Marriage, Sex, and Childrearing

Since both Funky Dung and Jerry have recently entered the world of parenthood, I thought it fitting that my first guest post for this blog should discuss parenthood – specifically, attitudes toward parenthood in different religious groups.

Of my evangelical Protestant friends from college, all were married four to five years ago, and none have children yet. What’s more, their families and friends apparently are not asking them when they will have children. A Catholic friend of mine refers to the “Protestant five” – the widespread belief in certain evangelical circles and among our college friends that a married couple ought to wait at least five years before trying to conceive children. Indeed, one Protestant friend told me that she has read Christian marriage books that specifically advised waiting at least 5-7 years to have children, in general.

If we are going to refer to the “Protestant five,” however, perhaps we should refer to the “Catholic two.” Once my spouse and I reached our one-year anniversary, all sorts of Catholics – friends, family, fellow parishioners – began asking us whether we would be starting a family soon. We were specifically advised more than once that we should have children around our two-year anniversary. From observing other friends, I know that the questions and advice will continue until we become parents.

There seems to be an expectation among many Catholics that once a couple marries, children ought to follow relatively quickly. My spouse and I have found that this expectation is held even by those Catholics who have rejected almost every other aspect of the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality and marriage.

The Catholic Church teaches that sex, marriage, and childrearing are inseparable. Does anyone else find it a bit odd that Catholics who are willing to separate sex from marriage (premarital sex, cohabitation, homosexuality, etc.) and separate sex from childrearing (artificial birth control, IVF, you name it) cannot quite bring themselves to separate marriage from childrearing?

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  1. From The ‘Protestant 5′ (it’s not a new family singing group) : The Daily Scroll on 09 Oct 2008 at 3:11 pm

    […] Laika at Ales Rarus discusses how Catholics and Protestants differ on the issue of how long to wait before having children. […]

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