Generation Cedar

This may end up being a hodge-podge of thoughts….I have recently heard about some things going on in Europe, from different sources, though all are related and may indicate a trend that our country is headed for if we don’t fight.

And of course, in my opinion, feminism is at the root. Feminism, and every other “ism” that Satan himself is the author of.

A missionary from Europe spoke at our church about the eminent take-over of Islam in Europe over the next few years. Do you know why? Because Islamics reproduce the way they were created to, and Europeans don’t. Now there’s a novel idea!

And get this…it was reported that an American missionary asked an Islamic man why they had so many children. His reply? “Because we believe in God.” What do you think of that?

The missionary concluded by saying, “It really comes down to one simple thing: the one with the most babies wins!” Is it any wonder? Aren’t God’s plans always right? When we start altering things, based on our own personal “wisdom”, we inadvertently change the course of mankind. WOW.

Another tragedy going on in Europe is the hostility toward homeschoolers, particularly in Germany. Many of you have been aware, I’m sure, of families over there undergoing persecution for their choice to homeschool.

Currently, there is a family, the Neubonners, who have just had their personal and business banking accounts FROZEN BY THE GOVERNMENT because they didn’t pay penalty fines imposed on them for refusing to send their sons to the state school. Isn’t it ironic that the government is “so concerned with the welfare of these boys” that they could care less whether they starve to death, as long as they’re being indoctrinated by the state?! You can read their story HERE.

But the worst part of it all is that in the past, Europe is about 10 years ahead of the US in every area…art, entertainment, fashion, and culture. Can you see the writing on the wall?

There is a reason my blog name is WORD WARRIOR. My birth name, Kelly, means “warrior”. For those of you who believe that a child’s name has a bearing on the kind of person he becomes, it rings true in my case. I struggle constantly with desiring a quiet and gentle spirit, and yet feeling this warrior-type spirit within me. I’ve asked the Lord to help me be the quiet and gentle woman His word describes, and yet use whatever this passion within me is for His glory. This blog, I think, is part of the result of that prayer.

I hope, in some way, to be able to use words, since that is what the Lord has given me, to fight against the gates of hell in this nation. I hope I stir others up to fight…as women, in whatever realm He gives us. Most of you are mothers…and isn’t it a blessed hope for our nation that we have been given the incredible opportunity to “assist God in a miracle” by giving birth? And isn’t it wonderfully true that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”?

Europe is about to experience the truth of that reality.

Spread the love

32 Responses

  1. I just don’t get people like you. It seems like you have too much time on your hands. Why don’t you spend a little more time taking care of your kids, instead of having the older ones take care of them.

  2. Molly,

    I need you to clarify your question…what is “this” you’re referring to, and “answer” to what?

  3. Caroline,

    If you don’t get “people like me”, why are you lurking on our blogs?

    I certainly do not have “plenty of time on my hands”, but rather use my time wisely, in between my duties at home. (It’s part of the freedom I experience from being a keeper at home.)

    I am thankful for older children who LOVE to help me, but they are doing only that….helping. And I wouldn’t dream of doing such a disservice to them by not expecting them to share in the responsibility of our family so that they will be properly equipped to care of their own families.

    Don’t make blind assumptions you know nothing about, please.

  4. In case there is any misunderstanding, the quote “the one with the most babies wins” refers to “a people” not “a person”.

  5. I agree with you, Kelly. I think you said what needed to be said with a loving and non-racist spirit. And do you know what? It shows that you are having an effect on many ladies on the internet when you’ve earned yourself people who disagree with you monitoring your blog LOL!

    And I think this IS the answer we get from God’s word, Molly. We’re to go and make disciples, but we’re also told that children are a blessing. Get yourself a large household and you can do both.

    Incidentally, we all of us have the same number of hours each day allotted to us. I suppose that we all have plenty or very little time on our hands depending on your perspective. *shrug* Maybe Kelly has the older kids help out every now and then but that’s HER business. Wonder who the people writing in let watch THEIR kids.

    What-ever.

    Mrs. C

  6. Sorry I wasn’t clear—I was hopping on and off the computer in a flash, mom-style. 🙂

    I guess I was just thinking about what Jesus came and taught. He certainly was a lover of children (as am I). But did His gospel say that the people whose wombs bear the most babies win? Does that sort of thinking even fit into the paradigm He came with?

