Male and Female – the Binocular View of God

For Mother’s Day last year I had done a post on the remarkable honor that a mother has in building a child’s concept of God.  Love, mercy, and all those other attributes of God are first learned not in a church, but at the cradle. 

My intention had been to write a companion post for Father’s Day, which did not happen as scheduled.   Finally a couple of weeks later, I was able to set aside the time, but surprisingly, I found that I could not do it.  I wanted to refer to concepts which needed to first be established, which could not be done in the post without making it a terribly long one.  So instead, I began a series of posts to consider such things as headship, submission, “helper,” and more. 

After about 9 posts, I found I needed to figure out where I had been in order to go any further.  Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a book (actually two books because a Sunday School teacher requested something in regard to Baptism; working on both books gave me no time for new posts over the winter – but now that the books have been published [self-published], I hope to be back making posts again).

One of the realizations that came out of the struggle of the book, The Image of God; Male and Female He Created Them, is how we tend to view masculine an feminine in our culture.  We are heavily influenced by evolution so that we think of the genders basically in terms of the procreation function.  The attributes of each gender are merely accretions that have formed over thousands of years merely to meet the needs of survival, or be expressions of power and domination, or however the philosophical basis of evolution is used to describe the differences.  Ultimately, our “sophisticated” society has concluded that there really is no reason to pay close attention to any differences other than for sexual recreation.  Much of this thought has been discussed in my post “Male and Female He Created Them – Father’s Day-4.”

What is hard is that the differences do not give up and simply fade away.  As that post mentions, what is curious in Genesis is how male and female are emphasized in humans while the genders are not highlighted at all in regard to any other creature – the first time there is mention of animal genders is not until Noah’s Ark where in that setting a mating pair is required to restore the animal kingdom after the flood.

So why are the human genders so accented, even to where the male and the female are separately created in Genesis 2, each with a stated reason for its existence?

The question becomes even more interesting when looking at St Paul’s much maligned comments in regard to wives and husbands in Ephesians 5 (which are discussed in posts “Submit – Father’s Day-5” and “Headship (Humility, Eternity, and Abuse) – Father’s Day-7”).  It is worthwhile noting the direction of the comparison that Paul makes.  First, the relationship between Jesus and His “Bride,” the Church, is not compared to a human marriage, but rather, human marriage is to reflect the relationship between Jesus and His Bride.

Then Paul reaches the crux of his thought as he refers directly to when Jehovah had brought Eve to Adam in Genesis 2:23-24:

The man said, “This singular creature* is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”  [*although translated as “now” or “at last,” the Hebrew word carries more of the idea of a one-time occurrence.]

Now Paul’s reference to this passage:

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We are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones!  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” – the mystery of this is great, and I speak concerning Christ and the Church.  [Ephesians 5:30-32]

It is Paul’s ending comment that spins the Genesis account all around – he indicates that Genesis 2 is actually a prophecy of the “real marriage” between Jesus and His Bride (the Church) – all other marriages are simply to be a reflection of that “original” one.  It even changes “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him” [Genesis 2:18] as something said in regard to Jesus.  It is then also fitting that the Last Day would be described as a marriage feast – that this relationship of Jesus and His Bride, of the Man and the “woman” (who also comes from His side in the Blood and the Water), will be an eternal one. 

“Male and female” – “man and woman” – then has a profound purpose, something essential as to why these genders exist.  Perhaps our two eyes might provide a parable for this thought.  Normally, each eye is quite capable and can do its job very well, yet how essential it is that each eye presents its own unique perspective on the world, because with both eyes together we can see what neither eye can adequately show on its own: the world in three dimensions – there now is depth and a fullness to what we see.

This “binocular” view apparently is not just in regard to vision, but also in how our Creator designed humanity: He has chosen that “the Image of God” would reflect a depth perception of Him, a sort of “God in 3D” before the cosmos, which would come only through combining the male and the female expressions of His nature.  There is far more at stake here than some supposed evolutionary and cultural accumulations of custom.

The “binocular” view is actually not that foreign to the Bible: even the way the Scriptures is set up presents a two-fold perspective of God, for instance, through the Old and the New Testaments, or the Old and the New Covenants.

It is just that we are not in the mindset to think this way.  Because of our fallen human nature, we think that the genders are merely our tools, often to get what we want.  Or we think of them as burdens that suppress the reality that lies within us.  Or we mock the opposite gender in regard to how obvious are its flaws.  But rarely do we have the view that we value and honor our own and the opposite gender for its unique expression of the Creator, where  each gender reveals what only that gender can demonstrate, something distinctive and essential about God; and therefore we must bring together this “binocular” view through which we may see God the more clearly.

This has much to say, for instance, in regard to parenting and how critical is the work that both parents have, especially in together revealing their Lord to their children – one cannot merely relegate his/her necessary reflection of God to the other.  It means that when choices are made, there is a strong consciousness as to how this profound responsibility will influence the decision.  It means that even churches, when they look at their men and women, do not think in terms of “how best to run the business,” but rather how this interaction of the genders presents to the universe a necessary “3D” picture of its Creator.  After all, the task which we have is not merely something for this small corner of the world, but rather it is where “in earnest expectation, Creation expectantly awaits the revealing of the sons of God” [Romans 8:19] – it wants a glimpse of the reflection of its Creator, and it looks specifically at you and me.

Of course, our fallen human nature can make quite a mess of all this.  However, what is surprising is that God never withdrew the honor and the privilege – He never rescinded “the Image of God” purpose stated at the creation of humanity.  There is no other creature that will occupy this essential position in revealing the Creator to the Cosmos.  However, He does provide tools for those humans who are willing to recover the role they have: there is forgiveness, there is the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is each other, and much, much more.  Ironically, as they realize that they only in a very flawed way reflect their Lord, as they come to Him in repentance, they actually are revealing a depth of God which would not be as visible in any other way – and thus are still fulfilling their commission, even in their failure!  

In other words, the Creator is that serious about how we are to reflect His Image – He can even turn our failures into His successes and we give the Cosmos an even more wonderful glimpse of its Creator.


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