Children: the Fruit and Blessing of the Marriage Covenant

  1. Children Both an Eternal and Temporal Blessing: Recall that in the same way the relationships of both the Father to the Son and Christ to the Church are creative, so is marriage intended to be a creative relationship, and it is precisely this creative aspect wherein is found the greatest blessings of the relationship.  Even apart from eternal blessings, we will do well to recognize in this temporal world that just as nobody cares more about a child than its own parents, so nobody cares more about an old person than their own children.  Woe to those who have spurned their own children, or spurned having children, and are trusting in a government bureaucrat to care for them in their old age!
  2. Fruitlessness a Curse: We will also do well to consider Christ’s judgment upon the fruitless fig tree: Barren of an expected fruit it was cursed to remain fruitless forever: “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you” (Mat 21:19; cf. Mar 11:20-21)[1].
  3. The Relationship Between God’s Blessing and Fruitfulness: There is a very close relationship in Scripture between God’s blessing and being fruitful.  We perhaps most often think of this relationship in terms of our need to be fruitful in order to receive God’s blessing, which is true; cf. Heb 6:7-8.  However, we also need to understand that all of God’s blessings are for our fruitfulness; Isa 5:1-4, Eze 17:8, 34:26-27, Joh 15:8,16, Rom 7:4.  Indeed, we need to understand that to be fruitful is a blessing from God; Gen 1:22,28, 9:1, 17:15-16,20, 24:60, 28:1-3, 35:9-11, 48:3-4, Exo 23:26, Deut 7:13-14, 28:4-5, Rut 4:11-14, Psa 127:3-5, 128:1-4; cf. Psa 1:1-3, Jer 17:7-8.  The primary fruit of the marriage relationship is children, and thus we need to understand that children are God’s first and greatest blessing to man that make him rich in true eternal riches.  It is for this reason that barrenness was consider in the Bible to be a reproach or even a curse; Gen 30:1, 1Sa 1:10-11, 2:20-21.
  4. Fruitfulness in the Modern Age: These truths help us to understand how contrary to God’s ways is the modern perspective that views a fruitfulness of children in the opposite manner as a curse to be prevented by “family planning”.  As we have just seen repeatedly throughout Scripture, this perspective does not reflect the Spirit of God, but the spirit of the world.  Those who resist God’s design, and command, to be fruitful should consider the lesson of the fruitless fig tree that was permanently cursed for its barrenness; so too is it the case that many who use “family planning” or even abortion to put off having children often find themselves infertile when they later try to have children.  From a Biblical perspective, those who are deliberately barren in order to pursue their own desires are not blessing themselves as they suppose by not having children, but actually cursing themselves and their nation: As noted earlier, no one cares about an old person more than his own children.  Moreover, as many nations of Europe and Japan have discovered, declining birth rates lead to aging populations that can be catastrophic economically since retired people don’t buy and consume to drive the production and innovation of a healthy economy.  We should also consider that the Christian virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that prove a blessing to people over their lifetime are naturally more inherent to large families than small ones.
  5. There is More to Fruitfulness Than Quantity: We should not suppose because of the Biblical perspective of fruitfulness being a blessing that simply having many children will automatically be a blessing.  Think: Is the blessing of a fruitful tree found only in the quantity of its fruit, or also in its quality?  Is it a blessing when children are born outside of the covenant of marriage that secures the safe and stable environment for them to grow up and thrive in, or when the parents do not fulfill their God ordained roles and responsibilities to nurture and bring up their children in the way of the Lord?  Consider again what a “little bastard” is and why it is a derogatory term.  Children are like little trees in a garden: they have to be tended, nurtured, pruned, trained to grow in the right direction.  Consider too the many ways that a couple must be blessed in order to provide for and nurture a large family in the Lord; see Gen 31:38-42.  We see then that God’s blessing to be fruitful and multiply, whether physically or spiritually, is manifold and multifarious in nature; it is a blessing that affects every aspect of our lives and only happens in proportion to our faith and obedience to all the counsel of God.  To be blessed with the fruitfulness that is a blessing is to be blessed with the constitution God originally intended for man: to labor faithfully in the garden with his helpmate, tending their plantings so they might grow to become trees of righteousness.  Thus…
  6. Fruitfulness of Children is the Biblical Norm: The Christian home is a microcosm of the Church, which is the household of God.  Hence in Paul’s qualifications of elders and deacons a fruitfulness of children is assumed to be the normal circumstance of Church leaders, and a man’s ability to manage his household well, keeping his children under control, is one of the qualifications for church leadership (1Ti 3:4-5,12, Tit 1:6).
  7. Physical Barrenness Overcome By Spiritual Fruitfulness: Although a fruitfulness of children is the normal circumstance of the marriage relationship, we should not necessarily suppose that physical barrenness is a sign of God’s disfavor; Gen 11:30, 25:21, 29:31, 30:22-23, Luk 1:6-7.  And although marriage and a fruitfulness of children are to be considered the normal means by which God blesses man with true eternal riches, neither should we understand that these are the only means; cf. Mat 19:10-11, Psa 113:9, Isa 54:1, Gal 4:19.
  8. Role of Children in the Home: The role of children in the home is to “be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Col 3:20); they are to “honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Eph 6:1-3).  Until a date set by the father at such time as a child is sufficiently mature to manage his own affairs, for their own welfare a child “does not differ at all from a slave”, being “held in bondage” (Gal 4:1-3).
  9. Fathers Responsible for the Discipline of Their Children: Although husbands typically grant authority to their wives over their children, especially when their children are young, fathers are ultimately responsible for the discipline of their children, especially as they become older; Pro 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15,17.
  10. The Spiritual Importance of Discipline in the Home: Discipline in the home is essential not only for the proper order that is necessary for peace and harmony, but because it teaches children an important truth in their relationship to their heavenly Father; Heb 12:5-11.
  11. Wise Children and Discipline: Wise children accept the discipline of their fathers for their own good; Pro 12:1, 13:1,18, 15:5,32.
  12. Children Who are Without Discipline: Children who are without discipline are the same as illegitimate (Heb 12:8), “bastards” (KJV), and not true sons who will be the blessings they are intended by God to be; cf. Isa 30:9.
  13. Father Not Tyrants: Although over their children as a master over a slave, fathers are not to provoke their children to anger, but “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; Eph 6:4.  They are not to exasperate their children, so that they will not lose heart; Col 3:21.

 


1. The sin of barrenness is justly punished with the curse and plague of barrenness; Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. As one of the chiefest blessings, and which was the first, is, Be fruitful; so one of the saddest curses is, Be no more fruitful. (Matthew Henry).

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