Is there no hope without children?

Will Jones, who has contributed to this blog in guest posts as well as comments, wrote an interesting and challenging piece on the political website Conservative Woman. The website describes its values as being “unashamedly those of faith, married family and nation-state”, though it actually dissociates itself from a direct link with the Conservative party. It is worth a wander round even—or perhaps especially—if you don’t share its values. There is nothing quite like reading good arguments from a point of view you might not agree with to sharpen your own thinking.

Will’s article was titled ‘Without children, the future holds no hope‘ and in it he explores the consequences for Western societies of our plummeting birthrates.

England and Wales are now experiencing their lowest birth rates since records began 80 years ago. The Daily Mail quotes TCW’s Kathy Gyngell saying it heralds a ‘long-term decline in numbers of babies’ and is a ‘social disaster’. She’s not wrong.

Birth rates have been in long term decline since the end of the post-war baby boom, plummeting as the contraception-fuelled 1960s sexual revolution got under way. They rallied a little in the 1980s boom years before returning to decline in the recession-hit 1990s.

Mass immigration under the Blair government in the 2000s saw a surge in births among foreign-born parents. But even with such births holding steady today at around 28 per cent, overall rates in 2018 have dropped to their lowest level yet, just 11.1 live births per 1,000 population. This is down from a baby-boom high of 18.5 per 1,000 population.

The new low represents a fertility rate of around 1.7 children per woman – well below the replacement rate of 2.1. This means the home population of the UK (rates are similar in Scotland and Northern Ireland) is declining, and the current increase in the UK population of around 390,000 per year is entirely a result of net inward migration.

If you try and do some sums, you will realise that, if immigrant communities have a much higher birthrate, and the national average is 1.7, then the birthrate for the historically indigenous part of the population is even lower, and even further from the ‘replacement’ rate.

Will goes on briefly to explore some of the social and economic consequences of this dynamic. For one thing, countries with a highly developed welfare system need a stable, replacement population so that the young who are in work can financially support the old and infirm. (The same is true in all cultures, but in a welfare state the personal, family organisation of this support is missing and thus the need is not so directly obvious.) For another, societies function well when there is a high degree of social cohesion—and substantial, rapid immigration, where migrant populations don’t have time, energy or motivation to integrate culturally, threatens this. We can see this happening in France, where members of former colonial countries were granted French citizenship, thus encouraging migration, and Germany, who opened the door to significant migration under Angela Merkel. Her motivation, though widely seen as compassionate by other countries, actually appears to have been largely motivated by demographic concerns, as Robert Peston pointed out some time ago.

The two relevant points (leaving aside moral ones) are that:

  1. the UK’s population is rising fast, whereas Germany’s is falling fast;
  2. the dependency ratio (the proportion of expensive older people in the population relative to able-bodied, tax-generating workers) is rising much quicker in Germany than in the UK.

So to put it another way, it is arguably particularly useful to Germany to have an influx of young grateful families from Syria or elsewhere, who may well be keen to toil and strive to rebuild their lives and prove to their hosts that they are not a burden – in the way that successive immigrant waves have done all over the world (including Jews like my family in London’s East End).


One of the claimed motivations for smaller family sizes (as Prince Harry and Meghan have commented) in the West is to reduce the overall human population, which will in time reduce the environmental pressure of food production on the planet. But the late Hans Rosling was fond of pointing out how futile that is; the global population is primarily growing at the moment because people currently alive are living longer, and there is a population bulge left over in the transition of many countries from poverty to wealth, which is the main thing that reduces family size. ‘What do you want to do—kill them all?’ he used to ask.

Will Jones points out that our current situation is the result of economic and political policy:

We are constantly told that we cannot use the tax and benefits system for social engineering. But governments have been doing just that for the last 40 years to push women back to work. It has worked a treat. Never have more women been in work or more mothers in full-time work.

It is worth noting that this move alone has had a significant detrimental effect on health, stress and family life, because of the housing market. Because house prices mostly reflect supply and demand (rather than primarily reflecting the costs of building), then as more families have shifted to have two adults earning, house prices have moved to become a multiple of two incomes where previously they were the same multiple of one income. As a result, housing has simply become less affordable for everyone. The move from one-income families to two-income families is more or less a one-way ratchet.

And the emphasis on women staying in work, rather than being full-time parents, is a reflection of political values across Europe, as another article on TCW points out:

To spell it out, the EU is run and controlled by political leaders of whom the majority have no children. This is not a gender issue. Neither Theresa May nor Chancellor Angela Merkel has children but then neither do President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria or Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg…

OK, I hear you say, there are still many EU countries where this is not the case – Poland, Hungary, Portugal and Spain to name but some. But add in Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, neither of whom have children either, and you arrive at a startling finding. It is this: of a total EU population of 510 million, 310 million are living in countries that have leaders who are childless…

Perhaps it’s not surprising that rather than address population decline through family and child policy reforms, this group of politicians is tolerating, if not promoting, a population replacement policy through migration.

Given that this approach is, one way or another, going to lead to some serious political, economic and social consequences, it is remarkable that debate on this question (the importance of parenting, childbirth and child-rearing) has been pushed to the margins—along with any balanced ethical debate about abortion, which is now at it highest levels ever in the UK. It feels as though, in the mainstream discourse in our culture, to suggest that parenting and family life might actually be an important part of our national, political and economic life is to risk being labelled as ‘right wing’ and ‘reactionary’ despite the importance of the issue for national life in just one generation’s time.


This is, in part, a reflection of the short-term nature of our political debate. But it is also because of the set of values and beliefs that underlie these political and economic approaches, which TCW articles repeatedly label ‘feminism’. Thus Will Jones comments:

For this birth decline societal death wish to be stopped three things need to happen:…

The third is a cultural shift in attitude that starts to recognise the deep damage and disruption to family life and happiness bound up in reproduction that is caused by feminism. There is nothing shameful in choosing homemaking as an occupation; there is nothing wrong about having marriage and children as a prime goal in life; there is all to be proud of for a woman to prioritise or focus on her homemaking and nurturing role. It is what many women want – most mothers want more hours at home and fewer at work, and if they can they do. Nor is there anything demeaning about periods of financial dependency on a husband provider. That is what marriage is about: trust, love and commitment.

I think there are three issues around this kind of language. The first is that there is not simply one thing called ‘feminism’, but rather different feminist movements with different convictions that sometimes conflict sharply with one another. The second is that ‘feminism’ in the broad sense of the term has led to women and men being paid equally for the same work—and I would find it hard to argue against that! It is a matter of basic justice. The third issue is that this criticism of feminism will look to some as though it is leading to the imposition of stereotypical sex roles, with the husband at work and the wife at home looking after children—an issue to which I will return in a moment.

In fact, the particular conviction which TCW authors take issue with is the idea that men and women are, to all intents and purposes, interchangeable as regards occupation, an idea that has also been adopted within Christian circles in relation to women and men in leadership. This is a quite distinct idea from the belief that women and men can fulfil the whole range of roles, in the church and the world—it is the belief that they can without any differentiation of interest or aptitude, and therefore this reality is not realised until we see equal numbers of men and women in each and every role. (In reality, this goal his addressed quite selectively; I have never yet seen a campaign for equal numbers of women and men in dustbin collection…!). A couple of years ago, I tackled this head-on with Steve Holmes, who is involved in Project 3:28 which aims to see equal numbers of women and men speakers on platforms at Christian conferences.

And here’s the rub: if you think women should be equally represented in one sector of ministry, and you think that involvement should be on the basis of competence (which combines giftedness, whatever that is, with experience), then women should have as much experience as men—and that implies, for the majority who are married with children, that men should be equally involved in childcare and parenting as women. And it probably means that you need to see parental roles as interchangeable. My problem is, I don’t think I do. And there is a mass of evidence to say that this isn’t the case.

It is impossible to break the connection between occupations (whether that be ‘secular’ or ‘ministry’) and issues around childbirth and parenting. This is the point where debates both within and outside the church tend to polarise: you either believe that men and women have fixed roles, probably set down in the Bible; or you believe that women and men are interchangeable, and the only thing that prevents there being equal numbers of both in every role is social prejudice. This squeezes our an important middle position (the one that I hold): that there is no intrinsic bar to different roles for men and women, but that real sex difference might mean that women and men end up in different numbers in different roles. If you think about it, this position is not saying much more than equality of opportunity does not necessarily lead to equality of outcome.

