Doomsday environmentalists and various futurists regularly link environmental problems to population numbers. The argument goes, such and such country is having trouble because its birth rate is too high. If the West hopes to help these countries we must fund various forms of the euphemism “family planning.” The question for Christians is simply this? How do we harmonize Scripture’s positive view of children (i.e. be fruitful and multiply, Gen 1) with the apparently common sense notion that more people means more environmental and economic problems?
Some suggest scripture’s optimism regarding children flows from its high mortality experience and agricultural sitz im leben. Those comments simply don’t apply to a post industrialist age. Others contend that environmental problems flow not so much from population but from morals. Dr. John MacArthur of the Master’s Seminary argues God blesses nations that follow his commands. This doesn’t mean that prosperous countries are defacto moral, it means that solutions for environmental problems (i.e. feeding their people, jobs, etc.) start by repentance of sin. One only need to think of many poor countries whose corrupt governments mean that millions of dollars in aid never get to the problems they were meant to solve.
So what do you think? Are children an environmental curse?
Stephen M. Vantassel is a tutor at King’s Evangelical Divinity School
Copyright 2010 Stephen M. Vantassel