A Response to Kevin DeYoung’s Culture War Strategy
This article originally appeared on June 20, 2020 on Medium.
I’m sound asleep when suddenly I get jolted awake by my screaming four year old son. Bleary eyed, I try to get a grip on my surroundings as I role out of bed, pull up some shorts, and put on a shirt. My four year old son is upset because he can’t get the TV to turn on. As I’m trying to deal with him in the hallway, my two year old daughter wakes up crying with a poopy diaper. The three of us head downstairs to start our day.
When we get downstairs, I discover that my six and eight year olds have already helped themselves to breakfast, with one of them spilling the milk on the floor. Now I’m wrestling two hungry little ones through diaper changes, in which they keep lifting their butts and trying to spin while I wipe. I forget about the spilled milk, and start making breakfast for the younger two. While I’m making their breakfast, the two year old runs through the spilled milk, slips, and falls. Now I’m cleaning and comforting her, while making breakfast. Then once I get her settled in, she doesn’t want what I made. Eventually I get the spilled milk cleaned up, when my ten year old calls down that he’s out of toilet paper. So I throw him up a roll of toilet paper, and start making my wife’s coffee, breakfast, and lunch before she heads out to work.
I’m a stay at home dad to five kids.
My wife leaves for work. And it’s time to make breakfast for my ten year old, while also dealing with whatever else comes up unexpectedly with the other four.
Having a lot of kids is really fun. We can’t imagine life without any of them. They each carry within themselves something beautiful and unique. But it’s also very difficult. Between homeschooling, laundry, cleaning, cooking meals, spending quality time with each one, and dealing with unexpected fights, it’s often difficult to imagine just making it through the afternoon.
Enter Kevin DeYoung and The Gospel Coalition.
Kevin DeYoung is really upset that the Supreme Court ruled that the LGBTQ community cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because he’s afraid that religious institutions who refuse to hire LGBTQ people will face litigation in the future. He says that voting Republican hasn’t worked. So he has another solution.
DeYoung says, “Here’s a culture war strategy conservative Christians should get behind: have more children and disciple them like crazy. Strongly consider having more children than you think you can handle. You don’t have to be a fertility maximalist to recognize that children are always lauded as a blessing in the Bible.” He then questions the usage of birth control.
He goes on, “Do you want to rebel against the status quo? Do you want people to ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15)? Tote your brood of children through Target. There is almost nothing more counter-cultural than having more children.”
He qualifies that by saying how important it is to get your kids to agree with you about theology.
Then with the stroke of prophetic vision, he concludes, “The future belongs to the fecund.”
To be fair, he does briefly mention loving God, people, and the truth. But the thrust of his article is not about love, but about getting your wife constantly pregnant with a ton of babies.
Before my wife and I had our five kids, we struggled to get pregnant. For years, we longed to have a family to love together. But with each passing month, each passing year, the pain of not being able to have children grew. Yet, as deeply as our pain cut, we continued believing the “right theology” and trusting in the goodness of God.
We read every article, tried every trick in the book, and even had awkward doctors visits. And then in December of 2008, we finally gave up hoping for a pregnancy and decided to pursue adoption immediately. We had actually planned on adopting all along. But we always had hoped that would happen after a few kids. Then just when we “surrendered our dream to God,” we found out that we were expecting our first child. In our mindset at the time, we were certain that this was poetic sovereignty, as if God was withholding a child until we fully surrendered. We could not have been more overjoyed. A few weeks later, we would be flying to South Carolina and Maryland and were going to tell our families. But the day before we left, we found out we were having a miscarriage. And suddenly, God’s provision of a pregnancy felt like God was playing games with our hearts.
As my wife was passing our dead baby through her body, a pastor decided to confront us. Not knowing about our struggles or the miscarriage, he said, “You two have waited too long to have kids. Young people these days only care about making money. It’s time you stop worrying about money and start having kids!”
As my wife’s eyes welled up with tears, my fists clenched. I got in the pastor’s face and said, “It’s taking everything in me not to punch you right now.”
Bewildered, the pastor asked, “Why?”
I explained how long we had struggled to have kids and how my wife was in the midst of having a miscarriage.
The pastor looked like he had seen a ghost and said, “Okay, you can punch me.”
Kevin DeYoung should know better than what he writes in this article. He’s a pastor who cares for singles who haven’t connected with someone to marry, for couples who can’t have kids, for small families who are struggling with the one or two kids they do have, and for large families who often feel like they’re in over their heads. The sensitivities around the topics of marriage and kids run deep. I know. I’ve lived through each of those categories.
People long at the core of who they are to love and be loved. This core desire for love is at the heart of Jesus’ call to love ourselves, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love God.
To get so angry and fearful over a Supreme Court ruling against discrimination that you would reduce the complexities and depths of our deepest human desires for love to a culture war is pastorally careless.
By saying that “the future belongs to the fecund,” Kevin DeYoung is dismissing the future for all who remain single or cannot have children.
By calling having more children a “culture war strategy,” Kevin DeYoung reduces women’s bodies to warrior factories and reduces children to theological and political pawns.
By strongly recommending “having more children than you think you can handle,” Kevin DeYoung dismisses the very real challenges and dangers of having large families that families like mine face everyday.
By thinking that people are going to ask you for a reason of the hope that lies within you when they see you toting “your brood of children through Target,” he reveals that he has no idea how difficult it is to tote a ton of kids through Target. (Yes, I know he has like eight kids). Also, weren’t conservative Christians boycotting Target anyway?
And by getting this upset over businesses not being able to discriminate against LGBTQ people, he’s giving the LGBTQ community that he wishes to reach for Jesus a very large stumblingblock in the way of listening to what he and his warriors have to say in their fight against the LGBTQ “agenda” of non-discrimination in the workplace.
The future belongs to the fecund?
How about, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Fight the LGBTQ community by making a ton of babies for a culture war?
How about, “Love your enemies.”
How about turning from theology-fueled guilt and shame to learning to see and love yourself, your family if you have one, your neighbors, your enemies, and God? Then if you happen to have kids, how about walking with and supporting them in that journey as well? And whether you have kids or not, how about learning to love the child within yourself that’s been forgotten and wounded in decades of culture wars?
In loving your self, your family if you have one, your neighbors, your enemies, and God, you might just discover the face of God in your enemies, and in learning to see and love them discover that your enemies were actually your neighbors, that your enemies were even your family, and that your enemies were reflections of the forgotten and wounded child within yourself flowing from the heart of God.
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