The Delusion of Wanting Kids
A response to Jordan Peterson's, "Assuming you want children, and if you don't, well, you probably will. And if you don't, you're either deluded or immature."
Just when I think maybe we’re getting better at embracing and loving people from different walks of life, I run into something like this video from Jordan Peterson and The Daily Wire, and I lose all hope in humanity again.
Let it be known that I love The Daily Wire, and I find a lot of interesting, thoughtful, and philosophical conversations in their content. I feel the same about Jordan Peterson, but this new content he and the DW team have been sharing has been disappointing because of how much they miss the mark of human complexity (and just how rude he is, honestly).
This all started with this first video he posted on the topic—Of which, I will simply say—he is getting it wrong, ostracizing an entire group of people, and oversimplifying the decision to have children. I’ll give him credit that he didn’t say “it’s impossible to mature” if you don’t have children (though he basically says that in the follow-up video).
Then, he follows up with this next video that I was outraged to see as I scrolled.
Transcript of Video:
“You want to have a relationship with someone? You want someone around that you can trust? Do you want someone around you can tie your life to in a way that weaves a rope? You want someone to grow old with? You want someone who can be a mother to your children?
Assuming you want children, and if you don’t, well, you probably will.
And if you don’t, you’re either deluded or immature.
So, and you might say, ‘well no, the planet has too many people on it.’ It’s like, yeah, whatever, good luck with that.
And so, every single one of your ancestors reproduced in an unending procession lasting three and a half billion years and they’re all wrong and you’re right.
It’s like I don’t think so.”
First, just because someone sees the realities of overpopulation and chooses to not add to it does not mean they think all our ancestors are wrong for having kids and we’re “right” for not wanting them. I shouldn’t need to explain why that’s not the case for the majority of people.
Second, what people (who don’t want to have kids) are saying is they maybe don’t see their deepest calling in this life to parent because (esp. with overpopulation) there isn’t as great a need for that—whereas there might be a greater need for engineering so we can better sustain the life we do have or farming so we can ensure the life already here has food or ministry because, good Lord, we all need deeper spiritual formation from cradle to grave or ____________ (fill in the blank).
There are more ways to be fruitful and impact God’s Kingdom than multiplying physically with children.
According to Mr. Peterson, we only have 4 choices in this regard:
Have kids — but it’s not just having them that he’s talking about—it’s WANTING to have them. I would love to know the percentage of parents who had kids that never wanted them in the first place either because it was unplanned pregnancy or they never felt the freedom to differ from societal norms. Most end up grateful they had kids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t have minimal regrets about aspects of life they missed out on because they felt the pressure to choose kids over everything else.
SIDE NOTE: I am a woman, and I don’t want kids. I believe in God, and I don’t think He is smiting me for this decision—I am writing this mostly from the lens of the woman because I think we can all agree the sacrifice women make in having kids is far greater. Right? Okay, back to the post.
Accept the reality that you WILL change your mind if you don’t want them now—it’s inevitable that you will want them eventually. Scientific fact, apparently. Because Mr. Peterson said so.
Accept your delusional state. Oh well, you just won’t amount to much.
Stay a child, and admit you’re immature and you’ll never measure up to the “adult” that parents themselves are. Because all parents are super mature.
Of course, Jordan is saying all of this to an audience of men (the video was a clip from the Daily Wire production, Dragons, Monsters, and Men) but that may be even more concerning because he's training these men to not take into account the other person involved in childrearing.
Jordan and the men who look up to him are not the people who have to subject themselves to 9 months of horror and push a bowling ball out of their vagina (I know some women have all the luck and love their pregnancy but I’ve seen far too many struggle through it).
He doesn’t have to commit the majority of his life after having said kid to nurturing and caring for, feeding it, cleaning it, etc. because that’s not an expectation of fathers. It’s a great plus if your husband/baby daddy loves to do that or is willing to pitch in more than normal, but let’s not kid ourselves—that’s the exception not the rule in this day and age.
. . .
Let’s take this from the Christian perspective for a second because I think it’s easier to argue for not having kids when you don’t have the added expectation of your faith community.
Many people jump directly to quoting Genesis 1 when conversing about our “mandate” to have children. Let’s read the actual text, shall we?
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.”
27 So God created man in His own image;
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.”
There are three important angles in this text:
This is a blessing, not a command. Our culture has twisted this to make little Christian children grow up thinking there absolutely is no other way to a “blessed life” in God’s eyes — if you don’t have kids, you are living outside of God’s blessing. I’m sure you can see how many problems that poses…
For starters, Jesus was unmarried and without kids.
Paul was single, and he often proclaimed the beautiful and blessed side of singleness that if one can without lusting, one should strive for.
How about all those who haven’t been able to have their own children? God just hates them? Surely if you know the character of God truly, you understand how out of character that is.
This was a blessing given at the beginning of time when their greatest role in life and necessary calling was to have children to fill the earth. Now we come back to that idea of overpopulation because many of us can clearly see that that’s likely NOT our greatest need right now.
Should we still continue to multiply? Sure—but at the rate that we have been? Not necessary, and again, I don’t see God condemning us for using the brains He gave us to make the decision on where He might be leading each of us—whether to have kids or not.
The words play out in a simple English way we can understand as two-fold: Be fruitful AND multiply. Sure, there is great blessing in both, but who’s to say there isn’t just as much blessing in the idea of fruitfulness without multiplying? Can they even be separated? I think so — I know far too many people or have heard stories of fruitful lives who have not had children.
God still blesses those stories of men and women without biological children and the lives they touch.
Take Deborah for instance — we only know that she was a leader in the military, and she was given the title of “Mother” because of who she was, not because of having children of her own (that we know of). She is only one example of many — God blesses those who do not multiply themselves as there are many other ways to bear fruit and even to “mother” or “father”.
Listen — I know this is a complicated and controversial topic, especially in the church, but we need to do better. Jordan needs to do better. We need to allow space for MANY different walks of life, different passions and drives and callings (not ours to give), and different experiences that might disallow or at least discourage people from pursuing their own reproduction.
And let’s stop fooling ourselves into thinking that demanding people live a certain way is the most God-honoring witness to the faith.