If this shadow you offends, please forgive its rougher ends. I'm really just a stupid dame, and all this post is mostly lame. Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend ...
When I first jumped the Mainstream Mule for the CSPP Nag, I did so with full awareness that I would end up with a larger-than-average family. Captain Obvious on patrol, here, folks. Just passing through.
What I didn’t realize is how easy it is to fall off the other side of the CSPP Nag: QUIVERFILLING. We’ve gone to some lengths on this blog to dissociate ourselves from our Baptist doppelgangers and their slightly alternate take of Genesis 1:28. However, on less than rare occasions, I find myself gasping for air under my very own self-made Quiverfilling assumptions. You know: I MUST HAVE HUNDREDS OF BABIES OR I CAN’T BE CALLED A CHRISTIAN!
I’m sorry, friends. I don’t mean to be this way.
My children are my darlings. They are beautiful, living proof that my husband loves me and that I’m not yet dead. They fill my life with star light and laughter. On my best days, I do not regret that my body has been ruined or that my mind is mostly empty space. On the contrary, I cannot begin to imagine myself doing anything else. I mean, I’m just really good at stretching snot encrusted sweatshirts over an implausibly swollen belly, so ...
But, I’m also really good at turning the good gift of marriage and children into something grotesque.
My inner serpent hisses, like this: Fill your quiver and you’ll fill the church; the church needs you. Fill your quiver and you’ll change the political spectrum; your country needs you. Fill your quiver, and you’ll fight back against the explosion of heretics, pagans, and infidels; your world needs you. Fill your quiver, and God might just love you, you unlovable slug; you might just prove useful for once in your miserable life.
Dear self, please stop ruining everything. Do you not know that God is able from these stones to raise up children for Himself? He does it all the time. He doesn’t need you or your womb to build His church or bring his Kingdom. Get thee behind me, crazed lunatic Dispensationalist self! How did you sneak in here, anyway?
I have a suspicion that when Christ returns we’re all going to be really, really surprised to find out we’ve been doing everything all wrong, in spite of our good intentions.* Good news, everyone: We don’t really have to have hundreds of babies. We don’t really HAVE to have any babies at all. Really. I’m serious. God doesn’t need us to fill up His church. America doesn’t need us to sway the vote. Iraq is Iraq's problem. Lord have mercy on us all.
However, when God famously said, “Fill the earth and subdue it,” He was endowing Man with an irrevocable authority and He was giving Man a gift. Fill the earth with more of yourself, Man, because the earth is good and I want you to have it. Enjoy your marriage, because marriage is good. Enjoy your children, because children are good. All of this good I give to you, Man, because I love you, and because you are good.
Then when all hell broke loose, God graciously corralled the procreative authority of Man rather than simply allowing Man to destroy himself and die out. Girls, given the depth and breadth of sin, it’s a miracle that any of us are able to bear children at all. Every baby conceived is a present, pure and simple. Furthermore, every moment our sin-strained, dying brains somehow manage to perceive our children as presents is yet another present.
Joy in its many manifestations is always, always a gift. Joy is God's will for His children, and it is always proof that God loves us and that we are not yet dead. Why do we have all these babies? Because we’re extraordinarily blessed. They really, truly are a heritage from the Lord. He loves you, He wants you to have them, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. Be fruitful and multiply, not because you have to, but because, incredibly, you can—and because God’s rainbow still shows up after a storm, and because the Church still has Baptism, and because Christ is coming back to reveal His kingdom once and for all with all authority in heaven and earth in His hands.
You won’t always be made of mud and decay, precious daughter of God, and you won’t always resist the good God causes to flow in, with, and under you every second of every day. Eyes to the skies and hands to the nursery, for Christ is risen and Joy is already at the door.
*Doing everything wrong short of hearing the Word and receiving the Sacrament. But I assumed you would assume that. :)