Friday, December 29, 2017

In the Image of God

Just as there is something fundamental about God's nature that is revealed in Him as Father and through the patriarchy of human beings, there is something fundamental about God's nature that is revealed in us being distinctly male and female. When we labor to conceive of women as men, or worse, as human beings indistinctly without sex, we lose what it is that God is trying to reveal of Himself through this design, which was very much intentional from the very beginning.

The feminist argument will not acknowledge this. The feminist argument says that in the beginning, God created only Adam; Eve was an afterthought. It was her nature as an afterthought that gave men the bravado to diminish women so severely throughout human history, which is what feminism is now pushing back against. The original design, they say, was for men. 

The honest theologian, however, says, "Not so fast." God is an artist first and foremost; Creation is His masterpiece. Yes, He made Adam first, but then, like any good artist, He took a step back, put His thumb to His mouth, and said, "Something is not quite right here. A central essence of being is missing." We would not look at the unfinished work of a Picasso or a Van Gogh or even the unfinished opera of a Verdi or the unfinished writing of a Nouwen and say, "This first draft is precisely how he intended it; everything else was an afterthought." Of course not! We wait until the artist has finished, has set his brush down, has said, yes, this is it, and then we look at what he has created. 

We owe at least that much to God. 

Which means that when Creation is not "very good" until there is a woman in it (and we know that it was not because just before creating her, God says, "this is no good"), we can know that there is something fundamental about the nature of femininity that reveals the very nature and heart of God - a revelation that is not complete without her.

It is not complete without her, and it is not complete if we change her into something God never intended her to be. That means that if we read the stories of the women of God through the lenses of masculinity, we lose something about the very nature of God Himself. It means if we defiantly assert that we are not men and women of God, but mere human beings of Him, we lose something about the very nature of God Himself. It means that if we refuse to believe that male and female are complementary, that we as women are helpmeets in a profoundly theological creation, we lose something fundamental about the very nature of God Himself. 

Historically, Christianity has seen the complementary nature of male and female as a reflection of our Triune God, a reflection of the complementary nature of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (and, by the way, if we fail to acknowledge that women are daughters of God, then Jesus, in flesh, can be no Son, either). If we remove what is fundamentally complementary, male or female, then we can know nothing about the Triune God at all. Our complementary nature would be based entirely on individual characteristics and the intricacies of our own personalities, which means we would be required then to know the intricacies of the personalities of the Trinity to understand how they work together, intricacies that we cannot possibly begin to fathom unless there is an inherent, unchanging, invariable complementarity among them. 

I put this point in parenthesis, but it is not parenthetical comment - without acknowledging females as daughters of God, we cannot legitimately recognize Jesus as His Son. We cannot reasonably claim that females are sons of God; females are never sons. We would not say that males are daughters of God; men are never daughters. Thus, to do away with sex as God designed it, we are left only to say that we are children of God, which we are (and as much is claimed in the Scriptures). But we mean something very different when we say that we are children of God than we mean when we say that we are sons and daughters, and this is something very different still than what we mean when we say that Jesus is the Son of God. We should not say that Jesus is the child of God; this loses the very essence of Him.

So this feminist theo-ideology that insists that God would be pleased for us to move beyond patriarchy and male and female is not only wrong; it is dangerous. It is, by its very nature, destructive. It takes everything we could know about God and throws it away in favor of a postmodern "sensibility" that is for some reason offended that a natural order exists at all. 

And again, I'm not saying that human beings have gotten this right; there are some very painful ways in which we have wounded one another in our patriarchies and in our sexed societies. But to claim that these things are not God's things just because we don't do them well is a dangerous claim to make, one that will destroy faith itself from the very heart of it on out.

Without patriarchy, we cannot know God the Father. Without God the Father, we cannot know God at all. Without femininity, we cannot know the Trinity. Without femininity, we cannot know complementarity. Without femininity, we cannot be sons and daughters of God. Without daughters of God, we cannot have His Son.

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