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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pronatalism is its own belief system

Lately I've been spending some of my spare time talking to fundamentalists about gay rights. I'm really struggling to understand, because I just don't get how a committed and respectful sexual relationship between two people can be a threat to society. And, given what I know of Christ and his life, I really don't understand how anyone could call this attitude towards gay people a Christian belief.

Over the last couple of weeks, with the help of a presentation from Larry Nelson about the stigma associated with early and unexpected infertility, I've realized that this set of beliefs is actually a belief system in its own right, and that it has a name: Pronatalism.

Here's how Wikipedia currently defines pronatalism (or, as they call it, natalism):
Natalism (also called pronatalism or the pro-birth position) is a belief that promotes human reproduction. The term is taken from the Latin adjective form for "birth", natalis. Natalism promotes child-bearing and glories parenthood. It typically advocates policies such as limiting access to abortion and contraception, as well as creating financial and social incentives for the population to reproduce.

I've always had trouble with the position of the Catholic Church (my faith of origin - I became a Quaker by convincement in my late 20's) on women's rights, as manifested by various pronatalist stances on contraception and abortion, as well as others.

What's also interesting is what wikipedia has to say about nativism, which brings in a lot of attitudes against immigration.

So, I've come to the following conclusions:
  1. Stigma against homosexuality is part of a larger belief system that stigmatizes single women, couples who choose not to have children (the Childless by Choice community), and women who practice contraception or who choose to have abortions rather than carrying a child to term.
  2. Pronatalist beliefs made historical sense in small communities who needed to maintain their identity and their population numbers in order to persist. Moreover, in a social evolutionary sense, this belief system was probably associated with group persistence, and so has become overrepresented.
  3. Pronatalism makes little sense in a world with 8 billion people and counting, where overpopulation and resource overutilization and climate change are posing enormous risks and challenges to peace now and in the future.
  4. Pronatalism is a strongly felt moral position. But it is not a Christian position (or a Moslem position, or a Jewish position). It is its own belief system.
Oddly enough, this is also helping me to feel a lot more comfortable calling myself a Christian.

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