Infertility and an Everlasting Name That Will Not Be Cut Off

One of the foundational commands given to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28).  There are many couples who earnestly desire to fulfill this command but for one reason or another cannot.  Infertility is a devastating reality that many couples struggle with.  According to the CDC,

  • Number of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity (impaired ability to have children): 7.3 million
  • Percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity: 11.8%
  • Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months): 2.1 million

It is God, the Giver of life, who opens the barren womb (Isaiah 42:5; 1 Timothy 6:13; Psalm 113:9).  A number of Biblical women were barren until God allowed them to give birth; Michal is the exception:  Sarah (Genesis 16:1-2), Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 30:1), Samson’s mother (Judges 13:3), Michal (2 Samuel 6:23), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:11), and Elisabeth (Luke 1:7).  Childless Absalom erected a monument with his name since he did not have a son to propagate it (2 Samuel 18:18).  Isaiah 56:4-5 offers a word of encouragement to those who cannot bear children,

For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, [5] I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off”

Those who suffer infertility echo the anguished sentiment of the eunuch, “Behold, I am a dry tree” (Isaiah 56:3).  While infertility may not fulfill the command of Genesis 1:28, it does not prohibit a couple from fulfilling the greatest purpose of all: to propagate the Name that will not be cut off.  Infertility and the desire for children can become an idol just like any other good thing (remember when the children of Israel turned the Bronze serpent, a divinely ordained instrument of salvation, into an idol in 2 Kings 18:4).  When God, and not children, is the center of our existence, we are “enriched with blessings far beyond those which even an earthly family (sons and daughters) might have brought” (Motyer, Isaiah, 466).  Another author encourages childless couples,

Not that childless couples or single persons are not in the will of God or cannot make significant contributions to the kingdom; physical fruitfulness is but a part of God’s overall desire for humans to be fruitful, which includes spiritual fruitfulness as well” (Köstenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 129-30, emphasis added).


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