In Our Image, Part 2: The Meaning of Human Sexuality

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In Our Image, Part 2: The Meaning of Human Sexuality

Editorial Note: The following article is an excerpt from Pastor Jason O’ Rourke’s Sex-U-ology: Origins: God, Gender, Marriage, and Intimacy.

The Reasoning

I submit that you will never be able to understand the eternal plural unity of God unless you examine the marriage union, gender, and sexuality.

Let us remember the following texts:

John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God”.

John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him”

John 8:42: “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”

John 16:28: “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world and go to the Father”.

First of all, let us understand this: no finite being in the universe, no creature created by God, can comprehend the mystery of the Godhead. How can a being be one and more than one simultaneously? How can a being have the same identity and multiple identities simultaneously? It is a phenomenon that no creature understands. 1 Corinthians 4:9 tells us that “…we are made a spectacle unto the world (kosmos– the Greek word from which we get our cosmos), and to angels, and to men.” This statement is made by Paul after the ascension of Christ. He was speaking of the apostles. However, if Malachi 3:6 is clear that God does not change, and if Hebrews 13:8 is right in saying that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and if James 1:17 is correct in saying that God does not vary or have a shadow of turning, then it stands to reason that since we are a spectacle to the kosmos and the angels now, we were designed to be a spectacle to the kosmos and angels of the glory of God before. Before we would have shown forth God’s glory in creation, now we show forth God’s glory in salvation. Therefore, I am of the belief that we were designed to be the object lesson of the Godhead, to the viewing pleasure and intellectual understanding of heavenly beings.

Now John chapter one tells us that, “In the beginning was the Word…” Practically speaking, a word is the coherent use of sounds that come from a person’s mouth, understandable to the speaker and the listener. So a word has a place of origin. However, John doesn’t leave us with this, for then he says that, “…the Word was with God…” The Greek phrase προÌς τοÌν Θεοìν (pros ton Theon) translates as “face to face”, or “facing toward” with God. So John is trying to tell us that this Word was not simply a group of sounds projected from the mouth of God, but a Being that had a face, and was facing God. Then John caps off this picture by saying that the “Word was God”, or “God was the Word”. The verb “was,” in this verse, is imperfect, meaning that infinitely before and by the time the beginning began, there was already a Word facing God with Its own face, and It was indefinitely with the God It was facing. Then to make the point even clearer, John says at the end of verse one, “καιÌ ΘεοÌς ἦν ὁ Λοìγος” (kai Theos en ho Logos), or “…and the Word was God”.

Please notice the words Logos and Theos. The ὁ or “ho” that comes before the word Logos is the definite article. It is this definite article, plus the ος or “os” at the end of Logos that signals to the Greek reader that the word Logos is the subject of the sentence. However, please notice as well that the word ΘεοÌς, or Theos, also, has the ος or “os” ending, meaning that Theos is as much a subject noun as Logos. It is in actuality a predicate nominative, a noun in the nominative, or subject case, which comes after the verb. The predicate nominative’s job is to restate the noun. Therefore, in the text, Theos is a restatement of Logos. The passage is saying that if you wanted another name for the Logos, the only thing you could reach for is Theos. This means that the idea that John was trying to convey is something like this: while keeping Logos as the subject of the phrase, John is actually trying to convey an idea that the Logos is its own entity, and yet that the Theos that spoke the Logos is the Logos that is facing Him, and that the Logos is the Theos which spoke it. Even the highest archangel will never understand the mystery that is the Godhead. Therefore God created humanity to be an object lesson of Them.

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Based on the above text (John 1:18; 8:42; 16:38), the writer John and Jesus Himself both state that Jesus came from the bosom of the Father, to declare the Father. He proceeded forth from God, and He was to return to God. He is the mouthpiece of the Godhead, one with God, the One God, having the same identity, essence and Divine worth, and yet He is individually unique.