    It seems it fits more into the one that James and John had (Can we have the best seats, Jesus? Can we beat the others, Jesus?). Jesus gave them a pretty stern response.

    I remember the passage where the woman said, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that suckled you,” (or something to that effect, and Jesus responded with what seemed to be a rebuke! She was praising a good thing—wombs and nursing breasts are good God-made things—and yet Jesus said she was seriously missing the point.

    I wonder if we err when we focus on the wombs as a vehicle of the Gospel and/or of salvation? Are we guilty of making something good into an idol?

    I speak as one with a handful of kids, mind you, and feel children to be a great gift. But I think we are treading on dangerous ground when we elevate reproduction (and “winning”) in a way that the New Testament clearly does not.

    *shrugs*

  7. Molly,

    I don’t think that’s what the titile of the article meant. I think it means (and bear with me) that of a democracy, that the majority will win. and what is a democracy? The majority of the people. but how do you stay the majority? by having children with the same views as you, but if you (the majority) have no children the majority becomes the minority, and vice-versa. but in this case the minority is the arabs, (who want islam to be the religion of europe) who don’t like the people of europe and their culture. so if you have more children who believe in the same point of view as the arbs the country becomes a arab nation (which is what they the majority don’t want). correct me if I’m wrong or add something if you like. but what vexes me so is that is the europens know this why don’t they have more children and get rid of abortion clinics?

  8. Adyln gets it…and as I commented, the title isn’t referring to “a person”, but rather “a people”. No, this post is not elevating reproduction to an idolistic level.

    It’s a simpler thing…a thing of numbers and common sense. My point is nthing more than, God made us to reproduce. We have exercised our own wisdom and cut off the godly seed, which I believe is contrary to God’s heart.

    As a result, our Christian heritage as a nation is dying by the sheer outnumbering of other religions.

    Statistically, we need more babies!

  9. I realize you’re talking about things on a country-to-country scale, but my original question is still the one floating in my mind…is this reaction the sort of thing we see Jesus advocating? To be first, to stay on top, to “win,” etc, through physical means (in this case, having babies instead of shooting guns).

    I’m not discounting the blessing of children. I’m just not sure if having babies is the *best* way to engage/combat Islam. Can you show me in the New Covenant how this is the way Christians should fight against those who differ with their faith? Is this a way we’re even supposed to think?

    Warmly,
    Molly

  10. I am wondering as Molly is. I LOVE children. But I should be seeking God and how I can be pleasing to Him. Not trying to populate the world. I mean, I read NO WHERE in the New testament about having LOTS of kids. Having babies is wonderful, but to do it at the expense of my christian growth and relationship with Christ is wrong. I mean really, do we desire God or people? I want to please God. Sometimes I wonder if this blog idolizes having a large family instead of glorifying God. I dont say this to sound mean. It just seems the only time I hear much about God is when it has to do with Ps 127 and 128. There is more to the Bible than these two chapters. Much more. Children can be an idol, self can be an idol too!

  11. Molly and Anon.,

    I hear what you are saying; what your concerns are. But I think you are misunderstanding the point, and I think you are bothered by the title, when it is really a tongue-in-cheek title.

    I also see a dangerous tendency to demand proof “only from the New Testament”. Being under the New Covenant does not eradicate the teachings of the Old Testament. One of the most crippling things some Christians have done is to disregard the teachings and admonition of the OT. The Bible is a continuing, living book, with no reason to repeat things in the NT that have already been established in the Old.

    Having said that, the line of Biblical thinking that I’m following with this post is not that “the only way to evangelize the world is to have more babies”. However, by our own stupidity as a nation, we have brought certain curses on ourselves, and one of them, I believe, is the infiltration of other religions by sheer numbers.

    You’re asking for a place in Scriputure and what you are not seeing is that I believe Christians having children should be a “given”…there are many ways Scripture calls us to disciple the nations, evangelize the world, etc. But when Christians were given the command to “be fruitful and multiply”, it was a simple command, and God knew that “numbers” was a very important part of it.

    Just because I posted about this specific problem (being outnumbered) doesn’t mean I’m saying that this is THE WAY that we should be advancing the Kingdom. I think it is one way, a natural way, put into motion by the very creation and perfect design of marriage. And we’re missing the mark, and now we’re seeing the evidence of that.

