What does it mean to be human?
26 Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’
27 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
Who is God speaking to? Someone else? Himself? It does suggest that God is in some way plural – although the rest of the Old Testament is clear that there is only one God. So is this the first revelation of the Trinity? Is this the Father speaking to the Son or the Spirit?
It’s a line that has baffled many, but we might gain some answers by looking at what God does. First, He commits to make mankind in the image of God and give them a godly purpose. But that’s not all…
In making creatures that specifically reflect His likeness, God does not make just one person, but two. God’s revelation of Himself is plural. Mankind has two parallel parts: male and female. God can only be reflected by unity (humanity) and difference (male and female).
This means that gender and sexual identity are fundamental to the way we are made. The distinction between male and female exists when everything is perfect, before anything goes wrong. It’s not something that has been added by people, it is in our essential creation as humanity.
Male and female is a distinction in our created pattern. This difference designed by the maker. In this distinction there is an equal value, there is no suggestion that one part is more important than the other. In fact, without both parts we do not reflect God’s image properly.
This is very relevant in our own time, when many social and physical differences between men and women are being overcome. Different societies have reflected the distinction between male and female in different ways. We may disagree with some of the ways that men and women have been differently treated. In fact, some of the misunderstandings of the difference may be corrected here.
Because God made us male and female:
- We shouldn’t value one sex over the other. Men and women are of equal worth.
- We should not pretend that there is no difference between the two sexes. Men and women are not the same.
- God made us different and so we should seek His scriptures to understand the differences. It shouldn’t be left to society to define ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’.
- We should expect God to guide us how to handle the differences between men and women. Sometimes God may give specific directions to men and women.
- We need each other. A well-rounded life will reflect much of God’s created pattern and so we should strive for healthy relationships with both men and women.
Examine your own attitudes and behaviour
- Do you treat both sexes with equal care and attention? Do you speak equally well of both?
- In what ways can you observe that men and women are different? Do you embrace difference or do you find it hard?
- Do you invest in healthy relationships with both men and women? Do you resist the differences or do you seek to learn what you can and benefit from the variety in humanity?