"...fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
- Genesis 1:28
We've heard that over and over. That the responsibility of the (Christian) parents is to be fruitful, make babies, and fill the earth. Many have gone even further and praised the parents of many (biological) children, saying how well they have fulfilled the commandment of God.
I only have two bones to pick from two perspectives with that interpretation. For now, at least.
The call was given BEFORE the Fall
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. ~ Gen 1:31
Back then, there was ONLY Adam and Eve. Severe underpopulation meant they would need more help taking care of the whole Earth, that God had entrusted to them (though God is very much capable of taking care of everything Himself, which He IS actually doing.). In addition, God was VERY pleased with what He had created- ESPECIALLY mankind!
5 chapters after this verse, we hear the following:
~ Genesis 6:5-6 (bold mine)
The evilness of sin in mankind doesn't bode well for a world filled by humans.
Fast forward a few millennia and we have the threat of climate change with overpopulation being one of the major problems. Many movies have gone along the theme of humans being the cause of the destruction of Earth, with the extinction of humans being the only hope for the earth to survive. (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wall-E, Divergent series, After Earth, I Am Legend) I do actually believe that we have reached a population that is more than the earth can sustain. Having my own babies will only compound to that problem. We have gone past filling and subduing to overrunning and destroying the earth now!
We've crossed 7,000,000,000 (billion) people. "8b" is knocking on our door.
2) Physical or spiritual
In many instances, Jesus, the apostles and prophets talks about how the spiritual is more important than the physical. "Store up treasures in heaven", "Obey the Spirit of the law, not the letter of it", "God looks at the heart of man, not the looks" and "God desires mercy, not sacrifices".
Could God also be more concerned about being fruitful and increasing in numbers in a spiritual sense too?
Maybe the Post-Fall way of interpreting the Pre-Fall text might be that we should be fruitful and multiply the kingdom of God primarily before we multiply physically?
There are SOOOooooo many people out there who have yet to hear of who Jesus is, who God is and what the whole Gospel is about and this work still requires MANY more workers to work this field.
What about adopting and fostering?
What about the problem of idolising one's own children?
Our (Erene & I) struggle with this area is that having a baby will severely incapacitate our ability to serve in ministry, at least for a few years, while the child needs THE MOST attention. Sure, we can nurture the child to become another strong member in God's family but how do we know what child God decides to give us(the counter-argument goes along the same line)?
In the time we take to nurture a child to a productive age, we could have taught and nurtured a hundred times over of other youth, students and/or young adults in the way of the Lord and raised up many Christians to bring the Gospel to all parts of the world!
Each child would be restricted to one physical place to share the Gospel but reaching out to the many people who we come into contact with by not being stuck at home with an infant means that the restriction is only the places that these hundreds of people go out to when not with us!
I am definitely NOT arguing for couples to stop producing babies. I think many are called to be great parents as Christian witnesses and they are to bring up amazing, God-fearing children. I'm just saying that maybe a bit more thought should be given to it than just "oh, let's get married and have children and through the tears and joy, it will be a great experience and we all live happily-ever-after".
~ 1 John 3:1