Monday, September 19, 2005A few nights ago I linked to a post by Dr. Al Mohler on the topic of adults choosing to delay children. In a post today at the Boars Head Tavern, Michael Spencer took issue with the piece, saying:
"Finally, The topics that relate to the Christian worldview never cease to amaze me. I mean, I get it, but where we are going here? If you don't get married and have babies quick...what? God is offended? The culture goes to the dogs? I'm just unclear."
I'll have more to say about Spencer's most recent critique of the current issues at work within the dogmatic framework of the "Christian worldview," but I'm at a loss to see why he has a problem here. Let me begin by saying I share his concern that Mohler's blogging and online commentary is often too political. Frankly, there are many more commentators doing a much better job at dealing with cultural issues. On top of that, Mohler's "blog" is often little more than a collection of links or summaries of other articles. Likewise I share the feeling with other bloggers that Mohler goes lots of scolding with little understanding. So my point here is not in defending Mohler, though like Spencer, I have a lot of respect for his work at Southern and within the theological community.
I've taken issue with Mohler before, most notably concerning the topic of delayed marriage. Yet I was not stating disagreement with Mohler's concern in this post and this one. I was then and am now bothered by his inability to understand the circumstances faced by my generation. To date, he has not yet shown a proper understanding. This might have something to do with speaking at seminaries and Christian colleges, instead of talking to students at, for lack of a better term, secular institutions.
Having said that, I think Mohler is basically right about the dangers in delaying both marriage and childbirth. Yes, I know there are plenty of good Christian twentysomethings delaying both of these things for purposes of ministry. There are also lots of good Christian twentysomethings having fun being single and living like a nineteen year old. I know plenty of them; up until about a year ago, I was really looking forward to being one of them. I guess my question for folks like Spencer is this: even if "early" marriage isn't a biblical position (like, say, tithing) it is certainly a practice that nearly every society in human history has decided to undertake. If we decide that it's a point that we can adhere to at our own whim, we are conceding to drastic cultural change. Mohler would likely suggest, as I do, that Christians should be slow to accept such change. This change is the result of technological and industrial advances; should the Church give up this ground?
A secondary point I would emphasize is that Mohler's position on this matter is by no means limited to evangelical Christians. Conservative Catholics often hold this position in places like National Review and First Things. Nonevangelicals take up the argument in the Weekly Standard and Touchstone. Orthodox believers like John Mark Reynolds and Frederica Matthewes-Green do, as well. Stanley Kurtz has been making an essentially secular argument that says delaying marriage and children will ultimately be detrimental to our social order. So while folks like Al Mohler and James Dobson make an evangelical push - and again, I'm not entirely comfortable with their premises - there are many, many others who come to the same conclusions with slightly different arguments. These arguments are often more persuasive, in my opinion, but I worry that Spencer and others like him are ignoring important cultural matters because of an understandable problem with the way many evangelicals present the issue.