Remember, we have already stated that woman was man’s mouthpiece. We have also seen that woman was taken and formed from the side, or bosom, of man. So, if we add this understanding of woman to these texts in John, then woman’s position in the Adamic family as the second person, and as the mouthpiece, was designed to reflect the position of the Second Person of the Godhead. This is not to say that the Second Person of the Godhead is a woman, or that the Godhead is sexual and gendered, but that the positional role of woman is designed for such a high and noble calling, much higher than the normal cultural and social norms have allowed for in the past and present. Woman proceeded forth and came from man. She was in the bosom of man, and her role was to declare him. Man and woman were created to make a cosmic impression on all universal beings. Woman, created in the image of God, to fulfill the role of the second person of the Godhead, the Word, was to be the most beautiful and verbally articulate being in the created universe. Man, created in the image of God, to fulfill the role of the first Person of the Godhead, was to be the most noble, awe-inspiring, and majestic of all created beings. They were in the image of God.

This means that any denigration of woman, making her an object, or any devaluing of woman, is by implication a symbolic attack on, a devaluing of, and denigration of, the second person of the Godhead, the Word, who became flesh. Put simpler: to abuse woman is to symbolically abuse Jesus. When I realized this, I was crushed. All my life, as I attempted to find identity, to secure my value through fornication, I was disrespecting Jesus by using women. I thank God for grace! Salvation is a wonderful thing! God can create wholeness out of brokenness. Jesus does forgive and restore!

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Parenthetically, since most Christians believe in the Trinity of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), some may ask why does the image of God have only two beings and not three? That is simply because the Holy Spirit is for the most part invisible.

The Holy Spirit only visibly manifested Himself two times in the entire Bible: in the form of a dove at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22), and on the day of Pentecost in the form of tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-4). Therefore the image deals with the two aspects of the Godhead which the entire universe sees: the Glorious One seated on the throne, surrounded by fire and majesty, and the very tangible Mouthpiece who manifests as a creature, but is in fact purely Divine.

1 Corinthians 11:7: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man”

This text means that man is in the image of the Father, and woman was to bring him glory, even as the second person of the Godhead sought to glorify the first person of the Godhead. The human family was to be the counterpart of the Godhead. By counterpart, I mean the definition that is given for the word “help” in Genesis 2:18, being a frontal piece to speak for, explain, define, pronounce, and to symbolize. Humanity’s existence was to speak the reality of the Godhead into the minds of universes’ inhabitants. Woman was man’s counterpart, his front-piece. In order to understand him you had to talk to her. This is the Godhead purpose for humanity’s existence in the universe. If the universe wanted to understand in a very rudimentary way, the Godhead, they were to look at and talk with humans.

Do you remember the admonition of Exodus 20, “thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…”? Why would God need to say that? It is because humanity is God’s image, fashioned by His hands. An image is a sign of the Sovereign’s reign, Man and Woman were to stand and rule upon the planet in the place of God. The universal creation and creatures were to look upon humans and see God, giving God glory, praise, and worship. They were to obey humans as if God were present. Man and woman were to demonstrate how God ruled in the universal macrocosm by ruling like Him on the earthly microcosm.

Another aspect of the image is as a throne of presence. Humans were to manifest the presence corporate of the Deity to the rest of the earthly and universal creation. The ancients held to a belief that certain things and places were sacred spots, where the sacred met with the secular. Jerusalem is one such place; the Kaaba of Mecca is another. These are the most sacred spots for Jewish and Islamic believers. They believe God is closer there than any other place on earth. The Christian has a similar concept for every believer: “…your body is the temple [naos] of God…” For the Christian, no graven image can take the place of personally being the house of the Divine. Making a graven image, bowing down to it, and worshiping it, as if the inanimate is where God desires to manifest His presence, in reality tells God that you have no desire of being the privileged living house of God. One would rather keep Him at a distance. Even venerating another human takes away your God-ordained right and created privilege of having the Divine God dwell personally within you.

In addition to this, making a graven image is blasphemy: it is an attempt to be the Creator. God spoke all things into existence and formed man out of the dust. For us to attempt to make an image of anything is futile because we lack the ability to give it life. We attempt to imitate the Creator without the Creator’s ability. Even our ability to procreate our own species is under God’s control, as shown by the statement, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and conception” (Genesis 3). It is God who dictates how His image will function, even how the image will create things in its own image.

