Male and Female

male-and-female

Sometimes I read things and it just makes me stop and think. About a month ago my pastor recommended for the church to read a book by Dr. James Garlow titled “Well versed – biblical answers to today’s tough issues.” He had copies available to take, so I took one. I’m still reading the book, but something I read a couple of weeks ago jumped out at me.

in-the-beginning
It goes all the way back to the creation story, and highlights something that I think probably affects us and our bible reading more than we know – the weakness inherent in reading from a translation. We simply can not always squeeze the full meaning out when we translate a text. There is always something “lost in translation”.
So we are looking at the creation story, specifically the creation of man and woman. The first point Dr. Garlow makes is that God is neither male nor female. The Old Testament is loaded with gender specific metaphors and descriptions in an attempt to describe the indescribable.

adam-and-eve
Sometimes these descriptions are masculine, using words like “Father” or “He”. Sometimes feminine phrases and descriptions are used, like a breast feeding mother, giving birth, being in labor, or a mother hen.
In Genesis 17:1 – “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”” In the Hebrew here, Gods name is El Shaddai. We believe that El means “mighty like a mountain“, all the strength of masculinity. Shaddai comes from the Hebrew word for breast, as in feeding a newborn baby, a very nurturing female trait. This one name for God is both masculine and feminine.
We are all made in the image of God, but neither a male or a female possesses the full spectrum of characteristics of Yahweh in the bible. A man can not represent all the nurturing tenderness shown, a woman does not possess the masculine strength. The point here is that while we were created individually, we only express the full image of God when our two halves, male and female, come together as one.
So now back to the real reason I wanted to write about this today, the creation story. God creates man – “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Genesis‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Here we have “adam” with a little “a”. Little a adam, pronounced “awh-dahm”, means “humankind” or “personhood”. Later we have Adam the man, but first we have little “a” adam – humankind.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; According to Dr Garlow, a more correct translation would be “It is not good for humankind to be at one.” In other words, it is not good for there to be just one, in solitude.

atom
So you’ve heard we can split the atom. Here the author says we have the “splitting of the adam”. Adam, humankind, gets split in two. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
So here is where it gets interesting for me. In the ancient Hebrew text the word we have translated “rib” is the Hebrew word “tsela”. “Tsela” can be translated “half” or “side”. So instead of saying God created man then took his rib and created woman, the original Hebrew text says God created humankind, saw that it was not good for humankind to be as one or alone, then took a side or a half (some would say the better half) and created a female (Eve). What was left was the male (Adam). The whole humanity, created in the full image of God with all the strength of masculinity and tenderness and nurturing of femininity, was split in the two halves of humanity, male and female.

reading-body-language-of-an-intrested-man
So one of the reasons for the strong attraction between males and females is the desire for the two halves of humanity to come back together, undoing the “splitting of the adam”, reuniting our male and female halves as whole humanity, reflecting the full image of God.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/gen.2.18-25.esv

John Lewis

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14 thoughts on “Male and Female

  1. This is good stuff, John!

    You are playing with image bearing theology now and making some heavy observations.

    I think you are right to see the male/female combo as the image of God, but there are some wrinkles to iron out. Does Jesus not bear the image of God perfectly? He is not a woman, though and never bears the image of a woman does he? See John 1:17-18, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-3.

    I think you will find the iron that flattens these wrinkles, but if not, I will try to help.

    By the way, bearing the image is what we were created for. The image has enormous power to make mountains bow down, valleys stand at attention, and crooked places straighten out. The image bearer can stop the sun in the sky and walk on water among other things. This is why Jesus says he only does what he sees the father doing! He is bearing the image! That moment when he dies in Mark 15:39 he reveals his true identity to the only mortal in the whole gospel of mark who is then able to confess him! That is image bearing! Image bearing is like the master key that unlocks all the locks in the house! When you get this down, you are unstoppable, but not of your own accord, rather on the account of the One whose image you bear!

    Now… another aspect your post dances all around without ever coming out of the closet on is that male and male sex cannot bear the image of God, nor can female and female sex! This at root is where we learn that homosexuality DOESNT even make sense. Its not that it is some particularly hateful sin that you should bear a particularly dreadful shame and stigma over. Its really no worse than greed and a host of other sins that all get lumped together in Paul. But here you can see WHY it is missing the mark! Here you can see HOW.

    But this of course puts us back into my first questions about how can Jesus bear the image AS ONE SINGLE MAN. He is only half an image, NO?

    GREAT POST!!!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s alright. No problem. I have been scattered today too.

        Actually, I was yesterday as well. I really meant to say, and failed to due to chaos interrupting me here, that I am most jazzed by your observation that coupling is such a strong force in our lives. I am not quoting you, but paraphrasing. Sorry, no time to dig up the quote just now.

        But I want to say that bearing God’s image sexually is a rush! And I think sex, both godly and sinful is so powerful because either it is honoring God – being like him – or it is a powerful rebellion! Either way, the draw is incredible and almost unavoidable. We all want to be God in our own world – that at root is very near the original temptation and sin – and it has this sexual aspect to it that really should not surprise us!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Jesus certainly bears the image of the father, and that is definitively male. But if he’s going to be fully human, he can’t be fully human in both at the same time, that’s how we become most fully in the Fathers image though.

      Dr Garlow actually touched on that specifically in his book, that a man w/man or woman w/woman can never fully find the image of God…it is only in communion with each other, w/the opposite sex, that we can most fully fulfill the image of God.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly my thought too… for a long time. But then I got to realizing just how important the church is AS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. The church plays the female to his male, and not only that, but we see him resonate with Adam in some ways that point us here.

        Recall St Paul calls Jesus “the LAST Adam”. Not the second (some people mistake that), nor the third or fourth, but the LAST. Both Adams are “MEN”. That is the meaning of the word ADAM. Both are given a mate in marriage (Jesus constantly goes to parties – frequently weddings – and often refers to himself, sometimes cryptically, as THE BRIDEGROOM. The Father is preparing a bride for him… This resonates with other grooms and brides too – Isaac and Rebekah??? But this wedding is not like other weddings. Yes, it is an arranged marriage, but the ceremony is very unique. The Father puts that ADAM (both first and last) into a deep sleep, opens his side, and he wakes up to a bride that he loves! Both Adams are given dominion and rule over creation – this is what it means to be fully human!

        Gives new resonance to Hosea too. We are that bride. Are we faithful? Often not so much. But Jesus loves us like that prophet of old loved his woman!

        Just for starters…

        Good post!

        Liked by 1 person

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