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Children and the Dominion Mandate

Written By
William O. Einwechter

In spite of all the rhetoric concerning the rights of children and their importance, the modern perspective on children is quite negative. Clear evidence of this is the prevalent opinion that the ideal family is a small family consisting of only one or two children. Those who are most vocal in asserting the importance of children and the need for the state to safeguard the education and welfare of “our most important natural resource” are the same ones who advocate the “right” to kill unborn children through abortion and the need to limit the number of children born through “family planning” and programs of population control. If “our children”[1] are our most important resource, why do we then go to such great lengths to hinder conception and limit the number of children born? Communist China is known for its official one child per family policy, a policy promoted through propaganda, birth control, and abortion, and enforced by law. But little considered is the unofficial two children per family policy of the West that is promoted by propaganda, birth control, and abortion, though this policy is not yet enforced by law.

The “small family is best,” anti-child propaganda of the West is having its effect. The birth rates in Europe have fallen below the replacement level of two children per family. Hence, the European peoples are beginning to depopulate themselves, and Americans of European ancestry are not far behind. A sobering study of this reality and its implications for the future are documented in Patrick Buchanan’s book: The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. In the book Buchanan states:

IS THE DEATH of the West inevitable? Or, like all previous predictions of Western decline and demise, will this cup, too, pass away and expose as fools all who said we must drink it? . . . Answer: the Death of the West is not a prediction of what is going to happen, it is a depiction of what is happening now. First World nations are dying. They face a mortal crisis, not because of something happening in the Third World, but because of what is not happening at home and in the homes of the First World. Western fertility rates have been falling for decades. Outside of Muslim Albania, no European nation is producing enough babies to replace its population. As years slip by, that birthrate is not stabilizing; it is falling. In a score of countries, the old are already dying off faster than the young are being born. There is no sign of a turnaround. Now the absolute numbers of Europeans have begun to fall. This is not a matter of prophecy, but of mathematics. The steeper and longer the dive, the more difficult it is to pull out. The First World has to turn this around, and soon, or it will be overwhelmed by a Third World that is five times as populous and will be ten times as populous in 2050. The ability to pull out of this dive diminishes each year. No end of the birth dearth is in sight, and all the social and cultural indicators show that more and more Western women are converting to the idea of having no children.

Moreover, there is an arithmetical certitude about some aspects of demography. Italy cannot have more young adults of childbearing age in 2020 than it has teenagers, children, tots, and infants today. No existing population cohort can be added to, except by immigration. Only the mass reconversion of Western women to an idea that they seem to have given up—that the good life lies in bearing and raising children and sending them out into the world to continue the family and nation—can prevent the Death of the West.

Why are Western women having fewer children than their mothers or none at all? Why have so many enlisted in what Mother Teresa called “the war against the child”? Western women have long had access to the methods and means of birth control but chose not to use them to the extent they do today. For thirty years, American women have had easy access to abortion, but, unlike the women of China, they are also free to choose life. No federal judge forces any woman to have an abortion.

Yet, Western women are terminating their pregnancies at a rate that represents autogenocide for peoples of European ancestry and an end of their nations. “Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized society,” said Joan Ganz Cooney. Why are children no longer cherished as they once were? What caused the sea change in the hearts and minds of Western women, and men? And is it reversible? For if it is not, we can begin to write the final chapters of the history of our civilization and the last will and testament of the West.[2]

Later, in his chapter, “Where Have All the Children Gone?”, Buchanan makes the provocative statement: “Historians may one day call ‘the pill’ the suicide tablet of the West.”[3] Hence he equates abortion with “autogenocide” and ‘the pill’ that made birth control easy as “the suicide tablet of the West.” Dare we mention that those who call themselves evangelical Christians have used this “suicide tablet of the West” or have participated in this autogenocide through abortion and abortive birth control methods?

In contrast to the prevailing anti-child attitude of our day is the positive message of the Bible concerning the blessing and importance of children. Whereas the sentiment of current thought decrees that the family consisting of one or two children is best, the teaching of Scripture is that a large family consisting of many children is blessed of the Lord and greatly to be desired. The sad fact, however, is that the modern evangelical church (including the Reformed segment) has been more willing to side with the perspectives of man rather than of God on this issue. But we who seek a Christian reformation of society through the establishment of Christ’s Lordship in all spheres of life must reject the thinking of those around us, and seek to be thoroughly biblical in our view of children. Christians need to think clearly concerning the importance of children and large families in regard to the dominion mandate and the task of reconstructing our culture to live in submission to Christ and His Word.

