I choose to be a rule keeper—it is my nature to be obedient. However, there is one commandment that I have found particularly challenging to obey. In Genesis 1:28 we read: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129) reiterates: “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”
I have always loved babies and children. I love holding children, playing with them, teaching them, loving them, and watching them grow into amazing adults. I desire to be obedient to this first commandment. I am reminded of it when I participate in temple ordinances and each week as I attend Church meetings filled with families. The years have flown by, and with them my ability to obey this commandment seems to be disappearing.
Can Single Adults Obey God’s First Commandment in This Life?
How do I as a single woman obey this commandment? Perhaps this only applies to married people? Surely the answer is “no.” The Lord’s commandments are not selective. His love extends to each one of us regardless of our age and marital condition. This commandment, I hope, is not meant to be a constant source of heartache for individuals like me.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland said, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come” (“An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” Ensign, Nov. 1999). Does that mean I don’t have to be obedient to the commandment to multiply and replenish in this life? Somehow that does not feel quite right. How can I be obedient now?
1 Nephi 3:7 reads: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” I believe the words of Nephi. There must be a way for me to be obedient—to be fruitful, to multiply, and to replenish the earth.
Searching for Ways to Be Obedient Now
Alma teaches us about being fruitful when he rejoices in the missionary successes of the sons of Mosiah. He said, “Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!” (Alma 29:15). Surely Alma and his brethren obeyed the commandment and were fruitful even though this scripture does not refer to bearing children. My eyes are being opened.
In Julie B. Beck’s book Joy in the Covenant (, 103), she writes: “The Lord’s command to marry and to bear and rear children ensures the continuation of His covenant in earthly families. His covenant also continues as we share the gospel and as we do work in temples for ancestors who have died without making covenants. As we participate in the work of salvation, we multiply the number of God’s children who make covenants with Him.”
Participating in the Work of Salvation
Sister Beck’s words have expanded my perspective and understanding. By bringing people to Christ, we multiply as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jesus Christ is the one true source of inspiration and power. As I “feast upon the words of Christ” they fill me with inspiration and help me know what to do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
For example, as I accept President Nelson’s invitation “to shape the future by helping to gather scattered Israel” (“Sister’s Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 2018), I am obeying the commandment of the Lord to multiply.
As we participate in the “work of salvation”: as we “share the gospel,” as we minister to one another, and we assist others both living and dead in making and keeping covenants with God, we increase the family of God (Julie B. Beck, Joy in the Covenant, 103). There are other ways to keep the commandment to multiply and replenish besides—or in addition—to having children. What an enlightening thought!
Replenishing with Inspiration, Goodness, and Nurturing Others
According to the dictionary, replenish is defined as “to fill with inspiration or power; to make good; nourish” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/replenish). Therefore, we can replenish the earth with inspiration or power; we can contribute to the good; and we can nourish others. The question is how?
Doctrine and Covenants 59:6 reiterates the second great commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” We replenish the earth by first nourishing ourselves with the inspiration and power of God’s word. Once we are sufficiently filled, we can nourish our neighbours with that same inspiration and power. I think that is the true nature of ministering. We can all participate in these actions if we choose.
I can obey the first commandment to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth by following the counsel of President Nelson: “We invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life” (“Let Us All Press On,” Ensign, May 2018). There are promises that can be ours in this life when we strive to obey all His commandments.
In Leviticus 26:9,12 God promises: “For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. …And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” I find inspiration and encouragement in these words. The Lord will bless my efforts as I minister to others, spread the gospel through missionary work, and commit to family history work.
The Lord is generous and loving. His blessings are abundant. As I covenant with Him, He walks with me; He replenishes me; He multiplies my every effort regardless of my earthly station. Now in place of heartache, I can be a doer “of the word” (James 1:22), and I can obey God’s first commandment to Adam and Eve!