God's Design for Marriage: "Be Fruitful and Multiply"
- Saturday, July 16, 2011
Created Male and Female
Our culture is obsessed with body image. The ability our bodies have to attract and engage someone sexually has been elevated far above the miracle inherent in the sex act. Body parts that can experience great pleasure during sexual intercourse are also specifically designed to produce, incubate, and nurture new life. Because reproduction changes a woman’s body image and her availability for sexual intercourse, however, it is often seen as a lesser good. As a result, we have a cultural wedge between body image and body use—between form and function.
It wasn’t like this in the beginning. Having a child wasn’t seen as a threat to the perfect body. It was rightly understood to be the natural and desired fruitfulness for which our bodies were made. “Haven’t you read,” Jesus asked the Pharisees when they questioned Him about the issue of divorce, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5). Jesus’ use of the term one flesh resonated with those scholars who knew their Old Testament justifications for divorce. They would recognize the phrase from Genesis, but also from Malachi’s answer to the question, “And why one [flesh]?” “Because he was seeking godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15, italics added).
“Form and function should be one,” architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “joined in a spiritual union.”9 The form and function of our bodies were joined in a spiritual union at the beginning. Our purpose in producing families is “imprinted on our nature as human beings” writes family historian Dr. Allan Carlson, and it “can be grasped by all persons who open their minds to the evidence of their senses and their hearts to the promptings of their best instincts.”10
“My body and its consequent desires provided self-evident testimony to my purpose,” says author Gary Thomas. “As a man, I could look at my body and discern that I was designed to be a husband and a father.” Gary said he didn’t need to seek a burning bush or God’s perfect will about whether or not to have children. “God had already made His will clear. For me, the call to have children was similar to being a soldier who is ordered to ‘go take that hill.’”11
God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful” and built fruitfulness into their bodies, but He also reinforced the design of fruitfulness by creating earth as a verdant planet. “Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you” (Job 12:7-8). The earthy elements of our bodies testify to that same purpose. We have the same awe-inspiring ability to be fruitful. “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways,” says Psalms 128. ”You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table” (Psalms 128:1-3).
A woman’s period is a monthly reminder of her potential fruitfulness—as her body releases one or two of the 450 mature eggs she has available between puberty and menopause. And during each act of intercourse, a husband’s virility is represented in the release of somewhere between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm cells.12
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