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According to the Bible, God designed all earthly living creatures to procreate after their own kind (Genesis 1:20-22, 24-25). Dogs would produce dogs, birds would produce birds, and fish would produce fish. A dog would not produce a fish, for they are not of the same kind. A bird could not produce a dog, nor a fish and bird, because they are not of the same kind. Even the plants were to produce after their kind (Genesis 1:11-12). In the case of humanity whoever, whose kind are we? We are in the image of God and therefore were to produce after His kind. We were to produce more beings in the image of God. Evidence proving that we are still in the image of God after the fall is testified to in the Bible:

Genesis 5:1-3: This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

Genesis 9:6: Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

These verses state three things: 1) God made humanity in his image, 2) Adam had a son in his image, and 3) after the flood God condemns anything that kills a human, because he/she is made in the image of God. This means that even in our demoralized state, there is still the image of God that can be seen in and upon humanity.

I hope this is encouraging to someone struggling with addiction right now. Even on your most addicted day, as degraded and perverted as you may get, there is still something that demonstrates the image of God. Satan hates to view the image of God in you, and so he seeks to have you totally corrupt yourself. However, no matter what he leads you to do, he is still unable to block out the image of God. Every time he looks at you he will see something reminding him of who still reigns on the universal throne, and who holds his fate.

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The “Why” of our Existence

If this is what we were supposed to be, then we were God’s living statue; we were God’s frontal-piece, in that we were/are to be a living parable, our very existence speaking into the universal understanding of the Eternal plural unity, creational commitment, and yet individuality of the Godhead. Everything about humanity was designed to have meaning. Even though plants, animals, birds, and fish all have gender, sexuality, and some have monogamous lifetime partners, none are in the image of God. Even though Adam and Eve were created after them, Adam and Eve were the goal of creation.

We must take time to think this through. We Christians hold that marriage is a special, if not sacred thing instituted by God. Why do we think this, and yet not give marriage, gender, and sexual intimacy meaning? If we are the image of God, then these concepts and activities must have meaning. If we do not allow these things to have theological meaning, providing an object lesson of the unseen in some way, then we run into the issue of meaninglessness: sexuality, gender, and marriage are nothing more than activities that we do, which many other things in nature participate in. To illustrate: Penguins have lifetime mates, dogs are known to participate in seemingly “homosexual” activity, many lionesses will share one dominant male, monkeys in captivity will masturbate publically, etc. If we allow human sexuality, gender, and marriage to have no meaning, then humanity is free to participate in any of the things we see in the animal kingdom, because there is no moral reason for us to be in sexually intimate, monogamous, heterosexual relationships. If these things in humanity have no meaning, then the ideals of no fornication/adultery, or no homosexual activity/union, monogamy, etc. are social constructions designed by humans to ensure species propagation, not a Divine prohibition with moral implications or celestial importance.

I do not believe that God simply gave us animalistic functions with no meaning. Even if the animal kingdom is similar to us in certain areas, humans were the lords of the planet, and of nature. Nature was to obey the image, to follow the lead of the image. If humanity is a parallel of the relationship between God and the Word, then our gender, marriage, and sexual intimacy have great significance. Anything similar that we see between humanity and the animal kingdom, that does not follow God’s original design for human marriage, gender, sexuality is either 1) the manifestation of sin in humanity, and nature has followed our lead, or 2) the manifestation of sin and the fall, with humanity following nature’s lead.

 

Why would God make humans gendered? It is to provide an object lesson to the universe showing that there is a difference between the Father and the Word/Son. Man and Woman are the same yet different. It does not show the difference within the Godhead, but that there is a difference. God created gender; therefore God must be greater than gender.

Why would God make humans sexual? It was to provide an object lesson of the unity, oneness, and compatibility that exists within the Godhead. It was also to be an object lesson for the truth that the unity of the Godhead had creational power in Them. They simply are not super beings who exist for Their own joy and satisfaction, but are interested in, fully capable of, and desiring creation. It provides an object lesson of the Godhead’s ability to create, and sustain (e.g. nursing an infant) life. Let me say this now: sexuality is not a function lesson of God. To put it in simpler terms: I am by no means saying that the Godhead has sex. God created sex; therefore, God is greater than sex. Sexual intimacy is an object lesson, a reference point, pointing toward a greater reality of the unity that God is.

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Why would God make human matrimony? It was to provide an object lesson of the eternality of the Divine union, its commitment to creation and to sustaining the creation. The phrase “till death do us part” should never have existed, for man and woman should have never died.

