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What is anti-natalism?

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Anti-natalism (also spelled antinatalism) is a philosophy that discourages human birth as immoral. Anti-natalists assign negative value to human procreation, claiming that bringing more children into the world is wrong. One of the more vocal advocates of anti-natalism is David Benatar, a philosophy professor whose book Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence was published in 2006. Anti-natalism is in direct conflict with the Bible’s perspective on human life. God created human beings in His image and instructed Adam and Eve to fill the world with their descendants (Genesis 1:26–28).

Anti-natalists generally fall into three categories: misanthropic, philanthropic, and ecocentric. The misanthropic anti-natalists see humanity as the problem in the world, causing crime and injustice and pain and misery. Their position is that the earth and other life forms would be better off without human beings. Misanthropic anti-natalists are evolutionary in their thinking and see no real purpose to life. Humans are a disease that needs to voluntarily cease from spreading.

Philanthropic anti-natalists assert that procreation is cruel to the children being brought into the world. This form of anti-natalism sees the world as so full of pain that it is inherently wrong to produce another human being. Bringing a baby into the world is tantamount to sentencing that child to a life of suffering and misfortune. While philanthropic anti-natalism seems a bit more reasonable than the misanthropic kind, it still takes the pessimistic view that earthly existence is mostly pain and suffering. And it conflicts with Scripture’s revelation of a Creator who knows about the pain and suffering yet desires more human beings to reflect His glory.

Ecocentric anti-natalism, which is usually mingled with the other two types, focuses on the survival of the planet. Humans are seen as the destroyers of the earth. Without people, the earth would be utopia. This philosophy is the reason that many environmentalists and climate change activists choose to have fewer children. Anti-natalism simply takes it to the next step, promoting a no children policy. Anti-natalists of all stripes support abortion on demand.

The Bible consistently reveals that God has a purpose for each person and that we are all created in His image (Genesis 1:26). Children are a reward from God, not a curse (Psalm 127:3). God takes a personal interest in every human being and wants to see His image reflected in them (Psalm 139:13–16). We exist to mirror the glory of God back to Him and to everything else in His universe. We do this by surrendering our lives to Him and daily living in harmony with His plan for us. Part of living in harmony with Him is to value and care for His earth (Genesis 1:28; 2:15), but not at the expense of human life.

The Bible gives many examples of God’s positive view of birth. When He blessed a person or a nation, it usually involved increasing the number of children and grandchildren (Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:19–20; Exodus 23:25–26). God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation: “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if one could count the dust of the earth, then your offspring could be counted” (Genesis 13:16). God “opened the womb” of many women who cried out to Him for children, and even of some who did not ask (Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:11–20; Jeremiah 1:4–5; Judges 13:3).

God creates individuals for His own purposes. Although a father and a mother are instruments God uses to create more people, that act is ultimately in His hands, and He delights in the humans He makes (Psalm 37:23). Regardless of the circumstances of a child’s conception, each human being is a special creation from God. That makes human life sacred. Jesus welcomed little children, and, in order to be like Him, we must welcome them, too (Matthew 19:14).

Anti-natalism is a godless philosophy that takes a negative view of one of God’s greatest blessings: the gift of life. The world has problems, but the answer to those problems is not to destroy humans through abortion or to cease procreating altogether. The answer is Jesus Christ, the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer; He is the One who will one day right all wrongs and restore all things to God’s perfect standard.

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022