Meandering thoughts on why fundies have kids.

I had a dream the other night-- well, just before my alarm went off in the morning. I was dressed in a suit, with stockings and heels and sitting with a dozen other men and woman dressed the same. We were waiting for the next “class” to start, so we could finish up something or other. I was sitting next to an old friend from high school-- she had aged, changed into what my mind says she'd look like at 40. She was a Senior, back when I was in 8th grade, and we got along amazingly well; part of it was because we were both the “youngest kids in our class”, so she knew what it was like to be treated like every one's baby sister all the time. Ronna was a good friend and I sincerely hope she got out of the cult of IFB and has a fabulous life-- she was rather irreverent, and I loved her for it. Amidst that closed atmosphere we were both stuck in, she was a breath of critical thinking..

In my dream, Ronna turned to me and said, “So, after Armageddon, and all that, then they expect to be raptured and it's all over for them, right?”

There had been some buzz on the other side of her, so I guess in my dream those handful of people were talking about “end time” scenarios, or something.

I said, “Wait, what?”

“Our parents, evangelicals, how does that end time crap go?” She nodded over her shoulder, as though pointing to our parents.

“Oh, OK,” I said. “It goes like this: One day Jesus will come back in the clouds, and this gigantic horn will bleat and all his saints will float up into the air. Then seven years of anti-christ running the joint, with war and all that horrible shit. Then Jesus comes back with his faithful and they have an even bigger war against the anti-christ. Then everyone gets put into hell, and Jesus takes his favourite ones to heaven and everyone lives happily ever after singing to the guy who threw their loved ones in hell. It's shit, I tell you. Absolute shit.”

One of the guys sitting with us nodded, and said something about his parents explaining it to him and him hating the idea.

“Yeah, I actually asked my parents, why did you have me, if you believe this is going to happen, really freaking soon?! I mean, why have kids, and these evangelical ass holes have fuck tonnes of kids, if you think the world is so horrible that god is going to flush it down the cosmic toilet bowl any minute?” I turned back to my plate, as we were suddenly eating lunch.

Several people started talking at once, but most of them were saying, “yeah, I know what you mean” and “I have no idea, that's a good question!” One voice said, “It's not like they still need to 'be fruitful and multiply', now is it?”

Then the alarm went off, and I woke up... that sentence still ringing in my ears. I thought immediately to a letter that Seth read on his podcast a few weeks ago (link goes to the Thinking Atheist podcast list, I'm sorry I can't remember where in the archives I heard the letter!) from a person who wished she had died before she was 12. It went something like, “I found out that if I had died before I turned 12 I would have gone right to heaven, as I was still under the age of accountability. So I asked my parents why they hadn't just killed me while I was still guaranteed a place in heaven?” The only other thing I remember about the letter writer, is that she said she was depressed for years, and I know exactly how she feels.

So, that got me thinking, long before my brain usually kicks in. I mean, I started this thing before seven in the morning, so I didn't forget the dream dialogue. Why do people who are evangelical, or fundie, or end-times watchers/obsessed have children? If you really think the end is coming, and that the Rapture is imminent, as in “any time... now!” then why have kids? Aren't just about dooming them to have to deal with the aftermath, if you can't get them “saved and baptised” straight away? Plus, the fundies don't have infant baptism, they do that whole “dunking” thing when you're supposedly old enough to understand what you're doing, roughly aged 8 and up. I was 11, actually, when I was baptised, and had classed for several months before hand.

So, why would you have kids, if you believe with your entire being that the world will end in a fiery explosive war within the next couple of years. [41% think Jesus is coming back by 2050, 52% of people in the South believe this.] The poll was done in 2010 by Pew, according to the MoJo article... so this isn't something that was done and resurfacing fifty years later...

Again, why have children, if you think the world's ending?

I'm not exactly sure, if I am completely honest. But I have a couple ideas that I'm going to share. You can decide for yourself which of them are correct... I do think we can agree, however, that training your kid from infancy that someone is going to snatch their parents up at any moment and then the world will explode with war and pain and death is child abuse.

1. Be fruitful and multiply
OK, stop laughing now. I mean it! Stop laughing...
This one is first, because I have heard it the most! I only learned about quiver-fullers when I was an adult, but as a teen I babysat for a couple who “left their fertility up to gawd”. Everyone else in the church thought they were a little weird, I mean “god gave us birth control pills for a reason”... but they felt they were obeying their god by having child after child. They had four when I sat for them; the oldest of which was five years old. When we moved, she was pregnant, again. They were a baby-a-year family.

