The always provocative Keith Drury has written a new article called How Dare You Have Eight Children! Despite the title, it’s not really about the “octuplet mom” in California. Drury is writing about a larger social trend in which having children is viewed as a purely personal choice and not as the natural outcome of the marriage relationship. In 1990 65% of the public agreed that “children are very important to a successful marriage.” By 2007 that number that dropped to slightly more than 40%. Having children is increasingly seen as an optional lifestyle choice.

Here are a few other noteworthy thoughts from his article:

*American life is changing so that children are less central to the lives of Americans. Marriage is undergoing a profound change and much of that change is shifting the focus away from children.

*More women are having no children at all—24% of college educated women have no children at all—ever. 

*The percentage of American households with children has dropped from nearly five out of ten in 1960 to slightly more then three out of ten today. Having children means you are in the minority.

*Parents are losing community support for funding of schools and youth activities. Voters are rejecting school budgets with the idea that children are not the responsibility of the childless adults.

*The expressive values of the adults-only world are at odds with the values of the child-rearing world. The new ethos is libertarian; its outlook is present-minded; its pursuits include the restless quest for new experiences; the preoccupation with youth and sex appeal; a denial of suffering, loss of finitude; and confidence in personal transformation through the make-over, the second chance and the new beginning. In short America is an aging society with an adolescent culture.

*We are in the midst of a profound change in American life. Demographically, socially and culturally, the nation is shifting from a society of child-rearing families to a society of child-free adults. 

Drury goes on to probe what all this means for the church. He wonders if we will not eventually adopt the attitude of the surrounding culture. Will ministries that focus on children and youth lose their importance in the church, being supplanted by ministries that focus on adults?

The article is well worth reading and pondering. It seems like cultural suicide to begin to care less about the next generation. Will the church follow suit and adopt a “children optional” approach or will we continue to proclaim that “sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3)?

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.