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Does Christianity Pressure You To Reproduce?


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I'm curious.  Did you feel pressured to get married young and start having kids?  Do you feel the the root of this pressure was due to Christianity/religion?

 

For me, I knew the bible said to be fruitful and multiply but personally, I never saw myself as a father growing up (I was fatherless and this probably plays a role) and I just didn't want that responsibility.  Fortunately, my family has long given up on the idea that we'll have children.  I've been married for 15 years and we've been fortunate there have not been any accidents.  But, I personally believe, many folks around these parts have had kids due to their religious upbringing and I'm not so sure they would have done so outside of that.

 

Sidebar: Outside of religion?  Do you feel it's your duty to have children?

 

I dunno, I'm all over the place on this subject but it interests me.  Thoughts? Opinions?

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I... felt less personal pressure to reproduce than there seemed to be in the subculture in general. There was also the weird gender segregation thing, where even college students act like the other gender has cooties, so no one really pushed me to date becuase that might tempt me into sin. By the time I got to the age where they'd start expecting people to marry, I wasn't in the College and Careers class (where they'd be more likely to try to get people to pair off) and in the singles class (with a lot of singles who were quite older than me and had gotten used to being single) or in the women's class (where they were too busy being "feminine" to push me into hanging out with boys). I also live in the midwest; on a vacation to Virginia once, the parents insisted we go to a local church for sunday school and the service, and they were way more into the whole making babies thing. So I suspect that some of it is regional.

 

No, I do not feel like I have a duty to reproduce. If there had recently been some huge disaster and we were facing a population bottleneck, then sure, I'd have kids for the sake of the human race. But we've got plenty of humans now, so it's not important for me to do so. I also have some mood disorder issues, and see similar (and often worse) issues with a lot of my mom's side of the family. So though I'm intelligent, which is partially genetic and thus maybe a good thing to pass on, I've got a lot of bad genes that the world could really do without. I'm also not in a very stable point in my life right now, so I feel an obligation to fix myself before I have kids. I don't want to pass my problems on to the next generation just because I think babies are cute or have a selfish desire to make a obligated-to-love-me little human (if I want a living being to show me that kind of love, I should get a dog instead of a child).

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The churches I've been to have taught that it's okay to be an eternal spinster, but I think it's more of a consolatory thing for the women who have had the strict 'only marry fellow church goers' taught to them and then found the pickings are rather thin.

I think the pressure I feel to spawn at some point comes from more my family's view of an ideal set-up being in-line with the church's rather than coming specifically from the church - that being settled in a conventional family unit with a husband to look after you all is the ideal. The church is the epitome convention in many ways after all.

Maybe the view of marriage and sex by the church also emphasises the expectation of breeding - that you get married so you can have sex, and while sex is allowed to be enjoyable it's main function is to create offspring at some point.

 

 

As to whether I think it's my duty now. Nahhh, I think having children is an honour and something that comes with a great deal of responsibility but I think the future of the human race will do just fine without my genetic contribution.

My reservations about having children are similar to VacuumFlux's, I have a history of depression in the family and I don't want to see my children going through the same thing as they grow up. However! Perhaps my boyfriend's (who I can see being my prospective breeding partner haha) infernal optimism would be passed on instead and in that case I think it would be a joy to see them grow up as I think together we'd balance each other out quite well as parents.

Not now though, I'm too busy.

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It's been said here before that religion indoctrinates and then teaches marriage early to secure its future.  It makes sense but it causes all kinds of fall-out for those who manage to escape the myth.  Getting married young was a good thing, and pretty much promoted without saying it and after marriage, it wasn't long (some immediate, some within a couple of years) before kids started appearing.

 

But we have things we'd do differently, don't we.  Just make the best of what you have.

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I'm curious.  Did you feel pressured to get married young and start having kids?  Do you feel the the root of this pressure was due to Christianity/religion?

 

Absolutely.

 

I was influenced by my own parents who married very young (my father was 18 and my mother was 16).  They had 7 children.  So to me, this was the normal thing to do.  The only other option I thought I had was to become a catholic priest, which was out of the question for me.  Staying single was considered a failure.  Shacking up was a sin.  Yeah, so marriage and kids seemed like the best choice.

