Back to the childfree christian channel (thanks again I.Am.Free for her recent interview) — Cha Cha, did a great guest post on feministmormonhousewives.org. She lays out her reasons for not wanting children, which will sound familiar to many childfree. But then she goes on to how the mormon church sees her, and asks some insightful questions..
She writes, “But because that is my choice, I am made to feel worthless in the eyes of the church. I listen to lessons in relief society or talks in church that praise mothers but declare that a woman who does not want children is completely selfish. Why is it that for a woman, her ultimate spiritual growth can only come from rearing children? Why is it that there is no room in this religion for any other way of life? Why is it drilled into our heads since early childhood that we should be fruitful and multiply?
I’ve prayed daily about this issue ever since the first person in my ward asked me when I intended to have children. I get on my knees and I cry my eyes out to the Lord, but I’ve yet to receive an answer either way. Do I pursue the life of motherhood, when it feels so unnatural to me even though that feeling is contrary to everything the church teaches us about being a woman? Or do I shout from the rooftops that I don’t want any kids? Heavenly Father hasn’t hit me upside the head with a spiritual hammer, commanding me to do either of these things. So because I have not gotten any sort of personal revelation that contradicts my feelings of revulsion toward me being a mother, I simply decide not to do it.
But I feel sad knowing that if I stick with my decision, I’ll never have any place in this gospel, because the things we are taught make it so very clear that a woman who remains childless by choice has no value. It’s sad, Sisters, because that should be the very last thing that motivates us to have children.”
Cha Cha, and other christian and mormon childfree, how do you reconcile not having received the spiritual hammer from your god to have kids and being seen as having no value by the church that professes that word of god?
It is hard for me to understand why a person would choose to remain part of a church that sees me as having no value just because I do not procreate–a church that does not believe that parenthood is only one role for people to play when it comes to children. It takes a village, as they say, and every role has value.
Those who resonate with Cha Cha, how do you do it? To those who know men and women who would resonate with Cha Cha–how do they make sense of this?
I don’t think God hits us upside the head with a spiritual hammer (that whole “still, small voice” thing), but He does speak and show us where we need to be in small ways. Mine was more of a tiny “ting” of a spiritual bell going off where I felt comfortable with the decision even in the face of people telling me I shouldn’t be (people in my church). The more I prayed, the more at peace I felt with the decision and the more I knew I was supposed to be at peace. It doesn’t sound as though Cha Cha is feeling remotely at peace, but how much of her unrest comes from her own sense of what is right for her in God’s eyes and how much comes from the outside world (her church)? (Her use of the word “revulsion” in regard to childbearing really made me think that God has spoken to her, but she’s afraid to really listen out of fear for how she’s viewed in the church’s eyes.) We are called to be in the world but not of it, and I think sometimes even the church forgets that that peer pressure isn’t the way of God to ensure His ways are being followed.
When the Galatians were being torn apart due to finger-pointing between those of different factions (Galatians 3:28), Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I believe that this extends even more: “There is neither child-bearing nor childless, barren nor fruitful, married nor unmarried [since Paul also decries the belief that all are called to even be married, let alone child-bearing], male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
God doesn’t look at us for what we are not, but for what we are in Him and through Him. We are His children, whether we are called by Him to be mothers/fathers or not. How much good has been done in the name of the Lord by childless people? He can do good with our hearts and our hands, and sometimes I feel He calls us to even greater good because we have more time to open our hearts and our hands because we are childless/childfree.
How beautifully said…you really should comment on Cha Cha’s post with exactly what you say here…it could help her and many others. This is a keeper response and if it is alright I will speak to it when I get communications from Christians who are struggling with being childfree, which is more often than you might think~L
I’ll copy it over. I love being able to speak to other Christians who are childfree/childless by choice, because I know they often face the same things I have in the past. I knew before I was married that I would never have children (if I ever even married, since I wasn’t even sure of that), so I did quite a bit of research on this based on biblical principles instead of just church leaders’ beliefs. Everyone always told me, “Just wait until you’re married, and you’ll want kids,” or “Well, God will show you that you’re to have children when He brings you a guy who wants them.” (My response always was, “God wouldn’t bring me a guy who wanted kids, or I’ll know that guy isn’t for me.”)
