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Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, 14:46 GMT
Are childless couples self-indulgent?

Married couples who see having children as "optional extras" are self-indulgent, according to a senior UK Anglican leader.

The Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester criticised what he called the new religion of "me", saying that having children is fundamental to marriage.

Although the Bishop acknowledged that some couples cannot have children, critics say his views could add to the suffering of those who try to keep their infertility a secret.

What do you think? Have you decided that children won't fit into your married life, or do you see them as part and parcel of the whole concept of marriage? Send us your views and experiences. HAVE YOUR SAY Children are the product of marriage. A good marriage often produces good children as the couple's contribution to the next generation. Couples choosing to be childless so they can be free from the "burdens" of children are usually selfish people.
Will Coats, USA

Marriage or no marriage, children or no children: there's no room for the Church in my bedroom.
Robert

Having children is a gift, not a right! People should make educated joint choices whether to have children, or not depending on their individual circumstances.
Mike, England



Now that we have an 11-month-old daughter, I'd say that it does make the marriage feel complete.

Ashley Buck, England
I'd just like to add to this that my wife and I had our first child in April 1999. When we got married in Feb 1997 I was not bothered about having children, but my wife was keen. Eventually we had our decision made for us by the doctor, as my wife was unable to have any more pills due to high blood pressure.
Now that we have an 11-month-old daughter, I'd say that it does make the marriage feel complete, and that there is a real feeling of completeness in our family unit. How ever, I do not think that it is every couples "cup of tea" and NO one should have to do what some cranky old Church of England bloke thinks or says!
Ashley Buck, England

This idea that married couples are selfish when they elect not to have children is abhorrent. Why does such an individual feel it is their place to damn those who choose what they say in the norm. Once again an unthinking individual has opened their mouth to spout more bigoted trash, that has most likely caused the hard-nosed to agree with. This is not the sort of society I would wish to bring my child up in anyway.
Tim Carter, England

There are so many children in this world that don't have a good quality of life due to their upbringing, such as children born to teenage mothers. Having children is optional not compulsory. Children are a big responsibility that some people don't wish to have and they should be respected for this.
Alison, England

Having children is fundamental? So what is "respect", "compassion", "understanding", "kindness", "sharing" and "charity": peripheral?
Dave Williams, United Kingdom



If a marriage is unfulfilled, having children is not going to make it so.

Eileen, UK
The Bishop is entitled to his views of course, but I have to say in this case I think his views are rather limited. Having children and endeavouring to be a good parent is a privilege not a right. Also the days are long gone when people felt they had to have children to add to the souls of the saved. If a marriage is unfulfilled, having children is not going to make it so, and to have them for such a reason places an intolerable burden on that child.
Eileen, UK

To Steve who thinks people who don't have children should not receive a state pension because they have not had to spend their money bringing up the next generation of tax payer but presumably have spent it all on themselves.
Many childless (those by choice or by circumstance) people pay a fortune in taxes and national insurance to support the children of feckless breeders. They do pay for them, they just don't have any kids of their own to sponge off the state!
Sarah, UK

I, as a childless person, feel I am discriminated against, because women with children are allowed time off (whether paid or unpaid) for various reasons relating to their offspring, whereas I am not. Does anyone else think this is fair?
Lauren Hunt, England



I have given two children life in this world, and boy do I wish that I could change it for them.

Liz, USA
It amazes me how much the clergy still think they can tell what we must do and feel. Take a look at the world people! You have homeless people on the streets, starvation in Africa, murders in American schools, wars, need me to go on? Who wants to bring a child into this world? I have given two children life in this world, and boy do I wish that I could change it for them. I don't believe it's selfish to get married and not have children. I think it's the intelligent thing to do.
Liz, USA (originally Norfolk, UK)

I think that people are in danger of forgetting an important point here. We've heard about people who choose not to have children as being selfish, but what about the people who do choose to have them?
Many parents who have commented here say their children are hugely fulfilling and a source of joy to them. That's great. But that being the case, wasn't their choice to procreate also selfish? Wasn't it perhaps even more selfish, as the decision to have children brings new life into the world for no other reason than 'I wanted to'?
The exercise of free choice, one way or the other, is always a question of selfishness in that we take the option we ourselves prefer.
Tony, UK



Children bring much more happiness and joy than material goodies.

