Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas
Our current Western society praises itself on being rooted in control over nature through application of science and reason. Nowhere is this more evident than through control and size of the family. Embracing a large family is in fact the anti-thesis of control of nature. Therefore any counter-cultural move away from strict family control sets off a firestorm of emotion, debate, and shunning to bring people back into the fold.
The argument for a controlled size family is a logical outgrowth of the Enlightenment. The penny sized description of this philosophy is: If I can reason something out (logically order it through science) and I want to will it into being, the result I want to make can and should be as I want it to regardless of any historical or scientific obstacles. While the goal of Enlightenment thinkers is good, to make the world a better place, it fails because it assumes all things are ordered according to a single person’s will.
In a precisely ordered world replacement level children would not be bad…it would simply ensure a stable society with Mom and Dad being replaced by their little children. It assumes there is no war, famine, enjoyment of bountiful years, divorce, recurrence of the Spanish Flu, accidents, control of passion by all people, natural spoiling of children, or change of political order. When in history has this ever happened? If I apply a scientific method to the review of history against any one of these factors, much less a combination of two, I can say never with confidence.
A view of family across all traditional cultures shows having a large nuclear family is a reward and sign of prosperity. Large families can take a loss, as tragic as it might be, and still survive to another generation. Families with large families embrace passion and reap the rewards with a 99% stability rate (i.e. no divorce) when using Natural Family Planning. In large families where parents have all the children help each other natural selflessness arises. Even economic science shows growing populations increase GDP, while stable and declining populations result in a loss of economic power despite automation.
Yet just saying have a large family is also a poor scientific argument as well. Many large families fail because they may be open to life, but fail in another basic component of success. One has to look into the why behind successful families everywhere, and its origins. These reasons come from observations in natural law, not man’s law.
In Genesis we see man was not complete until he had a wife. Together they were to be fruitful and multiply. Proverbs tells us a man will have no fear to argue in the city gates when surrounded by his children. Jesus tells men they must serve their families to the point of complete self sacrifice, and women must listen to their self sacrificing men. (This addresses our greatest vices as men and women of power going to our heads, and sets the example for their children’s future relationships) Time and time again we also read throughout the Bible we all must look for the Lord’s direction, and build our world towards it. Embracing these lessons points us towards successful family models.
St John Paul II, in his masterful Theology of the Body, also reminds us men and women complete the other sex in marriage. In the marital act we participate in renewing creation with God. Acceptance and loving our resulting children then completes the family. When viewed in its totality, this sets up an environment where family life can mimic the Biblical revelations of Natural Law. This type of environment fosters good and minimize bad family effects we can see in the physical world around us, while moving from generation to generation.
In the a few short words above I hope this lets you understand where I started on my journey towards embracing the title of this post: Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Sized Family) in today’s world. This decision does not come without challenges, doubts and trials. It is emblematic of real life, needing a constant renewal. Nothing worth doing ever came without cost…and never will. So be not afraid to look at the reality of the world, and use its very nature to form a better future according to the will of God revealed through nature. I promise the experience will really ENLIGHTEN you!
P.S. Besides where would I get my cute photos of family life from without this many kids?