Michael Biggs, associate professor of sociology at the University of Oxford, highlights the oddity of the idea of interchangeability, in the context of a quite different argument about sexuality:

The foundational premise for feminism is that every difference between males and females in attitudes and behavior is due to socialization: there are no socially relevant biological differences above the neck. Thus the same feminists who denounce male violence and sexual objectification also endorse Cordelia Fine and Gina Rippon for arguing that there are no differences between female and male brains. There are some obvious problems with the premise. Why are humans the only mammalian species where evolution did not produce sexual differences in behavior? Why are some sex differences remarkably uniform across different cultures? For example, men commit more violence than women—as feminists themselves rightly emphasize—even though the overall level of violence varies greatly from one society to another.

Biggs goes on to note that, whilst this claim appeared to be in the interests of women in undermining sex stereotypes and opening doors of opportunity, in the long run denying bodily difference has actually harmed women’s interests:

My argument, in short, is that since the 1970s feminists have been sawing off the branch on which they perched. By denying biological differences they inadvertently eroded the distinction between male and female, which now licenses a social movement [transgenderism] that undermines the interests of women and girls.


What does biblical theology have to say about this? It is sometimes claimed that the creation narrative, in which God made humanity ‘male and female’ in his image (Gen 1.27), offers an argument against the interchangeability of sex roles. I am not convinced that this is the case, since that was not the issue within that culture, and sex difference is simply assumed in biblical texts rather than argued for—our modern, Western cultural assumptions run against the values of just about every culture in every age prior to ours. Nor is it the case that the gospel is about marriage and parenting, as some have also claimed. The gospel is about Jesus dying and rising for our sins!

Nevertheless, there is a consistent assumption in the biblical narrative that our bodies matter; we are body-soul (‘psycho-somatic’) unities, not simply brains on sticks or souls trapped in a material world. The Christian hope is not that our souls or spirits escape our bodies to fly up to God in heaven, but that we will be raised bodily—and this actually has important implications for our bodiliness in the present age, and with that, sex difference now and in the future. There is also a consistent assumption that, for most people, marriage, having children, and raising them will be a normal and natural part of life—expressed in what Judaism takes as the first commandment, to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen 1.28).

This connects with the middle of Will Jones’ essay—and the section that I think is the most problematic. He notes not only the large-scale social and economic issues around falling fertility, but also the personal impact, especially on women:

On a personal level to have children is to have family, to give life to a new generation who will survive you and have children of their own. Grandparents, parents and children, brothers and sisters can turn to one another in times of celebration and times of crisis to share joys and challenges with one another, to laugh and to weep.

To lack family is to risk being alone. To have no children is to have no one to watch grow up, to be there for, to care for. To have only one child – better than none, to be sure – is to give a child no brother or sister to grow up with and learn life with…

How have we arrived at this desperate and nihilistic state of affairs? One of the main reasons for the decline in births is the decision of women (or the decision taken for women) to prioritise their careers. Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell has recently spoken of her regret at choosing her career over children, saying that at 60 she was now ‘truly alone’. ‘I do see that people with children have an anchor in a way that people who have no kids don’t,’ she said.

There might be some tough realities being faced here—but on its own I wonder what that says to the many people in our congregations who are single or childless for all sorts of reasons? And what does it say to those who feel God has called them to be single, for the sake of fruitful ministry? Alongside God’s commandment in creation to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ through marriage and raising children (which also contributes to biological growth of the people of God), we also need to hold on to the commandment in the new creation to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ by sharing the new birth through baptism that is found in Jesus’ death and resurrection. If we don’t, we are ignoring the most obvious foundational demographic of the Christian faith: that both Jesus and Paul were single and childless! That is why (once again) I love the slogan of the Engage Network:

The Bible values singleness and marriage. Single people are equally valuable and competent as married people. At the same time, God’s design from the start has been for marriage to reflect his covenant relationship with the church, to be foundational to society, and to be personal experienced by most people.

Unless we can say this important second thing, I don’t see how we are in a position to say the first, important thing that Will Jones highlights. Both need to spoken prophetically into a culture which (ironically) struggles to accept bodily difference. As a culture, to ignore the next generation by setting ourselves against the priority of children and family is to reject hope. But personally, hope is to be found in Jesus, who makes us fruitful both with and without having children.


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89 thoughts on “Is there no hope without children?”

  1. I don’t like the term “the home population”. For those who have migrated to the UK and decided to build their lives here, the UK is their home too, and in receiving them, we are fundamentally accepting them as part of the home population too. That applies to those we are currently receiving into the UK too. My own wife was born in Latvia, but moved here 15 years ago, speaks better English than most people, works hard, adds to community, and has British citizenship. This is her home and she is part of our home population. She contributes to what makes Britain today. So can future migrants. It is the same if your family originally lived in Bangladesh or Jamaica. As British, we are one people and the UK is our home, and in the act of migration people still entering our country are home population too.

    Also, people often charge migrants with not assimilating UK culture enough or integrating: but that works both ways. I’ve seen how reluctant many people who’ve lived here all their lives can be to really working hard to integrate with newcomers, understand their faiths, engage, and draw in. We can often be too insular. We expect everyone to ‘become like us’ when actually we should be willing to change and evolve as well, and get involved with our neighbour, and what he/she may be able to offer to us.

    On people who have no children – which may be a choice or a necessity – Will says: “To have no children is to have no one to watch grow up, to be there for, to care for.” What is the community experience of church for, if it is not to share communally in nurturing, supporting, loving our young people together? I see how this broadens young people’s lives, how it broadens their own understanding of community, rather than the dreaded, insular concept of the isolated family unit that wants to be standalone and invested only in its own interests. So I think you can be single and yet still have huge investment in young people, with all the rewards that brings, and the broadening out of community.

    And hence, your fabulous point, Ian: “both Jesus and Paul were single and childless!”

    I have three children, and recently enjoyed the arrival of my first grandchild. Of course there is loveliness in the privileges of these intimacies. But family life is for sharing with others. Single people should be honoured and valued and involved. I am wary of the context of Will’s writing here: because social and political conservatism will not benefit women by taking us back to some golden age in the 1950s when men were the wage owners out in the big wide world while women were expected to be at home (if they were not working class). I agree there are many feminisms, and I don’t identify as feminist myself, but I do believe in women having full access to the working world, and not being breeding machines. Our population in the UK is still rising, so this alarum seems fuelled by a different agenda, to do with social conservatism, and I’m wary.

    • ‘And hence, your fabulous point, Ian: “both Jesus and Paul were single and childless!”’

      Yes–but this does not negate Will’s important point that to *choose* to be childless is to choose a difficult future, as Candace Bushnell testifies.

      • I thought we had agreed that, for example, being single (and therefore likely childless) is a ‘good’ way to be, according to God? Yet again the 2.4 family is being lauded as the only good way to live, and this time for selfish reasons – at least when you’re old you wont feel so alone. So much for the church…

        • Well, I am not sure which article you were reading when you say ‘the family is being lauded as the only good way to live’, but I don’t think it can have been mine.

          The summary of my position—as I say clearly—is found in the Engage comment:

          ‘The Bible values singleness and marriage. Single people are equally valuable and competent as married people. At the same time, God’s design from the start has been for marriage to reflect his covenant relationship with the church, to be foundational to society, and to be personally experienced by most people.’

          • My issue is there shouldnt be any comparing of married individuals and single individuals in the church, and even more so couples with children and single people with no children. Or if there is, Paul would have said the opposite. Yes God has made us sexual beings, but Jesus was very clear that some will not have sexual relationships, and therefore by definition will not have children, for His sake.

            In reality you are saying ‘it’s valid to be single and childless but…’. There shouldnt be a ‘but’ in that sentence.

          • No, in reality I am not saying that at all. Single and married are equally valuable, and both have both blessing and challenge in their respect calling.

            The ‘but’ is not in the comparison, but in noting that the majority would normally be married.

        • The merit that Paul accorded to singlehood was, “for the present distress”.

          And Will’s conclusion shows that he’s taking issue with government measures, which have made it economically unfeasible for women to devote themselves to home-making, instead of the full-time workforce.

          And the goal of those government measures are a far cry from Paul and Jesus’ prioritisation of singlehood.

          Successive governments really haven’t implemented such policies to ensure that we (like Paul and Jesus) can “attend upon the Lord without distraction”. (1 Cor. 7:35)

          • No he’s not just taking issue with government policy.