Michael Cross, USA
What I find ironic is that so many people are caught up in the cult of materialism that they actually believe having a fancy car, expensive house or designer label clothes is the centre of life. How foolish. Children bring much more happiness and joy than material goodies - which will rot away or be out of fashion in just a matter of months/years. I'd rather be the grandparent of a lot of kids than some lonely old person who only has memories of items that all the younger people would find laughable.
Michael Cross, USA

We should stop and think of the heartbreak that couples endure who cannot have children and to those who have had them and tragically lost them.
Sarah, Australia

I don't know if I would be that blunt, BUT having children is a maturity issue. You learn much, much more about yourself, and have much more respect for your parents by having a child.
To not have one [if it is possible] willingly is perhaps an indicator of a lack of willingness to leave a lasting legacy to your skills, and willingness to forgo "self indulgent" behaviours. Having a child however should be a personal choice - maybe it is a conscience choice of I am not qualified 'yet.' And that also must be respected.
Robert Gallagher, USA



This is the kind of stupidity that leads these families you see in the grocery store, 5-7 kids in tow.

Kristy, USA
Oh, my! I am going to go get pregnant right now and have a kid just because the church says I should. No worries, that the child would sense I never wanted it and have a miserable life like I did. That doesn't matter The Church says it's right so I should do it.
This is the kind of stupidity that leads these families you see in the grocery store, 5-7 kids in tow, screaming at the top of their lungs to shut up and stop this or that. That's not my view of Christianity.
Kristy, USA



I won't have a child until I can afford to feed, clothe and educate it. This is not selfishness, it is pragmatism.

June McCarthy, Australia
I choose to be childless because I know I couldn't feed or clothe a child on my salary. Welfare is not enough to cover the costs of raising a child. I won't have a child until I can afford to feed, clothe and educate it. This is not selfishness, it is pragmatism.
June McCarthy, Australia

Reading through these comments I am struck by the thought that The Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali has proved his point. The majority demonstrate a self-centredness which is breathtaking. It would seem that children are just another life style choice, not a gift of God!
Neil Brett, England

How disturbing (but unsurprising) to see a church leader who's so controlling and narrow-minded. And churches wonder why attendance is poor. The ability to produce children is a potential, not a mandate. If a person, for whatever reason, opts to stay childfree, that's their right, and kudos to them for knowing themselves well and not caving in to societal/religious/familial pressures.
Jackie, US

Yes they are being selfish. We all need to contribute to the next generation. I think that those who don't have children should not receive a state pension because they have not had to spend their money bringing up the next generation of tax payer but presumably have spent it all on themselves. I'm glad that the church is finally speaking out as Christianity isn't just for Sundays but all life.
Steve, UK

The patriarchal family is long gone from Los Angeles to Vladivostok. People a.) don't have children only because they couldn't control their birth, b.) have social security organisations to feed them at an old age. Thus, having children is no longer obligatory. The family no longer exists as a "cell of society".
Andrej, Russia

My husband and I don't want children. What right does this bishop have to say that our marriage is unfulfilling? Just because we don't want to change nappies and wipe little noses doesn't mean our lives are somehow incomplete. Oh, poor, self-indulgent, misguided us, enjoying our vacations and our peace and quiet.
Miranda, USA

Children are such a joy and fulfilment of ones life that I cannot understand why couples who are able to have children would want to do without any. It is very involving to have children and unless you have a big heart you may get overwhelmed. Childless couples by choice can only be termed as very selfish because they only need to think of what their parents had to go through to have them. For those who cannot have children due to some problems, my heart goes out to them.
Margaret N. Muchui, Kenya



Yes, I want the bigger TV and the vacations and the free time...so what?

Ken Evanchik, USA
I have 4 children so I know only too well the difficulties and indeed hardships involved in raising a family. I admire greatly anyone who makes the decision not to have children. Too many people have babies because it is "expected", without thought for whatever lies ahead. I love my children very much and would willingly die for any one of them, but my greatest worry has always been for their future. What sort of world are we able to give them? If I had my time over, I would remain childless, I'm sure.
Deborah Lymer, UK

Several people have commented already that "some people don't have kids because they really are selfish". My response to both these people and the bishop is: So what? I will not have children. But it's not for some altruistic concerns of the planet or my future offspring. It's because I don't care for their presence. Yes, I want the bigger TV and the vacations and the free time...so what? There are just as many parents who have kids for their own pleasure, who don't care about the planet or the next generation or the good of humanity.
Ken Evanchik, USA

