Darrow Miller and Friends

Is it Immoral to Have Children?

If we all saw the harm we were doing by having children and put a stop to it, within a century or so the world’s population would drop to zero.”

So writes Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker, arguing in favor of a zero-population world.

Referring to the book, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence, by University of Cape Town professor David Benatar, Kolbert says Benatar’s logic leads to the “Conclusive Conclusion” that we need to eliminate human beings from the earth. She continues,

For Benatar, this is an outcome devoutly to be wished. “Humans have the unfortunate distinction of being the most destructive and harmful species on earth,” he writes. “The amount of suffering in the world could be radically reduced if there were no more” of us.

We have turned a corner, and not a healthy one. Elites are talking of eliminating human beings from the planet. They are making the argument with reverence and passion, and they are being heeded.  Entire nations are committing cultural suicide with stunning speed. (See the documentary films Demographic Winter and Demographic Bomb to appreciate the danger to human existence arising from this school of thought.)

Kolbert begins her piece, The Case Against Kids: Is Procreation Moral?, by introducing Dr. Charles Knowlton (1800-1850). Knowlton was a free thinker – atheist – physician who wrote the defining book, Fruits of Philosophy: The Private Companion of Young Married People, by a Physician.

Like Thomas Malthus (1788 -1844), Knowlton was concerned about the earth becoming overpopulated. As a solution, he promoted separating sex from procreation: “Heaven has not only given us the capacity of greater enjoyment, but the talent of devising means to prevent the evils that are liable to arise therefrom … .” By “evils” he was referring to conceiving children. The goal was to enhance sexual pleasure while avoiding procreation. Fruits of Philosophy not only laid out the intellectual argument for having sex without children, it also provided specific contraceptive technologies that led to our modern world in which sex is separated from covenantal marriage and the establishing of families and reduced to recreation or entertainment.

Kolbert writes of our current dilemma: Kids are a pain in the (expletive deleted) when they’re small. They require lots of care just at the time their parents tend to be busiest establishing themselves in their careers.” Read more from Kolbert here.

So there you have it. Two reasons not to have kids: they interrupt their parent’s careers and they endanger the planet. We are seeing the impact of the (dying) worldview of secular humanism/modernism that regards man as god and the (newly reborn) worldview of neo-paganism/post-modernism that regards nature as god. The latter is heavily promoted by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and James Cameron’s Avatar. The former elevates personal selfishness and lust for consumption of the world’s resources over children and families. The latter believes human beings are destroying “Mother Nature” and seeks to repress childbearing to preserve natural resources and save the planet.

Both Secular Humanism and Neo-paganism hold the mind-boggling idea that we need to reduce or eliminate the world’s population. And this idea, like all ideas, is having consequences.

It is time to re-tell the ancient story that God made the universe, and that he placed human beings on the earth as his vice-regents to pro-create – have children and form families, and to co-create – to take what God has given and make it flourish. Stewardship of creation means that the human family is to both develop and conserve the earth. We are not to rape it in a lust to consume, and we are not to cease forming families for fear of destroying the earth.

It is noteworthy that the Greek term oikonomia behind our word “economics” (moral stewardship) and the Greek term oikologia behind our work ecology (care for the creation) are not strangers but cousins!

The modern suspicion of the family and the corresponding demise of family formation is revealed in the current US election cycle.

In 1996 Rick Santorum (until a few weeks ago a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency) and his wife, Karen, were expecting a baby boy whom they had named Gabriel Michael Santorum. Baby Gabriel was born at 20 weeks and lived outside the womb for two hours. The Santorum family was heartbroken. What happened next reveals the profound difference in moral vision for our nations. We are two different nations trying to co-exist as one geography.

For the Christ-professing Sanatorums, Gabriel was a baby, imago Dei, and a member of their family. Instead of releasing his tiny body to the morgue, Rick and Karen spent the night in the hospital with their dead child. The next day took the tiny body home to be “bonded” in his death with his living family. In her book Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum, Karen writes movingly about the introduction of Gabriel to his siblings.

Your siblings could not have been more excited about you! …. Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, “This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.”

For the culture that understands the importance of families and the humanity of an unborn baby, this was a beautiful and natural thing to do. But for a culture that sees man as a product of evolution and babies as “products of conception” or “tissue,” the Santorum’s actions were strange at best and ghoulish at worst. This moral vision was expressed by liberal political commenter and radio personality Alan Colmes on a nightly news show:

… undecided voters will ultimately not stick with the surging Santorum once people get a load of some of the crazy things he’s said and done, like taking his two-hour-old baby when it died right after childbirth home and played with it so that his other children would know that the child was real.

Colmes later apologized to the Santorums. Yet his words reflect the great divide in American culture. I speak not simply of differences in preference, but of a disagreement about fundamentals: the sanctity of human life, the sacredness of marriage, and the fundamental importance of the family to building healthy societies.

Who would have thought, just a century ago, that we would debate the humanity of a child? Today we are confronted with a serious assault on family formation. It is inconceivable that anyone could seriously ask, “Is procreation immoral?” But it is the logical conclusion of both Modernism and Post-Modernism.

–          Darrow Miller


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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).


  1. Jon Davis Jr.

    June 5, 2012 - 1:03 am

    Sounds like calling good “evil” and evil “good.”

    Leaving God’s Word and Ways is Insane!