            ‘To lack family is to risk being alone. To have no children is to have no one to watch grow up, to be there for, to care for. To have only one child – better than none, to be sure – is to give a child no brother or sister to grow up with and learn life with…’

            I find that offensive. He even criticizes one child families!

            It sounds like a purely secular understanding of life, where the family unit is the be all and end all of living. It’s as if Jesus hadnt spoken.

            But no wonder this is the pervading attitude of most churches.

          • Those words were just written in a rhetorically emphatic style to counter the almost doctrinaire economic focus of successive administrations on treating people as little more than units of economic production and he’s addressing the anti-family ethos that has treated natural kinship as an entirely dispensable accessory.

            As I wrote above: “He’s right when he writes that “the human race is designed to have children.”

            As a parallel example, it should be possible to state that “the human race is designed to be omnivorous” without being accused of gross insensitivity towards those with meat allergies?”

            But, instead of just criticising the article, why not provide your own alternatives for preventing the decline in the UK’s birth rate to sub-replacement level?

            Or is any attempt to remedy that un-Christian too?

    • “Our population in the UK is still rising, so this alarum seems fuelled by a different agenda, to do with social conservatism, and I’m wary.”

      Hi Susannah,
      There are different reasons for a rise in population. For a static population, with no net migration, it is reckoned that you need an average of 2.1 live births per woman. The 0.1 allows for infertility, deaths before reaching child-bearing age, etc. The last year when the UK measure was about 2.1 was 1972. It was also lower than this for most years 1927-1945. Perhaps that is why the UK government sought immigrants from the Caribbean after WWII – a shortage of young people to do work.

      Another reason for rising population is average lifespan getting longer, birthrate exceeding death rate. It is possible that average lifespans have peaked, or even are decreasing. The difference between births and deaths has varied significantly over the last decades, see
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_United_Kingdom

      E.g. in 1976 there were more deaths than births (the hot summer??) The excess of births over deaths reach over 150,000 in 1990 and over 255,000 in 2008. But it has been decline since. It was 115,000 in 2018. The demographic problem with this mechanism of population growth is that an increasing proportion of the population are not only not economically productive, but needing care.

      The other mechanism for population growth is net migration. While this seems to have oscillated about zero between 1975 and 1993, after that year it seems to have been in the range 200,000 to 300,000 since. Less than half of this is accounted for by EU migrants, who are more likely to stay for a while and then return home. (Numbers from https://www.migrationwatchuk.org).

      As a result, since 1993 net migration accounts for at least half of the increase in population, and the rest has been most about people living longer than people reproducing at a replacement rate.

      So, there are real demographic issues ahead, perhaps in the not too distant future. I think that anyone who has any contact with care for the elderly knows that there is already a real crisis here. Local authorities have been starved of funding for the last decade, the burden has been shifted to the voluntary and charitable sector in some ways, but now such organizations are having issues with getting grants.

      (It was interesting looking up these numbers!)

      • Thank you David. Very informative. I’ve worked in care of the elderly as a staff nurse. It’s striking how dependent our systems are on staff who have come to this country but were not born here. On funding, a good deal of that is political choice. Trident, for example, matters more to our governments than ensuring adequate funding for our elderly. To be honest, if it was not for migration, the NHS would implode.

  2. I assume we are talking in the context of Christian belief. So yes, if we prayerfully choose to be single (and probably celibate) then presumably we think that is our calling. And I’m sure that is indeed challenging in all kinds of ways. Yet as someone involved in convent life, and the witness of celibate sisters, I think we can be sure that God also wants to bless the single life: and single life can bring gifts to the rest of us.

    Outside of Christian life and church or convent community… outside of Christian faith… I would imagine many people do end up with feelings that can include loneliness. I’m generalising, but I accept that point. But was Will writing as a Christian (one who can endorse the single life) or as a social conservative concerned with decline in family life? Probably both, but I don’t think there’s any absolute merit in having lots of children. That sounds all a bit Genesis to me.

    Single life, whether you are Christian or not, is a legitimate choice.

    • Well, Genesis is part of the canon of Scripture, and so according to Anglican formularies, part of ‘God’s word written’.

      As I try to point out, the NT qualifies or adds to this, but it does not obliterate the command to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ in this age. Biologically and psychologically, that is what our bodies are designed to do.

      • This point you keep making about scripture being God’s word written is open to so much interpretation and easily becomes short hand for ‘clobber’ texting. It won’t do.
        The Anglican Communion on its web pages has this much more helpful summary:

        As Anglicans we discern the voice of the living God in the Holy Scriptures, mediated by tradition and reason. We read the Bible together, corporately and individually, with a grateful and critical sense of the past, a vigorous engagement with the present, and with patient hope for God’s future.
        We cherish the whole of Scripture for every aspect of our lives, and we value the many ways in which it teaches us to follow Christ faithfully in a variety of contexts. We pray and sing the Scriptures through liturgy and hymnody. Lectionaries connect us with the breadth of the Bible, and through preaching we interpret and apply the fullness of Scripture to our shared life in the world.
        Accepting their authority, we listen to the Scriptures with open hearts and attentive minds. They have shaped our rich inheritance: for example, the ecumenical creeds of the early Church, the Book of Common Prayer, and Anglican formularies such as the Articles of Religion, catechisms and the Lambeth Quadrilateral.
        In our proclamation and witness to the Word Incarnate we value the tradition of scholarly engagement with the Scriptures from earliest centuries to the present day. We desire to be a true learning community as we live out our faith, looking to one another for wisdom, strength and hope on our journey. We constantly discover that new situations call for fresh expressions of a scripturally informed faith and spiritual life.

        New situations call for fresh expressions………..there is much room for interpretation

        • ‘Accepting their authority, we listen to the Scriptures with open hearts and attentive minds.’

          That appears in other discussions to be something you are not willing to do.

          • Strangely I find that seems something you and the conservative tradition are very unwilling to do!

            The glories of Anglicanism hmm?

  3. “Biologically and psychologically, that is what our bodies are designed to do.”

    Well I do agree with that.

    In evolutionary terms, we are geared up to reproduce, and I think that involves not just the physical mechanics of reproduction, but a psychological dimension as well.

    That said, the imperative can be tempered by societal pressures and needs, and maybe rightly so, especially in the context of consumption and overuse of resources: we certainly wouldn’t want everyone having 12 children!

    And I think you draw out: fruitfulness and abundance has a spiritual dimension too, though that doesn’t deny our physical condition and destiny.

  4. To be fair to Will’s article, it’s clear from context that he is addressing the political and social ethos which has devalued and undermined parenthood, rather than the nuances of individual experiences.

    He’s right when he writes that “the human race is designed to have children.”
    As a parallel example, it should be possible to state that “the human race is designed to be omnivorous” without being accused of gross insensitivity towards those with meat allergies?

    Of course, you’ve highlighted some of the questions raised by Will’s valorisation of parenthood: “There might be some tough realities being faced here—but on its own I wonder what that says to the many people in our congregations who are single or childless for all sorts of reasons? And what does it say to those who feel God has called them to be single, for the sake of fruitful ministry?”

    Answer: as a political essay, it was never intended as an all-encompassing sermon of comfort to everyone, so it says nothing to them.

    Instead, it’s a clear call for government to implement policies that reverse the previous anti-family social engineering:
    “We are constantly told that we cannot use the tax and benefits system for social engineering. But governments have been doing just that for the last 40 years to push women back to work. It has worked a treat. Never have more women been in work or more mothers in full-time work. Female feminist politicians regard this as a triumph. They are not leaving any stone unturned until children cease to be an impediment to women’s progress in the labour market. They should be wary of what they wish for. Women are complying – often by having no babies at all.”

    Even if its reference to feminism here is not as nuanced as some would wish, it has still properly described the modern reality that needs to be addressed.

  5. For many it isn’t a choice, as infertility is rising. Reading theories and theology of parenthood is interesting but for us we are unable to ‘go forth and multiply’, like many for unexplained reasons. The human race may be designed to have children, but for many of us that cannot happen.

    Yes I know that the article is aimed at those who are making a choice, but for those unable to be parents there can be assumptions that it is by choice as it is something rarely spoken about in church. It is only as a result of our journey that we’ve come to realise how common it is, and how many are in that situation. In ‘the church’ it’s often glossed over as we’re given the ideal picture of a loving family, oblivious to those, for various reasons, who avoid coming to church on Mothering Sunday or Father’s Day as they are too painful.

