BreakPoint: A Muslim Baby Boom

Time to Evangelize (and Make Babies)

A baby boom on the horizon could radically change our world. Here’s another connection between family and faith explained.

It’s been said that demography is destiny. If true, and if current trends continue, then the future will look very Muslim indeed. According to the respected Pew Research Center, as reported by Christianity Today, between the years 2030 and 2035, for the first time in history, the total number of babies born to Christian mothers will be fewer than those born to Muslim mothers. While the difference may seem relatively small—225 million births for Muslims to 224 million for Christians, it reflects a demographic pivot that, in just 20 years, could change the world.

Globally, Muslims and Christians, in that order, have more babies on average than any other group. “By 2060,” CT notes, “such growth will result in the global population of Christians and Muslims approaching parity—totaling 3.1 billion and 3 billion, respectively—with each tradition accounting for nearly 1 in 3 people on earth. Over the 45-year period, the Christian population is predicted to hold steady at 31 percent [of the world population], while the Muslim population is predicted to rise from 24 percent today to the same level.”

In other words, contrary to what you might have heard, the world is getting more religious, not less. The future belongs to the religious, and the coming Muslim baby boom suggests that the dominant religion—at least by the numbers—will be the one founded by Muhammad.

Of course, prognostications like this are only as good as the assumptions that underlie them. If these predictions of a Muslim future are to come true, current trends will have to continue without interruption.

But the fact is, God specializes in divine interruptions. When Moses was alone in the desert tending sheep, God interrupted him and changed the course of history. When Zechariah entered the Temple to light incense, God interrupted him and set in motion a series of events that led to the coming of the Savior.

And He can do the same kind of thing today when it comes to the Muslim world. In fact, as we’ve often discussed here on BreakPoint, we’re already seeing a disruption in the record number of Muslims becoming Christians around the world—a disruption well-documented by missiologist David Garrison in his book A Wind in the House of Islam. Statistically speaking, however, the numbers of Muslim to Christian converts isn’t enough to counteract the Muslim baby boom.

Any further disruption will have to involve ordinary Christian believers, like you and me. Here’s how.

First, Christian couples need to, if possible, have babies. God gives children as a natural expression of the self-giving love between husband and wife. The command to be fruitful and multiply has not been rescinded.

The fact that most Western countries are shrinking demographically at the same time that marriage rates are plummeting is a clear reminder that a Christian worldview of sex, marriage, and babies has been lost amidst a culture-wide addiction to convenience, efficiency, and choice.

And there’s more that Christians can do to respond to the Muslim baby boom. We can join with the Lord, who is actively working even now to bring Muslims to Himself. As Garrison has well-documented, unprecedented movements of Muslims into the Christian faith have occurred over the last 20 years.

On factor behind that is prayer—which is why I love to tell people about how they can join the global prayer movement for Muslims to come to Christ, while learning more about Islam and how to talk with the Muslims around you about Jesus Christ.  The 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World happens each year during Ramadan which this year starts near the end of May. Over 100,000 Christians in North America alone pray each year using the 30 Days prayer guide. Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll tell you how to get one.

Demography is destiny, but we can see that change if we stick to the basics—making babies and sharing the good news.

 

Further Reading and Information

A Muslim Baby Boom: Time to Evangelize (and Make Babies)

God is moving in the Muslim population, and we can be aligned with His purposes by praying. A great way to know what specifics to focus on is by using the prayer guide “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.” Click here to get your copy, and join Christians around the world interceding for the Muslim people.

 

Find a BreakPoint radio station in your area–Click here.

