God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” (Genesis 1:28)
Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
At the very moment that God created mankind in his image as male and female, he also created the family. He blessed the first human couple with the mandate to be fruitful in procreation and to multiply and fill the earth. Male and female, as two distinct and unique bearers of God’s image, are drawn to each other in an exclusive relationship of love.
In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and the love between husband and wife, does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift of becoming co-operators with God for giving life to a new human person. In this way the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love and a permanent sign of their unity as man and wife.
This is both amazing and mysterious, an important role of marriage as explained by St John Paul II: “The fundamental task of the family is to serve life, to actualise in history the original blessing of the Creator – that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person.” When they become parents, husband and wife receive from God the gift of a new responsibility. Their parental love is called to become for the children the visible sign of the very love of God, "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."
(1) What does today’s passage teach about the importance of procreation in marriage?
(2) How does this teaching speak to the current debate on same-sex marriage (where procreation is neither central nor possible)?
(3) While procreation is an important function of marriage, family life does not lose its value if a couple does not have any children for reasons beyond their control. In what other ways can these couples live out God’s blessing of fruitfulness in Genesis 1:28?
Dear Lord, I thank you for the gift of family and the blessing to be fruitful and multiply. Help me to live in the reality of that blessing, whatever forms it may take. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.