I agree with Laura, USA that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and has the right to express it. However, people in positions of authority, especially those who are relied upon to give spirtual and moral guidance, have a responsibility to consider their comments a little more carefully than the bishop seems to have.
Andrew Dowle, UK

At my wedding ceremony don't recall signing a contract stating that I would start a family, or if I did without my knowledge, perhaps the Bishop would like to sue me for breaching it !
Kevin Spencer, UK

No doubt this bishop also believes we should be only having sex for reproductive purposes as well.
Paul Rushworth, UK



When is the last time he visited an orphanage, or a home for abused children?

Kent, USA
Once again, we see how out of touch the Church is with reality. Six billion people in this world, most of them in poverty, yet the Bishop believes it is everyone's "duty" to create more mouths to feed? When is the last time he visited an orphanage, or a home for abused children? People find fulfilment in different ways. Some believe that raising children is the most fulfilling way, and do so responsibly. Others procreate out of nothing but "following the script" they've been told is "what you do", and quite often, the end product is a house full of miserable, unwanted, unhappy children.
Kent, USA

In answer to Fiona Bielby's comments, while I respect your decision not to have any children of your own I take exception to the rather negative attitude you seem to have towards those of us who DO decide to have a family.
While I certainly don't agree with the Bishop the likes of Ms Bielby would do well to remember that there will come a time when we need the next generation to take over the running of things from us. So isn't it in all our interests to promote a healthy attitude towards the rearing of children, whether we choose to have them ourselves or not?
Peter Whiskin, UK



Whenever an ordained person makes some sort of comment on married life they are usually talking from considerable experience.

Anthony, UK
All C of E Bishops and priests that I know are exceptionally caring and compassionate people. Every day they have to listen to the sorrow that the break up of families brings. Many in the end just can't cope with the amount of sadness they are required to listen to. Therefore whenever an ordained person makes some sort of comment on married life they are usually talking from considerable experience. I would recommend that their words are never taken out of context and the whole article is read before comment. With so many marriages breaking down the question of marriage and the care of children must have the highest priority in our national life.
Anthony, UK

Children are not toys. It's a great responsibility. To grow healthy in body and mind they need high investments. Each couple has right to decide for themselves. The bishop must think about those couples who bring children into this world without having the slightest idea what it means: to raise children. Quantity does not mean quality.
Dmyterko Olha, Ukraine

A catch 22 situation. I married seven months ago and I earn a reasonable salary as does my wife. But with house prices as high as they are I cannot afford to buy a house big enough to bring up even one child in i.e. two bedrooms without both mine and my wife's salary - how does the good reverend suggest I manage in that situation?
Mike, UK



It may have escaped his notice but we are currently living in a country where 12 and 13 year olds are getting pregnant.

Heather, UK
When I heard the comments by the the Bishop of Rochester I didn't know whether to laugh or scream! It may have escaped his notice but we are currently living in a country where 12 and 13 year olds are getting pregnant, where the average household (whether married or not) is 3 or more children & our children's homes are bursting at the seams with unwanted babies, toddlers and teenagers. For him to claim that married couples have a "duty" to have children is probably the most irresponsible demand I have ever heard.
Heather, UK

I have a good marriage, and I hope I'm a good parent, but being adult doesn't guarantee that you'll be a successful marriage partner, and being married doesn't guarantee that you'll be a successful parent. Surely it's wiser and more ethical for people to decide not to have children, than to bring unwanted, and possibly unloved, children into the world.
Kathryn Knight, UK



He's not about to change the law so that everyone has to have children, he simply expressed an opinion.

