What Is Going To Feed Our Children? Hard Work or Education?

Over at Singing & Slaying the good Peter Jones has objected to something pretty fundamentally objectionable  said by Wendy Davis recently. Here it is:

Women being forced to bear children. That, is, like, literally happening.

I mean, y'all.

It's tempting to go after the quote piece by piece, for example, by pointing out that in fact and by nature women are childbearing vessels. But we'll assume that since you're a Joffre The Giant reader you're already part of the choir. Let's move on to something Pastor Jones said in response, with which I agree, but with which I'd like to critically interact.
I know there are hard cases where it is difficult to pay the bills. But most people by hard work, careful use of resources, sacrifice, and a refusal to buy everything being sold by the advertisers can feed and educate their children, even when they have a lot of them. It is getting harder to make ends meet. But that is because of all the taxes being taken from the people to fund overseas wars, public school, welfare, and Planned Parenthood. We can feed and educate our children as long the Republicans and Democrats will let us keep our money. So the answer is not more government programs or abortion. The answer is lower taxes, hard work, and lots of little feet.
The title of his post is No, It Really Isn't That Hard. Which is indubitably true. If you value the right things, then having children and feeding and educating them isn't that difficult.

We have five children. For years as a household we have made less money annually than most middle class people would think adequate for even one person. Every year the government takes a quarter of our money, and every year they give all of it back with a personal note of apology from President Obama. We've avoided debt (except for a mortgage) and lived modestly and alternatively. It has often been stressful, but mostly it has been a joy to have a lifestyle in which we have been, by and large, our own masters. This has been a greater treasure to us than middle class comfort and security.

But this idyllic image of the fruit of cleverness and hard work is undergirded by a certain infrastructure. If I were a writer for the Huffington Post I might call it an infrastructure of privilege. My parents helped us with a down payment for the house we bought ten years ago. My in-laws bought us a car when our family was new. Both of these things are not extraordinary events for people of a certain class.

My wife graduated from college summa cum laude. I was well educated as a youth, and after six years left college because I had been lazy, and was not motivated by the fear of poverty. Even without a degree I was able to make my living as an adult educator, because I am educated and I sound it when I talk. My mother held a masters in linguistics. My father has a doctorate from MIT. I was homeschooled. I was brought living outside the system, in an atmosphere of academic intellectuality.

I was also brought up in the church. My mother became a Christian shortly before I was born and my father when I was eight. Although we moved almost every year, I believed even as a child that my church were my people and that we had mutual obligations to each other.

Shortly after moving to South Carolina in 2005 we had trouble making ends meet. We asked the deacons for assistance paying our bills one month. It was humbling. Of course, they did it.

This privileged upbringing is a key piece in the way we are able to bring up our kids with lower taxes, hard work, and lots of little feet.

There is the social privilege of coming from a prosperous and well-educated background. Between us and disaster is not only the state but our families. This background enables us to perceive the vicious character of the state when it is "benevolent", as well giving us more options when seeking to live outside a system that pushes people with little cash toward the state's teat.

Then there is the holy privilege of belonging to a church. My entire adult life, having lived with my wife and children in three different places and about to move to a fourth, I and we have belonged. People have unloaded our moving trucks for us. They have brought us meals when new babies arrived. They have fixed our appliances when they've broken down. They've showed up to help us with renovations. They have been family in a concrete way.

Now, I don't disagree in substance with anything the very reverend Peter Jones said. It is not hard to raise children. It doesn't take a lot of hard resources. I cannot put it any more concretely than to repeat that we've raised five, without welfare, on a salary most middle class college graduates would find insupportable for one person. Our expectations as a society are indeed ridiculous.

That being said, most people can't see that. Primarily this is because of our sin, both individually and as a nation. And it is a sin that the machine Wendy Davis is a part of purposefully perpetuates. It is important to the state and to its hangers-on (e.g. Planned Parenthood) that we be dependent on them, unable to see that there are other ways to live.

This is where national sin comes in. We are raising and educating people to be blind to anything but living the way the government has told us to. If we cannot see the path, working hard is not enough. There are many people who work extremely hard, but are caught up in lives of sin and the consequences of sin. For example, single parenthood, welfare, and child support create a complex which pushes mothers toward welfare and fathers away from stabilizing marriages (which would be healthful even if it were not to baby's mama) and toward our court system.

