blogs about awakening
One of the saddest stories is of the proverbial frog in the kettle that is gradually heating up. “Ah, how comfortable this is!” says Mr. Frog as the temperature slowly rises. But before long, he gets very sleepy and, as you know, is unable to jump out before it’s too late. He ends up being boiled to death.
Crises that grow gradually are certainly difficult to discern. Tragically, if the trend we are on has us moving in a dangerous direction, we can end up facing a dead end from which there is no safe escape.
Few Americans are aware of a major trend that has been building for decades that will soon present us with very severe consequences: the gradual aging of our population caused largely by historically low birthrates.
The average (more correctly the median) age of Americans in 2020 was 38.2 years. This value varies from state to state, with Maine having the oldest median value of 45.1 years and Utah (with their many Mormons having babies) coming in with the lowest median age at 31.2 years.
By contrast, the overall median age of Americans in 1900 was 22.9 years; in 1950 it grew to 30.19. As trends continue, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that, within 14 years, the elderly folks in America over the age of 65 will, for the first time in our nation’s history, outnumber those children under the age of 18. This will present a huge economic dilemma of paying for Social Security and Medicare for the elderly. The pressure to ask elderly to do everyone a favor by taking the “red poison pill” and getting out of the way will continue to grow.
But what has caused this gradual but significant shift in the aging of our population? Yes, part of it is due to the fact that folks are dying at older ages than before. But, more importantly, the reason for this shift is the huge decline in birthrates in America. A recent Wall Street Journal Article was entitled, “Births in U.S. Drop to Levels Not Seen Since 1979.”
While the decline in births has been somewhat gradual, allow me to provide a stark contrast with how things were in the past vs. how they are today. The average woman in her lifetime in 1800 gave birth to 7 children. The average woman in 2020 will, in her lifetime, give birth to only 1.64 children!
This number 1.64 is significant in more ways than merely to compare it to women in 1800. What you may not know is that it takes 2.1 children per woman just to break even in population growth: one child to replace the woman; one to replace the man; and .1 to cover for women who cannot or will not give birth at all. This number of how many children the average woman will give birth in her lifetime in a nation is called that nation’s “Total Fertility Rate” (TFR). America’s TFR has been below replacement level (2.1 children/woman) since 1971! (The only exception was a very brief period of time in 2008 when it was slightly over 2.1.)
But why are women today having smaller families? Because kids are a lot of work, take a huge amount of our time, money and energy. So we aim for the “millionaire’s family”: two kids. Or to have no kids at all, to be “kid-free!”
I cannot judge non-believers. But allow me to speak to Christ-followers who are parents. Life is short: 70 years equals less than 22,000 days, less than a million hours. You cannot take your retirement home, nor your bank account, nor your new car, nor your great career to heaven. But children are created in the image of God and have the potential to impact life on this planet and then live forever in His eternal Kingdom along with us. Or to put it a different way: children are messages we send to a time and a place we ourselves can never go. They are “Missionaries to the Future.”
Yes, children are expensive and a lot of work to bear and raise. But where in the Bible does it say that life is supposed to be all about me and my comfort? The Lord spelled it out quite differently: “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24)
Yes, this issue is a scary subject. And we don’t like to be different and weird. But shouldn’t Jesus be the Lord of EVERY area of our lives? How about this area of our family size? Why aren’t we as Christ-followers praying and talking more about this? Time to repent and give God everything!
For more on this very important issue, see our book: Sweeter by the Dozen: Making Jesus the Lord of Our Family Size.
He is the executive director of The Grand Awakening.