    • Thanks for this important comment Andrew. Although it isn’t the focus of the piece, I did have this situation in mind when I commented:

      ‘There might be some tough realities being faced here—but on its own I wonder what that says to the many people in our congregations who are single or childless for all sorts of reasons?’

      In our church, we make a special point of seeking to include this situation in our celebrations of Mothering Sunday or Father’s Day.

      There are some contextual reasons why fertility is declining amongst men, including oestrogens getting into the water system. But there is another important reason for the decline in fertility amongst women, which is delaying starting a family in order to pursue a career. (I am not suggesting that this is the case in your situation, about which I know nothing).

      Another TCW article highlights the impact of trying to start a family later:

      ‘Fertility starts to decline at 30, by 35 it declines steeply, by the age of 40 only two in five women who try to have a baby will be able to do so. There has been a spectacular increase in the percentage of women who have not yet given birth by the age of 34, and it has been suggested that many will remain childless as a result.’

      https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/belinda-brown-falling-fertility-price-feminism/

      The only way for women to keep their careers uninterrupted is to (as we did) have husband and other family members pick up child care, but the evidence is that this will only ever happen in the minority of cases. I think that the promise that women ‘can have it all’ (family life and career) is often a hollow promise, and one that brings unfair pressure.

      • As I commented above, Will’s piece was never meant to be a sermon of comfort to all. Instead, it’s a political essay addressing a political ethos that needs to be reversed.

        I don’t agree with all of his conclusions (especially about immigration’s threat to social cohesion), but it’s a pity that it’s being judged as if belongs to an entirely different genre.

      • Hi. Thanks for the reply. I did notice your comment, but mainly thinking about the original article (not read, and my presumptions about the website seem to backed up by another commenter). I suppose it is something that after the past few years I pick up on quickly, what I would have not thought about. I’ve read a number of articles about falling birthrates and implications and reasons, almost all assuming it is personal choice, ignoring the large number of singles and couples who’d love to have children but can’t.
        Reasons for the increase in infertility is complex and still unknown to some extent. Our consultant said that most reasons given in the media are rubbish! But it is far higher than most people think, and we’ve been surprised at numbers in our own church and beyond once we’ve started talking to people about it.
        A few points in the original article trouble me. The talk about immigration and ‘indiginous population’ (Britain has had immigration for thousands of years – who are the indiginous population? Neolithic farmers from France? Bronze Age Beaker people from Europe? Are Hugenouts from 18thC France native by now?). Also the implicatons that political leaders have to be parents to understand. Some of the people mentioned have been unable to have children so crticising them is a double blow, and a political career may be linked but not necessarily a consolation. And how does being a parent automatically help? Boris Johnson has children, and quite possibly more than we know about, but does that automatically make him someone who understands?
        It’s worrying that there appears to be an underlying assumption that women should stay at home to look after the children and that they are best to do it. It irritates a stay at home dad I know, and a couple of friends who look after their children (brilliantly) for part of the week and keep getting comments about Daddy daycare and assumptions they are incapable or doing under duress. (and there are plenty of friends I know where the wife earns more than the husband, my wife earns a lot more than me doing a far more complex job very well).
        It also ignores that we are all multi-faceted. Several women I work with or have worked with and in their 50s and 60s talk about having to give up work when they had their first child, and so pleased women today have a choice (subject to money etc.) as although they loved being Mums they also enjoyed their jobs and the intellectual stimulous when they could go back too. Nobody benefits when we pigeonhole people about one aspect of life.
        I note you said about looking at website which differ from your own views, and probably TCW is not one which I would share much in common with! (sorry for long reply)

        • Hi Andrew,

          I do want to interject and apologise, if my previous comment came across as insensitive. However, I’m sure that Will’s worldview is far more compassionate than any cursory reading of his article might convey.

          I agree with you when you write: “The talk about immigration and ‘indiginous population’ (Britain has had immigration for thousands of years – who are the indiginous population? Neolithic farmers from France? Bronze Age Beaker people from Europe? Are Hugenouts from 18thC France native by now?). “

          Last year, Will and I disagreed on this very issue: https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/how-do-we-find-our-true-identity/#comment-352134

          As I wrote back then: “The fallacy of a British ethnicity is exposed by the legal fiat which formed Great Britain (the Act of Union). If the link between culture and ethnicity is as strong as you say it is, then British ethnicity could have achieved unification without resort to an Act of Parliament.”

          • I do worry about the racial undertones of Will’s article, and the obvious danger that his introduction of race, into the separate issue of ALL women having more options to stay at home, looks like its appealing to some of the racism that makes TCH readership unattractive.

            Is Will worrying that the UK’s children will be born to ‘non indigenous’ parents because they may not be Christians? Is there any implicit signal in his text that we don’t want to be overrun by Muslim children? “Do we want our culture to survive in the long term?” Who is “our”? Who is our neighbour?

            “Thinking we can make up for a lack of children through welcoming en masse the people of the world is to set a course for cultural fracturing, if not suicide.” That sounds like Enoch Powell and ‘rivers of blood’ and will resonate with many of that website’s commenters. I’m not sure it’s particularly Christian.

            And criticising Harry and Meghan (again, she will resonate with the racists) for caring about the planet… “Are we saving it for pandas or people?” We should be saving it for both.

            I worry that there are dog whistles here.

        • ‘but mainly thinking about the original article (not read, and my presumptions about the website seem to backed up by another commenter)’

          If you offer a critique of something that you haven’t read, on the assumption of what you think it will say, I think we will get into all sorts of problems!

  6. Some fascinating thoughts expressed here. I quite honestly find it stunning to realize how many leaders do not have children and to contemplate how that likely affects policies, how it ties several things together.

    I remember Merkel being praised and being held up (comparatively, to America’s shame) as a empathetic model on immigrants and wondering about that…but I am a skeptical sort. (Also *not* anti-immigrant.) It’s simply more complex than a surface reading and what we sometimes want to see.

    Thank you for today’s thought provocations, Ian.

    Holly
    Mama to 9
    Stay at home wife
    With equal strength but different functions at this time in life. (Frankly, my role has more power than my husband’s. He provides for us, but I get the hours to directly shape lives and generations. And no, we can not ignore the depth of value within the bonds and relationships naturally formulated, nor what they can provide for people in what is often an unstable world. Family is not naturally insular, it broadens and includes friends, spouses, teachers, employers…and no, I don’t think the church can (nor should) consistently replace what family offers. It is a tandem, cooperative thing.

    • Excellent comment. 🙂

      I wish churches (and society in general) did far more to honor and aid stay-at-home parents. Lip service is paid to it, but what greater responsibility and reward is there than nurturing future generations?

        • Thanks, doesn’t do to be predictable. 😀

          On one level, I simply try to apply liberal principles sincerely: if I say I value self-determination, then I must value it across the board.

          That aside, I undoubtedly have a conservative streak, just as I also have a social democratic streak. So long as people freely choose homemaking, I find it deeply admirable.

          • I think the key word is ‘choice’.

            And setting apart a woman’s right to ‘choose’, so many women don’t have economic choice because of the cost of housing, and the cost of living, and the cost of clothing and feeding children. No amount of social tinkering is going to address the harsh economic imperatives so many men and women face.

          • Couldn’t agree more, Susannah, which is why I flagged up the social democratic aspect.

            Governments should absolutely facilitate the economic freedom to make these choices: in the form of high-quality childcare for those who want to work; and for those (of either sex) who want to be stay-at-home parents, generous welfare packages.

            Since liberalism is, at heart, a distrust of concentrations of power, liberals should enthusiastically support strong families, of which homemakers are a vital part. This is an area ripe for an alliance between both conservatives and social democrats.

          • James, yes indeed, but it is worth thinking about exactly what package will help. When housing has been commodified, then having a good number of families with two incomes will push housing costs out of the range of one-income families.

            Perhaps we ought to contemplate the measures Viktor Orban has introduced in Hungary: a £30,000 interest-free loan for first-time wives; £7,000 subsidy for 7-seat vehicles; and a life-time exemption from paying any income tax.

            I agree that this is a libertarian approach that facilitates choice—but I wonder how that would go down in ‘liberal’ Britain…?

          • Affordable housing is a crucial factor if you favour more parents staying at home to care for infants and young children in their formative years.

