In a 2012 LDS General Conference talk, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a much needed talk titled: “Protect the Children.” However, for some reason, he had a rough time staying on point; two of his diversions left me scratching my head.
He started out strong: “We are all under the Savior’s command to love and care for each other and especially for the weak and defenseless.” To me this is the essense of true religion and I couldn’t agree more.
But he soon loses me:
From the perspective of the plan of salvation, one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them birth. This is a worldwide trend. The national birthrate in the United States is the lowest in 25 years, and the birthrates in most Asian countries have below replacement levels for many years. This is not just a religious issue. As rising generations diminish in numbers, cultures and even nations are hollowed out and eventually disappear.
This paragraph makes no sense at all unless you look at it from only an economic perspective. I thought the LDS Church had moved past the idea that we need to get as many people to earth as fast as we can?
The world’s population is continuing to expand, principally south of equator in Africa and South America. The earth’s current population is 7+ billion, and is not scheduled to level off at 9 billion until the year 2050. The earth currently has issues with food production and preservation, deforestation, desertification, freshwater quantity and quality, air pollution, and global warming. For a general authority of a major U.S. and growing world religion to advocate more rapid population expansion seems seriously out of touch.
Mormon family size, while diminishing on average, is still well ahead of the national average. For me, families should only be as large as the parents can financially afford and can emotionally support. To generally advocate larger families for members living in Africa and South America borders is very unrealistic. When Elder Oaks makes statements concerning the world’s population he needs to be either be more specific or not tread on the subject at all.
Later in his conference address, Elder Oaks stresses the importance of marriage: “For children, the relative stability of marriage matters.” And when parents forego marriage “their children suffer significant comparative disadvantages.” In the next paragraph, Elder Oaks goes on to state: “We should assume the same disadvantages for children raised by couples of the same gender.”
In California, the LDS Church fought against same-sex marriage. Is Elder Oaks saying that same-sex parents will have disadvantages because the parents aren’t married? His argument seems seriously flawed. First, we try to keep same-sex couples from marrying and then we tell them they can’t be good parents because they are not married. The LDS Church can’t have it both ways.
For me, what is missing in Elder Oaks’ talk is some vision of what the LDS Church and its members can do for children in poor areas of the world. Soon, over 50 percent of the church’s membership will be in developing countries. What kind of programs will the LDS Church have in place to help members and their neighbors as they deal with poverty, poor nutrition, corruption, political instability, lack of educational opportunities, etc.? I’m sure LDS Church leaders have and are developing plans for the future. It would be nice for them to share their vision.