Guess what? I was friends with my husband for quite a while before we dated, and I knew from the moment he told me in a random conversation that he didn’t want children and wasn’t even sure if he would ever marry that he was the guy God was bringing into my life. I even had this huge semi-joking list of things any “future husband of mine” would have if God wanted me to get married (pretty much “knowing” full well that no guy could fulfill all those requirements, and even if one guy in the world did, how would I find him?), and my husband has every single one of the items on that half-joking list. God’s got a wicked sense of humor. ;~) But beyond that, it proved my point even more that I was on the right path.
Thanks for the suggestion. I hope it helps her find her peace.
Love the story about your half-joking list and your husband! ~L
Oh, and definitely go ahead and pass it on to others who are struggling. If they want someone else to talk to who has gone through the same thing, you also may pass on my email. (I don’t know if it matters, but my husband and I are still fairly young — I am 30 and he is 31 — and we are still in the midst of speaking out about being childfree Christians in “childbearing years”, just as anyone who would be struggling with it probably is. We get it and are still living it, but our peace is unshakable in this matter.)
Bravo to you both for speaking out on this — if in doing so it ever involves links to sites, posts, forums, etc., please send to me–a topic to definitely continue to follow…~L
I grew up in a Mormon community; I was the only non-Mormon girl in my graduating high school class. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a childfree Mormon woman. Procreating seems to be praised above all else in the Mormon church. In my small town, there were families with 12 or 13 kids that couldn’t afford to clothe or feed any of them, but they were thought of so highly in the community.
There were six girls in my class that actually got married and had children before they graduated high school – not because they got pregnant accidentally or anything, they just couldn’t wait any longer I guess. Looking back it was so bizarre but our (Mormon) teachers and (Mormon) school administration thought it was just wonderful that they were getting such a head start and kept their schedules flexible to accommodate their child-rearing needs.
I can empathize with Cha Cha because growing up, I too felt persecuted by my Mormon friends, whether intentional or not, because I was different from them. My solution was to cut and run the second I graduated high school…I moved to France right away and now I’m back in Canada but live very far away in a place where nobody even knows what the word “Mormon” means. Being a member of the church, though, she’ll always have to put up with being “different” and will constantly be asked to defend her decision. She’ll likely never be treated like a true adult in the church, either.
Thanks for the thoughts–love your solution to cut and run–and to France! ~L
Getting out of there worked very well for me, but it meant leaving behind my family (I still see them, but not very often – they still live in the same Mormon community) and friends (there is very little communication between us anymore). It was tough completely rebuilding my life at the age of 18 and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others although I certainly don’t regret starting over.
I agree that it’s difficult to understand why someone would stay in a church that puts so much emphasis on having children if they weren’t interested in doing so. However, if Cha Cha was raised in the church and believes most of the rest of its teachings, I can see why she wouldn’t want to leave. Former Mormons are considered apostates and she would likely find herself treated even more poorly by the rest of the church if she left.
To some degree I feel that I am still affected by the way I was treated growing up, and I recently took a class at my college (“Cults and Terrorism”) that helped me to understand why Mormons behave the way they do and really helped me to take things less personally. Churches like Mormonism generally encourage their members to act exactly the same and have trouble accepting any type of dissension. In addition, a lot of time the members also worry that people who do not obey the rules of the Church will not go to heaven and they are simply trying to help make that happen.
I hope that Cha Cha can make peace with her decision without having to leave the Church behind if she would prefer to remain a member. Perhaps she could do some research and find a more liberal ward to attend if such a thing exists in her area.
I grew up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, and I am a 3dr generation LDS woman. both my parents and grand parents were married in the temple. Unlike the other girls I grew up with I didn’t want to be a mother and I made that choice when I was 13 yrs old. When I was 12 yrs old I had decided that I wanted to join the air force and see the world and get away from everything and everyone who made me very unhappy. Shortly after I turned 18 and before I finished high school I joined the air force For which my mother disowned for doing. NO matter where I went in this world the other members/ women of the LDS church treated me like I was a leper because I was childless. The Ward in SLC that I was in shortly after getting married had many judgemental women and they would not even sit by me in class. I currently live in Marysville WA and I have had 2 relief soceity presidents look me in the face and devalue me because I am childless. I have not been to homemaking for 25 years because I was always ignored and made to feel invisible. I have not been to church in ten years because of health problems but I am still being ignored by the sisters when I tell them I am childfree. Over the years I have had 12 surgeries and not once was I offered help during my recovery time. unlike the other sisters who have children.