 

I actually wanted to experience marriage and kids, so I never felt forced.  I didn't really want to take the VOWS though.  I always thought something was wrong with marriage vows.  How can you promise to love someone forever?  That doesn't make sense to me.  It's an outright lie.

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For me, God yes. Most of my family has married very young for that reason. When I was a teen, all I wanted was to fall in love and get married, and have four children. I had other career related ambitions, but the "selfless" thing to do was get married and be a mom, so that was my primary goal. As I got a little older and realized that marriage at 19 was going to be all wrong for me, and I actually didn't want to have children any time soon, my family still kept up the pressure. When I found myself single again in my early 20s instead of planning a wedding, close family members still asked me about every date. Is this The One? God must be testing you for something very special! It was unheard of that I wouldn't marry and have children. The idea that a woman could do anything else is still beyond their comprehension. For about 15 years I got very pointed comments about when I was going to have a baby, make my mom/dad a grandparent, give my husband a baby. Didn't I feel like something was missing? Didn't I understand that Cousin A or Cousin B had had three babies by the time she was 24, and was so happy with God's gifts?!

 

As I started to deconvert, and realized that my family would actually be happier and more supportive if I'd come home and announced I was pregnant (in or out of marriage) instead of coming home and announcing my long-term career goals, I started to see real links specifically in the way I'd been raised in Christianity and the sexist ideas my family unthinkingly accepted. 

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That's precisely what I'm referring to, Pantophobia.  It's so damn controlling.  Christianity's marriage and reproduction standards don't match up with the rest of society, in the sense that divorce for people married young, is extremely high.  Now you have kids in broken homes (let me tell you all about it).  It makes me so angry.

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Yeah. And I have a feeling my Lutheran in-laws will be sorely disappointed when they find out they're not going to have grandchildren. 

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Guest Babylonian Dream

I was pressured to have a wife and kids and live life as a heterosexual male. That was my entire purpose of life outside spreading the gospel I was taught from a very young age.

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One of the huge reasons my Christian ex-husband and I divorced was because of all the pressure that he and his family (including his extended family, because it was everyone's business) were putting on me to get pregnant. We got married young. Before we'd gotten engaged, I'd told him that I'd always been ambivalent about children, but thought it would be a good idea to have one or two after we'd finished our educations and started our careers. And he agreed that we would wait a few years before making a decision about when to start trying.

 

I feel like he totally pulled a bait and switch. Not even a year into our marriage, he was trying to sign me up for a Christian parenting group. Before engagement, we'd talked about getting a nanny, but he started saying that it was wrong for one parent not to be at home, and since the man was responsible to be the breadwinner than it had to be me. Being a stay at home parent is something I have never wanted to do. We were arguing about it constantly. I think Fundamentalism is so breederific because women who don't want to have kids or be stay at home parents end up ostracized. But even if I'd wanted ten children, I became fully aware that I wouldn't ever want to bring another person into Christianity and wouldn't want them to have a father and grandparents who tried to bully their mother into having them.

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Guest Hoseki

Since my parents and all the churches they chose to attend were very fundamental, the answer for me would be "yes." As a woman, that's basically all you prepared for. If you were female, you were to work in the nursery or with the older kiddies so that you could learn how to take care of kids. Most of us had to babysit our younger siblings for that reason. Your goal after a certain age was to "court" a guy, get married and pop out those babies. To make it worse, the parents whose children didn't have kids were looked down on, putting more pressure on my generation. Until my 20th year(I think), my dreams were to land that christian guy and make my parents happy.

 

Then, I got sick of all the conforming/lying to myself and decided to break away from all that pressure. Plus, I saw what all that rushing into a relationship and popping out a ton of children did to my mother, myself and my brothers. It caused a lot of pain and like someone else stated, a broken home. I do not wish to follow in those footsteps(despite my parents still thinking that is the optimal life for a godly woman). Nope, I'm not godly in any way, thanks. 

 

 I feel the opposite way about reproducing. I don't want to raise children and especially not making one of my own. I enjoy the freedom of being my own person, not tied to anyone else, free to fix my childhood issues and pursue my career. Besides, there are so many children who want to be loved and need homes. If I ever decided to take on the challenge, it would be helping someone who is already here. 