Be Fruitful and Multiply

In Genesis 1:26-28, we have the account of the creation of man on the sixth day of the creation week. In verse 26, the purpose of God to create man in His own image and to give him dominion over the all the earth and every living thing is stated. In verse 27, the actual creation of man, male and female, in the image of God is recorded. In verse 28, God commands man to take dominion over the earth and all things therein.

The dominion mandate is established for man quite forcibly in that it is given twice in the space of three verses. First, the Lord indicates that it is His will for man to share His image and rule the earth as His representative. God says, “let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26). The Hebrew verb “have dominion” (radah) means to rule, subdue, have mastery over, or to take possession of, and is here translated “let them have dominion” to express the imperatival nature of the Hebrew construction. Thus, the statement of verse 26 emphasizes the will of God for man.

Second, the Lord specifically commands man to take dominion over the earth. He says, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28). The dominion mandate is here expressed by two imperatives, “subdue” and “have dominion.” The charge to “subdue” the earth is a command to bring the earth and all that is therein under the control of man and for the service of man. This command to take dominion calls man to fulfill the will of God for him as expressed in verse 26. The dominion mandate instructs man to develop the resources of the earth so that the full potential of the creation can be realized to the glory of God and for man’s own good. It places all things under man’s feet and charges him to utilize these in the development of human culture marked by righteousness and true holiness.

But the fulfillment of the dominion mandate cannot take place unless the prior commandments of God recorded in verse 28 are observed: “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” These two imperatives precede in time and in logical sequence the command to take dominion in the earth. Note the progression: 1) man must be fruitful and multiply so that, 2) he can fill the earth so that, 3) he can have dominion over all the earth. Thus, we see that fruitfulness in regard to bearing children is essential to the fulfillment of the dominion mandate! It is significant to recognize that the first commandment given to man in the Bible is the command to “be fruitful and multiply.” This command is based on the institution of marriage (cf. Gen. 2:18-24), and it places marriage and the procreation of many children (i.e., a large family) at the center of God’s purpose for man in the dominion mandate.

It is also important to note that the command is not given in the abstract, but concretely to the first man and woman, the first husband and wife. It is a command that can only be fulfilled in the specific relationship of marriage. The command to be fruitful and multiply is not given to “mankind,” but to men and women individually in the context of marriage. Obviously, Adam and Eve could not fulfill the command in themselves, so the command not only binds them but passes on to their descendants, binding husbands and wives in each generation to obey God’s precept to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.[4]

It is also vital that we consider the blessing of God that precedes the command to be fruitful in bearing children: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply. . . .” The blessing of God refers, in context, at least in part if not wholly, to the power of procreation, i.e., the ability to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth so that the dominion mandate can be carried out. God is the source of all human life, either directly, as in the case of Adam and Eve, or indirectly, in that he gives the power of procreation to husbands and wives. Man could not fulfill the command of God to be fruitful, fill the earth, and subdue it unless God blessed him with the ability of producing offspring.[5]

The dominion responsibility, therefore, includes three commands, and all are necessary for its fulfillment: be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Those who focus only on the command to subdue the earth and have dominion over it sever this duty from the two that proceed it and present a truncated perspective of the dominion mandate. Therefore, as we hold forth the dominion mandate, we must not only call men to take dominion in all spheres of life for the glory of God, we must also call upon them to strive to follow all the precepts of the dominion mandate; we must call upon each husband and wife to seek the blessing of God for the procreation of many children.

The Promise of Fruitfulness to Covenant-Keeping Man

One of the promises that God holds out to those who love him and keep his covenant is fruitfulness in regard to offspring. When Jacob gave his final words to his sons, he specifically spoke of the blessings that God would bestow on the family of his faithful and God-fearing son, Joseph. He said that God “shall bless thee with the blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breast and womb. . . .” (Gen. 49:25). The “blessings of breast and womb” refer to the promise of abundant offspring and “the capacity of caring successfully for them in their early days.”[6] In the list of blessings and cursings in Deuteronomy 28, the blessing of fruitfulness is declared for those who keep God’s commandments:

The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee (Deut. 28:9-11).

On the other hand, the curse of barrenness is avowed to covenant-breakers:

Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep (Deut. 28:16-18).

Psalm 127 says that children are an inheritance from the Lord and are his reward (v. 3), and then declares the man blessed who has his quiver full of them (v. 5). Psalm 128 begins by stating that the man who fears the Lord is blessed, and then goes on to list one of those blessings as being, “thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thy house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table” (v. 3).