Therefore the text in John 1:1 relating to Jesus could read about Eve in this manner:

“In the beginning was the Word [Eve], and the Word [Eve] was with God [Adam], and the Word [Eve] was God [Adam]. The same was in the beginning with God [Adam]…

I [Eve] proceeded forth and came from the Father [Adam]… No man [creature] has seen God [Adam] at any time; the only begotten Son [Eve], which is in the bosom of the Father [Adam], He [she] hath declared Him.” (John1:1-2, 18, John 8:42 reworded to fit comparison)

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I must make a point here. If one were to simply go online and type in mother goddess, witchcraft, new age or the like, one would discover that there has always been a belief in a goddess. In many ancient cultures, there was a trinity consisting of a divine father, a divine mother, and a divine child. I am not making a case for the goddess-ness of God. I do not believe in the goddess motif. There is no goddess. It seems to me unscriptural to call God a goddess. It seems to be idolatry and heresy. I am simply making a case for the equality of being in the image of God for both genders. Since God created gender, by default He must be greater than His creation. Therefore God would be greater than both male and female. Male and female respectively would demonstrate something about the Godhead, that is true, but they are not to show the universe that God is male and female. I hope that is clear.

God as Male

“So why”, you ask, “is the Bible full of masculine titles for God?” In case I didn’t say it earlier then I will say it now. God meets us at our most disobedient point. We must remember the Genesis 3 story: Eve was deceived and sinned; the Bible does not tell us Adam was deceived.

I Timothy 2:14: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

While this text has been used by many to show the supremacy of male headship and teaching ability in the church over women, that is not what I see in this text. This verse shows us that woman was deceived and therefore sinned. It specifically states that Adam was not deceived. Therefore, which aspect of the human family carries more guilt, responsibility, in the situation?

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True, they are both guilty of disobedience, but one knew what he was doing, and willfully chose his wife over his God. The other was deceived, and she chose to disobey based on that deception. The willful, undeceived disobedience is the greater rebellion than disobedience based on deception. Therefore, to solve our issue God related to humanity from that time forward based on the gender that willfully, knowingly disobeyed.

I know someone is thinking, “But Jason, God is a “he” in Genesis 1-2, both of which happen before the fall.” To that I say this: The entire Bible was written after sin had entered the earth, and so the revelation of God given to the writer will match the revelation of God given after, or because of, sin, and that is still masculine. There is no written revelation of God available to humans that would have been written from the time period before the fall, nor does there need to be. We need what has been revealed for our salvation.

If that is to be accepted, then God has never and will never relate to humanity in terms of goddess or “she”. True, the Bible does allude to the feminine aspects of God, such as wisdom in Proverbs. However, when wisdom decided to manifest itself in physical form, the Bible lets us know that wisdom came as a Man (I Corinthians 1:27-30). Jesus Christ is wisdom for humans. Jesus Christ is love for humanity. God has never and will never relate to us in terms of goddess. He will meet us at our most sinful point, the masculine.

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Just for clarity sake, I want to reiterate that I am not saying that God has sex. I am not saying that God is a male or female gendered being. I am not saying God is married. All these things are object lessons of the greater reality, not a functional lesson of the activities of the Divine. God created these things, and therefore God must be greater than his creation. God is not natural: that would make him equal to me. God is not supernatural: that would mean that he is simply a better version of me. God is Supra-natural, far above the natural, because God is the Creator. All else is beneath God: gender, marriage, and sexuality included.

Click Here to Read the Rest of this Series.

 

Editorial Note: The following article is an excerpt from Pastor Jason O’ Rourke’s Sex-U-ology: Origins: God, Gender, Marriage, and Intimacy.

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About the author

Jason O' Rourke

Jason O’Rourke is a district Pastor in the Netherland Union Conference. He is the author of “Sex-U-ology: God, Gender, Marriage, and Intimacy”, a book reconsidering the Genesis 1-3 narratives, and has done numerous seminars on relationships, manhood, sexuality, and addiction. Jason has also authored several articles on race and religion in Spectrum magazine, most notable “Toward a Seventh-day Adventist Theology of Social Justice.” Jason is a trained hospital chaplain, with 10 years ministerial service at Florida Hospital. He is married to his lovely wife of 7 years, Melissa Gail. Together they minister through their ministry, “Ready, Set, Renewed” to help couples address deep rooted issues and find biblical healing. Jason and Melissa have two beautiful daughters, Abrielle Joy and Myla Grace.