Seriously though, many christians believe that when Genesis records Adam and Eve being told to have babies it counts for them too. Same with Proverbs, some where in there it says something about the children of a righteous man being like “arrows in a quiver”... hence the quiverfull name. This means that if you're a christian, and of course the Right Kind of Christian ™ then god will bless you and keep an eye on you, because your kids will be more special than anyone else's kids... they will be your army of little baby christians, against that horde of freethinking atheists, or whatever. If you don't believe me, take a look at any of the quiver-fuller sits, I'd start by googling the Duggars... look at their stuff. They believe they're preparing an army to fight for god. Then, meander over to NoLonger Quivering, to see what happens to the women who escape this... many of them are broken and hurt.

2. They simply do not know better/have no other option
This one might be more common, but it's surely not spoken aloud. Most of the time, in fundie circles the girls and boys are married off as soon as legally possible, so they can start having babies. This is posited as a good thing, they're following god's way and blah, blah blah. But the kids have no idea there's more to life than “this honey staying home, while that honey goes to Bible College!” That is literally all they know. So they have sex, and who can blame them! It's fun!! But knowing nothing about contraception, or being too embarrassed to discuss it with their doctors, or whatever, they have children, early and often. Many times kids in Mormon colleges are going through this, too; he's there for an education, she's there for her MRS degree, and anything else that she gets is incidental.

In some cases, the woman wants more out of life, but is forbidden. When you're a fundie wife, and your husband says No, that's like the Cosmos shitting on your parade. He's the fucking king of the castle, and so no, means “No fucking way, are you stoned?!” Even if the wife doesn't want children straight away, she often has no choice; she has no contraception choices, doesn't know how to get them, and often can't say no to her spouse. Many of these people don't believe a woman has any right to her body, and cannot tell her husband no if he wants sex... so yes, they teach that marital rape does not exist, and that no man can rape his wife. This is patently false, of course, but how many of us needed to be told that, over and over before it sunk in? Now, imagine being completely isolated, friends with only those who think like, act like, and believe like you were taught?

3. God blesses them with children
I've found that missionaries say this the most; but most non-missionary christians also claim it [usually this is what's throw out there when they say they "don't believe in abortion, because God blesses you with children". Ugh!]

The way it works, is that they got married and decided to [bear with me here as I channel them from the olden days] “prayerfully let god lead them into the expansion of their family”. Usually this is done the first couple years that the couple is out missionary-ing, doing their thing to save the world from itself, and critical thinking. But I've heard your regular pew-warmer say the same thing, that some how god told them to have children, or more children, and so they felt like their kid was this huge blessing from heaven just especially for them. Cue the awwwws and "yes, god is so good" and instant level-up in their piousness and sanctification.

This also works for missionaries to claim that god's got their backs out there in the wilds of London, or wherever they are spouting their drivel-- they can claim they're blessed, see, see, god loves them, see, see, they have kids out there in the middle of South Gate! They'd never be able to get pregnant if god wasn't blessing them.

Wait, wait, wait, you say, that's not how pregnancy works!

You'd be right, it isn't. But that never stopped them from saying it, did it? The way it goes is, that “god opens and closes the womb”... you'll see that a lot in quiver-fuller circles, too. The idea is that their god has a fertility switch for every single woman on earth in his central command. So, they pray really hard and be really, really good girls, and god will switch their uterus on, and they'll be able to have babies! If they're not being good, and not praying, and not having enough faith, god will switch it off... Oh, and some times, he leaves it off, to “test” them... you know, make them grovel for long enough, and thoroughly enough before he decides they're really, really really good enough to have children.

The way they look at it, if god didn't turn on her uterus, then they wouldn't have kids... because no one ever got pregnant accidentally, god put that embryo there! It's eye-rollingly irritating to hear this, and I know it can be heartbreaking to people who want kids, but who have infertility troubles [also, the assumption is that it's always the woman's fault, if there's infertility... so 99% of the time if the man is physically the infertile partner, they never have children, because god must have shut off her uterus... I mean, he's the man, he'd never have trouble with his pecker! Women, however, are always defective... it's shit, I know, but it's so big that I won't fully unpack it today.]

4. That's just what you do when you're grown is have kids
This one goes back to number 2, but it's separate enough that I listed this one here. The idea is that when you're a christian and turn into an adult that it is literally just what you do: you marry and have children. This way, of course, you can “train them up in the name of the Lord” and all that. But it's just what you do.

I suppose free thinkers do this too: you grow up and go to college. Or you grow up and start your business; or you grow up and move to LA to act, or NYC to write your plays, or whatever it is you do... so I can't blame the kids who are force fed this idea. It's the normal progression of life for them. This doesn't mean they don't have other options, it means they don't realise they do... and if you don't know, then the option may as well not exist.

