Pastor Gavin Peacock, director of international outreach for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, explains why being made in the image of God is so significant.
The most fundamental thing you can say about human beings is that they are created in the image of God. Men and women display God’s glory as those beings God created to image him forth. Our identity and happiness is therefore tied up in our created purpose. We find this truth in the very first pages of Scripture in this key passage in Genesis 1:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 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.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
The reason God creates us is so that we would think and act in such a way that we reflect or image forth who he is to the world. That is what it means to glorify God. And being male or female is tied to that. To glorify God is to be like him and represent him. That’s the ultimate reason we exist. So how are we like God and how do we represent him in function?
Well, we are like God in that we are relational beings. God is a relational God and has always been that way because he is triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit in perfect familial fellowship. We are also like God in that we are intelligent beings; God talks to man. He relates to him intellectually through speech as the expression of his thoughts and ideas. We are also like God in that we have a moral capacity. God is morally good. Everything he creates is good as an expression of his goodness. And we are created with the capacity to discern what is good. So we are like God in that we are relational, intelligent and moral.
So the first thing to say about human beings is that they are created in the image of God. That gives all people their basic identity and purpose.
But we are created male and female, not just male or female or something in between. Binary sexes alone are in view. Only a man and a woman are made by God in the image of God. Both man and woman have the image fully. They are equal in image bearing value but they are physically and functionally different. We can see this from the creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply. This is referring to Genesis 2 and the creation of the woman from the man as a helper fit for him as his wife. He is head of the human race – the first born – made by God, as we read in Genesis 2:7. But he needs a helper to complete the task of having dominion over creation. So God makes her from him and for him as we see in the beautiful account in Genesis 2:18-25. She corresponds to him as his equal and yet she is different physically to be his helper. And one of her first ‘helper’ functions is to make children with him in the covenant one flesh union of marriage of a man and woman. The multiplication of image bearers is part of mankind’s dominion.
To summarize then. Everyone is created in the image of God. This is our primary identity and worth. But we are also created male or female through which we are to image God in both similar and distinct ways as we fit together in the complementarity of sexes. When we honor our God given sexuality, we are living as male or female image bearers and telling truth about God.
Sources & Resources
- Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood https://cbmw.org
- Gavin’s Books: http://www.gavinpeacock.net/new-page