            Housing costs are a huge driver for both parents having to work.

            This is a national crisis.

            Either (a) there needs to be a massive house building programme on a war-time footing, and over-ruling planning constraints where necessary

            Or (b) housing needs to be de-commodified: this might involve price-fixing, or taxation on any increase in the value of a property when sold, to drive down property values until they are accessible to low incomes.

            (Or both)

            Second and holiday homes are a disaster of selfishness to countless local young people who get priced out of the market.

            Of course, to many middle-class and wealthy people, programmes like this would be anathema, and political suicide for the leaders who introduced them… because… of selfishness.

            Let’s face it, many Christians want the value of their houses to rise. Meanwhile young people must live with parents and marry later. Both parents *have* to work to pay exorbitant rent to landlords. Are we comfortable with this, and why wasn’t it touched upon in Will’s article?

        • “Perhaps we ought to contemplate the measures Viktor Orban has introduced in Hungary: a £30,000 interest-free loan for first-time wives..”

          I am curious to know what a ‘first time wife’ is and why she should get a £30 000 interest free loan.

          I know some wives can be high maintenance but this does seem a bit extreme…

          • ‘First time wife’ means that you can only claim it once. The £30,000 is there to offset the gender pay gap—which is almost entirely caused by women taking a career break to raise children.

        • Ah – I see. So is this loan paid back when the wife starts working – rather like a student loan?
          What happens if she never works?

          • I’ve no idea. I am sure you can obtain details from the Hungarian Embassy.

            But the pertinent question is this: if we believe in equality of opportunity, but recognise that this is not the same as equality of outcome, if we are concerned with the gender pay gap, but think women should be free to choose to devote time and energy to parenting, and if we recognise that poor parenting is a major cause of inequality for young people—why wouldn’t we, in the UK, consider such a move?

  7. Mark Steyn has been saying this stuff for years (‘Demography is destiny’, ‘The future belongs to those who show up for it’), but only recently have politicians begun to pay any attention – only to toss the hot potato of feminism and fertility to the side. Jordan Peterson may be the only public intellectual in the world ready to confront the brickbats that will be thrown when you question any of the tenets or promises of secularism. But it can hardly be doubted that immigration has had an unsettling effect on the life of the host community, especially when the incoming culture is very different from the host and is not interested in adopting the ‘lifeways’ of the host. This is a story repeated all across Europe.

    As for the Church of England, its espousal of feminism and interchangability in ordained ministry has not resulted in church renewal and growth, as people claimed in the 1980s and 1990s (‘an influx of gifts’ was how it was expressed). The more a church espouses feminism, the more liberal it gets socially and theologically, and the less appeal it has for men and fathers. Some may rail at the “injustice” of this but it’s a fact. The decline has been relentless because in the final analysis a church is an optional association. The dearth of families in so many C of E congregations means they have become increasingly social gatherings of primarily older women. Feminism has actually hastened the demise of the C of E.

    • I meant to write on Peterson, ‘ the tenets or promises of feminism’, not secularism – but the two overlap greatly. Regrettably, the blog doesn’t allow us to edit our own comments.
      As a psychologist, Peterson is particularly aware of the preponderant differences between men and women, how conscientiousness is a trait especially of high-achieving males and how agreeableness is much, much more a feature of female psychology than male. An evolutionary explanation of this is readily at hand and it has to do with the maternal character of women and it explains what is required to protect and nurture the vulnerable young. The social and economic spinoff is clear: this is why, despite all the social engineering of Government ‘Equality Ministers’, 90%+ of primary teachers will continue to be female and most people in social care and nursing will be female.
      Male violence across all cultures is also easily explained; it is to do with testosterone and the fact that men have twice the upper-body strength of women. By and large, the stereotypes are true: boys are object- and task-related in their interests and girls are relationship-related. Perhaps up to 10% in each sex differ, but I think these figures hold.

      • Peterson emphasises five basic personality types: conscientiousness (a capacity for hard work, and a concern for order and rules); agreeableness; neuroticism (anxiety); extraversion (openness to and need for others); and openness to new ideas (creativity, inventiveness).
        He finds that agreeableness is 60% more common in women than men (equivalent to half a standard deviation or more).
        The idea that there is no difference at birth between male and female brains is on the face of it absurd. Chromosomes don’t stop at the neck.

          • You can find this in many of his YouTube lectures. I don’t recall which of these I wrote this down from. I think Peterson says basic types.

    • “…when the incoming culture is very different from the host and is not interested in adopting the ‘lifeways’ of the host…”

      To be fair, I still think ‘the host’ needs to be more interested and committed in engaging and integrating with the ‘lifeways’ of the incoming people.

      Certain parts of society can be pretty stand-offish, not just immigrants. I think it’s a two-way thing.

      • “To be fair, I still think ‘the host’ needs to be more interested and committed in engaging and integrating with the ‘lifeways’ of the incoming people.”

        Imagine saying that in India, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the American West, Canada etc in the 19th century …

  8. Just looking at the comments under articles that TCW allows about women and minorities demonstrates what ‘sort’ of website The Conservative Woman is. In my opinion, it should not be promoted by anyone, but especially not by Christians.

    • I agree.

      The danger is that many people who embrace that site may appropriate comments Will has written and see them as mandate for racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, even though that is not what Will seems to be saying.

      I still think it’s good to get Christian voice in there, but we should be clear about the way that site acts as a magnet for reactionary people with right-wing views and sometimes racist hostility towards foreigners who have come to this country to lead decent lives.

        • Brian, I have enjoyed many Saturday afternoons at East London mosque, learning about people’s faith, and how it influences their lives and culture. In other words, I have tried to make the effort to understand people with different cultures to my own. I have to say, the people at mosque were decent, friendly and welcoming.

          Of course, there may be fundamentalists who wouldn’t be friendly to me, but that might be said of Christian fundamentalists too.

          My point is that most migrants are decent people, but some groups are xenophobic and try to stir up hostility towards them. Everyone who lives and works in the UK is a human being and we should try to learn about each other.

      • Agreed (since it contains so much interesting conservative writing, I regularly read the site, but one look at the comments convinced me that engagement’s futile), but better this is addressed by thoughtful, avowedly anti-racist conservatives than be left to those who obsess about “ethno-states.”

    • The comments sure don’t do them any favors!

      To be fair, it suffers from being an anthology site, rather than being under the watchful gaze of one author (on his own blog, occasional CW contributor Peter Hitchens does a much better job of combatting the dog whistlers below the line).

      My approach to free speech is about as absolutist as it gets without tipping over into libertarian crazyville, so I don’t hold it against sites if they refuse to ban those obsessed with blood and soil. But they should be vigorously challenged.

  9. Will Jones states in his article that, in order for the UK to have a future with hope, that there needs to be, ”a cultural shift in attitude that starts to recognise the deep damage and disruption to family life and happiness bound up in reproduction that is caused by feminism.”

    The CoE, in the first two thirds of the 20th Century, was known as ‘the Tory Party at prayer’.
    Since then, in my view, it rather more reflects the growing pervasive influence of ‘Leftism’ [yes, yes, I know, a very broad term]. Nevertheless, judging by the pronouncements in the press of a lot of its bishops and vicars, the CoE seems to me to be a reflection of the ‘Leftist’ drift of the UK population at large. Instead of leading the population to biblical truths the CoE follows UK cultural trends.

    Instead of emphasizing that a woman’s primary role is to be a homemaker and to have children, people such as Ian Paul, and others in the CoE, campaign as hard as any feminist-inclined woman, for the ‘right’ to preach and teach in mixed-sex congregations and that despite the clear [ in my view] biblical texts forbidding such a position. Personally speaking, I doubt that the CoE can put that particular genie back in its bottle, even if it wanted to, so it behooves the lay member to…GET OUT!

    Having said all that, I wonder, considering how many denominations have embraced feminism in allowing women preachers into pulpits and into leadership positions, where a believer [with a desire to be true to the biblical text] can go?

      • LOL!
        It reminded me of the story of the Welshman who was shipwrecked alone on a desert island. His rescuers found that he had built two chapels. “Why two?” they said. “Well, this chapel is the one I go to, and that one is the one I don’t go to.”

