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The giant panda birth rate has been declining for some time. For whatever reason, giant pandas just aren’t getting busy like they used to, and this lack of panda romance has resulted in a sharp decrease in their population. Because of this, concerned citizens of the globe, environmentalists, scientists, animal rights activists and weird bestial perverts have all taken an intense interest in the sex habits of these Asian mammals. They have tried everything to encourage the cuddly beasts to make love and have little giant panda babies.

But why do we care about the giant panda birth rate? Why do we want them to reproduce? What does it matter if they go extinct? Well, because they’re cute, I guess. And they inspire mediocre animated DreamWorks films. And because — whether it’s pandas or seals or sloths — we never want to see any species fade out of existence.

Any species except our own, of course. For all our efforts to increase the Earth’s supply of furry woodland creatures and adorable arctic mammals, we still continue to view our own human fertility as an unfortunate medical condition that requires regular treatment, if not corrective surgery. When preventative measures fail, murder is an acceptable alternative to permitting another human parasite to plague the planet. We even tell fables about a mythical thing called “overpopulation,” a eugenic fairy tale propagated by modern Flat-Earthers who claim the world is running out of space simply because there are logical limits on how many of us can cram into a metropolis or an airport shuttle bus. But what’s worse than the historically low birth rate is the collective yawn that greets it. Some claim that our declining reproduction can be blamed on the troubled economy, but I think it has more to do with our troubled priorities. We’re told from a young age that unborn children are disposable, babies are a hassle, and “too much” human life is a hazard to our fragile ecosystem. There are “too many” people. Think about that statement. I’ve been hearing it for as long as I can remember. The secret to happiness, we’re told, is self-love, and we can express that self love by amassing material wealth. Babies can be an obstacle to our pursuit of physical luxuries, and they will interfere with our ability to focus on loving our own selves. I think these ideas — these poisonous, destructive ideas — are finally starting to sink in, which is why you hear them repeated everywhere from schools, to children’s TV shows, to churches.

And in Time magazine. This month’s cover features an image of a smiling young couple lounging peacefully on a white sandy beach under the headline, “The Childfree Life.” The caption reads: “When having it all means not having children.” The article goes on to discuss the choices of an increasing number of married couples to shirk parenthood in favor of more fun and more freedom. It paints these people as martyrs, describing the persecution they face from backwards fundamentalists who still make the horrible mistake of “equating womanhood with motherhood.” It’s not really clear what progressives think we SHOULD associate with womanhood, or even how we should define it. According to them, gender is subjective and negotiable, having little to do with one’s reproductive organs or physiological attributes. So you can’t assume a woman to have XX chromosomes and a vagina, and you certainly can’t assume her to be a wife and a mother, and you can’t tie her to any preconceived notions of femininity and grace. Womanhood, in our modern utopia, is an outdated term that means nothing and has no significance. Hooray! Everything is meaningless and nothing matters! Liberation!

Or something.

Look, obviously there are couples who physically and medically can’t have children. There are also individuals who, for whatever reason, never get married. I am not talking about the folks in either of these categories. But for everyone else — the fertile and capable married couples in our society — the question is whether or not the decision to be fruitless should be viewed as equal or superior to the choices of couples who embrace the procreative power of their marital union. I don’t care what anyone says or how much energy anyone exerts in attempting to pretend that everything is relative and subjective and nothing is right and nothing is wrong. The fact is that our ideological disputes — particularly in the realm of marriage and relationships — all boil down to an argument over IDEALS. What is the marital ideal? Why do we get married? What is our role in the marriage? What’s the point? What’s the purpose? What is love? How does it act? What does it do? These are the essential questions. The modern progressive might claim that there is no “right answer”, but then he will follow that up by asserting one. Only, the progressive answer isn’t really an answer so much as a negative dogmatic reaction to anything that reeks of tradition or religion. He can’t give you the exact ‘what’ and ‘why’ of marriage, but he can tell you what it shouldn’t be: It shouldn’t be structured in any way that puts the man in a position of leadership, it shouldn’t involve the woman “staying home,” and it shouldn’t be tied to procreation and parenting.

Allow me to be controversial by disagreeing with this modern wisdom, and instead aligning myself with biology, the Bible, billions of people from the past and present, logic, sound philosophy, and thousands of years of Judeo-Christian tradition. I still believe procreation to be a crucial facet of marriage. It’s not the “only” purpose, and it doesn’t mean we’re all supposed to have a thousand kids, but marriage is sacred because of its creative power. Marriage is the context in which we build families, and families are the foundation of civilization. When that crumbles, everything goes with it. Just ask Ancient Rome or Ancient Greece. Better yet, talk to modern Western Europe. We think we can separate marriage from family and family from marriage, but they are dimensions of each other.

If we can somehow learn to have the same respect for human life that we have for panda or dolphin life, maybe we’ll begin to rediscover why it’s important to embrace the full nature and power of the love between husband and wife. I know we really hate the “D” word in this culture, but if we only valued human existence in the same way that we value endangered tortoise existence, I think we’d begin to understand that there is also a certain duty involved here. We have a duty to protect the environment, and maybe we have duty to save various animal critters from extinction, but we also have a duty to give new human life to the world. Boys have a duty to become men, and most men will become husbands, and most husbands have a duty to become fathers. I know that statement will seem utterly grotesque to many of the people who read it, but there it is. I wanted to have kids. But I didn’t just have them because I wanted them. I had them because I wanted them, and because I should have them, and because the world needs them.

If my kids were endangered African Baobab Trees, every liberal would agree vehemently with my sentiments. Instead, they’re just people, and the world has too many people already, or so I’m told.