Tuesday, January 10, 2017

God Made Me This Way! (Part 1)

The Creation of Man and Woman
One of the most common beliefs put forward in the interest of the normalization of homosexuality has to do with nature or identity. We see this belief expressed whenever a proponent within the homosexual movement says, “This is just who I am!" How should Christians evaluate and answer such a belief?

First we need to understand that human identity is rooted in God’s work of creation. To say, “This is just who I am!" is the theological equivalent of saying, “God made me this way!” We must, therefore, begin with the biblical doctrine of creation when addressing such a belief.

When we look at the creation account in Genesis 1-2, what do we see? We don’t see God creating humanity as a self-identifying blank slate. We see him creating a man and a woman. He determines identity as he creates. Moreover, we don’t see God creating man for man or woman for woman. We see God creating one man and one woman for each other. When he finishes (2:1) his good (1:31) creation all the basic elements of human society are present but homosexuality is absent. Homosexuality doesn’t appear until after humanity’s fall into the estate of sin and misery.

The first explicit biblical reference to homosexuality is found in Gen. 19:5 as the men of the city of Sodom try to rape two angels who appear as men. This is why homosexuality is sometimes referred to as sodomy. Ezekiel 16:49-50 comments on Sodom’s sin, saying, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” The Hebrew word that is translated abomination, means “morally disgusting.” It’s the same word used to describe homosexuality in Lev. 18:22. That text says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Jude 7 describes Sodom's condemnation to that of hell saying, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” The Bible describes homosexuality as sinful, unnatural, and deserving God's condemnation. Rather than conforming to God’s original good design for his creation, it is a result of the fall.   

One might object: “There’s no sex whatsoever prior to the fall. Does that mean heterosexual sex is bad too?” But this objection fails to account for the command of God in Gen. 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Such a command implies the conception of children. We see the same in Gen. 2:24, which says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The one flesh union includes sexual intercourse.

Therefore, our first answer to the objection, “God made me this way!” is to say: “No, that’s not true. In God’s finished good creation there was no homosexuality. In fact, the first explicit reference to homosexuality is condemned by God. Therefore, it must be a result of humanity’s fall into the estate of sin and misery. Homosexuality is a sinful and unnatural perversion of what God made, including you.”       

The Image of God and the One Flesh Union
One key aspect of the creation of humanity is the imago dei (i.e. the image of God). The image of God is what sets humanity apart from the beasts of the earth. It’s what makes us unique. Gen. 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” But what is this image?

The Apostle Paul teaches in Col. 3:10 and Eph. 4:24 that God is renewing the image of God in believers according to three different aspects. Col. 3:10 says, “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Eph. 4:24 says, “And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Therefore we confess in The Westminster Confession of Faith 4.2a, “After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image.” Interestingly, these three aspects of the image of God correspond to the three mediatorial offices of Christ. Knowledge corresponds to his prophetic office; holiness (1st table of the moral law) corresponds to his priestly office; righteousness (2nd table of the moral law) corresponds to his kingly office.

Reformed theologians have historically distinguished between two senses of the image of God. In a broad sense, it is simply the intellectual (i.e. knowledge) and moral (i.e. holiness and righteousness) faculties that make us human. Even after the fall humanity retained these faculties, although in a totally depraved condition. We see this sense of the image in Gen. 9:6. The text says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” This is what gives humanity, even in its fallen condition, dignity and worth.

In a narrow sense, however, the image is humanity's originally righteous condition, which was, of course, completely destroyed in the fall. Humanity is no longer characterized by original righteousness but by original sin. Rather than being innocent and pure, we are guilty and corrupt in our whole nature. This is the sense in which the Apostle speaks of the image as being renewed in Christians in Col. 3 and Eph. 4.

This image, while constituted within individuals, isn’t expressed through individualism. It is expressed in and through community. We see this in God's command to his image bearers in Gen. 1:28. The text says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Humanity was created to express the image of God by being fruitful, multiplying, filling, subduing and having dominion over the earth. Adam’s and Eve’s smaller marriage community was expected to propagate an increasing community of offspring. Only as two individual human beings of the opposite sex became one flesh could humanity properly express the image of God. Husband and wife, two individuals with two distinct bodies, were to function together as one body in the interest of further forming and filling God’s good creation. 
Because we see the image of God expressed in the beginning through the smaller husband and wife marriage community propagating an increasing community of offspring, and homosexuality runs contrary to this expression, we must conclude that it is contrary to the image of God narrowly considered.

Therefore, our second answer to the objection, “God made me this way!” is to say: “No, that’s not true. The image of God in which humanity was created was expressed through the smaller husband and wife marriage community which was commanded to propagate an increasing community of offspring. Homosexuality runs contrary to this expression. Therefore it must be part of the perversion of the image of God that occurred in the fall.”

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