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I definitely felt a lot of negative pressure regarding contraception. I was actually told verbatim that taking the pill made me an abortionist of my own body.

 

When we had our first son we were unmarried (a long term household and a major gripe for our pastor's wife!) The same thing happened to very close friends of ours a year later but they got married before she was visibly pregnant- her mother told my partner that at least her grandchild wouldn't be a bastard.

...to his face while he's holding OUR son

...as if that makes her family better than ours

...as if that was a Christian way to talk yo anyone!

 

They're very liberal now and she's the same scary fundie she always was.

 

But we stopped at two children because we need to be financially responsible, and ecologically too.

It's good for them to have each other, but the planet does not need any more duggar style clans!

 

(Incidentally, i used to love that show :/ )

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Guest Hoseki

But we stopped at two children because we need to be financially responsible, and ecologically too.

 

 

That's awesome. You just gave me more hope for the world. :-)

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When I became involved with the mormon church they taught me that in order to get into the highest degree of heaven you need to be married in the temple to another mormon and have a family. I remember telling some missionaries that I already have one child and I don't want to have a wife and they said, "Its a comandment from god to have a family." when I asked where in the bible it was a comandment they showed me the part in genesis that said go forth and multiply.

 

The sad thing about the mormon faith is that choosing to be single results in being cut off from the highest degree of glory, (spending all eternity with god) so you will find many mormons getting married for the same reasons christians pretend to love god, FEAR.

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So much of this is why I openly identify as a feminist: I've seen how these male-dominated institutions work to keep women subservient breeders without choice (or with an illusion of choice) in their lives. The idea that my worth as a human is based on how many kids I have is insane, but it is a cornerstone of most Christian churches. Every time one of my cousins would get pregnant (be it the one who married at 18, or the one who was having her third kid with as many fathers at 24), my family would start planning baby showers and gushing about how this is "another wonderful new life!" Today, most of those "wonderful lives" have been placed in foster care, or are being raised by aging grandparents. "But ___ really loves her kids!" my family will insist, as she sits proudly at Baby Shower #5, gushing, "I love being a mom! I could have a dozen!" without mentioning the elephant in the room. Make that the elephant in foster care. 

 

The biggest falsehood is that being a mom is the "most selfless thing a woman can do." No. It's not. It's actually the most unbelievably selfish act a person can commit. Yet the girls and women in my family, and a lot of the boys and men, too, think they should get free passes on everything because they have kids. I've been told repeatedly that I will never understand ___ because I'm not a mom. Or that ____ is beyond criticism because they are "just trying to be good Christian parents!" So mentioning that spankings are actually mentally harmful based on my academic experience with childhood cognitive development is ridiculous speculation, but Cousin A "whoopin' her kid's butt" is perfectly reasonable because "she is just trying to do what she believes is right" is beyond reproach? 

 

Now you know why I live 6000 miles away!

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Yes, the pressure is there and it is so much a part of fundamentalist Christianity. I was so indoctrinated I didn't even realize what was happening to me. I never had any real desire for children, but of course the pressure was on to help in the nursery and babysit.  I never liked these activities. Yet I ended up married for 6 years with two stepchildren and a husband who nearly ran me crazy- I still have bad dreams about this period of life. Why the heck would I think that would ever work? The only answer I can imagine is heavy Christian indoctrination.

 

My parents are very disappointed in me - divorced and without God. What a tragedy.

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Back in the 1970s this had mostly gone away. Most people, even Christians, of my parents generation had 3 children, and most people who grew up in the 70s had 2, and people were waiting longer to marry. I married at 21 (in 1981), which seemed really young at the time, but my wife was 26. Now it seems that marrying at 18 or 20 is common and people are having 4 or more kids, with no consideration of how they're going to pay for it. I just don't get it, and I didn't get it when I was a Christian, either.

 

The 1970s were such a hopeful time! Racism seemed to be going away. Everyone could go to college for a reasonable price. Then the 1980s saw a total reversal. I think part of it was because the evangelicals believed that Jesus was going to return before the decade was over, so fundamentalism had a huge resurgence. But he didn't show up, so why didn't it die out?