    • Hi Mark,

      To ascribe all support for women in ministry (a word that denotes service) to ‘feminism’ is misplaced, not least because there is no one such thing. (Although those with simplistic views prefer to keep the number of categories small). Women preaching predates any modern feminism by many years. I found a reference to a well-known female Quaker preacher in the 17th century. I have a memory from a television program that the Lollards supported women preaching and teaching (and they were very firmly Bible-based against the Church.)

      And, of course, anyone who desires to be true to the biblical text would acknowledge that it contains parts which support both sides of the argument. (In contrast, in relation to That Other Issue often linked to women in ministry, the biblical text is univocal.) Probably for most of Christendom women have been regarded as weak and inferior to men. This is not inherited from Christian thought but inherited from Classical thought. One of the reasons for the rise of Christianity (before Christendom) was that it gave women a place of honour. If one is careful to read the NT against the culture of the time, you can see this. Feminism has its roots in Christianity, even if the Enlightenment has led it astray, as in so many other areas.

      The long dominance of men has made it too easy to read the few texts used to justify the exclusion of women from ministry in that way, and led to distortion of those texts which can be read to support women in ministry – e.g. the change of the name from Junia to Junius in Romans 16. If the rise of feminism has led to us reevaluating such texts, then that is surely a good thing.

      Someone commented about a debate between two people about another contentious area of Biblical interpretation. As a disinterested observer, he said that while P seemed to be defending a theology, W was actually engaging the text (I’ll leave folk to guess the subject and who P and W are!) All of us who venture to read and understand Scripture must be careful not to assume that our theology is sewn-up, and so our understanding of the text is the correct one.

    • I think you will know the answer, Phil.
      It hasn’t but it does. It wasn’t the context or the purpose of Will’s paper, though comments have not touched upon the Fallthe effects of which are evident today on family, what it is, or being redefined as.
      It would be interesting to read a long-form article addressing the topic, but it may not find a place on Ian site, as there seems to be a general reluctance to address/accept the reality of the Fall.
      The consequences of infertile SSM on society and the population and the church do not seem to have been be considered nor abortion and adoption, unless I’m mistaken, in the original article. I stand to be corrected.
      Is there no hope within the church with childless , infertile SSM/ partnerships? Provocative for sure.
      The church at large has in places, supported adoption of children, even as, in parts, it supports abortion, or is impervious to it..

      • What actually is ‘The Fall?’

        Literally speaking, death only came into the world *after* humans sinned, which makes the presence of the fossils of dead animals from tens or hundreds of millions of years ago a bit hard for me to understand.

        As a champion of the reality of the Fall, could you help me understand?

        • It would be good to understand,
          1 which God you believe, Susannah?
          a) The God of Genesis, the Triune God, who was in an eternal Triune, Father , Son and Holy Spirit outside time and space, in eternity existing from before the beginning? In effect
          b) the God as revealed in any or any part of what is known as the Old Testament?
          c) is it the same God of the NT? If so in what way(s) ?
          2 You clearly believe in the supernatural.
          Is your God supernatural? To what degree does that extend, what is the scope?
          What are the personal attributes of God?
          3 Is your God a creator of the earth, the heavens, universe?
          4 Is God capable of revealing, infallibly who he is through fallible human beings down the centuries, the truth of the beginning and the end and all in between from eternity to eternity, through history, blessings and curses, covenants, his chosing -calling out – of people, families, prophesy, wisdom, laws, symbols, metaphors, figures, types, anti-types, miracles, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, Spirit birth, Spirit, God-breathed, written word, new birth, new heaven and earth, and return, through His Justice, His Holiness ?
          It is pertinent to realise at what stage and the reason the Decalogue and laws was given, It was after rescue , blood redemption from slavery and after the nation did what was right in its own eyes, with the golden calf debacle. So it was by grace and through and Moses mediatoral petitions, by the law was graciously granted.
          5 How big is your god?
          6 What does it mean to be created in the image of God, male and female?
          7 The whole of humanity has in effect inherited a genetic nature to doubt God, what he says, disbelieve and go our own way, following what is right , good,in our own eyes ( a phrase repeated in scripture and the last sentence in the book of Judges. It is “in Adam”. That is the reason the need for the “last Adam” Jesus Christ, that we may be “In Christ” a new humanity in him, to draw us into fellowship with the Triune God, reversing the the Fall, for those who believe.
          Romans chapter 1 shows that the judgment of God proclaimed in Genesis as a result of the fall continues in the present by God giving us over to our desires countered coming to a crescendo in Romans chpts 7 &8
          8 As far as creation is concerned I’ll finish with these two aspects or points:
          8.1 Something from nothing? or
          8.2 eternal something?
          8.1
          his is a thought experiment derived mostly from Glen Scrivener, based on Genesis 1:1-3 and John 1: 1-5. What is nothing? Think about it? Imagine it. Then imagine everything there is emerging from this nothing, nothingness. Ourselves emerging out of nothing. Nothing comes from nothing. What then is our value, our meaning? Nothing. Nothing to hope for, to live for.
          He continues that the God of the Bible is a preexisting, before the beginning, Father eternally loving the Son in the joy of the Holy Spirit -far who draws us into fellowship of his Son.
          Everything there is, is in effect, “Fathered.”- thanks to Tim Chester for that particular extrapolation.
          8.2
          And what about an eternal,material. inanimate something?
          Drawing on a quotation attributed to that well known contemporary, postmodern, atheist scientist: true “Nothing is something rocks dream about”- Aristotle, Scrivener, above, covers it.
          Of course, rocks, dust, minerals don’t create life of and in itself, without life, animal or vegetable, being imparted from without.
          Neither can we know God without a revelation , from him, imparted from without. Scripture, the whole canon, is God’s revelation of God by God and humanity’s relationship to him.
          Anyway, this is far to much, but may hint at the scope of the Fall and scripture(s) revealed consequences and God’s remedy, and may stimulate fuller, long-form article(s) on the Fall, which Phil Almond may like, rather than this poor note form.
          May God Bless you Susannah.

          • Thank you Geoff.

            Did the dead and fossilised dinosaurs etc pre-exist the human race?

            Did death come into the perfect world because of human sin or not?

            Were the dinosaurs killed in advance, because of what humans would do 65 million years later?

            I think you are probably sympathetic enough to see why I find all that problematical.

            The narrative sounds more like myth than literal fact. Wouldn’t that be one way of writing about things?

            But I appreciate the time you took to reply and I’m grateful for your prayers for blessing – and may God bless you too, Geoff.

  10. 1 Is a church family closer than a biological family, offering all that Will sees as missing from society?
    2 Can a childless single person, lead a church as effectively as a one with children in today’s world, unlike in the past. For some reason, I’m particularly thinking of protestant men? No doubt there are positive examples.
    4 Holly’s, contribution above, I think is wonderful. What can be a greater work, than raising children. A place of high honour, even if done imperfectly.
    5 I’ve come across larger biological families in the Christian church, in young marrieds, even today, than I have outside, such as with work colleagues. And those children are noticeable different in their manner, attitude and behaviour, raised by Godly parents when compared generally with other children.

  11. David Wilson,
    I’d not consider advocacy of one position, a settled view, after considering the options, what scripture says as simplistic. As you are aware, what scripture means, today seems to too readily by-pass what it says.
    Isn’t preaching in a Quaker meeting house, rather a misnomer. Or is that my simplistic view of what preaching is?
    Your comment, David,seems to me to contain more unexplained mystery than scripture. As you know, there are other Christian Churches that continue to maintain that scripture supports male eldership and preaching rather than female.
    Is there any research on the effects of female churchwomanship, leadership on the church, it’s ethos and growth any comparisons with male led churches?
    Amy Orr -Ewing (described as an apologist/evangelist on-line) preached at the Keswick Convention this year, on a passage in Genesis – Abraham and Isaac on mount Moriah, delving into the scriptural and social context and linking it to the NT and Jesus sacrifice on Mount Moriah with up to -date, contemporary, application. All evening addresses in the last week were on parts of Genesis, starting with Abraham, including his failings with Sarah and Hagar and God and Sarah’s with Hagar and God (preached by Mark Meynall).
    I’d rather listen to a woman who accepts scripture as the word of God, as she does, and has written a book about, than any man who doesn’t, whether in clerical orders or not.

  12. To some extent, Will’s proposal to prevent the effect of immigration on social cohesion is “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”.

    “Over a quarter (28.2%) of live births in England and Wales in 2016 were to women born outside the UK, the highest level on record.

