God's Design for Marriage: "Be Fruitful and Multiply"
- Saturday, July 16, 2011
"DEARLY beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman (and this man and this woman) in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is between Christ and his Church; . . . duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
"First, It was ordained for the procreation of children. Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined (emphasis added).15
While many married couples today hope to have children at some point, few grasp the idea that their marriage was “ordained for the procreation of children.” One definition of ordain is “to prearrange unalterably or predestine.”16 That sense of inherent purpose has characterized marriage almost universally for most of world history. In fact, the word matrimony emerged from the Latin word matrimonium that literally meant “state of motherhood” based on the association of marriage with parenthood.17
Whether they knew it or not, our ancestors tapped into a primary purpose of their marriage by contributing to our genealogy. For many of them, this was not a purpose they discovered at the end of an arduous quest for meaning. “For most of the nation’s history, Americans expected to devote much of their life and work to the rearing of children,” writes sociologist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. “Life with children was central to marriage and family life, to norms of adulthood, and to an adult sense of purpose.”18
“We were all created to do as our parents have done, to beget and rear children,” said Martin Luther. “This is a duty which God has lain upon us, commanded and implanted in us, as is provided by our bodily members, our daily emotions and the example of all mankind.”19
One way God “implanted in us” a design for children was by reflecting His communal nature in the structure of the family. Consider the description of the Trinity in the Westminster Confession of 1647:
"In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son."20
In Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project, Del Tackett shows how God designed the family to reflect His image:
"The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Children proceed from the husband and wife. What an incredible picture of the triune God stamped upon His first social institution and it’s not going to be a surprise to us that the world, the flesh and the devil that hates the nature of God, hates this structure as well."21
Disdain for this original design is obvious in the world surrounding us. Dr. Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says that the sexual revolution not only liberated sex from marriage, “but also from procreation.”22 Author Gary Thomas says it this way: “One of our spiritual enemy’s purposes for the sexual revolution was to motivate us to have as much sex as we can outside of marriage and as little as we can within marriage, and worse, for us to have as many babies as we can outside of marriage and as few as we can within it.”23
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