Population and God

As our culture drifts further from objective truths, it wanders into calamity. Such is the population picture that is unfolding.

The terminology can vary. It is sometimes called the “birth rate” or “fertility rate.” Technically it is called the “total fertility rate” (TFR). The desired TFR for the United States is 2.1.

Assuming a stable mortality rate, for every woman of childbearing age, there needs to be 2.1 children born to maintain a consistent population level. The “2” children replace the mother and father upon their deaths. The “.1” covers the instances of child mortality.

In 1950, the TFR was 3.148. Coinciding with the increased awareness of birth control and regional access to abortion, the TFR began to drop. It was 2.958 in 1965. In 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared full access to abortion on the federal level, the TFR had already dropped to 2.029. It has not been at or above the replacement level (2.1) since then.

The latest headline is that the TFR for 2023 dropped to its lowest point of 1.62.

So why isn’t the American population shrinking? Immigration. Both legal and illegal immigration have kept the American population growing over the years.

On the positive side, there is a lot of richness that has come from a diverse immigrant population. As the son of a first-generation immigrant mother, I am thankful for the path to legal immigration and, ultimately, her citizenship in the United States. Yet, the low TFR has serious consequences.

America is aging. The elderly are living longer. Healthcare costs are rising. Medicare resources are falling. As Christians have fewer children, what beliefs of the new generation will dominate the public conscience?

More alarming is exploring why this is happening. The traditional family continues to decline. Alternative households are becoming commonplace. But especially, there is the troubling quest to create a paradise here in a deeply flawed world. In the pursuit of treasures that do not last, children lose their place of “treasured possession” to that of convenience or nuisance.

God’s word clearly calls children a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5). God wants his people to be “fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28). Despite its appeal, Jesus warned us about pursuing things of the world (Matthew 6:19-21). The world can’t give you what God already has. We do well to consider his solutions and restore him to the central position in our lives.

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