Issues of human sexuality and how it relates to our identity are more and more becoming crucial and much talked about issues in our culture. It’s hard, if not impossible, for Christians to shy away from these discussions. And while they are complex issues, shying away from them is one of the worst things we can do. We need to be prepared to engage at some level.
It makes sense that if we what to start to answer the question of who we are we should look at where we started. The beginning of humanity – the 6th day of creation.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” [Genesis 1:26]
Humanity stands out here as the only thing to have been created in the image of its creator. We bear the image of a trinitarian God, who is eternally in relationship with himself. So to be human is to be relational.
It’s this that differentiates us from the animals that we are to rule over. But that’s not all that is different between Adam and Eve and the animals. Here’s what we’re told about the animals
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. [Genesis 1:24-25]
The animals are produced and arranged according to kind. And there are many kinds. Humans are their own kind – there’s a reason we call it called humankind. But what we do see, which we don’t for the animals, is gender. Part of being made in God’s image is being made male and female. We are different, and yet of one kind and together image bearers of God.
In the last few weeks, as part of some sermon prep. I’ve been reading some writing of several Queer Theorists who would like to convince us that gender is fluid. It’s not set in stone and it can be changed easily because it’s not based on our physiology but on some transitory feeling within us. But Genesis shows us a very different picture than the one they are trying to sell us. Gender is there in the very first description of humanity. Before we’ve heard a word from either of them, we’re told they are created male and female. Their gender isn’t fluid because their male and femaleness isn’t based on how they feel. They are male and female simply because God made them that way.
You’ll also note that they are described as male and female rather than man and woman. This is because the Hebrew words for male and female are intended to express sexuality. To be human is to be a sexual person. So gender has played a role in the first introduction to both humanity and sexuality. The sexual bond of the man and the woman are part of God’s good creation and integral in his purpose for them to fill and subdue the earth.
Genesis doesn’t leave room for the confusion of gender or sexuality. Being male and female is fundamental to both our identity and our sexuality. And it’s part of the creation that God declared was very good.