Laura, USA
Having read all of the comments here it's obvious that most people don't agree with the Bishop. Most people have been rude and judgmental about him. I wonder how many of the people who have commented here would have re-acted just as strongly if he'd said that people don't have the right to their own opinions?
He's not about to change the law so that everyone has to have children, he simply expressed an opinion. I don't personally agree with the Bishop but I have a higher opinion of him than I do of most of the people who have posted here who obviously haven't taken his feelings in to account. That makes them just as bad as him in my view.
Laura, USA

I have mad a conscious decision not to have children. I am neither self-indulgent or flippant in my attitude. I recognise that at the age of 36 I would not be a good parent and therefore will not become one. In light of the growing global population, I feel the church should be advising more caution in regard to procreation, not advocating childbirth just for the sake of it.
Perry, England

I suggest the bishop puts his brain in gear before spouting such crass and unkind generalisations. It seems to me that since the politically incorrect joke has become ubiquitous, many right-wing thinkers, completely oblivious to the irony intended in such humour, believe they can go around insulting everyone who doesn't think or act according to their own narrow parameters.
John Cahill, UK

In this country today it is hard enough to put together enough money to buy a home, let alone support anyone! As a young person who wants to have a home and family I've found most of my hopes and dreams are steadily going down the toilet because to build a life costs much too much.
Has this bishop considered that many young people today don't really want to bring a child into this world without being able to care for them properly? These comments sound poorly thought out, unforgiving and trying to get attention. Much like how many of us view the church these days...
Paul Charters, England

I'd like to congratulate Rev Nazir-Ali for his clear purpose "having children and their nurture is a basic good of a marriage and not an optimal extra". Indeed we know from experience that couples that choose to have children and try to make it compatible with their career have many more chances to succeed in both fields, career and family.
A Gonzalo, Belgium



We are not planning to have children if we cannot be sure that we would be good parents.

Susanna, Finland
Yes, I love to travel and yes, I do have a career. But the most important reason why my husband and I are not planning to have children is the fact that we have taken a hard look on ourselves and realised that we are not mature enough to be parents. Not yet and maybe never.
We take the idea of parenthood so seriously that we are not planning to have children if we cannot be sure that we would be good parents. I call this responsibility, the bishop calls it selfishness.
Susanna, Finland

Having children is not fundamental for marriage; but marriage is fundamental for having children.
Roy Marsh, Singapore

This bishop has obviously not considered the economic and social problems we have often due to overpopulation.
Jennie Parker, England



It is our duty to procreate and spread our genes to the next generation.

Stacey Maxwell, USA
As a single parent, I know first hand the burden a child can have one an adult's economic prosperity. It is plain and simple, children do prevent adults from indulging in more leisure activities. Also, I agree with the bishop, that it is our duty to procreate and spread our genes to the next generation. This is for the good of creating a robust and intelligent society.
Stacey Maxwell, USA

In answer to Graham Bell of Brazil, it is not a sad reflection on society that couples are choosing not to have children, it is the sign of a mature and conscientious outlook on life.
Surely the plague of homeless kids on the streets of Rio are evidence that having kids is the manifestation of moral decline, and remaining childless is to be applauded.
Steve Bush



I have far too many friends who have had children because it is what is expected of them.

Fiona Bielby, UK
I have many friends who have had kids and most of them would tell you that if as much as they love their kids if they had their time again they wouldn't have any. I have far too many friends who have had children because it is what is expected of them.
I also find it rather amusing that it is a man who is telling us to have children. I am sure if men had to endure hours or child birth along with destroyed careers, the possibility of being a lone parent as well as medical problems such as post natal depression and piles he would have a change of heart.
I am 32 years old and have never had any maternal feelings and have no plans to have a child just because I have been told to. Who would want to bring a child into the world we live in now anyway?
Fiona Bielby, UK

I find it absolutely incredible that someone should make such a comment. Of course it is a perfectly valid comment to say that the love of parents towards their children is one of the purest to be found, and that indeed many couples do decide to remain childless for selfish reasons (i.e. they would rather have the big TV / foreign holiday etc.), but to try to make it a matter of morals, and especially of spirituality is frankly bizarre. I would ask the bishop where in the traditional marriage vows an obligation to have children is mentioned.
Jeremy Chaloner, Russia (UK citizen)

Six billion and one, six billion and two, six billion and threeż
As Bob Dylan said "When ya gonna wake up?"
Bill, Hong Kong

I am a single mother of three, two are teenagers. Raising my children has been very difficult and life consuming -- and worth it. However, I respect couples who have made the decision not to have children. Some people I know have decided the world is just too crowded. Others have decided the job is too life consuming. I think it is a good thing that people are really thinking it through.
Tina Noble, USA

Marriage and children walk together. What is the problem with kids, I guess the adults are becoming selfish and forgetting they were a child a long time ago.
Juliana Albuqueruqe, Brazil



He should take a reality check.

