The First Command of God to His Children
And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28a ESV)
The “Law of First Mention” is a hermeneutics term that refers to the importance of the first instance of a word, topic, idea, or doctrine in the Bible. The Law says that, more often than not, the first mention sets the foundation for the interpretation of all other mentions. It therefore tends to carry more weight in the interpretation of any passage about a particular word, topic, idea, or doctrine.
Genesis is a “book of beginnings” and introduces many topics and doctrines of the Bible. It holds a special place in the hermeneutical world of interpretation. Let’s look at a couple significant “first mentions” in Genesis.
- The First Institution Defined by God: Marriage
God didn’t waste any time to give us his first institution. He describes marriage as, “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. God’s definition of marriage emphasizes the physical nature of marriage – “one flesh”. (Genesis 2:24)
God created the world and everything in it and immediately instituted marriage and told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply”. It seems even to the casual observer that God thinks marriage and married sex is important to his plan for mankind, before and after the Fall. Groucho Marx famously said, “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?” Well, God thinks it’s good place for his children to find comfort, companionship, and fulfillment.
- The First Command of God to His Children: Have lots of sex and produce lots of children.
It’s interesting that God’s very first command to his children was to play in the Garden of Eden! In effect he says to get frisky, enjoy one another, and “fill the earth” with your offspring. He then says subdue the earth.
However, some say that it could mean have sex every 10 months or so and you could still fulfill the command “fill the earth”. This would not be keeping with the spirit of the passage but if we use our best hermeneutical practices, we come come to the conclusion that the whole of Scriptures makes it clear that married sex is to be frequent and reciprocal also.
- First Explanation of the Structure of Marriage from God: Complementarianism
God defines marriage as “one flesh” and he gives us the structure of marriage as complementarian when he says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
Nobody wants to be the “helper” because it sounds like you do all the work and get none of the credit! We get it but God’s way is the best way even when it doesn’t seem “fair” by our standards. His ways are higher than our ways and that’s a very good thing.
For all you egalitarians out there, God’s Word says that the bedroom is the most egalitarian place on the planet! But we will cover that in another post. Stay tuned.
In summary, God’s first institution highlights physical intimacy and his first command calls for lots of physical intimacy. This speaks volumes to the place of sex in marriage. When we try to push sex to the periphery of marriage, the Word always brings us back to God’s original message that sex is central, not peripheral, to a biblical marriage.
Bible Thought: The first institution God created was marriage. God’s first command to those in “The Institution” was to have lots of sex.
Prayer: Father, help me to understand why you think the centrality of sex in marriage is so important. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Just do it,
Rene & Gloria