The cover of the latest edition of Time magazine features two beautiful people, a man and woman, laying in the sand, contentment on their faces under the title of the cover story, “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children.” (Subscription required to access full story.) The piece is a fascinating snapshot of the cultural zeitgeist of the moment, showing the ambivalent attitude many Americans have toward family, especially in the way the story is presented by the author, Time, and its editors.

What stands out most is the defensive nature of the piece. The women and couples seem annoyed that there is an expectation in American culture that women should naturally have children, that it’s part of the deal. The women and couples profiled don’t like that they need to justify their decision not to have children. Choice is of course the ultimate American value, but these people don’t want to live with the consequences of the choice they’ve made, one of which is that some people find it odd that they don’t want children.

The obvious agenda of the author, Lauren Sandler, who wrote a book about the joys of being an only child and the virtues of stopping at one, and Time magazine, would be to change our cultural expectations about having children. Western cultural elites for over 200 years have not been big fans of the nuclear family; it’s too rooted in tradition, and exerts a moral authority that stands as a bulwark against the state. Western culture has largely abandoned the nuclear family as moral imperative or ideal, but that can’t seem to stop biology.

The idea that really seems to get Sandler’s goat is that having children is fundamental to a woman’s fulfillment, thus the title of the piece. But with apologies to Shakespeare, the lady doth protest too much, as do the women mentioned in the article. They seem to be saying, “Look how fulfilled I am, and with no children—see, I’m really fulfilled, honest, I am.” Of course the whole premise of the modern feminist movement is to eradicate biology as any kind of limitation on one’s choices, and in the end, as I suggested above, that is just not possible.

For more than 30 years most women are potential baby machines, and most men are more than eager to do their part. Yes, the pill is the secular left’s sacrament, and it has changed a lot, as you can read about in Mary Eberstadt’s enlightening “Adam and Eve After the Pill,” but it has not and cannot change human nature, which is a stubborn reality that Utopians throughout the centuries have continually refused to recognize.

I’ve been promising myself this summer to tackle Aristotle’s Ethics, and I’ve gotten only part way through the introduction to Joe Sachs’ translation, but a concept Aristotle covers is telos, or the goal or purpose of a thing, it’s function or potential. There is no pill or ideology that will wipe away a very simple fact, which is that a fundamental telos of men and women is to procreate. Making and having babies is built into our bodies. It makes sense that if this exists, and only the willfully blind would argue otherwise, that cooperating with our biological nature would tend to bring fulfillment, and frustrating it would tend to do the opposite.

This is not to say that all women react to their biology the same way, because obviously they don’t, but it is to say that denying that biology tells us nothing of what we ought to do is ideological obfuscation, something at which the left excels. I am sure there are far more women who feel the way this woman does—she calls it baby fever—than this women responding to the same Time article who says, “The choice to be child-free is admirable, not selfish.” Actually, there is nothing admirable about it at all.

Why should we admire what is contrary to the very essence of our beings? And having children, perpetuating the race, affirming life, are unqualified goods. Why should we admire what denies the good? And why should we promote a cultural norm that says children are optional? Of course in our post-modern western culture, which denies there is even such a thing as truth and objective reality, people can live any damn way they please, but the vast majority of people do not live as if there is no such thing as truth or objective reality. In fact, their daily existence argues to the contrary.

We may culturally affirm that children are a choice, but there are profound consequences for society when fewer women and couples (preferably married) have children, and in the aggregate they are not positive. At some point this will affect the demographics of a nation. Many western nations, which would include Japan, do not produce enough children to even replace their populations. Eventually this acts on a drag on the economy, because there are fewer productive members of the society, and as that society ages there are fewer workers to prop up the welfare state. Affirming childlessness as a good thing is a recipe for cultural enervation, and in my book, if the left is for something a huge dose of suspicion is required.

So there are plenty of utilitarian and philosophical reasons to stand against not having children, although in our time and culture that is a choice available to every woman, but my reasons extend as well to my faith. God commands us to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1), and to fill the earth, which is currently far from filled, despite what modern Mathusians might claim. Children are affirmed in the Bible as a blessing and a reward, the natural fruit of the union of married men and women, while barren women are seen as not favored by God (from a purely human perspective).

But what I love most about the Bible’s view of children and family is that it corresponds to reality, as I mentioned above, or what is known as natural law. In that vein, Pope Paul VI gave a gift to the world at the height of the sexual revolution in 1968 when he wrote “Humanae Vitae” (Of Human Life). Deeply unpopular at the time and still looked at askance even by many Christians, it argues powerfully that human reason can deduce from natural law and God’s Word that having children is the natural end of married life. Prophetically, the Pope reasoned that there are negative consequences to the use of artificial contraception (contrary to what some might think, the Catholic Church is not against reasonable natural birth control), not the least of which is that:

a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Could anyone with a straight face after almost 50 years of said revolution argue otherwise?

It’s impossible to put the birth control technology genie back in the bottle, but it is not at all impossible to affirm the centrality of children as a married cultural norm. As we see, and the Time article is evidence, despite centuries of hostility to the family by secular cultural elites, and full blown hedonism as a popular cultural standard, marriage, family and children endure as the aspiration of the vast majority of Americans. We should stand against every effort change that, and affirm every effort to spread it.