Skip to main content

Gen 1:27 and the Gendering of God

You hear people saying all sorts of stupid things about the Bible and if I blogged each one I would never stop blogging.  However a particularly choice example was the time I was told, with great enthusiasm, that Gen 1:27 tells us that God is both male and female, because God created male and female in his image.  (wait for it, that wasn't the most stupid bit) Because God is both male and female, but humans in his/her image are only male or female, when a man and woman have sex they bring those two aspects of God together and so when we have sex it is the closest we come to bearing the complete image of God!  I might forgive the person who said that, because they were single and so had no first hand experience that might dissuade them that coitus resulted in such a elevated state.  No I blame the supposed Bible teacher who told her that. 


Male and female fairy wrens, from here
The verse reads:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
The point of course, is that God created them in his own image and he also created them male and female.  The point is not that male and female make up different aspects of God's image, but that BOTH male and female bear God's image equally.

In fact the male and female is not what makes us "in God's image" at all, but in actual fact gives us something in common with the animals.  Hence the Hebrew, zachar unekevah (זָכָר וְּנְקֵבָה), are the same words that you would use to refer to male and female animals.  And this is why, for Christians, sex, although a good gift from God, has nothing to do with being more or less close to God because eternal life does not involve marriage or procreation (Mark 12:25).  Being male and female is a consequence of the need to go forth and multiply, not of being made in God's image.  Consequently those who are single/celibate are no less bearers of the image of God than those who are married.  Finally it needs to be pointed out that if God were both male an female he would be an hermaphrodite.  No offence to hermaphrodites, but God has no body so for him/her to have any sexual organs, let alone both sets, is not possible.  God only gets called "him" or "her" because English has no gender neutral personal pronoun, which is pretty inconvenient, just ask an hermaphrodite.

Comments

  1. Well done, Jonathan - a blog on theological matters which made me laugh! Love the last line

    Ryan

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Ryan, thanks, but i was only half joking. It is a serious lacuna in our language and theology that we don't know what to do with/say to hermaphrodites. people are born like that from time to time, and for them it is no joke.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree! Succinctly and humorously put!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Brook, welcome to the blog. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

Thor Ragnarok and Parihaka: Postcolonial Apocalypse

Thor: Ragnarok is a riot of colour, sound, violence, humour, sci-fi and fantasy. As a piece of entertainment it is the best Marvel has produced so far. As in many of Taika Waititi's films the plot often seems secondary to the humour and a number of quirky moments seemed only to serve for a quick giggle. I left the theatre overwhelmed by the sensory experience, but ultimately unimpressed by any deeper meaning.

It wasn't until the second morning after my trip to the movies that I woke to the realisation that the movie could function as a profound postcolonial metaphor (I do some of my best thinking while alseep, also it can take me a while for the penny to drop). Unfortunately a quick google showed me that I was neither the first, nor the second to have this thought.

[Spoiler Alert!]

It's easy to miss with all the other stuff going on but Thor undergoes a postcolonial awakening during the film as he slowly realises that his beloved Asgard and its dominion of the nine realms …

Dale Martin does Mark

Dale Martin is an important and frequently controversial NT scholar. Those of us who can't make it to Yale to hear him teach can access some of his lectures, in fact his entire introduction to the NT course, through the magic of the internet.

Here he is holding forth on Mark . . .