We live in a time of movements. Everyone is a part of some organization that stands against something. Some are good and exist to oppose legitimate evils. Others are just evil. One thing both groups have in common is fear. Again, sometimes that fear can be legitimate and there are plenty of groups that are addressing evil in healthy ways. But fear can take us to some pretty strange places.
BirthStrike is a group of about 60 women and some men who have vowed to put off childbirth until some resolution is reached on what they are calling our, “climate catastrophe.”
Blythe Pepino is the founder of BirthStrike and she says that our climate is in the middle of a “collapse.” Pepino’s frustration with the response from authorities frightened her so badly that she came to the decision last year not to bring a child into what she believed to be a doomed planet.
Pepino and her group are not a fringe organization. Recently, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines when she said that young people are asking themselves, “Is it OK to still have children?” because of climate change. A Business Insider poll reveals that she might be on to something. Almost 30% of Americans share the concerns of the young Progressive from New York. Ocasio-Cortez says that, “We have a moral obligation to leave a better world,” for children. Sadly, she doesn’t apply this rationale to her economic philosophies that will most certainly leave our children in a much worse world.
But how should Christians respond to the fear surrounding climate change? We shouldn’t expect the members of BirthStrike or Representative Ocasio-Cortez to run to the Bible for the final, authoritative answer on this. But I fear that many Christians will be swayed more by the purveyors of fear than the word of God. God’s word, after all, is the final, authoritative word.
In a sense, BirthStrike’s fears are legitimate. We do live in a scary world. There is the potential for wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards, and severe heat waves. And that’s just the climate. Never mind the chance of getting into a car wreck on the way home from the hospital’s delivery room, getting mugged outside of your apartment, attacked by a terrorist, or taken out by a drone. Life truly is a mist (James 4:14).
But of course, BirthStrike’s solution to our scary world is not biblically sound. One of the first commands God ever gave was to Adam and Eve.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over ever living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28, ESV
This is almost the exact opposite of the gospel of BirthStrike. Here, God commands his people to have babies. And rather than living as slaves to their environment or worshipers of it, he demands that they exercise dominion over it. That is, they are to have children and raise them to care for God’s creation.
But, some Christians might argue, that was in a perfect time. That command was given before sin entered into the world, introducing us to things like tornadoes, cancer, and murder.
After sin entered into our world, it didn’t take long for it to corrupt everything. That’s how sin always works. It never stays in our fences, or in this case, in the garden. It had spread so quickly and so badly that God sent a legitimate “climate catastrophe”– a flood that covered the entire earth.
After the flood waters receded, God gave his people another command. It was very similar to the one he gave to Adam and Eve all those years before.
“Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:1).
Only this time he was saying it in a context where sin already existed. Even still, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Yes, the world is scary. “Be fruitful and multiply.”
A lot of time has passed since God gave that command to Noah’s family. In that time, there was a lot of sin. There was a lot of suffering. There were catastrophes.
Children were sacrificed to idols.
Young men were taken away as slaves by evil rulers.
Women were brutalized.
Any one of those events could have led people to start their own version of BirthStrike. But through it all, God was faithful. And he is still faithful. Christians know that a perfect world is coming but we’re not waiting for that in order to have children. Instead, we’re trusting our Perfect Lord in a very imperfect world.
Fear is a major theme throughout Scripture. “Fear not,” is one of the most repeated commands given in the Bible. The promise of God is not that the world won’t be scary. It’s that he will be with us and that he is in charge. He does not walk us around the valley of the shadow of death. Nor does he drop us off in the middle of it. He walks with us through it (Psalm 23:4).
Let’s go back to Adam and Eve. After their fall, they were still living under the command to, “Be fruitful and multiply.” To make matters even more difficult for Eve, she was told that the child birthing process would involve severe pain (Genesis 3:16). But there was hope. And that hope came from a strange place. When God pronounced his curse on Satan, he gave what some theologians call a sort of pre-gospel.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15, ESV
From the seed of the woman there would come a child who would crush the serpent’s head and finally and forever put sin and suffering away from the people of God. The pain that Eve and her daughters felt during childbirth led to the promise of Jesus.
Today, we don’t anticipate the birth of Jesus. That’s already happened. But we do anticipate the day when he deals out the final, crushing blow to the serpent. And as we wait, we do not wait in fear. We wait in knowing and trusting the Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ.
Life is difficult.
The earth is a scary place.
But it’s not falling apart.
Every molecule in the entire universe is being held together by Jesus for the good of his people.
Do not be afraid.
Be fruitful and multiply.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17, ESV