A few days ago, a colleague shared comments he and his wife get when people find out they have seven kids: “Are they all yours?” “Were they all planned?” “What are you, Mormon?” And, most awkward of all: “You know what causes that, right?”
This kind of reaction to large families, which I’ve gotten with only four kids, reveals the assumptions about children that largely go unquestioned in our culture, even in the Church.
It is widely assumed, for example, that children are a choice. This was not always so. The introduction of reliable contraception, especially the pill, made it possible to divorce the inherent connection between sex, marriage, and procreation.
The cultural journey through the sexual revolution went something like this: First, we wanted sex outside of marriage. That required having sex without the threat of babies. Then we wanted babies outside of marriage, and today, even babies without sex. Somewhere along the way, the idea of marriage without children, intentionally I mean, became common too. Even among Christian couples, the idea of not only delaying children but choosing to not have them at all is, in many circles, non-controversial.