Excerpted with permission from "A Spiritual Guide Through Pregnancy." "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."
--Genesis 1:28
"You sure are fruitful," my friend said. I had just told her that my husband and I were expecting our third child. Was her remark a compliment or a criticism, or a little of both?
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"Be Fruitful and Multiply"
Command or blessing?
If you already have children, you may find that some people will raise their eyebrows when they learn that you are pregnant again. We don't hear quite as much about the "population bomb" today as we did a few years ago. Still, we all know that the world we live in is not as new and empty as it once was. Indeed, some people would argue that God's command to fill the earth is outdated. They worry that our earth is already full to overflowing. Perhaps you gave these matters some thought even before trying for your first child. After all, God didn't just say, "Fill the earth," and leave it at that. God also said, "tame the earth, and rule the animals." God calls us to fill the earth and to manage it and its creatures wisely. Today, more than ever, these two jobs seem to pull in opposite directions. For example, in the city where I live tall trees fall again and again to the chain saw, and condominiums and shopping centers spring up in their place. When we cut down forests to make homes for ourselves, we force out the deer and bears and eagles who lived there before. We may gain some jobs, but we also lose when we force out our animal neighbors. We lose the refreshing air and beauty of the forest. We lose places for children to build tree houses and search for tadpoles. More and more, we lose touch with nature.
I know a couple who thought about these things and decided not to have any children. That was over fifteen years ago, and they have stuck to their commitment, as well as sticking with each other. I respect that couple's commitment to caring for the earth, but I am sorry the world won't be blessed by the children they might have raised. Those children might have spoken out on behalf of the earth and the animals. Those children might have blessed the world with their values and wisdom.

Bringing children into our broken world will always be an act of hope and courage. It always has been: the world has never been an easy place to live. Each generation faces its own challenges. In the midst of those challenges, remember that you have been blessed. God has blessed you and your mate both with your fruitfulness, and with your minds, hands, and hearts. God has blessed you with the ability to take good care of the world, and God has blessed you with the opportunity to show your children how to do so, too. May the blessing you have received send waves of blessing on down through the generations to come.

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