Recently, my husband and I have come to understand that everything commanded in scripture is a temporary representation of something eternal. (For more on this, see my husband’s recent blog post on the subject.) Earlier today, while making faces with our newest addition, I found myself pondering this new revelation and wondering: What does the command “be fruitful and multiply” represent, in the eternal? And then it struck me – “be fruitful and multiply” creates something eternal.
I don’t know of anything else we do, while here on earth, that has more eternal significance than having a child. We are literally, out of our own bodies, bringing forth something – someone – who will live forever. Everything else we do during our brief lifetimes will potentially pass, except that. And then a thought occurred to me:
What if we – human beings – are so intrinsic to the creation process that God cannot create human life without us?
This was not a thought questioning God’s ability to create human life – He can obviously create man from the dust of the ground. I’m considering the possibility that God has placed a limitation on Himself in regards to procreation and left the responsibility – the privilege – of creating new life in our own hands, or at least given us equal part in the creation process whereby we provide the means while He provides the spark.
Now, I should be the first to get excited about having more kids, right? I’m considered a part of the quiverfull movement, everyone knows we want as many kids as we can possibly have! And of course we’re not forsaking the use of birth control out of a misdirected, legalistic understanding of God’s commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” – oh no… we want more children! We view children as an unmitigated blessing!
I’m ashamed to admit that in my own life, this has not always been so. Granted, my husband and I generally choose not to use birth control and we want to view children as a blessing, according to God’s Word (Psalm 127:3) but when it comes right down to it, my heart and my theology have been sorely at odds in this area for a number of years now and it’s been a little while since I’ve actively desired another child.*
But today, when the above thought struck me, another thought struck me as well:
What if God desires more children, and the only way He can have them is with us?
We all know of people who are desperate to have a child, or even a second or third child, and are willing to go to great lengths in order to give their unconditional love to a child of their own. Of course, I don’t personally know of anyone who is desperately seeking an unlimited number of children, but what if God is? What if God is desperate for an unlimited number of children whom He can shower His unlimited love on?** After all, doesn’t Malachi 2:15 list children as the reason God gave man and woman into marriage?
But here’s the problem:
I don’t want more children because of the work involved in raising them.
The work that lasts, roughly, about 18-20 years. Twenty years in comparison to eternity. Yes, I would choose to alter my body so as to make it hostile to the bringing forth of new, eternal life because of the 20 years worth of work it would take for me to care for him or her. I would seek to hinder the creation of a Child of God who would live forever because it would inconvenience me financially, recreationally and professionally for roughly 20 years of eternity. A Child of God who – quite possibly – can’t (because God has placed a limitation on Himself in this way) be created, otherwise.
And I realized something, tonight. I realized that while I appreciate the “quiverfull” view, in focusing on what’s right in front of them, many who have adopted this lifestyle miss the bigger – eternal – picture. Being open to the procreation of children is not about obeying a command. It’s not about trusting God or “raising an army for Christ” or pro-life values or even about being blessed. Being open to having children is about love. Every new life offers us another person to love, and offers someone who will love us in return. It’s about seeing past this temporal life as we now know it and into the eternal.
It’s about placing value on what – and who – will last forever.
*Please don’t hear me say things I’m not saying – I’m not saying I have regretted the births of any of my children. I am saying that I have never actively tried to get pregnant and haven’t really desired to become pregnant over the last few years. This has nothing to do with how I feel once they’re here!
** To those who might scoff at this idea, arguing that God has enough children and surely isn’t desperate to have more, I answer: Say that to the woman who, already having one child, is doing everything within her power to have a second. Are there limitations on God’s love, or His desire to love?