  2. Scott

    June 5, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    The true basis of getting rid of human life comes from the idol of prosperity: “I (or our nation) will not prosper with unwanted children.” When we look at the Old Testament idol sacrifice of babies to Molech (Lev 18:21, Jer 32:35), we think of the people as primitive, silly, and pagan god worshippers. Sadly it is recycled today in the form of abortion, sanctioned killings or the desire to limit population numbers. The people of OT times wanted to prosper in life just as we do today, therefore, they were deceived no doubt by the elites to believe that by throwing babies in the arms of Molech’s fire would make their lives better. Justified by political and religious leaders of any era makes it even easier and legal. All the other ways of killing are considered murder and highly punishable. Transpose that to modern times…it is the same story. We are sacrificing our children on the ALTAR OF PROSPERITY!

    • admin

      July 2, 2012 - 9:13 am

      I would agree that pagan worship carries with it a low view of human life. This is evident historically as well as in our own society today. However, having children and a family is not a contradiction to a community prospering. If children were simply mouths to be fed, they would be a bane on prosperity. But because children possess minds, imaginations, and moral conscience they have the ability to create and use wealth in a way that is morally framed. They can create more than they consume and can share the surplus with the larger community.

      – Darrow

  3. Dennis Warren

    June 7, 2012 - 12:03 pm

    Thanks for the wake up call Darrow.

    Your comments and reading that article from the New Yorker has helped open my eyes to see even more clearly the massive disconnect coming from fundamental assumptions associated with belief in a human affirming Creator -verses- the vacuum of any inherent honor in being human.

    Notwithstanding how many commonly accepted polls continue to indicate at least half of American adults regard themselves as Christian, this article conspicuously omits any reference to Christian answers to the it’s fundamental question: Why have children?

    The fact the article was even published with such a glaring omission says a lot to me about the state of our society.

    To me it seems almost perfunctory, even for someone who apparently sees no relevance for religious faith, to include at least a sentence or two about any possible associations between a belief in the prime giver of life (i.e. ex nihilo – out of non-life) and how this belief can influence the life-altering decision of participating in life affirmation by bringing yet another new person (albeit through existing people) into physical existence.

    Having listened to DNA teachings I recognize that being made in the image of a good God provides honor and positive potential for every person (simply by virtue of being a person).

    God’s command (and how He has enabled us) to populate the earth is something I consider a bestowal of tremendous dignity.

    God can make something good from nothing (and/or even from something bad) and we, His image bearers, can make something good from something (and sometimes, with His help we can also turn bad around to good).

    I’m flattered God has chosen to share a part in His ongoing work of creation by working through me.

    As I see it, when we are willing and knowledgeable creative participants with God – the positive prospects for this world improve as each new person breathes the breath of life.


  4. Dennis Warren

    June 7, 2012 - 3:16 pm

    I’m still being effected by the veil of darkness kind of pessimistic spirit I sensed while reading that New Yorker article.

    As cases in point, I could point to some quotes from the article – however I’m finding it a bit difficult to know when the author is directly (or even indirectly) quoting from another source verses paraphrasing others – verses simply stating her own opinion.

    Though I’m unsure who originally said both the following sentences, the spirit seems (to me) to either defy logic or at best dwell only on the negative and shun any offsetting positives.

    From the article:
    Had the pleasure been forgone – that is, had the life never been created – no one would have been the worse for it. But the world is worse off because of the suffering brought needlessly into it. “One of the implications of my argument is that a life filled with good and containing only the most minute quantity of bad – a life of utter bliss adulterated only by the pain of a single pin-prick – is worse than no life at all,” Benatar writes.

    I’m thankful most of my personal relationships are with fellow believers. I can honestly say when it comes to assigning so much more import to pain verses bliss – I have never personally known anyone who consistently leans so far in the gloomy direction articulated in the article.

    My mind goes to perhaps every truly heart-stirring and inspiring human story : without the possibility of some pain there is no opportunity for honor or glory.

    Kolbert didn’t say specifically if she (or any of the authors she quotes) believe in a good God – though I think it’s likely I can guess. My take is that many atheist’s primary position rooted in “the problem of evil”.

    The joy I feel when I experience good triumphing over evil – is perhaps close to the foundation of why I refuse to let go of my Christian belief in the good God who made me. Given God worked even through the evil crucifixion of His good son, in coming out with the good possibility for my sins to be forgiven … since He has done that for me, I know He can do that for my children.

    I’m OK bringing more humans into this world.

    Given we are made in God’s image we are capable of very powerful actions – some good and some bad. Yes pain exits, but I figure there is a chance for the greater good and it’s worth taking! Perhaps folks like the article’s author look too much for the bad and not enough for the good.

    (Sometimes we find what we’re looking for).


    • admin

      June 11, 2012 - 9:40 am


      As always, thank you for your comments. It is mind blowing how very different the world looks and will become as more and more in our culture operate from a post-modern worldview. If you have not viewed the video The Demographic Winter, it would be worth doing. It shows where these trends are TODAY, not simply where they might be in the future. On a similar note there is “serious” writing taking place in hallowed universities that argue the case for making pedophilia acceptable and legal. In a world in which there are about 200,000,000 fewer women alive then there should be because of gendercide, the US congress, last month could not even muster enough votes to pass a bill to prevent sex selection abortions. It sure looks like the “thought leaders” in the West have all gone crazy. It is time for the average citizen on our countries to wake up, turn off the TV and video games and start thinking and acting in ways that will bring a return to moral sanity.

      Thanks again, Dennis.

      – Darrow Miller