Contribution to Book
Science, Faith and Human Fertility: The Third Conference on Ethical Fertility Health Management
The Bible does not explicitly answer questions about co-creating with God and discerning whether to try to have children. In consulting Scripture regarding contemporary concerns, one needs to go beyond historical exegesis. Reading Scripture as God's Word requires seeking what God, the divine author of all of Scripture, is currently saying in the biblical passages under study.
The primary foundation for biblical teaching about marriage and family is Genesis, especially concerning God's original intention in creating marriage (Gen 1-2). Humans are created in the image of God as male and female, and marriage is the two becoming one flesh. Most of Scripture treats adjustments that were made after marriage and family were gravely wounded by human rebellion against the Creator's plan (Gen 3).
The Book of Ruth demonstrates the broader familial contexts and purposes of marriage beyond the couple. The Song of Songs is a powerful poem celebrating the passion, emotion, and love in courtship and marriage. The prophet Hosea portrays the relation of God to his people as that of the covenant between husband and bride, on which the New Testament Letter to the Ephesians builds, in comparing Christian marriage to the mystery or sacrament of Christ's marriage covenant with his bride, the Church. Sayings of Jesus make obvious that after death there will be no more purpose for marriage and procreation in our immortal resurrected bodies. St. Paul develops the meaning of celibacy from these eschatological sayings of Jesus, and discusses a topic closely related to the topics in this conference: temporary sexual abstinence in marriage (see 1 Cor 7).
The more synthetic section on "theology of the body" and magisterial summaries of biblical teaching is structured by the topics introduced in Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes: how marriage is ordained toward begetting and educating children; warnings against lust toward one's spouse as supporting communion of persons of equal dignity in marriage; openness to life and Jesus' welcoming of children; co-creating and receptivity to God's gift of life in marriage; and discernment about bringing new life into the world. Specific answers will require the cooperation of theologians and others, as is manifested in the schedule of papers in this conference.