The Shrinking Evangelical Family
Take a look at your family photos going back to your grandparents and great-grandparents, if you happen to have them. I have a nice one of my late father’s family when he was a little boy of three, circa 1939, taken on the family farm in North Dakota. A serious, hardscrabble Friesian family stares back at me: eight siblings; one father; no mother, as she had recently passed. Ten. I look at photos of my family of origin: Mom, dad, me, sister. Four. A photo of my own family: Me, my wife, son, daughter. Currently four. A photo of my sister and her husband. Two. Photos of friends: Many singles, many childless couples.
These photos tell the story, I think, of the transformation of the family over the past three generations. My grandparents’ generation took larger families for granted, while my parents’ generation, the Boomers, had ready access to the technology of chemical contraception, and then abortion. My own generation—X? I forget—delays or forswears marriage and children yet more.
The consequences are upon us. Economically, the great welfare states of Europe are set to collapse, as is Social Security in the U.S., as there are not enough younger people working to pay for them. Whole nations are set to disappear in coming generations, as birth rates in many European countries hover around 1.3 children per woman, about half of the stable replacement rate of 2.1. Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt claims that by 2040 “there could almost be one centenarian on hand to welcome each Japanese newborn.” The breakdown of the family tracks with increased social pathologies.Continue reading at www.firstthings.com