Be Fruitful and Multiply: A Universal Responsibility

new baby first picGod is Sovereign Over All Things

Like any other human reality, marriage, sex, and childbearing are under the Sovereign rule of God. It’s easy to forget this in our time, given the realities of contraceptive measures and, sadly, the  ever-reaching tentacles of the abortion industry in the US and abroad. Children are seen as a threat to the accomplishment of personal goals, a hindrance, a “punishment” (as one infamous person once characterized it).

A child will ruin your chances at creating your own destiny. That’s the message being rammed down our throats.

But is the message true?

Scripturally, men and women were created by God to be servants. God created Adam to “work the ground” and maintain it (Gen 2:15). He created Eve to assist in the tasks given to Adam (cf. Gen 2:18). God then gave Adam and Eve the following commands:

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
– Gen 1:28

In case you were wondering: By commanding our parents to be fruitful and multiply, God wasn’t commanding them to plant fruit trees and find the product of 2 and 2. He is commanding them to have sex and produce children, enough to fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over its sea, air, and land creatures.

These commands aren’t just for Adam and Eve, mind you. Rather, the commands are for all subsequent humans. Adam and Eve are real human persons, but they also stand in our place. Adam and Eve’s roles in the book of Genesis are demonstrative of the roles that all men and women have been created to play, as later didactic passages of Scripture make clear.

This is all to say: No, it isn’t the case that having children keeps one from fulfilling his destiny. In fact, it’s actually the other way around. To willfully not have children is to keep oneself from fulfilling one’s destiny.

[Incidentally, the fact that marriage and sexual reproduction are commanded by God presents an insurmountable problem for the Roman Catholic claims that Mary was simultaneously (a.) a perpetual virgin and (b.) absolutely free from any stain of original sin. For if Mary remained a virgin, then she sinned by not engaging in sexual intercourse with Joseph and bearing children as his helper/helpmeet. She could only remain sinless, therefore, by not remaining a virgin. And she could only remain a virgin by not remaining sinless.]

Children Are A Blessing

Among the many biblical beliefs that I mocked prior to my conversion, the claim that children are blessing was definitely present. I bought the lie that children stood in the way of truly being human, truly exercising one’s natural abilities in a way that best serves oneself and the world.

Yet what does the Scripture say?

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
-Ps 127:3-5

Either these words are true, or they are not true. There is no third option. God himself states that children are a blessing from him, neither a burden nor a punishment nor a curse. A blessing.

For the Old Testament saints, the deliverance of a child and the deliverance of God’s people from slavery to sin, death, and the devil go hand in hand. Hence, the blessing is not merely physical, emotional, psychological, and societal. The blessing is also spiritual.

It was through the deliverance of a child from the womb that God took on human flesh to deliver us from sin. And the birth of every child should serve as a reminder of this fact. God himself became the greatest blessing, the greatest heritage, and the one through whom all who believe shall not be put to shame.

The Takeaway

Christ Jesus was the child who fulfilled Psalm 127:3-5 fully. However, Christians now can understand how much of a blessing our own children are, as they serve to remind us of what God did for us.

Not only this, but listen to the words of our Lord in the great commission.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
-Matt 28:19

As Adam and Eve were called to produce children, cultivate the earth, and take dominion over the creatures of the earth, so Christians are called to be fruitful in works of righteousness, preaching the Gospel and making disciples (i.e. multiplying). We are to do this all over the world, destroying every argument and high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ.

Our natural calling as men and women to be fruitful and multiply, then, serves as an analogy, a reminder, of our spiritual calling as children of God who have been born not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible seed, viz. the Word of God.

Some Concluding Remarks

 Given the relationship physical and spiritual fruitfulness and multiplication bear to one another, it is not surprising that the world also tells Christians to tread lightly when preaching the Gospel. The world states that the preaching of the Gospel is not a blessing but a burden. We are told that being a Christian, i.e. living in accordance with God’s commands and preaching the Gospel, hinders us from becoming truly human, or living truly meaningful lives.

But is this so?

Not at all! Adam was a worker in a literal garden. Christians are all workers in the garden of God, i.e. his Church. Adam was commanded to have children. Christians are commanded to have disciples. Adam was told to fill the earth with his seed. Christians are commanded to make disciples all over the world.

