Marriage, Procreation, Creation, and Eschaton

From the creation of the world, there was one norm governing marriage and procreation. There was a dominion mandate to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. The lion’s share of that mandate fell on Adam as the federal head of the whole endeavor. But everyone has a stake in that project. And when death entered the world, the means of fighting against death was procreation.

But with the coming of Christ, there are two norms governing marriage and procreation. The old creation norm still bears weight, because the old creation persists. And the new creation has been inaugurated though not yet consummated. So the new creation norm now bears weight as well. In the new creation, the ultimate means of fighting against death is resurrection.

The former shame of the eunuch and the barren woman is turned away. The eunuch is no longer a dried up tree (Isaiah 56:3). And the children of she who is desolate are more than those of she who has a husband (Isaiah 54:1).

Even the old creation norm is relatived and subsumed by the norm and for the end of the Kingdom. Natural children are to be subject to the Kingdom and are to be brought up as loyal citizens in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Christ as the new Adam has a new dominion mandate that’s not altogether unlike the old dominion mandate. He too is to be fruitful, mulitply, and fill the world. But his marriage is to the Church. He begets children who do not come by flesh and blood. The children of God are entirely adopted from among the children of men.

In the Resurrection (i.e. the Eschaton), there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage. And therefore there will be no procreation. The resurrection of Christ is described by Paul as the first fruits of the Resurrection, as the first phase of one single Resurrection event. Therefore, the Time of the Resurrection has come in part but not in full.

So, marriage and procreation are not ended, nor can they be forbidden. That would be an over-realized eschatological ethic. But neither can marriage and procreation be insisted upon with the same force they once had before the resurrection of Christ. That would be an under-realized eschatological ethic.

Seeing it this way makes sense of Christ’s teaching about marriage and the eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom (Matthew 19:3-12) and of Paul’s teaching about marriage and celibacy (1 Corinthians 7).

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