaming conservative religion. The roots of domestic violence would seem to lie elsewhere.

These stereotypes, and my rejection of them, had a role in my life. When I turned my back on Christian faith after college, I started believing people who claimed that the Christian family was an abusive institution. Don't know why I did, I just fell for it, even though no evidence was ever given to prove it. Years later, when I began to feel like I needed a new source of strength for my family, I had to confront that stereotype. When I questioned it, asking for evidence, no evidence was found. The idea that Christianity causes domestic violence is just a liberal cliche.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2004

Redefining Marriage Away

David L. Tubbs and Robert P. George, in City-Journal, Redefining Marriage Away.

Marriage used to mean loving one person, forsaking all others. Will it mean the same if homosexual unions are called marriages? The authors argue, no, it won't.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2004

Fathers & Leaders

Maggie Gallagher, interviewed by Christianity Today, on Raising Up Fathers.

I like this quote, and it's very similar to that statement from Spiderman 2, by Aunt Bea, about heroes sometimes having to give up their dreams:

The reality of family life is that men have to really give quite a lot to women and to children in order to make things work. They have to give up a lot of autonomy, give up a lot of the power to do whatever they want whenever they want. They have to give up lots of income and their mission in life.

Both men and women are happier and more effective if men see this as a manly role. Most commonly, it's a ceremonial titleóit's an indication that this man has agreed to take responsibility for this family. And I think men need to be honored and supported in that. But if you use the idea of headship as a reason to believe you should get your way in family life, you've missed the whole point.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2004

Thoughts on Marriage

One thought expressed in the debate about homosexual "marriages" is that opponents have no moral standing to criticize it since society has become tolerant of divorce and infidelity. That argument doesn't hold water. Just because we don't attain to ideal standards doesn't mean we can't respect them. Besides, many people who are opposed to the same-sex "marriages" are also opposed to divorce and infidelity, so they are certainly authorized to speak out without any taint of inconsistency. Organizations like Marriage Encounter work within churches to strengthen families providing support for married couples, showing that there are people who are not giving in on the issue of marriage break-ups. In today's OpinionJournal, Dale Buss provides evidence that religious counseling prevents divorce.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 06:01 AM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2003

Wintertime reviewed

Saw a play at Princeton's McCarter Theater last night, and did it ever upset me. An all but pornographic portrayal of entertwined relationships, with absolutely no moral content. Love presented as something you want, then get, and then lose, with lots of fist-pounding, door-slamming, and china-throwing angst thrown in, to the point that Amy actually thought they were making fun of the principle. Amy's probably right in her opinion, but by that point, it was too late. It was too late for me after the scene where I thought there might finally be some morally redeeming content when the husband says to his wife that life is more than just pursuing sex, that faithfulness is a requirement for a full life, and then his male lover comes in to complain about his lack of fidelity in their homosexual relationship (followed by apologies, hugging, and a man-to-man kiss).

I left at the intermission, it was so awful. Amy's mom, who works as an usher there, tells me the second act wasn't any better, with the actors mooning the audience (literally), and the play culminating in everyone settling in with their illicit lovers, everyone that is, except the husband mentioned above, who apparently must be punished by the modern playwright for his sin of moral thinking, even though he had no moral character to back it up.

More and more, I get the impression that the art elites in Princeton are shoving garbage out, calling it art, and expecting people to like it because it's advertised as being art. Am I close-minded? By their standards, yes; but they have no respect for the value of my life either. They just expect unintelligent people to bow down before the altar of art. I refuse to do that. My mind and body belong to some One greater than this.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

The Social Justice of Defending Marriage

Also from the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Erik Nelson's commentary: Why Defending Marriage is Social Justice.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2003

Latest spiel from Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is calling October "National Family Sexuality Education Month"

On the surface this looks perfectly fine, and I do believe that parents should talk to their children about sex, but it's rather strange coming from a group calling for children to be able to get an abortion without telling their parents. This has almost as much irony as the poster contest, where a child had to have a parent's permission to submit a poster to their poster contest. So PP - it's fine for parents to talk to their children about sex, but not after the fact, when a new human life is involved?

Looking at stuff like this bothers me in another way: while the word family is used (rarely), it is never used in the context of the child considering sex. There is never any concern with telling the child to wait until they are married and having a permanent family - no, the emphasis is on maturity alone, a moving standard, and unreliable, for someone considering such activity. No role for a dad at all, who may be as casual an acquaintance as a one-night stand who never meets or contributes to the raising of his child, just as long as the mom is mature enough, based on some vague standard of maturity.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 06:48 AM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2003

Marriage & Wisdom

Dennis Prager on how marriage hurts Democrats.

Mr. Prager puts the issue in partisan terms, saying that since married people are wiser and more mature, they will be less likely to vote for Democrats. Heh!

I agree, but the partisan nature of the argument doesn't have to be expressed to note that marriage and family does make people wiser. When a man takes a wife, he must be concerned for her well-being as well as his own. Whatever he did by instinct, or just determined self-reliance, is now extended to two people, and more when children come. Wisdom results.

I noticed this in my life too. Even when I was living in unbelief, I viewed my marriage as a beneficial event in my life. If I hadn't met Amy when I did, my life could have taken a very bad turn. In my Unitarian Universalist Congregation, with no standards for sexual integrity (except to leave children alone, and there are forces lining up to take that one down in the future), I don't know where I'd be today if not for the vows I made to Amy. I'd say it made me a lot wiser. Jump ahead seven years, and I'm wondering if I have what it takes to make the marriage last to a golden anniversary, and I have serious self-doubts. After a three-month struggle to repent of my resistance to God's call, I give in and give everything to Him. I'm wiser again.

I'll have to share more about this when our adoption is complete, but let me just say now that learning about Marriage and Family is starting to dominate what I pray about, what I think about when I read the Bible, and I can tell that God is working in my life here. I definitely believe that having children makes us wiser still, and I can see it in my life, though I have so much still to learn.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)