If just one of those millions penetrates the egg, nature’s most amazing form of fertilization begins—initiating complex DNA connections between egg and sperm, weaving together all the details for a new life. Here’s how Louie Giglio explained it to a group of young people in a message called “How Great Is Our God”:

"One cell from your mom met up with one cell from your dad—each one carrying twenty-three chromosomes. The one from your mom was carrying half of her DNA, the one from your dad was carrying half of his DNA, and those two cells met and merged into one single cell. And when they did those chromosomes matched and they began to form together a brand-new DNA code.

"Using four characters—four nucleotides—they began to write out what we have now discovered is the three billion–character description of who you are, written in the language of God . . . They described who God ordained you to be.

"And when they formed together they wrote out and painted a picture which had never been written before in the history of humankind. And then that cell did the unthinkable. It set out to build [you] from one cell.13

We are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). What makes it all even more amazing is what separates us from all the rest of God’s creation. While He superintends the complexities of fruitfulness throughout nature He actively participates in the miracle of human reproduction by adding a soul and ordaining the days for each new boy and girl (see Psalms 139:13-16).

Ordained for Procreation

Even though men and women have the potential to produce this miracle in their marriage, less than a third of couples see having children as the purpose of marriage. A survey by Pew Research implies that the great majority of Americans believe marriage is primarily intended for a couple’s “mutual happiness.”14 We were raised in Christian families and attended Christian colleges, but we still went into marriage thinking primarily about the mutual happiness that we hoped to find in our companionship, sexual intimacy, and financial partnership.

The visit from the Morkens we mentioned [in an earlier chapter] motivated us to be intentional about starting our family, but the transition from being partners to parents was still quite a change to our vision of marriage. As incredible as it was to bring our first baby into the world, the whole process—beginning with the first signs of morning sickness—felt like a major renovation of the marriage we had already built.

What we came to realize is that the “house of love” we had custom designed for our marriage wasn’t as “kid-ready” as we assumed it was. (The “Mission” chapter on the other end of this book looks in more detail at the effect of children on a marriage. The context for marriage in this chapter is the tension between the unions we design for ourselves and the design God established in the beginning).

That tension grows stronger as our culture of personalization and individualism inspires couples to mold marriage in their own image. While today’s couples often seek to put their unique stamp on marriage and bring their own meaning to the union, generations before us were more likely to adapt to what marriage expected of them. We were reminded of just how much that expectation included children while watching the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice. In the closing scene, as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley and Jane exchange vows in a joint wedding ceremony, the priest reads from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer: