My dear friends, this article will be a lot different from what you are used to seeing on this site. You should know that I have not set out to write to you as an atheist, agnostic or irreligious person on the one hand, and neither am I a Christian bigot on the other. Instead, what I have set out to do is to sort of call you to some form of re-examination of the Bible – the Word of God – and not just to re-examine it, but to find out what she might be saying differently.
One of the beautiful passages of scripture which gives a succinct description of the inner life of God and which seeks to, in a way, give a description of His very essence is 1 John 4: 8, which says: “God is Love.”
Each time I think about this passage, it opens up a deep ocean of discovery that many times, I am not even ready to delve into. It is a description of that other being that is so deep I doubt if John, though he was called the beloved one, actually understood the entirety of its depth; of its mystery. For what John is saying to us is that God’s being is synonymous with Love. That HE IS… LOVE. If this is therefore the case, then it means that all that God has ever done has been because of love and for the purpose of Love. God therefore created out of love and he saved us out of love. At this point, I call to mind John 3: 16 where the same John tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes him may not perish but may have life.” Thus, the reason for sending Jesus was “Love” – which is by no means an attribute He had to acquire, but an intrinsic attribute of His, something descriptive of His very essence.
And not only did He create and save us because of love, He did so for the purpose of love. And if love is central to His divine essence, then by making us in His own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27) means that we were made to love (cf. Deut. 6:5) and we were saved to love – for the greatest commandment He gave us was simply love. (cf. Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27).
First, let’s take a look at creation with this interpretative lens of love. Genesis 1 in a way gives us a more detailed overview of the creation of all that exists culminating in man. We are told in verse 26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’…” And in verse 27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created him.”
In examining these words carefully, we’ll see that that which was made “in the image” is one thing, and that which is now manifested is another. “God created man,” it says, “in the image of God created he him.” There is an end of the creation of that which was made “in the image”: then it makes a resumption of the account of creation, and says, “male and female created He them.” I presume that everyone knows that this is a departure from the prototype for “in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female”, this according to Paul (Galatians 3:28). Man was not originally intended to be divided into the categories of male and female as is now the case; and by acquiring perfect knowledge of the inner principles according to which he exists, he may transcend this division…for in Christ there is no male or female. The image of God is neither male nor female for God is neither male nor female and the purpose of this creation was not centered on the male-female dichotomy but the image and likeness of God which each must in fact mirror, quite irrespective of their gender in the physical. Jesus himself insinuates this when in response to the Sadducees’ question on marriage said that in the resurrection, people will neither marry nor will be given in marriage, but they will be like the angels in heaven. (cf. Matt.22:30).
The second point I would like to raise while taking a closer look at this passage is what we see when we look at verse 28. “And God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’…” I emphasise the word ‘blessing’ because contrary to some voices in Christianity who maintain it was a commandment that must be fulfilled, I see nothing in the passage that insinuates a command that the man and woman must in fact procreate. The passage specifically called it a ‘blessing’. Again, we see that Jesus himself, the perfect man did not procreate, and praised those who leave family ties for the Kingdom (Matt. 19:29), and mentioned that there are some who have forfeited sex for the Kingdom (Matt. 19:12). Even Paul wished that we all would be celibate and not even marry (1 Cor. 7:7, 27, 32-34). It is worthwhile to notice that Adam and Eve were together in love and companionship, and procreation didn’t happen till after the Fall. As a result of this, some early Christian fathers especially John of Damascus (676AD-749AD) taught that marriage was instituted only after the Fall in order to facilitate the procreation of children, in response to the mortality which resulted from the Fall.
“When death entered into the world by reason of the transgression, then Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore seed. So that to prevent the wearing out and destruction of the race by death, marriage was devised that the race of men may be preserved through the procreation of children. [John of Damascus “An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith” lib 4 cap 24].
But back to being fruitful, we know that our Lord Jesus also uses the bearing of fruits to mean the multiplication of virtues, of love and of grace for the Kingdom (e.g. John 15:8). So if we take away the exclusive male-female-sex-procreation lens which we have been using to look at Genesis 1, we begin to realize that there might have been something albeit much more spiritual in God’s mind at creation than only sex.
Furthermore, a look at Genesis 2 – the second account of creation – makes us realize that Genesis 1 was, as I said earlier, a detailed summary of the creation of all things; Genesis 2 goes ahead to tell us about Man’s creation and the reason God created the Woman.
Was this reason for ‘Sexual Complementarity’?
I do not think so. In fact, Genesis does not say so, for as we have seen, procreation was at the very least not ‘exclusively’ on God’s mind. Genesis 2 tells us that the reason for the creation of Woman was: “It is not good that man should be alone…” (verse 18). And so God formed the animals and presented to Adam for helpmeets, and yet they could not be his companions. Looking at this passage, it will be totally out of place to think that in God’s mind, it was only a physical woman that could be a ‘friend’ to the physical man and that her capacity in being that friend was due to some difference in her anatomy. For we know that a man can be a friend to another man, and we have seen great friendships among men and even among women that are even ‘hallowed’ by the scripture, examples of which are David and Jonathan (cf. 1 Samuel 18:1-2), and Ruth and Naomi etc.
But l do not want to dwell on that. Rather than some difference between them, the beauty of God’s solution in creating Woman (Hebrew Ishshah—like man) for Man (Hebrew—ish), was in her sameness. Not because she in some way ‘complemented’ him but that in some deeper way, deeper than mere anatomy, she was like him. This is further evidenced in the fact that when Adam saw the Woman, he did not say, “Whoa, this ‘complements’ me, I have found someone different from me’. Instead he said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ (verse 23). This is why the animals could not be his helpmeets, for though they were also distinguished according to sexes, male and female (Gen. 7:2), they could not be his helpmeets because they were not like him.
Of course there is some complementarity in every relationship between two people; nobody is self sufficient, but nobody says that such complementarity has to be (1) as a result of opposites, for two similar half-full glasses can “complement” each other to be whole while there is nothing different or opposite about them; (2) sexual, for complementarity takes many forms as each person brings his or her distinctive contributions to the relationships of friendship and love that he or she is involved in.
Looking at all these arguments from Genesis, it would therefore appear that using Genesis 1 and 2 as a premise to condemn homogender love and sexuality falls short of an appropriate interpretative lens. Genesis 1 and 2 were trying to explain the existence of people as coming from God, men and women alike on the one hand, and that friendship, love and communion were top in God’s mind and not exclusively sex, and so has nothing particular about the nature of the sexes to say concerning the fulfillment of this divine initiative. Of course it would be foolish and unscriptural to say that God meant that love, friendship and communion were only to exist between a man and a woman, for that would be the other alternative which as we have shown from scripture is false especially when we look at 1 Samuel 18.
TO BE CONTINUED
Written by Efcee