Resources

30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World
  • Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today | April 5, 2017
Be Fruitful and Multiply: Muslim Births Will Outnumber Christian Births by 2035
  • Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today | April 5, 2017
Why Muslims Love Jesus But Not Easter
  • Dr. Warren Larson | Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies
A Wind in the House of Islam
  • John Stonestreet | BreakPoint This Week | February 7, 2014
Missions in the Third Millennium
  • Stan Guthrie, Jonathan J. Bonk | Paternoster Publishing | December 2001
Demography Is Destiny
  • Jonathan V. Last | Weekly Standard | April 23, 2012
Muslim Refugees Meet Jesus: God at Work in the Midst of Crisis
  • Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint.org | November 4, 2016
A Wind in the House of Islam
  • David Garrison | Wigtake Resources | October 2014

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • ElrondPA

    Oh, John, you hit one of my pet peeves for misuse of Scripture. Almost as bad as taking “Without vision, the people perish” as a supposed Biblical mandate to write a vision statement is calling “Be fruitful and multiply” a command. No, it’s not. The text very explicitly calls it a blessing, not a command: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ” (Gen 1:28 NIV)

    While it may sound like a command, it’s actually a divine empowerment, the same as Jesus telling the leper, “Be clean,” is not a command to wash, but the divine issuance of a miracle. In Gen. 1:28, God is empowering humanity to fill and rule the earth, not demanding that they maximize fecundity. (Would you accuse Jesus and Mother Teresa of being disobedient because they had no children?) And really, without being Malthusian, is there any doubt that we’ve filled the earth?

    I agree that children are a normal part of a healthy marriage, a blessing to be sought and received with joy, and a healthy corrective to the self-centered, pleasure-obsessed culture. But a lack of children is not necessarily a sign of disobedience.

    • ===%===

      You have NO IDEA how much I love you for saying this. You’re right on the money. Thank you for preaching the truth and not taking the stance of many in the church that shame people into having children. We’re blessed, not commanded.

      • I really do feel sorry for Christians that think like you. It really makes me sad. Not the commanded or blessed part, because I think that is a distinction without a difference, but because you so passionately argue not having children, even if that is not your intent.

        • gladys1071

          Why feel sorry? no reason to feel sorry, my husband and I are perfectly happy without children, you are projecting. We are not arguing against having children, if people want to have children that is great, their choice, have as many as you want is what i say, not my business or my life.

          • Because, your happiness is the Summum bonum of existence? I’m not projecting at all. No need to continue the conversation because I have no desire to needlessly offend you. We’ll agree to disagree. Cheers!

    • Just like everything else in Scripture, we do not hang our doctrine on only one verse, or even just a few. We look to the whole scope of redemptive history, using biblical and systematic theology to understand God’s revelation to us. I disagree with your interpretation of “Be fruitful and multiply,” but having children is not a choice for Christians who want to be faithful to Scripture. Whether you call it a command or not, having children is a natural part of the marital relationship. The telos, or purpose, of the marital union is built into our bodies, male and female he created them. And Psalm 27:3 says that children are a gift from God. What other gifts from God do Christians actively reject?

      Your argument is also a straw man. John didn’t say, nor does any pro-natal Christian I know of, claim that we are commanded to “maximize fecundity.” What does that even mean? It’s really a dishonest way to frame the debate. Nobody, not even our committed Catholic brothers and sisters, thinks that every time a husband and wife have sex, the goal should be procreation. Sex is much more, than one narrow goal, be that pleasure, companionship, or children. In a modern information age, it makes sense that couples would have fewer children than in a pre-industrial economy. But it doesn’t follow that children are somehow an option. They are not. And I’d encourage any young Christian couple to have more than the typical American 2.2 kids (it’s probably less now).

      I could take this any number of ways, but I’ll share with you an “argument” I had in a comment thread with a guy who said there is no command in the Bible to have children. I didn’t tell him this because I try to be as respectful as I can in comments, but that’s one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever heard. If we told a couple in the ancient world that having children was an option, they’d think we were nuts, or Satanic. Not having children was a sign of God’s curse. Not to mention that children were an economic benefit. No husband and wife had to be commanded to have children. That would have been absurd to them.

      And no, the earth has not been “filled” because you have no idea what that means. The concept is never defined, so you are presumptuous to claim you know. Paul Ehrlich wrote the population bomb almost 50 years ago when the world’s population was less than half of what it is now. Yet there far few people in poverty today. No only was Malthus, and Ehrlich, spectacularly wrong, every year proves so without a shadow of a doubt.