    “Despite a 0.2% decrease in the number of live births between 2015 and 2016, live births to women born outside the UK actually increased by 2.1%.”

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/bulletins/parentscountryofbirthenglandandwales/2016

    Unless the UK radically revises its citizenship rules, all of these children will become voters who will wield considerable collective influence, if not nationally, then, at the very least, in the local government of UK regions characterised by “white flight”.

    I have absolutely no problem with this, but I can imagine how this might stoke conservative fears that echo those of Pharoah towards Israel.

    • Agreed. Immigration was always gonna skyrocket as travel became easier, and Western countries must adapt themselves. The sooner lost battles are abandoned, the sooner this can be faced up to.

  13. If ‘there is no hope without children’, then do we give thanks for the children of immigrant parents whose birth-right is higher? They are just as much humans, wonderful creations, future workforce, future nurses, and who we will become in the UK.

    If we draw a picture that is ‘home population’ centric, and we suggest in any way that ‘indigenous’ babies are better than more ethnically diverse babies, then there is a risk that we pander to the racism that’s evident in many of the people who visit TCW and comment below the line.

    “In the long term if birth rates do not pick up, or do so only among more recent immigrant groups, the result will be ever-increasing cultural and ethnic diversity in British cities and among the British population.” Why is that bad? I don’t buy Wills’ ‘harmful cultural practices’ point. White British bankers have harmful cultural practices too. And would it be naïve not to suppose that’s a dog-whistle nod to racially prejudiced visitors to the website?

    • Personally, I’m interested only in the content of a person’s character (so get to be denounced by both far left and far right, which suits me fine). If immigrants are getting the birth-rate up, great!

      But since these trends soon affect the descendents of immigrants, it’s a stopgap. The underlying problems need to be addressed, and lots of them are economic. We need more support for parents, more flexible work, and so on.

      The Nordic countries continue to struggle with low birth-rates despite implementing generous welfare programs, so economics isn’t close to the whole, but it’s a vital component.

      • Their ill-thought out policy means they have a great preponderance of young males to females (about 117 to 100). Youth immigration from the third world is overwhelmingly male and Muslim. Malmo is becoming in many places a Muslim ghetto. Pippi Longniqab? That doesn’t sit too well with secular, leftist, feminist Scandinavia, hence the rise of new political parties there.

        • Among 19-20 year olds, the figure is actually about 123 males -100 females, according to the BBC. This will have very unsettling effects on social peace.

      • If you want large parts of British cities to be Muslim, fine. As Christianity dies in the UK, Islam will be the default religion in many cities for those who profess any religion.
        The white working class will be ‘non-religious’.
        You understand, I am sure, how religion and culture are interrelated.
        Can you imagine – with good faith – why others might not be so keen on this scenario?

      • I’m not sure why the birth rate needs to be addressed if you don’t see any problem with mass immigration. Why not just carry on ‘importing’ people from high birth rate countries? That way you’re also spared the cost of their childhood education and healthcare etc. Surely this solution is only a problem if you see problems resulting from large scale immigration? Unless I’m missing something?

    • Hi Susannah,

      Now that’s a comment to which I fully subscribe.

      The quoted below-the-line comment echoes Pharoah’s expressed fear: “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” (Ex. 1:9-10)

      Key difference is that, since we no longer provide slave labour, TCW’s commenters are happy to stem what they believe to be the unsustainable tide of mass immigration.

      From 2014 – 2020, the EU contributed €538,232,236.00 to the UK through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

      The UK has simply decided to invest most of that in removals vs. re-settlement, while happily ushering in whites from (for instance) South Africa and Australia on the tenuous basis of Ancestry visas.

      • The EU contributed nothing – it simply recycled British money after taking a rake-off.
        As for ‘Ancestry visas’, all countries do this. Great numbers of ‘Volga Germans’ went from Russia to Germany, with a link much more distant (250+ years ago) than South Africans or Australians with a British grandparent. ‘Pontic Greeks’ were resettled from Ukraine to Greece after centuries. Why do you think Afghans and Iranians – now descending on the Kent coast – should be preferred over English speaking grandchildren of British subjects? Would you like to abolish borders? In which case, abolish nations as well.

        • You could also say the same about any government expenditure: “the government contributes nothing – it simply recycles British taxpayers money after taking a take off”.

          “As for Ancestry visas, all countries do that.”

          No they don’t. For instance, there’s no such thing as a US (third-generation) ancestry visa.

          As for the intemperate remainder of your rant against Afghan and Iranian immigrants, I might remind you of the European emigrants (those who are euphemistically called ex-pats) whose treatment of their forbears destabilise their native regions.

          Oh, but, don’t tell me. “Europe gave them civilisation!”

          • You made the EU sound like some benefactor. That’s nonsense and you haven’t granted this.
            Yes, the US is an exception. Can you name a second? I can’t.
            I made no “rant” at all, intemperate or otherwise, about illegal Afghan and Iranian immigrants, and you should withdraw that remark.
            I don’t know of European ’emigrants’ to these nations. Armies to Afghanistan, yes, but not ’emigrants’. British ’emigrants’ to Iran? What are you talking about? Use facts, David, facts.

          • Just one, you say, then, how about Canada…Okay, one more: Australia. I can’t help myself, so just one more: New Zealand.

            I didn’t make the EU sound like anything more than it is. The same would be true of farming subsidies, but you’ve simply applied your own construction to my words.

            My mention of British emigrants to Afghanistan was a tongue-in-cheek reference to those forming the British mission under the Treaty of Gandamak (Second Anglo-Afghan war).

            And, in the case of Iran, I’m referring to the bare-faced pilferage of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (which became BP).

            The company paid Iranians considerably less than their British counterparts (emigrants), while relegating Iranian workers to sub-standard housing.

            The company also reneged on its agreements to train Iranian technicians and engineers.

            https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Anglo-Iranian_Oil_Company

            Yep. These are facts, Brian. Real facts for which I make no apology.

    • Follow the link to the David Goodhart piece for a fuller explanation of the problems that arise from excessive cultural diversity in a communityhttps://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/too-diverse-david-goodhart-multiculturalism-britain-immigration-globalisation. It is a well known issue including to people on the Left and definitely not limited to racists and the Far Right.

      Here’s Trevor Philips being reported in the Telegraph in 2016:

      Britain ‘sleepwalking to catastrophe’ over race: Trevor Philips
      Trevor Phillips says people are increasingly scared to talk about race
      John Bingham
      10 MAY 2016 • 6:30 AM
      Britain risks “flames” of racial and religious conflict because of a “liberal self-delusion” over the impact of mass immigration, the former head of the equality watchdog Trevor Phillips claims today.

      In a startling assault on decades of official multiculturalism and diversity policy, the founding chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission argues the UK is being allowed to “sleepwalk to catastrophe” by leaders too “touchy”, “smug”, “complacent” and “squeamish” to talk about race.

      Drawing a direct parallel with Enoch Powell’s notorious “rivers of blood” speech, he likens Britain’s politicians, media and educated elite in general to the Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned, unable even to recognise the “dark side of the diverse society”.

      Ominous “muttering in the pub or grumbling at the school gate” about foreigners could, he insists, be the first signs of a backlash many thought could not happen in Britain because of a history of relative success in integrating new arrivals.

      Significantly, he claims the arrival of some Muslim groups in particular who are actively “resistant to the traditional process of integration” threatens to shake the foundations of “liberal democracy” itself.

      In a 100-page paper, published by the think-tank Civitas set to provoke uproar, he argues that a new brand of “superdiversity” is bringing challenges to the Western way of life, far removed from those of immigration of the past.

      Crucially, he says, race is no longer a “purely black and white affair” but a divide between the majority and people with different “values and behaviours”.

      But, he argues, liberal opinion in Britain has been almost unique in its unwillingness even to speak about the issue – possibly because of the backlash to Enoch Powell a generation ago.

      “Squeamishness about addressing diversity and its discontents risks allowing our country to sleepwalk to a catastrophe that will set community against community, endorse sexist aggression, suppress freedom of expression, reverse hard-won civil liberties, and undermine the liberal democracy that has served this country so well for so long,” he insists.

      Race does, he says, rear its head in rows about the use of supposedly racist language or concerns about practices such as female genital mutilation.

      “But these are not the topics that generate public unease,” he says.

      “Rather it is the appearance of non-English names above the shop-fronts in the high street; the odd decision to provide only halal meat in some schools; evidence of corruption in municipal politics dominated by one ethnic group or another.

