Priest to parishioners: Be fruitful and multiply

Zealand priest to hold a ‘fertility service’ encouraging Danes to have more children

Priest Poul Joachim Stender often dabbles in the risky subject – for a priest, anyway –  of human sexuality. His 2010 book, ‘Med Gud i sengen’ ('In Bed With God’), raised the hackles of several theologians for what they felt was its inappropriate content.


Stender is now working his way into Danish bedrooms again, this time calling on couples to be fruitful, multiply and have more children.


"I was inspired by a television advertisement in which a couple, both 35, had just had their first child," Stender told Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper. "When asked why they had waited so long, they said that they wanted to have their house, careers and all of the rest in order before starting a family."


Stender said that he believes that young families should get an earlier start.


"Denmark is committing demographic suicide, and God's voice needs to be raised," he said.


In order to give couple's a helping hand, Stender is organising a church service with a midwife, a nurse and a sexologist to encourage attendees to have more children.


His sermon will point out the biblical mandate calling on couples to have children and list the women in the Bible who had difficulty conceiving, including Abraham's wife, Sarah, who was very old when she had a child.


"The sermon shows that it can be difficult to have children when you are older, so younger people should be encouraged," he said.


The fertility service will be held on April 10 at Kirke Saaby Church to coincide with Annunciation Day, the day that the archangel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would bear a child.


Stender knows that he can not force anyone to have children, but argued that “we must work from above for a change in mentality." 


"Society cannot work if there are too few children – if too few have to support too many. I do far fewer baptisms and birth certificates today than in the past, and it's not just in my parish that fewer children are being born,” he said. “And, of course, children are a miracle."