Gus Swan, UK
In their bout of millennial analysis the churches wonder why the populations of the developed world are turning away from them: we've had two timely reminders in a week - because they are still the preserve of bigots, dogmatics and delusionals.
What right has this idiot in Kent to decree what God's will for an individual is? If he thinks he can connect to the wider community by making this pathetic generalisation he must fit into the 'delusional' category. He should take a reality check with the Italian bishop who believes human rights and ecology are the preserve of the 'anti-Christ'. There are many devout and sincere Christians, but the established church has never been more out of touch.
Gus Swan, UK

It entirely rests in the final authority of GOD whether to bless a couple with a child or not. He is the Creator of this universe and he knows how and who will survive in this earth which is just one of his minute creation. If he gives a couple a child he will also give the child means to survive. Jobs and material source are only a worldly concept.
Faizan Siddique, USA



My husband and I are not having children and see it as our contribution to population control.

Katrina Rosati, US, British Citizen
In biblical times it was necessary to encourage having children because of the poor survival rate and low population numbers. Rev Michael is way behind the times! My husband and I are not having children and see it as our contribution to population control. It is far more selfish to have children for the wrong reasons than to choose not to have children.
Katrina Rosati, US, British Citizen

The Right Rev Nazir-Ali should look at a calendar and see that we're living in the year 2000. I won't dignify his views with a response. I'm more concerned by the views of "Withheld".
On one hand "as a Christian" she sees it as her duty to procreate yet is willing to divorce her husband if he doesn't want or isn't able to have babies. Didn't you make a "til death do us part" promise before friends, family and a God you seem to hold so dear? And what kind of loving relationship do you have where you aren't even sure if your husband would go to a doctor. Where's the communication? Frankly I suggest you regard children as little more than a fashion accessory and you should take a long hard look at your values before condemning your husband.
Vernon Bigg, UK



How many people who say they can't afford them really mean that they couldn't then afford a better car, or a bigger TV, or the foreign holiday?

Graham Bell, Brazil
I happen to think that the Bishop has a point. Couples are, of course, at liberty to not have kids, and it's surely better to have no kids than unwanted ones, but how many people who say they can't afford them really mean that they couldn't then afford a better car, or a bigger TV, or the foreign holiday?
If they have consciously made the decision that they'd rather have these things than children, then that is their choice and who am I to criticise? But they're missing out on so much, and what a sad comment on modern society.
Graham Bell, Brazil

And they wonder why so many people are turning away from the church! If a couple wish to remain childless then good luck to them, it's their choice. When you marry a person surely they are the first concern - children are a product of this. If nothing else I think it calls for a debate on religion in society today. Do we really want or need it?
If it makes you "self indulgent" to choose not to have children then the church has made one God almighty (excuse the pun) mistake and can only erode it's flock further - all in all the church has made another blunder, I don't think it'll be the last.
Stuart, UK



To suggest we should bring more people into the world is dangerous.

Rob Marriott, UK
Comments like those the Bishop has made are disgraceful. There are very few countries that do not suffer from gross over-population - and the UK certainly isn't one of them. To suggest we should bring more people into the world is dangerous. The Bishop has acted only in his own benefit - the more children produced by Christian families, the more people to go to church and keep him in his (no doubt very well-paid) job. Regardless of religion, such self-serving attitude should not be expected of a high-profile influential figure.
Rob Marriott, UK

On the contrary, whilst there may be SOME childless couples who choose not to have children for purely selfish reasons, it is much more common to find people who choose to have children out of selfishness.
It is far better that people choose or don't choose to have children for unselfish reasons; too many children are born into families who don't realise that the child is a person in their own right and not a commodity of their parents.
Ali Walker, UK

What a ridiculous comment, it shows just how out of touch with reality the bishop is! Happily married for 9 years before we found we couldn't have children we have many happily married friends in the same situation. The lack of children, for whatever reason, should not be an indictment on any successful marriage.
Simon Wilson, UK

What is worse, people with children they do not want or a married couple making a conscious decision to remain childless?
Liam Flanagan, UK



As soon as the Church gets to grips with "real life" the better!

Rob, UK
The comment was incredibly repugnant! Two people marry to express their commitment to each other. If children are not produced in the union, so what?
Given the increasing crassness in statements issued by the clergy, it is hardly surprising that attendance at church is falling. As soon as the Church gets to grips with "real life" the better!
Rob, UK

This just proves once again how there is no place for democracy and freedom of choice within religion. His views are insulting to women; who ultimately have the choice of childbirth - not him and his God.
Shirley King, England



I think the Bishop's comments have been leapt upon by a great many people and misconstrued.

