The Bible begins with God, the good Creator of all things and the One who rules the universe. His creative handiwork—everything from light to land to living creatures—is called “good.”[1] But the crown of God’s good creation is humanity. We are made in the very image of God. And God declared: “behold it was very good”.[2] As the pinnacle of God’s creation, human beings reveal God more wonderfully than any other creature as we were created like God,[3] by God,[4] for God,[5] and to be with God.[6]

In Genesis 1:26, God says “Let Us make man in Our image.” The fact that our Creator gave us a remarkable title—“the image of God”—speaks of the inherent dignity of all human beings. The expression “image of God” designated human beings as representatives of the supreme King of the universe.

Immediately after making the man and woman, God granted them a special commission: “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.’”[7] This verse contains five commands:  “be fruitful,” “multiply,” “fill,” “subdue,” and “have dominion.”  These decrees reveal our most basic human responsibilities.

With the commission to multiply, Adam and Eve’s job was to produce so many images of God that they would cover the earth. Then God ordered them to have dominion over the earth, or exercise authority over creation, managing its vast resources on God's behalf, not dominating it, but being good stewards of creation and creators of culture.

Multiplication and dominion are deeply connected to our being the image of God. To be sure, God had no problem filling the earth with his presence, but God chose to establish His authority on earth in ways that humans could understand. God commanded His images to populate the landscape of His creation. In the command to “multiply,” God wanted His images spread to the ends of the earth. His command to “have dominion” is God giving humans authority to represent Him in His world.

Marital sex is the means by which we fulfill our calling of multiplying and taking dominion.

Shalom
God’s plan for humanity was for the earth to be filled with His image bearers, who were to glorify Him through worship and obedience. This beautiful state of being, enjoying the cosmic bliss of God’s intended blessing and His wise rule, is called shalom. Cornelius Plantinga writes, “In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom He delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.”[8]