It is significant to note that both Deuteronomy 28:11 and Psalm 128:3 use the terminology of fruitfulness in reference to bearing many children. When you compare the original creation blessing of fruitfulness to the promised blessing of fruitfulness to covenant-keeping men and women, it is logical to conclude that the covenantal blessing of fruitfulness is a granting of the original creation blessing of fruitfulness to those who love God. And since the original promise of fruitfulness was for the purpose of fulfilling the dominion mandate, it is also reasonable to conclude that the covenantal promise of fruitfulness is also for the purpose of fulfilling the dominion mandate. In granting his people fruitfulness, God is enabling them to fulfill the original dominion mandate within the context of God’s historical and redemptive plan.

To better understand this connection, let us consider the wider biblical teaching concerning the dominion mandate. First, the dominion mandate is not given to covenant-breakers, but only to covenant-keepers.[7] The original mandate was given to Adam and Eve before the fall when they stood in fellowship with God. The dominion mandate was also given to believing Noah and his sons after the flood (Gen. 9:1-3), and as such it was given to men who serve God. The dominion mandate is referred to by David (Ps. 8) as he reflects on the progress of covenant-keeping men to take dominion in the eart, an earth that is filled with men who are in rebellion against God, and who, instead of taking dominion for God and developing righteous cultures, are taking dominion for Satan (as his servants) and are developing ungodly cultures. David looks into this world and sees that wickedness abounds and all things are not under the feet of covenant-keeping men.

Second, from the New Testament (Heb. 2:6-8) we learn that David’s words are prophetic and point to the only one who can bring all things under the dominion and rule of righteous men, Jesus Christ — the dominion mandate is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and all who are in covenant with Him by faith. Christ conquers sin and Satan, restores righteousness to men, and gives them the Word of God and the Holy Spirit so that they can fulfill the original dominion mandate of ruling the earth in righteousness as God’s representative and developing the full potential of the earth for the glory of God the Father. As the Righteous Man, the Father gives Christ dominion over all the earth, and He in turn gives the authority for dominion to His people:

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father (Rev. 2:26-27).

Therefore, since the original dominion mandate still exists; since the dominion mandate can only be fulfilled by those who believe and serve God; since the blessing of fruitfulness in regard to fulfilling the dominion mandate is promised to covenant-keepers; then it follows that fruitfulness in procreation is still a vital aspect of the dominion mandate, and the command to God’s people still stands: “be fruitful and multiply.”

Dominion through Fruitfulness

The importance of fruitfulness to the dominion of the covenant people is illustrated in the nation of Israel while in Egypt. Israel went into Egypt as an extended family of 70 souls. Israel came out of Egypt a 400 years later as a mighty nation numbering in the millions. The Bible records that God granted great fruitfulness to the Hebrew wives and the nation grew dramatically (Ex. 2:7). The growth was so spectacular that Pharaoh grew fearful of their numbers and sought to limit their numbers by affliction and by killing the male babies at birth (Ex. 2:9-11). But all of his wicked schemes failed (Ex. 2:12-20). The growth of the Hebrew nation was essential for God’s plan, and Pharaoh could not frustrate that growth.

According to his covenant promise the land of Canaan had been given to Israel, but the land was inhabited by many wicked nations. If Israel was to conquer the land and take possession of it, then Israel must also be a great nation, a numerous people. Israel could only take dominion of the land if the families of Israel were very fruitful so that the men were there to conquer the land and the families were there to fill the land. The dominion mandate for Israel in Canaan necessitated fruitfulness in the families of Israel.

The dominion mandate for the church also calls for fruitfulness in the families of the church. Children are set forth in Scripture as being essential to the continuity of the covenant and the propagation of God’s kingdom, and fruitfulness among the covenant people is still a vital aspect of the dominion mandate. As Christians have large families and train their children in the fear of the Lord, the kingdom of God advances irresistibly. As Christian couples are blest with fruitfulness, teach their children the law of God, and charge them to subdue all spheres of life to the authority of Christ and His Word, the dominion mandate is in the process of being fulfilled. Children are as arrows in the hands of warrior (Ps 127:4) shot into the midst of the cultural and spiritual war between those who want to exercise godly dominion and those who promote wickedness; the more Christian “arrows” discharged into this war the greater the advance of righteousness.