    I’m not suggesting that we should be having babies to populate the world; I’m suggesting that that is merely a by-product of doing things God’s way…the very fact that we’re even discussing this is evidence of how we’ve gone astray. When the children of Israel went in to the Promised Land to possess it, they had babies. They didn’t question if they should, or where in Scripture it said to, etc., it was as natural as breathing. One way by which God blesses or advances a nation is through the godly seed. ONE way…not the only way.

    Why are we so hung up on this?

    And to address the question of this blog idolizing large families instead of glorifying God…I suggest that having a large family DOES glorify God. Why separate the two?

    Does that mean a small family doesn’t glorify God? Of course not! Some can’t have children at all, or others may only be given one…the numbers has NOTHING to do with it!!!

    Again, I emphasize what to me is so logical, it shouldn’t even have to be said:

    God made us to reproduce…He did not create birth control…I don’t think He gave us authority to decide when to close the womb. And if we left this stuff up to Him, natural blessings would follow.

    The reason this blog has to “make such a big deal” about having children, is because we’ve made such a big deal about NOT having them.

    Am I making myself clear? Please be aware that I do not idolize children or large families. I am sad that the issue even has to be brought up!(Again, we should be reproducing by our very design, without any question or debate.) There was a reason Scripture doesn’t have a lot to say about it….it was not an issue–people simply didn’t interfere with God’s design!

  12. Anon.

    I wanted to mention one more thing about your comment that this blog seems to idolize large families.

    Please keep in mind that this blog is about a specific topic: Feminism. It started out entitled “The Birth Control Debate”. If the subject matter seems to focus on a few certain issues (children, birth control, homemaking, etc.), it is because that’s its purpose. I can’t cover them all!

    I would love to write about the entire Christian experience, but frankly, I don’t have time.

  13. I hear ya. And you make a great point: this is the focus of your blog.

    You said,
    “There was a reason Scripture doesn’t have a lot to say about it….it was not an issue–people simply didn’t interfere with God’s design!”

    And I wanted to correct that because they did use forms of birth control (not the types we have today, obviously), including abortion and infanticide.

    We know that killing a baby is wrong. But the Bible is markedly silent on the subject of birth control (unless one counts Onan as an example of birth control, which is pretty debatable). It makes positive statements about children, but it doesn’t ever give a rule about using or not using forms of birth control. (To me, I think that’s pretty important, because I don’t want to add to God’s Word).

    I also want to point out that one of the reasons we humans have babies so frequently is NOT due to God’s blessing, but more accurately due to the negative repercussions of the Fall.

    Check out the Hebrew in Gen. 1:16–it speaks of not only childbirth itself but of conception and pregnancy. (I never noticed that until a few years ago and it really shocked me!).

    Nursing gives us a break (well, SOME of us, that is. Round the clock nursing doesn’t stop my fertility from coming back, as it appears about 2-4 mos. pp, no matter how much I nurse!) but it’s important to note that it’s STILL not the kind of break we were originally DESIGNED to have before the Fall.

    So having children is a blessing because children are a blessing, yes. But frequent pregnancy is actually not a blessing. In the same way that thorns and thistles aren’t a blessing. They make a good thing into a painful thing. It doesn’t take away from the good thing (the plowed field, the baby born), but it makes the “getting of it” a seriously difficult struggle.

    You said,
    “I suggest that having a large family DOES glorify God. Why separate the two?”

    Personally, I don’t think that having a large family glorifies God. God said there’s one thing that brings Him glory, and that’s His Son.

    When we abide in the Son, we bring God glory because His life is coming through us. Having a large family is something anyone with fertile reproductive organs can do. There’s nothing God-honoring about it, in and of itself. If there is, then we’re adding something to Christ.

    I personally think that family size is an issue of Christian liberty, and I think that Scripture supports that view. Historically, the early church was about the business of rescuing the unwanted babies, not telling women that they should be having more. We have a ton of unwanted kids in our country alone.