We are children of Adam, born to procreate and take care of God’s creation. However, we are also children of God born-again to preach the Gospel and cultivate righteousness and holiness in ourselves and our brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria

-h.

[Btw, I’m having another baby. ;) ]

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On Reading 1st Chronicles as a Dad

4065_ItDRvdbd-QMy Children and God’s Children: An Analogy

Like most parents, I often enumerate lists of information to my children throughout the day. Usually the lists contain commands, promises, and little stories demonstrating the commands and promises. But there are other lists, too, lists which are seemingly disconnected from any narrative structure and, therefore, any conclusive moral. My kids don’t mind the first kind of list, but the second makes them confused, cross-eyed, bored, discombobulated. Clark, my two-year-old, is understandably completely lost in such situations. Noah, my four-year-old, doesn’t know how to categorize the list, although he understands more words than Clark. And my eleven-year-old, Ayden, understands the vocabulary, the words, and the structure of the whole – he just doesn’t get it.

Intellectual maturity partly explains my sons’ different responses; moral maturity explains the other part. See, if I had been enumerating a list of furry animals to Clark, he would listen intently. If I had been enumerating a list of cartoon characters to Noah, he would listen intently as well. And if Ayden heard me enumerating weapons, cheat-codes, easter-eggs, and random video game trivia he would be all ears.

Being a stay-at-home dad, for the time being, has helped me to understand the differences between my sons. It has also helped me understand my own failures to dig deeply into 1st Chronicles. Part of the difficulty of reading the book, for me, is that I have a hard time following the genealogical record. The particular details are a little overwhelming for me at times, as my own detailed lists are sometimes overwhelming for Clark (my two year old). Like Noah (my four-year-old), categorizing the genealogies, in light of Scripture’s grand-narrative, is very difficult for me. Like Ayden (my eleven-year-old), I have hard time understanding the point of the genealogies. And like all three boys, I am a sinner who is only interested in hearing what is of direct interest to me, my desires, my goals, my concerns. My Father’s words, unless I view them as personally relevant, go in one ear and come out the other.

The Difficulty With Reading Scripture is Always Moral

I don’t deny “some things in [Scripture] are hard to understand…”[1] 1st Chronicles’ list of non-anglicizable Hebrew names challenges my unilingual mind. I also can’t fully grasp how the genealogy structure fits Scripture’s overall narratological structure or Gospel-focus. However, if I thought 1st was personally relevant, I would be studying more intently. Just as it is with my children, the difficulty in reading the lists of 1st Chronicles is not primarily intellectual – it’s moral.

If I, a sinful man, am pleased with my children’s desire to listen to what is partially incomprehensible to their little minds, then how much more is God pleased with his children when they pray for guidance in understanding his Word? If I, a sinful man, can see that the problem primarily intellectual but moral, seeing as my children want my words to serve their purposes only, then how much more clearly can God see our own moral failures to hear his Word? Scripture can be intellectually challenging, but the biggest challenge is that its main concern is not ourselves but God and his glory. A tough pill to swallow. I know. But once we have swallowed it, we can go on to repent and ask our Father to explain himself to us. We can repent of our self-centered ways of listening to Scripture.

All Scripture is Profitable

With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that God’s Word always does profit us. It is always relevant to our situations. It is always what we need. What I’ve learned from the analogy of my children, however, is that Scripture is first and foremost about God and his glory. It is about Christ and his blood shed for sinners. I am one of those sinners, implicit to the Gospel declaration; I am not the center of the story. The information I give to my kids, no matter how mundane, is never purposelessly given. I have a goal in mind, whether or not my children can see that goal, or whether or not they are concerned with reaching that goal.

“All Scripture,” says Paul, “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”[2] 1st Chronicles is no exception to this declaration, not even the parts that are difficult for me or you to follow. The important thing to keep in mind when reading Scripture, then, is that it is God’s story about himself, his glory, his mercy, his grace, and his justice. And because Christ became the subject of God’s perfect justice, we Christians are now the implied subjects of his mercy and grace.

Soli Deo Gloria.

-h.


[1] 2nd Pet 3:16.

[2] 2nd Tim 3:16.