Yesterday I posted a meditation on Genesis 1, drawing from God’s magnificent creation and mandate to man: subdue the world and multiply. Such a mandate shakes the spine of the modernist. Both subduing and multiplying challenge the environmentalist, but the mandate isn’t written for unruly and chaotic man. These mandates are for creatures made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27-28 are verses laying out justification for having kids.
We have 13 children. Two are adults–and don’t think for a moment that parenting gets easier when they graduate from your house (I’ll save that meditation for a later date). Eleven are home: 13 years and under. With the twins at the tail end, we have six children under 6 years old. A mess that would take one child all day takes my kids 30 seconds. Chores that are simple tasks in most families like dishes or laundry can (and often does) become overwhelming burdens in a very short time.
With all this to say, how in the world can my wife and I keep things from being chaotic? Is order in a home like mine possible?
Wendy and I are often asked, “How do you do it?” There are many truths that we have come to realize over the years, but we have to say that Genesis 2 is one of the most important. Our marriage is much more than a contract; it is a union. We work often as one flesh, similar in mind and in deed. We are united together so incredibly close. The result is that we are stronger, better equipped to take on the challenges of 13 kids, a strong bond able to withstand nearly impossible odds.
In God’s system of orderly family life, he did not make man to be alone; in his infinite wisdom, God created Eve to be a helper of Adam. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (v. 18). This union was no small thing; it wasn’t a contractual arrangement or an ordinary fitting of two links in a chain. God took the rib of a man to make the woman, “of man” is the root meaning of the female word “woman,” to become “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Man and woman don’t simply become two bodies working in the same household; they become “one flesh,” molded together for the life they create in the home.
Marriage is tough, I hear people say. I can’t say I relate. Could I do all that I do–and could Wendy do all that she does–if our unity was not there? We wouldn’t be half the people we are now without each other. So what if marriage is tough; what great blessing in life isn’t? Saying “marriage is tough” is like saying freedom has its limits, or vacations are a lot of work, or charity costs a lot. What good does it do a marriage to center on the blindingly obvious? I don’t say marriage is tough. Instead, marriage is the union of two into one to make life fuller than going alone.
This isn’t a meditation on how marriage is better than singleness. I am fully aware of the verses in the bible that debunk the idea that marriage is inherently better than not. Instead, this mediation is an attempt to debunk the modern idea that marriage–and more specifically raising a family–is exhausting. The traditional model of getting married, having children, and making a life in the world as a family is a rewarding, simple and exciting life. I’d call family life “exhausting” like I’d call skiing down the finest ski run in Colorado, planning a vacation in Hawaii, or running a most successful business “exhausting.” Exhausting isn’t the right word for it. Marriage is exhilarating.
Back to the meditation: how do we do it? I could write a book on specifics, but the foundation is relying on the Word of God. Genesis 2 outlines marriage as a method to accomplish a full life, an abundant life. The union of man and woman in holy matrimony is incredible, a powerful force that can not only raise 13 kids, but can revolutionize the world. This website is full of specifics on how to sort clothes, how to wash dishes, how to keep order in our lives, but if you really want to know a foundational principle of a successful large family it is this: holy matrimony.