Claire Friend, UK
I find it extremely disappointing that those people who are married and do not want children by choice do not realise what unfulfilling lives they lead. There is no love less selfish than a mother love. It is one of those unexplained things in life that you can only know once you have a child of your own.
I think the Bishops comments have been leapt upon by a great many people and misconstrued. He was not stating that everyone who is married must have children merely extolling the virtues of having children within the commitment of marriage.
Claire Friend, UK

This person is an embarrassment to religion, Britain and human beings. What right does he have to say such things. Isn't is good that people who don't want children for whatever reason are sensible and responsible enough to make that decision and stand by it. Does he want millions of unwanted children, running wild because their parents aren't there to look after them, go hungry because their parents don't have enough money to feed them, clothe them and put a roof over their heads.
Doesn't he realise that there are thousands of children in foster care, children's homes waiting for adoption because their parents didn't want them or couldn't look after them - that's good in his eyes is it - which century is he from?
Terry, USA

My husband and I are voluntarily childless because
1) the world is severely overpopulated and
2) we can give more to our families and community as well as to our jobs (both in health care). Bishops should confine their remarks to spiritual matters.
Kate King, UK



I say: Stay out of our bedrooms!

Sharon Wilson, Guyana
That's just the kind of medieval and downright out of touch comment I would expect from the male-dominated religious community which continues to meddle in the private lives of couples everywhere. From the right to use contraception, to access to abortion, these people constantly wage war against our right to make reproductive choices and our right to privacy.
In a world where overpopulation is an ever-growing threat to the planet's very survival, and where unwanted babies are abandoned or abused I am appalled that married couples are condemned for simply choosing a path which best suits their own circumstances. I say: Stay out of Our Bedrooms!!
Sharon Wilson, Guyana

I find the Bishop's comments totally offensive. I am happily married to someone I want to spend the rest of my life with and yes we would love to have a family but unfortunately after 7 years of trying we have been unsuccessful. Doesn't he realise the hurt his comments cause. Everyday I am confronted with a society that its almost totally dominated by children and their issues and I can't join in, people are automatically judging us by the fact we don't have children even though they don't know the reasons. My heart gets broken and is chipped away at every month when I find that I'm not pregnant - I don't feel like I'm a complete woman and it's a feeling I battle constantly not to have but its always there. To have someone in his position say something like that hurts and chips away a bit more.
Ann, USA



He owes every childless person an apology.

Ann, USA
I find the Bishop's comments totally offensive. I am happily married to someone I want to spend the rest of my life with and yes we would love to have a family but unfortunately after 7 years of trying we have been unsuccessful. Doesn't he realise the hurt his comments cause. Everyday I am confronted with a society that is almost totally dominated by children and their issues and I can't join in, people are automatically judging us by the fact we don't have children even though they don't know the reasons.
My heart gets broken and is chipped away at every month when I find that I'm not pregnant - I don't feel like I'm a complete woman and its a feeling I battle constantly not to have but its always there. To have someone in his position say something like that hurts and chips away a bit more. He owes every childless person an apology.
Ann, USA

Perhaps it is a "me" society because the governments I have lived through don't make it viable to have a large family. Of course, the Church wouldn't be so quick to tackle the real problems of poverty and quality of life. Strange how silent they largely are on that score.
Paula Fitzpatrick, England

What a ridiculous comment. My wife and I have been happily married for 9 years, and have no children. This is out of choice. Society does not make having children particularly tenable. I don't know how we would pay the bills if my wife had to leave her job for any length of time.
It is time for The Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali to take stock of reality in the 21st Century.
Dominic Judd, England



I agree with the Bishop of Rochester, not only as a Christian, but also as someone who longs to be a mother and can only view a childless marriage as unfulfilling.

