Biological sex & the Image of God
We have been looking at the relationship between the Glory of God and the image of God in which we have been created in.
Glory is the closest you get to describing God in one word. People that have encountered God’s glory are never the same again. Look what happens to Isaiah:
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I [ISAIAH] saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:1-5)
Like Isaiah, an encounter with God’s glory will transform our sense worship. It will humble us. It will lead to obedience.
Humanity was Made out of God’s Glory
So far we have looked at two facets of God’s glory that are connected with humanity being created in the image of God:
- God’s Judicial Glory – God is King >>> Adam and Eve were created to rule
- God’s ethical glory – God is holy >>> Adam and Eve were created to be holy. Their stewardship of holiness actually qualified them for ruling. As soon as they fell, they were disqualified.
As we have studied God’s glory I have shown you how God’s official royal glory is manifested at times in the Bible in physical expressions in what theologians call “theophanic radiance”: Light, Fire, Lightening, Clothes of white, Radiance, Cloud, the sun even.
Humanity’s physicality is an expression of God’s glory. As a physical being, created in God’s glory, as opposed to just a spirit, God’s glory combines to create an awesome biological being.
Implications: Your body serves a glorious purpose. Your flesh matters. It is the means through which you are meant to relate to God. It is the means through which God relates to you. It is the means through which God’s image is translated to the world. >>> Jesus is the ultimate expression of this in His incarnation.
God created your body to be your permanent dwelling place. It is not a temporary shell that you will one day be free of. It was the very means through which He wanted to relate to you through. We will look at this more next week.
The Biblical Historical Orthodox view on our biological sexes
Scientists tell us that biological males and females are similar but at the same time uniquely different. Dr. Michelle Cretella, the President of the American College of Paediatricians, says that:
“Our bodies declare our sex… Sex is determined by conception by our DNA, stamped into every cell of our bodies. Human sexuality is binary. You either have a normal Y chromosome, and develop into a male, or you don’t, and you will develop into a female. There are at least 6,500 genetic differences between men and women.”
What science confirms is that biologically speaking, this distinction is real. What I want to show you is that God in creating humanity in this way had a design and purpose for our biological sexes.
In fact this is the Biblical Historical Orthodox view, that:
Throughout the centuries Christians, such as the Apostle Paul, and the Early Church Fathers, stuck with the Jewish view that all people were created in the image of God, either as a biological male, or as a biological female.
Why would God create two biological sexes to carry His image?
God created the man in His image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. And God blessed them. (Genesis 1:27-28).
We have been looking at how God created humanity uniquely as His image bearers. But instead of creating humanity as single sex that could reproduce asexually, He subdivided His image bearers into two distinct sexes? Why are there women at all? Why men? God could have created humanity to be only one gender.
I want you to see that this subdivision of humanity into two different sexes was actually by intentional design that these sexual distinctions were IMPORTANT TO HUMANITY’S ROLE IN CARRYING GOD’S IMAGE.
Adam possessed the image of God, but on his own didn’t fully reveal the image of God to the world. Eve similarly possessed the image of God, but on her own didn’t either fully reveal the image of God to the world. But together they did.
We can go even further by saying:
Womanhood and manhood were not an afterthought or a peripheral thought in God’s plan… If there were only generic [or non binary – not relating to, composed of, or involving just two things] persons and not male and female, the glory of Christ would be diminished in the world. – John Piper
Males and Females uniquely reveal different facets of God
So what was God’s purposes for creating two distinct sexes? Our sexes reveal different aspects of God’s glory.
The ancient Jewish mystics explained that the differences between men and women are far from meaningless and arbitrary.
Men stem from God’s finite and limited light, women from His infinite light. Men, represented by a line (reflecting the male anatomy), are time bound and find their spiritual source in the immanent God of history. Women, in contrast, represented by a circle (the female anatomy), flow out from their higher source in the transcendent God of creation. They are above time. (Boteach, Shmuley. Judaism for Everyone)
The infinite side of God, His eminence, is always described in feminine terms.
The immanent God of history has tended to be masculine by comparison. Women emanate from God’s infinity, and as such, only they can call forth life from nothingness. the feminine nurturing and subtle
The masculine form is more disciplinary and aggressive. A man’s principal role is to use his more aggressive tendencies to refine material existence, whereas a woman’s is to use her subtle femininity to reveal the inner Godliness and holiness pervading all of existence. Traditionally, a father’s role is to discipline his children and teach them to curb their passions, and a mother’s is to teach her children to develop their inner capacity for life and love. Men build civilizations; women build communities. Men seek to distinguish themselves; women seek never to betray themselves. Men battle darkness, while women foster light. (Boteach, Shmuley. Judaism for Everyone)
There was another reason God created two different sexes to reveal His glory. It reveals something of the nature of God as Trinity. God is three in one. He has lived in eternal community for all of time.
Jewish tradition suggests that Adam, the first human, was a hybrid human possessing both male and female attributes – not biologically but in his personality.
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
Notice in verse 18 that it says that it was not good for Adam to be alone. This is important to realize because in this alone, hybrid state Adam was not complete. God further proves to Adam that His alone state can neither be fully satisfied by Himself, nor Creation. There is something else needed.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:15-23)
God did not want this first human creation to be alone, for he would then possess an illusion of self-sufficiency. Note that there is no word for “independence” in classical Hebrew. The concept of independence doesn’t exist in Jewish tradition. Aside from God, nothing and no one is really independent. God, Himself is Trinity.
God wanted to fashion human beings into two separate people in order to create a healthy situation of dependence, yearning, and mutual giving. Human beings are not meant to be alone because then they would have no one to give to, no one to grow with, and nothing to strive for. To actualize oneself spiritually, a human being cannot be alone. The fact that God did not create identical twins highlights this even further.
In order to maximize God’s goal in this design, of this mutual coming together, He did not cut Adam and Eve down the middle creating identical twins but crated two polar opposites. In this account we read that when Adam fell asleep, God removed a rib, meaning ‘side’ – the feminine side, from its person. The result was polar opposite individuals, each being incomplete without the other. Ever since, each instinctively men and women seek unification with the lost half.
With identical twins it is possible for giving to happen but it is limited. Each would give based on his or her own needs, which are identical, which isn’t really giving. To truly be a giver, the person must take into account what the receiver needs and not only what the giver wants. By giving to someone with different needs, a person is trained to think and give on terms other than his or her own.
In order for us to learn to appreciate, love, give, and care for those unlike ourselves God made us polar opposites.
Other Sermons In This Series
October 17, 2019
September 24, 2019
October 29, 2019