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It's interesting to me that so many female deconverts here are either childfree or very conscientious about limiting the number of children that they have. I'm sure that's not a coincidence. I think that there are two major factors - first, as mentioned before, that not following the Christian lifescript makes a woman somewhat isolated from the church, which can be a big motivator in realizing that Christianity isn't working. Second, having kids seems to pull people back into the church. It can be a supportive atmosphere for people who follow all the rules and a lot of people have the vague idea that church is good for children.

 

Were any of you actually Quiverfull or part of a Quiverfull group? My ex-SIL was QF.

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I was being encouraged to marry before I left my church aged 19. There was one family with 8 children, but I think they had this many for personal, rather than religious reasons. A couple of families had 4, but most were 2-3. There was no pressure at that time to have a large family. But many of my old friends now have 4 or more children. I think things must have changed and pressure may have built for people to have large families since I left. I can't be sure as I have little contact with them any more. But pressure seems the only reason for so many families to choose such large families.

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Selfish? The idea that you are doing something selfLESS by having children is mindboggling. What could be more selfish than bringing children into the world because you want them, and then convincing yourself that it's a great generosity?

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My wife was given grief when she realized that after our daughter was born she didn't plan on having more because she started to feel the effects of Fibromyalgia. Her female friends would tell her she was being selfish. I told her to tell them..."I will if you carry them and give birth to them". After a few rounds of that response, they finally shut up.

If she didn't want more, and you didn't want more, then how was she being selfish? If she didn't want more and you had insisted (hypothetically... I know you didn't do that), then it would have been you being selfish, not her. So how, exactly, did her friends think it was selfish of her? Were her parents or yours begging for more grandchildren? If so, then the parents were being selfish, not your wife.

 

Oh, or did they think that god wanted her to have more? Well, then that's different! Everybody knows that it is god who opens and closes the womb! There's where Catholocism has crept into the Protestant churches.

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I never felt any pressure at all, either to marry or to reproduce.  I was the third of four children, and the last to marry.  My siblings were married and parents by the time I married.  My family was pleased when I married and pleased when we had babies.  No one ever said a word about it beforehand, though, unless it was one of my wife's sisters asking my wife if we planned to do so.

 

My parents are Christians, but not fundies by any means.  Same with Sandy's folks.  They all know that we are not religious.

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So much of this is why I openly identify as a feminist: I've seen how these male-dominated institutions work to keep women subservient breeders without choice (or with an illusion of choice) in their lives. The idea that my worth as a human is based on how many kids I have is , but it is a cornerstone of most Christian churches. Every time one of my cousins would get pregnant (be it the one who married at 18, or the one who was having her third kid with as many fathers at 24), my family would start planning baby showers and gushing about how this is "another wonderful new life!" Today, most of those "wonderful lives" have been placed in foster care, or are being raised by aging grandparents. "But ___ really loves her kids!" my family will insist, as she sits proudly at Baby Shower #5, gushing, "I love being a mom! I could have a dozen!" without mentioning the elephant in the room. Make that the elephant in foster care.

 

The biggest falsehood is that being a mom is the "most selfless thing a woman can do." No. It's not. It's actually the most unbelievably selfish act a person can commit. Yet the girls and women in my family, and a lot of the boys and men, too, think they should get free passes on everything because they have kids. I've been told repeatedly that I will never understand ___ because I'm not a mom. Or that ____ is beyond criticism because they are "just trying to be good Christian parents!" So mentioning that spankings are actually mentally harmful based on my academic experience with childhood cognitive development is ridiculous speculation, but Cousin A "whoopin' her kid's butt" is perfectly reasonable because "she is just trying to do what she believes is right" is beyond reproach?

 

Now you know why I live 6000 miles away!

Why is having children selfish? It's a personal choice.

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Selfish? The idea that you are doing something selfLESS by having children is mindboggling. What could be more selfish than bringing children into the world because you want them, and then convincing yourself that it's a great generosity?

It's considered selfless because it causes physical suffering and destroys your social life, so really you aren't thinking about yourself. It's irrelevant that unborn children don't know the difference.

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