5. Growing the church
This one is the reason I think many of them do it-- if they were to consider the reason. They have children to bring those children to god, and make the church bigger. For religions like Roman and Orthodox Catholicism, that do not evangelise, this is the only real way to get more followers... they have to breed them.

However, many protestant groups, especially the fundie kind, tend to see this as a way of out-breeding us secular people and overrunning us with god's special, chosen ones. It is racist as all hell, as often it's a bunch of middle-class white people saying/believing this, and they're trying to out breed “those brown” people... but the idea is the same, no matter who's saying it.

Still, the kids are taught that they need to grow the church, in god's name and all that. So, if they've bought the buffet of religion, they're going to eat the shit of “have bay-bays for Jesus!!”

6. They feel the need to spread the religion in the same way they were taught
This one might be the worst of the lot... that's why I saved it for last. It's also the one that's the most difficult to explain so please bear with me. I'll try to edit this part to make it coherent, without losing the circular nature of this one. Trust me, it's all fucked up.

So, we're super-christians TM and we are almost adults. Our parents are pushing us to marry that preacher-boy, and he's kinda cute, so we figure “why not!” All four parents are happy, we're thrilled at being the centre of good attention, rather than the usually abusive, sin-filled harangue that we're usually at the centre of, and so everyone's happy. This may be the only time in our lives that we're completely, innocently thrilled to be alive.

Time passes, and we're more and more immersed in this religion. Our preacher-boy becomes a pastor or deacon, or whatever, and we are helping “grow a church”. Isn't that wonderful! Living in a fish-bowl, being the perfect christian wife, and all that because they really do busy-body each other to death; I cannot tell you how many times my mother and grandparents called up some teen's parents and told on the kid. It was "bad attitude this" and "against their testimony" that! They are modern-day puritans, and they do spy on each other, to keep them in line.

Chances are pretty good that we have internalised all the abuse, all the hate, all the invectives against critical thinking, and questions, and are a mindless drone, going through life full of doubts and self-hatred and terror that we're “questioning god”. This is a pretty normal state of affairs for most super-christiansTM that's why they're so nasty to everyone else, they're trying to silence that inner voice telling them they're not good enough.

It's worse if we've actually stuffed down our doubts and believe that stuff...then that inner hatred starts to come out, pointed at everyone, and everything that is "against god" or "not godly" enough.

So, we have children, and we were abused as kids, yelled at, preached to, beaten with sticks/belts/paddles, harassed and humiliated to keep us in line, whatever was "necessary" to keep us in line with some arbitrary shit they decided would make god happy, and now our kids are being naughty. Maybe they told us a lie-- kids do that; or maybe they're being “rebellious”, which is catch all for “not being perfect doll-like children who do everything I say like automata. Doesn't matter what they're doing, we've swallowed the line that we have to raise up our children, and so we punish them.

Then we preach at them, telling them that god doesn't like it when little children disobey their mummies, and that we don't want our beloved children to go to hell, so they have to obey god.

We've continued that circle of violence. We are abusers. We are our parents, our grandparents, our children. We are christians, and we are perpetuating those beliefs, one beating, one lecture, one rant that terrorised our kids at a time.

Abuse doesn't have to circle through the ages; but it usually does. If all you know, is A, B and C, you're going to teach that to your offspring. It takes real work to stop the circle, to refuse to abuse your kids. Most christian mothers don't have the willpower, because it was beaten out of them as children. I know my mother did her damnedest to beat the shit out of me and my sister, so we'd stop thinking for ourselves, and just do what the pastor, she and our future husbands told us to do. Often the beat-down woman will abuse her kids because she's terrified they really will go to hell if she can't get them in line; plus there’s that whole scandal that a “good christian mother” can't raise her kids properly, and we can't have that! It's a no-win situation for everyone, leading to more abuse, more self-hate and more children raised in such horrible environments.

This isn't to say that these people don't love their kids. They do, really they do.
They just love their book more-- their Jesus more-- their God, or interpretation of god, more. Therein lies the problem... they don't know how to love themselves.

What can we do about this?
Teach critical thinking to your kids!
They'll teach it to their peers at school...

Make your home welcoming, even to “those cultist kids”... because no kid ever chose to be in a cult-- their parents did.

Be honest, even if it's painful to your children. Tell them that yes, some people are stuck and yes, we should try to help them, even if they choose to remain in a religion, for some people there's no real choice... they would lose Everything!

Teach empathy. Teach your kids to have care for those who are different and to love them regardless.

And don't be surprised to hear some fundie kid ask, “Why did my parents have me in the first place?”

If you were a fundie kid, you probably asked yourself the same question. I know I did.

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