    I’m done having children naturally (5 in 6 years did me in, and I’ll have health problems for the rest of my life, barring miraculous intervention, because we were not wise in how we handled my fertility, in great part because of QF theology that told us it was sinful to take a break). But I look forward to the coming days when we can take in foster kids—kids no one wants—to our home! 🙂

    I see much more Scriptural support for caring for the widow and the orphan as a way of expressing God’s righteousness working through us, if we wanted to have a “who’s got the most Scriptures on their side” fight,” lol. WHICH I DON’T—LOL! 🙂 I’m just a little concerned about the preaching of a message that seems to be a little removed from the Gospel. Probably concerned because I was once a part of it, so it’s effects are a little more “real” to me.

    Your Sister in Him,
    Molly

  14. Not to go of topic, but let’s say they are overran with islam, and force to obey islam law, do you think that the eurpeons would flee, and if so where do think they’d flee?

  15. Molly,

    I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I need you to resend the Scripture reference about your statement that having so many babies is a repercussion of the fall. I have NEVER heard that. (Gen. 1:16, the verse that you stated, is about the moon and the stars.)

    Obviously, we simply disagree on the birth control issue. I won’t go into all my reasoning here, because many of my past posts have details about it. I have always maintained that health issues with a woman’s fertility are the most challenging to deal with regarding a couple’s decision to limit children. And since I’ve never personally experienced such a struggle, I am very slow to give my opinion there. (And, I am very sensitive to people dealing with those, despite what my strong convictions might convey!)

    But because health reasons only constitute a tiny segment of people, most other reasons people have for limiting children, are in my opinion, born out of a selfish motive.

    To leave fertility in the category of “Christian liberty” is something I just disagree with. I guess the simple evidence of the Christian community reveals what a dangerous thing that is. About 99% of Christians who have exercised their freedom in limiting children have inadvertently begun to view them as a burden. (Not every single person, mind you, but most.) I have stated before, if birth control were a neutral issue, then a large family would be just as loved and accepted as a small one.

    But we all know that is not the case. Once BC was made available, people were expected to use it, and are even sometimes persecuted if they don’t! To me, this is VERY contrary to God’s heart, and the blessing of children. It’s as if BC and a full-quiver mindset cannot abide one another. Why is that?

    My word is “slippery slope”. When something is a slippery slope, like this issue is, I think we’re best not to step on at all.

    To clarify my statement that “large families glorify God”, which I knew would be misunderstood, I simply mean that, allowing God to be sovereign over the womb is a glorifying thing. Any obedience is glorifying. Obviously, this is where if you don’t believe allowing God to be sovereign over the womb is obedience, we’re not going to see eye to eye here.

    We all want to admit that we believe God is sovereign, but then we turn right around and say, “except for in this area, Lord.” I just think life is sacred…there are many things He gives us liberty and authority over. But the womb is His…life is His…supernatural miracles within the body, in my opinion, are off limits to us limited creatures!

    I’m not saying there is NEVER an occasion where I believe a couple can’t prayerfully postpone or limit their family size…that is an issue that they must answer to God for, and follow His leading.

    But in general, I am opposed to the notion that “I can be in control of my own womb”. It teeters dangerously on the brink of feminist cries.

    We are too quick to demand chapter and verse, when some things are just written within Creation.

  16. Sorry, I meant to put Gen. 3:16.

    I think on this subject we will have to agree to disagree.

    When a person proclaims that babies are blessings, I heartily say an, “Amen.” But when a person says that babies are blessings thus all Christians need to eschew birth control, I look around nervously.

    We shouldn’t be adding to Scripture what Scripture didn’t say. God had plenty of room to breath out what He wanted written.

    He has said that children are blessings. But He didn’t make rules about having to recieve those blessings.

    When we add rules to Him, we do exactly what the (well-intentioned) Pharisees did. And we all know how Jesus responded to the Pharisees. Let’s not put burdens on the back of the Messiah’s lambs.

    Warmly,
    Molly

  17. I agree with Kelly AND with Molly.

    The over-arching principle of Kelly’s point in this post is true: hard-core feminism has created a culture of death which threatens nations the world over. One of the signs of this is a negative population growth.

    I think we all agree children are blessings.

    But the Lord has also given us common sense.

    Farmers let fields lie fallow in order to allow the soil to restore it’s proper balance. Breeders do not mate their animals every season in order to give them needed rest.

    Women need rest, too. Childbearing reaps a toll on our bodies physically, mentally and emotionally which we ignore to our own detriment and may I say, to the grief of God’s heart.

