Should Christians be having babies?

Posted: 24th September 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

In his book, In the End – The Beginning, Jürgen Moltmann notes the following consequences of Jesus fulfilling the role of Israel’s messiah and the savior of the nations:

  1. Because Jesus has come as the promised son (Isa. 9.6), there is no longer any need for religious or legal privilege to be given to fathers and sons. “Daughters are equally endowed with the Spirit and receive the same baptism,” as well as “the right to inherit the future of God’s kingdom”.
  2. There is no longer a need for a child to be born who will usher in God’s kingdom, so procreation is no longer a justification for a relationship or marriage. “There is no religious duty to have a child.”
  3. As a result of the previous consequence, “there is in principle no longer any need for men and women to marry […]. Voluntary celibacy and voluntary virginity [are not] deficient ways of living.”
  4. However, every new child is born for the future of God’s creation and represents a renewal of hope in the kingdom of heaven “among fallen men and women”.

Presumably, Moltmann believes that the Genesis 1 mandate to fill the earth and have dominion over it was fulfilled by Christ, the perfect human, establishing his reign over creation.

I wonder if some of these thoughts are reflected in Jesus’ comment that in the age to come, men and women “do not marry, for they are no longer subject to death. They are like angels; they are children of God, because they share in the resurrection.” (Lk. 20.35-36) Christ fulfilled the prophecy of the promised son, so procreation is no longer needed in this age or the age to come.

See also: “Grokked, not yoked?

  1. Richard says:

    Q: Should Christians be having babies?

    A: Yes, and many of them.

  2. You’ve stumbled upon the meaning of Christ’s statement to the Sadduccees about the need for “marriage” in “the age to come”. The context is clear that they were asking specifically about levirate marriage, not marriage per se: levirate marriage was concerned primarily with the concern for bearing children of the Covenant. Jesus was saying that the New Covenant would be perpetuated not by genetic lineage but by faith, so that the practice of levirate marriage would no longer be useful. Keep in mind that “marry” meant more than simply “exchange vows and become a legal couple” because marriage, like sex, was primarily a pragmatic covenantal insitution and not chiefly recreational.

    The mandate of Genesis 1 was not about perpetuating the covenant, but something greater. The “be fruitful and multiply” command/blessing was a statement of God’s authorization of the natural order: God made men and women to marry/mate for the same reason all other species on the planet mate, namely to produce offspring. Paul, for his part, did a good job of affirming marriage as a part of the New Covenant. Filling the earth with godly offspring is no longer a sacrament, if that’s what Moltmann meant, but I think it’s definitely an ongoing and limitless fulfillment of Genesis 1 to do so. Necessary for Covenant participation? Certainly not. But I definitely believe that it’s still to be the natural default for redeemed humanity as the head of the natural order.

    That’s my opinion anyway. 🙂

  3. Peter Kirk says:

    Your conclusion of course ties up with Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9,25-35 (which so far I have taken) that it is better not to get married, but permitted and preferable to sexual sin.

  4. Nathan Stitt says:

    Well, watching my daughter grow up has been the most amazing experience in my entire life. I can’t imagine living life without having children now (or not trying to have more of them 😛 )

  5. tc robinson says:

    El, this is good stuff. He also seems to be suggesting egalitarianism is a consequence (I wish not to open a can of worms on this one), but that’s what I gathered from his first point.

    The population has been going on and will end with the events of the End Times.

  6. @Stephen: Filling the earth with godly offspring is no longer a sacrament, if that’s what Moltmann meant, but I think it’s definitely an ongoing and limitless fulfillment of Genesis 1 to do so.

    Thanks for all the great thoughts and insight – very much appreciated! Regarding sacraments, Damian had a great post on the sacrament of marriage – it would be interesting to revisit that in light of some of Moltmann’s comments.

  7. @Peter: yes, I thought of that 1 Cor. passage while I was writing the post and should have included it for reference. I’m sure that Moltmann had that in mind when he wrote that third point.

    @Nathan: indeed, me too! My oldest is 4-1/2 and I marvel at how he grows, inside and out. But honestly, we have two and that’s enough – we’re not the spring chickens we used to be…

    @TC: I had that thought as well, reading the first point.

    I think it’s inevitable that there will be procreation until the end of time – I don’t think Moltmann is calling for an Church-wide vow of celibacy to usher in the end of time, but instead he’s noting that whatever legalistic reasons existed to pursue procreation were removed when Jesus was born and died as the Messiah.

  8. tc robinson says:

    I think it’s inevitable that there will be procreation until the end of time – I don’t think Moltmann is calling for an Church-wide vow of celibacy to usher in the end of time, but instead he’s noting that whatever legalistic reasons existed to pursue procreation were removed when Jesus was born and died as the Messiah.

    But how does that all fit with “Be fruitful and filled the earth”? Were the Jews legalistic in their pursuit of procreation? What evidence does Moltmann provide?

  9. Brian says:

    but instead he’s noting that whatever legalistic reasons existed to pursue procreation were removed when Jesus was born and died as the Messiah.

    I think this is it.

    If I didn’t feel so old, I’d have more kids.