      • gladys1071

        So you are saying that couples that choose not to have children are cursed? I have been married 20 years with no children, we have better marriage then most, and are quite happy without children. Who are you to say who is blessed or cursed?

        • Gladys I think you purposefully misread what I said. To Hebrews in the ancient Near East not having children was seen as God’s curse. Did I say ANYTHING about that being God’s curse today? If you’re going to disagree with me, please at least try to be accurate.

          • gladys1071

            Good i am glad you don’t think it a curse. Having children is not necessarily an economic benefit in these days when both parents have to work, if anything they can be a liability.

      • gladys1071

        Also back when God said be “fruitful and multiply” the earth NEEDED to be filled, that is not the case today, it is filled, I mean God gave us brains to be able to figure these things out for ourselves.

      • ElrondPA

        It was certainly true that culture in Biblical times considered barrenness a curse, yet at

        the same time the Bible speaks AGAINST the simple equation of childlessness with a curse from God. Think of Elkanah comforting Hannah (1 Sam 1:8), or Isaiah’s word from the Lord to eunuchs (Is. 56:4-5), not to mention Paul’s commendation of celibacy in 1 Cor 7 (which is a voluntary decision, unlike Hannah’s barrenness). The people of Jesus’ day also thought that being blind was a punishment for sin; we know what Jesus thought of that (John 9:3).

        I wouldn’t claim to know what the maximum possible number of humans on the planet is. That’s not what I meant by “filled.” But humans live everywhere they can live (and even places where they can’t survive on local production, like Antarctica). While it’s true that Ehrlich’s predictions of global famine have proven, as you say, spectacularly wrong, and one of the great underreported stories of the last two decades has been the rise of over a billion people out of pure subsistence living to a level that offers at least a modicum of comfort, it’s hard to conceive of how the masses of Africa and Asia will be able to live even with several decades more development in a way approaching what Americans and Europeans think of as basic (clean water, electricity, meat on a regular basis, education through high school, competent medical care with child mortality levels <= 1%), and China's effort to raise its population's standard of living is coming at terrible cost in pollution. Anyway, my point is that we've fulfilled Gen. 1:28, whether you want to think of it as a command or a blessing. To say otherwise is to express Mae West philosophy ("Too much of a good thing is wonderful"), not a Biblical sense of contentment.

        That doesn't mean that we should stop reproducing, and I think a married couple should carefully examine a decision not to have children (or even to limit the number of children) to make sure the reasons are not selfish. But I think there are non-selfish reasons to choose not to have (any or more) children. We stopped at two, and I am thoroughly convinced it was the right decision for us, even though in different circumstances I probably would have wanted more.

        I don't doubt that ancient people would have found chosen childlessness baffling. They'd find a lot about modern life baffling. And I find it baffling that Abraham would marry his half-sister and get a cousin for Isaac's bride (and then Isaac would repeat the process for Jacob), but their context was different. As others have mentioned, the economic benefits of children, particularly of large families, are more uncertain now.

        One of the gifts of God that most American Protestant Christians actively reject is the gift of singleness (1 Cor 7:7). I think it's a combination of rejecting the Catholic notion that celibacy is super-spiritual, imbibing in the cultural obsession with sex, excessive focus on physical family to the exclusion of spiritual family (thereby making isolation more strongly felt for those who are single), and failing to recognize that two incompatible things can equally be gifts from God for the appropriate individuals. That's also true of having children. Let's never forget that God's gifts are never purely for our enjoyment, but are meant to glorify him and advance his kingdom.

  • stumpc

    The anti-natalism in society is to be expected where there is nothing but materialist despair, but the pessimism in the Church leading to decreased fecundity is not excusable. The demographic data are clear, we are facing a population crash if current trends are maintained. The need and benefit of welcoming children is as true today as it ever was in “biblical time.” The encyclical Humane Vitae from Pope Paul VI is nothing short of an astounding example of modern day prophecy. And, like the prophets of old he was ridiculed and attacked by the “sophisticated” of his age.