What Does It Mean to “Be Fruitful and Multiply?” How Does It Apply to the Single & Infertile?

In this week’s episode of the Ask Me Anything Podcast, Pastor J.D. answers a question from a listener named Caroline who asks what the command to “be fruitful and multiply” means, especially for the single and infertile.

Show Notes:

  • Every few years at our church, we try to do a series on dating and relationships. When we do, I am always aware that well over half of the people listening to me are single, whether for a season or for a lifetime. A lot of times we talk about marriage as the “ultimate state” of Christianity, and if you don’t get there, something went wrong. But that’s just not the case at all.
  • Here is the biblical truth, and it’s a little counter-cultural: earthly families are just temporary stand-ins for heavenly realities. Paul said that marriage is really just a picture of Christ and the church. It doesn’t mean it’s not important or that we don’t devote ourselves to it, but it is temporary. There are several examples throughout the Bible and Jesus’ life and teachings in particular that teach this.
  • John Piper says: “Jesus was (in Matt. 19) calling out a new family where single people in Christ, or people not in traditional families, are still full-fledged family members on par with all others, bearing fruit for God and becoming mothers and fathers of the eternal kind. Marriage is temporary, and it will finally give way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church…”
  • So, marriage is not permanent, nor is singleness, nor is physical childlessness. Because of that, I would say that spiritual offspring is even more important  — more eternal — than biological offsprings because that is the ultimate fulfillment of being fruitful and multiplying. If you’re single, you can intentionally devote yourself to raising up spiritual sons and daughters in the faith. That is the fulfillment of that command.
  • Now, to be clear: it’s ok to mourn the lack of an earthly marriage, or the lack of the ability to have biological children. That’s a real loss, and I completely understand that. But by God’s grace, even that very real grief can be overshadowed by a joy of having spiritual children and being a part of their lives.

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