Reply 4: Adam and Eve as “Breeders”
<<Some think>> “GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE!” <<but>> “BREEDING CLEARLY ISN’T AN ISSUE ANYMORE”
This argument presumes that God’s creation of marriage as the union of one man and one woman was first and foremost for the purpose of breeding. It is true that the writers of the Old Testament often linked marriage and procreation. But interestingly, bearing children is never mentioned once in the New Testament in those passages where marriage is praised. For instance, in Ephesians 5:22-33, the apostle Paul commends marriage not because marriage has the potential of childbearing, but because it has the potential to be an image to a watching world of what the love of Christ for his Bride the Church looks like.
We believe that God’s vision for one man – one woman marriage is much grander than mere breeding/procreation. For the interested reader, here’s a more extended explanation that I offered in a recent paper:
Humanity corporately, and each human being individually, is more significant and valuable than we can ever imagine. Humanity was made in the image of God for the purpose of reflecting, proclaiming and displaying the glory of God to a now broken world. Our sexuality is one of the primary ways in which we image God. God’s very being is love; God is ultimately and fundamentally both spirit and love. God exists outside of time in eternity as the Holy Trinity, the Father loving the Son and Spirit, the Son loving the Father and Spirit, and the Spirit loving the Father and Son; eternally three in one, one in three. God thus made humanity, male and female, as finite biological images of himself. He gave us the capacity to form a one flesh union through the sexual joining of one man and one woman in holy matrimony.
Because the fundamental character of love is giving, God created humanity out of the overabundance of the love within the Trinity, and we too were granted the blessing of the possibility of our marital love overflowing in the creation of new life. Marriage is thus the primary metaphorical image in scripture of God’s passionate and faithful love for his people. When we marry, we should do so with the intent that we would be living images as united couples mirroring his very substance as a unity and community. Singleness is equally a mirror of the divine; now that the bridegroom has come in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has also exalted the state of celibate singleness as an equally bright image of Christ himself as a witness to this broken world. For our good, God calls us to live consistent with our natures as embodied images of God, in chaste singleness or chaste marriage.
Nothing that I have said is new. But I believe for moderns living lives of autonomous individualism in a perceived context of a meaningless universe we need to emphasize some key, unique elements of our better story: that our ultimate reality and the base for our very existence is love emanating from the loving person of the triune God, that we have the highest calling imaginable of being embodied images of this loving God before a watching world, that we are capable of the creation of a new metaphysical reality in the creation of a new one flesh union in marriage, and that our bodies and our sexuality are more consequential than we ever imagined.
<<How consequential?>> These truths establish the proper foundation for shaping human identity. We are not autonomous individuals adrift in a meaningless universe. Quite the opposite; the universe overflows with meaning, and within it we occupy a special place as images of the one true God. We are individuals who are known by, named by, and beloved of the sovereign God of the universe, individuals made for connection. We are pilgrims living a transitional existence in the “time between times.” Ours is a world of indescribable beauty, and of tragic and terrible evil and suffering. What better foundation for identity could there be than to be beloved children called to be images of the divine who are in the process of being formed to more fully reflect the beauty of a loving God?
Our sexuality is part of what we are at the core, but not in the way commonly understood. We are not our erotic impulses. Rather, we are broken sinners full of shifting and conflicting impulses and desires that cannot be trusted. We are creatures with hearts that yearn for human connection and connection to the divine. We need to create and sustain communities that foster durable identities grounded in biblical truth, truths conveyed in the context of lavish care within a community that embodies God’s love and virtue.
In explaining the motivation and justification for Christian sexual morality, many Christians have nothing much more to say than that the Bible tells us so. Articulate Christians point to obedience as a proper response to the sovereignty of God, an expression of loyalty and fidelity to Jesus, an act of worship, or as a manifestation of virtue. Each of these are valuable, but there is so much more say, because none of them ground Christian sexual morality in our understanding of the very core of our being, or in our most basic purpose for existence, or in the very meaning of sexuality itself. The motivation and justification for Christian sexual morality ultimately is that we were created as sexual beings in the image of the triune God of love, and our vision for fulfilling our calling flows from a thoughtful understanding of our sexual natures as a gift and treasure to be protected and a calling to be pursued. All other expressions of our capacities for erotic union fall short of God’s intent for how we are to serve as his image. Sex and sexuality mean profoundly more than our secular society can imagine. Our sexuality – when embodied as intended by God, married or single – points or represents to others God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.