Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marriage and Children Increase Happiness

Once agains, after much toil and struggle social science confirms common sense and affirms what we already knew. A British study confirms that getting married and having children increases happiness. The more children, the more happiness, especially for women. But did we all know that?

Apparently not, according to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi in the UK. He told an audience recently that old Europe is dying because people are too selfish to have children. He said:

"Parenthood involves massive sacrifice: of money, attention, time and emotional energy. Where today, in European culture with its consumerism and its
instant gratification ‘because you’re worth it’, in that culture, where will you
find space for the concept of sacrifice for the sake of generations not yet born?

Europe, at least the indigenous population of Europe, is dying, exactly as
Polybius said about ancient Greece in the third pre-Christian century. The century that is intellectually the closest to our own – the century of the sceptics and the epicureans and the cynics. Polybius wrote this:"The fact is, that the people of Hellas had entered upon the false path of ostentation, avarice and laziness, and were therefore becoming unwilling to marry, or if they did marry, to bring up the children born to them; the majority were only willing to bring up at most one or two."

That is why Greece died. That is where Europe is today."

You can read his entire speech, including his refutation of neo-Darwinism, if you click on this blog, the Hermeneutic of Continuity, and follow the link provided there.

It would appear that there is a happy convergence between having children and cultural flourishing - and a sad convergence between voluntary sterility and cultural decline. The command to be fruitful and multiply has never been rescinded and the culture of death is simply the product of unbelief and rebellion against the God of Creation. Happily, that is a rebellion that will never succeed. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall have them in derision." I can't wait util it is time to attend Handel's Messiah performed by Tafelmusik - our Christmas tradition. It is about the birth of a baby, you know - something God is highly in favor of - and the means by which salvation comes to this dying world.


David said...

Hi Craig, the link 'the Hermeneutic of Continuity' doesn't seem to work.

Craig Carter said...

It is fixed now.

Anonymous said...

The jury may still be out on this question:

Either way, I imagine that I'll have kids at some point. I think it is dangerous to promise people that children will provide them with happiness when such is not always (or perhaps even often) the case. I imagine that most unhappy people would remain unhappy, and that most happy people might preserve their happiness through the years of child-rearing. It's no different than with pursuing wealth or sexual conquests or power.

Can you tell that Ecclesiastes is my favourite book of the Bible yet?