Sunday, June 26, 2011

Male and Female in God's Image

Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Some of you may recall studying Plato’s doctrine of the forms when you were a student. For Plato the world we see about us, the world that we can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell is only a dim reflection of the truly significant world, the world of the forms. Corresponding to the actual pews in which you are now sitting is, in the abstract world of the forms, the ideal pew – the pew of which all our earthly pews are only dim reflections. The closer tangible objects get to their form, the nearer perfection they also get.

The ways in which Plato’s idea of the forms impacted Greek civilization are myriad, some good and some bad. In the latter category, by far one of the worst impact of Plato’s notion was on the way in which it impacted the Greek perception of humanity. For you see, there is only one perfect form for the myriad objects that have certain traits in common. There is one perfect circle to which all our circles approximate. There is one perfect chair, one perfect triangle, one perfect human. And it is this latter observation that got things going the wrong way. For the Greeks almost uniformly insisted that the human form was male – and the closer one gets to the form, the closer one gets to perfection.

The implications of this for Greek practice were many. First, the Greek acceptance of the perversion of sodomy and homosexuality was born out of this mistaken notion. After all, if the perfect form is male then why shouldn’t one male be attracted to the perfect form of another?

Second, women were degraded and viewed as a lesser form of human since they were further from the form. And the more like men women became the more human they became. So the legends of the Amazonians were spread by men who wanted women to be male. The ancient version of Angelina Jolie.

Notice the contrast between this ancient Greek fable, with its exaltation of perversion and denigration of women, and the revelation of God in Genesis. Here in Genesis we are told that God made man in His image, according to His likeness. But lest we start traveling down the Platonic sewer pipe, Moses informs us that by man he means male and female together. God created man, male and female, in His image after His likeness. It is not the male who is the image of God; nor is it the female who is the image of God; rather it is male and female together – unity and diversity in harmony – who bear the image of God.

So what does this mean? First, men, it means that the women whom God has placed in our lives – wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, etc. – have been put there to teach us about Him. They, in company with us, bear the image of God and so are to be not simply tolerated, not simply endured, but treasured, respected, honored, and listened to as women. God created them to be women and He intends to teach us about Himself through the women in our lives. So are you listening to the lessons God is intending to teach?

Second, women, it means that God has placed you here to teach men something about God. You have lessons to share, truths to embody, principles to articulate. You bear the image of God in a way that no man ever can or will. So have you considered if you’re teaching what you’re supposed to be teaching?

Reminded that as men we often fail to learn the lessons that we are supposed to learn from the women in our midst and that as women we forget that God has put us here on earth to teach some very specific things, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord. We will have a time of private confession after which I will lead us in a public confession.