When Christians discuss issues relating to population, we are often much clearer about what we are against than what we are for. At one level, this is understandable, even appropriate. We need to speak out strongly against public policies that diminish the value of human life (including that of the unborn) and threaten to undermine the integrity of the family. At another level, we are missing an important opportunity to bring to bear key biblical principles on a topic of vital public interest—and thus help shape the agenda, rather than react to it.

Whether rapid population growth is detrimental to overall economic development is a subject of empirical debate. Evidence to date has been ambiguous, although the best recent research suggests that very high population growth does hurt a nation's economic prospects

An issue of even greater concern to the Christian should be the impact on human well-being at the family level. Here strong evidence indicates that rapid population growth makes it much more difficult (and often impossible) for poor countries to bring vital human services, such as primary education, clean water, sanitation, and health care, to all their citizens. And growing evidence suggests that very large family size with poor spacing between children can adversely affect the well-being of children, especially among poor families

Does all this mean that Christians should embrace aggressive population policies, involving targets and coercion? Absolutely not. These should be sharply rejected on theological grounds. And the good news is that virtually everybody—including the population "experts"—now reject such policies. Coercive target-driven programs have been found to lead to human-rights abuses. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.