The pope’s warning should be heeded

Choosing pets over children is not biblical.

Hannah Dilanchyan, Opinions Editor

Earlier this month, Pope Francis directly addressed people who choose to raise pets rather than children. “We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more,” Francis said, when speaking about Joseph and how he raised young Jesus. He continued by stating the importance of adopting children who need families.

Francis explained that “this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity. And in this way civilization becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children.”

Many young people tend to prefer adopting a pet because there is less responsibility and time commitment than raising a child. However, mentoring and raising a child remains an extremely important role for those who are able to. Psalm 127 says that “children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” The Bible highlights the importance of having children—but many young people have shied away from this legacy.

DECREASED BIRTH RATES

Birth rates steadily dropped because many couples who prioritize their careers do not want to have children until their 30s and they only want one or two children. The New York Times reports that the quality of birth control also increased. 

Birth rates dramatically decreased over the past few years. NPR explains that U.S. fertility rates decreased by 4% in 2020, which is less than what is needed to keep the same population rate.  Brookings reports that the U.S. birth rates will most likely remain low, as women are having children at older ages. Families are having less children than before—in the 1950s, an average woman had 4.7 children. Today, it is at 2.1 children, the BBC reports. 

The U.S. is not the only nation with decreasing birth rates. In nations like South Korea, Thailand, Portugal and Spain, their population rates are expected to drop more than half, according to the BBC.

CHOOSING TO ADOPT PETS

Over the pandemic, people around the world were in lockdown. Many of them made the decision to adopt a pet since they spent more time at home and needed a companion. Even apart from COVID-19, the millennial generation chooses to raise pets more often than children.Forbes writes that millennials choose pets over kids because of finances, freedom, and parenting practice. 

If people are not ready for the life-changing commitment of a child, a pet needs less responsibility. However, when people opt to only have pets over having children, they miss the opportunity to bring life into the world. While this may be the only option for some people, a majority of young people may not know the importance of having children, especially from a scriptural standpoint.

THE POPE AND THE GOSPEL

When Francis called out people who choose pets over kids, people became openly offended on social media. One tweet read, “So the Pope mad at us bc we choose to have more pets than children!?! Is the vatican gonna pay daycare or a nighttime doula!?!”

No matter what people may take offense to, the Bible is clear in its stance toward children. God told Adam and Eve in the garden to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” Jesus has a heart for little children and loved every one of them. Psalm 139 says every person is knit by God in the womb—so deeply loved and unique.  

Young people should be wise when they decide to have children—but they should not shy away from it. Becoming a parent is a blessing from the Lord as it is an incredible gift and opportunity. While I love pets, the pope is right in this issue—choosing pets above children is not the way to go.

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