The significance for dominion through fruitfulness is amplified when one considers that the ungodly despise fruitfulness, and, in following their love of death (Prov. 8:36), they are preventing conception through contraception and sterilization, and they are killing their unborn children through abortion. To get a sense of the impact of fruitfulness among God’s people on the one hand and the planned barrenness of non-Christians on the other, consider the following: if a godly husband and wife have 7 children, and their 7 children each have 7 children and so on for 5 generations they will have 19,607 offspring; if an unbelieving couple follows the typical small family size of 2, and their children also have 2 children and so on for 5 generations, they will only have 60 offspring! Score: covenant-keepers 19,607; covenant-breakers 60 in only 5 generations and only between two families! Mary Pride also shows the significance of having many children to godly dominion:

We Christians can sometimes be inconsistent. We’d fight and scream if someone tried to stamp out our evangelistic efforts. . . . Why doesn’t it bother us that, thanks to family planning, the number of Christians in the next generation is being thinned out from within?

Let’s say that Christians are 20 percent of the U.S. population. If each Christian family had six children, and the humanists, feminists, and others kept having an average of one (which is realistic, considering how they feel about heterosexual marriage), then in twenty years there would be sixty of us for every forty of them. In forty years 90 percent of America would be Christian! That is without outside evangelism. All we’d have to do would be to have children and raise them for Christ. Even if Christians were only 2 percent of the population (which I think is more accurate), then in two generations, at the reproduction rates I already mentioned, we would be over 40 percent of the population.[8]

This is not to deny the importance of evangelism to the growth of the church and the fulfillment of the dominion mandate; it is only to emphasize the great power of fruitfulness in Christian families for the advance of the kingdom of God.[9] Pat Buchanan remarks that one of the factors that led to the collapse of Pagan Rome and the rise of Christian dominance in the place of Rome was that “Christians were having children, the pagans were not.”[10]

One sign (among others) that God is laying the foundation for a resurgence of the Faith in the world is the growing trend of Christians to have large families; this is particularly true of Christian home schoolers. John Perry observes:

Also of note, is the fact that Christian home schoolers tend to have large families. They have the conviction that, “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Ps. 127:3), and this leads them to seek the blessing of God in many children rather than following the cultural norm of one or two offspring. The rediscovery of this biblical truth of the blessing of large families (Ps. 127:3-5; 128:1-6) has tremendous implications in an age when abortion and birth control are the norm for the unregenerate. Large Christian families could in time change the face of the political and social landscape in America.[11]

Those who are emerging as the greatest threat to the future of Christian civilization understand that dominion is tied to fruitfulness. Who do I speak of? The Muslim peoples of the world. The birth rates among Arab and Indonesian Muslims are skyrocketing. As Gary North has pointed out, Islam can triumph over the West without the use of Jihad. All they need to do is continue the practice of having large families and then immigrating to the West. Before too long Muslims will command a significant electoral clout in the European democracies; and if current trends continue they will take over Europe through the ballot-box sometime in the not too distant future. In regard to this Buchanan has written:

In Europe, Christian congregations are dying, churches are emptying out, and mosques are filling up. There are five million Muslims in France, and between twelve and fifteen million in the European Union. There are fifteen hundred mosques in Germany. Islam has replaced Judaism as the second religion of Europe. As the Christian tide goes out in Europe, an Islamic tide comes in. In 2000, for the first time there were more Muslims in the world than Catholics. . . . the Islamic world retains something the West has lost: a desire to have children and the will to carry on their civilization, cultures, families, and faith. Today, it is as difficult to find a Western nation where the native population is not dying as it is to find an Islamic nation where the native population is not exploding.[12]

The same trend is at work in America. Buchanan also insightfully states: “Today, an aging, dying Christian West is pressing the Third World and the Islamic world to accept contraception, abortion, and sterilization as the West has done. But why should they enter into a suicide pact with us when they stand to inherit the earth when we are gone?”[13]

I urge you as a follower of Jesus Christ to whom the command to be fruitful and multiply was given, to also reject the suicide pact of the West and to ask the Lord to bless you with many precious sons and daughters. This is a matter of life and death; it is about the glory of God and the advance of the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

The dominion mandate consists of three specific commands: be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue the earth. If the dominion mandate is still in force today, and we believe that Scripture teaches that it is, then all three commands are still in force today. God is still calling His people to be fruitful in regard to offspring because this is vital to the fulfillment of the dominion command. If we preach the dominion mandate to the church, then we must also preach “be fruitful and multiply” to Christian husbands and wives. The two cannot legitimately be separated, for dominion cannot take place without fruitfulness.

