The Pope has some interesting words about babies and our throwaway culture. I’m going to pair his words up with my experience as a happy father of seven.
But before looking at that let me make a confession:
I’m guilty of it. With seven little children, our family uses a lot of “throwaway” items:
- Disposable diapers.
- Disposable paper towels.
- Disposable paper plates.
- Disposable napkins.
- Disposable zip-locs.
- Disposable paper cups.
Like a lot of families, we’ve grown used to the luxury of disposable items. We simply use them and throw them away.
In America it’s much more pervasive than that. People buy a new cell phone. 12 months later they get rid of it. Something better has come. Replacing your old computer every 12 months is pretty common. Some even treat cars as disposable items!
My friend Father Pio Maria Hoffman recently told me about a wonderful quote from Pope Francis regarding our “throw away culture” and it’s relationship to abortion, child soldiers, and human trafficking:
Peace is also threatened by every denial of human dignity, firstly the lack of access to adequate nutrition. We cannot be indifferent to those suffering from hunger, especially children, when we think of how much food is wasted every day in many parts of the world immersed in what I have often termed “the throwaway culture”. Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as “unnecessary”. For example, it is frightful even to think there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; and children being bought and sold in that terrible form of modern slavery which is human trafficking, which is a crime against humanity.”
-His Holiness Pope Francis, Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 13, 2014
When we do not value what we have, it’s becomes disposable or “throwaway.”
The practice of abortion (like child soldiers or human trafficking) treats children as commodities. Pope Francis, in this media soundbite, is repositioning the abortion debate. It’s brilliant.
Children are not commodities!
And yet, when we are in public with our seven children, 95% of the comments we get are commodity questions. Very few focus on the human dignity of our children. Instead, they think of them as monetary liabilities. They are like a depreciating boat in your garage – except they don’t float on a lake or pull you around on water skis.
Children as Money Pits
The culture sees children as money pits. As parents, the devil is always whispering the same lie into our ears. The devil lisps, “It’s not worth it. You can’t afford it. You’ll never get ahead. Children are holding you back.”
What’s so brilliant about Pope Francis’ remarks is that he turns the tables. He says, “Look, the world is only coming to value kids as dead (abortion), impressionable murderers (child soldiers), or facilitators of orgasms (human/sex trafficking).”
If you don’t believe the world is broken under original sin, review that list.
Children as Images of God
The answer to this is to rethink the way we imagine children. They have souls. They have joy. They have beauty. Each and every person is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Ps 139:14) The Faith teaches that God immediately and instantly creates anew each human soul at conception. That soul is unique and has great dignity in the eyes of God. Jesus loves the little children. This is why Satan hates the little children.
If children don’t make you happy or you are tempted to look at children in financial terms, you’re listening to the wrong side. The Holy Spirit is telling you one thing. The devil is telling you the opposite thing. Listen to the former. Resist the latter, and he will flee.
Why I Love My Children
We have seven children and I am often tempted to think of them in “financial terms.” When I get the bill for a broken arm or a broken window, I can be tempted to think that I have seven holes in the hull of the U.S.S. Marshall ship – always taking in water and sinking the ship.
I’ve spoken about this on my podcast, but the secret to joy and peace is gratitude. Be grateful and melancholy will flee.
- I love my son Gabriel because he’s smart and funny. Lately, he’s becoming rather philosophical like his old man. Chip off the old block. He’s an inventor. He loves archery and sports.
- I love my Mary because she’s so witty and playful. She tries to tickle me. Other times, she plays tricks on me. She is very intelligent: an A student.
- I love my Rose because she brings me hot green tea when I don’t ask. She is a leader. She has a gaggle of girls around her all the time. She is a huge help with her baby sister.
- I love Jude because he is a great dancer and he loves to sing. Like Gabriel, he creates things. He made a bow yesterday.
- I love Becket because he so much like me when I as a kid – but he looks just like my wife. You can see his new “ninja dance” video on my Facebook wall. He has a big heart. He lives in a fantasy world that’s fascinating to learn about. He also is highly organized.
- Then there’s Blaise. I love him even though he struggles with blood sugar and screams at night (God made him that way, I can’t complain). Although he’s two, he has cute little catch phrases like “Wassup Dudes” and “Yee-haw.” He likes to dress up as super-heroes and wear shades. If I say, “You’re my superman,” or “You’re a cowboy,” it makes him really happy.
- Elizabeth is 7 months. She smiles whenever she’s me (accept if she’s hungry – then she wants Mommy). She makes cooing sounds. She’s about to crawl.
Each child is a mystery. Each child is designed for a special destiny. There is nothing “throwaway” or disposable about them. I speak blessings over them. I want them to know that God has plans to bless them in this life and for eternity. I have the dignified office of guiding them along toward their divine destiny.
Can you put a price on that?
Question: I struggle with thinking of children as “financial line items.” Do you? What do you do to snap out of it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.