    I see nothing wrong with allowing a woman to rest. Rest is restorative, rest is necessary. If a woman chooses to use barrier methods or NFP to achieve rest, she ought not be criticized as being “worldly.”

  18. Well said! I am so much in agreement, Elizabeth. I guess the only area I would differ is that I personally don’t think hard-core feminism has caused a culture of death. I think hard-core Adam-and-Eveism has caused a culture of death.

    Warmly,
    Molly

  19. My husband and I would agree with what Elizabeth is saying. We both believe that children are a great blessing. I have a grave responsibility to raise my children up in a way that they will be open and willing to obey God. If I am weary and tired out, I would not be able to do my job well. No one would send a weary ox out to plow a field, it needs rest for strength to do the job. Well said Elizabeth!!

  20. Oh I also want to know where in the Bible it says “large families glorify God” . A single person can glorify God with his/her obedience to Jesus. If there is a verse that says that they do, Hey I would like to know! I KNOW it says children are a BLESSING TO THE PEOPLE who RECEIVE them. But I am sure a family with one child can bring glory to God JUST as well as a large family.

  21. Ann,

    You have obviously not read all my comments, or you wouldn’t be asking this question. Frankly, I’m exhausted from explaining all the points that those of you who disagree with keep misconstruing.

    Nevertheless, one more time…Anon. made the comment that this blog “idolizes having a large family instead of glorifying God”…my answer to her was that I believe having a large family does glorify God (by default), just like any other obedience, and the two should not be considered separate things.

    I DID NOT say that you must have a large family to glorify God. (Nor did I ever claim the Scriptures say that.) I’m insulted that someone would even assume that’s what I meant. How could that make sense considering some people never even marry, some are barren, and some may only be given one or two children?

    My point was from what I believe to be an obedience standpoint. If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know that my passion is to rid our ingrained notions that children are a burden, and anyone with more than two is crazy. And to replace those with God’s heart toward children, as found in Scripture. That they are a blessing, and He desires godly offspring from His people, and that when we reject the world’s idea of children, and receive those He gives us (be it ONE or TWENTY), that is a good thing…a GLORIFYING thing.

    Is this concept that difficult or am I just that bad at explaining things?

    I love your comments, and I have enjoyed this debate. But I would hope we could debate about the topic, and not twist everything I say around to make an issue out of nothing.

    And I can leave it where it is…I know people will always disagree as to what extent we are given control over our own wombs…I am never going to suggest a couple is in sin if they prayerfully choose to delay, or space their children, when they have a heart that is seeking to glorify Him.

    It may or may not be what our personal conviction is, but again, my intention is not to split hairs over that issue, but to destroy the current child-hating philosophies of the world that have infiltrated the Christian community.

    (I will admit it’s often hard for me to debate this without splitting hairs because of my “black and white” personality. And I see all too often, in many areas including this one, when we begin to take even one step in the wrong direction, we’re on that slippery slope before we know it!)

    Thank you all for your provoking debate!

  22. I’ve enjoyed this debate 🙂 I kind of agree with Molly, Elizabeth, AND Kelly. LOL!

    I am against any form of birth control that is abortificient and leaves no room for God to do his work, but I am not against being wise with our bodies. (Hormonal birth control is not wise, however…)

    Coming from a big family, I really can relate to what Kelly says about people viewing children as a burden and vilifying people who have large families. It’s pretty ridiculous. You’d think this would not be in the church, but it is. I was fortunate…the church I attend now, big families are happy circumstances, not odd ones. And the church I grew up in, there were many large families. From 6-13 kids. (I consider anything more than five to be on the larger side). However, in the larger body of Christ, we were surprised at the negative reactions of some people.

    Maybe feminism hasn’t created a “culture of death”, although I personally think it has. But one thing feminism HAS done is vilified children and vilified motherhood. Not the original suffragettes, mind you. I’m talking about what it quickly became. If you’ve read any of Gloria Allred, Betty Frieden, etc. it’s very obvious. It’s a multi-faceted attack on the family unit as defined by God. And it’s not just the women…behind abortion and other large parts of feminism, you might be surprised to learn there were men behind this as well. So it’s not just the women, and not just one segregated part of society. It’s permeated our culture.

