Being fruitful and multiplying: the start of travel

Nothing stirs more controversy in this world than other people suggesting what women should do with their bodies.  Particularly middle class, white males suggesting this.  And closely linked and narrowly second to such controversy, comes the passage from early parts of the Bible (Genesis) about creation.

Before you laugh (if you don’t believe in such things), or go on a scientific rant (if you think it’s contradictory to modern science) or even simply roll your eyes (if you can’t believe I’m even writing this sentence), I’m going to suggest that by looking at this text as if it were true in some form and meaning (and note what I’m not committing myself to here), we could make a big impact on the world and for our dream of travel.  (if you’re distracted by talk of Genesis and God, then check out

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’

(Genesis 1:27-28)

So what does this say of travel?

Well here in early Genesis, we have two humans: Adam and Eve, made in the image of God.  And God’s first command to them is to shack up together, have sex, procreate across the earth and rule over it.  Just a couple of quick things it doesn’t mean:

  • it doesn’t mean procreation needs to be in every sexual act.  Find me where that is in the Bible and I’ll send you a congratulatory gift.  Sadly some churches have made this mandatory (thus banning contraception)
  • It doesn’t mean we can act improperly towards animal life and creation.  Ruling over it is still under His Lordship and in light of being created in His image (v. 27).
  • It doesn’t mean we need to keep over-producing.  Caring for creation presumably means stopping reproducing if we’ve overpopulated the earth.  Mark Meynall in his otherwise excellent (best of 2015!) book tried to suggest this was because this command in v.28 wasn’t given to humans alone.  I agree with his motivation but disagree we can really get that from the text!  Perhaps more Christians should foster or adopt rather than bringing new life to the earth?  A debate for another day.

“after firstly telling us to have sex, God’s next command is to travel.”

So finally on to what this does mean for travel.  Well, it tells us that we’re to “fill the earth and subdue it”.  Filling the earth can’t happen without us travelling to the far corners of the earth, and cultivating it well.

So in other words, after firstly telling us to have sex, God’s next command is to travel.  Not bad, eh?  And a God with such a heart is hardly likely to deny us such things in eternal life, if it’s his second command in this life.  And so I’m happy to make sure my travel is also in His image, as well as everything else in my attempts to “be fruitful…fill the earth and subdue it”.  I’ll trust Him that if He’s a God who gives this kind of command, I’ll be ok to sacrifice a bit of the here and now of travelling, to shape life round being made in His image (whatever that looks like).

2 thoughts on “Being fruitful and multiplying: the start of travel

  1. Pingback: A theology of travel: summary so far | al-jabr

  2. Pingback: #TravelinTandem Chapter 1: Extra Material | al-jabr

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