We Are All Called To Reproduce

In the very beginning when God created the first people, Adam and Eve, He created them with purpose.  I like to say that God created us to be in relationship with Him, reflect Him and to represent Him.  Instead he said, “Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule . . .”  He created us male and female in His image.  We therefore reflect who he is in our very being.  But we were also to go, to multiply, to fill the earth.  Now this was based on our communal relationship with Him.  This of course takes exactly one page in the bible before we mess it all up.

However, once we are reconciled to Jesus, he essentially gives us the same command.  “Go and share the gospel and make disciples”  In other words, go represent me in the world and multiply.

Here’s the truth I want to get at today.  We are created, each of us, with the desire to multiply.  Yes there is a biological aspect to that.  Understand that God even created that desire.  But there is more to it than that.  There is something deeper.  Something that knows that we are to multiply.

This is part of the reason why we have some of the recent phenomena in our culture including:

  • More women having children out of wedlock
  • Even though women are waiting longer to get married, they still have children late.  Sometimes far into their 40’s.
  • There is a rising number of unmarried women in their 30’s and 40’s having children out of wedlock on purpose.   (I address this here)
  • Married couples are choosing artificial means to have children

What’s interesting is that this is true even in the face of a huge chunk of our culture saying (for a variety of reasons) that having more children is a bad idea and a declining birthrate overall in Western society.

The Church of course is all about this.  This is because many parts of the church, particularly evangelicalism (whatever that actually means at this point), see the nuclear family as the answer to every question.  In fact some go so far as to include in their statement of beliefs that the nuclear family is the foundation upon which God’s kingdom advances.

This is their attempt to both answer the desire to multiply and corral the misuse of that desire.

Now I’m not anti nuclear family.  But the problem is that the nuclear family is not the answer to the to the problem and frankly suggesting that the nuclear family is the foundation for kingdom advancement is at best misguided and borderline heresy.

I’m going to say more soon about the “family” and the Church as well as back up and talk more about why we need a robust theology of celibacy and marriage together.  But for today I’d like to tackle the desire to reproduce.

The truth is that we are all indeed called to reproduce.  The desire is good.  But the Kingdom of God is not grown by having babies.  It is grown by making disciples.  It is true that in the Old Testament, the Kingdom was in many ways advanced by physical offspring.  This starts with Abraham and continues all the way up to Jesus.  But even in the Old Testament there are words that point to a different future – a future we live in right now!

Hear these words from Isaiah 56

Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
    “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
    “I am only a dry tree.”

  For this is what the Lord says:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant—
 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.

Or from Isaiah 54

“Sing, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
    you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband,”

How can Eunuchs and barren women have sons and daughters?

It starts with Jesus.  Listen again to Isaiah from chapter 53 after he describes what the Messiah will go through he says:

For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

The truth is that Jesus changed the whole thing.  The gospel puts things right.  It reorders the way things work, and re-establishes our call to reproduce and multiply.  As a believer you may or may not be called to marry and have children.  And because we live in a fallen world, even if you are called to that, it might not happen.  But all of us, regardless of if we are called to marriage or celibacy are called to multiply – to grow the Kingdom.  But not only are we called to it, we can participate it in it.  The celibate man can have offspring.  The barren woman can have children in the Kingdom.

At the end of Matthew 19, which is chalk full of thoughts on celibacy and marriage, Peter says to Jesus, “we have left all to follow you.”  Jesus replies,

“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

The Kingdom is both now and coming.  Marriage, family and celibacy are all a reflection of it, not the other way around.  In the Kingdom, regardless of context, we can and in fact are called to be fruitful and multiply.

Christian Sexual Prowess

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that every guy asks the question am I good in bed?  How we answer that question is critical to our core confidence as a man.  We can wish it wasn’t that way.  We can try to over spiritualize it.  We can blow it off with joking and hiding.  But it’s still going to be there.  We question our sexual prowess as a man and we in the Christian community MUST have an answer.

At first glance it seems that as a “Christian” that there is no way that I could answer that until I’m married because I’m not supposed to have sex.  Often because we are so worried about sex outside of marriage and the costs that come with it, we end up telling men that they should just table the question and then “presto” answer it on their wedding night.  But in my opinion that is not good enough.  That might have worked a couple of generations ago when people got married by 25 but it won’t work now.

It’s a good thing to direct people to wait until marriage to have sex but it is not ok to wait until then to help them answer their question about sexual prowess.  They are going to answer it somehow.

We need to stop answering the sexual prowess question with a sexual ethics answer.  We need a different conversation.  Sexual prowess and sexual experience are not the same thing.  Thinking they are the same leads to men that are either having sex to answer the question or men that are living with lack of intimacy, touch and confidence in their ability to deliver.  Neither of those are acceptable.  The ironic thing is that our Christian theology actually does answer the sexual prowess question.

The first thing we have to do is realize that God has ultimately created us as sexual beings. It only takes one chapter in the bible for God to bring up sex.  We all have the tools, and I don’t just mean that we have the right “equipment”.

If we believe in a God that created us good, then we must start with the premise that God’s answer to do I have what it takes sexually is yes.  Let that sink in for a minute.  God says, “I have given you what you need here.  You can do this.  You have what it takes because I gave it to you.”

This is core.  Yes we are messed up because of sin. Yes we may have been wounded in this area in even horrible ways.  But at the core of who we are as a man, at the very center of it, we are created with sexual prowess.  It’s there, somewhere, no matter what our experience tells us.

The problem is we take sex out of context and turn it into it’s own question.  It becomes about performance which just kills us as men.  We fear failure.  We fear that we won’t be able to come through and when we make the act of sex the scorecard we are in trouble – even if we are “good” at it.

The act of sex was never intended to be that.  God did not create sex in it’s own context.  Sex is a part of a larger question.

Sex is not intended to be about performance.  It’s about loving another person.  It’s about trust, strength, intimacy and passion. It’s about giving and receiving. It’s about being a good lover, not about being a good performer.  This is why married sex (even in secular research) is described as the best sex.

If I try to answer the sexual prowess question without answering the intimacy question then I’m in trouble – even if I’m married.  Sex is not the goal.  In a sense it’s one of the means to the goal within the context of marriage.  As a stand alone thing, sex will not satisfy.  It will never answer the question.

If you are a good lover, you will be “good in bed”, or at least you’ll figure out how to be.  If you love well, the sex part will be there because there will be the context of trust, intimacy and passion to work on it.

The question we need to be asking is, “am I a good lover?”  It’s actually a lot harder question. If we need the woman’s approval we can’t be a good lover.  If we can’t be strong enough to be vulnerable, then we can’t be a good lover.  This is why women at their core are attracted to strength.

It’s a huge issue for us as men.  Becoming a lover is actually a stage of development just like learning to be a warrior.  Hence the wise saying, “Never give a man a sword who can’t dance.”

The good news is that we can work on all of this without having sex.  We can become lovers.  We can work on how to have intimacy and good physical touch (I’ll say more about how to do this soon).

Here’s the bottom line.  As a man growing in Christ, my sexual prowess should be growing because my identity and confidence in Him grows along with my capacity to give and receive love.   If I’m truly confident in Christ then I’ll have the freedom and strength to be a good lover – and as a part of that to be “good in bed.”