Withheld
We are currently trying for a baby. I have had tests that say that I can have children but my husband hasn't. After nearly 18 months, it is getting to the stage where I will be asking my husband to go to the doctor. Having already tried to explain to him that I am becoming concerned about this as I am in my mid 30s and the response being non-productive. I can envision that he may refuse to go to the doctor. To me this will indicate that he really doesn't want a family as much as me and I may have to consider divorce.
I agree with the Bishop of Rochester, not only as a Christian, but also as someone who longs to be a mother and can only view a childless marriage as unfulfilling. Before anyone replies to this saying I don't love my husband, I do and I hope to never have to get to the stage of divorce. But I also need to consider how happy I would be with/without children.
Withheld

I am stunned at the irresponsible comments the Bishop has made. In a time where humans are destroying the planets ecosystems partly through over population it is madness to think that every married couple must have children even if they have no desire for them.
Surely the survival of this planet and its inhabitants was put into our hands by his God. Is it possible this almighty God will strike us down if we do not add to the already bulging human population?
Jacquie, UK

Perhaps the Bishop of Rochester should fund a system of "Baby Bins", as the German City of Hamburg is doing... then, after married people have "done their duty", they can safely drop the unwanted offspring through a hole in the wall.
Serena Jones, UK



It's hard to believe that someone would still circulate such dangerous and frivolous views.

Mina, USA
I find remarks like the Bishop of Rochester's utterly obscene. It's hard to believe that someone would still circulate such dangerous and frivolous views. For too long people have been coerced into thinking that having children is something they have to do, rather than an extremely serious choice.
If I have the resources and desire to raise a child, I will adopt one of the many children that already exist in the world, rather than self-indulgently produce a genetic map of myself.
Mina, USA

The church should only be objecting if these babies are being aborted! If a couple are responsible enough to admit that they are unable to give a child the love and attention it deserves, then surely, we should respect that choice.
Ayesha, UK

This opinion is hardly unsurprising if one were to speak from an ignorant (religious) point of view. In the real world, we live longer than marriage was designed for, some people are infertile and god is a creation of peoples imagination.
Colin, Netherlands



To me, marriage would be incomplete without the goal of having children.

Pascal Jacquemain, UK
The Bishop is, I think, in his role to remind people of the Bible command, grow and multiply. I also think that a married couple is the best place to build a family. And to me, marriage would be incomplete without the goal of having children.
Does it mean that people who do not share my point of view are self-indulgent and, perhaps, should have remained separate? I think not.
Pascal Jacquemain, UK

We need people to take a "responsible" attitude to procreation. If you want kids and can afford to feed and clothe them, then by all means, go ahead. If not, then don't have them. If anything, we should be DISCOURAGING those who can't afford to keep kids from having them. Serial breeders are a huge drain on our resources.
Alex, Scotland

Yet again the Church promotes a "value" that is totally out of touch with reality. We already find ourselves with thousands of children in the care system who are desperate for homes and families, yet the church is now placing an onus on families to create more children.
Mike, UK

What a ridiculous statement! Isn't the world over populated enough already and growing! A few childless couples is actually helping the world not making it worse.
Julie Haslam, UK



Does this mean single people have failed in their 'duty' by not getting married?

Steve Dempsey, UK
Of course we are self-indulgent. That is why we got married! Marriage was the only socially recognised way to demonstrate to friends and family the strength and depth of feelings and commitment to each other. Our marriage is based on love, understanding and communication. Not 'career and travel'. We have had lengthy discussions about having children and concluded that we didn't want any. This is more than most people do.
You wouldn't have a pet without considering the implications and impact on family life so why not make the same considerations about children. The Bishop seems to suggest that children are the only way to a fulfilling life for married couples. Does this mean single people have failed in their 'duty' by not getting married (including Jesus)?
Steve Dempsey, UK

Whether my wife and I decide to try for children or not is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that the Church, who are not without their own well publicised problems, shouldn't be trying to tell couples how they should lead their lives.
Steven, Scotland

It's about time idiots like him thought before they opened their big mouths. What exactly is wrong with not wanting children? There are enough unwanted and abused children in the world as it is. And since when in the Bible did it say when thou marries thou must have children? It's about time religious leaders used their time to promote sensible issues rather than talking rubbish.
Sue, UK

Boy does this open up a whole can of worms. In my opinion, you get married because you want to spend the rest of your life with one person. The matter of children surely is raised later and should be left up to the couple concerned.
Isn't it about time that the various religions wake up to the fact that we are now in the 21st century where many women choose to have a career and that some couples may not want to have children. We do, after all, live in a democratic society - or at least that's what we're meant to believe.
Tony Ford, UK

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