Lower taxes and hard work are not enough. I know that Peter Jones would agree with what I'm about to say, so I do not want to suggest otherwise. While I think what he had to say was true, it did not point us in the right direction, which I know is a direction which Peter is constantly pushing people in.

Y'all. What we need to kill abortion and to help families is this: let us decrease that He may increase. The Church of Jesus Christ is the answer. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. People need Jesus so that they may not fear. So that they may work and have babies in trust and faith. The state tells people it will not let go, that it will save people from disaster. The state is a messiah. Having children under a lying, murdering, and enslaving savior is hard.

We must show people the true Messiah, the true Savior. The Messiah who loves our lives. The Savior who meets our needs. The Messiah who asks for a godly seed and blesses it.


  1. Thank you for this post, Joffre. This summer has been especially troubling for me, as the realities of abortion have been brought to the forefront of all of our minds. Your posts on this topic have brought me to many tears and hours of discussions with my family. This one was especially moving and enlightening. Of course having children under a lying, murdering and enslaving savior is hard! You hit the nail on the head. Your post brought to mind the Israelites begging God for a real King. "No, no, not YOU. A REAL King. Like with a crown and stuff."

    I have been putting so much thought energy toward solving the problem of abortion in America. The ultimate answer, as with all problems, is Christ, but I have some ideas that do relate to this post. This woman's rhetoric is all over the place now. Covering their eyes and sticking their fingers in their ears, people have realized they can no longer actually argue with the fact that abortion is murder. They are moving on to announce they are the true lovers of the world, because they love women and they love children who are born. They are serving a selfish king. They see no other answer. If we do not allow abortions, what then? Women will die. Children will go hungry.

    I looked into what all Planned Parenthood does. By that I mean I googled it. Not sure I have it in me to be a big time investigator, but who knows... maybe one day. They provide a lot of good services to the public. We may not all agree about all of them, but I for one would be glad that I could go to a Planned Parenthood to get some subsidized STD testing and treatment if I was poor, friendless without insurance and just raped by my uncle. What an act of love by PP. Well I guess not love. If the church offered it, it would be an act of love, but PP is just business.

    If the government stopped funding PP, who WOULD take care of the women? While Crisis Pregnancy Centers are SO great, they only offer pregnancy services, while PP offers the whole package of sexual health- cancer screening, STD testing and treatment and others. We live in a world that needs Jesus. Offering these things is merciful. Why isn't the church focusing more on loving women this way?

  2. I used to think it was simple enough. Tell the teenage girl that her baby already has a heartbeat and she goes and finds a nice family to adopt her baby. Just don't call her "slut" and "whore" while she's pregnant and, poof! Woman loved, baby saved. Sometimes it feels like this is all many church leaders still think it takes. The church's crisis pregnancy centers, in an unintended way, send the message that the baby is the one they care about, because it's just for pregnant women. PP has a greater argument that they are caring for women (duh, 'cause they kill the babies, but that's not what I'm talking about.) It kinda feels like it should be all it takes, because, come on! You are talking about murdering a baby!!!!! Yet somehow, this gets past people for the very simple reason that we are selfish, selfish, selfish without Jesus.

    I am a woman, so I have particular insight into the matter. I have also been particularly "privileged" (using your own borrowed word) to follow a Godly path sexually. Thank the Lord I have not killed any babies. Truly, thank you Jesus, because I remember as a teenager thinking that if I were to get pregnant, I would most definitely get an abortion. Of course I hadn't really thought it through since I was never in the situation, and I don't know what I would have really done, but I can absolutely relate to the impulse. No one would know. It would be so much easier. It's not like I'm looking into someone's eyes and pulling a trigger. I am having a procedure, ending a mistake, not a life. I have moved past shame at those thoughts and now realize they are the status quo for our flesh. That is what I am without Christ. When I am living this breath of a life for something so much greater and more permanent, I would carry a hundred unplanned, unwed pregnancies. That is nothing. Thank the Lord. But this selfish, scared woman is exactly who the church needs to be ministering to, to save her life as well as her baby's.

    Let's not stop saving babies' lives, praying and protesting for abortion to end. I want to be in that war. But let's do listen to some legitimate concerns from people who foolishly and mistakenly support abortion. Let's love women too. Let's show them the mercy of Jesus in practical ways.

    Maybe we can put PP out of business through good old fashioned competition.


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