We see the world changing before our eyes. Most of the changes are the consequences of abandoning truth and substituting new ideologies. We are moving from order to chaos, from truth to power. In today’s internet age, these changes are coming faster than ever. Changes that once took generations now take years, or even less.
The West is stripping societies of anything based on God’s existence, leaving behind a post-Christian, post-moral, post-truth, post-maternal, post-family world. Postmodernists are promoting moral relativism, ignorance, narcissism and abortion. These are the products of Nietzsche’s “Death of God.”
Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, wrote a profound article for Quillette, “The Politics of Procreation.” This post will excerpt Kotkin’s article at several points below. I encourage you to read it in full.
I hope to inspire Christians to fulfill the Cultural Mandate of Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion.” Too many Christians conform to the spirit of the age, even while they profess otherwise. If today’s spirit has invaded your life, this article will challenge your thinking.
Post-family culture is growing globally, especially in industrialized, materialistic societies. Consumerism is attacking family formation. China has nearly 200 million unmarried adults. Kotkin writes: “Nearly 70 percent of China’s adults aged between 18 and 36 are on their own.” In 2015, 25 percent of households in the United States, were single-person households.
In the USA, large cities have smaller families. Small cities, towns and suburbs generally support family formation and children. This reality leads to political implications. Two-thirds of single women support the Democratic Party, at least in part because their platform supports abortion. A “simple” procedure allows women to be like men: to have sex and not be pregnant. On the other hand, married women with children tend to be Republicans.
Two nations in one geography
Two cultural mindsets divide the US. One side values singleness, minimal responsibilities, freedom to consume. The other treasures community, families, “being” more than “having.”
Throughout the world, the urban centers that dominate contemporary economy and culture—Beijing, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Sydney, and San Francisco—are becoming “demographic graveyards.” In Beijing and Shanghai, the fertility rate is barely one-third of that needed to replace the current population. Inner London, notes the Office for National Statistics (ONS), has a fertility rate fully one-third lower than the surrounding suburbs. In severely overcrowded Hong Kong, according to one recent survey, two-thirds of women said they did not want an additional or even a first child. The fertility rate in the Chinese territory is now less than half that of 1980.
The moderns and postmoderns are trapped by material and electronic addictions. Moral/ethical concerns have faded; it’s all about having. But the inevitable effects include economic fallout.
[F]alling populations in advanced countries will threaten economic growth, both limiting the size of their labor force and undermining the fiscal viability of their own welfare states. As the employment base shrinks, some countries—notably Japan and Germany—have already raised taxes on the existing labor force to pay for the rising tide of older retirees.
Some countries even face an inexorable depopulation reminiscent of early feudal times. In Russia, for example, between 1991 and 2011, a total of about 13 million more people died than were born. Overall, Europe’s population, notes Futurist Frederic Pearce, is destined to fall from 738 million to roughly 482 million by 2100 when the elderly in a shrunken Germany will outnumber children under 15 by as much as four to one.
The demographic decline in East Asia has been, if anything, even more dramatic. Over the past few decades, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, have seen their fertility rates fall well below that required to replace their populations. Perhaps the most extreme case is Japan, where this process had started by the 1960s. If the current patterns hold, the island nation’s population, according to Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, will decline from 127 million to under 80 million by 2065.
More important, China’s working age population (those between 15 and 64 years old) peaked in 2011 and is projected to drop by over 200 million by 2050. China will lose 60 million people under 15 years of age by 2050—approximately the population of Italy—while gaining nearly 190 million people 65 and over—approximately the population of Pakistan, the world’s fourth most populous country. By then, China’s ratio of working to retired people is expected to have more than tripled, one of the most rapid transitions in history.
Overall, world population growth could all but end by 2040, suggests Austrian demographer Wolfgang Lutz, and begin to decline as early as 2060. These demographic declines will reshape economic prospects in the twenty-first century. Today, a majority of people live in countries with fertility well below replacement rates. This number will grow to 75 percent by 2050, according to the UN; rapid aging, and a declining workforce, will become increasingly common around the world.
What is a human?
Kotkin engages the deeper philosophical, theological questions as well. What does it mean to be human? Do we have no more value than a cockroach? Are we the cancers of the earth, or the stewards of creation? Consumers or creators? Can we have a hopeful future based on the existence of a beneficent Creator, or do we live in a silent universe without purpose? The answers will shape our future.
Ultimately, the issue facing the high-income world—and increasingly China as well—is how we regard humanity itself. British author Austin Williams describes this question as a conflict between whether humanity represents “the biggest problem on the planet” or the “creators of a better future.”
But then Kotkin moves to an irony. In the short term, the anti-family voters, with their independent, consumer-oriented lifestyles, may gain power and win elections. But in the end, without children, their days are numbered. Only family formation, with all its wonder and personal sacrifice, will secure the future.
As the numbers of singles and childless grow, our immediate political future could shift to the left. In Britain, Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrats are losing younger, largely childless voters. But the Greens have almost tripled their support since 2014, which is now almost now equaling the Tories among voters 18 to 24. Nor does family orientation seem a factor in European politics; today many of the leaders, virtually all the leaders of the continent (Germany, France, Netherlands) are childless. France’s President Emmanuel Macron even identified child-bearing with ignorance.
Families ensure a future
Yet, in the long run, the anti-natalists could face an unexpected turnaround. The heirs of the post-familial city are not reproducing themselves, leaving only a digital legacy. The fact that these centers appear to be “post-Christian” may accelerate the pace. Secularism, with its tendency towards identity politics and hyper-individualism, notes author Eric Kaufmann, undermines itself as it fails to “inspire the commitment to generations past and sacrifices for those yet to come.” …
“No matter how many communes anybody invents,” the late anthropologist Margaret Mead suggested, “the family always creeps back.” This will prove to be the case in the decades ahead. Greens, progressives, and feminists may seek to weaken this most precious institution, but in the end, they cannot manufacture future generations. As they have done from primitive times, families create the future, in the only way humanity can remain fundamentally human.
For more from Kotkin go here.
My friends, do not be deceived by this narcissistic spirit of the age. Break free. If you are married, have children and love them. Children are your greatest legacy, the future of our world.
Perhaps God has called you to singleness. If not, commit to the pursuit of a godly relationship and, as God allows, a marriage that will allow you to fulfill the cultural mandate.
- Darrow Miller