God blessed them (Adam and Eve); and God said to them,
“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Marriage and Parenting are important.
They are God’s design for extending His kingdom.
Engaged couples are generally in love with each other and looking forward to their wedding. There is a step we would like to see. It is that marriage is God’s design versus our personal desires. What we want to see is that there are some cultural ideas about marriage that are inconsistent with God’s design and inconsistent with His biblical teachings. Let’s take a look so that we can pursue what is God’s design, not ours.
Young engaged couples tend to pursue marriage for their personal reasons. In pre-marital counseling a question is, “Why do you want to marry?” Couples answer, “We want to marry because we are in love.”
Being in love with each other is good, but it is not the best reason for pursuing marriage. It is better to understand God’s overall purpose for marriage, and then to marry not for personal desire or personal interest; but to marry in response to God’s grace toward us and pursue His purposes in marriage.
One reason that an engaged couple needs to understand this is that their love is not going to be entirely consistent throughout marriage. What happens in most marriages is that we fall out of love for various reasons.
One reason we fall out of love is that we are all sinners. Being sinners we tend to have flesh issues that confront us with others. Another reason we fall out of love is that, once married, we begin to see differences between us that we did not see while courting. As we see these things about a spouse that we don’t like, we tend to want our personal desires and satisfaction. That can cause a divorce, or sexual connections with others, or just a relational separation even though staying married.
The question is whether we marry not for personal desires and interests, but for God’s purpose and calling. If we believe in God we need to be entirely submitted to Him even when we don’t like something – marriage relationship or something else. But to obey God this way we need to understand what the instruction is or we’ll have a hard time doing it. So what is it that we would like to see about God’s purpose and calling for marriage?
The one we are going to see in this article is that marriage leads to parenting, and parenting influences God’s kingdom, Genesis 1:28.
Genesis 1:28 is God’s first instruction or comment to mankind. The very first thing He ever said to humans was His purpose for marriage. In this verse there are 4 steps in God’s design:
1. Be fruitful and multiply (bearing children
2. Fill the earth (by bearing children and sending them out as adults)
3. Subdue it (have the earth under control by sending out mature, responsible children)
4. Rule over all aspects of the earth (an assumption is that this “rule” is not for us as humans, but that God wants us to rule the earth for Him)
It is interesting that Adam and Eve did bear children, and over the centuries children did go out over the earth. Today we have people covering the whole earth. The problem, of course, was that since Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:1-19), they and their children became corrupt, and God’s rule over the earth was not the result of the child-bearing process. For this reason, Jesus said to His disciples,
- 18 All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
- 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
- 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Doing evangelism and discipleship was a new instruction. What we should realize is that this has the same goal as Genesis 1:28 – extending God’s kingdom over the earth. The strategy is different but the goal is the same. The strategy is different because now there are enough people but the people are not submissive to God. Nonetheless, raising children before God is still one of the best ways of sending God’s kingdom over the earth, and marriage and parenting are aspects of God’s goal.
What couples need to understand when they marry is that Genesis 1:28 was God’s original, and first, instruction to mankind – and so their reason for marrying is producing a stable family environment – not for their own satisfaction, but for God’s design and calling.
When we get married and begin to see the difficulties of it, can we give ourselves to God? Or are we focused on personal desires? That is one of the general questions for all of our lives. It is important for us to understand this before we marry (or once we have married!). When we see it and we believe in God, we give ourselves to Him versus to ourselves or to our flesh. The result of that marriage is not only contributing to God’s design, it also actually leads to our personal happiness! That is how God works to make us happy and satisfied – it is when He is God instead of us!
Tom Clark is a Family Life Ambassador with the Family Life Ministry