Duty and Desire
"Be fruitful and multiply". This is the command given to the man and the woman in the garden and recently I was reading through a book that said that this is the best reason we should have children, because God commands us to. I read this and it just rubbed me the wrong way. I've been trying to discern whether it is because I just don't like being told what to do (especially since it begins with something called "labor") or is there something else?
As I talked with others and allowed the thought of children as command role around in my head, I wondered about where love came into play or where desire did or authenticity. How about the guilt that is associated with an inability to bear physical children for various reasons? What about the spiritual children that we raise? Are we not being fruitful and multiplying then? I am sure that the author has more thoughts than are written in the book (I'm trying to give some grace in thinking that maybe the editors cut a few things out), but I definitely got to thinking.
How do desire and duty play together? Yes there are times when duty leads us without desire and desire leads us without duty, but should we have the perspective of both in all we do? Duty without desire typically lacks passion, lacks emotion and heart. It lacks authenticity and warmth. Desire without duty lacks purpose that is beyond ourselves and can lack eternal perspective. You can apply these to anything we do in life and to the commands of God.
So, if my little son were to grow up and ask, "Mommy and Daddy, why did you decide to have me?" and our response was "because God told us to" I wonder what his little heart would feel? I realize there is more to it and that there is ultimately more to it than that, but if truly the only reason why we had our son was because God told us to without any desire from our part, what a hollow and lifeless love we are giving our son! You can also flip this around if we were only to express our desire for him without the larger perspective of a God that tells us to multiply ourselves than we show him and teach him great selfishness.
Just as we serve others, if we are serving only because God "told us to" then we serve with a hollow and lifeless love and people will see it. We all know what its like to be loved by someone who wants to love us and loved by someone who has to love us. Again, on the flip side, if we were only to love others because of our own desire rather than our desire and a greater purpose then we are merely self-fulfilling our own desires.
We need both, duty and desire to live authentic lives of love towards whatever children that God has called us to serve.