May 7, 2015 • Life for Leaders
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ ”
In yesterday’s devotion, we began to consider the imperative in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful.” We saw that, taken literally, this decree instructed the man and the woman to be physically fruitful, that is, to have children. In this way, they would multiply, making more people, who would make more people, ultimately filling the earth.
I would like to reflect a bit more with you on the command “Be fruitful.” Ever since I first got “the talk” from my parents, I have understood how babies are made. So, I know what the first man and woman needed to do if they were to be fruitful in a literal sense. To put it bluntly, the first biblical command for human beings is to be sexually intimate.
Given the tendency among many Christians to focus on the “don’ts” when it comes to sexuality, it seems ironic that the very first imperative for us in the Bible takes such a different approach. Yes, to be sure, when sin enters the picture it warps our sexuality. Yes, for many of us sex is a place where we experience brokenness and pain. We’ll get to this later in Genesis 3. And it is also true that certain sexual expressions are forbidden in Scripture and ought to be avoided. Yet, the bottom line of biblical sexuality is a positive one. Sexuality is part of God’s good creation. In fact, it is central to human identity and responsibility, according to Genesis 1.
What this means in practice depends on our life circumstances. Yet, for all of us, we see in the imperative “be fruitful” an affirmation of the goodness of our sexuality. To whatever extent we experience sex negatively, however much we struggle with sexual sin, sorrow, and shame, God has made us as sexual beings and intends for us to experience our sexuality as part of the goodness of human life. Whether or not we are in a season of life in which we can “be fruitful” in the literal sense, by God’s grace we can experience sexuality as part of a fruitful, whole life.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you think about the imperative “be fruitful,” what comes to mind for you? Do you think of sexual activity as part of God’s good creation? In what ways have you experienced the inherent goodness of sexuality? Why might it be important for us to remember that sex is part of God’s good creation?
Gracious God, thank you for making us with the capacity to be fruitful in a literal sense. Thank you for the gift of sex and the opportunity to obey you through our sexual expression.
Yet, given the many ways in which we are broken in our sexuality, it is easy to forget your created intentions. We can focus so much on what not to do sexually or on the pain that comes as a result of sexual sin that we fail to thank you for what you have given us. Help us, Lord, to see and experience our sexuality in positive ways, not minimizing the hurt, but remembering your intentions. By your grace, may we experience the goodness of how you have made us, offering this goodness to the world. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.