“We will assess the success of our lives in accordance not with whether they were righteous, but whether they were interesting and fun.”
So said Lionel Shriver, quoted at length in an Atlantic article from April 17, 2015 titled, “Why Women Choose Not to Have Children.” The article was a very sober outworking of what life apart from God looks like, even for someone like me who thinks she is done at just one child.
I’m sympathetic to the desire to not have children. Maybe the authors of the article would argue that is because of my education level. It’s at least because I have experienced how much work rearing a child is. Any parent can affirm that saying yes to children means saying no to some things that one would otherwise embrace.
But as this article cuts to, every decision we make is in relationship to what we think life is for. And these authors are saying life is for their comfort and convenience and diversion. I have no desire to demean the people who are represented by the article—what they’re saying is what they have, absent God. It’s the logical outworking.
At the same time, it is deeply sad, and I say that as someone who is lured by it. I have a constant bent towards isolation, towards caring only for myself, in pursuing the interesting and fun. Many of my goals have been achieved because I watch so carefully to meet my needs and desires. This is the way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.
Other people are work, most especially children; they include pain. Best to avoid it?
But God, in the Trinity, has always existed in relationship. There is no alone-ness in the Godhead, but overflowing knowing and known-ness, overflowing love. There is no sin, either, and therefore no pain. We humans are steeped in sin. We hurt ourselves and others—but we are still created for God and for each other.
If you spend your life chasing the interesting and fun, you might find it for little spurts. But it can’t fill your heart the way relationships with God and others can; even committed atheists find they want to share their vacations with someone they love. Interesting and fun, as a life goal, is a lie. It can’t bear the burden of what makes for meaning.
It’s not that children are the be all, end all. Not at all. But it’s the heart that profoundly cries ME, at the expense of others, that chafes against who we were created to be, how God designed us to flourish. And by the way, I am writing this post to myself.