Rebel Without an Issue
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., on Married Couples Who Won’t Have Children
Joe and Deb Schum aren’t worried about baby-proofing their house or buying a car seat. They don’t intend ever to have children. As a matter of fact, they are proud of their childlessness. According to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The Schums are part of a growing number of couples across the country for whom kids don’t factor in the marriage equation.”
The nation’s birthrate fell in 2002 to a historic low of 66.9 births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44. That represents a decline of 43 percent since just 1960. “Many childless couples,” according to the report, “revel in their decision, despite badgering from baffled mothers and friends. Others struggle with the choice before keeping the house kid-free.”
The Schums just don’t want kids to get in the way of their lifestyle. They enjoy cruising to the Georgia mountains on their matching Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They love their gourmet kitchen, outfitted with the very latest stainless steel appliances and fashionable countertops. Deb Schum explains, “If we had kids, we would need a table where the kids could do homework.”
This pattern of childlessness has caught the media’s attention. The left-wing Internet site Salon.com actually published a series of articles entitled, “To Breed or Not to Breed,” featuring couples and individuals who have decided that children are not a part of their chosen lifestyle.
One woman wrote that motherhood just doesn’t fit her self-image or her schedule. “I compete in triathlons; my husband practices martial arts; we both have fulfilling careers; we travel the world . . . we enjoy family and friends; we have a fun, intimate relationship.” Another woman asked: “What would the return be on the investment? Are there any laws that would require my children to pay for my nursing home when I am old? Are they going to be a sufficient hedge against poverty and loneliness?”
Some who have chosen to be childless have actually formed organizations in order to band together. The group “No Kidding” was formed in Atlanta four years ago as a social outlet for couples choosing to have no children.
Traci Swartz, an occupational therapist in her 30s, joined “No Kidding” with her husband, Jeremy, a 32-year-old computer analyst. “When you don’t have children, you are not involved in any activities like a lot of other people, like soccer and ballet,” Traci said. She explained that “No Kidding” members are more likely to talk about pets, travel, or other common interests. Kids rarely come up. “People think we sit around and talk about how we hate kids, but we almost never mention kids,” Traci explained.
Another woman in the group explained, “You focus those motherly feelings elsewhere. For us, our dogs get all that love.”
Legal fights over apartment complexes and other accommodations come down to the claim that adults ought to be able to live in a child-free environment. Others claim that too much tax money and public attention is given to children, and that this is an unfair imposition upon those who choose not to “breed.” (Animals breed. Human beings procreate and raise children to the glory of God.)
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky (www.sbts.edu). He writes a weblog (www.albertmohler.com) and hosts a daily radio program for the Salem Radio Network.
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