27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “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.”
Genesis 1:27-28 (ESV)
Procreation is at great risk today; yet God favors procreation. He told Adam and Eve, and by extension, men and women of all eras, to go beyond mere replacement of themselves to the multiplication of progeny. Although the Bible does not specify the optimum number of children per family, this would suggest, statistically speaking, that the average number of children per family would be more than two.
Parents and their offspring are to bring their God-given reason, conscience, and skill to bear on making the most of creation—stewardly dominion. The task continues from generation to generation. Since humans are mortal and since neither virtue nor culture is inherited, both mankind and civilization are always a generation or two away from extinction.
With a contrasting, rebellious spirit, modern society is an increasingly “contraceptive culture.” More and more couples postpone childbirth for the sake of career, affluence, or convenience. Birth control pills are the “drug of choice,” but the “morning-after pill” is increasingly popular. If the array of contraceptive options fails the anti-natal couple, abortion beckons. (Over 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.)
Paul praises singleness for the sake of ministerial focus (1 Corinthians 7:1, 7), but he does not make it the norm. Marriage is more typical, and within it, children are cherished. As the psalmist puts it, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
Parenting is no sideshow to God’s great work in history; it is integral to His purposes. After the flood, God repeated the “procreation mandate” to Noah (Genesis 9:1). Three chapters later, He promised Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12:2). That nation continues to grow today as Christian couples bring forth children and win them to the Lord.
Population hysterics have persuaded some that the earth is already full, but there is vast room to spare. If all six billion people on the planet were comfortably seated together, a square yard per person, hence over three million per square mile, they could fit into the state of Delaware (2,000 sq. miles). And whatever the general populace of the world may be, no one could argue that there are too many Christian homes, where children are conceived and raised in the fear of the Lord.
God’s plans are always good, and society is now reaping the whirlwind for rejecting them. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, couples who delay childbirth suffer a greater risk of infertility. Furthermore, researchers at Ohio State University have concluded that women who postpone pregnancy are more likely to face high blood pressure and diabetes after age 50. And in Europe and Japan, where the average couple has fewer than two children, the social cost is high; relatively few young people are caring for the many aged citizens, and employers must lure foreign workers to fill their payrolls.
The Bible encourages and celebrates procreation in godly families. Surely the burden of proof falls upon Christian couples who avoid parenting. And just as surely, blessings fall upon those who embrace and support parenting.
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