  23. Of course, sin is at the root of every evil that has befallen our human condition. When I labeled feminism as being responsible for the “culture of death”–I was simply naming a specific manifestation of the original rebellion against God. So yes, Molly, I think we both agree here.

  24. Thanks, Elizabeth. I only said that because there are so many different forms of “feminism,” some of which I am a part of (Christian feminism–simply the belief that men and women are equal). There are more virulent forms that are man-hating and there are more mild forms that simply say women should have the right to vote. It’s a HUGE package, just as Christianity is a huge package (as you well know, obviously-lol).

    Christians burned people at the stake on a regular basis. Does that mean all Christians burn or want to burn people at the stake, or even agree with that idea in the first place. No. Would a person be correct in fighting Chrsitianity simply because some of its members burn people at the stake?

    Such is with feminism. It’s a popular buzzword these days in conservative christendom and a fun target to lob word-bombs at, yes, but I get annoyed with the general (much approved) attack on something that is anything but general.

    This site, for example: what particular SORT of feminism are families against? I would love to see that clarified as I think it would be so helpful to the concept of “debate” in the first place.

    Is this site against the idea that men and women have equal standing before God? Or is it against the idea that women should hate men and begin same-sex relationships, or that being pregnant is like having a parasite?

    Because ALL of those thoughts are found under the wiiiide umbrella of what we call “feminism” (just as a great many concepts are found under the umbrella of “Christianity”).

    I’m all for arguing that being pregnant is NOT akin to having a parasite residing within, however I’m not for arguing against a woman’s right to vote or that men and woman have equal standing before God. But believing that women should have the right to vote IS feministic, as is the idea that females should be able to recieve education!

    Those ideas fit under the definition of feminism. So what are the specific areas under the broad umbrella of feminism that this site opposes?

    My own personal rambling thoughts and questions! LOL…
    Molly

  25. The Bible is silent on birth control? What about Him “opening and closing the womb”. He controls the womb in His timing if you’ll let him. Margaret Sanger suggested that any husband that expected his wife to bare more than two, was not caring about her. She should not be expected to have more than two because that was bad for her body. We are a living sacrifice and a lot of the women 100 years ago died in childbirth (for instance) because of infection from poorly informed doctors and bad skeletal formation from wearing girdles (damaging their pelvises…bad for the birth process.) With proper nutrition healthy pregnancies can be sustained year after year. was it Rebecca that was “well wished” that she would be the mother of “many?” Sorry can’t remember on that one. In the NT Paul tells us not to come apart except for a time of prayer and fasting…not to avoid conception.

  26. I am weary of this topic in the “church”. I grew up as a PK (Pastor’s kid) and have seen several topics turned into something this divisive. We have ZERO right (and are in grave error) when we tell others they are sinning by their choices that are NOT in direct contradiction to God’s word. If you prayerfully have come to the conclusion that God wants YOU to have as many children as He gives you – great. But it should not be transferred to others as a sin issue. And sweeping statements such as above “most peoples reasons for limiting children are selfish, health is ony a factor in very few, etc.” are NOT based on a scientific study or fact. Do you ask every single person who doesn’t have, let’s say 6 or more children, their reasons? Of EVERY single person in my immediate circle who doesn’t have a lot – there ARE major health issues – Lyme’s disease, cancer, brain tumor, etc. Why don’t we all stop judging others and stop holding them up to our assumed Biblical standards and spend ALL of that time preaching the gospel. THEN God will be glorified. I don’t want to get to heaven to be told – so, why did you waste your time judging others who weren’t sinning according to my revealed Word? But honestly, I have had it up to here on this topic. And I was told to my face by a mom of 8 that I am selfish for ONLY having two. I am tired of being told I ONLY or JUST have two. What awful words to describe my children – who, while all children are miracles, are frankly a bit more miraculous given the condition of my body.

    I had a non-cancerous tumor that grew with each of my 2 pregnancies. Yes, I could have risked another pregnancy, since the 2nd one was already a medical miracle – why not go for yet another. But the excruciating pain and bleeding that I had non-stop meant it was time for a hysterectomy. I believe our family can be JUST as God glorifying as someont with 13 children. Your 13 might ALL walk away from the Lord and just one of mine might be a missionary in an unreached part of the world. NONE of us is granted the promise that all our children will follow Him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *