So, since starting this blogging experience seriously, I have had the enjoyment of coming across other writers in the intranets (and for those that don’t know me well, I do tend to use misspellings and plays on words – I promise I edit these, and generally speaking if it’s there, and if it’s misspelled, its for a reason 🙂 ) that are typing and writing about some of the same things that I am. One of those is Rachel Held Evans, who lives here in Tennessee (just like me!) who’s content is good and thoughts are provoking at times.
I got to participate in a bit of a blogfest of hers a couple of weeks ago.
I am writing today in response to a recent post she made dealing with the question of childbearing, and the repsonse she has gotten from some Christians on her apparent inability to decide whether to or not.
First, there is one singular command that comes to mind when we talk about this, and that is one of the first commands of the Bible. Before sin, before the fall, before leaving the garden, humanity was given this task:
“Be fruitful and increase in number; 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)
There are three ways, well, more like lenses, of interpreting this command (as are with most commands that you read about in the Bible):
1. A command to a specific person for a specific time. This is a classification given to occurences such as when God commanded the Israelites to attack “X” village or community. The understanding is not that it is an eternal command for all followers of Christ to hunt down the Amelikites and destroy their men, women, and children. It was a directive to a specific person/people for a specific time.
2. A command given to all people for all time. These are the sermons and such. Good examples are when prophets are speaking about God, the sermon on the mount, Ten Commandments, parables of Jesus, etc. These are directives for humanity as a collective unit.
3. A command given to a specific person for a specific time that can be applied to your life today in some specific manner. These are more like Paul’s letters and epistles. He writes to a specific population for a specific purpose, but the ideas are transferrable and good for following today.
So lets look at Genesis 1.28 through these three lenses, as it pertains to an idea that married women have to have children if they are good Christian ladies:
1. If being fruitful was something just for Adam and Eve to do … job well done. We have a wealth of genetic material thanks to their following this command. A brief biblical search can show geneaologies that let from them specifically following this command. Nothing through this lens that implies that current women are bound to this command, through the first lens. Check.
2. Has humanity as a whole fufilled this command? I dare say yes. Are there any among you that would say: “I dunno, I don’t think that humanity is really multiplied enough and there are still huge swatches of land unfilled and unsubdued.” In the context of the command as a task for humanity, once again, no specific directive that a singular family is responsible for this task … in fact I might say we’ve done a pretty good job of filling and subduing. Check.
3. Is God telling you, through Adam and Eve to have lots of children? Maybe. Maybe not. When I take this as a general principle, something that could apply today, I see it as being that childbearing is blessed and a good thing, and is part of creation. It is something that God wants. Does that make you a “better Chrisitan” than someone else? No, in just as some women are barren or single, there are those of the gender that have a different role to play in this command. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole. Suffice it to say, through the third lens, I see childbearing as a “good” thing, but once again, nothing condemning or making less the choice not to bear children.
The fact is that we seek validation all the time for the decisions that we make. Along those same lines, Christians are very good at mixing scripture and their personal lens interpretation to validate the choices that they make. Not that the fact that they made them is sufficient enough, but that they need extra “backing”. I think this happens sometimes in the Christian community. God does not frown if you are fertile, married, and decide not to have children – and please someone show me where this might be the case and prove me wrong. I am not above reproach. There are bigger fish to fry.
To bring this full-circle however, I want to talk a little bit about fear and what holds us back from the things that we think that we should do, or wonder are a part of what we are supposed to do.
This is an encouragement to Mrs. Evans, and to any other person that has timidness or confusion about “what to do next”.
Welcome to the club.
The truth about it is that fear about the unknown is part of being human. It is part of our inherent fight or flight response, with our natural inkling to “flight”. While we aren’t running away from mammoths anymore, we still see every day things that make us question, think, pause, or to be fearful of.
Change is supposed to be and make us feel uncomfortable. It’s risk. And just like the board game (of world domination) you have to line up your pieces, roll the dice, and see what’s next. You will never be absolutely ready for anything that life has to throw at you ….
… you simply have the level of risk you are willing to accept …
Case in point … I don’t think I am ready for children … and I have a four and a two year old. Not that they weren’t brought into this world without careful consideration and prayer, but the truth is …
…. when are you ever …. ready?
So then, today, choose to be ready. Make ready your ship, and do something. Take a risk. Risk is what causes lightbulbs to be invented, gold meadalists to win, amazing parents to be brought into the world (you see what I did there?).
Show your fears who is boss. Consider what they have to say, listen, and then send them back to their cubicle. You have work to do.