Fruitfulness is the result of divine blessing. It is a gift from God to us for His glory and our good. Children are God’s reward, and they are intended as a gift of His love. Furthermore, the children of covenant men and women are central to His purpose of granting us dominion over all the earth through the authority and power of Christ our Lord. If we have imbibed the philosophy of the world concerning family size and have deliberately sought to limit our fruitfulness, may we now repent in humility before God and seek His forgiveness and His gift of fruitfulness. If we went astray and limited our family according to the wisdom of the world and our time is past for bearing children, may we also seek God’s forgiveness, and then do all we can to help our children and grandchildren to not fail where we failed and to encourage them to seek the blessing of God in having many children.

1. ^ This is the standard terminology used by liberals, politicians, and government school bureaucrats when referring to the children of a particular nation or smaller geographical or political unit. This phraseology is based on the false and debased notion that children are the mere creatures of the state. But children do not  belong to the state, they belong to the family. The only ones who can legitimately use the phrase “our children” are parents when they are referring to their own children.

2. ^ Patrick J. Buchanan, The Death of the West (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2002), p. 23-24.

3. ^ Ibid., p. 26.

4. ^ The tired and erroneous argument is usually raised that the earth is already full, therefore the command of Genesis 1:28 is no longer binding today. But the earth is certainly not full, though it may be crowded in a few spots. The claim that the earth is full is a claim to overpopulation.

In response to the contention that the world is overpopulated Osterfield states: “‘Overpopulation’ cannot stand on its own. It is a relative term. Overpopulation must be overpopulation relative to something, usually food, resources, and living space. The data show that all three variables are, and have been, increasing more rapidly than population. . . . In short, although there are now more people in the world than ever before, by any meaningful measure the world is actually becoming relatively less populated” (David Osterfield, “Overpopulation Myths Ignore Realities of Progress,” Human Events, [September 4, 1993], 9). To indicate how large the earth is in relation to the current population of the world Osterfield says: “For example, if the entire population of the world were placed in the state of Alaska, every individual would receive nearly 3,500 square feet of space, or about one-half the size of the average American family homestead with front and back yards” (ibid.).

5. ^ In the post-fall world God grants the blessing of fruitfulness or holds it back according to his sovereign will. One man who wrestled with the pain of unfruitfulness in marriage was John Calvin. Only three children were born to John and Idelette, two died shortly after birth and one died at birth. In light of this we read the poignant comments of Calvin on the “blessing” of God in Gen. 1:28: “This blessing of God may be regarded as the source from which the human race has flowed. And we must consider it not only with reference to the whole, but also, as they say, in every particular instance. For we are fruitful or barren in respect to offspring, as God imparts his power to some and withholds it from others” (John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, trans. John King [Grand Rapids, 1989], 97).

6. ^ H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI, 1942), 1196-1197.

7. ^ The dominion mandate is not primarily agricultural or technological, but ethical, i.e., it calls men to exercise dominion in the earth according to God’s law-word for the honor and glory of God. Man is to rule the earth as God’s representative and develop the resources of the earth in accord with the Creator’s will, i.e., he is to develop the resources of the earth solely in reference to God’s law as summarized in the two great commandments of the law: love of God and love of one’s neighbor. Unregenerate man does not carry out any of his activities out of a love for God, and most often not out of a true love for his neighbor either. It is true that unregenerate man still retains to a degree the image of God, and, by nature, an impulse for dominion. But his reference is purely technological out of a motive for his own power and glory. Therefore, in the limited technological sense unsaved man has contributed to the dominion mandate; God uses even the wrath of man to praise him. However, the dominion mandate as originally given can only be addressed to righteous men, and that is why it is never given to unregenerate men in the Bible and is ultimately transferred to Jesus Christ.

8. ^ Mary Pride, The Way Home (Wheaton, IL, 1985), 80.

9. ^ Evangelism is absolutely necessary to the dominion mandate in the post-fall world. In fact, the Great Commssion and the dominion mandate are closely related. See Kenneth L. Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission (Tyler, TX, 1990), 7-14.

10. ^ Buchanan, The Death of the West, p. 48.

11. ^ John F. Perry, “Home Schooling: A Paradigm for Effect Educational Reform in America,” in Explicitly Christian Politics, ed. William O. Einwechter (Pittsburgh, 1997), 209-210.

12. ^ Buchanan, The Death of the West, p. 118.

13. ^ Ibid., p. 48.

This is a revised version of an article that originally appeared in the Chalcedon Report of November and December 1998