      “Such headlines, frequently misreported, but often grounded in some real change, provoke muttering in the pub, or grumbling at the school gate.

      “They become gathering straws in a stiffening breeze of nativist, anti-immigrant sentiment.

      “And still, our political and media elites appear not to have scented this new wind.

      “We maintain a polite silence masked by noisily debated public fictions such as ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘community cohesion’.

      “Rome may not yet be in flames, but I think I can smell the smouldering whilst we hum to the music of liberal self-delusion.”

      He pointedly draws comparisons between his remarks and those of Enoch Powell.

      “He too summoned up echoes of Rome with his reference to Virgil’s dire premonition of the River Tiber ‘foaming with much blood’,” said Mr Phillips.

      “This much-studied address is, simultaneously, lauded as an epic example of the use of political rhetoric – and also as a ghastly testament to the power of unbridled free speech. Either way, it effectively put an end to Powell’s career as an influential leader.

      “Everyone in British public life learnt the lesson: adopt any strategy possible to avoid saying anything about race, ethnicity (and latterly religion and belief) that is not anodyne and platitudinous.”

      Citing the examples of the Rotherham and Rochdale grooming scandals,the sexual assaults in Cologne at New Year and earlier findings from Sweden he calls for frank and open discussion of the possibility of a link between rape and the perpetrators’ “cultural background”.

      “The typical response of Britain’s political and media elite confronted with awkward facts has been evasion, because – we say – talking about these issues won’t solve the problem; instead, it will stigmatise vulnerable minority groups,” he said.

      “Any attempt to ask whether aspects of minority disadvantage may be self-inflicted is denounced as ‘blaming the victim’.

      “Instead, we prefer to answer any difficult questions by focusing on the historic prejudices of the dominant majority.

      “In short, it’s all about white racism.”

      A spokesman for the anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate said: “Attention does need to be paid to extremists on all sides, and also to the plight of the white working class in de-industrialised areas, who are often abandoned to the likes to Ukip.

      “But the picture is by no means as grim as Phillips paints.”

      He added: ” Yes, a diverse society does face problems and yes we do need to talk openly about the issues ahead.

      “But people are already talking, across the divide.

      “Certainly we believe that the majority of people want to solve the problems our society faces constructively and peacefully, and the Muslim community – or rather, the Muslim communities – are also evolving rapidly.”

      Harmful cultural practices such as FGM and appalling attitudes to vulnerable young white girls and the difficulties of addressing these issues are well documented.

      • I’ve reflected on this over most of a day, Will, because I wanted to try to understand what your article is really about. I’m still not clear.

        Is this mainly about race and immigration (which is what you’ve focussed on big time in your post here), or is the article mainly focusing on your Christian understanding of women’s roles?

        Your case seems to be that if only our womenfolk would stay at home and have more babies, then we wouldn’t have to have all these bad consequences of immigration and the harmful culture that’s come in. I hope I’ve understood that right.

        As I’ve mentioned earlier, I believe housing costs are the primary reason both parents are having to work, not race, and not immigration.

        • Housing cost rises followed the increase in the two income family and the depression of the male wage rather than the other way round as house prices are largely based on household income. The 1960s fertility dive was not accompanied by a similar zoom in house prices. The 1980s fertility mini rally occurred at a time of rising house prices. See https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/8733/housing/uk-house-prices-high/. So house prices cannot be the crucial factor.

          • So you know better than the young couple who can’t afford to pay their rent unless they are both earning?

            What do you expect them to do, Will? Buy a tent?

      • The issue of racism is very sensitive: yes, there IS white racism. And where it occurs, it’s nasty, demeaning, dehumanising.

        The issue of mass immigration is also serious: we could debate about the scale and speed of immigration in the UK.

        To take the issue of “sexual aggression”, the vast majority of immigrants are NOT sexually aggressive. They are loving, caring family people. Similarly, the vast majority of immigrants neither practise nor endorse FGM.

        Likewise, the “link between rape and the perpetrators’ cultural background” which you cite, referencing Rochdale and Rotherham: these are the actions of evil people, and the mainstream immigrant culture unreservedly condemns them.

        Having worked as Prison Governor of a national centre for sex offenders, rape is rape, and sexual crimes are sexual crimes, and you don’t do these things because you are Muslim, you do them despite being Muslim. And of course, sex offenders and rapists come from ALL cultures.

        Meanwhile the fathers, mothers, daughters, sons of all cultures are appalled. Generalisations tarnish decent immigrants and expose them to greater racist danger.

        What I AM concerned to emphasise is that generalisations tend to enflame and amplify racist reaction. They also risk a loss of perspective.

      • Hi Will,

        If you are going to quote Trevor Phillips extensively on his expressed concerns over superdiversity, then you should, at least, mention his conclusions, which are, at variance with yours.

        Phillips’ concern is that we have relied for too long on ‘organic integration’. He wrote:
        “For over half a millennium, the British have successfully managed ethnocultural diversity by what might be called a process of organic integration. The combination
        of a core set of values and behaviours, a habit of toleration for cultural difference or eccentricity, and a preference for the gradual absorption of new traditions
        has always provided both stability and resilience in our society. The two essential ingredients of this process are confidence in our existing values, and time for the
        process to work. In the 21st century, these qualities are both in short supply. ”

        Also, he provides evidence about the true source of popular anxiety: “Sophisticated studies by, for example, Ipsos MORI show that levels of popular anxiety are largely
        unrelated to numbers of immigrants, net or otherwise. By and large the worries relate to the perceived speed of change in society as a whole rather than any specific
        personal experience.”

        So, the pace of technological change is similarly a source of popular anxiety in modern society, but there’s no parallel conservative clarion call for us to reject such change for fear of causing unprecedented societal upheaval.

        It’s all to convenient for conservatives to make mass immigration the sole culprit.

        In fact, the solution proposed by Phillips, Goodhart is not to thwart the immigration of the 21,837 refugees in the UK (2017), who equate to 0.25% of the UK’s total population.

        Instead, they propose that the UK should embark on a programme of active integration:
        “Integration is, if anything, more important and more urgent than ever before. That is why we need a new approach, which I have called active integration.
        This is not the old assimilationist idea in new clothing.”

        “At the heart of the process of integration remains the notion that it is a two-way street. But the problem with our rather feeble efforts over the past 30 years is that
        so far, most of the traffic has been in one direction – support for greater equality amongst disadvantaged groups, and pressure for open-mindedness amongst the
        majority. Both of these drives have to some extent been successful, though there is some way to go.”

        “However, the traffic in the other direction has been slow and thin. Expectations of non-dominant minority groups are low, and by and large they are imposed on
        individuals rather than on groups. We expect new immigrants to study for citizenship tests, and to have some command of the English language. We do little to
        create incentives for those who do not choose to be citizens to do more than the minimum to cope with living on British soil. ”

        “First, there would be new signals to institutions. I would not propose the removal of the positive equality duties on public bodies, cumbersome and bureaucratic as they
        are. However, I would balance those with a further duty to promote integration.

        This would require organisations to show that all their actions promoted a convergence of behaviour amongst staff and suppliers. It would, for example, mean that there would be an end to production teams in factories constructed by nationality. It would make clear that the preferred and standard working language would be English. It would also require employers to keep records, not just of how many employees of different backgrounds are on the payroll, but of policies that
        encourage shared social activity. “

        http://www.civitas.org.uk/content/files/Race-and-Faith.pdf

        Even if this solution is at odds with your own and unlikely to resonate with the majority of TCW readership, surely, it’s unfair to quote Phillips et al. in support of your concerns over the impact of mass immigration on social cohesion without explaining that your respective conclusions are at such variance with each other.

        • Hi David. I agree with encouraging integration even if I wouldn’t necessarily agree with Phillips’ specific proposals. My purpose in quoting him was to counter the suggestion being made above that concerns about problems connected with mass immigration and social diversity are necessarily dog whistle rhetoric aimed at racists and the Far Right. No intention to mislead about the level of my agreement with Phillips.

        • “Integration is, if anything, more important and more urgent than ever before. That is why we need a new approach, which I have called active integration.
          This is not the old assimilationist idea in new clothing.”

          “At the heart of the process of integration remains the notion that it is a two-way street. ”

          * * * * * * *

          This is exactly what I have been saying. Thank you, David.

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