The Perfect Image: Understanding Gender in Light of Jesus

The Perfect Image: Understanding Gender in Light of Jesus

In his own body and life, in his teaching, and in his resurrected body, Jesus reveals God’s design in creation. Because Jesus is the image of God, in whose likeness we are created, we must look to him as the example for all of humanity. He is the image that we must trust in for a full and clear picture of who we were created to be.

You may or may not have heard of the 2022 documentary titled with the controversial question: What is a woman? The documentary follows a conservative political commentator, Matt Walsh, as he interviews people of all walks of life and different political views, asking them to answer the question: What is a woman? The responses vary, but are mostly vague and filled with much emotion. And what the documentary does well to show is just how heated the conversation surrounding gender has become.

The very fact that we are asking the question of what a man or a woman is, shows that there has been a major shift in the way our society thinks about and discusses the notion of gender. Albert Mohler, in the foreword of the popular book God and the Transgender Debate, writes: “The sexual revolution is fundamentally restructuring our culture’s collective understanding of family, society, and the very meaning of life.” The way we think about sex, sexuality, and gender is hugely different from the way it was understood and discussed even just fifty years ago.

And so it seems that, increasingly, Christians and church leaders are going to be called to defend the biblical truth that human beings are created male and female, in God’s image.

One Answer, in Genesis

For many of us, we immediately turn to Genesis 1-2. For it clearly and unambiguously teaches that God created two distinct genders: male and female, both in his image (Genesis 1:27). The first two chapters of the Bible teach us two fundamental truths about every human being. Firstly, we are created in God’s image. Secondly, we are created either male or female. But what about the rest of the Bible? Where else can we turn to develop these fundamental truths that we learn about in the creation account?

When we begin to survey the riches of scripture, we start to realise that it is the person of Jesus Christ—the perfect image of God—who is the clearest example of God’s design for his creation.

Looking to Jesus

We saw that Genesis 1 and 2 teach two fundamental truths about human beings: we are created in God’s image; and we are created with a distinct gender. And both of these truths are revealed perfectly to us in the person of Jesus Christ. In Colossians 1:15, Paul says Jesus is: “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” This verse shows us that Jesus reveals God to us, and through him, we can better understand the nature of God.

John 14:9 teaches us that when we see the Son, we do in fact see the Father. In Colossians 1, Paul doesn’t write that Jesus was made in the image, but that he is the image of God. Jesus Christ, who is both unchanging and who existed for all eternity, is the image of God. He is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of [God’s] nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Because Jesus is the original, unchanging image of God, we must come to see that human beings were created in his image. When we want to better understand fundamental truths about how human beings were created, we must look to Jesus Christ. For he reveals God. And he shows us what it means for us to be created in God’s image.

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